Broad Concerns for High Stakes Testing

Mid-Hudson School Study Council Announces Statewide Study Results

The Mid-Hudson School Study Council has released the results of a statewide research initiative whose conclusions underscore broad concerns for the impacts of high stakes testing.

The state study, which was commenced after a regional examination into the issue this past July, resulted in survey responses from 2,776 stakeholders and practitioners representing 93% of the counties (53 of the 57) in New York State. The study was conducted from Sept. 9 to Nov. 17.

“These conclusions are from the people who are working with our state’s public school students on a day-in, day-out basis,” said Executive Director Robert Dillon, “These are the parents, teachers, principals, Superintendents, administrators, program heads, and many others. And what they are saying should give us pause.”

Conclusive evidence from the study shows that high-stakes testing has, in the minds of stakeholders and practitioners, introduced significant negative impacts to the education and assessment and development of students. An overwhelming percentage of these respondents (in excess of 80%) indicated a preference for local control through a provision to opt-out of the testing.

“What it shows, more than anything else, is a great deal of concern for how ‘testing’ has become synonymous with ‘education,’ which is no one’s idea of quality,” said Dr. Dillon. “These findings help us to ask whether we have moved too far in one direction and whether recalibration is necessary. At the very least, it’s something we must bring to our state officials for dialogue.”

Key findings from the study include:    
•  92% of respondents believe the amount of time spent on test preparation has increased

• Instruction in the subjects of mathematics (62%), reading (60%) and English language arts (63%) has increased to the detriment of other educational areas, including social studies (44%), physical education (65%), enrichment activities (74%), library/media instruction (47%) and music (47%), which have subsequently decreased.

•  64% of respondents reported that the amount of money spent on high-stakes testing in their districts is high; moreover, 63% reported that the amount of money spent on high-stakes testing highly compromises other instructional program opportunities.

•  54% reported a minimal confidence level of their students’ test scores being private or confidential, and only half of respondents hold a moderate confidence level in their districts’ ability to provide a sound, basic education in the future.

• Taking these factors into consideration, responding stakeholders strongly agree that both parents (83%) and the board of education (87%) should have the authority to opt out of high-stakes testing without penalty.

This groundbreaking study was made possible due to the support of superintendents, boards of education and cooperating educational advocacy organizations such as Statewide School Finance Consortium, Rural Schools Association of New York State, and Reform Educational Financing Inequities Today (R.E.F.I.T.), as well as the critical participation of all stakeholders who completed the survey.

It is anticipated that the results of this study will better inform the work of high-stakes testing and encourage further dialogue and analysis at local, state and nationwide platforms.