Student Chapter Challenge Part 1: How we feel about high-stakes testing as future educators


At the ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibition Show in Houston, Tex., student chapters experienced a day with Cypress-Fairbanks ISD and were asked to write collaborative blog posts to summarize their experience. Want to learn more or start your own ASCD Student Chapter? Visit the ASCD Student Chapters resource page.

Student Chapter ChallengeBy Philip Russell, Ashley Vanat, and Gregory McHale

As current preservice teachers, we grew up in the age of NCLB and standardized tests. Therefore, we have firsthand experience from both sides of the desk. We have experienced the tests. We have experienced the anxiety of watching students take the tests. We could sit kicking and screaming against the whole climate of testing, but we do not have the power to change it. Therefore, in true education fashion, we have decided to engage with the tests and utilize them for our students’ benefit.

Before engaging with the tests, we have to deal with the pros and cons of testing. Then, in reaction to the pros and cons, we have to formulate lessons, units, and environments that foster high achievement.

First of all, the cons:

  • High-stakes testing causes teacher anxiety because teachers are partially evaluated from the scores
  • High-stakes testing also causes student anxiety in response to the teacher anxiety.
  • High-stakes testing greatly limits deep, unfettered learning because the goal is merely for students to pass a test.
  • High-stakes testing limits instruction time.
  • High-stakes testing limits how students express learning and learning abilities.
  • High-stakes testing limits how teachers differentiate their student assessment.

In response to the cons, we recognize pros of testing:

  • High-stakes testing manifests the value of equal education.
  • High-stakes testing is a basis for evaluating learning.
  • High-stakes testing pushes educators to better their practices.
  • High-stakes testing allows students to showcase their abilities.

So, looking at the pros and cons, what can individual states, districts, and teachers do to make the most of high-stakes testing? Learn to blend tested content into high-level lessons. Engage your students in multiple ways to learn throughout the year. Allow students to express their strengths through multiple mediums. Overall, be sure to keep the students in mind before any semblance of professional annoyance.

When our students come first, the pros and cons can negate each other as the students are the first and only priority. All of our endeavors, then, center on their academic, emotional, and physical well-being.