High-stakes testing undermines school reform, report finds



:  Teri Battaglieri  (248) 444-7071 (e-mail)
                      Dan Laitsch (778) 782-7589 (e-mail)

., Nov. 27, 2006 – High-stakes tests, which are used to measure student and school achievement, have so many negative consequences that they are actually undermining the goal of improving public education, according to a new policy brief released today by The Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.


High-stakes testing, the dominant school reform tool of the federal No Child Left Behind law, actually “corrupts the system it intends to improve and is unlikely to produce positive change,” said Daniel A. Laitsch, author of Assessment, high-stakes, and alternative visions: Appropriate use of the right tools to leverage improvement.


Laitsch recommends that policymakers:  abandon high-stakes accountability systems and instead focus on improving our schools’ capacity to meet student needs; look to education professionals to determine the proper use of testing; and expand assessments to evaluate the diverse goals of education.


“There is no silver bullet for school improvement,” he said. “Simplistic accountability mechanisms focused on single outcomes, measures and faulty assumptions....cannot adequately assess the work of teachers, schools and students or provide sufficient information for policy decisions.”


In the report, Laitsch, of Simon Fraser University in Canada, highlights the following proven problems associated with high-stakes testing:



Laitsch points out that there are a variety of other promising models of assessment, some incrementally different from NCLB while others represent a radical departure from the high-stakes assessment model.

The full policy brief is available at

The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice is to identify, develop, support, publish and widely disseminate empirically sound research on education policy and practices designed to improve the quality of public education for all students within the Great Lakes Region. 

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