Arguments for High-Stakes Testing
There are many people who believe that high-staes standardized testing is a necessary element of the educational system. Only with real rewards and consequences will students and schools rise in their level of achievement. In fact, student motivation is one of the arguments for high-stakes testing.
Because these tests are required for promotion and/or graduation, students have a real motivating factor for achievement. Other reasons people argue for the use of high-stakes testing include holding educators accountable and providing measures of comparison.
Different national groups have differing opinions on high-stakes testing. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) supports the use of exit exams. The National Education Association (NEA), on the other hand, believes important issues like graduation should not depend on one standardized test.
Holding Educators Accountable
Many people believe that in the United States today, the state of education is a mess, and unfortunately, they think that teachers are mostly to blame. The fact is that because of low pay, the effects of tenure, and the loosening of certification requirements, some teachers are just not very good. Proponents believe that standardized high-stakes testing forces teachers to cover at least a minimum of quality information for students.
Proponents also feel that high-stakes testing provides a measure of accountability where very few other measures exist. Grading practices differ from teacher to teacher and are therefore not valid for comparison and accountability.
On the other hand, state tests are valid because all students are measured using the same test. Students either are or are not prepared for these exams based on the education they have received from their teachers.
Providing Measures for Comparison
How can you compare one school to another? Without standard measures, parents rely on word of mouth and rumor. Schools are labeled as good or bad based on parent and student perceptions of the quality of their education. Proponents of high-stakes testing claim that these tests allow the public a means for comparing schools.
Since lower-income schools are also often the poorest performing, this means of measure has huge implications in terms of educational responsibility. High-stakes testing proponents claim that by exposing disparities, more assistance can be given to these schools and, more importantly, their students. This support has come in various ways, including increased scrutiny and even aid from state agencies.