Achievement Measures: An Overview

Achievement measures are quantitative assessments of an individual’s academic performance, often used to evaluate students, teachers, and educational programs. These measures provide educators and administrators with the data necessary to determine the effectiveness of their curriculum and to monitor student progress. This article reviews the types of achievement measures, their use in educational settings, and the potential implications of relying on these measures.

Types of Achievement Measures

Achievement measures may be used to assess a variety of educational outcomes, such as academic performance, cognitive ability, and social competence. Commonly used measures include standardized tests, surveys, and portfolios. Standardized tests, such as the SAT or ACT, provide a consistent measure of a student’s academic performance across different schools and states. Surveys are often used to assess students’ social and emotional competencies, such as self-efficacy or resilience. Portfolios are used to evaluate students’ progress in specific subject areas, such as art or music.

Uses of Achievement Measures

Achievement measures are used to inform decisions about curriculum and instruction, student placement, and educational policy. For example, standardized test scores are used to evaluate the effectiveness of a school’s curriculum and to determine which students are eligible for advanced classes or programs. Surveys may be used to identify students who are struggling with social and emotional issues and to provide targeted interventions. Portfolios are used to assess the progress of individual students and to evaluate the quality of instruction in a particular subject area.

Implications of Relying on Achievement Measures

Although achievement measures can be useful tools for evaluating student performance and informing educational decisions, there are potential implications of relying too heavily on these measures. For example, standardized tests may lead to a narrow focus on academic performance and may not accurately capture a student’s true ability. Similarly, survey data may not reflect the full range of a student’s social and emotional competencies. Finally, portfolios may be biased by evaluators’ subjectivity or may fail to capture the complexity of a student’s progress.


Achievement measures provide administrators and educators with the data necessary to evaluate student performance, inform curriculum and instruction, and monitor student progress. However, it is important to recognize the potential implications of relying too heavily on these measures. By considering the types of measures available, the ways in which they are used, and the potential implications of relying on them, educators can make informed decisions about how to best use achievement measures.


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Saraceni, M. L., & Cipani, E. (2019). Reliability and validity of achievement measures. In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.), Best practices in school psychology (7th ed., pp. 577–592). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

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