The Effect of Testing on Achievement: Meta-Analyses and Research Summary, 1910–2010

Source List, Effect Sizes, and References for Quantitative Studies

 

This study summarizes the research literature on the effect of testing on student achievement, which comprises several hundred studies conducted from the early 20th century to the present day. Links to relevant publications include:

 

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15305058.2011.602920

 

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/metrics/10.1177/0193841X19865628

 

https://nonpartisaneducation.org/Review/Resources/HongKong.htm

 

https://nonpartisaneducation.org/Review/Resources/Amsterdam.htm

 

Only quantitative studies are listed below. Publications thus far are based on 177 studies and 640 effects. Mean effect sizes range from a moderate ≈ 0.55 to a fairly large ≈ 0.88 depending on the way effects are aggregated or effect sizes are adjusted for study artifacts. Testing with feedback produces the strongest positive effect on achievement. Adding stakes or testing with greater frequency also strongly and positively affects achievement. The evidence from a century’s worth of quantitative studies shows the effect of testing on achievement to be moderately to strongly positive.

 

Some studies have been added to the table since the publications above. They are noted with an * in the leftmost column.

 

Smaller-scale studies tend to produce stronger effects than do large-scale studies. Those who judge the effect of testing on achievement exclusively from large-sample multivariate studies deprive themselves of the most focused, clear, and precise evidence. Some prominent researchers in economics and education, for example, have claimed that no studies of “test-based accountability” had been conducted before theirs in the early 2000s. But this list includes 24 studies completed before 2000 whose primary focus was to measure the effect of “test-based accountability.” A few dozen more pre-2000 studies also measured the effect of test-based accountability although such was not their primary focus. Include qualitative and program evaluation studies of test-based accountability, and the count of pre-2000 studies rises into the hundreds.

 


THE EFFECT OF TESTING ON ACHIEVEMENT, QUANTITATIVE STUDIES

 

Author

Year of pub

Primary focus of study

Level of educa-tion

Sub-level of education

Loca-tion

Geo-graphic context

Unit of analysis

Number of Effects

Mean Effect size**

Gates, A.I.

1917

retention

K-12

lower secondary

US

campus

student

32

0.65

Jones, E.H.

1923

retention

college

undergrad

US

campus

student

13

1.42

Shore, Miles Victor

1925

testing frequency

K-12

lower secondary

IA

campus

student

2

0.28

*Jersild, A.T.

1926

retention

college

undergrad

CO

campus

student

8

0.14

Panlasigui, Isidoro

1928

mastery testing

K-12

primary

US

city

student

1

0.20

*Hertzberg, O. E., Heilman, J. D. & Leuenberger, H.

1929

retention

college

undergrad

NY, CO

campus

student

2

0.42

Deputy, E. C.

1929

testing frequency

college

undergrad

IN

campus

student

2

0.82

*Maloney, E. L., & Ruch, G. M.

1929

testing frequency

K-12

lower secondary

CA

campus

student

6

1.30

*Thisted, M. N. & Remmers, H. H.

1931

retention

college

undergrad

IN

campus

student

8

0.22

Turney, A. H.

1931

testing frequency

college

undergrad

US

campus

student

1

4.52***

*O. E. Hertzberg, J. D. Heilman, H. W. Leuenberger

1932

testing frequency

college

undergrad

CO

campus

student

3

0.42

Kulp, D. H.

1933

testing frequency

college

graduate

US

campus

student

1

1.05

Keys, N.

1934

testing frequency

college

undergrad

CA

campus

student

3

0.36

*Kirkpatrick

1934

testing frequency

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.31

*Gable

1936

testing frequency

 

 

 

 

 

 

-0.80

*Bess E. Johnson

1938

testing frequency

college

undergrad

NY

campus

student

2

0.35

Noll, V. H.

1939

retention

college

undergrad

RI

campus

student

1

-0.26

Ross, C.C., & Henry, L. K.

1939

testing frequency

college

undergrad

IA

campus

student

1

1.31

Sones, A. M., & Stroud, J. B.

