The Impact of High-Stakes Testing on Biology Curriculum Standardization ¢â€°  High-Stakes Standardization

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  • The Impact of High-Stakes Testing on Biology Curriculum Aressa Coley Mississippi State University

  • Brief History of Standardized Testing in U.S.

    ▪ Standardized tests have been used in the United States for roughly a century

    ▪ Use of standardized tests is common and widely accepted

    ▪ Standardized tests have been used to:

    ▪ Assess student aptitudes and achievements

    ▪ Inform decisions about curriculum and instruction

    ▪ Make predictions about how successful a student may be in the future

  • Standardization ≠ High-Stakes

    ▪ Standardization does not equal high-stakes

    ▪ High-stakes

    ▪ Test outcomes are used to make important, often life-altering decisions

    ▪ Standardized tests were predominately used as a source of information

    ▪ Although the expansion of high-stakes testing in the U.S. can be traced long before the implementation of NCLB, the use of high-stakes tests in the U.S. has increased substantially since its implementation

  • No Child Left Behind

    ▪ No Child Left Behind Act (2001)

    ▪ Generally flawed

    ▪ Provision that requires “states adopt a system of accountability whereby students, teachers, administrators, and schools are evaluated annually on the basis of students’ standardized test performance”

    ▪ Welcome to the world of high-stakes testing

    ▪ Stakes are considered high due to the magnitude of the consequences associated with student test scores

  • Consequences of High-Stakes Testing

    ▪ Numerous studies conducted over the last few decades have demonstrated that our nation’s public education system has been crippled by this push toward high-stakes testing

    ▪ Studies indicated that there are several unintended consequences associated with high-stakes examinations:

    ▪ Extreme pressure to lift performance from education and government leaders

    ▪ A shift in attention from high-achieving to low achieving students

    ▪ A narrowing of curriculum

    ▪ All in the name of accountability

  • Curriculum Narrowing

    ▪ The threat of narrowed curriculum as a result of high-stakes testing is described as a reduction in the intended curriculum

    ▪ Intended curriculum can be defined as, “any knowledge or skill that teachers deem critical for instruction to take place”

    ▪ In order to avoid inadequate levels of achievement that lead to sanctions for schools, students must receive instruction that will prepare them for what is on the accountability assessment

    ▪ Ex: “Drill and Kill”

    ▪ Classroom instruction pushed to focus more on core subject knowledge and skills that students need to be proficient

    ▪ Instruction becomes focused on test taking skills to facilitate higher student achievement

  • Science Curriculum

    ▪ Science content and science process skills

    ▪ Importance of curricular objectives is not always reflected in the distribution of items on standardized tests

    ▪ This is the driving force of teachers teaching to the test!

    ▪ Topics or skills not addressed in the test may be de-emphasized or ignored completely

    ▪ Important science process skills become absent from the classroom and pedagogical techniques shift to focus on memorization of science content

  • Mississippi Department of Education

    ▪ Mississippi Student Achievement Act (1999) mandated that standards for high school graduation “shall include mastery of minimum academic skills as measured by assessments developed and administered by the State Board of Education”

    ▪ Four subject area tests were developed:

    ▪ Algebra I

    ▪ Biology I

    ▪ U.S. History

    ▪ English II

    ▪ In order to earn a high school diploma, students must pass all four subject area tests to meet graduation requirements

  • Mississippi Biology End of Course Exam

    ▪ Many states in the U.S. have adopted a biology end of course exam to fulfill the NCLB subject area performance test for graduation requirement

    ▪ Unfortunately, change the way biology is being presented to our students

    ▪ Biology framework revised in 2010 to include inquiry: Biochemical Basis of Life, Living Organisms and Their Environment, Biological Organizations, heredity, Diversity and Biological Change

  • Statewide Longitudinal Data System

    ▪ Education policy decisions have become increasingly data driven

    ▪ Longitudinal data from early childhood to postsecondary education and the workforce

    ▪ Assist in answering questions about education quality and outcomes

  • Research Design

    ▪ 490,619 Student records

    ▪ Analyzed Biology I end of course exam score data from 2010 to 2012

    ▪ Baseline – 2010 data, reflects “traditional” teaching

    ▪ 2011 – 2012 data, reflects classroom instruction targeted at raising test scores

    ▪ The use of state-level data allows researchers to control for variation in implementation and to generalize about a much greater trend

  • AREA

    BIO 2010 BIO 2011 BIO 2012 ADV







    Mississippi Total 27.56% 32.02% 16.92% 23.50% 9.23% 41.18% 30.72% 18.88% 8.39% 41.25% 34.69% 15.67%

    Male 30.02% 31.03% 15.36% 23.59% 10.46% 40.53% 29.12% 19.89% 9.04% 40.51% 33.55% 16.90%

    Female 25.23% 32.96% 18.39% 23.42% 8.06% 41.79% 32.22% 17.93% 7.77% 41.96% 35.76% 14.51%

    Asian 55.38% 31.99% N/A* N/A* 29.52% 46.03% 16.19% N/A* 29.63% 48.89% 16.05% N/A*

    Black 12.29% 29.21% 22.20% 36.30% 2.76% 29.67% 38.45% 29.12% 2.30% 30.48% 44.09% 23.13%

    Hispanic 31.48% 36.07% 13.44% 19.02% 11.06% 47.55% 28.28% 13.11% 8.93% 48.14% 30.27% 12.66%

    Native American N/A* N/A* N/A* N/A* N/A* N/A* N/A* N/A* N/A* 48.24% N/A* N/A*

    White 46.17% 35.47% 10.62% 7.73% 16.93% 55.37% 21.33% 6.37% 16.11% 55.21% 22.68% 6.01%

    Other 35.58% 32.69% N/A* N/A* N/A* 47.31% N/A* N/A* N/A* 46.27% 35.07% N/A*

    Students With Disabilities 5.86% 15.61% 16.40% 62.13% 1.54% 16.57% 29.47% 52.41% 1.63% 15.12% 35.90% 47.35% Economically Disadvantaged

    19.20% 30.01% 19.45% 31.35% 5.84% 35.93% 34.25% 23.98% 5.02% 35.30% 39.39% 20.29%

    English Language Learner 24.22% 32.18% 12.80% 30.80% N/A* 41.21% 31.21% 23.33% 5.37% 39.84% 36.59% 18.21% Total

  • Findings

    ▪ Results show a decrease in the number of students at the minimal performance level and increase in the number of students at the basic performance level

    ▪ Also show a decrease in the number of students performing at the advanced level

    ▪ Data serves as evidence of a reduced biology curriculum

  • Implications

    ▪ These results suggest that biology teachers are not delivering the intended biology curriculum that is aligned to both state and national science education standards

    ▪ We need to develop a more accurate measure of student achievement

    ▪ These disciplinary based education results should be used to drive changes in the assessment of STEM education and student learning

  • Thank you!