Is High Stakes Testing Effective? Essay

1541 words - 6 pages

The issue of high-stakes testing is a substantial topic in the world of education today. Some find it to be a useful tool in making decisions in education. By using the results from a high stakes test, schools are able to decide where each student should go next. By setting high standards and high expectations, schools are ensuring that their tests have a purpose. (National Research Council, 1999) Others disagree and find high-stakes testing to be a complete waste of time. In Massachusetts, professors are protesting the use of these tests. They’re saying that high-stakes tests are not a good way to assess the schools performance nor the teachers and students in the schools. Which is it? Good or bad? After much research it has been found that having a high-stakes testing environment in schools creates unsuccessful results in education. Valerie Strauss, an education reporter from Washington, D.C . was able to get information from the Massachusetts professors and researchers themselves who stated:
As educators and researchers from across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, we strongly oppose our state’s continued over reliance on high-stakes standardized testing to assess student achievement, evaluate teacher effectiveness, and determine school quality. Given that standardized tests provide only one indicator of student achievement, and that their high-stakes uses produce ever-increasing incentives to teach to the test, narrow the curriculum, or even to cheat, we call on the BESE to stop using standardized tests in high-stakes decisions affecting students, teachers, and schools. (Strauss, V. 2013)

In a perfect world, high-stakes tests would be the ideal thing. However, that is not the case. Despite what some people may think, punishing schools for bad test scores is not going to improve anything. Teachers can only do just so much. It should be noticed that these tests have not been designed in an effective way. According to the director of the Bay Area Research Group:
Educators do pay attention to what is on the tests—but the consequences are not necessarily the intended ones. Even the most carefully designed standards are only as effective as the tests that assess how well students have achieved them. And standardized tests can only assess a small portion of the curriculum. State accountability tests leave out some subjects altogether, and they only cover a limited sample of the many subtopics covered in others. In addition, for practical reasons, state tests tend to rely on easy-to-score questions that measure basic skills and recall instead of higher-order thinking. Worse yet, when stakes are high, it's more likely that what's missing from the tests will disappear from the curriculum, especially in schools with low-performing students. (David 2011)

In the study of “Negotiating Identity and Science Teaching in a High-Stakes Testing Environment” the focus is on an individual elementary teacher. It demonstrates the amount of stress she...

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