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The Contender
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students of public high-schools ought not be required to pass standardized exit exams

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/4/2009 Category: Education
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 6,408 times Debate No: 9419
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (1)
Votes (2)




Because I believe that students should have equal opportunity, I stand to affirm the resolution that Public high school students in the United States ought not be required to pass standardized exit exams to graduate.

Before we begin I would like to offer the following definitions:

Standardized exit exam- (by the free online dictionary) is any empirically developed examination with established reliability and validity as determined by repeated evaluation of the method and results.

My value for this round will be that of equal opportunity. This is defined as Policies and practices in employment and education that promote full participation and do not discriminate against persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, national origin, veteran status or sexual orientation. So this must be the value because it is the only way to promote full participation within schools.

My Standard for this round will be that of fairness. In order to achieve equal opportunity, one must look to be fair. This should be the standard for a few reasons. First standardized tests do more harm than good. Next, they lead to more biased decisions by schools. And, finally, they do not show a students true intellectual capability.

I contend that: a standard based assessment leads to major negative consequences

By imposing standards on students' minds we are, in effect, depriving them of their fundamental intellectual freedom by applying one standard set of knowledge. Standardized tests oversimplify knowledge and do not test higher-order thinking skills. State standards are externally imposed on local teachers. 
These mandatory assessments cannot work unless teachers understand and accept the philosophical underpinnings of standards. One-size-fits-all standards either dumb down instruction to the lowest common denominator or condemn low-ability students to frequent failure

So being that these extremes exist hand in hand with standardized testing, we must assume that they occur. And since these extremes occur, they can negatively affect teachers teaching abilities and over all students' ability to learn from said teachers.

Ormrod, J. E. (2003). Educational Psychology. Developing Learners. (4th ed.). Columbus, OH: Merrill Prentice Hall.

A lot of school systems hold their schools accountable when test scores do not continually improve. They place an inordinate amount of pressure on teachers to raise students' test scores. They are not only pressured to raise student test scores, but to also raise the school average. Unfortunately, this can lead to dishonesty on the part of teachers and principals. They have no reason to include the scores of students with special needs and often try to find reasons why a student with special needs shouln't even take the test. This does nothing but harm the students who need special help. We cannot determine what kind of help they need if we do not know what level they are currently performing at.

Dishonesty in schools is NEVER a good thing. We must conclude that if schools are to be dishonest and lie about test scores, then they might be compelled to lie about other things. Also, standardized test averages need to include everyone. Leaving out any kind of special needs kids is a bias that is again linked to dishonesty. If there were to be standardized testing, everyone must be included. So to prevent any kind of dishonesty abandoning the standardized exit exam is the best choice.

One of the most devastating effects of high-stakes standardized testing is the emotional effect on students and teachers.

Haladyna, T. M. (2002). Essentials of Standardized Achievement Testing. Validity and Accountability. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

After doing poorly on a test, low-achieving students become disillusioned and less motivated which leads to less effort to learn, starting a downward spiral that is very hard to break out of. Once they perform poorly on a test, they have no motivation to work hard for the next one and do poorly on that one once again, which in turn evokes more negative emotion towards learning. Teachers have even admitted that they begin to develop negative attitudes towards students that do not perform at an acceptable level. Not only do the students get depressed after poor results on a standardized test, but teacher morale is lowered.

If we expect quality education to continue, we cannot keep an atmosphere that drives out more teachers than we can afford to lose.

Lastly I contend that: standardized tests become a major problem when they are biased against students taking it.

One of the biggest faults of standardized tests is that they often do not take diversity into account. Too many of today's tests are written so that only white, middle-class, English-speaking Americans can succeed. Other aspects of diversity that tests often times don't take into account include:

Disabilities-These include physical disabilities, language delays, ADHD, visual impairments, and mental retardation.

Test Anxiety-It is not an uncommon thing for students to get debilitating test anxiety. Debilitating test anxiety does not refer to the butterflies in the stomach or that moment of panic when the test is passed out. Instead it refers to the students who may freeze and cannot perform at all when faced with a test. Often times, this phenomenon is made worse when students think they will be punished in some way for a low score. High-stakes testing exacerbates test anxiety. (Haladyna, 160)

Cultural Bias-It is only common sense to assume that a test item including information specific to the American culture (as some items do on some standardized tests) will be harder to answer for a student not familiar with that part of American culture.

