Arguments Against High-Stakes Testing

Even as proponents cite important benefits for the implementation of high-stakes testing, opponents claim that there are reasons to support its elimination. They argue that these tests do not mirror curriculum, that they put students under undue pressure, and that they are often perceived as being biased against minority students and students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

Tests Do Not Mirror Curriculum

Many people argue that the standardized tests do not test what students are actually learning in their courses. Therefore, teachers have to stop teaching their required curriculum in order to spend time helping students pass the tests. If the tests are properly constructed, this is not the case. However, opponents argue that many times the tests are not well constructed. They test “artificial” information that does not truly show student achievement.

High-stakes testing often puts a lot of pressure on you as a teacher. However, you need to avoid letting any stress you feel from this pressure affect your day-to-day teaching.

Undue Pressure

Opponents also argue that high-stakes testing puts too much pressure on students and teachers. They claim that students can actually be harmed by the amount of emphasis placed on passing these exams. Because there is so much discussion and pressure put on the students, it is not uncommon for them to really worry about passing these tests.

It is sad when a group of advanced third graders who should have little, if any, problem in passing the third grade standardized exam are so worried about passing that they feel sick going into the test. However, this happens all the time. There is a question of whether test anxieties can actually result in invalid grades.

Standardized Testing Is Biased

People who believe that high-stakes testing is a bad practice also cite the bias that appears to be inherent in standardized testing. Minority students and those from lower-income families get lower scores, on average, on these tests. Therefore, using them as a method for comparison between schools is not valid and is actually harmful.

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