High-stakes testing needs scrutiny, Barge and others say – Atlanta Journal-Constitution

April 9, 2013

John Barge was working in Bartow County Schools when a high school student had a panic attack trying to pass the graduation test and a fourth-grader became so stressed taking the CRCT he drew blood stabbing his arm with a pencil.

“I believed well before the Atlanta cheating issue that we place far too much importance on high-stakes tests to determine a student’s abilities, as well as a school’s quality,” said Barge, Georgia’s state school superintendent since 2011.

Some education leaders and researchers — including Barge — say it is time — if not past time — for a national debate on whether high-stakes tests are having the uplifting effects that were promised. Or, as factors in teacher firings, principal bonuses, student promotions and school funding, are they hurting public education and encouraging cheating?