High Stakes Testing Essay

3377 words - 14 pages

IntroductionFor centuries, the prevailing assumption about learning has been that the teacher tells, shows, or demonstrates facts, knowledge, rules of action, and principles, and then the students practices them (Burton, 1996). Hence, the way in which a student was assessed has been indicative of this assumption. However, in the last decade there has been somewhat of a "revolution" in the world of education. Educators and policy makers alike have worked to develop new methods of teaching and learning that center around improving assessment performance standards, in hopes of raising the standard of education.With the advent of new accountability standards such as the "No Child left Behind' (Bush, 2001) act, designed for educators to improve the quality of education for children, educators are finding new and creative ways to provide instruction for children that has moved teaching beyond the "telling, showing, and demonstration of facts". However, the cost associated with these new "standards of education" are antithetical to what these new standards were designed to do, which in turn is affecting students and educators alike.This paper will look at the history of performance assessments, and the ways in which high stakes testing has become the dominant pedagogy for teachers in America. This paper will also look at the pros and cons of performance assessments, and some strategies for improving the overall quality of education for children in America.History of Performance AssessmentsSince testing was first introduced as a policy mechanism in China in 210 B.C there have been four major ways to assess behavior and performance. First, you could have asked the person to supply an oral or written answer to a series of questions (e.g. essay questions, etc.). Second, you can ask a person to produce a product (e.g. a portfolio or artwork, a research paper, etc.). Third, you could require the person to perform an act to be evaluated against certain criteria (e.g. conduct a chemistry experiment, read aloud from a book, etc.). Finally, you can have an examinee select an answer to a question or a posed problem from among several options (e.g. multiple choice or true/false testing) (Madaus, 1999).The dawning of the "modern period" in testing arrived toward the end of the 19th century. The early unsuccessful attempts by Sir Francis Galton and others to measure intelligence was the precursor for testing today. This movement was brought into fruition in 1905 by Alfred Binet's introduction of the first successful intelligence test. Before the time of Binet, tests were relegated to a confined parameter of rhetorical style, curriculum, or craft. Binet's work led to others who began to develop other types of intelligence test that did not cater specifically to the individual, but rather to groups.Arthur Otis' development in 1917 of a group administered I.Q test; the Army Alpha laid the foundation for future testing that that could be used to assess large groups at...

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