Mixed Methods) Mcneil, Linda Mcspadden,

Thus, it is implied, it was in the best interests of the school districts to shed such unwanted students.

Purpose of study

The purpose of the study was to build upon existing research upon the effects of introducing high-stakes testing into a state on the students themselves.

Method for collecting data

271,000 students were studied 1995-2002 in the state of Texas, to examine the effects of the first wave of high-stakes testing upon retention rates. School district performance ratings and student performance were both compared. Qualitative analysis was also collected, including interviews with students who had dropped out of school.

Results, conclusions and recommendations

It was found from these interviews that, to meet the demands of the accountability system, students were often required to repeat ninth grade, to ensure they would be prepared for the exam, even if they had passed their courses.

To meet attendance mandates, students with as and Bs often lost credit because of outside obligations. Retention was indeed increased in 9th grade, but overall graduation rates in high-risk groups had not improved.

The authors do not deny the need for school reform and improvement. However, students failure to understand why they were being sanctioned, combined with the discouraging effects of not being promoted to improve school ratings, conspired to discourage high-risk students from putting in the effort to graduate from high school. The result was a higher dropout rate. Administrators also had little incentive to focus on improving graduation rates of marginal students, when the focus of the system of grading schools was on ninth grade retention, test scores of the student body on.

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