ERIC Number: ED456139
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2000-Jan
High Stakes Testing and High School Completion. NBETPP Statements, Volume 1, Number 3.
Clarke, Marguerite; Haney, Walter; Madaus, George
This report examines how high stakes assessments affect dropout and high school completion rates. The focus is on five suggestive lines of evidence about this relationship. This evidence is drawn in part from studies done at Boston College or by researchers for the National Board on Educational Testing and Public Policy. The conclusion drawn is that high stakes testing programs are linked to decreased rates of high school completion. The evidence is mainly correlational, but it is suggestive enough to warrant further research to clarify the role of high stakes testing in decisions to drop out of school. The first evidence is from the era of minimum competency testing (MCT). There was no MCT in half of the 10 states with the lowest dropout rates, and the states with the highest dropout rates had MCT programs with standards set at least in part by the state. A second piece of evidence shows that in schools with proportionately more students of low socioeconomic status that used high stakes minimum competency tests, early dropout rates, between 8th and 10th grades, were 4 to 6 percentage points higher than in schools that were similar except for the high stakes test requirement. The third piece of evidence comes from high school graduation testing and dropouts in Florida. A more complex relationship is suggested by the fact that only for students with moderately good grades was a significant increase in dropping out associated with failure of the high school graduation test. A fourth line of evidence comes from the evolution of high stakes testing in Texas, where findings suggest that some high school sophomores dropped out of school because of the requirement of satisfactory performance on the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills. A final point is the relationship among high stakes testing, grade retention, and dropout rates. Research has generally suggested that grade retention makes students more likely to drop out. Interaction with graduation test requirements may result in increased numbers of dropouts. (Contains 14 endnotes.) (SLD)
Descriptors: Dropout Rate, Dropouts, High School Graduates, High Schools, High Stakes Tests, Minimum Competencies, School Holding Power, Test Use
For full text: http://www.nbetpp.bc.edu.
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Opinion Papers; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: National Board on Educational Testing and Public Policy, Chestnut Hill, MA.