High-Stakes Test-Based Accountability
Policies: Problems and Pitfalls
In 1993, the Massachusetts Board of Education approved a policy
advisory for circulation to all school districts in Massachusetts.
Entitled "School Account-ability and Indicator Systems: Implications
for Policy Making in Massachusetts," the policy advisory
presented research on accountability policies and standards-based
reform. Among other findings, this policy advisory noted that:
The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is a federal law that provides money for extra educational assistance for poor children in return for improvements in their academic progress. NCLB is the most recent version of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
States set educational proficiency level
Under the U. S. constitution, states have the primary responsibility for public education. However, if states want to receive federal NCLB funds, they must agree to the law's requirements to:
Will Fail Our Children
A FairTest Position Statement on
“No Child Left Behind,” the name of the federal
Elementary and Secondary Education Act, describes a worthy goal
for our nation. Tragically, the legislation will exacerbate,
not solve, the real problems that cause many children to be left
"High-stakes" tests are exams used to make important decisions about students, such as graduation or grade promotion. Decades of research shows the key reasons why test scores should never be the determining factor in making major decisions about students:
SELECTED ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY ON LANGUAGE MINORITY ASSESSMENT 1995
Ascher, C. "Testing Bilingual Students: Do We Speak
the Same Language?" PTA Today (March 1991, pp. 7-9).
Discusses cultural and linguistic bias issues in bilingual
testing, options for administering tests to bilingual students,
and problems associated with these options. Includes a short
description of an alternative, "dynamic assessment."
All of us, as parents and citizens, want to make sure our schools
are doing a good job and our children are learning. Unfortunately,
the MCAS exams-and the "tougher standards" philosophy
that they reflect-not only fail to provide meaningful information
but actually interfere with the goal of providing students with
a high-quality education.