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High Stakes Testing In American Schools Essay

1618 words - 6 pages

The NCLB Act has obligated the government to find a way to keep track of progress, which, in their minds, is administering high-stakes tests. High-stakes testing is scrutinized all the time, since some believe it is the only indicator of tracking students and teachers. They seemed to have been ridiculed by many and favored by few; nonetheless there are significant disparities in the public’s and government’s opinion. According to Dunne (2000), “Tests aren't just tests anymore -- at least not high-stakes tests, which are being used in some states to determine which students stay back a grade, which high school seniors receive diplomas, which teachers get bonuses, and more.”
The National Education Association (NEA) does not believe one exam should determine if a student moves onto the next grade or graduates, according to Dunne (2000). Promotion exams, which require students to pass comprehensive end of year tests to move from grade to grade, really test for knowledge retention. This does not mean a student cannot succeed at the next grade level. A comprehensive end of year exam does not illustrate whether a student has the aptitude to perform well, which is why they are a weak indicator of academic advancement. Even though there are schools that provide various opportunities to pass the exams, they are detrimental to have at each grade level. Instead of being opportunistic and eager to garner more knowledge, students will become more focused on end of year exams. Therefore, promotion exams facilitate an unhealthy learning environment, which is non conducive to education.
In 2007, there were only seven schools in the U.S. that gave promotion exams, according to Lloyd (2008). This can create an extreme amount of pressure and anxiety for students in all grade levels. It would also do the same to educators because they would be held accountable for the success of someone else’s children. The inequitable consequences that teachers and administrators would have to bare are uncalled for. These exams generate pessimistic attitudes that become contagious and infect the educational environment. Extensive research shows that students who are held back do not progress academically, suffer a loss of self-esteem, and are more likely to drop out of school, according to FairTest (2008).
Each year more and more states are requiring exit exams in order to receive a diploma. These forms of high-stakes tests seem to be more idealistic for schools across the U.S. as they begin to adopt and modify them. Exit exams have brought about many lawsuits throughout the country though, since they deny students who fail a high school diploma. Many say that the exams are not impartial and that they discriminate against English language learners, minority students, special education students, and economically disadvantaged students. All-in-all the exit exams do serve a more meaningful purpose than other forms of high-stakes tests.
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