The Source of Lake Wobegon [updated]
John J. Cannell's late 1980's "Lake Wobegon" reports suggested widespread deliberate educator manipulation of norm-referenced standardized test (NRT) administrations and results, resulting in artificial test score gains. The Cannell studies have been referenced in education research since, but as evidence that high stakes (and not cheating or lax security) cause test score inflation. This article examines that research and Cannell's data for evidence that high stakes cause test score inflation. No such evidence is found. Indeed, the evidence indicates that, if anything, the absence of high stakes is associated with artificial test score gains. The variable most highly correlated with test score inflation is general performance on achievement tests, with traditionally low-performing states exhibiting more test score inflation on low-stakes norm-referenced tests than traditionally high-performing states, regardless of whether or not a state also maintains a high-stakes testing program. The unsupported high-stakes-cause-test-score-inflation hypothesis seems to derive from the surreptitious substitution of an antiquated definition of the term "high stakes" and a few studies afflicted with left-out-variable bias.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:teg:journl:v:6:y:2010:i:3:p:1-53. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Richard P. Phelps)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.