For many years, high-stakes testing in education has sparked controversy. Some contend that standardized tests are crucial in measuring student achievement and guaranteeing accountability. People argue that high-stakes testing negatively impacts student motivation, engagement, critical thinking and creativity. This Literature review will analyze five scholarly sources that illustrate how high-stakes testing impacts education negatively. In addition, I will investigate substitute methods for standardized testing.
Thesis Statement: The adverse effects of high-stakes testing on the educational landscape are indisputable, necessitating the imperative action of eliminating or altering standardized tests to foster a more comprehensive and inclusive approach to education that embraces students’ needs and unique experiences.
Moses and Nanna argue in their article that the American education system has deeply ingrained high-stakes testing. According to their suggestion, several factors, including political pressure to demonstrate accountability, have kept the testing culture persisting. Educators desire to measure student achievement in a standardized way and believe that high-stakes tests can enhance educational outcomes. The authors observe that high-stakes testing can adversely affect both students and teachers. The negative consequences of high-stakes testing for both students and teachers comprise a narrowed curriculum, a shift toward memorization instead of critical thought, and heightened stress and anxiety levels (23).
Mimi Engel and Heather Nagro discuss the narrow focus on test preparation caused by high-stakes testing in their article “The Impact of High-Stakes Testing on Student Motivation and Learning.” This neglects other important aspects of education. The authors assert that focusing narrowly on test preparation undermines students’ motivation and engagement as Students do not receive opportunities to explore their interests and passions. They suggested that educators should provide students with a more holistic approach to education that considers their diverse needs and experiences.
In his article, Alfie Kohn scrutinizes the unfavourable effects of high-stakes testing on student motivation, engagement, critical thinking, and creativity. Kohn maintains that creativity, curiosity, and a love of learning are crucial aspects of education that standardized tests fail to measure. According to his suggestion, educators should develop alternative assessments that measure a broader range of skills and knowledge. Kohn stresses in his article that high-stakes testing significantly damages the quality and scope of education. It also impacts critical thinking and creativity. Focusing primarily on memorization and regurgitation of facts may prevent students from developing the skills and habits of mind necessary for success in higher education and in the workforce. High-stakes testing can also hinder students from taking risks and experimenting with the essential components of innovation and creativity (46).
Shepard contends that high-stakes testing adversely affects both students and teachers in “How Standardized Testing Damages Education.” She argues that standardized tests do not measure student achievement reliably and that Standardized tests frequently punish teachers and schools instead of enhancing education. She suggests that educators should promote education in a more holistic approach and consider students’ diverse needs and experiences while adopting this approach (53).
A narrow focus on test preparation is attributed to high-stakes testing by Natriello and Pallas. They argue that other important aspects of education are being neglected. Test preparation may pressure teachers to devote a significant amount of class time. Other activities like hands-on projects, collaboration, or creative pursuits suffer because of the attention given to test preparation. Student motivation and engagement can be negatively impacted, with Low-income and minority students who may already face several challenges in the classroom being particularly affected (Natriello & Pallas). They contend that standardized tests rely on a flawed conception of intelligence and aim to measure something that they do not actually measure. Natriello & Pallas propose that educators create alternative assessments measuring a broader spectrum of skills and knowledge. A more holistic approach to education that considers the diverse needs and experiences of students needs to be promoted by educators.
In conclusion, this literature review has emphasized that high-stakes testing adversely affects education. It has additionally investigated options for standardized tests. High-stakes testing has caused a limited emphasis on exam readiness, disregarding crucial education components and discouraging student involvement and enthusiasm. All authors advocate a more holistic approach to education. This approach should take into account the varied requirements and backgrounds of students. Other forms of assessment may become prevalent as high-stakes testing is phased out. This may include tasks based on performance or portfolios. Education may need to reevaluate its goals and priorities, giving more importance to nurturing curiosity, critical thinking, and creativity. The debate over high-stakes testing is likely to continue for some time in the end. Nevertheless, we must carefully consider the potential adverse outcomes of this assessment approach alongside its potential benefits. We can guarantee that all students have the possibility to flourish and realize their complete potential by adopting a more detailed and comprehensive approach towards education.
Engel, Mimi, and Heather Nagro. “The Impact of High-Stakes Testing on Student Motivation and Learning.” Education Policy Analysis Archives, vol. 28, no. 35, 2020, pp. 1-28.
Kohn, Alfie. “Standardized testing and its victims.” Education week 20.4 (2000): 46-47.
Moses, Michele S., and Michael J. Nanna. “The testing culture and the persistence of high stakes testing reforms.” Education and Culture (2007): 55-72.
Natriello, Gary, and Aaron M. Pallas. “The Development and Impact of High Stakes Testing.” (1999).
Shepard, Lorrie A. “The hazards of high-stakes testing.” Issues in Science and Technology 19.2 (2002): 53-58.