Examining High-Stakes Testing

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Education Next talks with Joshua Starr and Margaret Spellings

By Joshua P. Starr and Margaret Spellings

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WINTER 2014 / VOL. 14, NO. 1

More than 40 states plan to assess student performance with new tests tied to the Common Core State Standards. In summer 2013, results from Common Core–aligned tests in New York showed a steep decline in outcomes. Common Core advocates hailed the scores as an honest accounting of school and student performance, while others worried that they reflected problems with the tests, inadequate support for educators, or a lack of alignment between what schools are teaching and what’s being tested.

In this forum, Joshua Starr, superintendent of schools in high-performing Montgomery County, Maryland, makes the case for a three-year hiatus from high-stakes accountability testing while new standards and tests are implemented. Accountability proponent Margaret Spellings, U.S. secretary of education from 2005 to 2009 and now president of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, defends the testing regime as a critical source of information, for educators as well as the public, and argues for holding the line.

• Joshua P. Starr: A Testing Moratorium Is Necessary

Margaret Spellings: Assessments Are Vital for Healthy Schools

Comment on this article
  • JB says:

    I got it! We’ll just eliminate failure. That way we won’t need any tests at all.

  • Quan says:

    That was the plan, JB. Minor problem: Bush and failure are synonymous. But then why pick on those literate back to basic folks? We haven’t seen much movement from NCLB to RTTT, either. The beating of the teachers continues until morale improves, and then if it doesn’t, we can always import teachers in this global economy. Never thought I’d see the US at the top of the list in incarcerated youth, and at the bottom in student performance. Sure, those tests have done great for accountability !!! Mosquitoes and eagles both have wings, but one of them is surely annoying !!!

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