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NCTE Position Statement

Resolution on Urging Reconsideration of High Stakes Testing

2000 NCTE Annual Business Meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin


The National Council of Teachers of English passed a resolution in 1999 expressing concern over the prevalence of high stakes tests in the United States. The use of such tests has continued to escalate and to cause evident measurable damage to teaching and learning in U.S. schools. Other professional organizations have likewise voiced strong objections to the use of a single test for making significant decisions. Be it therefore


RESOLVED, that the National Council of Teachers of English affirm the following statement:

The efforts to improve the quality of education, especially in underachieving schools, are laudable, and the desire for accountability is understandable. However, high stakes tests often fail to assess accurately students’ knowledge, understanding, and capability. Raising test scores does not improve education. Therefore, the use of any single test in making important decisions—such as graduation, promotion, funding of schools, or employment and compensation of administrators and teachers—is educationally unsound and unethical.

High stakes testing often harms students’ daily experience of learning, displaces more thoughtful and creative curriculum, diminishes the emotional well-being of educators and children, and unfairly damages the life-chances of members of vulnerable groups. We call on legislators and policymakers to repeal laws and policies that tie significant consequences to scores on single assessments. We further call on legislators and policymakers to join with professional organizations to develop better means of improving public education.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NCTE invite other organizations to support, publicize, and promote a reconsideration of high stakes testing.

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