Georgia's implementation of end-of-course tests and student grades
Nash, Nancy Greene
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This study examined student grades and Georgia’s implementation of end-of-course tests (EOCT) in one secondary school in middle Georgia. While studies exist on high stakes testing and student achievement, few studies inform about the implications of high stakes testing on student grades (Nichols, Glass, & Berliner, 2005). The possibility exists that grades incorrectly inform about student achievement (Hassel & Lourey, 2005). The researcher sought to determine if student grades changed significantly in courses in which the EOCT was implemented. The mean course grades in United States history and American literature for three student groups were compared using a one-way analysis of covariance. Student groups consisted of juniors who took no EOCT, juniors who took a pilot EOCT, and students who took the implemented EOCT. Convenience sampling was used and resulted in a total of 714 students in American literature and 702 students in United States history. The Georgia High School Graduation Test was used as the covariate between groups. The test of between-subjects effects revealed a statistically significant difference (p < .05) in student grades in American literature, p = .005, and no statistically significant difference (p < .05) in student grades in United States history, p = .100. A pairwise comparison of the student mean grade in American literature was conducted to further determine in which year the statistically significant difference occurred. The findings are significant in examining teacher grading practices for grade inflation, assessment for learning, and real versus perceived student achievement. Results also implicate a need for further study into the attitudes of teachers and students regarding the potential rewards or penalties of including EOCT results in student grades.