With America fervently espousing both national and state testing, the differential performance by race and social class raises the specter of tests as barriers to life milestones such as promotion, graduation, and college admissions. In response to such punitive testing, the papers included here explore a host of models and practices that are currently being piloted both in America and abroad as educators grapple with the effects the assessment is having on minority and disadvantaged students and school systems. In the process, outcomes of innovative portfolio and authentic assessments are weighed against important standards and principles of validity and consequences.
As the various authors probe the gap between African-American and White test scores, they raise important questions of resources, family background and educational opportunity. Beyond their value of their recommendations to educators, their papers help to identify causes of pupil deficiencies in ways that can be addressed by policymakers. To reinforce the emphasis on equity, several authors present a definitive defense of affirmative action as a critical counter-measure to the lack of fairness in school quality, family and social supports, and educational resources.
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