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teacher%20views%20hi%20stakes%20testing

teacher%20views%20hi%20stakes%20testing - THEORY INTO...

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This article discusses teachers’ views on state-man- dated testing programs. An overview of the literature is presented, as well as results from a nationwide survey of teachers. Findings from both suggest that high-stakes state-mandated testing programs can lead to instruction that contradicts teachers’ views of sound educational practice. In particular, teachers frequent- ly report that the pressure to raise test scores en- courages them to emphasize instructional and assessment strategies that mirror the content and for- mat of the state test, and to devote large amounts of classroom time to test preparation activities. The ar- ticle concludes that serious reconsideration must be given to the use of high-stakes consequences in cur- rent statewide testing programs. A GROWING BODY OF EVIDENCE suggests that high-stakes testing can be a driving force behind fundamental change within schools (Koretz, Linn, Dunbar, & Shepard, 1991; Madaus, 1988; McNeil, 2000; Smith, 1991). However, there is a difference of opinion as to whether this change is for better or for worse. For example, while some feel that the guarantee of rewards or the threat of sanctions is essential for promoting quality teach- ing and encouraging higher student achievement, others have found that high-stakes tests limit the scope of classroom instruction and student learn- ing in undesirable ways (Stecher & Barron, 1999; Stecher, Barron, Chun, & Ross, 2000). Regardless of one’s position on this issue, it is impossible to deny that statewide testing policies influence class- room instruction and student learning. The ques- tion addressed by this article is: How do teachers perceive the effects of these testing programs, par- ticularly in the area of teaching and learning? The article is divided into three sections. The first section presents an overview of the literature on teachers’ perceptions of state testing programs. The second section presents findings from a na- tionwide survey of teachers. Results from the latter confirm many of the findings in the literature, but also present new information on the interaction be- tween impacts and the stakes attached to the state test results. The article concludes with a commen- tary on the need to reconsider the use of high- stakes consequences when developing and/or implementing statewide testing programs. Overview of the Literature on Teachers’ Perceptions of State Testing Programs Numerous research studies have investigated the effects of state-mandated testing programs— particularly those with high stakes attached to the Lisa M. Abrams Joseph J. Pedulla George F. Madaus Views from the Classroom: Teachers’ Opinions of Statewide Testing Programs 1 Lisa M. Abrams is a research associate, Joseph J. Pedul- la is an associate professor, and George F. Madaus is a professor, all in education at Boston College.
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