The Role of High-Stakes Testing and Accountability in Educating Latinos

Authored by: Frances E. Contreras

Handbook of Latinos and Education

Print publication date:  December  2009
Online publication date:  December  2009

Print ISBN: 9780805858396
eBook ISBN: 9780203866078
Adobe ISBN: 9781135236694


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High-stakes testing and accountability mechanisms are fast becoming the primary tool for education reform in the United States. Many states are grappling with low passing rates on statewide assessments and constrained resources to compensate for these gaps in achievement, particularly among Latino and African American students. Thus, a paradigm shift in education service delivery has occurred throughout the P-16 continuum, with an emphasis on outcomes and standardized exams, and punitive consequences for all stakeholders involved. The biggest losers in this “high stakes” framework however are the students, as the myriad of achievement and exit exams are being utilized to withhold high school diplomas as well as make grade promotion decisions. While the content that Latinos are learning in schools is necessary and important to assess, it is equally important to consistently evaluate how these assessment and accountability mechanisms are being utilized and where the onus for the achievement gap is being placed.

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