Module 5: Impact (screen 2 of 4)
Washback and Instructional Planning

Tests can have positive and negative effects, or washback. Positive washback refers to expected test effects.  For example, a test may encourage students to study more or may promote a connection between standards and instruction. Negative washback refers to the unexpected, harmful consequences of a test.  For example, instruction may focus too heavily on test preparation at the expense of other activities.  Washback from tests can involve individual teachers and students as well as whole classes and programs.  Click here for an example of positive washback in action.


One way to ensure positive washback is through instructional planning that links teaching and testing.  By selecting a test that reflects your instructional and program goals, you can more closely align testing with instruction.  The principles of backward design (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005) provide a helpful model for integrating teaching and testing.