1939

retention

K-12

lower secondary

IA

campus

student

1

-0.26

Spitzer, Herbert F.

1939

retention

K-12

intermediate

IA

city

student

6

0.85

Fitch, Mildred L., Drucker, A. J., & Norton, J. A., Jr.

1951

testing frequency

college

undergrad

IN

campus

student

1

0.74

Mudgett, A. G.

1956

testing frequency

college

undergrad

MN

campus

student

2

0.20

*Burns, P. C.

1960

retention

K-12

intermediate

KS

school

student

2

0.75

Standlee, L.S., & Popham, W. J.

1960

testing frequency

college

undergrad

IN

campus

student

2

0.46

Selakovich, D.

1962

testing frequency

college

undergrad

TX

campus

student

2

-0.10

Curo, D.M.

1963

testing frequency

K-12

upper secondary

IN

metro area

student

1

0.31

Laidlaw, W. J.

1963

testing frequency

college

undergrad

NJ

campus

student

2

-1.11

*Mach

1963

testing frequency

college

undergrad

CA

campus

student

1

0.15

Denny, T., Paterson, J., & Feldhusen, J.

1964

testing frequency

college

undergrad

IN

campus

student

1

0.11

Sax, Gilbert, & Reade, Marybell

1964

practice test

college

undergrad

HA

campus

student

1

1.11

Stodola, Q.C., Eustice, D.E., & Kolstoe, R.H.

1964

testing frequency

college

undergrad

ND

campus

student

2

0.44

*English, R. A.

1965

retention

college

undergrad

AZ

campus

student

12

0.28

Pikunas & Mazzota

1965

testing frequency

K-12

upper secondary

MI

city

student

1

1.03

Rothkopf, Ernst Z.

1966

practice test

college

undergrad

NJ

campus

student

4

2.29

*Westbrook, B. W.

1967

retention

K-12

upper secondary

FL

school

student

4

0.67

*Bruning, R.H.

1968

retention

college

undergrad

NE

campus

student

3

1.80

*Lachman, R. & Laughery, K. R.

1968

practice test

college

undergrad

NY

campus

student

8

0.80

*Wiggins, J. A.

1968

testing frequency

college

undergrad

NC

campus

student

1

1.30

*Olsen, Weber, & Dorner

1968

testing frequency

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.14

*Nystrom, N.K.

1969

testing frequency

college

community college

AZ

campus

student

1

0.52

*Sassenrath, J.M. & Yonge, G.D.

1969

retention

college

undergrad

CA

campus

student

2

0.33

*Frase, L. T., Patrick, E. & Schumer, H.

1970

accountability

college

undergrad

MA

campus

student

2

0.22

*Pratt

1970

testing frequency

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.19

*Katherine Marie Janczarek

1970

testing frequency

college

undergrad

MI

campus

student

2

0.61

Marso, R. N.

1970

mastery testing

college

undergrad

NE

campus

student

6

0.50

*Mawhinney, V. T., Bostow, D. E., Laws, D. R., Blumenfeld, G. J. & Hopkins, B. L.

1971

testing frequency

college

undergrad, grad

IL

campus

student

2

0.30

*Mary Collamer Hubbard

1971

testing frequency

college

undergrad

MI

campus

student

4

0.78

*Rose Marie Hesse

1971

testing frequency

college

undergrad

MI

campus

student

4

0.89

*Dustin

1971

testing frequency

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.62

Donaldson, Wayne

1971

retention

college

undergrad

PA

campus

student

3

0.56

Hogan, Robert M. & Kintsch, Walter

1971

retention

college

undergrad

CO

campus

student

4

0.05

Lawler, R.M

1971

mastery testing

college

undergrad

FL

campus

student

2

1.37

Monk, J. J., & Stallings, W. M.

1971

testing frequency

college

undergrad

IL

campus

student

9

0.20

*Anderson, R. C., Kulhavy, R. W. & Andre, T.

1972

retention

college

undergrad

IL

campus

student

3

0.46

*Kulhavy, R. W. & Anderson, R. C.

