First Advisor

Collins, Robert D.


College for Professional Studies

Degree Name

Master of Arts


School of Humanities & Social Sciences

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Number of Pages

65 pages


The proponents of standardized high-stakes testing argue that this type of assessment will and does promote increased knowledge acquisition by students. The opponents of this testing claim any apparent knowledge increase as measured by improvements in tests scores are mainly due to teaching to the test. This study was done to determine whether high-stakes testing does in fact improve the knowledge of the students. Data from two national college entrance examinations were collected and reviewed changes over time as reference to knowledge improvements. Test scores from three state high-stakes tests were collected (California, Texas, and Colorado). The scores from the national tests both the national averages (composite scores) and the individual state averages were tabulated and plotted. The relative change over time was determined for the national examinations and the state examinations. The results of this study call into question the hypothesis that high-stakes testing improves results of education. The national examinations improved at approximately the same rate for the period examined (12-14 years) while the state test scores show greater changes either positively or negatively for the final 5-6 years examined. One conclusion that can be drawn by that is that the state test scores improved based on changes in what is being taught in the classroom, i.e. teaching to the test. The conclusion of this work is that the hypothesis that high-stakes testing will improve the knowledge of student must be rejected. Because of that the use and value of high-stakes testing is called into question and should be reevaluated and if not just eliminated then these tests need to be revised both in content and emphasis.

Date of Award

Summer 2008

Location (Creation)

Denver, Colorado

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