Friday, May 19, 2006

A Question of Accountability

After having a discussion around the standarized tests slated to be doled out to schools every 6-8 weeks and teachers expressing concerns, one teacher asked me:

If we don’t use standardized testing, how can we address calls for accountability?

If we don’t use standardized testing, holding schools accountable admittedly becomes a challenge. However we only need to look at successful schools that have not used standardized tests.

We are not reinventing the wheel by deciding to use the research of progressive educators to create an environment where everyone has a chance to excel. Take for example the work of Deborah Meyer at Central Park East. As principal she created an environment where the personalization of the work was evident in their exit portfolios. Teachers wrote one page summaries for each student as they finished each class. A typical student graduated with a narrative of their career and their progress over thirty pages long. This was a much more accurate assessment of the students work than the typical three hour test.

There is also a Consortium High Schools for New York City, with help from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, they have successfully petitioned the state to be exempt from standardized tests. The Board of Regents (lead by Tom Sobel) gave them waivers based on their desire to effectively pursue a project based educational program. Tests will never be an accurate measure of accountability.

Tests when standardized across the nation or state inherently have as their goal to reproduce the society which they deem "standard". Successful members our “the standard” society will inherently produce children well versed in the code of standardization. You only need to look at the socioeconomic status of “successful” schools to see that this is clearly the case. Members outside "the standard” will never do as well on these tests. Perpetuating this inequality seems to be Kozol’s and America's biggest problem with testing.

I think the real question we should be asking is:

Why is it so commonly held that standardized testing is a way to hold schools accountable?


Anonymous said...

We have some good teachers who are good despite the fact that they have over 30 students to a classroom. Because these teachers seem to function (produce high test scores) regardless of class size, let's give them some more students. In fact, let's keep these teachers and get rid of those who are not as good at generating high test scores. Then we can offer a pay raise to attract others who can produce the high test scores regardless of the number of students in the class. This will, in fact, make accountability by testing even more essential to what schools do, since teachers with 35-40 students will have their options for assessing student effectively reduced to the preferred regimen of data deposits and data inventories (standardized tests).

Anonymous said... make some interesting comments about the role of testing in relation to class size and teacher accountibility.

I can only assume you are being sarcastic.. I love that!

After reading this comment its obvious how absurd the whole situation is.

My only question is WHO ARE YOU?

Anonymous said...

I read an interesting quote by Kozol: "Choose battles big enough to matter, but small enough to win."
I guess that makes us (at QHST) perpetual soldiers....