Sunday, January 18, 2015

Some Thoughts on Teacher Accountability

The question is: "Is our children learning?"

Accountability for teachers and schools is behind the push for increased standardized testing in the era of No Child Left Behind. Edu-reformers have vigorously pushed standardized methods for identifying "good/bad" schools as a way for parents and taxpayers to know if they are getting their money's worth. Yet, in stirring analysis from education researcher Marc Tucker, we can conclude that a decade of testing has only produced ...

"... Very low teacher morale, plummeting applications to schools of education, the need to recruit too many of our teachers from the lowest levels of high school graduates, a testing regime that has narrowed the curriculum for millions of students to a handful of subjects and a very low level of aspiration. There is no evidence that it is contributing anything to improved student performance, much less the improved performance of the very low- income and minority students for which it was in the first instance created."

Denver-area teacher Mark Sass shared Tucker's sentiment and more in a recent piece for Colorado Chalkbeat where he offered his conclusions on "How to Make Standardized Tests More Useful for Teachers."

To use the standardized tests, I have to trust them. The onus to that build trust rests on the testing companies. Teachers should be involved in writing the questions and they need to release the actual test questions. I realize this is a difficult demand. Releasing test items is expensive, since every question made public would need to be replaced. In addition, many testing companies also claim intellectual rights to the questions. But the Colorado State Department of Education can write contracts with testing companies that require these companies to release exam items and to require them to involve practitioners in writing these exams.

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