M6U1A3-High Stakes Testing

High stakes testing can be any form of assessment for the scores are used for decision-making processes. This can occur at any and all grade levels all the way through college entrance exams. These high stakes assessments exist for several reasons and there are just as many reasons why people would debate against high stakes testing. One of the “major rationale for high-stakes testing is that scores can be used to hold schools and teachers accountable for providing a high-quality education to all students, including student groups that may have historically underperformed academically or been underserved by schools.” (HIGH-STAKES TEST) On the other hand those who oppose high stakes testing claim it forces teachers to “teach to the test”. While these views are opinion based, from my own experience teaching, high stakes assessments can yield valuable data while on the other hand not giving a full picture of the students overall progress (especially in kindergarten as the DIBELS is the only high stakes assessment, which only covers ELA standards).

In Arizona for kindergarten teachers the only state required assessment is DIBELS, a high stakes assessment which measures student early reading proficiency skills, including capital and lowercase letter recognition, first sound fluency, and the ability to sound out nonsense words. Students are pulled out of the classroom for this assessment and have one minute to complete it each section. This is about as high stakes as it gets, when the timer goes off students must stop wherever they are at.

Kindergarten teachers in Arizona are measured on several things during evaluations including student academic progress data, which accounts for 44 points out of the total evaluation or 37% of the total. Teacher performance accounts for 66% or 55% of the total 10 points are given for surveys or 8% of the total accounting for 120 total points. Of the 44 points awarded for student academic progress 20 points relate directly back to the standardize assessment, DIBELS. Overall this means that while the scores can be very important there is much more involved in an evaluation beyond just test scores for it to impact a teacher’s position.

The other place I looked up to compare to Arizona was Tennessee, a place I would possibly want to live one day. One of the first things I looked for was information about teacher’s evaluations and the impact of high stakes standardized tests. I couldn’t find any information within the teacher evaluation to suggest that the 2 are interconnected. Tennessee does have state standardized test called the TCAP Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, however for kindergarten through 2nd grade “TCAP testing is not mandated” but can be elected based on the school.  It looks like in Tennessee schools high stakes test scores do not have an effect on teacher evaluations, although many other key characteristics are needed to teach within that state.

Overall between the two states kindergarten standards are fairly similar, however teacher evaluations and use of high stakes testing are a bit different between the two states. While Arizona uses high stakes testing results as part of the teacher evaluation Tennessee does not, instead emphasizing things like grouping students in evaluations with a “significantly above expectation” teacher recognizing and show things like “The instructional grouping arrangements (either whole-class, small groups, pairs, individual; heterogeneous or homogenous ability) consistently maximize student understanding and learning efficiency.”


Megan Thompson

A. (2016, April). Teacher/Principal Evaluation. Retrieved February 11, 2018, from http://www.azed.gov/hetl/teacherprincipal-evaluation/

E. (2014, August 8). HIGH-STAKES TEST. Retrieved February 11, 2018, from https://www.edglossary.org/high-stakes-testing/

Tennessee Educator Acceleration Model. (2017, December 19). Retrieved February 11, 2018, from http://team-tn.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/TEAM-Teacher-Evaluator-Handbook-2017-18_Add-Gifted-Doc.pdf

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