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Potter and Wall (1992) found that higher standards, which paved the way for high-stakes testing, provided minimal increases in academic achievement while producing negative effects on some students, especially male students of color. Haney (2000) reported that during the first year of high-stakes graduation testing in Texas, graduation rates declined, with a 50 percent greater decline for Black and Hispanic students than other ethnic groups. Many researchers blame high-stakes testing, at least in part, for the increasing U.S. dropout rates (Rothstein, 2002). These results, which highlight the negative consequences of high-stakes testing on dropout rates, are consistent with Shepard (2000), Darling-Hammond (2004), and Hong and Youngs (2008). Additionally, low-achieving students in states requiring high-stakes tests were more likely to drop out than those students in states without high-stakes testing (Jacob, 2001). To emphasize this, Clarke, Haney, and Madaus (2000) reported that of the ten states with the highest dropout rates, 9 of them correlate test scores with graduation requirements.Grade retention is another school factor affecting a students’ decision to drop out of high school. Potter and Wall (1992) reported that although high-stakes testing may have slightly increased student achievement, dropout rates did not decrease when student grade retention increased. Allensworth (2004) did a study of students from 1992 to 1998 and found 8 percent and 13 percent dropout rate increases for 17 and 19 year-olds respectively, when retained in a grade during their school career. In 2005, Allensworth performed another study using data from Chicago Public Schools after they had implemented a promotion standard for eighth grade. Although the study yielded negative effects of the policy on dropout rates, they were smaller than those found through traditional retention practices. Academic rigor is a key element in student achievement and completion. However, some demographic groups are succeeding while others are not.


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