By C. Brandon Chapman, College of Education

The Coug football team wasn’t the only WSU representative to hit national top 10 status in 2017.

An article on practice testing written by a WSU associate professor made the American Educational Research Association’s list of most-read education research articles of 2017.

Sola Adesope, an educational psychologist, served as lead author of Rethinking the Use of Tests: A Meta-Analysis of Practice Testing, which climbed to No. 10 on the group’s annual list. It was cowritten by doctoral students Dominic Trevisan (Simon Fraser) and Kripa Sundararajan (WSU).

This recognition is particularly notable because of the consistent debate these days on how many people read peer-reviewed research articles. While data say there are few people who read any given article from start to finish, the AERA’s list may suggest it has more to do with the topic covered than the format.

In this case, Adesope said there is extreme interest in testing, not only because of policy shifts such as the No Child Left Behind Act, or Common Core State Standards, but because summative tests are being used to make high-stakes decisions.

“These decisions have drastic and often long-lasting effects, such as school funding, merit pay for teachers based on student standardized test scores, student promotion to higher grades, and admission into colleges,” Adesope said. “Because of this, there’s no surprise that testing and the issues surrounding tests have attracted large debates and scholarly attention and has led some policymakers and educators to use summative assessment as a main tool to measure students’ mastery of skills and knowledge.”

Kripa Sundararajan in profile
Kripa Sundararajan

Adesope said the heavy emphasis has an obvious downside, but that tests can also be useful if used for feedback.

“Regrettably, the high-stakes decisions often obscure some very important test functions,” he said. “These include the opportunity to use test results for low-stakes formative assessments and provide students with feedback on their strengths and weaknesses, as well as helping teachers improve their instruction.”

Read full research article