As of the day it was signed into law, states had to initiate a strategic plan for meeting the range of assessment and accountability provisions the law mandated” (Nichols, Glass, & Berliner, 2005, p. 5), of which high-stakes assessment was deemed crucial in improving student achievement and learning. However, various studies have revealed contradictory results regarding its effect on students’ academic performance. Do High-Stakes Assessments Improve Learning? One, therefore, contends that high-stakes assessment does not improve the overall achievement and learning of students.
Proponents of high-stakes assessment argue that “when faced with large incentives and threatening punishments, administrators, teachers, and students, it is believed, will take schooling more seriously and work harder to obtain rewards and avoid humiliating punishments” (Nichols, Glass, & Berliner, 2005, p. 1). The discourse written by Supovitz (2010) provided the theoretical framework for the use of high-stakes assessment through noting four major theories, to wit: “motivational theory, which argues that test-based accountability can motivate improvement; the theory of alignment, which contends that test-based accountability can spur alignment of major components of the educational system; information theory, which posits that such systems provide information that can be used to guide improvement; and symbolism, which maintains that testing systems signal important values to stakeholders” (par. 3). However, though positively premised, the high-stakes assessments implemented in various educational institutions throughout the United States have apparently generated contradictory results (Nichols, Glass, & Berliner, 2005; Amrein & Berliner, 2002).
The study conducted by Nichols, Glass, & Berliner (2005) revealed that “there is no convincing evidence that the pressure associated with high-stakes testing leads to any important benefits for