In the past five years, with the implementation of much educational reform, high-stakes testing is likely a term that educators hear about quite often. What is high-stakes testing? The name may be self-explanatory in that the stakes for these tests are particularly high. That much is true; however, high-stakes testing can determine the outcomes of teachers, students, the school district, and quite possibly the community as a whole.
How does high-stakes testing affect me?
Schools are subject to certain penalties when it comes to high-stakes testing. For instance, when schools consistently perform poorly, it adversely affects their national rating. And there may be even harsher consequences. Schools can lose funding, which could force them to furlough staff, or even worse, the school could be forced to shut down entirely.
Students are who we often think of as being affected the most by high-stakes testing. After all, they are the ones taking these tests. High-stakes standardized tests can determine whether or not a student will be able to graduate high school, and in some states, they are used to determine whether or not a student is able to move on to the next grade.
Teachers are also affected by high-stakes testing. Many states, in accordance with educational reforms, have adopted a merit-based pay model where student performance on tests is used to determine whether or not a teacher receives a pay raise. Poor student performance on high-stakes testing can even affect a teacher’s job standing altogether.
What can we do to prepare our students for these type of tests?
Since test preparation in the classroom is primarily delivered by teachers, one way to ensure that this is happening is for the school to help teachers develop sound test preparation strategies. I would suggest starting early and making test preparation a priority throughout the school year. Meaning, don’t wait until a few weeks before the test to ask teachers how they plan to prepare their students.
In addition, schools may also offer tutoring or after-school sessions geared toward these type of tests to ensure that students have every opportunity to prepare themselves.
Just as the school district should not wait until weeks before the test to prepare students, neither should school teachers. Most teachers are aware of this, which is why it is a good idea to employ strategies throughout the school year so that you and your students are not scrambling come testing time.
Below are some strategies to try out:
Infographic by Skylar Mowery
As you may already be aware, high-stakes testing is a controversial topic in education today. But it’s also a reality of our modern education landscape. So as teachers, administrators, parents, or students, we must equip ourselves with the tools necessary to ensure that all parties involved have positive outcomes.