The Unintended Consequences of Standardized Testing

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The Unintended Consequences of High Stakes Testing

Since the beginning of the 20th century some form of high stakes standardized testing has existed in the United States. Test use has ranged from determining acceptance or rejection of an immigrant to enter the U.S. to declaring a citizen competent to enter the military. So, for nearly a century, high stakes testing has had significant rewards and consequences associated with it. Standardized testing of student comprehension and competency has long been involved with K-12 education, but has lacked the association with high stakes. In 1983, the National Commission on Education released "A Nation At Risk", "which called for an end to the minimum competency testing movement and beginning of high stakes testing movement that would raise the nation's standards of achievement drastically". Within the last decade many policymakers have adopted legislatures in their own states requiring the use of high stakes testing to help determine accountability in their school systems. Many times these high stakes tests determine whether a student advances to the next grade level or even graduates high school. The American Psychological Association (APA) states that the potential problem with current increased emphasis on high stakes testing is not necessarily the test per se, but the instances when tests have unintended and potentially negative consequences for individual students, groups of students, or the educational systems more broadly. Currently many school systems use the single test score of a student to determine whether they advance to the next level of education. I believe that when tests are used properly, they can be very effective in identifying a student's strengths and weaknesses. Although high stakes testing has good intentions, a single test provides only a glimpse of a student's academic performance, and therefore should not be the single determining factor whether a student passes or fails. Furthermore, high...
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