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Large Scale Testing and its Impact on Graduation Rates

Below is a brief listing of research and news coverage showing that large-scale testing can lead to fewer students completing Grade 12.

  1. "As for dropouts, 25% of teachers in states with high stakes for students compared with 10% of all other teachers state that the testing caused many students to drop out of high school."

    Source: Pedulla, Joseph J. et al. "Perceived Effects of State-Mandated Testing Programs on Teaching and Learning: Findings from a National Survey of Teachers." Boston, MA.: National Board on Educational Testing and Public Policy, March 2003.

  2. "Official Texas statistics claim reductions in school dropouts, but independent studies consistent with U.S. government data show persistent increases, with 42 percent of all students failing to receive a high school diploma as of 1998 ('Longitudinal Attrition Rates,' 1999)."

    Source: Educational Cyberplayground, "Back to Teaching to Standards." The independent study that the quote refers to is as follows: Bolon, Craig. "School-based Standard Testing." Education Policy Analysis Archives 8:23 (May 12, 2000).

  3. "According to a report prepared for the provincial government by Queen's University professor Alan King and released last January, the rate of students who failed to complete high school has hit record levels. A projected 48,000 students didn't have enough credits to graduate in 2003."

    Source: Boyle, Theresa. "Dropouts face bleak job future." Toronto Star, October 25, 2004, p.A3.

  4. "Officials questioned whether the 159 schools got rid of struggling students so their low scores wouldn't hurt the schools' showing."

    Source: "Official: Schools Transferred Students Before FCAT Test." Associated Press, June 12, 2004.

  5. "According to a new study...by the nonprofit Center on Education Policy, minority students are more likely than their white peers to fail exit exams."

    Source: ASCD Special Report: High-Stakes Testing (September 9, 2004).

  6. "We find that the presence of an eighth grade promotion test requirement is strongly associated with an increased probability of dropping out prior to tenth grade. This association persists even after controlling for a moderate range of school and individual-level characteristics associated with dropping out. The difference in dropout rates between students taking and not taking promotion tests is not trivial, particularly for students with low achievement, low GPA, and from low-SES families), where the difference in dropout probabilities is as much as two percentage points. This is a sizable difference when we consider that these are dropout rates early in high school, when aggregate dropout rates generally below 5%." (p. 16)

    Source: Reardon, Sean F. and Claudia Galinda. "Do High-Stakes Tests Affect Students' Decisions to Drop Out of School? Evidence from NELS." University Park, Pa., Pennsylvania State University, April 2002.


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