Test-based accountability: Potential benefits and pitfalls of science assessment with student diversity

Randall D. Penfield, Okhee Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Recent test-based accountability policy in the U.S. has involved annually assessing all students in core subjects and holding schools accountable for adequate progress of all students by implementing sanctions when adequate progress is not met. Despite its potential benefits, basing educational policy on assessments developed for a student population of White, middle- and upper-class, and native speakers of English opens the door for numerous pitfalls when the assessments are applied to minority populations including students of color, low SES, and learning English as a new language. There exists a paradox; while minority students are a primary intended beneficiary of the test-based accountability policy, the assessments used in the policy have been shown to have many shortcomings when applied to these students. This article weighs the benefits and pitfalls that test-based accountability brings for minority students. Resolutions to the pitfalls are discussed, and areas for future research are recommended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-24
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Research in Science Teaching
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010



  • Accountability
  • Assessment
  • Bias
  • Minority
  • Reliability
  • Science
  • Validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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