HIGH STAKES, LOW STAKES TESTING: DO STAKES REALLY MATTER?
NEWSPAPER HEADLINES ARE WRITTEN TO GRAB PEOPLE'S attention. Nothing captures newspaper headline attention like school test scores. As the state of Minnesota (only one of many possible examples) has moved toward using test scores as a minimum competency exam to graduate from high school, the attention-getting headlines are seen more often. Tests that have rewards (graduatingfrom high school) or penalties (not graduating from high school) tied to the test results are considered to be "high stakes" tests. However, not all schools in the United States can be considered high stakes testing environments. Schools that do not have sanctions or rewards tied to the results of an exam cannot be viewed as high stakes testing environments. Instead, they are considered to be "low stakes" environments. A low stakes environment can still have a standardized achievement or criterion-referenced test, but the results will not be used automatically to make decisions about students, schools, or teachers.