NZCER completely stands by the validity and reliability of the STAR test. It was redeveloped over a two year period, with more than 16,000 students participating in the process of pilots, national and standardization trials. This process gives us the empirical data required for generating reliable data and test results.
In an article in The Listener and repeated in the New Zealand Herald, some principals have raised concerns about student results under the revised STAR. Assessment practice changes over time. Since 2006, NZCER has been redeveloping all our standardised tests to draw upon current thinking and research in test development. One of the key changes has been the introduction of a scale score and we have been encouraging schools to make greater use of scale scores for data analysis over the last 7 years. This was a new development with STAR and the concerns raised highlight the complex nature of the assessment analysis and reporting schools are now required to do. At NZCER we need to do a better job of working alongside schools to communicate about the tests and to support schools with their data analysis. Activities planned include a new assessment blog and a series of workshops.
NZCER has invested thousands of dollars and involved thousands of teachers and students in the redevelopment process. There has been absolutely no political pressure to inflate results from these tests and if there was, we would ignore it and stand by the empirical data gained from the rigorous test development processes we use. NZCER has deep expertise in test development, and particular strength in our psychometric work. We stand by our tests and regularly review the data generated by NZ students completing the published tests to ensure that we continue to provide tests of a high quality.