ERIC Number: ED338675
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-Nov
Reference Count: N/A
A Reform Cooled-Out: Competency Tests Required for High School Graduation.
Catterall, James S.
Since the mid-1970s, at least 20 states have instituted standardized tests that must be passed before students can receive a high school diploma. This paper draws on data collected in four states to explore some of the lasting effects of competency test legislation. Of particular interest is student awareness of these tests. A survey of 733 students and interviews with nearly 60 educators and administrators provide information about test impact. The states studied were two with the lowest reported graduation rates (California and New York) and two with the highest reported graduation rates (Virginia and Utah). One urban, one rural, and one suburban school district were chosen from each state, with a focus on students in grades 9 and 11. Over half the sample was in a college preparatory track. Blacks comprised 16%, Hispanic Americans comprised 12%, and Asians comprised 8% of the sample. Student awareness of competency testing policy was low, at about 50%. Black, Hispanic American, and Asian students were somewhat more aware of the requirement, with about 70% knowing they faced a graduation test. Parents almost completely ignored the graduation test. It is suggested that such a test will not contribute to student performance through motivation or diagnostic mechanisms if students are not aware of it, or do not care about it. An appendix contains five tables of survey data. A 15-item list of references is included. (SLD)
Descriptors: Administrator Attitudes, Asian Americans, Black Students, Educational Change, Graduation Requirements, High School Students, High Schools, Hispanic Americans, Interviews, Minimum Competency Testing, School Surveys, Standardized Tests, State Programs, Student Attitudes, Teacher Attitudes, Test Coaching, Test Use, Testing Problems, Testing Programs, White Students
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, Los Angeles, CA.
Identifiers: California; New York; Utah; Virginia