High Stakes testing is a highly debated topic in the education field today. The goals that it seeks are widely criticized yet also praised by the public, mainly the government. The article which I read, entitled, “Issues in High-Stakes Testing Programs” by, Anthony E. Kelly and Finbar C. Sloane, touched upon the various pros and cons of the required state testing. Most importantly in their eyes was the view of the students upon the test results, “the impact of student motivation and morale is at the center of this discussion”.
Tests are called “high-stakes” when they are used to make major decisions about a student, such as grade promotion or high school graduation. They are very important tests which can and most of the time, do override other factors associated with the student such as grade point average and work effort. There are many arguments against the use of these “high-stakes” tests, for one that the tests are unfair to many students. Many students just don’t test well or have “test anxiety”. Some students are in poorly-funded schools, come from low-income families, have problems with health care or nutrition, and these tests punish these children for things that they cannot control. For children who have learning disabilities or are ESL fail state tests far more often than do “regular” students.
These tests have also shown that teachers usually “teach to the test”. Since these tests promote assessment of learning compared to assessment for learning, they differ dramatically from the normal school curriculum. The best argument against the use of these tests though is that grade withholding has continually been proven to be counterproductive. Students who are held back suffer a loss of interest and self-esteem and are more likely to drop out of school. Studies have even shown that graduation tests lead to a higher drop out rate for students that are low achievers in school, while they do not produce improved...
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