National Education Accountability Requires Overhaul
WASHINGTON, DC (June 25, 2009) –Test scores in reading and math alone cannot describe a school’s contributions to the full range of desired student outcomes. Instead, a new accountability system that combines testing with qualitative evaluation is needed to replace the discredited No Child Left Behind Act.
This recommendation is the centerpiece of a new report from the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education (BBA) Campaign. The full report is available athttp://www.boldapproach.org/.
“We must employ multiple measures to effectively assess the quality of public education we offer,” said BBA leader Susan B. Neuman, professor at the University ofMichigan and a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Education. “Otherwise, we can’t ensure that all children are gaining all the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.”
Specifically, BBA recommends that:
· The federal government should collect state-level data – mostly from an expanded National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) – on how students of different backgrounds perform in a broad range of academic subjects, as well as in the arts, physical health and fitness, citizenship habits, and other necessary knowledge and skills;
· State accountability systems should supplement higher quality standardized tests with qualitative evaluation of districts and schools to ensure the presence of a supportive school climate, high-quality classroom instruction and other resources and practices needed for student success.
The BBA Accountability Report follows recent remarks made by President Barack Obama calling for multiple measures of school achievement to replace existing narrow accountability policies. At a town hall meeting in Green Bay earlier this month Obama reiterated his call from last year’s campaign:
“If all we're doing is testing and then teaching to the test, that doesn't assure that we're actually improving educational outcomes. We do need to have accountability, however. We do need to measure progress with our kids. Maybe it's just one standardized test, plus portfolios of work that kids are doing, plus observing the classroom.”
The BBA Accountability Report provides a roadmap showing how these principles, articulated by the president, can be implemented in practice.
The Broader, Bolder Approach to Education Campaign’s Accountability Committee released its report this morning. The committee was led by BBA co-chair Thomas Payzant and committee co-chairs Christopher Cross, Susan Neuman and Richard Rothstein. Payzant, Cross, and Neuman are all former assistant secretaries of education, Payzant in a Democratic and Cross and Neuman in Republican administrations.
“We must not lose sight of the larger, more important picture that educating our youth is a coordinated effort,” said Cross. “We must insist upon coordination between schools and other community institutions that provide early childhood care and education, parent education and support, physical and mental health care, and high-quality out-of-school time programs.”
During the two weeks leading up to the release of today’s report, BBA leaders met with Obama administration officials and Congressional education committee staffs from both parties to present the BBA accountability principles. Based on these meetings, Payzant said “we are confident that there is deep support for our insistence that a combination of qualitative evaluation and standardized testing must replace the overly narrow accountability policies of the past, as the administration and Congress consider re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). We will continue to provide these officials with whatever expertise we can offer as they implement these principles.”
About A Broader, Bolder Approach to Education
The Broader, Bolder Approach to Education campaign issued its founding policy statement (http://www.boldapproach.org/statement.html) in June 2008, urging that school improvement be combined with the social, economic, family, and community supports that prepare children to benefit from high-quality instruction in schools.
A full list of the charter signatories of the original BBA statement, of a newly formed BBA Advisory Council, and of BBA Accountability Committee members that prepared the new report, is available at http://www.boldapproach.org/bios.html. The BBA campaign is bi-partisan and includes prominent policy experts from the fields of education, health, welfare and community development.