Mar 2019

Why The Nation’s K-12 Accountability And Assessment System Doesn’t Make The Grade

Two new studies lay bare how the assessment and accountability systems in use throughout the United States shortchange teachers and schools by not presenting accurately what their students know, can do and have learned in the last year.

The recently released studies concern the efficacy of Teach to One: Math, an innovative blended-learning model that Heather Staker and I discussed in our book Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools. The studies highlight not only the profound impact blended-learning models can have on student outcomes, but also raise deeper questions about whether our country’s current assessment and accountability system may be undermining the ability for schools to deliver on those outcomes.



Loyd Eskildson

Inadequacies of U.S. accountability are glaringly obvious. Most, if not all, start with self-developed standards – standards that may or may not have anything in common with other states and our economic competitors. The assessment tests are then doomed to lack comparability to most anything else – especially if CRT based.

When the tests are CRT-based, a relatively weak statistic (binomial distribution) is required. That statistic simply focuses on the number above and below ‘the standard.’ How far – irrelevant. Thus, major movement in pupil achievement can occur from one year to the next – without affecting the statistic. Ergo, one can’t even credibly compare performance within a district from one year to the next, and certainly can’t usefully evaluate teachers, principals, curricula, etc. via expected vs. actual performance. The AEA, AFT recognizes that these aspects essentially preclude our testing program from serving any useful accountability purpose – and therefore insist on CRTs, especially with a varying standards.

We need A national testing program and the use of NRTs. (The normal curve assesses ALL pupils and their position vs. others. Adding a prior pupil performance database – along with key pupil home parameters such as language spoken at home, participation in the school lunch program, Title-1, Spec Ed. etc. brings real accountability into play – IF ONE USES THE OVERALL DATA BASE TO ALSO ESTABLISH EXPECTED PERFORMANCE GAINS! Ergo, value-added assessments of teachers, principals, curricula, etc.

Your points are also valid, but must also include the topics I’ve referenced.

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