Standardized tests are also known as a form of high stakes testing. High stakes testing is an incredibly controversial topic that many within and apart from school systems often debate. High stakes tests have a huge impact on the education system as a whole, but there are many that feel they are given too much importance. Before you form your own opinion on the subject of high stakes testing, you should take a closer look at the pros and cons of this issue. You might be surprised how high stakes testing impacts decisions at a variety of different levels academically and within the education system.
High stakes testing is not seen by many as a black and white issue. It is a subject that involves a lot of controversy and people are passionate on both sides of the argument. If you are looking to gain a clearer view on the effectiveness of high stakes testing, you need to begin by weighing the pros and cons against one another. This will help you to form a more unbiased opinion based on the facts.
Pros of High Stakes Testing
1. Hold Educators and School Districts Accountable
High stakes testing is a way to evaluate school districts and teachers. You need to see how students are performing compared to other schools. If standardized test scores are constantly low for one school district, this shows a problem at a higher level. This means that the students are not being taught subjects in a way that is helping them retain information. Accountability is a major benefit that high stakes testing allows for. It is the only way to make educators and school districts more motivated to develop new curriculum and establish more effective teaching methods.
2. Comparison Tool
One of the biggest pros involving the use of high stakes testing is the ability to compare students against one another. It allows for students from different schools and different states to be compared based on their performance on a standardized test. If there were no high stakes tests to evaluate it would be almost impossible to compare students. Being able to accurately compare students is a major benefit that high stakes tests provide. No other method for accurate comparison has been suggested or implemented.
3. Standards Maintain Order
Almost all high stakes tests come with established standards and even instructional framework that allow both students and educators to be prepared in advance. High stakes tests are not just given blindly. Educators are aware of the content that will be included on the high stakes tests and they have a framework for evaluating the results of the tests.
4. Objective Tests Results
Since the results of high stakes tests are scored by computers, they are defined as objective in nature. This means that students are evaluated and scored based solely on their knowledge of the material and no other factor is involved in the evaluation process. This helps to remove any bias and allows students and educators to be compared objectively.
Cons of High Stakes Testing
1. One Shot to Get it Right
A big con associated with high stakes testing involves the all or nothing approach that is taken. Students only have one shot to score high on the test and their performance is evaluated on simply one specific day. High stakes tests do not allow for external factors to be taken into consideration. What is the student was sick? What if the student was preoccupied with a problem? Some students do not perform well on high stakes tests and they are simply given no other way to be evaluated from an academic standpoint beyond their grades. High stakes tests are not an ideal evaluation method for all students. Some students are more inclined to score higher on standardized tests than others.
2. Changes the Way Educators Present Information
Educators that are looking to be rewarded for high stakes tests scores are encouraged to “teach the test.” This means that the overall learning potential of the child can be impaired by simply teaching information that will be on the test. It creates an academic environment that is driven by test score results instead of the love of knowledge.
3. Do Not Account for Growth of Student Over Time
Another aspect where high stakes testing falls short is in how the overall performance of a student is evaluated. High stakes tests only evaluate a child once a year, but do not take into account the progress that the child has made. It is a flawed way to measure the learning process and some children are hurt more than others by the high stakes testing system.
What Are High Stakes Tests?
Before you begin to weigh the pros and cons of high stakes testing, it is a good idea to begin with the basics. High stakes tests are defined as any test that is linked to decisions involving students, educators and school districts. These tests are often used at the federal, state and local level to evaluate the effectiveness of school systems and a measurement tool that students are compared using.
These test scores that some from high stakes tests can have huge ramifications for students and school systems. Funding and penalties can be attached to the results of the high stakes tests. Accolades and compensation can be a reward for high results on high stakes tests, but penalties and loss of funds can be the punishment for poor scores on high stakes tests. No matter how you look at it, high stakes tests have a huge impact on education as a whole.
Are High Stakes Tests Currently Used?
High stakes test might be controversial subject, but they are currently the primary way that students and school districts are compared. High stakes tests come in a variety of forms including Proficiency exams, SATs and ACT. These standardized tests are meaningful to students and their academic success, but they also have an impact on educators and school systems. High scores are seen as a success and low scores are seen as a failure.
Too Much at Stake?
Many of those opposed to high stakes testing feel that it puts too much at stake at one time. Many believe that more should be taken into consideration when evaluating students, educators and school districts than simply the results of one standardized test. High stakes testing puts a lot of pressure on both students and school districts to perform at a high level. Having so much at stake with just one test is not viewed by all as being the best evaluator of success.
Comparison and High Stakes Testing
High stakes tests are primarily used for comparison. This includes comparing students against one another and comparing different school districts. High stakes testing has become the most popular comparison tool used in the education system. It is also possible to track the progress of students from year to year as their latest high stakes scores are evaluated. Being used as a comparison tool is the primary reason behind the implementation of high stakes testing.