Assessment and Accountability Systems
Most educators agree that the assessment and accountabiilty system mandated by No Child Left Behind has significnt flaws. It is overly punitive, inflexible, and relies too heavily on standardized test scores as an indicator of school and student success. However, educators can't agree on a solution.
Just as most educators share an opinion about what is wrong with NCLB, they also share an opinion about what it got right: NCLB revealed uncomfortable truths about the inequity of our nations schools. Prior to NCLB, national data indicated that there were achievement gaps between white students and black, hispanic, and low-income students. The intent of the assessment and accountability mandates were to close these gaps among all students. However, we didn't know that significant achievement gaps existed among specific groups of students in almost every school across the country. Countless reform efforts have been implemented in an attempt to improve educational equity and close the achievement gap, and while individual schools and districts have have made significant improvements, national gaps continue to exist.
Policymakers, educators, parents, and advocates are grappling for a solution: How do we lessen the focus on standardized test scores while still ensuring the availability of data needed to hold schools accountable for the progress of all groups of students? This is a question that will be hotly debated next week, and the outcome is still unclear. However, NASP is urging lawmakers to do the following:
- allow states to create accountability systems that use multiple indicators of success, inlcuding student growth
- retain annual assessment requirements, but remove the high stakes decisions currently attached to the results
- require states to explicitly outline the interventions and supports they will provide when schools, or groups of students within those schools, are identified as low performing
- require states to detail a set of consequences they will impose when schools and/or districts fail to improve after a reasonable amount of time
I urge you to contact your Senator and ask them to support efforts to ensure accountability for every student and every school.