Definition - any assessment used to make important decisions about students, educators, schools, or districts, most commonly for the purpose of accountability—i.e., the attempt by federal, state, or local government agencies and school administrators to ensure that students are enrolled in effective schools and being taught by effective teachers (edglossary.org, 2013).
Purpose - to provide information about a student or educator in order to establish accountability - i.e. to ensure that students are enrolled in effective schools and are being taught by effective teachers.
Assessment OF learning, as they are typically largely summative assessments testing periods of learning (SAT is an examination testing High School education, TOEFL is an exam testing English ability learned, etc.)
Example for middle school English - Cambridge’s Grade 8 Checkpoint examination is both a summative assessment and high-stakes, as it can only be taken once and determines what courses a student can take in high school in many cases.
High-stakes assessments are very risky, as failure often reduces opportunities and/or causes financial loss. They often require extensive studying outside of the normal K-12 programs and sometimes cannot be properly studied for, such as the SAT (which tests skills, rather than any specific knowledge).
- Can be used to determine punishments, accolades, advancement, or compensation (for teachers).
- Provides standards for many aspects of education, such as university entrance examinations, master’s programs, study abroad programs, and more.