The Costs of Missing Test-Based Accountability in Schools

In his new book, “The Testing Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better,” Daniel Koretz, a Harvard professor with a career studying educational testing, implores us to consider what decades of test-based accountability have done to U.S. public schools. His assessment isn’t pretty. Koretz describes an education system that has organized itself in almost every way to maximize test scores, often at the expense of the students it serves.

Koretz sees the challenges that have emerged from today’s test-based accountability system as a textbook application of Campbell’s law. In essence, Campbell’s law suggests that the more we emphasize student test scores in accountability, the more we should expect two types of negative consequences: people who feel accountable for test scores doing things we don’t want them to do, and test scores becoming poor, inflated measures of what they were created to show.

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