Data Analysis for High-Stakes Tests and Benchmark Assessments

We live in an era of high-stakes tests, end-of course assessments, diagnostic batteries, and various district-level benchmark tests. With so much emphasis on “being data driven,” schools are information-rich and data-poor! It’s all about measure, measure, measure. Stretched end-to-end, more classroom time is consumed by testing than in teaching.


Many districts are collecting and assembling and tabulating and highlighting—and then actually labelling students, some using the RTI designations:

In extreme cases, students are “pulled out” and tracked for remediation; for districts practicing RTI, these students are considered Tier III. There is often no effort to relate the Tier III curriculum to what is taught in general education.

  • Students with moderate issues (Tier II in RTI) are provided in-class assistance but often apart from the other students. In many cases, the expectations for Tier II students are “adjusted” to their tested level of performance. Their curriculum may parallel that of general education, but the overall expectations are reduced.
  • For students with slight or erratic difficulties (Tier I in RTI), the intent is for teachers to differentiate or adjust their regular classroom instruction.

It is only fair that every student be provided access to a standards-based curriculum, regardless of prior achievement levels or college and career plans. However, most teachers are not provided with usable data and the training they need to make appropriate adjustments in their instruction. Testing companies produce lengthy, detailed reports of test results, and many are disaggregated by gender, ethnicity, and other variables. But sadly, many “reports” do not provide interpretive information that teachers can actually use to differentiate classroom instruction. Click here to go to the Differentiation and RTI page.