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How High-Stakes Tests Are Hurting Our Children's Future

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Essay title: How High-Stakes Tests Are Hurting Our Children's Future

Almost every person who has graduated from high school has taken the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT), which is generally used for college admissions. We all remember the stress of taking a test that could affect our future educational plans. Now due to the “No Child Left Behind Act” of 2001, this kind of test is now being administered to children from the 3rd to 8th grades as a way to determine if the school or teachers are educating them properly. High-stakes standardized tests of this nature should not be used to determine the educational abilities of either schools or the teachers.

Standardized tests have been around for quite a while now, and are used by a large number of schools. These tests are developed by large educational companies, and because they are distributed to such a large number of schools, they’re used as a standard with which to compare students from the state in which they reside, or across the U.S. Most of these tests are fill in the bubble, multiple-choice, versus essay tests, which are more expensive for the schools to have graded. Some of the better known standardized tests are: SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test), ACT (American College Test), CAT (California Achievement Test), ITBS (Iowa Test of Basic Skills), and TAAS (Texas Assessment of Academic Skills).

These tests have been used by high schools and colleges to determine if a student has the knowledge needed to succeed in college. It is felt by a large number of students, teachers, and others in the education field, that these tests are not a true representation of what the students know, but rather how well the students can take a test. Standardized tests do not show how well a student does in class work, homework, self-study, or their response to learning.

The “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) act (P.L. 107-110), was signed into law by George Bush in 2001 to replace the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. NCLB has as one of its major requirements that all students from 3rd to 8th grade be required to take a standardized tests every year, and once in grades 9-12, these tests are on the subjects of math and reading, and must be expanded to science by 2007. In addition to the tests, states must implement an accountability system using the same assessment for all public schools in the state, and must meet the “adequate yearly progress” (AYP), which means that all public schools must show improvement every year. The baseline of this program is created using data from the 2001-2002 school year. If a school does not meet the AYP for two consecutive years, it is placed on a list of schools which need improvement, and receive assistance from the school district or the state. If the school continues to fail to meet AYP, then they may be subject to staff changes, longer school years, or even be closed and re-opened under new management.

This all seems like a great new program that will raise education levels and give aid to schools that lack funds, but it has some major problems. The first of these is what is called “teaching to the test.” This means that since the test is a “high-stakes test,” on which the future of the schools and the teachers depend on, the emphasis in the classroom will be on teaching children how to pass these kinds of tests. This can lead to teachers changing their teaching methods and class structure from learning how to find the answers to just knowing the answers.

The federal No Child Left Behind Act dramatically increases the use and importance of standardized tests. However, standardized tests are poor yardsticks to measure student achievement. In fact, an emphasis on testing encourages teaching to the test, skews school programs and priorities, and drives quality teachers out of the profession. In addition, since test scores can bounce

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