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REAL LIFE REPERCUSSIONS
Read more: Minneapolis Star Tribune, August 2, 2000
More than 300 Minnesota high school seniors missed their graduation because
of scoring errors by National Computer Systems Inc. on a high-stakes math
test . Nearly 8,000 students were told they failed when they had passed.
National Center for Education Statistics
Drop out rates in Texas are thirty percent, more than double the national
average of 14 percent.
|Recently, high-stakes standardized testing as a means of
reform has captured the support of many local, state, and national educational
leaders including the President, members of Congress, a majority of governors,
state legislatures, and boards of education. What most clearly defines
these groups and individuals is their pursuit of mandated curriculum and
testing regimes as a simplistic cure-all solution to the variously perceived
ills threatening the fundamental effectiveness of public education. In
both editorial and news stories, the media generally supports this view.
Read More: Interversity “Roots of Resistance” conference
In Birmingham, Alabama, 522 students with low skills, 5.6% of the high
school population, were “administratively withdrawn” from school right
before administration of the SAT9. School scores went up, removing them
from threat of state takeover. All the pushed out students are African
|All children should learn the same content which is decided by an external
agency appointed by government/legislature/state board of education.
||We agree that all children need, basic skills, but insist that a varied
curriculum contributes to a vital democracy.
|Academic success depends on individualeffort; failure is the fault
of the individual.Everybody can and should learn anything decided by the
||We believe decisions about the contentof children’s educational programsshould
SOME PROGRESSIVE CONCERNS
1. Education decisions
based on high-stakes tests have a disproportionate impact on poor and minority
On October 4, 2000, Parents for Educational Justice in Louisiana filed
a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, alleging that the state’s
high-stakes testing system is “an inexpensive attempt to punish the victims
of educational neglect and divert the public’s attention from the
real steps that need to be taken to improve educational opportunity for
the children of Louisiana.”
Read more: http://communities.msn.com/parentsforeducationaljustice
In 2008, students will not graduate unless
they have passed every part of the Washington
Assessment of Student Learning, earning a
certificate of mastery. In Spring 2000, only
one third of the state’s 10th graders passed
the math or writing sections of the WASL.
Tumwater Superintendent Nick Brossoit says
the stakes are too high for students who do
not test well and for students who do
not learn enough—often through no fault of their
own or the school’s. “Public school
is not like a dry cleaner, where you drop them off,
then pick them up all starched and press,”
Read more: The Olympian, September 19, 2000
2. Pinning high school graduation
on high stakes testing increases drop out rates.
The human cost of the Chicago ‘miracle’: 10,000 students pushed out
Read more: Substance , October 2000
In Florida, between ninth grade and graduation day, roughly half of the
state’s high school
students leave, fall behind or disappear.
Read more: http://www.sptimes.com/News/22299/State/Dropping_out_of_the_p.html.sptimes.com
In Texas, adoption of the high school exit exam (TAAS) has produced a 30%
increase in dropouts among Hispanic and African-American students.
Read more: “The Myth of the Texas Miracle in Education,” Walt Haney,
Education Policy Analysis, http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v8n41/index.html
Although black and Latino students account for only 17 percent of all students
in Grades 9—12, they represent 40 percent of high school dropouts in Massachusetts.
MCAS Alert, Nation Center for Fair and Open Testing report, Oct. 2000
Results of a comprehensive study conducted by Cornell University and University
of Michigan economists “strongly suggest that state-mandated minimum course
requirements cause students to drop out of high school.”
Read more: http://www.news.cornell.edu/releases/March00/hS.dropouts.req.ssl.html
“We’ll have a graduating class of 10.”
Rodrigues, New Bedford High School (Massachusetts), Class of 2003
Read more: MCAS Alert, FairTest/CARE (Coalition for Authentic Reform
in Education), September 2000
3. High-Stakes tests narrow
the curriculum, limiting the scope of tested subjects and shortchanging
or eliminating subjects not tested. They distort the very meaning
of what is important in human conduct.
In Texas, TAAS, is the curriculum.
Read more: Parents United to Reform
TAAS Testing: www.taasblues.com
In the Cincinnati Public Schools the test is the curriculum.. . .At North
Avondale school, fourth-grade students are rushed through some Montessori
math lessons so they can be prepared for the test.
Read more: Enquirer, September 3, 2000
Tests are developed by a small group of government officials with hardly
involvement. As a results, parents and the public rarely know what
questions are asked
or what the “right” answers are.
Read more: A Closer Look: A Parent’s Guide to Standardized Testing
in North Carolina Schools
Across the country students spent all year in writing practice for the
formulaic demands of tests. Students write three- and five-paragraph essays
but do not engage in research, personal narrative, fiction writing. They
do not select own topics but respond to teacher-supplied prompts that mimic
those on the tests.
“In response to pressures to raise their test scores, schools in poorer
narrow test-taking drills at the expense of course content.”