1972

retention

college

undergrad

IL

campus

student

3

0.62

*Owen T. Anderson, Robert A. Artman

1972

testing frequency

college

undergrad

PA

campus

student

1

1.00

*Gary R. McKenzie

1972

mastery testing

K-12

lower secondary

CA

city

student

4

0.31

Block, J. H.

1972

mastery testing

K-12

lower secondary

OR

city

student

2

0.04

Okey, J.R., Brown, J.L., & Fiel, R.L.

1972

testing frequency

college

undergrad

CA

campus

student

3

1.34

Weber, L., & Olsen, R. E.

1972

retention

college

graduate

IL

campus

student

4

0.20

Robinson, P.

1972

account-ability

college

undergrad

UT

campus

student

2

0.22

*Boyd, W. M.

1973

retention

college

undergrad

MA

campus

student

3

0.58

Bostow, D.E. & O'Connor, R.J.

1973

mastery testing

college

undergrad

FL

campus

student

1

1.01

Shapiro, S. L.  

1973

testing frequency

college

community college

NY

city

student

1

0.43

Sheldon, M.S., & Miller, E.D.

1973

mastery testing

college

community college

CA

campus

student

1

0.61

Wentling,T.L.

1973

mastery testing

K-12

upper secondary

IL

city

student

4

0.22

Calhoun, James F.

1973

mastery testing

college

undergrad

NY

campus

student

2

0.83

*Tulving, E. & Watkins, M. J.

1974

retention

adult

all

CT

all

adult

1

0.99

*Rievman, S.P.

1974

testing frequency

college

undergrad

FL

campus

student

30

0.41

*Palmer

1974

testing frequency

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.55

*Williams & Lawrence

1974

testing frequency

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.34

*James H. Block & Michael L. Tierney

1974

mastery testing

college

undergrad

CA

campus

student

1

-0.12

Martin, R.R, & Srikameswarant, Kam

1974

testing frequency & mastery testing

college

undergrad

Ontario

campus

student

4

0.27

Nation, J.R., Knight, J.M., Lamberth, J. & Dyck, D.G.

1974

mastery testing

college

undergrad

OK

campus

student

14

0.62

Okey, J.R.

1974

mastery testing

K-12

primary

IN

all

student

5

0.55

Semb, George

1974

mastery testing

college

undergrad

KS

campus

student

1

0.76

Hill, Mildred, et al.

1974

account-ability

K-12

primary

VT

school district

student

1

0.28

Reith, H., et al.

1974

testing frequency

K-12

intermediate

KS

suburban

student

3

0.47

Honeycutt, J.K.

1974

mastery testing

college

undergrad

OH

campus

student

1

1.61

Muha, Joseph F.

1974

mastery testing

college

community college

CA

campus

student

1

1.95

*Surber, J. & Anderson, R.

1975

retention

K-12

upper secondary

IL

school

student

2

0.53

*Jack R. Nation & Stephen S. Roop

1975

mastery testing

college

undergrad

TX

campus

student

2

0.13

*Townsend & Wheatley

1975

frequent testing

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.54

Anderson, Richard C. & Biddle, W. Barry

1975

retention

K-12

adults

IL

rural

student

2

0.52

Fiel, R.L., & Okey, J.R.

1975

mastery testing

K-12

lower secondary

IN

city

student

2

0.66

Goldwater, B.C.& Acker, L.E.

1975

mastery testing

college

undergrad

Canada

campus

student

1

0.77

Jones, F.G.

1975

mastery testing

K-12

lower secondary

GA

metro area

student

1

0.57

Knight, J.M., Williams, J.D., & Jardon, M.L.

1975

mastery testing

college

undergrad

TX

campus

student

4

0.60

Modigliani, Vito

1975

retention

K-12

lower secondary

CT

city

student

4

1.80

Anderson, Lorin W.

1975

mastery testing

K-12

lower secondary

SC

metro area

student

1

2.06

Decker, D.F.

1976

mastery testing

college

undergrad

RI

campus

student

4

2.28

Fehlen, J.E.

