High-Stakes Testing

High-Stakes Testing

High-stakes tests are tests used to make important decisions about students. These include whether students should be promoted, allowed to graduate, or admitted to programs. High-stakes assessments are considered a natural outcome of the standards movement in the U.S. The declared purpose of the standards movement is to make students, teachers, and administrators responsible for a high standard of teaching and learning (Heubert, 2000). High-stakes tests are designed to measure whether or not content and performance standards established by the state have been achieved.

  1. What is "adequate yearly progress" (AYP), and why is it so important?
  2. What are mainstream, content-based standards?
  3. What accommodations can be made for testing English language learners?
  4. Are the tests culturally responsive?
  5. When and how should students be assessed to determine if they have special needs?



Baca, L., & de Valenzuela, J.S. (1996). Practical and theoretical considerations for assessment of culturally and linguistically diverse students.

Burnette, J. (2000). Assessment of culturally and linguistically diverse students for special education eligibility (ERIC EC Digest #E604). Arlington, VA: ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education.

Cole, M. (n.d.). The illusion of culture-free intelligence testing. Available from the University of California, San Diego, Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition.

Hambleton, R.K., & Rodgers, J.H. (1995). Item bias review. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 4(6).

Heubert, J. P. (2000). High-stakes testing: Opportunities and risks for students of color, English-language learners, and students with disabilities.

Thompson, S., Blount, A, & Thurlow, M. (2002). A summary of research on the effects of test accommodations: 1999 through 2001. Available from the University of Minnesota, National Center of Educational Outcomes.