Language Differences-Often students, who are not native English speakers, have trouble on timed exams because they need more time to interpret the English language. Most standardized tests are timed and do not give students who have difficulty with the English language the extra time they need.

Gender-There is probably not so much an inherent bias within the test, but the expectations held for each sex is vastly different. In addition, students who perform well in a non gender-appropriate subject are likely to be treated differently than a member of the opposite sex and conversely, a student who performs poorly in a subject they are expected to do well in will also be treated differently then a student of the same sex who performs poorly in a non gender-appropriate subject.

So, among all the examples of bias that could happen, a standardized test can produce major problem within a testing environment. So it makes sense that to avoid any chance of bias abandoning standardized exams seems to be a logical conclusion.


I offer the Value of Justice, Defined as Fairness. Justice as fairness is the only method of justice we can look as any other system requires impossible goals that are often not even defined. However Justice as fairness gives a clear definition.

The Standard is Ensuring Equal Opportunity. This is the most important standard because a society cannot conceptualize justice if it is only obtainable by a few in the society. In order to conceptualize justice, according to rawlsian theory, we need to ensure that everyone has an equal voice and position when determining justice via the original position.

While I use a very similar Value/Standard structure I will show, when I refute my opponents case why you should prefer mine.
The Sole Contention of the Negative Case is that Standardized tests promote equal opportunity.
Sub point A. Tests ensure a proficient level of education
As per the resolution, the tests are a graduation requirement for public schools. Therefore it is insured that students must be able to perform competently in order to graduate. Right now you can graduate Highschool with a D- Average and reading way below grade level. The problem is, is that not only does this discredit the High School diploma, but it means these students were allowed to graduate without the skills necessary to survive.

Subpoint B.
Minimum Proficiency means higher Wages. According to the U.S census Bureau high school graduates, but do not go to college make an average of $30,400 a year. These are people that graduated with the skills required in order to succeed in life and make a decent living. According to the same source, people who did not graduate, which are the same as people who do not have the skills needed, earn on average $23,400. The difference of $7000 dollars a year or $580 a month can be the difference is eating everyday, buying clothes or other goods and supporting a family.

Sub point C
The impacts of this are twofold. 1. The minimum proficiency requirement is essential to help break the cycle of poverty. The reason poverty is cyclical is oftentimes the means to break this cycle are unavailable. But with the higher average salary these means become more easily available. 2. Guarantying more people to have this level of proficiency will stimulate the economy. Keynesian economic theory argues that it is the demand curve that governs the economy and thus our fiscal policy should work to shift the demand curve. By allowing people to have more money in their pockets you decrease the percentage of income a product costs and therefore effectively changing its price in the eyes of the potential buyer. Price is a major factor in Demand Curve Shifts and thus the demand curve will shift outwards. This will in turn allow companies to sell more goods shifting the supply curve as well, because by allowing more products to be bought the effective price-per-unit for the company is decreased thus the law of supply would tell us that the supply curve shifts as well. Economically speaking this not only decreases unemployment but increase the GDP.

Moving to the AFF

On the Value:
1. No Intrinsic Worth: A value ought to have intrinsic worth. This is why we value it as essential in the round. My opponent says himself that his value is the "only way to promote full participation within schools." Not only is this unwarranted but also proves that this value isn't intrinsic.

On the Criterion:
1. No Brightline: How do we know when we have achieved fairness? This is not specified and there is no way to determine it.
2. No Definition: My opponent doesn't define what he considers fairness to be.
3. No warrant: he never explains why this is the standard except for three points that were just his roadmap and not justifications for anything

Contention 1.
1. No warrant to the first argument. He makes a bunch of claims but never explains why this is in the definitions of a standardized test. He defines a Standardized exit exam as "is any empirically developed examination with established reliability and validity as determined by repeated evaluation of the method and results." This means that the test must be effective meaning it must be ensure the link in my contention but also it disproves this contention because an "effective test" doesn't hurt students.

2. The second argument doesn't make sense. Schools cannot lie about these results any better than they could the SATS or ACTS. Also this is actually not a disadvantage of tests and actually presents a problem in the status quo meaning this argument is non-unique.

