High Stakes Testing
In 1997, President Bill Clinton stated that the United States needed, “ a national crusade for education standards - not federal government standards, but national standards, representing what all our students must know to succeed in the knowledge economy of the twenty-first century”(http://books.nap.edu/books/0309062802/html/13.html). The way to succeed in this journey is through standardized testing that results in consequences for teachers and students.
Throughout this paper, I will be discussing how important high stakes testing is to our country. First, I will show how these tests prevent students from moving on to the next grade level or graduate without the skills necessary. Secondly, I will discuss how they improve students’ achievement. And lastly, I will describe how these tests keep teachers and schools accountable.
High stakes testing prevents students from being promoted or given a diploma without the necessary knowledge. The National Academies Press states, “unless we test student’s knowledge, how will we know if they have met the standards? And the idea of accountability, which is also central to this theory of school reform, requires that the test results have direct and immediate consequences: a student who does not meet the standard should not be promoted, or awarded a high school diploma”(books.nap.edu). Social promotion is allowing a student to move up a grade just because of their age. Standardized testing is helping students by keeping them back a grade or having them attend summer school in order for them to learn the skills they need in order to succeed in school and life. Recent facts have shown how often children have been promoted without the necessary knowledge. “At the end of the 1996-1997 school year, 32 percent, 31 percent, and 21 percent of students failed the initial examination at grades 3,6, and 8, respectively. Out of 91,000 students tested overall, almost 26,000 failed. After summer school, 15 percent, 13 percent, and 8 percent of students were retained at the three grade levels (Chicago Public Schools, 1998a)(http://books.nap.edu/books/0309062802/html/116.html).
High stakes testing also improves students’ achievement. Eugene Watts, Ohio’s State Senator, discusses a new exam that will be required for high school graduation starting in September of 2004. “It is a tribute to the process we have established that Ohio was one of only three states to receive a grade of A by the Fordman Foundation in its appraisal of math standards in 1998. Ohio’s model math standards also have the highest rating by the American Federation of Teachers and a grade of B+ for the level of rigor in a review of state standards in 1998 by the Council of Basic Education. Before proficiency testing, Ohio schools were graduating students with second grade math skills and fourth grade reading levels” (http://www.enc.org/topics/ assessment/testing/document.shtm?input=FOC-001574-index). The...