EdWeek's "High Stakes" Mistake

Bess Keller's recent EdWeek article gets an overheated start when, in the first sentence of the piece, it describes the state tests used for NCLB accountability as "high stakes" (States' Standards, Tests Are a Mismatch).

To me, that phrase is first of all somewhat inflammatory -- almost always used by testing opponents. More important, though, the phrase is usually associated with exit exams or promotion exams -- measures that affect a student's graduating, getting a diploma, or moving onto the next grade. (See here for one definition.)

In that context, I don't think it's accurate to say that there are any such tests in NCLB. And to those who would argue that the test results are "high stakes" for schools (or teachers, or principals), I'd say that the test results lack enough consequence to qualify.


Anonymous Sam said...

NCLB tests are high stakes tests for the schools that receive title I money. As you know schools that fail to show AYP are subject to an advancing scale of "consequences" that can include being required to spend some of their Title I money on student tutoring, choice provisions, and ultimately the possibility of a state takeover or "reconstitution". That makes them high stakes for the school, although, unlike exit exams, not for the student.

5:34 PM  
Blogger Alexander Russo said...

right, but since nobody's really having to do much for reconstitution, and since the tutoring and choice money comes from the district not the school, what's the real consequence?

5:37 PM  

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