3. The third argument is also non-unique. It exists in the status quo. Unless my opponent wants to eliminate any form of testing whatsoever, standardized or otherwise, he bites into these impacts as well. So this is not a reason to affirm as it happens on both sides.

4. The fourth argument has no link to testing. He defines a test to be "valid" and if its discriminatory then its plainly not valid, and by his own definition non resolutional and will not affirm.
Also going into specifics: As with EVERY OTHER STANDARDIZED TEST, people with disabilities will be exempted or accommodated. For example, extra time, or a test in a different language.

5. This contention has no link. He never anywhere in the contention mentions the word fairness. He needs to show how he achieves the value and he doesn't. So even if you don't buy into the other attacks you still cant vote here.

My opponent provides NO reasons to affirm in the affirmative case. All of his arguments are either unwarranted or non-unique and none of them actually link back to his own standard. So its important to keep in mind that when evaluating this round you must look to who better impacts back to a standard as per the format of this type of debate.
Debate Round No. 1


i very much appreciate the acceptance of this debate by my opponent
i will be going down the neg then the aff

Value: his value of justice is defined as fairness which is acceptable but gives no warrant or impact to back this up. so we should continue to look at my value for this round
Standard: i agree with my opponents standard, but with standardized testing as i explained within my case NOT everyone within this system can voice their opinions. i gave the example of teachers withholding test scores. so since not everyone is included within his standard we need to look to mine. also my opponent claims that my standard has no bright line, this is untrue, we will know when we achieve fairness when everyone has equal opportunity for schooling.

Ct1 sub A: i would like to point out that abandoning the standardized test is not going to allow students to graduate without the nessesary requirements for life. they will need to prove competent for the job they wish to apply. also if schools abandon the test, they will need another way to judge student achievement and thus increase the required GPA for graduation. so this argument falls.

sub B: my opponent offers no impact to this statement so right there it should be disregarded. next, as i stated before without standardized tests, schools will need to gauge student achievement in another manner. private schools do this: they give achievements tests that are given according to the classes students are taking and the difficulty of said classes. if they pass, then they are able to move on to graduation and or higher level classes. (may it be duely noted that they are not required to pass or even take the exams) so this argument falls again because of the fact that schools will find a way to gauge student learning and have them graduate with the essentials for life.

sub C: we can group his first and second impacts because they are supporting my argument that schools will find another way to gauge student achievement and have them graduate with the essentials to life. because by doing this they give students the ability to get the higher end jobs and decrease the poverty rate. decreasing the poverty rate as my opponent exclaims will stimulate the economy. so standardized tests are not needed and can be abandoned without negative consequences.

now to the aff

my opponent attacks my first argument in that it has no warrant. even if this is true we can see this happening within schools. proficiency exams are easy to some but not to others. they dumb down the smarter kids while continually failing those that need help in that area.
his second attack on my case is that teachers are lying about test scores. they are lying not so much as "fudging" the numbers on tests but withholding information on students not doing well in schools and special education students.
my opponent also attacks my argument of emotional effects on students and teachers through high stakes testing by saying it is non unique. this is not true. test anxiety happens during a normal test as i explained in a later argument but there are those that this test anxiety hurts them more in HIGH STAKES TESTING. so this argument stands being that i am talking about the effects of high stakes tests and not others.
lastly he attacks my last contention by saying it has no link. this is not true. it links back to being fair because if those biases exist then the test is not fair to those students affected by it.

so being that i have put down my opponents case and upheld mine we must look to the aff case
(thank you once again to my opponent for pointing out the flaws in my case. really helpful)


Neg then Aff

Value: First of all my opponent does not defend his own value so either we have no Value, in which the Affirmative cannot win the round or we accept the negative value. The Value is the end goal of the road and so it has intrinsic worth. Justice obviously has such intrinsic worth while, my opponent's value does not.

On the Standard:
My opponent's only attack on my standard is restating his case. This is completely circular reasoning as his attacks rely on his case being true. Also these attacks don't even relate to why my standard should not be preferred but merely why I cant meet it. Also in defense of his own standard he actually endorses the Negative Criterion structure. He argues that there is a brightline because we know we have achieved fairness when everyone has equal opportunity. The role of a criterion is to tell us when we have achieved the Value, not visa-versa. Thus we must accept my structure, which we both seemingly endorse.


