School Psychology Forum

The Unintended Consequences of High-Stakes Testing on English-Language Learners: Implications for the Practice of School Psychology

By Chieh Li, Louis J. Kruger, Margaret Beneville, Edward Kimble & Kalyani Krishnan

pp. 79–90

General Issue

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ABSTRACT: English-language learners (ELLs) are at a high risk for academic failure, including the failure to pass high-stakes tests such as high school exit exams. Failure on these exams can affect their future career trajectory and have negative impacts on their self-efficacy and emotional well-being. These students’ disproportionate failure rate on high-stakes tests is a neglected but important social justice issue in school psychology. In this article, we explore how school psychologists may address this issue in the multitiered system of supports to help ELLs and their families cope with the unintended, negative consequences of high-stakes tests. Based on research, we propose evidence-based interventions for each tier and provide cultural and linguistic considerations for implementing interventions with respect to academic skills, social–emotional coping skills, a strong family–school collaboration, and the advocacy of ELLs’ educational needs.