Suzanne Wagner
October 2003

In their efforts to improve education, legislators and policymakers have embraced the norm-referenced, group-administered standardized test, encouraging its use to measure everything from student learning to program and teacher quality.

Can norm-referenced instruments improve curriculum and instruction? Research suggests that performance-based assessment can improve teaching and learning and boost performance, but many questions remain unanswered.

Moving beyond measurement to improving educational outcomes will require a clear understanding of the objectives, extensive teacher training, and the political will to try a different approach.

The article appears in Applied Research in Child Development, a publication of the Herr Research Center.

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