The following comes to us from Dov Rosenberg, Instructional Technology Facilitator from Durham, NC.
High stakes tests do not effectively gauge student ability, are harmful to children, and make public schools less effective.High-stakes tests do not effectively gauge student ability:
High-stakes tests are harmful to children:
- *Constrict wide expanses of knowledge into only what can be measured by a multiple choice test.
- *Many contain nonsensical questions, have multiple correct answers, or have no right answers at all (look up Pineapplegate).
- *With hundreds of millions of American kids taking the same test, ethnic & regional differences aren’t considered, making them unavoidably culturally biased.
- *Unduly reward the superficial ability to retrieve info from the short-term memory.
- *Pass/Fail status is often determined by politicians while test scores are often manipulated for political purposes.
- National Academy of Sciences, 2011 report to Congress: “Standardized tests have not increased student achievement.”
- Measure only low-level thought processes, trivializing true learning.
- Hide problems created by margin-of-error computations in scoring; scoring errors can have life-changing consequences.
- Curricula constructed from high-stakes tests are based on what legislators assume children will need to know in the future. Countless previous attempts at predicting the future have ended in failure.
- Are often only marginally aligned with curricular standards.
- Provide minimal feedback that is useful to classroom teachers.
- Penalize test-takers who think in non-standard ways (common in children).
- Test results are not able to predict future success.
- Claimed to be used as a diagnostic tool to maximize student learning, but are actually used to punish students, teachers, & schools.
High stakes tests make public schools less effective:
- *Minimal time for socializing & physical activity b/c recess & PE are cut in favor of test prep, particularly affecting low-scoring students.
- *Testing anxiety has lead to sickness, vomiting, & even incontinence in the classroom.
- *Excessive testing stifles the love of learning.
- *Year-end tests require sitting still & staying focused for 3.5 hours, which leads to behavior problems.
- *Encourage the promise of extrinsic motivators such as rewards for high scores (bribes) & punishments for low scores (threats).
- Pressure to pass tests has lead to stimulant abuse in teenagers.
- *The lowest & highest achievers are left out as instructional resources are focused on learners at or near the pass/fail threshold.
- *Fewer opportunities for kids to enjoy creative classes that make them love school.
- *Arts & other electives are cut in favor of test prep & testing, particularly affecting students from low-income families.
- *Children don’t receive adequate instruction in non-tested areas like science, history, geography, government, etc.
- *Divert billions of state taxpayer funds from public schools to pay huge testing firms like Pearson & ETS (Educational Testing Services).
- *Divert precious time resources to test facilitation, preparation (such as begging proctors to volunteer), & administration.
- *As top private schools have rejected high stakes testing, more affluent families have moved their children out of public & charter schools, where high stakes tests are unavoidable.
- When test scores trigger automatic retentions, much older students in classrooms can cause additional behavior problems
- On norm-referenced tests, nationally, 50% of students are below average, by definition. Thus, requiring all students to be at or above “grade level” is statistically impossible.
- Give testing firms control of the curriculum
- Test scores are used to evaluate teacher effectiveness in lieu of more effective administrator observations
- Reduces teacher creativity & autonomy, thereby reducing the appeal of teaching as a profession
- Minimize teachers’ ability to accomodate multiple learning styles and provide adequate differentiation
- Create unreasonable pressure on students & teachers to cheat as well as on administrators & school districts to ”game the system”