High Stakes Testing: It’s Broke, yet We keep doing It

There is an old adage, “If it is broke, don’t fix it.”  Unfortunately, education in America is broke, yet we aren’t fixing it.

Extensive research has reached the conclusion that high stakes testing is a net negative and does not aid in student achievement.  

I have had the fortune of discussing testing with numerous public school educators.  They share these sentiments.  I often hear how they would love to focus on learning and the curriculum rather than teach in an environment of high stakes testing.

I feel for those educators.  Ultimately, we all want the same thing.  We all want our students to succeed.  

The following was published by NCTE and gives a summary of the research that has been accomplished regarding high stakes testing.  I have found it as a good resource in talking with other educators, parents, and policy makers on education reform.

•Afflerbach, P. (2005). High stakes testing and reading assessment: National reading conference policy brief. Journal of Literacy Research, 37(2), 151-162.

This reading brief describes the liabilities associated with high-stakes testing, including lack of research supporting a link between testing with reading achievement.EndFragment.

•Amrein, A.L. & Berliner, D.C. (2003). The effects of high-stakes testing on student motivation and learning. Educational Leadership, 60(5), 32- 38.

Research suggests that high-stakes testing creates less intrinsic student motivation and alienates students from self-directed learning. Topics include how high-stakes testing has impacted the rate of high school dropouts and student retention.

 

•Huempfner, L. (2004).  Can one size fit all?  The imperfect assumptions of parallel achievement tests for bilingual students.  Bilingual Research Journal, 28, 379-399.

This article focuses on some of the faulty assumptions that are made in the development of large-scale assessments for Spanish-speaking English language learners and argues that new measures need to be taken to assure that these tests reflect the best interests of the populations to whom they are administered.

•Neill, M. (2003). The dangers of testing. Educational Leadership. 60(5), 43-46.

The author suggests that high-stakes testing often impedes higher-level learning and skilled teaching because of the one-sided focus on test results. Data reveals that standardized testing has not led to an improvement in academic achievement.
•Triplett, C. (2005). Third through Sixth Graders’ Perceptions of High-Stakes Testing. Journal of Literacy Research 37(2), 237-260.

This study examined attitudes towards high-stakes testing by asking 225 elementary students to draw a picture and write a description that reflected their recent testing experiences.  Results indicate students’ negativity toward and anxiety concerning high-stakes tests.

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