Uses of standardized achievement tests that carry serious consequences for students and educators.
See also accountability.
In this accountability system, students, educators, and schools face consequences based on test scores. High scores on assessments may bring public praise and/or financial reward; low scores may result in retention of students, public embarrassment or sanctions.
Advocates of high-stakes testing argue that they are an effective means of measuring student learning and teacher and school effectiveness in a way that holds all parties accountable. It is assumed that the high-stakes aspect of accountability focuses student and teacher attention on the most critical information and motivates teachers and students to perform better.
Opponents of high-stakes measures argue that they narrow the curriculum and reduce instruction and learning to rote activities designed only to improve test performance (”teaching to the test”) and that the tests unfairly penalize students who do not perform well on standardized tests for a variety of reasons.