Disability and Equity in Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Methods | Other American Studies | Teacher Education and Professional Development

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This paper examines, critiques, and suggests improvements on the method of standardized testing in American schools. This paper discusses the history and development of standardized testing and its initial purpose and intentions. Additionally, the effects of standardized testing on students, teachers, and parents are evaluated, with special consideration on how high stakes testing adversely affects disadvantaged student groups such as children in minorities and low-income districts, bilingual students, and children with disabilities. The research suggests that standardized testing is not only damaging to students in these groups, but most likely not the most efficient way of testing student performance in any circumstance. The negative effects that teachers, students, and parents face during times of high stakes testing create an unnerving environment that can cause inaccurate results. Furthermore, the inaccurate results leading to poor performance then takes a toll on low-income districts even more. Districts with students who perform well receive more funding, programs, and resources as a ‘reward’, while districts with poor performance receive nothing, only exaggerating the gap in resource wealth. This research concludes with suggestions and alternatives to standardized testing that may better serve the American educational system as a whole. Programs such as sample testing, stealth assessments, and additional measures of assessment without a testing environment may not only provide a better and more accurate reading, but also create a more inclusive, healthier learning atmosphere. The research provided in this essay, in conjuncture with additional studies and information, could help push policy reform in the American education system for the better.