Accountability shock is wearing off

Math scores rose dramatically in the “consequential accountability” era, but the accountability shock is wearing off, writes Mark Schneider, a former National Center for Education Statistics commissioner  now at American Institutes for Research. Texas, an early accountability adopter, saw an early rise in math scores and now a plateau, he writes. Progress is leveling off nationwide as well.

A graph of NAEP fourth-grade math scores show a “remarkable” growth in performance in Texas and the U.S.

Using the very rough rule of thumb that a 10-point change in NAEP scores equals about one year of learning, in 2011 our fourth graders are about two years ahead of where they were in 1992.

Texas improved first. The national average caught up when No Child Left Behind forced accountability on all states, Schneider writes.

Compared to the nation as a whole, Texas has more disadvantaged students. The state’s Hispanic, black and low-income students outperform the national average for similar students.

Reading scores did not improve in Texas or elsewhere in the accountability era, perhaps because reading “is far more dependent on what happens early in children’s lives,” Schneider writes.

What could provide the next shock? Schneider suggests the Common Core and the better measurement of teacher performance as possibilities.


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