1976

mastery testing

college

undergrad

MN

campus

student

1

0.39

Gaynor, Jessica & Millham, Jim

1976

testing frequency

college

undergrad

TX

campus

student

3

0.36

Gay, Lorraine R., & Gallagher, Paul D.

1976

retention

college

graduate

FL

campus

student

2

0.94

*Whitten II, W. B. & Bjork, R. A.

1977

retention

college

undergrad, grad

MI

campus

student

1

0.49

Hymel, G.M. & Gaines, W.G.

1977

mastery testing

K-12

upper secondary

LA

city

student

1

1.84

Kulik, J.A., Kulik, C. C., & Hertzler, E.C.

1977

mastery testing

college

undergrad

MI

campus

student

1

0.62

Nation, J.R., Massad, P., & Wilkerson, D.

1977

mastery testing

college

undergrad

TX

campus

student

1

0.86

*Sturges, P. T.

1978

retention

college

graduate

CA

campus

student

8

0.45

*Gall, M. D., Ward, B. A., Berliner, D. C., Cahen, L. S., Winne, P. H., Elashoff, J. D. & Stanton, G. C. 

1978

retention

K-12

lower secondary

US west

school

student

22

~  +0.30

Landauer, T.K. & Bjork, R.A.

1978

retention

college

undergrad

IL

campus

student

1

0.75

Badia, Harsh, & Stutts

1978

testing frequency

college

undergrad

OH

campus

student

1

0.40

Caldwell, E.C., et al.

1978

mastery testing

college

undergrad

WV

campus

student

1

1.60

Strasler, G.M.

1978

mastery testing

K-12

lower secondary

SC

metro area

student

2

1.66

Wellisch, J., et al.

1978

account-ability

K-12

intermediate

CA

city

school

2

1.17

Burrows, Charles K. & Okey, James R.

1979

mastery testing

K-12

intermediate

IN

city

student

3

2.24***

Guskey, T.R. & Monsaas, J.A.

1979

mastery testing

college

community college

IL

campus

student

9

0.16

Down, A. Graham

1979

account-ability

K-12

upper secondary

CO

city

student

1

1.45

Down, A. Graham

1979

account-ability

K-12

upper secondary

NC

school district

student

1

1.22

*Wilkins

1979

testing frequency

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.30

*Whiteley, J. W.

1980

retention

K-12

lower secondary

CA

school

student

6

-0.08

*Balota, D. A. & Neely, J. H.

1980

retention

college

undergrad

SC

campus

student

8

-0.06

*Hal R. Arkes

1980

retention, feedback

college

undergrad

US

campus

student

2

0.28

Benson, J.S. & Yeany, R.H.

1980

mastery testing

college

undergrad

GA

campus

student

4

1.05

Chiappetta, E.L. & McBride, J.W.

1980

mastery testing

K-12

lower secondary

TX

campus

student

2

0.61

Yeany, R.H., Dost, R.J., & Matthews, R.W.

1980

mastery testing

college

undergrad

GA

campus

student

1

0.76

Parramore, Barbara M., et al.

1980

accoun-tability

K-12

upper secondary

NC

all

student

2

0.83

*Frank E. Fulkerson & Glen Martin

1981

testing frequency

college

undergrad

IL

campus

student

2

0.34

*Negin

1981

testing frequency

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.70

Duchastel, P.C.

1981

retention

K-12

lower secondary

UK

campus

student

15

0.05

Leppmann, P.K., & Herrmann, T.F.

1981

testing frequency

college

undergrad

Canada

campus

student

3

0.94

Lueckemeyer, C.L.& Chiappetta, E. L.

1981

mastery testing

K-12

upper secondary

TX

suburban

student

1

0.56

Saunders-Harris, R, & Yeany, R.H.

1981

mastery testing

K-12

lower secondary

GA

metro area

student

6

0.51

*Elis, J. A., Konoske, P. J., Wallace II, W. H. &

1982

retention

college

undergrad

CA

campus

student

2

0.69

Nungester, Ronald J. & Duchastel, Philippe C.

