High-Stakes Testing Infographic

Learn all about high-stakes testing in Nevada!

Why are they called "High-Stakes" tests?

High stakes testing is so named because the test outcomes are used to make important, often life-altering decisions. Such decisions may include the denial of a high school diploma, the repetition of a grade, the labeling of students and schools in pejorative ways, the withholding of funding, and even the closing of a school (Johnson, 2009). Read more here.

What are the legal and ethical implications for teachers administering these tests?

Teachers are often the proctors of the exam and must adhere to the laws governing these high-stakes tests. The tests are highly guarded and cheating is prohibited. Teachers must also be sure that the students are ready for the test, and critics of high-stakes tests have argued that the curriculum has narrowed to where teachers now "teach to the test" instead of having the flexibility they once enjoyed. Teachers whose pay is based on performance of their students on high-stakes tests may also fall into the category of teachers "teaching to the test" (NEW YORK STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT, 2004).

Watch a video to learn more about high-stakes testing and No Child Left Behind

NCLB and the Effects of Standardized Testing

Should teachers "teach to the test"?

Teachers, especially those whose pay is based on performance, will feel motivated to "teach to the test". Why not? They get a raise if their students do well, but do not if they don't. Good teachers should be able to supplement material to teach standards that are found on the tests to an extent where the students can recall the information instead of testing and forgetting. Teachers should not necessarily "teach to the test", instead, they should find the best ways to teach to the standards each state has adopted.

What ethical challenges do teachers face in preparing students for these tests?

Teachers who live in states requiring high-stakes testing have to prepare the students for these high-stakes tests. There are arguments against it, such as teachers "teaching to the test" and "drill and kill" pedagogical methods (NEW YORK STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT, 2004) in which teachers just drill information into the students' heads just so they can regurgitate it when it comes time to test. Arguments for test preparation show higher level discussions, labs, and critical thinking in the classrooms from teaching to state specific standards which are reflective of the high-stakes tests (NEW YORK STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT, 2004).


Johnson, D. (2009). High Stakes Testing. Retrieved from http://www.education.com/reference/article/high stakes-testing1/

NEW YORK STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT. (2004). The Impact of High-Stakes Exams on Students and Teachers. Retrieved from http://www.oms.nysed.gov/faru/TheImpactofHighStakesExams.htm

Phillips, D. (2011). NCLB and the Effects of Standardized Testing. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1iKugDxFoU