In education, achievement is the construct of understanding student learning and educational effectiveness. Because what a student knows and can do cannot be measured directly but must be inferred, determining the nature and level of a student's achievement—identifying achievement in real-life cases—is necessarily problematic. Apparent precision in achievement test scores belies the elusiveness of achievement and maintains public confidence that test scores accurately indicate achievement. Although increasingly prominent since the mid-19th century, standardized high-stakes achievement testing has generated concern and opposition. Thus, as achievement has become evermore crucial in educational accountability and evaluation, determining achievement has become correspondingly controversial.

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