The Principal and Evaluation of Student Achievement

By Ediger, Marlow | Journal of Instructional Psychology, September 2000 | Go to article overview

The Principal and Evaluation of Student Achievement


Ediger, Marlow, Journal of Instructional Psychology


There is a plethora of involved issues in evaluating student achievement. These include norm referenced/criterion referenced tests as compared to constructivism, determining validity and reliability, making comparisons of student achievement among other school districts compared to students' present achievement against previous times, and also test results versus actual student products/processes to notice progress.

The school principal is in a leadership position to improve the curriculum. He/she needs to assist and lead in improving how students are evaluated. Much is written about evaluating learner progress. It almost appears as if educators in the United States are obsessed with the concept of finding out what pupils have learned. The term "appraise" may also be used in the educational literature to ascertain what each student has learned. Documenting student progress has almost overtaken articles written by professors to let the lay public know what students achieve.

Perhaps, a major reason for the emphasis placed upon appraising student achievement is due to criticisms concerning learner achievement within the United States and in International comparisons such as the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

Newspaper reporters seemingly are quick to jump on the bandwagon when criticisms are made of the public schools. Test results provide much cannon fodder for news reporters when assessing the public school. That single score, such as percentiles, standard deviations, and grade equivalents, among others, provides an "absolute score" for ascertaining how well schools are doing. Generally, not much is said in these reports about socioeconomic levels of those taking the test(s). Approximately, 20 per cent of the pupils living In the United States come from homes where they live on or below the poverty level. Clearly most tests measure socioeconomic levels of students. Consider the high level of achievement of suburban schools as compared to those pupils from inner city or rural schools. Suburbia does indeed provide high test results, as compared to the others.

On TIMMS, it is difficult to determine which pupils are counted within a nation in terms of test takers. In the United States, much stress is placed upon educating the mentally retarded, as well as other handicapped pupils. If many mentally retarded students are counted as test takers in the United States and not in other nations, it will make a big difference how well a nation's students do on tests, such as TIMMS. How many pupils from low income nations take a test also will make much difference. It may not be a sin to be poor, but it is very unhandy and does not provide the opportunities in life that other learners have. Opportunities to learn in the preschool years and after, such as during vacation time and after school hours, does make much difference in terms of student achievement and progress. Good opportunities to learn are important in school and In society (See Bracey, 1996).

Who Additionally Tends to Criticize Public School Achievement?

The business world Is very quick to lean upon test score results to criticize the public schools. They tend to feel and believe that the business world can do a much better job of educating than can the public schools. The business world tends to emphasize setting higher standards for pupils to achieve so that results are more optimum. Educators have to be careful in accepting higher standards set for student achievement in that objectives need to be challenging and yet achievable. It would be ridiculous to set complex objectives that few students can attain. When objectives that cannot be achieved are established, students fail in achievement and may believe they are failures indeed. Why not have achievable objectives that are demanding, and yet learners may experience success in learning? Developing an inadequate self concept through teaching and learning is not acceptable.

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