Read more: “How the Stanford 9 Test Institutionalizes Unequal
Alex Caputo-Pearl, Los Angeles Times, May 2, 1999
4. High-stakes test place damaging
stress on children
[Ohio] parents say their young children are stressed out, sometimes fainting
or vomiting under the high-stakes pressure.
Read More: Enquirer, September 3, 2000
In Fairfield schools in southwestern Ohio, test-related stress has made
fourth-graders wet their pants and vomit.
Read more: Enquirer, September 2, 2000
taking the SAT9 is given less time per question than a 25-year-old college
graduate applying to law school.
Read More: “Readability of SAT9”: http://www.angelfire.com/fl4/fcar
Florida fourth graders were asked by their Sunday School teacher if they
pray about something that was scaring them, they joined hands and prayed
to pass the
Nap, play---and take a test. Saddleback Valley will use a beginner’s
version of the
Stanford 9 in kindergarten
Read more: The Orange County Register, April 8, 2000
In 1987, the National Association for the Education of Young Children provided
convincing and compelling reasons for not inflicting standardized testing
on young children.
Read more: http://www.naeyc.org/about/position/pstestin.htm
5. High stakes tests diminish
and underrepresent academic achievement.
Although Arizona students score, on average, as high as 10 percentile ranks
above the national median on such tests as the Stanford 9, the AIMS test
threatens to designate as many as 3 out of 4 of these students as failures.
Read more: http:11www.ade.state.az.us/programs/foundations/ssa/sat2000post.pdf
Achievement test scores are at all time highs. The proportion of students
scoring about 650 on the SAT mathematics is at an all-time high.
Read more: “Bail Me Out! Handling Difficult Data and Tough Questions
About Public Schools,” Gerald Bracey (Corwin 2000
Bracey and Education: Interview: http://civic.net/civic-values.archive/199704/msg00197.html
Seventy percent of Virginia parents polled agree with the statement,
“The SOLs are
more politically than educationally motivated.” Sixty-five percent
agreed that “Teachers
spend too much time teaching to the test rather than teaching other
Read more: Washington Post, June 27, 2000
For a fourth-grade student whose “true” reading score is exactly at
grade level, the chances are better than even that this student will score
either above the 55th percentile or below the 45th on any one test.
Read more: Accuracy of Individual Scores, David Rogosa
“How Tests Can Drop the Ball,” Richard Rothstein, New York Times,
Sept. 13, 2000
6. High Stakes tests divert
attention and monies from serious problems.
Books per student in school libraries for elementary school:
USA: 18 to 1
California: 12 to 1,down from 13 to 1 (last in the US)
Los Angeles Unified: 6 to 1
LA unified does not even provide funding for school librarians in its
elementary schools. (Source: Stephen Krashen, USC)
The New York City schools budget for libraries is $4 per student. (Source:
New York Post)
7. In fifty years, using
tests to improve education hasn’t worked.
Read more: “Assessments and Accountability,” by Robert Linn, Educational
Researcher, March 2000.
8. Even if tests
worked, security is an issue.
“Prosecutor Says Indictment of Austin Schools Will Help Deter Test
Read more: New York Times, April 8, 1999
“Leap21 test booklet recovered from parent”
Read more: The Advocate, March 23, 2000: http://www.threadvocate.com/news/story/asp?storyid=11830
The Gateway test is a day away, and Gwinnett County school district
officials are facing a major security breach---leaked copies of the
Read more: Atlanta Constitution, April 11, 2000
The Clayton County school board rehired a principal it fired for giving
teachers vocabulary words from a national test in advance
Read More: Atlanta Constitution, October 11, 2000
It would be effective to have newspaper headlines from around the country,
but “length” is an issue.
a. Individual needs and interests of students and communities must drive
b. Any test can only measure a limited range of knowledge and skills.
c. Heavy reliance on testing narrows the curriculum. High-stakes testing
undermines cognitively complex curriculum, inquiry, extended research,
science lab work, varieties of writing forms, oral presentations; it shortchanges
the arts and other areas not tested.
d. No high-stakes decision such as grade retention or graduation should
be based on the results of a single test.
e. Students, parents, and teachers should not be left out of high-stakes
|www.america-tomorrow.com/bracey/eddra/index.html (Periodic reports
from Gerald Bracey)
|http://carei.coled.umn.edu (Center for Applied Research and Educational
Improvement, University of Minnesota.
|http://www.fairtest.org (The National Center for Fair & Accurate
|http://www.cpog.org (Concerned Parents of Gwinnett County, Georgia)
|www.stopOPTS.org (Ohio Proficiency Test Protesters)
|www.newdemocracyworld.org (New Democracy)
|www.egroups.com/groups/azstandards (PEAK: Public Education for Arizona’s
|http://www.geocities.com/nccds/index.html (NC Citizens for Democratic
|http://www.solreform.com (Parents Across Virginia United to Reform
|http://www.angelfire.com/fl4/fcar (Florida Coalition for Assessment