Testing's Influence on H.S. Writing Instruction

On Tuesday at the NJTESOL-NJBE Spring Conference, I presented on different pedagogical strategies for helping English language learners improve the grammar in their writing.

After I brought up the importance of hedging in academic writing, one participant stated that in high school, they taught students to take a position and argue for it strongly rather than allow for any uncertainty or for the possibility of other positions having some validity. I imagine that state testing requirements lead naturally to this style of writing. However, it creates problems for students when they enter the university. Although I'm not against testing or accountability, such a situation shows that standardized testing has a strong influence on pedagogy and also that influence is not always a desirable one. As I mentioned in another post, "Let us make education in our image, says business",

present methods to measure accountability end up in dumbing down instruction and damaging student learning, as shown clearly in George Hillocks' The Testing Trap: How State Writing Assessments Control Learning, and that disturbs me.