Education Reform Essay

2137 words - 9 pages

The United States education system has been changed, reworked, and looked over for as long as it has been in existence. Bring up the words education and reform in the same room and you will have a full-fledged debate on your hands. The definition of education is so broad that it really cannot be answered without deliberation; most scholars would be hard pressed to fit its definition into one sentence. It’s fair to say that even secretary of education, Arne Duncan, would have a hard time defining it within the confines of one sentence. Because education is defined in such broad terms people are hard pressed to try and make it perfect. Reforming it becomes necessary to keep people happy. ...view middle of the document...

I would first like to give a brief definition of “high-stakes” testing. Greater understanding of this term is necessary to understand what this policy change will be addressing and the challenges that will be faced when trying to propose it. “In very specific terms, high-stakes tests are a part of a policy design that links the score on one set of standardized tests to grade promotion, high school graduation and, in some cases, teacher and principal salaries and tenure decisions”(Wayne p.6). “As part of a policy design, high-stakes tests represent one instrument the state uses to implement the policy and to allocate its values of good and bad schools, teachers, and students”(Wayne p.6). High stakes testing more often than not causes education inequality between the poor and the rich. Students with lower academic achievement are often excused from these tests to allow schools to show improved scores. Schools are turning into filters, weeding out the weak. “Research analyzing data across eighteen states finds that 62% of states with high school exit exams saw an increase in drop-out rates when they implemented their exams (Wayne p.5). This is an example of survival of the fittest at its best. High-stakes testing seems to be affecting low income students and students of color the most (Wayne p.3). In Texas students in public schools are experiencing the effects of high-stakes testing first hand. “Texas witnessed conservatively estimated school drop-out rates of 40% in 2001. This translates into Texas public school systems losing between 90,000 and 95,000 students a year, the vast majority of which are African American and Latino” (Wayne p.4). These scores represent obvious correlations between high-stakes testing and drop-outs in the state of Texas. Something has to be done about this. The most shocking statistic about these drop-out numbers was the fact that the state claimed to make “strong gains in test scores” (Wayne p.4). Research also points out that high-stakes testing narrows the curriculum that teachers must teach. Focus is put on materials that are on the test and only on the test, emphasizing basic order skills and recall questions rather than high intensity thinking questions (peer reviewed). Phasing out high-stakes testing will have to be implemented country wide, as it is affecting students throughout the entire United States. The policy however will have to be implemented first at the state level. Implementing this federal policy at the state level will limit the growth of the national bureaucracy. I use the term phasing out because the policy will have to be executed over a sustained period of time. This time period is negotiable but will most likely take between four to five years.
Cutting high-stakes testing completely from our education process may bring up problems concerning the state board of education, and say governors. As an example these tests may be used to compare scores on 12th grade exit exams across the...

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