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Effects of Standardized Testing on Graduation Rates: Analytical Essay

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In 2002, The No Child Left Behind act was passed, which required students to take standardized testing, to measure the quality of the schools within each district. This act was set in place with the idea to provide equal educational opportunities to all students. However, as this idea sounds reasonable, since the initiation of No Child Left Behind, it has been contended that high stakes testing prompts a higher dropout rate which has increased by 15 percent. These standardized tests have led to becoming the key component of education. This is because standardized testing no longer gauges just a student’s success, but it measures teacher quality, funding, and academic weaknesses. High-stake standardized tests have negatively affected teacher and students, by causing uneasiness, stress and dread to the point where the outcomes on these exams decide both parties are performing at the best of their abilities.

Standardized testing originally was set forth to evaluate if students were receiving a significant amount of instruction in core academic areas. Standardized testing was first introduced in the 1900’s being used for college acceptances. The SAT, a common test that many know came around in the 30’s but it wasn’t until 2002, when the expansion of standardized testing took effect. Standardized testing began to measure much more such as intelligence, academic performance, and career opportunities. Within this expansion, institutions were held accountable for students success on these high-stake tests. To guarantee this accountability, tests were formed as a requirement for students, which they had to passed in order to be promoted and to graduate. This new law held institutions responsible for meeting the adequate yearly progress and if they didn’t comply with these new requirements, the states presented the possibility of the institution losing its federal money.

It has been shown by researchers that instead of these standardized tests being used to measure student’s success, it has been use as a means of promised funding. The No Child Left Behind Act used these high-take tests as incentives for the higher score performing school to receive more funding for their intuitions, such as tickets to sporting events or receiving food. In addition to more funding, the act promises instructors promotions or bonuses for the classes that had the highest scores. Although, this act’s incentives may seem favorable it caused major consequences for employees and students. With funding and job placement on the line, teacher’s dissatisfaction rates tend to increase, which results in the quality of student learning to decreased.

Standardized testing has resulted in instructors being progressively slanted to ‘educate to the test.’ Before the act was passed, instructors would teach the following curriculum set by the local districts and states. However, in order to achieve these higher scores, instructors are more focused on teaching to the test. For instance, teachers narrowed their curriculums to be focused around reading, writing, and mathematics, while reducing their amount spent on subjects such as social studies or arts.

“Strategies such as suspension, expulsion, and reclassification are being used in some schools to prevent at risk students from taking the high-stakes test (Amrein & Berliner, 2003). A number of students may be encouraged to drop out or transfer to another school so that schools can achieve a high rating (Bushweller, 2004)”. These tests are only gauging around student’s academic success and placing importance on boosting performance.

Standardized tests currently assume a huge job in deciding the achievement and showing capacities of educators. Accordingly, instructors put forth a valiant effort to guarantee that their students are ‘making the evaluations’ on testing, regardless of whether accentuating material that is on state administered tests. Students are frequently shown test-taking techniques, for example, how to fill in bubble sheets and approaches to recollect test-taking clues to help their test scores. Students might be getting higher scores on tests; however, these expanding scores don’t really show that students are adapting progressively material; in many cases, they are becoming familiar with how to step through examinations and score well on them.

Considering the impact and stress that is put on accomplishment on the scores from these evaluations, students have started to enable these scores to affect their lives and their view of themselves dependent on their prosperity or disappointment on these tests. Because of the way that students need such a great amount of information regarding estimating the capacity of standardized testing, the individuals who have reliably bombed the state administered test enable themselves to have sentiments of weakness and nervousness about their scholastic abilities. Since these standardized tests have taken place, it has been reported by numerous instructors that students felt that regardless of how hard they attempt, they will in any case do ineffectively on these standardized tests.

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Standardized testing is influencing student’s commitment and enthusiasm for school and their convictions in their own capacities. Feelings going from dread to fatigue are experienced by students who were confronted by high-stakes testing. These levels of anxiety and stress have led to students feeling the need to drop out of school due to their performance. These specific points of views and convictions are significant in seeing how testing have contrarily influence student’s self-viability.

There has been discussion about the emphasis placed on the time spent on standardized testing and the negative consequences related when over testing students. This excessive amount of testing can lead to unhealthy stress on students. In a report from the Center for American Progress, Lazarín (2014) found that students in grades 3 through 8, as compared with students in earlier and later grades, spend the most time on testing during the school year, averaging around 15 to 16 hours. On average, students in grades 3 through 8 are taking 10 exams throughout the school year, as compared to around 6 exams for students in grades K-2 and 9-12 (Lazarín, 2014). Teachers have even concerned about the excessive amount of time spent on standardized test, because of the lost in instructional time. A third-grade teacher is quoted as saying: “The prepping for the test takes a lot of time. Instead of possibly doing projects or more hands-on learning, we really focused on the testing format and preparing our students to be comfortable taking the test. The prepping starts at the beginning of the year and ends in April” (Teoh, Coggins, Guan, & Hiler, 2014). This amount of stress results in direct consequences for students such as grade retention.

