Standardized test score gains ≠ cognitive gains

A new study shows that students who achieve the highest gains on standardized tests do not show improvements in their cognitive skills.

The research was conducted by groups at MIT, Harvard, and Brown, and funded by the NIH and the Gates Foundation. It examined about 1,400 eighth graders, from Boston’s public and charter schools. The scientists found that, although some schools had a significant, positive impact on their students’ scores in English or Math standardized tests, the same schools had little or no impact on the students’ gains in cognitive skills.

To test cognitive skills, the researchers focused on “fluid intelligence” – the ability to analyze abstract problems and think logically.

The results add to the growing chorus of concerns about the value of standardized test-based school reform (see here).