Educational Testing:

The Canadian Experience With Standards, Examinations, and Assessments

PEMD-93-11: Published: Apr 28, 1993. Publicly Released: Apr 28, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed Canada's experiences with large-scale testing programs, focusing on: (1) how Canadian educational standards are set; (2) the types of tests used; (3) whether the tests were accountable; (4) safeguards which prevent the misuse of test results; and (5) whether tests improved teaching and learning.

GAO found that: (1) Canadian test standards are set by teachers, subject-area experts, and education officials at the provincial level and tied to provincial curriculums and student achievement standards; (2) active teacher involvement in setting standards increased teachers' knowledge of the criteria and ensured testing standard compatibility with classroom instruction; (3) U.S. teachers are not generally involved in setting testing standards; (4) although Canadian tests are revised with every test administration, U.S. tests are not changed for several years which could reduce the test's ability to determine actual student achievement; (5) Canadian provinces have used overall educational assessments to monitor the effectiveness of the educational system and high school examinations to determine student achievement and placement and to cover subjects in greater detail; (6) provincewide assessments have no consequences for individual students; (7) the Canadian testing system has safeguards to protect individuals from unfair testing practices and misuse of test scores; (8) provincial funding formulas tend to level resources among schools to reduce the resource disparity faced by many U.S. schools; and (9) there is no evidence that Canadian testing programs have improved instruction or learning.

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