Sub A. My opponent talks about still needing to prove competency when applying for a job. This is true but this is what the test help to achieve. I already gave the numbers on average income and so it is plainly seen that these tests WILL help. Also he talks about finding an alternative. First of all there are no net benefits of the affirmative solution and so we ought to prefer it. Second the argument is in violation of debate theory. For those of you reading this who are not familiar with theory, theory is an argument made in debate rounds as to the fairness of an argument or strategy.

A. Interpretation: The Resolution must be the ending point of the affirmative Advocacy

B. Violation: The Affirmative offers an alternative to the resolution thus becoming extra topical.

C. Standards:

Ground: The affirmative steals all the negative ground if he is allowed to find another method that is extra-topical to steal all of the negative advantages. This means that the negative is bound to defending one point while the affirmative has all the other possible ground. Ground links to fairness because a debate is not fair if one side has all of the ground making it hard for the other to argue.

D. Voter
Fairness: Fairness is a voter because if a debate is not fair than it is not equally enjoyable and education. Also, both debaters have already agreed in this round that fairness is the most important value. Thus reject either the argument or the debater on the basis of Fairness violation.

Sub B: My opponents other attack besides the alternative method argument, which I have already defeated, is that there are no impacts. But there doesn't need to be. This Subpoint establishes the second link in my 3 subpoint logical progression. The impacts are given in sub C.

Sub C.
Again this is the same "alternative method" argument. There are no net benefits to my opponents plan and it is also extra-topical and thus unfair as I addressed in the theory shell. The net benefits of testing are that it is standardized across the board. For example there are advanced programs such as IB, AP etc. That it is much harder to earn an A than in a standard level school curriculum. Also every teacher has their own way of assigning grades. Having the test takes out the guessing game and gives us concrete proof of proficiency.

AFF Case.

Value: extend my non-intrinsic argument. This was cold dropped by my opponent and proves that his value is actually not a value.

Extend No brightline: He establishes that Fairness is found via his value. This switches their roles meaning his standard devolves into mine.

On the first argument: No, we cant see this happening in schools. That's why there is no warrant. If there is no warrant to an argument then we cannot assume it to be true. Also extend my second attack. This was cold dropped. I argued because of how he defined "standardized exit exam" that it was by definition effective. And an effective test will not have any of the harms he outlines in the affirmative case. This was dropped and thus is established as fact in the round. Meaning that the affirmative has no disadvantages to testing.

On the second argument: This argument is non-unique. This happens in the status quo if you buy his argument. Secondly this is illogical and there is no way to fudge a test, any better than someone can fudge their SATs.

On the Third Argument: My opponent makes the mistake of assuming that this would be the ONLY high stakes test. ACT, SAT, IB Exams, Finals etc. All high stakes tests and ALL essential in order for schools, teacher and colleges to evaluate a student. Also test anxiety is not crippling and can be overcome. Everyone takes high stakes tests and people will overcome their anxiety. Thus this argument Is still non-unique.

On the fourth argument: I didn't say this had no link to fairness but to link to testing. I have already established that because of how the Affirmative defined Standardized exit exams, that they cannot be discriminatory. Also my opponent cold dropped my argument about accommodations so extend this.

The Last argument I made was how, with the exception of the bias argument no argument my opponent made has anything to do with fairness OR equal opportunity. Unless he can prove this link none of those arguments matter.

Thank you. Good look to my opponent and I look forward to your response.
Debate Round No. 2


I must sincerely apologize to Metz. i concede the debate to my opponent as i will be leaving town for a while and will have no computer access. again i apologize. thank you for the wonderful debate so far i wish i could continue it.


Thats fine. We got most of a full LD round in anyways. It was a fun debate.
Debate Round No. 3


Yoguy-107 forfeited this round.


This round is pointless, look to the ones where we actually debated.
Debate Round No. 4


Yoguy-107 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Metz 8 years ago
If there are spelling/grammar errors in the NEG case I apologize... I wrote it in 5 minutes on a whim because I felt like debating and we wont debate this topic...

Good Luck to my opponent and I look forward to a good debate.
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Vote Placed by Nails 7 years ago
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Vote Placed by Metz 7 years ago
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