Furthermore, it is related that the study of Valencia, Valenquela, Sloan and Foley (2001) suggest that "inferior schools are the cause of historically minority student failure, and in promoting accountability, proponents are treating the symptom of school failure rather than the cause." (Flores and Clark, 2003) it is additionally stated in the work of Flores and Clark (2003) that "current literature abounds with evidence that the Texas' state-mandated test is driving the curriculum."
Flores and Clark state that accusations exist which claim high-stakes testing misuse has occurred and Haney (2000) as well as Kellow and Wilson (2001) have discussed "by pointing to the paucity of the TAAS' psychometric soundness and the apparent inattentiveness to measurement error, which have resulted in a great misuse of the test results for high-stakes decisions, such as awarding of high school diplomas." (Flores and Clark, 2003) it is noted that the analysis of Texas TAAS 1998-1999 data by Kellow and Wilson:
extend the conversation by demonstrating that using the results for high-stakes decisions without considering the measurement error has likely resulted in a number of students who were denied their high school diploma when, in fact, their observed adjusted scores met the criteria. According to their approximations, 35,182 students who failed the reading subtest and 43,077 students who failed the math subtest were false negative classification errors." (Flores and Clark, 2003)
The work of Grace Rubenstein entitled: "Reinventing the Big Test: The Challenge of Authentic Assessment" reports having scrutinized the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) states the fact that "cold hard numbers have a way of seeming authoritative, but accountability tests are not the infallible and insightful report cards we (and our state governments) imagine them to be. The educational assessment tests states use today have two fundamental flaws:
1) They encourage the sort of mind-numbing drill-and-kill teaching educators (and students) despise; and 2) Just as important, they don't tell us much about the quality of student learning." (2008)
Rubenstein states that state governments "at the behest of the feds, are using tests to measure something they actually don't measure well, and then penalizing schools - and in some cases, denying students diplomas - based on the results." (2008) Rubenstein notes the statement of W. James Popham, professor emeritus at the University of California at Los Angeles, and who is furthermore the former president of the American Educational Research Association who states: "Most of these policy makers are dirt ignorant regarding what these tests should and should not be used for and the tragedy is that they set up a system in which the primary indicator of educational quality is simply wrong." (Rubenstein, 2008) Errors which exist in the testing include technical errors such as:
1) Ambiguous questions;
2) Miscalculation of judgment in setting the level of difficulty; and 3) Scoring errors. (Rubenstein, 2008)
In 2005 the Parents United for Responsible Education published a work entitled: "NCLB - the Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Pure Fact Sheet" which states under the section entitled: "What's wrong with standardized tests?" The following problems with standardized testing:
1) these tests are designed for the purpose of ranking and sorting children and many of these tests use a system for scoring in which more than 50% of all children in the U.S. always score below average;
2) Well-known achievement gaps are known to exist between white and Asian student as well as African-American and Latino student's test scores. This type of testing perpetuates the failure of many children while failing as helping them to succeed;
3) Standardized testing can and is in some cases biased;
4) standardized testing creates ongoing chaos for both schools and families alike and this is evidenced in a report that found fifty major mistakes in testing in 20 U.S. states; and 5) Dumbed-down curriculums result from over-emphasizing standardized testing.
Standardized testing has resulted in many negative outcomes while positive outcomes noted due to state testing standards are few and far between. (Peterson and Neill, 1999) the negative outcomes are overwhelmingly in support of alternative methods of assessment being devised and implemented. Seeking an alternative is 'key' to turning the tide against the miscalculated and misinformed state testing standards presently being utilized in the United States.
The work of Peterson and Neill (1999) state that it is unfortunate "in part due to rhetoric that equates high standards with standardized tests, many parents believe that standardized tests will give them the answer. At the same time parents are often the first to understand that the complexity of their child cannot be captured by a test score." While standardized state testing is only one single assessment that is used by teachers it is the one receiving the most attention however, it is critically important that parents understand that standardized tests are not the sole method used by teachers and that in fact teachers use many assessments in their teaching practice and many which are "integrated into classroom instruction..." And of the nature that "is focused primarily on helping individual children, with assessment that provides school - and district-wide information being demanded by local and state officials or various community forces." (1999)
The challenge at hand is attempting to "match assessment that is integrated into classroom instruction" and to match that which "assessment being demanded by local and state officials and various community forces." (Peterson and Neill, 1999) the third and critically important component in assessments in the form of testing is to match that testing and assessments as aforementioned with the curriculum content as developed by teachers with the factor of the differential learning of student knowledge possessed by those teachers and integrated into the specific methods and assessments used in testing standards.
Finally, it is important to understand that the differential learning abilities among students has not been stressed or acknowledged anywhere near sufficiently among those who are calling the shots in state standardized testing schemes. While a great deal of focus has been given to the differential learning abilities among students who are learning disabled there has been nearly complete failure to acknowledge that this is just as true among the general student population as well.
It is clear that while standardized testing might first appear to be a good solution, that in reality, the present form of standardized testing assessment in the United States is flawed. If standardized tests are to be the protocol for assessment of children in schools then it is imperative that alternative forms of testing assessment are devised and implemented for indeed surely a flawed and inaccurate assessment method is just as flawed as failure to assess student's learning at all.
Amrein, Audrey and Berliner, David C. (2002) the Impact of High-Stakes Tests on Student Academic Performance: An Analysis of NAEP Results in States with High-Stakes Tests and ACT, SAT and AP Test Results in States with High School Graduation Exams. Arizona State University. 2002.
Flores, B.B., & Clark, E.R. (2003, March 3). Texas voices speak out about high-stakes testing: Preservice teachers, teachers, and students. Current Issues in Education [Online], 6(3). Available:
Peterson, Bob and Monty Neill (1999) Alternatives to Standardized Tests. Vol. 13. No. 3 Spring 1999. Pros and Cons of No Child Left Behind: What the Research Says.…