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A High-Stakes Test is the testing format that is used to make key decision regarding learners, educators, learning institutions, majorly for the reason of accountability(Cattelino, 2008). The High-stakes test always have key consequences on the test taker, with punishments for poor performers and reward for the good performers. The consequences are, therefore, used as motivational factors to improve the process of learning. Reward for good performance may include incentives like promotion or gifts while punishment may be retaking the paper until it is finally passed(Cattelino, 2008). Sometimes it may go as far as not being able to get employment. In short, the stakes are used to determine accolades, promotion, progression, reimbursement or even punishment. In institutions, the stakes are used to determine closure, swapping of staff members, firing of ineffective workers or even drawing a compensation plan.

Critical Evaluation of High-Stakes-Testing

High-Stakes-Testing has received much criticism as well as appreciation world over. Some opinionated statements hold that the method of testing is a major motivational for the sector of education. Others on the contrary, deduce that the testing format is a waste of time and plays a role as a derailing factor in the process of education. The critics who do not support the system argue that it facilitates more teaching on test taking compared to the actual reason of education; conception of ideas that remain ideal to the lives of learners(Cattelino, 2008).The stakes in learning institutions, are aimed at punishing both the learner and the educator in cases of failure. Educators do not want the brand of failures; individuals who do not deliver the right content to the learners. The learners as well do not want to face the oft cruel punishment of retaking a class. The two parties, because they share the same goals, therefore, conspire to meet their aim, which is to avoid failure by all means. The means of doing this may even involve a deviation from the set and guided curriculum to drilling on procedurals of passing the test. The learning institutions also play a factor to this because they do not want to be a party to failure, for which they can face consequences like closure or fine. The interference with the curriculum starts as early as the level of kindergarten and goes as high as institutions of higher learning.Educators whose students mostly pass, have gained the experience of choosing and delivering only what they know will be tested, whilst ignoring the rest of the syllabus. These, they teach overly and ensure that the learners master, even if they do not comprehend. The kind of teaching that involves such practices always leads to a learner’s excellent passing, and praise go to all parties. In essence, the learners always have little on the real content of what they should have been taught.

Arguments Against High-Stakes-Testing

The punishments that have been imposed on schools for failure to pass have pushed them to want to do anything that will make their learners pass(Jones, 2003). Some of them go to the extent of cheating in examinations if they faced with the punishment of closure. It is the case scenario of choking somebody; they will do anything to survive. The consequences of cheating are that there are results in a crop of students who have passed well and appear to have been well taught. That is just a false presentation of what they really are; cheats who really know nothing and do not deserve the accredited grades.The other negative effect of this testing format is that it demoralizes teachers to teach only what is tested and nothing beyond that (Jones, 2003). They teach the learners how to answer questions with disregard to whether they understand the concepts they are putting down on paper.The tests also give learners the wrong focus with the motivations that it sets in place. Instead of focusing on the present class content, the learners aim at achieving the rewards no matter what it costs. They end up mastering the class content that they start forgetting the moment they offload them on the test paper. The focus makes them not meet the goals of education, which are to produce all-rounded students. It only makes them meet their goals, which is to earn the incentive(Madaus et al, 2009).

Arguments for High-Stakes-Testing

The tests that are used to set the stakes are intended at assessing the level of information gathered by a leaner(Madaus et al, 2009). The learner is tested on the material they should have been learning on to see how much they have understood.The motivational factor that comes with the stakes drives the learners and educators to want to achieve more than they already haveThe rewards make them want to explore further into the materials of education.The stakes are used for eliminating the students who do have their focus in class/ school. Such are the students that are present in class physically, but mentally and emotionally, they are elsewhere.To conclude, the High-Stakes-Tests has advantages and disadvantages. However, the disadvantages arise when the tests/ stakes are not used for the right purpose of assessment. Implementation of the stakes should aim at improving focus and activity in the class, not to take them away from the class.


Cattelino, J. R. (2008). High stakes: Florida Seminole gaming and sovereignty. Durham: Duke University Press.

Jones, M. G., Jones, B. D., & Hargrove, T. Y. (2003). The unintended consequences of high-stakes testing. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Pubishers.

Madaus, G. F., Russell, M. K., & Higgins, J. (2009). The paradoxes of high stakes testing: How they affect students, their parents, teachers, principals, schools, and society. Charlotte, N.C: Information Age Pub.