High Stakes Testing Pros and Cons List

High stakes testing comes in many forms and is used in different applications. It is a type of assessment test which is commonly used in school systems to determine the accountability of educators, students and school districts. Scores can either result to rewards or sanctions like promotion, diploma or for failure rates, closure of the school. There are those who regard this test important to the education system while there are groups against its implementation. Here are a few of the views from supporters and critics of high stakes testing.

List of Pros of High Stakes Testing

1. Students, especially those who are educated poorly will benefit from high stakes testing.
Supporters bring up the argument that this type of test has a great impact on Latino and Black students and those with disabilities who are oftentimes the most poorly educated. Since the test exists to motivate schools, teachers and students to improve the quality of learning and education, poorly educated students are the direct beneficiaries of this system.

2. Teachers will be better educators and be more effective in teaching.
Since high stakes testing can be used to assess if educators are qualified for a higher pay or promotion, it can be a driving force for them to hone their craft and concentrate on improving their teaching skills. This, in turn, will make them more effective teachers.

3. It helps in identifying areas of education that needs improvement.
Proponents point out that test results can help determine what part of the education system needs improvement and reform. High stakes tests can assess the knowledge of students and the subjects they are doing poorly in. With the outcome, school administrators can then evaluate their education system and make the necessary changes.

4. High stakes testing encourages students to be more serious in school.
For people who believe in this type of assessment find it an effective tool to motivate students to learn more and improve their performance since there are expected consequences if they fail or pass the test.

List of Cons of High Stakes Testing

1. It can lead to high dropout rates and lower number of graduates.
Opponents are critical of high stakes testing since it is used to assess students if they have enough knowledge and skills to go to the next grade level or get a high school diploma. Those who oppose are concerned this can do more harm than good, considering that not all students have the same skill levels. They argue that students who will not make it to the cut might end up discontinuing their studies and not be motivated to be achievers in the future.

2. High stakes testing encourages cheating.
Critics are reluctant to support assessments with reward or punishment schemes because they believe that these tests can force teachers and students to consider cheating the test on a large scale. Since the entire school, faculty and student body will be affected, it can easily contribute to the proliferation of cheating.

3. It can disrupt balance in the methods of instruction.
Opponents contend that this type of testing can urge educators and teachers to give emphasis on subjects that are included in the test while neglecting those which are equally important but not included in the assessment. The result will be poor quality teaching in some areas, leaving an imbalance in the system of education.


The importance of assessments and evaluation tests are important to know what areas need improvement. However, the debate on high stakes testing remains to be controversial because not all agree with the reward or punishment it entails.