High-Stakes Testing & Student Learning


  • Audrey L. Amrein Arizona State University
  • David C. Berliner Arizona State University




Academic Achievement, High Stakes Tests, Learning, State Programs, Test Results, Test Use, Testing Programs


A brief history of high-stakes testing is followed by an analysis of eighteen states with severe consequences attached to their testing programs. These 18 states were examined to see if their high-stakes testing programs were affecting student learning, the intended outcome of high-stakes testing policies promoted throughout the nation. Scores on the individual tests that states use were not analyzed for evidence of learning. Such scores are easily manipulated through test-preparation programs, narrow curricula focus, exclusion of certain students, and so forth. Student learning was measured by means of additional tests covering some of the same domain as each state's own high-stakes test. The question asked was whether transfer to these domains occurs as a function of a state's high-stakes testing program.


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Author Biographies

Audrey L. Amrein, Arizona State University

Audrey L. Amrein is an Assistant Research Professional in the College of Education at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. Her research interests include the study of large-scale educational policies and their effects on students from racial minority, language minority, and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Specifically, she is interested in investigating the effects of high-stakes tests, bilingual education, and charter school policies as they pertain to issues of equity.

David C. Berliner, Arizona State University

David C. Berliner is Regents' Professor of Education at the College of Education of Arizona State University, in Tempe, AZ. He received his Ph.D. in 1968 from Stanford University in educational psychology, and has worked also at the University of Massachusetts, WestEd, and the University of Arizona. He has served as president of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), president of the Division of Educational Psychology of the American Psychological Association, and as a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Education. Berliner's publications include The Manufactured Crisis, Addison-Wesley, 1995 (with B.J. Biddle) and The Handbook of Educational Psychology, Macmillan, 1996 (Edited with R.C. Calfee). Special awards include the Research into Practice Award of AERA, the National Association of Secondary School Principals Distinguished Service Award, and the Medal of Honor from the University of Helsinki. His scholarly interests include research on teaching and education policy analysis.




How to Cite

Amrein, A. L., & Berliner, D. C. (2002). High-Stakes Testing & Student Learning. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 10, 18. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v10n18.2002




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