Public high school students in the United States ought not be required to pass standardized exit exams to graduate
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Employers do not look for standardized test results
Graduation Tests don't demonstrate the capabilities whether in the form of knowledge or skills such as organization or time management. [[Fair Test "Why Graduation Tests/Exit Exams Fail to Add Value to High School Diplomas" Accessed 26.08.09http://www.fairtest.org/gradtestfactmay08]]
A large number of employers don't look for standardized test results when it comes to employing high school graduates. Instead employers are more likely look for a portfolio of different work which provide a demonstration of students capabilities for instance in problem solving. [[ Fair Test "Why Graduation Tests/Exit Exams Fail to Add Value to High School Diplomas" The National Centre for Open and Fair Testing Accessed 26.08.09 http://www.fairtest.org/gradtestfactmay08%5D%5D
Employers may not look for those scores now but they soon will in the future partly to see whether a person has learned and can remember the basic elements that they need to remember under pressure from the subject they can study. This will be in order to avoid the costs both in manpower and money of training employees in core skills. [[ Jennifer Solis "What is the future for high school exit exams" Education News.org http://ednews.org/articles/what-is-the-future-for-high-school-exit-exam.html Accessed 26.08.2009]].
Too much focus on test prepation to the detriment of other skills
As a result of preparing for exams which could decide the outcome of whether a person goes to college or not teachers tend to "teach to the test" and not around it meaning that skills and subjects outside the test can become secondary to succeeding when they shouldn't be. Currently the Standardized Assessment Test I focuses on verbal and mathematical abilities rather then on the wider subjects meaning more emphasis is put on English and maths rather than on other subjects which deserve more attention. [[ Richard C Atkinson "Achievement Versus Aptitude Tests" http://www.ucop.edu/pres/speeches/achieve.htm%5D%5D Its rival exam the ACT tests scientific reasoning and a persons essay writing capabilities on a current affairs issue in addition to english and mathematics[[ ACT "The ACT Test" http://www.act.org/aap/%5D%5D but this does not cover the range of subjects.
Admittedly the person who made the point about Atkinson was not arguing that all standardised tests should be abolished but it is a strong indicator against having standardised tests given the variety of professions that high school students may be looking to go in through.
And just what is so bad about teaching to the test? If the tests measure things that need to be measured and that students need to learn and prepare for then that is not so necessarily a bad thing. In fact it could be benificial to the students themselves as they are prepared
Some teachers integrate test preparation into the core curriculum of their classes for example like Matthew Matera [[Great Schools Staff "What's So Bad About Teaching to the Test" http://www.greatschools.net/students/academic-skills/teaching-to-the-test.gs?content=400&page=all%5D%5D So teaching to the test isn't necessarilly a bad thing. What is bad is when the states "shy away from performance based tests" which are in accurate and don't allow for a wider array of skills to be represented.
Standardised exams like the SAT hit minorities badly when they don't need it. For example African Americans amongst other minorities suffer. A glaring statistic from an analysis conducted in 1998 shows that "October 1998 SAT showed that out of 78 Verbal and 60 Math questions, there were no items on which African Americans or Chicanos outperformed Whites."[[Fair Test "10 Myths about the SATThe National Centre For Open and Fair Testing Accessed 28.08.09 "http://www.fairtest.org/10-myths-about-sat]]
There is also a big gender bias too in certain tests like the SAT. Because it is a "fast-paced, multiple-choice test.. [it]rewards strategic guessing -- a non-academic skill at which males tend to excel" [[ Fair Test "10 Myths about the SAT" The National Centre For Open and Fair Testing Accessed 28.08.09 http://www.fairtest.org/10-myths-about-sat ]]
As the data obtained about tests is over ten years old and tests have been reformatted and improved, the statistics may not be wholly accurate.
The resolution does not give specific standards for the test. We could choose to improve the quality of the tests by including styles suited to a broader spectrum of people (multiple choice or short answer sections as well as essay or analysis sections). It is not having standardized tests alone that is discriminating against minorities, but it is the way the tests are created.
Minorities are given the same public school opportunities as majorities, so they should be tested like everyone else. We should focus our efforts on assisting them to reach the necessary level rather than eliminate all testing. In 1999, Montgomery County, Maryland, discovered the way to eliminate effects of biased testing. ". . .closing the gaps in test performance is the best way to quell the argument over the place and purpose of standardized testing" [[Meserve, Jeanne. "Standardized Tests under Fire." CNN. June 15, 1999. 24 Sept., 2009. http://www.cnn.com/US/9906/15/standardized.tests/%5D%5D
Research done by researchers at the University of Minnesota in 2009 found that high school exams may reduce the amount of students that graduate from high school," but neither boost academic achievement nor improve graduates' post-high school labor market prospects"[[ University of Minnesota "The Price of High School Exit Exams" http://www1.umn.edu/umnnews/Feature_Stories2/The_price_of_high_school_exit_exams.html Accessed 28.08.2009]] Also according to research done by Cecelia Rouse every drop out costs the US as a whole an alleged approximate $260,000 on average due to the fact that they are earning less income then those that graduate and have lower employee productivity then those that graduate. Further more Rouse predicts that if high schools fail to graduate more students then the US could lose an estimated $3 trillion over the next decade [[ Alliance For Excellent Education http://www.all4ed.org/files/archive/publications/HighCost.pdf%5D%5D
The cost of drop outs isn't going to be helped by dropping exams. What is going to help is improved teaching methods, improved teachers and raising standards across the board . Drop outs may hurt the taxpayer but bad education in whatever subject and lack of skills costs more.
