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ERIC Number: ED508483
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Mar
Pages: 187
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
The Inevitable Corruption of Indicators and Educators through High-Stakes Testing
Nichols, Sharon L.; Berliner, David C.
Education Policy Research Unit
This research provides lengthy proof of a principle of social science known as Campbell's law: "The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor." Applying this principle, this study finds that the over-reliance on high-stakes testing has serious negative repercussions that are present at every level of the public school system. Evidence of Campbell's law at work was found in hundreds of news stories across America, and almost all were written in the last few years. In addition to news stories, traditional research studies, and stories told by educators about the effects of high-stakes testing are also part of the data. The data fell into 10 categories. Taken together these data reveal a striking picture of the corrupting effects of high-stakes testing: (1) Administrator and Teacher Cheating; (2) Student Cheating; (3) Exclusion of Low-Performance Students From Testing; (4) Misrepresentation of Student Dropouts; (5) Teaching to the Test; (6) Narrowing the Curriculum; (7) Conflicting Accountability Ratings; (8) Questions about the Meaning of Proficiency; (9) Declining Teacher Morale; and (10) Score Reporting Errors. (Contains 10 tables and 115 notes.) [For Executive Summary, see ED508510.]
Education Policy Research Unit. Arizona State University, Division of Advanced Studies in Education Policy, Leadership, and Curriculum, Mary Lou Fulton Institute and Graduate School of Education, P.O. Box 872411, Tempe, AZ 85287. Tel: 480-965-1886; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice
Authoring Institution: Arizona State University, Education Policy Research Unit
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001