Beyond Brown: Pursuing the Promise Image Strip of Linda Brown walking to school, girl taking test at desk, Nettie Hunt and daughter with newspaper headline on steps of Supreme Court, present day children raising hands, children at computers
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The Burden of High-Stakes Test

• Grade retention disproportionately affects African-American males, who are most likely to be held back. Between the ages of 15 and 17, close to 50 percent of African-American males are either below the average grade for their age or have dropped out of school.

• In 1999, 13 percent of Latino students in kindergarten through 12th grade had repeated a grade, compared to 9 percent of whites; 7 percent of Asians; 18 percent of African Americans and Native Americans.

• High-stakes testing is correlated with high drop-out rates. Nine of the 10 states with the highest dropout-rates use high-stakes testing, while none of the states with the lowest drop-out rates do. Minority and low-income students are more likely than others to attend schools that use high stakes tests.

• The high school dropout rate for Latinos was 28 percent, compared with 7 percent for whites and 13 percent for African Americans in 2000. The drop out rate for Latinos born outside the United States was 44 percent.

• A student's performance on high-stakes exams is significantly tied to the teacher's level of experience. Minority and low-income students tend to have teachers with the lowest amounts of experience.

• High-stakes tests have been accused of penalizing students — especially minority students — who have received inadequate instruction.

• High-stakes tests do not necessarily make teachers and students more motivated. Psychological studies have found those students who are not motivated by the tests will begin to feel alienated by the tests and the educational process.

• If test results are related to important decisions, teacher often begin to teach to the tests; teachers with a high percentage of minority students are significantly more likely to change their teaching to prepare students for testing.

• There is little evidence of a correlation between high test scores and job success. The test score gap between black and white males has narrowed by half since the mid-sixties, while the black-white wage gap (that narrowed primarily during the period of civil rights enforcement) has grown since that time.

Sources of Information: The Civil Rights Project, Harvard University, the National Academy of Sciences, National Science Foundation; the National Center for Education Statistics.

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