Alternative Choices for Assessment Other Than No Child Left Behind
An educational accountability system outside the accountability instilled by NCLB would have to go in a different direction than the national policy that controls U.S. education now. NCLB has taken away many of the goals that Americans have held as essential components of education and educational accountability. The narrow assessment based accountability systems that are in place today have concentrated on reading and math scores and have left the other traditional components of history, science, and the arts as being nominal or nonexistent. Citizenship and social skills have become the responsibility of the school community and not set in the curriculum except in a peripheral position.
A new accountability system would have to be created to encompass the whole spectrum of education and not on two or three basic components. Some states have instituted exit tests for eighth and twelfth grade students. This base line examination would allow district, state, and federal leaders to see how many students could pass the exam and give them the statistics they are so hungry for. This would also allow teachers to find the weak points in their curriculum. The test would be akin to the goals the school systems want the students to learn and the questions poised on the test would be benchmarks in which the districts and states could set to be assessed.
The assessments would have to be fluid so the now practiced method of teaching the test would be eliminated. The fluidity of the assessments would challenge the teachers to teach a spectrum of concepts instead of following structured lesson plans that would allow the majority of students to grow as in the accountability system that is established today in most states. If a student is deficient in an area, the student can be the center of attention instead of a group of students that keep the par and show growth. The percentage of proficiency would have to have a ceiling and the growth could be lateral instead of horizontal.
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