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Infographic: Teaching to the Test… Does Standardized Testing Help or Harm Students?


by woodleywonderworks via Flickr under CreativeCommons

Note to Readers: This info graphic was produced by a “lead-generator” site, which aims to direct students to enroll in colleges that pay the lead generator to do so. This info-graphic is part of a concentrated “campaign” by the lead generation site to generate traffic to its degree programs. We are publishing this infographic because it presents some interesting information. We welcome comments about it and whether we should continue or cease publishing such infographics offered to us. We do believe that you, the reader, has a right to know where this information is coming from and who is creating it. We do not take any money from anyone to publish this infographic. Thanks. -WA

Teaching to the Test

No Child Left Behind

Originally required 100% of schools to meet performance standards by 2014
31,737 of 98,916 schools missed NCLB’s testing goals in 2009… that’s just 68% proficiency
In 2010, it was believed that cheating on standardized tests may have occurred at 1 in 5 schools—and that students might not have been the ones to cheat
Due to performance standards, educators must ensure that their students score high enough on tests to retain funding and jobs for the schools
Testing facilities perform analyses of student tests at no extra charge, looking for signs of cheating like:

High number of erasures to fill in right answers
High number of same wrong answers
Variation in individual student scores from year to year
Most states do not request these reports, or do nothing with the results

Cheating for the Best Scores

For many students, the SATs are vital to get into college… vital enough to pay cash for the best score

2010-2011: 6 students from Great Neck North High School paid Great Neck alumna and current college student Sam Eshaghoff $1500-$2500 each to take the SAT with their identities
He earned scores between 2140 and 2220 for those students—perfect is 2400
Eshaghoff may be imprisoned for up to 4 years for the offense, but the students face only misdemeanor charges and will simply have their scores erased, with the option to retake

7 students arrested in SAT cheating scheme

50-year-old teacher Scott Mueller resigned after admitting to copying standardized testing questions word-for-word onto study guides for students

In 2005, under a different teacher, third-graders scored in 67th percentile in math
When he taught the same group of students the next year, they scored in 97th percentile
As fifth-graders without him, they scored in 49th percentile
As sixth-graders with Mueller, back up to 90th percentile

One professor compared the periods of sharp gain—which are by no means exclusive to Mueller and his school—as going to “a weight loss clinic where you lose 100 pounds a day”
The 66 fifth-graders who used his study guides this year all had to retake math and science tests, costing the school $3,300
Nationwide, there are 1,610 such inconsistencies in standardized test scores

How Important Are Test Scores to Schools and Teachers?

24 out of 26, or 92% of the data points considered on Ohio’s school report cards are test scores:

50% of teachers’ yearly evaluations and salary may be determined by test scores in certain states:

64% of people believe teacher evaluations should include test scores:,8816,2016994,00.html

10 states currently use student test scores as the main consideration for teacher evals
130 Detroit public schools have closed since 2005—most due to low test scores

Inaccuracies and Performance Gaps

In Massachusetts, low-income students score about 20% lower than their peers on standardized tests
About 60% of Massachusetts schools with many low-income students aren’t meeting English or math standards set by NCLB

NYC is slated to close many more low-income schools this year—those that don’t show adequate proficiency in English or math on standardized tests

SAT Test Scores by Income:

Every boost in income category was correlated with an average increased SAT score of 12 points

According to the state of NY in 2009:

87% of fourth graders overall were proficient in math
Compared to 78% in 2006—a 9% gain
80% of eighth graders overall were
78% of fourth grade black students were
63% of eighth grade black students were
82% of fourth grade Hispanic students were
69% of eighth grade Hispanic students were
92% of fourth grade white students were
89% of eighth grade white students were
96% of fourth grade Asian students were
92% of eighth grade Asian students were

But states and federal agencies record scores much differently. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress just months later:

No significant gains for the state at all!
Only 40% of fourth graders were proficient in math
Only 34% of eighth graders were
Only 19% of fourth grade black students were
Only 13% of eighth grade black students were
Only 25% of fourth grade Hispanic students were
Only 15% of eighth grade Hispanic students were
Only 50% of fourth grade white students were
Only 44% of eighth grade white students were
Only 67% of fourth grade Asian students were
Only 63% of eighth grade Asian students were

Schools are being closed due to low test performance—NYC is set to close as many as 25 more schools in addition to the 117 schools closed since 2002

One school, serving disadvantaged black and Latino male students, will close in part because only 19% of them scored proficient on standardized reading exams
Black and Latino males have the lowest odds of graduating from high school of any demographic

Closing the Performance Gap by Inspiration Alone
After Obama gave his nomination acceptance speech, a notable performance gap between black and white students closed

Before nomination:
White students got 12 out of 20 questions on a test correct
Black students got 8.5 out of 20 correct
After nomination acceptance:
Black performance improved–black and white students performed statistically equally

Does Teaching to the Test Help Students Learn?

Minorities and low-income students are at a higher risk for being held back or put in remedial programs based on standardized testing
White and middle- or upper-income students often benefit, moving ahead and landing in gifted programs

A recent study showed that 45% of students made no score improvements on a critical thinking test after their first 2 years of college

It often means missing key learning experiences—test prep and testing can cause students to miss as much as 18% of their traditional lessons
Source: Standardized Testing and ELLs NCLB: More Harm than Good – By Maria G. Amador

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