Standards-based Assessment

A standards based test is one based on the outcome-based education or performance-based education philosophy. Assessment is a key part of the standards reform movement. The first part is to set new, higher standards to be expected of every student. Then the curriculum must be aligned to the new standards. Finally, the student must be assessed if they meet these standards of what every student "must know and be able to do". A high school diploma which is given on passing a high school graduation examination or Certificate of Initial Mastery is awarded only when these standards are achieved. At the end of the process of reform, education officials believe that all students will succeed at a higher level. All will meet local, state and federal standards which have been set at world-class standards level for the 21st century, though no such standards document has ever existed. All will graduate reading and computing at or above grade level with academic skills necessary for success in college, though grade level is traditionally defined as the level of the middle 50th percentile. All gaps between all economic, racial, and gender subgroups must and will be closed, though research has yet to produce even one program that has achieved this optimistic goal.

A criterion is set up for standards of what every student or child is expected to know, and a score is set compared to these benchmarks rather than a ranking compared to a norm. It is fully expected that every child will become proficient in all areas of academic skills by the end of a period, typically 10 years but sometimes longer, after the passing of education reform bill by a state legislature. The federal government, under No Child Left Behind can further require that all schools must demonstrate improvement among all students, even if they are already all over proficient.