End of Course Exams (EOCE) are summative assessments used to evaluate student proficiency with regards to the content covered in a course. This analysis is limited to standardized EOCE. Because they occur at the end, EOCE have no diagnostic value, but have potential for use by teachers and administrators for improving future instruction.
EOCE’s differ from standardized achievement tests in several ways. EOCE’s are limited to a single topic; whereas, standardized achievement tests cover a wide range of subjects. EOCE’s are administered shortly after a course, achievement tests are generally administered at the beginning and/or end of the year.
The following reasons are commonly cited for using EOCE’s:
Assess the effectiveness of instruction
Increase academic rigor of courses
Hold students, teachers, and schools accountable for achievement
Improve alignment of curriculum and instruction to standards
Increase the consistency of course work across schools
As a high stakes measure of skills and knowledge required for qualification to courses, graduation, and/or for university placement
At this time nearly half of U.S. states embrace EOCE’s. Despite its growing popularity, little research is available to ascertain the overall effectiveness of the practice.
The role of end-of-course exams and minimum competency exams in standards-based reforms.
This paper describes the role end of course exams can play in the standards based reform movement.
Bishop, J. H., Mane, F., Bishop, M., Moriarty, J., Murnane, R., & Steinberg, L. T,. (2001). The role of end-of-course exams and minimum competency exams in standards-based reforms. Brookings papers on education policy, 4, 267-345.
STATE END-OF-COURSE TESTING PROGRAMS: A Policy Brief
In recent years the number of states that have adopted or plan to implement end of course (EOC) tests as part of their high school assessment program has grown rapidly. While EOC tests certainly offer great promise, they are not without challenges. Many of the proposed uses of EOC tests open new and often complex issues related to design and implementation. The purpose of this brief is to support education leaders and policy makers in making appropriate technical and operational decisions to maximize the benefit of EOC tests and address the challenges.
Brief, A. P. (2011). State End-of-Course Testing Programs.
State High School Exit Exams: A Baseline Report.
This paper reviews the use of exit exams across the states and identifies challenges in implementation of these exams and what we know about the effects of them.
Chudowsky, N., Kober, N., Gayler, K. S., & Hamilton, M. (2002). State High School Exit Exams: A Baseline Report. ERIC. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED472055.pdf
The Relationship between Advanced Placement and College Graduation. 2005 AP Study Series, Report 1.
Dougherty, C., Mellor, L., & Jian, S. (2006). The Relationship between Advanced Placement and College Graduation. 2005 AP Study Series, Report 1. National Center for Educational Accountability. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED519365.pdf
Grade Inflation in High Schools (2005–2016)
This study examines that assumption, asking the question: how well do student grades correlate with test scores, school demographics, student performance on college entrance exams, and the historical difficulty for getting A’s (is it easier or harder to get A’s). The study found that students who scored higher on end-of-course (EOC) examinations also had higher grades. However having high grades did not correlate with doing well on the examination.
Gershenson, S. (2018). Grade Inflation in High Schools (2005–2016).
An evaluation of the impact of end-of-course exams and ACT-QualityCore on US history instruction in a Kentucky high school
This study evaluated the effect data from end of course exams had on teacher practices in history instruction. In general, the teachers supported the changes but were reluctant to change their instructional practices.
Mueller, R. G. W., & Colley, L. M. (2015). An evaluation of the impact of end-of-course exams and ACT-QualityCore on US history instruction in a Kentucky high school. The Journal of Social Studies Research. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/download/41700187/JSSR.pdf
The district effect: Systemic responses to high stakes accountability policies in six southern states
This study evaluated the effects of high stakes test such as end of course exams at the level of a school district. Across the six states included in the study the effects were mixed. In general the more developed the system was the better the effects but this was not always the case.
Opfer, V. D., Henry, G. T., & Mashburn, A. J. (2008). The district effect: Systemic responses to high stakes accountability policies in six southern states. American Journal of Education, 114(2), 299-332. Retrieved from http://www.darleenopfer.com/File/aje final.pdf
Incorporating End-of-Course Exam Timing Into Educational Performance Evaluations
There is increased interest in extending the test-based evaluation framework in K-12 education to achievement in high school. High school achievement is typically measured by performance on end-of-course exams (EOCs), which test course-specific standards in subjects including algebra, biology, English, geometry, and history, among others. Recent research indicates that when students take particular courses can have important consequences for achievement and subsequent outcomes. The contribution of the present study is to develop an approach for modeling EOC test performance regarding the timing of course.
Parsons, E., Koedel, C., Podgursky, M., Ehlert, M., & Xiang, P. B. (2015). Incorporating end-of-course exam timing into educational performance evaluations. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 8(1), 130-147.
Highlights from TIMSS and TIMSS Advanced 2015: Mathematics and Science Achievement of U.S. Students in Grades 4 and 8 and in Advanced Courses at the End of High School in an International Context.
The focus of the report is on the performance of U.S. students relative to their peers in other countries on TIMSS and TIMSS Advanced 2015, and, for TIMSS results, on changes in achievement since 2011 and 1995. This report also describes the characteristics of students who participated in the advanced mathematics and physics assessments at the end of high school, and describes the performance of males and females in these subjects. In addition, it includes achievement in Florida, and international benchmarks to provide a way to interpret the scale scores by describing the types of knowledge and skills students demonstrate at different levels along the TIMSS scale.
Provasnik, S., Malley, L., Stephens, M., Landeros, K., Perkins, R., and Tang, J.H. (2016). Highlights From TIMSS and TIMSS Advanced 2015: Mathematics and Science Achievement of U.S. Students in Grades 4 and 8 and in Advanced Courses at the End of High School in an International Context (NCES 2017-002). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch.
Can high stakes testing leverage educational improvement? Prospects from the last decade of testing and accountability reform.
This paper examines the use of high stakes testing such as end of course exams in American education. The conclusions are that the exams do not produce substantive changes in instructional practices and the information is useful to measure school and system progress but has limited utility for instructional guidance.
Supovitz, J. (2009). Can high stakes testing leverage educational improvement? Prospects from the last decade of testing and accountability reform. Journal of Educational Change, 10(2-3), 211-227.
State High School Exit Exams: A Move toward End-of-Course Exams.
This report updates the status of high school exit exams nationally. The number of states using end of course exams as part of accountability measures has become more common and data suggest the trend will continue.
Zabala, D., Minnici, A., McMurrer, J., & Briggs, L. (2008). State High School Exit Exams: A Move toward End-of-Course Exams. Center on Education Policy. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED504468.pdf
This report provides information on states that require students enrolled in courses that have an end-of-course (EOC) exam to take the EOC
Zinth, J. D. (2012). End-of-Course Exams. Education Commission of the States (NJ3).