Consequential Validity and Social Studies Education: An Examination of Standards, Assessment Policies, and Teacher Preparation
Learn, Michael Scott
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Consequential Validity and Social Studies Education: An Examination of Standards, Assessment Policies, and Teacher Preparation (10.01Mb)
Educational quality is a way to influence the future of the American economy (Hanushek, 1986). Large-scale assessments are designed to determine quality in education by measuring student achievement. A connection exists between the standards, teachers, and assessments that form a system of accountability within education. State and national accountability policies place value in certain educational fields, thereby preferring some while excluding others. As a result, accountability systems influence the field of social studies in several unanticipated ways. Consequential validity suggests that assessments should include value implications and relevance (Messick, 1989). While assessment research examines the disciplines of mathematics, science, and language arts in a more holistic manner, the few social studies assessments are often divided among the field’s various disciplines. The purpose of social studies, and its development of standards, is firmly linked to the current state of disunity within the social studies field. These issues are reflected in teacher preparation policies as well as state assessment policies. Social studies advocates have proven that, in other subjects, teachers and instructional methods are influenced by assessment. Fortunately, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) provides an opportunity to determine whether the exclusion of social studies within the state/national accountability system is impacting student achievement in social studies. The current systems make social studies uniquely positioned for studying the effects of large-scale assessment upon the field. Uses and interpretations of assessment data by researchers have been limited in social studies because the subject is not incorporated into most accountability policies. State policy governs educational standards, teacher licensure, and the extent of assessments upon students. For this study, the social studies NAEP assessment is divided into three separate tests (U.S. History, Geography, and Civics). By looking at data from the fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-grade 2010 social studies NAEP tests, this study will investigate some of the unintended consequences of educational assessment culture. I will examine social studies through different lenses and apply the concept of consequential validity to social studies in order to understand the value of social studies within education.