Home' Teacher : October 2010 Contents 26 TEACHER OCTOBER 2010
'Efforts to "hold teachers accountable" and
"hold schools accountable" have produced
per verse consequences. Instead of better
education, we are getting cheating scandals,
teaching to bad tests, a narrowed curricu-
lum, lowered standards and gaming of the
system. Even if it produces higher test scores
(of dubious validity), high-stakes account-
ability does not produce better education . . . .
The more that test scores are used to meas-
ure teacher effectiveness and to determine
the fate of schools, the more we will see such
desperate efforts by teachers and principals
to save their jobs and their schools.'
So wrote American education histo-
rian and author of The Death and Life of
the Great American School Syste m Diane
Ravitch in June on the Bridging Differences
blog that she co-authors with Deborah
Meier on the Educ ation Week website -- at
If standardised testing currently faces a
backlash in the United States, it's also under
fire in the United Kingdom where educators
like Jim Rose, author of the final report of
the 'root-and-branch' Independent Review
of the Primary Curriculum for the UK gov-
ern ment, say it's not only failed to raise
standards, it's actually cou nter-productive.
What about our own National Assess-
ment Program -- Literacy and Numeracy
(NAPLAN)? As one-time supporter Kevin
Donnelly admitted, in an opinion piece for
The Drum on ABC News Online, 'While
previously arguing in favour of tests like
NAPLAN, I have changed my mind about
the validity and value of standardised test-
ing. After a visit to New York last year, dis-
cussions with experts and monitoring events
in England (from where Julia Gillard has
copied national testing and league tables),
I now believe such tests are counter-
productive and educationally unsound.'
The experience in New York is instruc-
tive. Writing in NY's City Jour nal, Sol
Stern points to highly inflated test scores in
NY that bear little resemblance to student
achievement on the National Assessment of
Educational Progress -- which Stern calls the
'gold standard in student assessment.'
As Stern argues, 'when school districts . . .
offer teachers and administrators substantial
incentives to raise students' test scores, the
IMPROVING EDUCATION OUTCOMES IN OUR SCHOOLS IS BOTH DIFFICULT AND EASY.
IT'S DIFFICULT BECAUSE IT'S COSTLY AND TAKES TIME; IT'S EASY BECAUSE WE KNOW
WHAT WORKS -- WELL-PREPARED TEACHERS, A WELL-DESIGNED CURRICULUM, AND
ATTENTION TO STUDENTS' NEEDS. ROBYN COLLINS REPORTS.
Getting it right
Standardised testing and
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