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Q8: What Do They Say Against High-Stakes Tests?

"It is improper - and potentially illegal - to use a test score as a single factor to determine retention, graduation or college admission."
U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, 1999

"Decisions that affect individual students' life chances or educational opportunities should not be made on the basis of test scores alone. Other relevant information should be taken into account to enhance the overall validity of such decisions."
American Educational Research Association, 2000

"We're embracing standardized tests just when the new economy is eliminating standardized jobs."
Robert B. Reich, former Secretary of Labor

"As someone who has spent his entire career doing research, writing, and thinking about educational testing and assessment issues, I would like to conclude [this study review] by summarizing a compelling case showing that the major uses of tests for student and school accountability during the past 50 years have improved education and student learning in dramatic ways. Unfortunately, that is not my conclusion. Instead, I am led to conclude that the unintended negative effects of high-stakes accountability uses [of tests] often outweigh the intended positive effects."
Robert L. Linn, Distinguished Professor at the Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, University of Colorado, Boulder, and Co-Director of CRESST (National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing at UCLA). "Assessments and Accountability," Educational Researcher, 29, 2, p.14 (March, 2000).

"We opposed high-stakes, standardized tests used to make important decisions about students or schools for the following reasons: making bad decisions, narrowing the curriculum, focusing exclusively on certain segments of students, losing instructional time and moving decision-making to central authorities and away from local personnel."
National Council of Teachers of English, 1999

"If teachers are judged by their students' standardized test scores, they will no longer see the opportunity to engage with their students as guides, rather only as taskmasters. Unfortunately, both parents and teachers are likely to treat children who fail tests differently, and potentiate the self-fulfilling prophecies begun by the tests."
Brian K. Hixson (veteran teacher), "How Tests Change a Teacher," The New York Times, January 25, 2000

"As states have rushed to adopt high stakes testing, there have been no significant gains in academic achievement... The dropout rate has increased for both blacks and whites, contrary to most reports... The basic theory justifying such tests - that students rationally react to increasingly demanding requirements by learning more in earlier grades - has little support. If the basic premise upon which high stakes testing is founded is false, and its costs are so severe, then why is it being so widely championed as a panacea?"
Gary Orfield, Professor of Education and Social Policy, Harvard University Graduate School of Education

Interesting web sites:

The National Council of Teachers in English - A professional association of Educators in English Studies, Literacy, and Language Arts.

The US Dept of Education: Office for Civil Rights - Primary responsibility is resolving complaints of discrimination.