Organizations and Experts Opposed to High Stakes Testing

Test Company Statements against High Stakes:

Harcourt Brace on the Stanford 9: about Using their Test to Make Grade Promotion Decisions

"Promotion and Retention of Students"

*"Another misuse of standardized achievement test scores is making promotion and retention decisions for individual students solely on the basis of these scores. This is an undesirable practice for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most important reason is that national standardized achievement tests are not built to serve this purpose...they cannot provide completecoverage of any local curriculum. Consequently, it would be inappropriate to base a promotion or retention policy strictly on a student's achievement test scores.

"Achievement test scores may certainly enter into a promotion or retention decision. However, they should be just one of the many factors considered and probably should receive less weight than factors such as teacher observation, day-to-day classroom performance, maturity level, and attitude."

Riverside Press on on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS): About Using their Test to Make Grade Promotion Decisions

"Inappropriate Purposes"

** "The popular press and professional literature have furnished countless examples of how standardized test results have been used in inappropriate ways. Many of the common misuses stem from depending on a single test score to make an important decision about a student or class of students. All who wish to interpret test scores must be made aware of the intended uses of the scores, the limitations of the scores, and the most common misunderstandings about them. Here are some inappropriate uses of the results from the ITBS batteries."

"To decide to retain students at a grade level. There is considerable disagreement among educators about the appropriateness of grade retention. If a retention decision is to be made, classroom assessment data gathered by the teacher over a period of months is likely to form a highly relevant and accurate basis for making such a decision. A test score can make a valuable contribution to the array of evidence that should be considered. However, a test score from an achievement battery should not be used alone in making such a significant decision."

*Excerpted from:
Stanford Achievement Test Series, Ninth Edition:
Guide for Organizational Planning
(Harcourt Brace Educational Measurement. 1997. Pp. 43-44.)

**Excerpted from:
Iowa Test of Basic Skills
Interpretive Guide for School Administrators
Levels 5-14 M Complete and Survey
(Riverside Publishing. 1996. P. 17)

Quotes from experts about high-stakes testing

"Without question...students must be regarded as the most important users of classroom assessment results."
-Dr. Richard J. Stiggins, director, Assessment Training Institute

"Knowing how the students 'are doing' is necessary equipment for the teacher and the parent as well....

"In recent years all sorts of other folks have wanted to know how the students are doing...the collection of scores is now a major commercial industry and their promulgation a cause for media attention. The aggregation of those scores...has become part of American politics....

"Assessment, thus, has many functions. It is only as good as its instruments, and it is defensible only to the extent that it actively forwards and enhances a child's learning."
-Theodore Sizer, Boston College

''One test does not improve learning any more than a thermometer cures a fever,'' said Heubert, a professor of education at Columbia University and author of the book ''High Stakes: Testing for Tracking, Promotion and Graduation. ''We should be using these tests to get schools to teach more of what we want students to learn, not as a way to punish them.''
-Boston Globe, December 7, 2001,Testing expert calls for more than MCAS results to assess students

"An educational decision that will have a major impact on a test taker should not be made solely or automatically on the basis of a single test score....

"Tests are not perfect...No single test score can be considered a definitive measure of a student's knowledge."
"High Stakes: Testing for tracking, Promotion, and Graduation" -National Research Council Report

"The National PTA believes that the overall goal of student assessment and testing programs should be to identify how instruction can be improved and learning increased."
-National PTA Background Brief: Testing

"...assessment should serve one primary purpose: to improve student learning."
-Bob Peterson, editor, Rethinking Schools

"Using one test as a high-stakes hurdle is unfair and often inaccurate, violates the standards of the measurement professions, and damages educational quality."
-Dr. Monty Neill, executive director, FairTest

"...our expectations for student performance, which are most positive and effective when they are realistic, need to take ability level and socioeconomic status into account when interpreting scores and making conclusions about school effectiveness."
-Dr. James H. McMillan, professor, Virginia Commonwealth University

