Holding NCLB Accountable

K-12 Testing

FairTest Examiner - April 2008

The papers collected in Holding NCLB Accountable: Achieving Accountability, Equity, & School Reform point out the deep flaws in the accountability structure of No Child Left Behind. They describe how the law is failing to improve schools and analyze the lack of state and local capacity to improve ill-funded schools serving very needy populations. Finally, the authors propose useful steps to overhaul the law.

For example, Willis Hawley's "NCLB and Continuous School Improvement" focuses on needed changes in assessment and capacity building. Rather than judging schools on standardized test scores, Hawley suggests gathering information on a variety of important outcomes, using such sources as portfolios. This approach will require construction of new assessment systems, for which the federal government should provide funding. This richer information, in turn, should support coherent improvement approaches rather than merely labeling and then sanctioning schools.

The book, edited by Gail Sunderman of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA (formerly at Harvard), is a rich compendium of evidence and ideas. It is available from Corwin Press. Most of the papers are available on-line at http://www.law.berkeley.edu/centers/ewi/research_k12Education.html#keyRe... (scroll through the page to locate all the papers).