ERIC Number: ED463565
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2001
Do High Stakes Tests Drive Up Student Dropout Rates? Myths versus Reality. Knowledge Brief.
Rabinowitz, Stanley; Zimmerman, Joy; Sherman, Kerry
This report proposes that not enough good data or research has been done to settle the debate over whether testing affects high school dropout rates. Advocates argue that the threat of missing out on a diploma or of being retained motivates students to work harder, resulting in higher academic achievement. Critics argue that failing a high school exam, being retained, or anticipating such failure can push students over the academic edge, causing them to quit school. Problems with understanding the dropout issue include inconsistencies with how dropouts are defined and reported. Testing produces information that is limited in both scope and analytical methodology. While some studies suggest broad reasons for dropping out, such as not liking school or not getting along with teachers, no causal connection has been revealed between any single factor and the decision to quit school. The report recommends that negative unintended consequences of high-stakes test programs be disclosed, that keeping accurate dropout data is important, and that states allow a fair phase-in program to allow for alignment of curriculum, teaching practice, and assessment. Research recommendations include doing more credible and extensive data collection, and implementing more longitudinal studies and causal research. (Contains 38 references.) (RT)
Descriptors: Dropout Characteristics, Dropout Rate, Dropout Research, Dropouts, Educational Assessment, High Schools, High Stakes Tests, Potential Dropouts, Test Use
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Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: WestEd, San Francisco, CA.