Low Road #10: Further Benefits to Low Stakes Testing


Lowering the testing stakes in professional preparation would allow a better balance between education and training. This distinction reflects the difference between professionalism and technically competent work.

Real education should not be narrowly focused and reductionist; it should be personally rewarding in and of itself. Education should be experienced as an opening of the mind to wider and more subtle possibilities. Fostering and supporting an attitude of eager anticipation for education is important for everyone all the time. Youngsters learning to read need the same sense of internal reward from learning as do practicing professionals faced with challenges of continuing education and ongoing quality improvement. Positive attitudes about life-long learning correlate with perseverance, innovation and problem solving. None of these are measurable in the high-stakes testing programs we current deploy.

High stakes testing forces a focus on the necessarily narrow material known to be on the test regardless of the utility or even applicability of that material to the individual's present or future work. It would be much better, and more professional, to make testing formative only, to build and support individual capacity appropriate to known application contexts.

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