Pandemic Opportunity: Rethink Education Accountability

By Tom Vander Ark | Oct 14, 2020 | Forbes

Did you ever have a drill sergeant or boss who tried to motivate you to improve by yelling? It doesn’t work very well. It produces fear rather than inspiration, compliance rather than creativity.

For the last 25 years, America has tried yelling as its school improvement strategy. The bipartisan testing and accountability system was enacted in most states in the 1990s and then ensconced in federal policy as No Child Left Behind in 2001. Based on narrow measures of grade-level proficiency in math and reading, NCLB outlined stages of failure—which, not surprisingly correlated with poverty—and relied on focus, humiliation, and competition as change levers.

We can focus classrooms on what’s easy to measure, or on what’s important to learn. But we can’t do both well.