Rethink Accountability

Here is a list of blog posts that encourage everyone to rethink accountability in education.

Test you public education savy - Despite my disdain for multiple choice tests, I have to admit that this may be the only meaningful way to use them.

Teachers are overstressed and undervalued - here's an interview I did with Huffington Post.

Teacher says "I Quit!" - here's how accountability can become the problem

Bill Gates and the Cult of Measurement: Efficiency without excellence - a great post by Anthony Cody.

De-testing and De-grading Schools: Authentic Alternatives to Accountability and Standardization - a fantastic new book.

Real Accountability or an Illusion of Success? - A new task force looking into Ontario's standardized testing.

Ranking and Ruining our Schools - here's why ranking our schools ruins our schools.

What's wrong with standardized tests? - a fantastic graphic from

Do test scores make good teachers - want to see a magic trick?

Merit Pay: the bad idea that won't die - a whole bunch of reasons why merit pay is stupid.

Moving beyond standardized testing in Alberta - a great research document from the Alberta Assessment Consortium

Ruth Sutton on Rethinking Accountability - a fantastic look at how we can best assure the public that children are getting a good education.

What we won't do for high scores? - a funny comic

What do standardized test scores tell us? - Here's a closer look at the top 20 and bottom 20 scoring schools in Alberta.

Assess Schools like Hospitals - Right now, accountability is unidirectional; we hold those with the least power accountable while those with the most authority are not held responsible for how the decisions they make impact schools.

No Dentist Left Behind - What if we treated dentists like we treat teachers.

Using test scores to pick a school - Using standardized test scores to pick a school for your children to attend is the equivalent of kicking the tires before buying a car.

What if America enlisted as much creativity in rethinking standardized testing as Mitt Romney has placed in paying his taxes? - the title says it all...

Unquestioned assumptions about standardized testing - Standardized testing is a topic most people do not reflect on because we lack the time, effort and expertise.

Testsandgrades are just tools -- it's how they are used that matters most - Tools are never neutral. First we shape our tools, then they shape us.

Want high test scores? Buy an expensive house - Standardized tests tell us more about what zip code children live in than what they do at school.

How GERM is infecting schools around the world - this was written by the one... the only... Pasi Sahlberg.

Standardized testing is like tobacco - The doublespeak around high-stakes standardized testing is one of the most powerful weapons used today

Tests Don't Assess What Really Matters - Piling on more standardized testing undermines the conditions that will make real learning possible.

Want high test scores? Buy an expensive house! - If all you want is high average test scores, tell your realtor that you want to buy into the highest-income neighbourhood you can manage. That will buy the highest average test score you can afford.

Krashen on Poverty - Poverty means inadequate nutrition and health care, and little access to books, all associated with lower school achievement.

Quick thoughts on standardized testing - Standardized testing tells us about learning as much as reality TV tells us about reality.

Ridiculously difficult or just ridiculous? - Governments need standardized tests to remain a secret so that the public can't see how utterly ridiculous they really are.

Reporting Real Learning - The best feedback parents can receive about their child's learning is for them to see their child's learning.

United States: How not to reform education - If we need an anti-model for reforming education, we need not look any further than how the United States and their use of standardized testing.

Charmed by Choice: Undermining Public Education - when it comes to those who are selling choice as a means to authentically improve public education, they are either neglectfully ignorant, willfully blind or outright lying.

Paradoxes of the Finland Phenomenon - Policy decisions, not demographics, play the dominant role in a country's education success.

Second guessing testing - a real story about testing that includes my wife and me.

You can have testing or teaching but you can't have both - Under high stakes environments, poor teaching and bad assessments will always trump real learning and authentic assessments.

The Costs of Standardized Testing - Here is but a modest list of the costs we have suffered at the hands of standardized testing.

Daniel Koretz on Testing - Learning about what's under the hood of standardized tests will never be confused with something fun.

Why test scores should never drive professional development - Here are but a few reasons why test scores should never be used to drive the professional development of teachers.

The Lonelieness of the Long Distance Test Scorer - If you place any faith in standardized testing, you really need to read The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Test Scorer by Dan DiMaggio.

Data is fabulous - I don't know whether to laugh or cry over this video...

(very little) Room for Debate - Susan Ohanian's post that was not published by the Washington Post.

High Test Scores, Low Ability - Yong Zhao writes about the paradox in Chinese Education.