State administered tests can regularly be the cause for students to get kept down in school. Therefore, students who are kept down endure scholastically, socially, and inwardly, and are subsequently bound to drop out of school than those students who are elevated to the following evaluation level notwithstanding scholarly shortcomings. For instance, it has been linked that students who score low on these standardized tests, are more likely to drop out of school. In a study conducted by Harvard University,” students in the bottom 10% of achievement were about 33% more likely to drop out of school in the states that required students to pass an exam in order to graduate” (Manalo, Taylor, et al. “Troubles with Standardized Testing.” Civic Issues, 1 Apr. 2013, When students don’t score well on these tests, it leads to self-doubt, which results in no determination to continue their education. If standardized testing was absent, these so called “low-achievers” would appear to be doing better and would be working on continuing their education instead of dropping out.

There are several factors that impact a child’s decision to drop out of school. Research says that a few of these reasons consist of (a) academic failure, (b) economic stance, (c) language barrier, (d) failing multiple grade levels, (e) family situations, and (f) addictions to name a few” (Kaufman, McMillan, & Whitener, 1995). At the point when students are confronting these issues, they are commonly pointers that can be seen by teachers to show potential dropout. Based on research, despite the issues that students may face, the number one explanation why students drop out of school is identified with scholastic disappointment. “Approximately one third of high school seniors are not graduating, of that third about 6% are dropping out in the first two years of high school and about 11% are dropping out in the last two years of high school; which would place America’s graduation rates at about 66-71%” (Barton, 2005).

Because of this self-doubt, critics have commonly reported the effectiveness of these standardized test. Often, a question that has been raised, is if the test encourages superficial thinking rather than deep evaluation. Therefore, students are only being measured based off recall and prior knowledge, rather than their ability to problem- solve and process new information. These skills are crucial in being a part of student’s progressing academic ability. Another problem commonly asked was if the test-makers had specific background, which would lead to bias questions. This refers to certain students performing better on questions because they are familiar with the background instead of the students who are culturally inclined. With that being said, is it fair to allow theses students to be presented as “low-achievers” and be chastised because of their score?

After reviewing graduation rates, it has been shown that the No Child Left Behind Act is likely the reasoning behind students being push out of the education system. Before 2002, 68 out of 100 school districts were on the verge to rising graduation rates. However, after the act’s passage, 73 out of the 100 school districts have plummeting graduation rates. By making a student go through all these pushout methods such as suspending, or transferring students causes them to become dissatisfied and take the easy route of dropping out.

In conclusion, The No Child Left Behind Act was passed in 2002, which required students to take exams used to measure a student’s success and distribute funding to intuitions in order to provide equal educational opportunities to all students. However, as it does sound like a promising idea, recent years have shown how ineffective these tests have become. These tests were supposed to support students, to provide them with the resources they needed to be academically successful. However, these high-risks tests are serving as determinants of students and teachers. Based on my reasonings mention earlier, I don’t believe that standardized testing should carry some weight in determining a student’s future. These tests were put in place with good intentions, but have we gone too far on putting too much emphasis on them relating to a student’s success? I believe that we need discover way to end the school pushout and keep more students in school. Test makers ought to find ways to modify standardized testing or find other better alternative ways entirely to measure a student’s success. If policymakers take this approach it will allow them to identify all the potential problems with standardized testing and how it influences learning and productivity.

Work’s Cited

  1. Chevalier, Denise A. No Child Left Behind: The Impact of Exit-Level Standardized Testing on Dropout Rates and College Readiness, Capella University, Ann Arbor, 2011. ProQuest,
  2. Curley, Caitlin. How Standardized Testing Pushes Out Students. GenFKD,
  3. Haladyna, Thomas, Nancy Haas, and Jeanette Allison. ‘Continuing Tensions in Standardized Testing.’ Childhood Education, vol. 74, no. 5, 1998, pp. 262-273. ProQuest,
  4. Harris, Phillip, et al. The Myths of Standardized Tests : Why They Don’t Tell You What You Think They Do, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central,
  5. ‘Issue: Standardized Testing: Home Edition].’ Los Angeles Times (pre-1997 Fulltext), Oct 22, 1992, pp. 2. ProQuest,
  6. Simpson, Christina. “Effects of Standardized Testing on Student’s Well Being.” May 2016,
  7. Taylor Manalo-Taylor Manalo-Lauren Mayer-Catherine Roberts- Taylor Manalo Post- Taylor Manalo Post
  8. Warren, John R., and Krista N. Jenkins. ‘High School Exit Examinations and High School Dropout in Texas and Florida, 1971-2000: A Magazine of Theory and Practice.’ Sociology of Education, vol. 78, no. 2, 2005, pp. 122-143. ProQuest,

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