High-stakes testing, also known as standardized testing, is quoted as the new American education reform. Throughout the last two decades, this issue has become more political than ever. It has become so politically heated, that students and their future are being played with in a way that parents, teachers and administrators cannot even fathom.
Throughout the two articles, Holding Kids Responsible for Our Failures by Paul Wellstone and Missing the Mark for Low-SES Students by John Gustafson, the authors clearly explain the downward spiral that education faces today, especially in terms of creating an even wider gap between rich and poor schools in America. Within the article Holding Kids Responsible for Our Failures, Paul Wellstone discusses the heavy disadvantages of high-stakes testing. He believes that it is absurd for us to believe that students who attend the poorest of schools have anywhere close to the same preparation and readiness as students who attend the wealthiest of schools (Wellstone 89). This is absolutely true. Low SES (low socioeconomic status) students who live in the South Bronx are obviously not going to have the same opportunity to thrive in their environment compared to upper middle class students who attend school in suburban Westchester County.
The sad notion is that those students have to take the exact same statewide NYS regents exam. Missing the Mark for Low-SES Students by John Gustafson also argues the current standardized testing movement fails to guarantee increased academic performance for students from low-income backgrounds, because they lack the life experiences that serve as a basis for learning. The current emphasis on standardized testing offers an environment that is far too rigid and fundamental to allow low-SES students to excel (Gustafson 2). Gustafson points out that there are three main influences that impact academic achievement in which policy makers tend to ignore. That is school, home and peers. He argues that without these three components, students will not succeed.
One reason why I particularly enjoy this specific article is because the author offers different methods to make learning interesting and understandable for students in which they can thrive in a successful academic environment with the pressure of high-stakes testing. The methods include: (1) building a knowledge base (2) reading activities (3) performance (4) encouragement (5) field trips (6) integrated curriculum. Both Wellstone and Gustafson argue that standardized testing is an irresponsible way to determine graduation, promotion, and academic tracking. Of course, Wellstone seems to make the political argument while Gustafson focuses on methods in dealing with high-stakes testing.
The authors similarly debate that the key investments in education should be quality teaching, early childhood education, parental involvement and increased funds to public schoolsnot standardized tests. The basis of the two articles gives me the evidence to believe that standardized and high-stakes testing is overtly irresponsible in the public education sector and should not be encouraged in the future of education. However, if America does continue to use the high-stakes testing as a way to measure students academic capability, then we must ensure a vigorous and dynamic way to fairly educate our poorest schools as much as the wealthiest schools. BibliographyGustafson, John P.
Missing the Mark for Low-SES Students, Yappa Delta Phi Record v. 38, no. 2. Winter 2002. p.
60-3Wellstone, Paul. The Conscience of a Liberal: Reclaiming the Compassionate Agenda. New York: Random House, 2001. .