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By GreatSchools Staff
The use of "high-stakes" tests is on the rise. Twenty-six states currently have a high school exit exam or have plans to implement one in the near future. Students must pass these exams in order to receive a high school diploma. Some states use tests in certain grade levels (generally third and/or fifth grade) to determine promotion from one grade level to the next.
"High-stakes" tests have generated much controversy. Proponents believe they propel schools to focus on getting all students to achieve and create a "no excuses" environment. Opponents counter that it's not fair that a single test determine whether a student is promoted, and that such tests lead to narrowing what is taught in school.
In fact, much of the controversy around tests is not so much about the tests themselves, but how the results are used: Should English language learners and students with learning disabilities be required to pass the same tests as the other students? Should test results be used to determine promotion or graduation? Should schools be penalized for poor test results?
If you are concerned about your school's results or the amount of time students spend preparing for state tests, here are some questions you can ask your school principal and school site council:
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