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Volume 16, Number 5
September/October 2000

What the AERA Says About High-Stakes Testing


Pressure to raise test scores can force state- and district-level officials to make decisions that may run contrary to what's best for students, education researchers say. In an effort to provide research-based guidelines to policymakers, test publishers, and school personnel, the American Educational Research Association (AERA) has issued a position statement on the use of high-stakes testing in pre-K-12 education. According to its authors, the statement presents "a set of conditions essential to sound implementation of high-stakes testing programs." The conditions, summarized here, include:

Protection Against High-Stakes Decisions Based on a Single Test

"Decisions that affect individual students' life chances or educational opportunities should not be made on the basis of test scores alone . . ." At the very least, the AERA recommends that students be given multiple opportunities to pass high-stakes tests and that alternative forms of assessment be provided where there is "credible evidence" that a test may not measure a child's true level of proficiency.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.