Thursday, March 19, 2009

What's Wrong With Accountability By The Numbers?

Education researcher Richard Rothstein makes a powerful argument that the current accountability system under No Child Left Behind makes all the mistakes that have been proven wrong in the private sector. He argues for a very different kind of accountability system in this month's AFT Magazine (click here). Its a must read for everyone in public education today.

1 comment:

Mrs. Facilitate said...


There are so many theories circulating about how to improve accountability measures, and the one proposed in this article will cost $40 million dollars more in tax dollars we currently cannot afford. I like the idea of having random inspections from non-education inspectors. The results will be less biased, but it will take years or decades to reach an agreement on this method.

The question is, how do you increase student achievement? I don't think the accountability methods are the problem. NCLB was created with the best of intentions by our former president. However, the penalties involved pushed schools to the limits. That's why more teachers are forced to do reading and math drills and everybody is teaching to the test. If every teacher in every school district or charter school focused on helping students meet the State Standards in a particular subject, then test scores would automatically increase. It is not how long you spend on a subject matter, it is whether or not you are teaching to mastery. Students must master the standards and each student must be held accountable for his or her own success. When we hold a child accountable for their own progress, and they fully understand that the standards must be learned to mastery, a shift in focus occurs. Teachers must move from teaching to facilitating.

The reason why so many children fail these tests is because they don't understand why they are being tested, and are not motivated to achieve on these tests. Some children are pushed to the extreme to perform well, and then fail the tests because they are overwhelmed. When students master the standards, they will master the student achievement assessments. All state exams are based on the state standards. So, why not focus on individualized and group instructional methods, which reward students for mastery of state standards.

Many teachers do not teach standards, but teach to the test. This is a mistake that many schools have made. This is a result from state and federal accountability measures. Students can read better and compute math better, but are horrible writers and are in physical atrophy. All other subjects are neglected and this is a major problem. There needs to be balance.

Also, there is not teaching if there is no classroom management. So, no matter what curriculum you put in front of a teacher, he or she cannot and will not succeed at teaching if every student is not quiet and attentive. Even if they are quiet and attentive, if they are not motivated intrinsically, there will be no high achievement.

In conclusion, we must focus on classroom management, and developing a culture of high achievement in every school in the U.S. We must teach to the standards, instead of the test. We must also create individualized instruction plans and hold every student accountable for his or her own success. Students should buy into their education and seek the rewards of becoming a master of their subject matter rather than barely passing through.

Accountability should exist on all levels, student, teacher, principal, superintendent, school board, state, and federal. Everyone is responsible for the success and failure of the American Education System. Every person in the community as well. There are not enough volunteers in the world. There are not enough involved parents in the world. There are not enough dedicated teachers in the world. Not enough dedicated businesses in the world. Everyone should invest their energies into helping education by serving the children. Businesses should donate money and resources. Community members should dedicate their time and energy by volunteering. If not, the American Education System is doomed forever.