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Examinations are evaluative tools that aim to measure academic performance of students in relation to newly acquired information. It takes various types and forms and may evaluate different components of student learning. It weighs whether learning has been sufficient. It sharpens student's analysis, critical thinking skills, memory, reasoning, creativity and ethics.
Among many types and forms of examinations, one that has caused many controversies and disputes throughout the years is the implementation of high-stakes testing across the country and how high-stakes testing benefits students. It is a form of examination whose outcomes are determinants of "major life events." It aims to assess readiness and qualifications on particular undertakings and whose outcomes may yield either direct affirmative or negative consequences, hence the term high-stakes. It may take the form of licensure examination to practice a profession, scholarship application for indigents or academically deserving students, high school diploma, college aptitude examinations, and the likes.
Many critics to high-stakes testing specify that it causes tremendous downsides for students, parents, and teachers. This is evident as to the increased level of anxiety any test-taker exhibits. The idea that a single exam can change the course of a student's life is in itself nerve-racking and may ultimately affect a test-taker's approach toward continuing the exam or not. Such anxiety may sometimes be so severe that psychological distress follows. Contradicting to the statements preceding and supportive as to how high-stakes testing benefits students, it aims to boost student achievement by increasing motivation in order to allay feelings of anxiety. Motivated students tend to become more focused with reviewing while instilling in oneself the goal of passing the exam. One becomes gradually equipped with enough knowledge for test taking.
Accordingly, student retention and failure rates can also increase especially to those underserved students. The passage of the federal No Child Left Behind Act in 2001 has given schools and school districts across the country direct accountability for student achievement with regard to standardized test scores. How high-stakes testing benefits students is mirrored through the assurance it gives that expenses and costs are shouldered by the institution to which they belong. Also, this assures parents of students that the government takes its role on assessing school capabilities to continue its operation and receive funding or require immediate termination of public services.
Another pitfall may that be instructors tending to focus teaching and assessment on topics known to be included in high-stakes exam and negate other subjects of equal importance. High-stakes testing are tested for content validity in that it should reflect appropriateness toward its intended use and cut-off scores must be both attainable and reasonable for students to target.
College entrance examinations, for example, intend to intensively screen applicants in order to maintain the quality of any given institutions by which this is applied. Examinations for scholarship grants allow for truly deserving students to be given the opportunity to get scholarship premiums. Licensure examinations ensure that academic knowledge suffices needed technical skills and credentials in order to practice professionally.
High-stakes testing assures students of a basic level of quality education. It aims to maintain the standards set forth by any institutions and help students to keep up with such standards. Furthermore, it is a relatively objective evaluation tool that can be used widely. All these are just some justifications as to how high-stakes testing benefits students.
Overall, the implementation of high-stakes testing has been an issue for many population because of the risks associated with it. It was established to promote standards and quality of education, and it would be more beneficial if proper implementation is preserved. No single individual can elucidate that high-stakes testing offer no benefit and that its execution must be curtailed. It is only a matter of viewing it affirmatively as an evaluative tool and not that it causes its suspected disadvantages.