Using High-Stakes Assessments for Grade Retention and Graduation Decisions

Summary

This position statement asserts that grade retention and high school graduation decisions must be based on a more complete picture of a student's literacy performance, obtained from a variety of systematic assessments, including informal observations, formative assessments of schoolwork, and consideration of out-of-school literacies, as well as results on standardized formal measures. Additionally, teachers' professional judgment should be a major factor in such decisions, along with input from students and their families.

Included is a discussion of the limitations of overreliance on high-stakes assessments for high school graduation and grade retention decisions, and an overview of current policies in the United States that illustrate extensive and increased use of these practices. Following the discussion are these recommendations:

  1. Grade retention and graduation decisions should be based on multiple assessments, including teacher professional judgment, results of formative assessments, and student and family input, as well as results from standardized literacy assessments.
  2. Schools, school districts, and policymakers should be guided by the expertise of professional associations and literacy professionals when making decisions about how to best utilize results obtained from high-stakes literacy assessments.
  3. Professional development should be available for teachers on assessment strategies for obtaining a complete picture of a student's literacy performance.

PS 1081

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