An historical and legal review of high-stakes testing
Krolak, Michael J.
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The high-stakes testing of students is now a multi-billion dollar industry with multi-billion dollar consequences. Since the provisions of the NCLB ratcheted up accountability for students, educational stakeholders and observers have railed against the current high-stakes testing model. High-stakes testing is an industry whose affects are felt worldwide, as not only students and teachers are compared across districts and states, but whole countries are compared. Educational stakeholders across the globe wait with anticipation to see how they rank. Many argue against the standardized tests and the consequences of the results. High-stakes testing is, “When significant educational paths or choices of an individual are directly affected by test performance, such as whether a student is promoted or retained at a grade level, graduated, or admitted or placed into a desired program, the test use is said to have high-stakes” (American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, & National Council on Measurement in Education, 1999, p. 139). These tests are usually given on a statewide basis under strict security measures. The high-stakes are for the student and the school. The student results of the test can determine whether the student is promoted to the next grade level or if they have earned a high school diploma. The schools are to measure how well the school’s students compare against the other schools and against state standards. This study provides an historical and legal review of high-stakes testing and how educational testing has transformed into a pass/fail anxiety-inducing test for the current generation of students. High-stakes testing did not just appear overnight. There are landmark cases and state and federal legislation that allowed high-stakes testing to develop. The purpose of this study was to review important historical and legal events related to high stakes testing and its impacts on students.