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Achievement measures are test of developed skill or knowledge. The most common type of achievement test is a standardized test developed to measure skills and knowledge learned in a given grade level, usually through planned instruction, such as training or classroom instruction.[1][2] Achievement tests are often contrasted with tests that measure aptitude, a more general and stable cognitive trait.

Achievement test scores are often used in an educational system to determine what level of instruction for which a student is prepared. High achievement scores usually indicate a mastery of grade-level material, and the readiness for advanced instruction. Low achievement scores can indicate the need for remediation or repeating a course grade.

Under No Child Left Behind, achievement tests have taken on an additional role of assessing proficiency of students. Proficiency is defined as the amount of grade-appropriate knowledge and skills a student has acquired up to the point of testing. Better teaching practices are expected to increase the amount learned in a school year, and therefore to increase achievement scores, and yield more "proficient" students than before.

When writing achievement test items, writers usually begin with a list of content standards (either written by content specialists or based on state-created content standards) which specify exactly what students are expected to learn in a given school year. The goal of item writers is to create test items that measure the most important skills and knowledge attained in a given grade-level. The number and type of test items written is determined by the grade-level content standards. Content validity is determined by the representativeness of the items included on the final test.

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  1. Hawaii Department of Education. (1999, November 19). Assessment Terminology. Retrieved June 11, 2007, from http://www.k12.hi.us/~atr/evaluation/glossary.htm
  2. University of Wisconsin-Stout. (2007, June 11). Glossary. Retrieved June 11, 2007, from http://faculty.uwstout.edu/lawlerm/at101/glossary.shtml

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