Experts Recommend Ways to 'Fix Serious Flaws' in NCLB
A panel of national education experts has issued a set of recommendations aimed at fixing "serious flaws" in the assessment and accountability provisions of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.
Assessment and Accountability for Improving Schools and Learning calls for replacing the one-shot tests used to impose sanctions under NCLB with multiple measures that better support high-quality teaching and increased student achievement.
"This report aims to fix serious flaws in No Child Left Behind while preserving its laudable goals," said Dr. James Pellegrino, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Education at the University of Illinois, Chicago. "Developing fair and helpful assessment systems will encourage student learning across the curriculum instead of narrowing instruction to a few tested subjects.
"Our recommendations reflect the reality that a rigid 'one-size-fits-all' approach to accountability does not work," added panel member Dr. Brian Gong, Executive Director of the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment. "They would lead to creation of high-quality assessment systems that use a rich range of evidence to help schools improve, not just test scores to label them passing or failing."
- Among the "guiding principles" in Assessment and Accountability for Improving Schools and Learning are:
- Help states, districts and schools fulfill their educational responsibilities to foster learning by ensuring that all students have access to the resources they need to succeed and by building capacity to improve teaching.
- Construct comprehensive and coherent systems of state and local assessments of student learning that work together to support instruction, educational improvement and accountability.
- Shape the design, construction, and application of assessment systems so they are valid and appropriate for an increasingly diverse student population.
- Use multiple sources of evidence to describe and interpret school and district performance fairly, based on a balance of progress toward and success in meeting student academic learning targets, thereby replacing the current Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) structure.
- Improve the validity and reliability of criteria used to classify the performance of schools and districts to ensure fair evaluations and to minimize bias in accountability decisions.
- Provide effective, targeted assistance to schools correctly identified as needing assistance.
The nine-member Expert Panel on Assessment was convened by the Forum on Educational Accountability (FEA), a group working to implement the Joint Organizational Statement on the NCLB Act. The Joint Statement has now been signed by 136 national education, civil rights, religious, disability, labor and civic organizations representing more than 50 million members.