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Same tests, same results: Multi-year correlations of ESSA-mandated standardized tests in Texas and Nebraska




accountability, educational policy, standardized testing


Statewide assessments in reading and math are required every year under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015, at an annual expense of billions of taxpayer dollars. Analyzing 10 years of school-level results from public schools in two states—Nebraska and Texas—we found that year-to-year correlations of schools’ test scores were exceptionally high, with reading and math correlations regularly above r = 0.9, indicating that little new information is derived from annual testing. Furthermore, while schools experiencing the largest demographic changes had significantly lower year-to-year correlations—highlighting the sensitivity of these scores to changes in underlying student demographics—even these lower correlations remained strong. We argue that the frequency of these tests may therefore be reduced, yielding substantial savings of time and money and no loss of useful information.


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Author Biographies

Norman P. Gibbs, Mesa Public Schools

Norman P. Gibbs is a program evaluator for Mesa Unified School District, Mesa, Arizona. His research focuses on assessment and accountability, comparative and international education, and inclusive and participatory decision-making.

Margarita Pivovarova, Arizona State University

Margarita Pivovarova is an associate professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. Her research focuses on the relationship between student achievement, teacher quality, and school contextual factors.

David C. Berliner, Arizona State University

David C. Berliner is Regents’ Professor Emeritus at the Mary Lou Fulton College of Education. He has published in educational psychology, teacher education and educational policy. He is a past president of the American Educational Research Association and a member of both the National and International Academies of Education.


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How to Cite

Gibbs, N. P., Pivovarova, M., & Berliner, D. C. (2023). Same tests, same results: Multi-year correlations of ESSA-mandated standardized tests in Texas and Nebraska. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 31.




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