Negative effects resulting from high-stakes testing: A Partial Review of literature of topical concern on 6 continents
Only this past week, while working with staff from several continents here in the Middle East, did I slowly come to realize that a majority of the people in key committees had little cognizance of how much literature was already available concerning the negative backwash or many negative effects of high-stakes testing on students, teachers, educational systems, families and society. In America, research on the topic of "high stakes testing" dates back to well over a century.
A high-stakes exam or assessment is defined as a " single assessment that is given with the knowledge that important decisions or consequences are riding on the result. (In other words, the "stakes are high.') In education, these decisions often relate to federal and local funding, placement and graduation decisions or ongoing tenure for teachers." Examples of high-stakes exams that I have seen have included exams worth 50% or more of students grades, but I believe that any exam or one-day evaluation worth more than 15% of a students grade should be considered a high-stakes exam.
Below is a small collection of articles on problems or negative effects resulting from high stakes testing or high stakes exams or tests. This is a preliminary review of available articles on this topic. The list is far from a complete review and is intended only as an introduction to what sort of low-stakes evaluations or more continuous assessments can serve schools and societies.
The articles (or books) I refer to below are mostly from research in North America and Europe. However, I have also included a few articles or books on "high stakes" exams in Australia, Asia and African lands. I plan to update this list over coming months.
In order to outline what is most significant or pertinent to this particular research topic of "high stakes" testing, I have carefully selected quotations from or about the work.
"... In some ways, this problem may be worse than the problems that the high - stakes testing policies are designed to fix. ... These common problems of high - stakes testing programs are quite likely to affect the breadth and depth of student learning. ..."
Amrein, Audrey L. and Berliner, David C. (2003)
"Effects of High Stakes Testing on Student Motivation and Learning",
Educational Leadership (60:5) F , 32-8.