Thursday, May 10, 2012

Assessment without high-stakes testing

What sometimes happens to students who do poorly on tests? It appears they are often pushed out of public schools.

Apparently, this is one of the fastest and most troubling ways to create the illusion of test score improvement.

In a study of 271,000 Texas public high school students, Rice University researchers found that the state’s accountability system, the model for NCLB, “has succeeded wildly… in producing more dropouts  disproportionately minority student dropouts.


The report states: 
"Each year Texas public high schools lose at least 135,000 youth prior to graduation, and a disproportionately large number of those students are African American, Latino and English Language Learners (ELL).
"High-stakes, test-based accountability doesn't lead to school improvement or equitable educational possibilities," said Linda McSpadden McNeil, director of the Center for Education at Rice University. "It leads to avoidable losses of students. Inherently the system creates a dilemma for principals: comply or educate. Unfortunately, we found that compliance means losing students."
"The study shows that as schools came under the accountability system, which uses student test scores to rate schools and reward or discipline principals, massive numbers of students left the school system. The exit of low-achieving students created the appearance of rising test scores and a narrowing of the achievement gap between white and minority students, thus increasing a school's ratings.
"According to researchers, this study has serious implications for the nation's schools under the NCLB law. It finds that the higher the stakes and the longer such an accountability system governs schools, the more likely it is that school personnel see students not as children to educate but as potential liabilities or assets for their school's performance indicators, their own careers or their school's funding."