Rules! We don't need no stinking rules! - here's how tradition tends to trump reason

The Suits - When a profession is run by those who have no practical experience or professional training, the professionals who do the actual work tend to be thrown to the sidelines where they will sit until they are alienated into marginal obscurity.

Campbell's Law and Standardized Testing - The case against standardized testing is a good one, but for many the idea that high test scores are at best unhelpful and at worst harmful to a good education system is quite counter-intuitive.

Exempting from testing in Alberta - more people should know that they have every right to opt their child out of writing these horrible tests.

John Spencer on Accountability - here's a definition of accountability I could get behind.

Civil Rights Movement of our Time - have you noticed that whether you are speaking with a liberal or a conservative, a Democrat or a Republican, or reading the Washington Post or Globe and Mail, almost everyone who may be progressive in other areas are indistinguishable from Fox News?

Data are dehumanizing - The greatest failure of trusting test scores more than teachers is that teachers might know more about how to improve a student's test score than they know the student.

Hollow Promises - raising test scores may sound good on the 6 o'clock news, but it means nothing to those who work in schools.

Covering Curriculum - under enough pressure, teachers will cover the curriculum, but you won't want to know how they did it.

Raising the bar - Arne Duncan is neither an educator or a listener... this is proving to be a cancerous combination.

What we need is... more testing?! - we can't test our way to better learning.

The Case Against Standardized Testing - here's a book everyone should read.

Grade Level Achievement - Grade-level of achievement is an infinitely nebulous target that is far too abstract to serve any kind of real purpose in a classroom.

Yong Zhao - here's a video on why the USA wants what China is throwing away.

Faulty Reform - Until we demand policy makers be actual educators - professionals who actually work in the field they are suppose to be running - education reform will be plagued by outsiders who at best can make uneducated guesses at applying solutions from the business world for classroom problems.

One test does not fit all - standardized testing has narrowed our vision of excellence

Change? We don't need no stinking change?! - here's how we become enslaved by rules

Local Autonomy - the best decisions for kids are made by those who work closest with the kids

Testing Optional - there are many examples of students and schools who are opting out of testing.

Reclaiming the language - people who don't understand how kids learn have stolen our vocabulary in the name of their bastardized version of reform. It's time we reclaim the language.

Scientifically Tested Tests - brilliant article from the New York Times by Brenda Engel on rethinking how we measure excellence.

Campbell's Law and Standardized Testing - Campbell's law stipulates that "the more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it was intended to monitor. - Here is a group that urges us to rethink our obsession with testing.

To sit beside - the root word for assessment is "assidere" which  means to sit beside.

The Relationship between Accountability and Creativity - Here's how accountability sabotages creativity.
Accountability - I think I'm done with this word.

Input vs Output - Yong Zhao encourages us to think less about educational outputs such as test scores and more on the environments we create for academic opportunities.

Regression to the Mean - Youngme Moon explains how competing with others can encourage mediocrity and stifle innovation.

Five ways to get Education Reform Right - Education reform is a tricky beast, but here are five ways we too often get reform wrong.

Teachers know best - we will never get reform right until we trust teachers.

Conceal vs Reveal - current day accountability pillars love data, but data are not god. Too often numbers conceal more than they reveal.

Summary of Alfie Kohn's Keynote in Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Alfie Kohn explains how current day accountability gets school reform wrong.

High Stake Testing's Kryptonite - the Campbell Effect is alive and well.

Bastardized Accountability - Here's a story how accountability can go so very wrong.

Standards and Standardization - Having high standards and standardization are not the same thing.

Accountability and George W. Bush - George Bush gets accountability so wrong, but it sounds good.

Counting what counts - Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

Narrow Measures of Learning - Anyone can confirm how little the grading that results from examinations corresponds to the final useful work of people in real life.

Analytica vs Intuitive Thinking - Our exagerated obsession with emprical data too often stifles innovation and creativity.

High Stakes Testing and Zero Tolerance: two unnecessary evils - punitive measures are grossly counter-productive. Unfortunately, this truth is quite counter-intuitive to many.

Lollygag Larry and the layup he wasn't allowed to take - place the bar too high, and no one will want to jump.

Accountabilty gone wrong - Competition and punitive measures simply distract us from our ultimate goals.

Mistrust drives manipulation - Accountability too often is just a fancy word for punish.