Thus, students faced with fear and stress, are overwhelmed, concentrating on the test rather than on the goals of learning. They cannot concentrate on school work, understanding the importance of learning and education, because of stress that forces some to focus only on the test and others to drop out.
III. High stakes testing disadvantages those with learning disabilities.
In addition to lowering the teaching capacity of some teachers and students' focus on the value of education, many scholars argue that high stakes testing can be harmful to those with learning disabilities. First, many argue that students with learning disabilities receive different curriculum than students without learning disabilities, making it impossible for students with learning disabilities to do well on the same tests given to their peers. Furthermore, many students do not receive the aid that they need when taking tests, such as hearing aids or visual aids, and some students are kept in environments that do not promote their learning (Cortiella 2004). Many students with learning disabilities are very bright, but the tests are designed to evaluate only those skills that they have not mastered. While this applies to all students, it is especially significant to students with learning disabilities, whose test scores are used by themselves and their parents, in come cases, to make judgements about their futures. Learning disabled students who are perfectly capable of functioning and succeeding in the classroom can be prevented from graduating because of test scores. What this does is prevent the success of capable young adults who are being told that they cannot succeed when, in reality, they can do so. Thus, students with learning disabilities often struggle when it comes to high stakes testing because schools fail to give them the tools they need to succeed.
In conclusion, high stakes testing is a practice adopted by many schools and enforced by the No Child Left Behind Act. High stakes tests are those that determine whether or not a student will advance to another grade level, graduate, or make some other significant movement. Although some people favor high stakes testing, even calling it "an extremely valuable part of educational assessment" ("Appropriate Use," 2002, para. 16), many do not believe that high stakes testing is the best way to assess students. This author proposes that high stakes testing can actually be harmful to students' learning. Students subjected to high stakes tests will encounter teachers to teach to that test instead of imparting other knowledge that the students should know, developing the students' reasoning and critical thinking skills, and basing curriculum on the climate of the classroom. In addition, students who are tested using high stakes testing, overwhelmed with stress and a fear of failure, will see the test as the end result of schooling, instead of learning or education itself as the prize. Finally, high stakes testing prevents capable students with learning disabilities from succeeding because they are not provided with the tools to succeed. While further research must be done in order to determine the academic, psychological, and other affects of high stakes testing, engaging in testing at this time is dangerous for students and teachers.
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