The Broader, Bolder folks want to test a broad range of subjects, not just math and reading, through an expanded National Assessment of Educational Progress, which would evaluate a representative sample of students.
In addition, the report urges letting states design their accountability systems “provided these systems include qualitative evaluation of school quality and do not rely primarily on standardized test scores to judge the success of schools.”
· 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.
“Eminently sensible,” writes a Mike Petrilli on Education Gadfly.
That’s a big surprise, for in the past this coalition has appeared eager to refight old battles about whether schools can be expected to help poor kids reach high standards. Now, however, it’s arguing for a broader look at school success — what might be termed “test scores-plus.” They would keep test-based accountability, tweaked in various ways (with progress-over-time measures, better assessments, a more robust NAEP, etc.) and supplement it with school inspectors. These inspectors would guard against lousy practices, such as “an undue emphasis on test preparation,” and catch schools engaged in good ones, like “a collegial professional culture in which teachers and administrators use all available data in a collaborative fashion to continuously improve the work of the school.”
Charter school advocates might support that, he writes, since most believe “it will show their schools to have more supportive learning environments than what is found in a typical public school.”
Robert Pondiscio is skeptical that school inspectors will see schools as they really are.
Spend time in a struggling school in the weeks before a “quality review” and you’ll see an extraordinary amount of teaching and learning time going to cleaning classrooms, updating portfolios, making sure bulletin boards have up-to-date student work, etc. Having lived through a few such inspections, its tempting to suggest judging a school from a formal walk-around is like judging a household from a Thanksgiving dinner. Remember the grief your mom used to give you to clean up and mind your manners before company came? Now imagine mom’s livelihood depends on it. That’s a school in the weeks before quality review.
Instead of test prep, teachers will focus on inspection prep.