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The Political Legacy of School Accountability Systems

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The recent battle reported from Washington about proposed national testing program does not tell the most important political story about high stakes tests. Politically popular school accountability systems in many

The recent battle reported from Washington about proposed national testing program does not tell the most important political story about high stakes tests. Politically popular school accountability systems in many states already revolve around statistical results of testing with high-stakes environments. The future of high stakes tests thus does not depend on what happens on Capitol Hill. Rather, the existence of tests depends largely on the political culture of published test results. Most critics of high-stakes testing do not talk about that culture, however. They typically focus on the practice legacy of testing, the ways in which testing creates perverse incentives against good teaching.

More important may be the political legacy, or how testing defines legitimate discussion about school politics. The consequence of statistical accountability systems will be the narrowing of purpose for schools, impatience with reform, and the continuing erosion of political support for publicly funded schools. Dissent from the high-stakes accountability regime that has developed around standardized testing, including proposals for professionalism and performance assessment, commonly fails to consider these political legacies. Alternatives to standardized testing which do not also connect schooling with the public at large will not be politically viable.

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Created

Date Created
  • 1998

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Accountability in a Postdesegregation Era: The Continuing Significance of Racial Segregation

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In the wake of both the end of court-ordered school desegregation and the growing popularity of accountability as a mechanism to maximize student achievement, the authors explore the association between

In the wake of both the end of court-ordered school desegregation and the growing popularity of accountability as a mechanism to maximize student achievement, the authors explore the association between racial segregation and the percentage of students passing high-stakes tests in Florida's schools. Results suggest that segregation matters in predicting school-level performance on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test after control for other known and purported predictors of standardized test performance. Also, these results suggest that neither recent efforts by the state of Florida to equalize the funding of education nor current efforts involving high-stakes testing will close the Black-White achievement gap without consideration of the racial distribution of students across schools.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2004