An achievement test is a measure of developed skill or knowledge. The most common type of achievement test is a standardized test developed to measure skills and knowledge learned in a given grade level, usually through planned instruction, such as training or classroom instruction. Achievement tests are often contrasted with ability tests, which measure more general and stable cognitive traits. Achievement test scores are often used to determine what level of instruction a student is ready for. High achievement scores usually indicate a mastery of grade-level material, and the readiness for advanced instruction. Low achievement scores can indicate the need for remediation or repeating a course grade.
Under No Child Left Behind, achievement tests have taken on an additional role of assessing proficiency of students. Proficiency is defined as the amount of grade-appropriate knowledge and skills a student has acquired up to the point of testing. Better teaching practices are expected to increase the amount learned in a school year, and therefore to increase achievement scores, and yield more "proficient" students than before.
When writing achievement tests, writers usually begin with a list of content standards (either written by content specialists or based on state-created content standards) which specify exactly what students are expected to learn in a given school year. The goal of test writers is to create test items that measure the most important skills and knowledge attained in a given grade-level. The number and type of test items written is determined by the grade-level content standards. Content validity is determined by the representativeness of the items included on the final test.
- ↑ Hawaii Department of Education. (1999, November 19). Assessment Terminology. Retrieved June 11, 2007, from http://www.k12.hi.us/~atr/evaluation/glossary.htm
- ↑ University of Wisconsin-Stout. (2007, June 11). Glossary. Retrieved June 11, 2007, from http://faculty.uwstout.edu/lawlerm/at101/glossary.shtml
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