Hats off to state Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, for introducing a bill to help Washington join a nationwide trend away from high school exit exams. Research shows these exams do not improve learning or close achievement gaps. Instead, they narrow curriculum and depress graduation rates. Students with disabilities, English learners and homeless students bear the brunt of the damage.
These are some of the reasons why just 12 out of 50 states still use exit exams, down from 27. Over the past decade, states have recognized that the tests don’t result in better prepared graduates. Instead, they tend to downgrade educational quality by dumbing down curriculum to a junk food diet of test prep. Public opinion polls show most people think schools put too much emphasis on testing.
In “The Testing Charade,” Harvard testing expert Daniel Koretz explains how high-stakes testing leads to score inflation, not improved learning. This means the public gets inaccurate information about how schools and students are doing.
If teachers spent less time and resources boosting test scores, they could instead focus on developing all students’ critical thinking skills and creativity.
It’s time for Washington legislators to pass a bill to end this outdated, unfair and destructive educational policy.