Study: Test-score gains don’t mean cognitive gains

Dec 16, 2013 by

In a finding that should give pause to backers of standardized test-based school reform, a new study by neuroscientists at three major universities shows that students who achieved the highest gains on standardized tests did not show the same gains in the ability to analyze material and think logically.

The research, conducted by scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and Brown University and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, says that strategies that schools use to boost scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exams did nothing to help students improve in the development of what is called “fluid intelligence” skills, or cognitive gains.

Modern school reform has been wrapped around the notion that “accountability” of students, schools and teachers can be achieved by monitoring the scores students receive on high-stakes multiple-choice standardized tests. Assessment experts have long said that most of the standardized tests that have been in use for many years do a poor job of evaluating the range of things students learn (and for that and other reasons, should not be used for high stakes decisions).

via Study: Test-score gains don’t mean cognitive gains.

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