The Failure of Test-Based Accountability

From Marc Tucker’s blog on Education Week:

In my last blog, I pointed to the data that shows that, after 10 years of federal education policies based on test-based accountability, there has been no perceptible improvement in student performance among high school students (which, when you get right down to it, is what really matters) as a whole, or when the data are broken down by different groupings of disadvantaged students.  There is little doubt—whether test-based accountability is being used to hold schools accountable or individual teachers—that it has failed to improve student performance.

That should be reason enough to abandon it.  But it is not.  The damage that test-based accountability has done goes far deeper than a missed opportunity to improve student achievement.  It is doing untold damage to the profession of teaching…

Test-based accountability and teacher evaluation systems are not neutral in their effect.  It is not simply that they fail to improve student performance.  Their pernicious effect is to create an environment that could not be better calculated to drive the best practitioners out of teaching and to prevent the most promising young people from entering it.  If we want broad improvement in student performance and we want to close the gap between disadvantaged students and the majority of our students, then we will abandon test-based accountability and teacher evaluation as key drivers of our education reform program.

But no one, certainly not me, would argue that we should not hold our professional educators accountable for their performance.  The question is, what would accountability look like if we actually regarded our teachers as professionals doing professional work, instead of interchangeable blue-collar workers doing blue-collar work?  That is the question I will deal with in my next blog.

I encourage you to read the whole thing:

The following video made the rounds a few months ago and ties in with the above point. It is less about the shortcomings of the Common Core than our leaders’ fixation with quantifying educational output. As the speaker says well, “If everything I learned in high school is a measurable objective, then I have not learned anything.”

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