Mismatched Assumptions: Motivation, Grit, and High-Stakes Testing

Have we entered an altered universe wherein, the visuals from Pink Floyd’s “Brick in the Wall” is a desired goal?

Cloaking Inequity

Since the onset of No Child Left Behind over a decade ago, a lynchpin of accountability formulas for U.S. schools has included some form of a state-mandated exam. Accountability policies have utilized standardized tests as the basis of decisions that determine progression through grade levels, access to higher education, progress in achievement, and resource allocation to schools (Darling-Hammond, 2003). Considering the predominance of high-stakes exams in the current ESSA educational policy environment, a promising avenue of discussion lies in marshaling psychological research to conceptualize how grit or resiliency may or may not interact with high-stakes exams. In this chapter we discuss the (in)adequacy of the current testing and accountability environment for stimulating student success, and marshal established psychological research to consider the paradigm of assessment beyond the uneasy dichotomy that currently pits assessment as a technical exercise incentivizing the measurement of cognitive abilities versus assessment as a potential disincentive to…

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