"Policymakers must not lose sight that the ultimate goal of comprehensive accountability system is not to reward or punish, but to improve the delivery of curricula and increase student learning."
-West Ed Policy Brief: The High Stakes of High-Stakes Testing

"Inappropriate Purposes"
"The popular press and professional literature have furnished countless examples of how standardized test results have been used in inappropriate ways. Many of the common misuses stem from depending on a single test score to make an important decision about a student or class of students. All who wish to interpret test scores must be made aware of the intended uses of the scores, the limitations of the scores, and the most common misunderstandings about them. Here are some inappropriate uses of the results from the ITBS batteries."

"To decide to retain students at a grade level. There is considerable disagreement among educators about the appropriateness of grade retention. If a retention decision is to be made, classroom assessment data gathered by the teacher over a period of months is likely to form a highly relevant and accurate basis for making such a decision. A test score can make a valuable contribution to the array of evidence that should be considered. However, a test score from an achievement battery should not be used alone in making such a significant decision."
-Excerpted from: Iowa Test of Basic Skills Interpretive Guide for School Administrators Levels 5-14 M Complete and Survey
(Riverside Publishing. 1996. P. 17)

"Promotion and Retention of Students"
"Another misuse of standardized achievement test scores is making promotion and retention decisions for individual students solely on the basis of these scores. This is an undesirable practice for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most important reason is that national standardized achievement tests are not built to serve this purpose...they cannot provide complete coverage of any local curriculum. Consequently, it would be inappropriate to base a promotion or retention policy strictly on a student's achievement test scores.

"Achievement test scores may certainly enter into a promotion or retention decision. However, they should be just one of the many factors considered and probably should receive less weight than factors such as teacher observation, day-to-day classroom performance, maturity level, and attitude."
-Excerpted from: Stanford Achievement Test Series, Ninth Edition:
Guide for Organizational Planning
(Harcourt Brace Educational Measurement. 1997. Pp. 43-44.)

"Let me be clear. AASA strongly supports accountability and high standards for America's public schools. Testing should be a PART of how schools measure student performance. However, educating students for success in today's society cannot be measured by ONE test alone.

"Only on "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?" can people rise to the top by rote memorization and answers to multiple-choice questions. The FINAL ANSWER to improving education is more than memorizing facts for a multiple-choice test. Children today need critical thinking skills, creativity, perseverance, and integrity - qualities not measured on a standardized test.

"...public school parents value individual talents and contributions, and know that 'one-size-fits-all' tests that take 90 minutes do not take the full measure of a child. We know, for example, that Albert Einstein - who was dyslexic - did not perform well on tests as a child - yet had one of the best minds in our history."
-Dr. Paul Houston, executive director, American Association of School Administrators

"I am a believer in assessment and high standards.... Yet I would flunk Chicago's grade retention policy and strongly criticize the way it has been fostered and publicized. We have now known for a long time that such policies sound good and make political points but end up as very costly failures. It is time that we held accountable the public officials who continually exploit this popular but failed idea, spend millions of dollars on repeating the same grades, and make many students struggling to get through inadequate schools into dropouts who have no chance to find good work or further education....

"I believe that the basic reason that policymakers are ignoring this research is political--it makes them sound as if they have higher standards without having to do anything about it except to flunk students. The more perplexing thing is how the media continually treats this as if it is a new and important idea without seriously examining what is known about the subject."
-Gary Orfield, Professor of Education and Social Policy, Harvard University

Union Statements and Resolutions

A number of local unions have stood up to standardized testing. See the following list to see sample resolutions passed by unions at the state and national level. This is not a complete listing. Contact your local union to find out their stance on standardized testing and high-stakes

Arizona

  • Resolution by Arizona Education Association
  • California

    Massachusetts

    Missouri

    Nebraska

    Washington

    NEA Testing Plus

    Canada

    Links to statements from individuals and organizations who have come out against high stakes:

    Follow links to find position statements by these organizations.