Thursday, June 4, 2009

Getting Accountability Right

We should hold public schools accountable for effectively spending the funds with which they've been entrusted. But policies like NCLB, based exclusively on math and reading scores, have narrowed the curriculum, misidentified both failing and successful schools, and established irresponsible expectations for what schools can accomplish.

Instead of just grading progress in one or two narrow subjects, we should hold schools accountable for the broad outcomes we expect from public education - basic knowledge and skills, critical thinking, an appreciation of the arts, and preparation for skilled employment - and then develop means to measure, and ensure, schools' success in achieving them.

Grading Education
describes a new kid of accountability plan for public education. It relies upon both higher quality testing and professional evaluation. This new plan is practical and builds upon capacities we already possess. It requires a big commitment, but one necessary to fulfill responsibilities to provide for our youth and the nation's future.

After reading, Tony Wagner's The Global Achievement Gap, I have launched myself into Grading Education by Richard Rothstein, just in time for summer. It looks for some engaging reading, simply from the back of the book posted above. The concept of "broad outcomes we expect" - but don't evaluate - is important, and I am intrigued by the premise. Hopefully, many will be reading and discussing this book.

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