The lower-order expectations of high-stakes tests: A four-state analysis of social studies standards and test alignment

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This study indicates that the state-mandated high-stakes social studies assessments in four states do not require students to demonstrate that they have met the cognitive demands articulated in the state-mandated learning standards. Further, the assessments do not allow students to demonstrate the critical thinking skills required by the standards. In this study, researchers from four states with high-stakes social studies tests questioned how well their states' tests measured and aligned with expressed expectations for students related to this objective. They analyzed the nature of four states' high school social studies standards and high-stakes tests for higher or lower cognitive demands and the alignment between them. The analysis showed that the primary expectation for student learning in the standards is for higher cognitive activity than that represented in the tests, which are dominated by low cognitive level items. © 2013 Copyright College and University Faculty Assembly of National Council for the Social Studies.

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Theory and Research in Social Education

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