Price of High Stakes Testing
Blogs, Twitter and press coverage is full of stories highlighting issues with the reliability, validity and test administration of high stakes student achievement testing. Parents across the country are choosing to opt their children out of taking state assessments. It was reported that the California Department of Education deleted several years worth of state history test scores before publishing student assessment data. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is dealing with issues associated with changes to assessment questions thus impacting the validity of using prior year assessment scores as a basis for school accreditation. This particular issue has significant impact on districts like Hickman Mills, MO and Kansas City MO public schools who are skating the line of accreditation. In Philadelphia an arbitrator ruled in favor of reinstating principals alleged to have participated in a test administration scandal.
It would appear the stakes are highest for state departments of education and local districts yet the stakes are highest for students. There is a valid reason for annual evaluations of student academic achievement levels. This data serves as a measurement of district wide progress and should drive instructional practices and local assessments going forward. If the state assessment is not a valid measure it jeopardizes school improvement efforts aimed at students.
Most damaging in this is the erosion of trust. Parents and school staff begin to question the positive impact high stake assessments have and the relevancy for the students. Throw into this mix the over sensational response to Common Core and a perfect storm is brewing.