The topic of fair testing practices in education and the ethics involved is of great importance in today’s society with the advent of high-stakes testing in the United States. The Joint Committee on Testing Practices (JCTP) was organized in 1985 by the American Psychological Association (APA), the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME), and the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Although the committee disbanded in 2007, much can be learned from their efforts. One of the main successes of the organization was bringing to light the fact that much test data is misused. Responsible ways to incorporate the proper use of testing and assessment was taught to psychological and education measurement professionals .
Such information is important in the minds of school superintendents, members of school boards, school administrators, teachers, parents, and students. In a country where high-stakes testing has become the norm, scores determine funding, tracking, class sizes, home values, and far more concerns that affect all members of the community. Lawmakers that have no background in the educational field set the agenda for the mandates that the scores will determine. School districts are often faced with circumstances, such as transiency and poverty, lack of readiness for the school day due to home situations, and high absenteeism that they cannot control, and the districts then suffer because of the consequences. Suffering as a result, many school administrative personnel question the ethics of having funding tied to the results of standardized tests .
Politicians have taught parents who are active in the political process to read critically and suspiciously when they read about high-stakes testing in the newspaper. Many parents, as well as school administrators, teachers, and older students are conducting further research on the matter to check reliability, validity, and the ethics of the entire process, but mostly the ties between scores and funding for schools. While teaching older students to prepare for the tests they have learned to be astute readers of politicians’ texts and how to interpret the words and actions of politicians themselves. Students have learned how to read information critically, question the purpose of the writing, and follow-up to see what action the political figure has taken since the writing was done. After comparing the writings to the actions of the political figure students can then assess the ethics that were used. Taking this skill one step further, students can study the ties between high stakes testing and school funding, investigate the people in the legislature that determine the formulation, and assess whether or not they believe that it is ethical to tie test scores to state and federal educational funding (Kane, 2007).
Despite the ties to funding, Americans have demanded that schools do more than teach for standardized tests. Other requirements that the public have insisted be included in the educational process, through elections to the school board, include citizenship, character education, health, and social ethics. When asked why, the general public has responded that if students are not taught these core essentials when in the classroom, too many will not be educated in these areas at all. At least if taught in the classroom, these life skills, including ethics, will have reached, at least to some degree, all students who are educated in the public school system (Rothstein, 2000).
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