Washington legislators should be applauded for working to decouple graduation from test results. Research shows exit exams do not make schools better or increase college or career readiness. Instead, they narrow curriculum and depress graduation rates. Surveys find the public believes there’s too much focus on testing.
In his book “The Testing Charade,” Harvard professor Daniel Koretz explains why high-stakes policies such as graduation tests lead to score inflation. That means the public gets inaccurate information about how schools serve students. Students who need high-quality schooling get a junk-food diet of test prep instead.
For these reasons, there’s a trend away from high school exit exams. From a high of 27 states, just 13 still require students to pass a test to graduate.
People consistently say they want children to learn how to get along with different kinds of people and be exposed to an array of disciplines, including the arts. They want them to learn critical thinking and be prepared for life beyond high school.
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No one sends children to school to prepare for math and reading tests. But for many, that’s what school has become.
Lisa Guisbond, policy analyst, FairTest (National Center for Fair & Open Testing), Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts