Student Achievement

State Tests Can Influence High School Learning, Report Finds

By David J. Hoff — June 21, 2005 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

See Also

High school exams that are based on state standards are changing what and how students learn, whether or not they have high stakes attached to them, a report on two school districts suggests.

Because of such tests in Virginia and Maryland, teachers are focused on ensuring that students are prepared to take and pass the exams, according to case studies of one school district in each of those states.

But sometimes schools sacrifice depth of learning for test preparation, says the report released last week by the Washington-based Center on Education Policy.

“How Have High School Exit Exams Changed Our Schools: Some Perspectives from Virginia and Maryland” is posted by the Center on Education Policy.

The impact has been greater in the Virginia district because that state now requires students to pass six end-of-course exams to earn a diploma. In Maryland, the class of 2009 will need to pass such tests in four subjects to qualify for graduation. The current Maryland students take the exams, but their scores are part of their grades in the classes, not a graduation requirement.

The Virginia tests “are having a very significant impact, and they’re focusing the attention of teachers and students,” Jack Jennings, the president of the policy-analysis group, said in an interview.

Prepared, But Rushed

Virginia students told researchers that they felt prepared for the tests, but they also said that teachers sometimes rushed through content to make sure they covered everything that might be on the exams. One of the more than 40 Virginia students interviewed for the study reported that group discussions in classes were rare.

The report says that students and school officials in Maryland reported similar changes in classroom practices, but that the impact hasn’t been as significant. None of the Maryland students interviewed mentioned that teachers had abandoned class discussion, for example.

The less dramatic impact reported for Maryland could be because the state has offered a more specific curriculum guide aligned with its exams than Virginia has, Mr. Jennings said. Or it could be because the graduation tests don’t have high stakes attached to them yet.

Related Tags:

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Achievement Spotlight Spotlight on Intervention
This Spotlight will help you dig into intervention from multiple angles: 504 plans, tutoring, SEL for teenagers, and more.
Student Achievement What New Data Reveal About Students' Math and Reading Performance Right Now
The results of a new study show the magnitude of the task schools have ahead of them.
6 min read
Image of a teacher taking questions in a classroom.
E+
Student Achievement Longer COVID-Related School Closures Could Hurt Students' Future Earnings
Students who experienced the longest school closures will face lower future earnings and are less likely to go to college, a new study says.
Olivia Rockeman and Nic Querolo, Bloomberg News
1 min read
Empty desks in a dark classrooom
Getty
Student Achievement What the Research Says Here's One Way to Improve Students' Reading Scores: Get Them Eyeglasses
Schools need to do more than just vision screenings, new research says, especially after students have spent so much time learning on screen.
5 min read
Image of eyeglasses and an eye examine chart with letters.
gchutka/E+