Where Do Testing and Accountability Go From Here?

My Bellwether colleagues Alex Spurrier, Jenn Schiess, Andy Rotherham, and I released a set of briefs today looking at the past, present, and future of standards-based reform. Those include:

  1. In The Historical Roots and Theory of Change of Modern School Accountability, we review the history and logic behind standards-based reform to recall the foundational goals and rationale for the main strategic levers reformers were trying to pull.
  2. In The Impact of Standards-Based Accountability, we assess the strengths and weaknesses of the ways in which standards-based reform has been operationalized in policy and practice and begin to identify what should be retained and what should evolve.
  3. In Assessment and Accountability in the Wake of COVID-19, we explore what accountability may mean in a global pandemic, as challenges of equity in our education systems are exacerbated and the need to rapidly assess and address those challenges is urgent.

A forthcoming webinar will further explore these topics.

Join us on Monday July 20th for a conversation with Jeb Bush, John B. King, Jr., and Carissa Moffat Miller about how we should measure the impact of education systems on students, particular students of color and low-income students, even as COVID-19 changes schooling dramatically. Register and learn more here.

–Guest post by Chad Aldeman 

Latest Edu-Reads

Alex Spurrier’s op-ed on school choice in Louisville includes this zinger: “For too long, low-income families in Louisville have had to settle for what other people think is best for their children, while the affluent can vote with their feet and their pocketbooks.”

Jennifer Schiess on how school performance frameworks can be designed for system management and accountability.

Speaking of which, a new study by Sade Bonilla and Thomas Dee finds that NCLB waivers had a positive effect in “focus schools” in Kentucky.

Tyler Cowen and Ben Southwood find that the rate of scientific progress is slowing down. They write, “To sum up the basic conclusions of this paper, there is good and also wide-ranging evidence that the rate of scientific progress has indeed slowed down, In the disparate and partially independent areas of productivity growth, total factor productivity, GDP growth, patent measures, researcher productivity, crop yields, life expectancy, and Moore’s Law we have found support for this claim.”

This tool from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce is fun to play around with. It lets you see return on investment at different points in time for 4,500 higher education institutions across the country. For example, I noticed that my alma mater, the University of Iowa, has a 10-year net present value of $132,000, good for 1,457th nationwide. Meanwhile, Iowa’s community colleges perform much better on this metric. Northwest Iowa Community College in tiny Sheldon, Iowa (with a total population of 5,188 residents) has a 10-year ROI of $209,000, good for 170th nationwide.

In contrast, four-year baccalaureate institutions like Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, and Drake University score much higher on the 40-year ROI calculations. This sort of stuff is fun to play around with, but it also has implications for how we evaluate programs and institutions to decide whether they’re “successful” or not.

–Guest post by Chad Aldeman