High stakes testing

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High-Stakes Testing

High-Stakes TestingJason Pesante Rectin CMT-AWhat is High-Stakes Testing and Why Does It Matter?High-stakes testingas the use of a test or an assessment to make decisions that are of prominent educational, financial, or social impact.

Some examples of important decisions that are made on high-stakes tests include whether A student will be promoted to the next grade, A student will receive a high school diploma, Schools are classified as unacceptable, acceptable, or exemplary in terms of their educational performance,Schools, principals, or teachers receive financial or other incentives, or penalties, based on student performance on a high-stakes test,A state educational agency or a private corporation takes over the administrative control of local schools, andPrincipals, teachers, or other schools staff are reassinged to other schools or are offered employment contract renewal.Comparing and Contrasting NCLB and State High-Stakes Testing Programs The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was passed in 2002, after all 50 states and the District of Columbia developed state HST programsAlthough there are similarities between NCLB and state HST programs there also are important differences. NCLB is about much more than HST, but HST is a part of NCLBBy contrast,- NCLB did not exist until 2002 because HST existed before NCLBThe Architects of NCLB:- both practical and political reasons, gave the states the authority to select the tests and assessments that would be used to meet federals NCLB accountability requirements- state opted to use the same measures they are already using their HST programs to meet NCLB accountability requirements.As a result, when annual assessments are discussed, they may be referred to in the context of NCLB requirements, state requirements, or both.How results are reported can also be confusing.Both NCLB and many state HST programs require that public report cards be issued annually that describe the performance of the students on the annual assessment.NCLB- these reports must include overall performance by grades level.- the results must also disaggregated, or broken down, to show performance differences among economically disadvantaged students, ethnic minorities, limited English proficient (LEP) students, and students with disabilitiesHigh-stakes testing- may or may not report their scores this way.- these report cards also are used to rank schools under NCLB, and under most states HST programs, into categories that range from low performing to exceptional based on whether student achievement meets specified proficiency levels.

Proficiency Criteria of NCLB and High-stakes testing.Under NCLB, if a school fails to meet the state proficiency criteria two or more years in row, states must impose increasingly serious consequences on the schoolUnder HST, may require that certain levels proficiency are necessary for students to be promoted to next grade, for students to graduate from high school, for educators to receive salary increases or bonuses, or, if criteria are not meet, for authorities to take over schools or reassign school staff to other schoolsAlthough controversy regarding the use of tests to make decisions about promotion, retention, and financial incentives or penalties for school staff is often attributed to NCLB, these are not NCLB requirements---they arise from HST programs requirementsIt may help to keep in mind that when NCLB was passed in 2002 states were faced with the challenge of quickly meeting the laws accountability requirements.Since all states already had HST programs in place, most states adopted their state assessments and adapted their school report cards to meet both NCLB and state HST requirements rather than start from scratch.Not all state HST assessments and programs are of equivalent quality. So the extent to which state HST programs will fulfill the intent of NCLB and meet their own state requirements remains to be seen.High-Stakes Testing: A Nationwide phenomenonHST is contoversial but is now widespread.With the possible exception of NCLB, there is no development during the last decade that has generated more contoversy among educators than high-stakes testing (HST) movement, which spread to every state in the nation by 2002. And the controversy is not limited to educators.Now vital for teachers to be informed about because teachers today are increasingly affected by their phenomenom. HST test results can potentially affect their carrers as well as futures of their studentsHigh-Stakes Tests are Only ToolsHigh-stakes tests, like other tests, are only tools and their usefulness depends on how well constructed they are and whether they are used and interpreted appropriately.High-stakes test are carefully constructed, administered, and scored.We believe that some high-stakes tests or tools may be better planned, develop, and implemented than others. In other words, we believe that some high-stakes tests may be better than others, and some may be used more appropriately than others.A tests usefulness can vary depending on the purpose of testing and the characteristics of the person the test is administered to.No test can be a one size fits all test that is equally suitable for all purpose (e.g assessing academic proficiency of regular and special education students, and evaluating teachers and curricula) and for all students.We believe high-stakes tests are potentially useful. But we also have concerns about the way some high-stakes test have been develop and the way some of these tools have been used.Promotion and Graduation Decisions Affect StudentsThe impact of promotion and graduation decisions on the studenst and their families is both significant and controversial. Using test data to inform these decisions is usually not controversial in and of itself.What is controversial is thatIn many HST programs these decisions are based entirely, or in large part, on the results of a single testMany people question whether high-stakes tests are valid measures of learningFor example, lets consider the use of a high-stakes test instead of a report card for promotion decisions.The use of high-stakes tests for promotion decisions has been recommended to combat social promotion.Social promotion is the tendency to promote students with academic skills deficits to the next grade to keep them with same-aged peers to offset presumed damage to self-esteem and social development.

When high-stakes tests are used, the promotion decision is determined by an objective snapshot of the students achievement obtained from the test (i.e., a test score) rather than on a more comprehensive but potentially more subjective series of grades and ratings on a report card.This high-stakes promotion model greatly simplifies the decision-making processthose who score high enough are promoted, those who do not are retained. Figure 2.1 The decision to promote or retain based on a high-stakes test versus a traditional report cardHigh-Stakes Test ModelReport Card ModelSource(s) of DataA high-stakes testMultiple teacher constructed tests, projects, homework and seatwork, observations, attendance, and other dataBasis for the promotion decisionScore on the high-stakes testScores and ratings on tests, projects, homework and seatwork, observation of social and emotional development, maturity, citizenship, attendance, and other dataObjectivity of the decisionHighbased solely on the scoreVariablegrades and ratings may require judgements and may be influence by a variety of non-achievement factorsPrincipal and Teacher Incentives Are Linked to PerformanceIncentives (i.e., rewards and penalties) for principals, teachers, schools, and school districts have also been attached to high-stakes test results to motivate school staff to encourage and prepare students to do well on high-stakes tests.As we discussed earlier, school and school district performance is reported by the state via school report cards with financial and other incentives provided for schools, educators, and districts that do well on the high-stakes test. 18School performance is also reported to the public through the media, so that high or low performimg schools are either applauded or chastised in the court of public opinion.Where unacceptable performance continues from year to year the school staff may be reconstituted. this means the principal and all or part of the existing school staff are reassigned, or their contracts are not renewed, and the school is then restaffed. The principle of reconstitution is based on the controversial belief that such massive restructuring will break the cycle of low expectatios and low achivement for the schools pupilsEffect on Property Values, Business Decisions, and PoliticsThe impacts of HST has been felt outside the schools, and it has also become a popular political issue.High-stakes test results are now widely anticipated by the public and are reported regularly in the media. As a result of this widespread media coverage, HST results now influence real estate values and even business decisions.Example:Real estate values tend to increase in areas where high-stakes tests indicate that students are performing well, as a result of increased demand for housing in these areas by parents with school-aged children, and vice versa.20High-stakes test results are also considered by business executives when they decide to relocate or expand their operations.Business executives realize that it will be easier for them to attract qualified employees if the local schools have records of high achievement on high-stakes tests.HST has also become a part of state and national political campaigns. HST was a prominent part of President George W. Bushs election campaign in 2000.HST became a cornerstone of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act that was signed into law in January 2002 following significant advocacy by President Bush.NCLB assessment requirements were modeled