1982

retention

K-12

upper secondary

PA

suburban

student

4

0.64

Bryant, N. Dale; Fayne, Harriet R.: & Gettinger, Maribeth

1982

mastery testing

K-12

intermediate

NY, IN

city

student

1

1.82

Mayer, V.J., & Rojas, C.A.

1982

testing frequency

K-12

lower secondary

OH

suburban

student

1

0.13

Brunton, Max L.

1982

accoun-tability

K-12

upper secondary

OR

school district

student

1

0.81

Arlin, M. & Webster, J.

1983

mastery testing

K-12

lower secondary

Canada

city

student

1

0.82

Clark, C.R.; Guskey, T.R.; & Benninga, J.S.

1983

mastery testing

college

undergrad

KY

campus

student

1

0.89

Dillashaw, F.G. & Okey, J.R.

1983

mastery testing

K-12

secondary

SC

rural

student

6

0.88

Runquist, Willard N.

1983

retention

college

undergrad

Canada

campus

student

5

2.96***

*Lindenberg, T. S.

1984

testing frequency

college

undergrad

IL

campus

student

22

0.30

*Eric F. Ward

1984

mastery testing

college

undergrad

IL

campus

student

2

0.47

Fuchs, Lynn S.; Deno, Stanley L.; & Mirkin, Phyllis K.

1984

testing frequency

K-12

intermediate

NY

city

teacher

3

0.77

Dunkelberger, G.E., Henry Heikkinen

1984

mastery testing

K-12

lower secondary

DE

suburban

student

1

0.20

Guskey, T.R., Benninga, J.S.,& Clark, C.R.

1984

mastery testing

college

undergrad

n/a

campus

student

1

0.78

Slavin, R.E. & Karweit, N.L.

1984

mastery testing

K-12

lower secondary

PA

city

student

1

0.09

Ketchie, Gary Joseph

1984

accoun-tability

K-12

upper secondary

LA, FL

all

school

2

3.71***

Marsh, Robert

1984

retention

college

undergrad

NC

campus

student

1

0.60

Walstad, William B

1984

practice test

K-12

lower secondary

MO

all

district

1

0.27

LeMahieu, Paul G.

1984

mastery testing

K-12

primary

PA

city

student

6

0.19

Blackburn, K,T, & Nelson, D

1985

mastery testing

college

undergrad 

GA

campus

student

1

1.69

McDaris, M. A.

1985

testing frequency & mastery testing

college

undergrad

OK

campus

student

1

5.77***

Hyde, R. M., et al.

1985

accoun-tability

college

graduate

OK

campus

student

1

1.32

Fuchs, Lynn S., & Fuchs, Douglas

1986

mastery testing

K-12

primary

MN

rural

student

2

0.32

Mangino, E.; Battaile, R.; Washington, W.; & Rumbaut, M.

1986

accoun-tability

K-12

upper secondary

TX

metro area

student

2

0.44

Rohm, R.A.; Sparzo, F.J.; & Bennett, C.M.

1986

retention

college

undergrad

IN

campus

student

3

1.97

*Stephens

1986

frequent testing

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.67

*Pressley, M., Snyder, B. L., Levin, J. R., Murray, H. G. & Ghatala, E. S.

1987

practice testing

college

undergrad

US

campus

student

7

0.49

*Hembree, R.

1987

accoun-tability

K-12

intermediate

US

school

student

8

0.81

*Bush, B. R.

1987

practice testing

K-12

primary

NE

school

student

6

0.07

*Douglas J. Herrman, Herman Buschke, Melanie B. Gall

1987

testing frequency

college

undergrad

NY

campus

student

3

1.27

*Herbert Friedman

1987

testing frequency

college

undergrad

US

campus

student

1

0.74

Koffler, Stephen L.

1987

accoun-tability

K-12

lower secondary

NJ

all

student

3

0.47

Winfield, Linda F.

1987

accoun-tability

K-12

lower secondary

US

all

student

6

0.28

*Slamecka, N. J. & Katsaiti, L. T.

