No Exit?

K-12 Testing

One pervasive negative impact of high stakes tests that is often overlooked by the media and in public debates is their disproportionately negative impact on poor children and children of color. No Exit? Testing, Tracking and Students of Color in Public Schools, by the Oakland, California-based Applied Research Center (ARC) provides clear documentation and a review of research about how "exit exams and other commonly used and increasingly popular public school testing and tracking practices perpetuate and aggravate racial inequality and classroom segregation."


This double whammy occurs when test scores are used to "punish students for attending substandard schools" and are then used to deny the same students access to high quality programs or to track them into remedial or lower-level classrooms. As a result, children who have already been denied equal opportunity are locked into substandard education.


The report also documents how students who have been locked out of rigorous and challenging curricula due to tracking are then prevented from accessing higher educational opportunities due to scores on yet another test - the SAT - which does a poor job in terms of its only stated purpose - predicting first year college grades. The report concludes with several recommendations for proper test use and practices directed at classrooms, schools, districts, school boards, state governments and the federal government.


- By Rebecca Gordon & Libero Della Piano. ARC, 3781 Broadway, Oakland, CA; $5.00. Exit exam advocacy kit included for an additional $1.00. Or visit their web at