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Select Definitions from the Standards 2014

Accountability Index

A number or label that reflects a set of rules for combining scores and other information to form conclusions and inform decision making in an accountability system.

Accountability System

A system that imposes student performance-based rewards or sanctions on institutions such as schools or school systems or on individuals such as teachers or mental health professionals.

Alternate assessments/alternate tests

Assessments or tests used to evaluate the performance of students in educational settings who are unable to participate in standardized accountability assessments, even with accommodations. Alternate assessments or tests typically measure achievement relative to alternate content standards.


Any systematic method of obtaining information, used to draw inferences about characteristics of people, objects, or programs; a systematic process to measure or evaluator the characteristics or performance of individuals, programs or other entities for purposes of drawing inferences; sometimes used synonymously with test.

Assessment Literacy

Knowledge about testing that supports valid interpretations of test scores for their intended purposes, such as knowledge about test development practices, test score interpretations, score reliability and precision, test administration, and use.

Formative assessment

An assessment process used by teachers and students during instruction that provides feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning with the goal of improving students’ achievement of intended instructional outcomes.

Growth Models

Statistical models that measure students’ progress on achievement tests by comparing the test scores of the same students over time. See value-added modeling.

High-stakes test

A test used to provide results that have important, direct consequences for individuals, programs, or institutions involved in the testing. Contrast with low-stakes test.

Interim assessments or tests

Assessments administered during instruction to evaluate students’ knowledge and skills relative to a specific set of academic goals to inform policy-maker or educator decisions at the classroom, school or district level. See benchmark assessments.

Low-stakes test

A test used to provide results that have only minor or indirect consequence for individuals, programs, or institutions involved with the testing. Contrast high-stakes tests.

Policy Study

A study that contributes to the judgement about plans, principles, or procedures enacted to achieve broad public goals.


In assessment, a systematic collection of educational work products that have been compiled or accumulated over time, according to a specific set of principles or rules.

Program evaluation

The collection and synthesis of evidence about use, operation, and effects of a program; the set of procedures used to make judgements about a program’s design, implementation, and outcomes.

Standards-based assessments

Assessment of an individual’s standing with respect to systematically described content and performance standards.​

Summative assessment

The assessment of a test taker’s knowledge and skills typically carried out at the completion of a program of learning, such as at the end of an instructional unit.

Universal design

An approach to assessment development that attempts to maximize the accessibility of a test for all of its intended test takers.

Value-added modeling

Estimating the contribution of individual schools or teachers to student performance by means of complex statistical techniques that use multiple years of student outcome data, which typically are standardized test scores. See growth model.

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Source: American Educational Research Association., American Psychological Association., National Council on Measurement in Education., & Joint Committee on Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (U.S.). (2014). Standards for educational and psychological testing.

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