Furthemore as Robert Heiny puts it "Schools receive on average about $10,000 per student annually. That's a lot of money per teacher, especially for a high school teacher responsible for five periods daily." So by extension it falls that exams are a natural cost as part of the way for schools to get more money[[ Robert W Heiny http://www.robertheiny.com/2006/09/hidden-costs-of-high-school-exit-exams.html%5D%5D
Sets a critical level of knowledge of what a student should know
The exams provide a basic level of knowledge of what a student should know. If students do not know these things whether in maths or in English or other subjects then they are unlikely to suceed in any subject or profession. Thats why in some countries like Britain national curriculums were formed to ensure that students did not miss out on key areas.
This helps in that if high amounts of people have knowledge in the critical areas then colleges, the armed forces and other institutions or businesses can spend less time or money in providing basic level tuition on skills that students should have learnt while in high school
But what exactly is a basic level of knowledge? Exit exams can be argued to overfocus on a specific core element of knowledge without looking at the outside areas. For example a Politics student might need basic maths skills such as statistics and Alegbra to use political analysis software such as SPSS (an improved version of Excel used by analysts as well as interpret data . However they'll also need other subjects like a good knowledge of history or maybe a media studies course that shows that they can interpret messages coming from different mediums and how they are created. In contrast while a person studying engineering might need good maths skills which the test can provide they'll also need to have a strong understanding of physics or engineering. The point is that for high school students particularly seniors a basic level of knowledge is relative to the subject that the person is interested in studying.
Holds schools accountable to their stakeholders
Graduation exams hold schools accountable to all their stakeholders. They hold them accountable to students and their parents in that students can see whether they have got the right level of teaching and not unfairly behind other schools in a similar area and that they can demand reforms. They hold schools accountable to the government in that they are performing what is required of them and getting the right funding for what they are doing.
Just what exactly is accountable in this case? Is it accountable in the. Furthermore standardised tests only provide part of the full picture of what is happening in a school. For example what pupils are learning, what teaching methods are being used, how experienced or well trained the teachers are etc[[FAPE "Accountability and Testing: Standardized testing http://www.fapeonline.org/accountability-and-testing-standardized-testing.htm Accessed 28.08.86]]. They also don't account for the demographics of an area as some kids may have to travel long distances by bus or car to get to school. How can they be made out to be the way to hold schools accountable to their stakeholders when they only provide a small part of what's needed to judge a school[[Jennifer Solis "What is the future for high school exit exams" Education News.org http://ednews.org/articles/what-is-the-future-for-high-school-exit-exam.html%5D%5D
Measures achievement relative to external standards
These exams enable comparison of students not just in school "relative to other students" but also outside the class and with other schools, in other areas such as states or districts . A analysis done by Costrell in 1994 of the ideal setting of education standards "concluded that more centralized standard-setting (state or national achievement exams) results in higher standards, higher
achievement and higher social welfare than decentralized standard setting (such as teacher grading or school graduation requirements) [[ John Bishop "Do Curriculum-Based External Exit Exam Systems Enhance Student Achievement?" CPRE Research Report Series RR-40 http://www.cpre.org/images/stories/cpre_pdfs/rr40.pdf Accessed 28.08.2009]] Bishop also notes that if students aren't assessed externally then potential benefits of going for higher academic standards such as prospects for being accepted in to college are delayed. [[ John Bishop "Do Curriculum-Based External Exit Exam Systems Enhance Student Achievement?" CPRE Research Report Series RR-40 http://www.cpre.org/images/stories/cpre_pdfs/rr40.pdf Accessed 28.08.2009]]
The whole race to improve external standards is based on a massive misunderstanding that people fit in to the law of averages. Some people learn in certain areas quicker than other people. Other people don't learn so quickly. To create a single motion for "for all students in all subjects is to simultaneously tie together the laces of the fleet and kick out the crutches of the slow." [[ Andrew J Coulson "The Case Against National School Standards" Cato Institute http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=10446%5D%5D Furthermore high outside standards have never been a major pushing factor behind human progress so the benefits that opposition describe are false. Human nature has been because of humans both male and female's nature to desire to push their knowledge to the limits and compete against each other to be the best or in high schools case valedictorian[[ Andrew J Coulson "The Case Against National School Standards" Cato Institute http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=10446%5D%5D
What do you think?