Research finds high-stakes testing counterproductive

Xavier graduate receives award from American Montessori Society for outstanding thesis work | May 17, 2004

Laura Opfer, a 2003 graduate with a Master’s of Education in Primary Montessori Education, was presented with the 2003 Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award during a conference held by the American Montessori Society in Boston.

Opfer’s thesis topic was “A Descriptive Research Study Examining the Use of Standardized Testing by Montessori Teachers of Kindergarten through Sixth Grade Students.”

She selected this topic because standardized testing and high-stakes testing have become so prevalent in the U.S. in traditional and Montessori classrooms. Her research, Opfer said, does not show that standardized testing is an effective primary assessment for student achievement. In fact, she said, the use of high-stakes testing has been found to be detrimental to student and faculty performance.

“Standardized testing is counter to the Montessori philosophy of education,” Opfer said. “I wanted to know why Montessori teachers were administering standardized tests, how the tests were chosen, how the results were interpreted and reported, and whether Montessori teachers felt that these tests were in keeping with our philosophy and were accurate measures of the abilities of their students.”

The AMS was founded in 1960 by Nancy McCormick Rambusch, Ph.D., in an effort to meet the overwhelming public demand for more information on Montessori education. Currently, the AMS works toward developing Montessori programs, accrediting schools, granting teaching credentials, supporting research, and organizing conferences and symposia nationwide.

Opfer, 30, is a teacher at Prince of Peace Montessori School in Covington for students in first through third grades, or ages 6 through 9.