Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Flynn, Joseph E. (Associate professor)

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations


Educational tests & measurements; Educational evaluation; Curriculum development; Educational tests and measurements--Research--Illinois; Educational evaluation--Research--Illinois; Education--Evaluation--Research--Illinois; Education; Secondary--Curricula--Research--Illinois


This dissertation investigates validity and reliability concerns surrounding high-stakes, state-level assessment with standardized testing instruments. It uses high school student test data from the 2008--2009 academic year to determine whether or to what degree ACT based accountability scores are reliable across academic settings and contexts, and whether certain non-academic factors, such as cognitive test attack strategies, have any effect on scores. Though scores trended towards reliability across settings and contexts, they were also found to vary considerably depending on non-skill related factors. These findings suggest that standardized accountability and evaluative testing programs for schools and students have unacceptably high amounts of variability and that because of their susceptibility to variance unrelated to skill proficiency, they are less than accurate and conclusive enough for the variety of needs addressed by the state's accountability program. More research is needed on the factors that impact state-level assessment scores and on accountability programs that use objective data so that decisions about public education systems can be accurate, contextualized, and appropriate.


Advisors: Joseph Flynn.||Committee members: Erica Pinter; Corrine Wickens.


194 pages




Northern Illinois University

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