How Current School Reform Policy Maintains Racial and Economic Inequality
Edited By Bree Picower and Edwin Mayorga
1. High-Stakes Testing: A Tool for White Supremacy for Over 100 Years
Educators first began applying standardized testing to school children as early as 1848, but it was not until the early 1900s that such testing developed into a widespread tool for measuring students, teachers, and people more generally in the United States. Given the ubiquity of testing in education policy and practice today, it is critical to understand that when we look at standardized testing historically and how it is used as the central mechanism for accountability within education policy, high-stakes, standardized testing has operated as tool for the maintenance of White supremacy in the United States.1
In order to get to this understanding, in this chapter I first offer a basic overview of key concepts about high-stakes testing and then provide a brief, modern day history of high-stakes testing in education policy. I then follow with how our modern day testing has roots in the racism of I.Q. testing and the eugenics movement around the turn of the 20th century and continue with how such testing was introduced into education in the United States, including the ways that these tests support White supremacy through the guise of offering individual inequality and “objective” measures of students. I then give an overview of the research evidence showing the disparate impacts of high-stakes testing on students of Color specifically, and I conclude this chapter with a brief description of the kinds of resistance building against high-stakes testing generally, as well as the White supremacists impulses...
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