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Flunk'em or Get Them Classified: The Contamination of Primary Grade Accountability Data

Anne McGill-Franzen and Richard L. Allington
Educational Researcher
Vol. 22, No. 1 (Jan. - Feb., 1993), pp. 19-22
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1177302
Page Count: 4
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Flunk'em or Get Them Classified: The Contamination of Primary Grade Accountability Data
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Abstract

The authors argue not only that high-stakes primary grade testing increases the pressure on low-achieving schools to improve their test performance but that these assessment mandates also increase the chances that low-scoring children will be retained in grade or classified as handicapped. Placement practices such as handicapped classification, flunking, and "developmental" classes remove low-achieving children from the assessment stream and, in the authors' view, constitute not just pollution of assessment data, but outright contamination of the reported results. The authors regard decisions to classify or fail low-achieving children as egregiously unethical if such decisions are motivated by pressure to increase the school's publicly reported test performance, and they suggest that current high-stakes testing programs be modified to eliminate any incentives to engage in such placement practices.

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