High Stakes Testing
Albert Einstein once stated, “not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts.” High-stakes testing attempts to determine the knowledge a person has obtained throughout grades K-12. These standardized tests are being used to judge a person’s ability to graduate from high school and also judge if a child has enough knowledge to proceed to the next grade level. Throughout this paper, I will be discussing how these tests do not accurately portray one’s intelligence, how they have increased drop out rates, and also show the damaging psychological affects they have had.
High stakes testing does not accurately determine a student’s intelligence. In 1999, the National Academy of Sciences researched the appropriate and inappropriate uses of tests. They agreed that “no single test score can be considered a definitive measure of a student’s knowledge”(http://www.allianceforchildhood.net/news/histakes_test_position_statement.htm).
To use these standardized tests to decide if a person has earned his/her diploma is unreasonable, and they have been proven ineffective. The Alliance for Childhood states that, “the use of standardized tests as the sole measure of whether students are promoted, are placed in low-track classes, or will graduate from high school is condemned as insupportable by every professional testing organization.”(alliance). In Arizona, the AIMS (Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards) test will soon be used in this way; high school seniors in the year 2008 must pass this test to graduate. A study prepared by the Arizona Standards organization states that, “the Arizona AIMS test, if implemented today, would fail between 50% and 75% of all high school seniors”(http://www.azstandards.org/protestmaterials.htm). This astonishing statistic proves just how ineffective the AIMS test is. This study also stated that, “every standardized test has a certain “error of measurement” which means that a given score could actually be off by several points in either direction. High stakes, however, have single scores as the cut-off point. Those scores do not account for the inaccuracies that all test publishers acknowledge”(azstandards). There have been many studies in which students take the same test on different days, and their score varies greatly. High stakes testing does not give any consideration to these errors.
High stakes testing increases drop out rates. Texas adopted a test much like the AIMS in the 1990-91 school year. TAAS (Texas Assessment of Academic Skills) testing has produced a very astounding number of minority dropouts. The Arizona Standards study states that there has been a 30% increase in dropouts among Hispanic and African-American students (azstandards). Walt Haney, who wrote an article on the effects of the TAAS test, claims that, “a convergence of evidence indicates that during the 1990's, slightly less than 70% of students in Texas...