Consequences of high-stakes testing: critical perspectives of teachers and students

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Johnson, Helen Louise

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High-stakes testing has been promised by its proponents as the way to make American schools accountable. In theory, high-stakes testing is commendable. In practice, many minority and poor high school students fail to pass high-stakes exams and graduate as abundant research indicates. Previous studies of high-stakes testing often have tended to overlook or have failed to examine the unintended consequences of high-stakes testing. The purpose of this study is to determine the unintended consequences of highstakes testing—specifically, side effects of high-stakes testing for economically disadvantaged and ethnic minority students, from teachers’ and students’ points of view. High-stakes testing involves educational research for public schools. Three questions have guided this research: What critical perspectives do teachers (and students) have about the effects of high-stakes testing? How do intended and unintended consequences of high-stakes testing affect instruction? How do intended and unintended consequences of high-stakes testing affect student outcomes? Methodology for the study involves qualitative research via a case study of an urban central Texas school district, employing simple random sampling to select study informants, and using Interactive Qualitative Analysis (IQA) as a method of data analysis. The study is intended to contribute to the improvement of professional practices in public schools and to educational research.