High Stakes Testing Research Paper

Standardized test results have become the indicators of school and student performance, with public reporting, monetary or nonmonetary rewards, and a range of interventions for low-performing schools as consequences for excellent or poor performance (Elmore et al. By the early 1990s, standardized, multiple-choice high-stakes testing came under siege from many constituencies for containing gender bias, ethnic prejudice, and socioeconomic favoritism.Critics bemoaned the narrowing of curriculum and instruction and the perverse incentives inherent in high-stakes testing to retain and reclassify students.While collective research dampened the enthusiasm for alternative assessments, some elements were incorporated into high-stakes testing, including open-ended writing and performance tasks.

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This legislation required states to adopt test-based statewide accountability systems, testing annually in reading, math, and eventually science from grades 3 through 8 and one year of high school.

States were to define proficiency and adequate yearly progress to get all students to proficiency in 12 years.

According to this concept, the extrinsic rewards and sanctions associated with the high-stakes test serve to motivate teachers to improve their performance.

This presumes that educators require external pressure to improve their teaching.

Test-based accountability systems — the use of tests to hold individuals or institutions responsible for performance and to reward achievement — have become the cornerstone of U. federal education policy, and the past decade has witnessed a widespread adoption of test-based accountability systems in the U. Consider just one material manifestation of this burgeoning trend: test sales have grown from from approximately $260 million annually in 1997 to approximately $700 million today — nearly a threefold increase. Research shows that high-stakes assessments can and do motivate change in instructional practice.

But critics charge that these changes tend to be superficial adjustments, focused on the content covered and test preparation rather than deep improvements to instructional practice.

Performance task content produced gender-related biases (Jovanovic et al. Alternative assessments were also found to be cost prohibitive.

For example, the cost of large-scale science performance assessments in California were found to be 20 to 60 times more expensive than standardized multiple-choice assessments for an equally reliable score (Stecher and Klein 1997).

Many maintained that multiple-choice testing, with its emphasis on recall of isolated bits of knowledge, represented an outdated behaviorist view of learning.

Moreover, research confirmed many of these critiques.


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