The federal No Child Left Behind Act has succeeded in highlighting the poor math and reading skills of disadvantaged children. But on balance, the law has done more harm than good because it has terribly distorted the school curriculum. Modest modifications cannot correct this distortion. Designing a better accountability policy will take time. We cannot and should not abandon school accountability, but it’s time to go back to the drawing board to get accountability right…
Designing a new accountability system will take time and care, because the problems are daunting. Observations of student behavior are not as reliable as standardized tests of basic skills, so we will have to accept that it is better to imperfectly measure a broad set of outcomes than to perfectly measure a narrow set. We will have to resolve contradictory national convictions that schools should teach citizenship and character, but not inquire about students’ (and parents’) personal opinions. To avoid new distortions, we’ll need to make tough decisions about how to weight the measurement of the many goals of education.
These quotes and the commentary were directed at NCLB reform, but I think they are also applicable to the MMSD Strategic Planning process that begins next week and want to note that Todd Price is the only candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction who is voicing similar ideas about the failings of NCLB and the need for more than adjustments.
Related at eduwonkette (and a hat tip); and from the Annenberg Institute, “Beyond Test Scores: Leading Indicators for Education” (many other great resources at the Annenberg site).
Thomas J. Mertz