1988

retention

college

undergrad

Canada

campus

student

6

0.77

*Yamin, S.B.

1989

testing frequency

college

undergrad

Malaysia

campus

student

1

1.33

*Cathy A. Grover, Angela H. Becker, & Stephen F. Davis

1989

testing frequency

college

undergrad

KS

campus

student

1

0.42

Beaulieu, R. P., & Frost, B. F.

1989

testing frequency

college

undergrad

MI

campus

student

2

0.60

Dineen, P, Taylor, J. & Stephens, Larry.

1989

testing frequency

K-12

upper secondary

NE

suburban

student

4

0.61

Glover, John A.

1989

retention

college

undergrad

IN

campus

student

7

1.94

Strawitz, Barbara M.

1989

testing frequency

college

undergrad

LA

campus

student

1

0.26

Haynie, W.J. III

1990

retention

K-12

lower secondary

NC

all

student

6

0.66

Cone, Al L.

1990

testing frequency & mastery testing

college

undergrad

ND

campus

student

1

0.56

Johnson, P.E.

1990

testing frequency & mastery testing

college

undergrad

NC

campus

student

1

0.99

Schloss, P. J., Smith, M. A., & Posluzsny, M.

1990

mastery testing

college

graduate

NY

campus

student

2

1.06

McTarnaghan, Roy E.

1990

accoun-tability

college

undergrad

FL

all

student

6

0.93

*Lundeberg, M. A. & Fox, P. W.

1991

accoun-tability

college

undergrad

MN, WI

campus

student

20

0.64

*John R. Bergan, Ingrid E. Sladeczek, Richard D. Schwarz, Allen N. Smith

1991

feedback

K-12

kindergarten

AZ, CA, NM, IA, LA, MS

all

student

3

0.20

Clariana, R.B., Ross, S.M., & Morrison, G.R.

1991

mastery testing

K-12

upper secondary

TN

city

student

2

1.06

Haynie, W.J. III

1991

retention

college

undergrad

NC

campus

student

9

0.92

Rodgers, Natalie; and Others

1991

accoun-tability

K-12

upper secondary

TX

metro area

student

2

0.11

Morris, Don R.

1991

accoun-tability

K-12

all

FL

city

student

1

1.60

*King, A.

1992

retention

college

undergrad

CA

campus

student

3

0.78

Kika, Frank M.; McLaughlin, T.F.; and Dixon, J.

1992

testing frequency

K-12

upper secondary

British Columbia

rural

student

4

0.40

Carrier, Mark, & Pashler, Harold

1992

retention

college

undergrad

CA

campus

student

4

0.72

Jacobson, J.E.

1992

accoun-tability

K-12

upper secondary

US

all

student

6

0.65

Potter, David C., & Wall, Mary Ellen

1992

accoun-tability

K-12

primary

SC

all

student

36

0.25

Wheeler, Mark A., & Roediger, Henry L., III

1992

testing frequency

college

undergrad

TX

campus

student

2

1.45

Brown, Steven M. & Walberg, Herbert J.

1993

accoun-tability

K-12

primary

IL

city

student

5

0.38

Chao-Qun, Wei & Hui, Zhang

1993

accoun-tability

K-12

all

China

city

student

1

1.07

*Annette M. Iverson, Grant L. Iverson, Leslie E. Lukin

1994

testing frequency

college

undergrad

IA, MO, OK

campus

student

4

0.21

*Haynie, W.J. III

1994

retention, testing frequency

college

undergrad

NC

campus

student

6

0.83

Ritchie, Donn & Thorkildsen, Ron

1994

accoun-tability

K-12

intermediate

n/a

city

student

1

1.35

Fredericksen, N.

1994

accoun-tability

K-12

primary

US

all

student

6

0.11

*Wolf, L. F. & Smith, J. K.

1995

accoun-tability

college

undergrad

NY

campus

student

2

0.86

*Bangert, A. W.

1995

feedback

college

undergrad

SD

campus

student

2

0.33

Haynie, W.J. III

1995

retention

college

undergrad

NC