Pass or Fail: Revising Academic Standards and Accountability
In this multi-part series, I provide a dissection of the phenomenon of retention and social promotion. Also, I describe the many different methods that would improve student instruction in classrooms and eliminate the need for retention and social promotion if combined effectively.
While reading this series, periodically ask yourself this question: Why are educators, parents and the American public complicit in a practice that does demonstrable harm to children and the competitive future of the country?
Are teacher accountability standards completely out of control? More specifically, does teacher accountability fuel the social promotion and retention motivation?
The notion of accountability has historically applied primarily to school boards and school governance systems. By 1927, the complexity of accountability had grown to the point that Yale Professor George S. Counts wrote in 1927 that the role of school boards, the principle accountability body, had “the basic purpose of education and the relation of the school to the social order.”
The problem, though, was the severe undermining of the goal-setting aspect. The more favored economic and social classes, including small-business owners, professionals, and business executives, tended to make up about 76 percent of urban school board members. In other words, the appointment of school board members was based upon social status, having little to do with actual investment and qualification for the position.
Comparing the American system to international models, Rothstein emphasizes that other nations use inspections for school accountability and manage to overcome the most serious impediments experienced in the United States. In particular, Rothstein emphasizes that the English system employs professional inspectors rather than volunteers and that their inspection system subsequently undergoes revisions on a fairly regular basis.
The North Central Regional Educational Laboratory also discusses five strategies to help students succeed that are worth considering. Emphasizing the high-stakes testing and accountability movement as key in the promotion of retention and social promotion policies, the report outlines the intensification of learning, the provision of professional development to ensure skilled teachers, expanded learning options, access to informed teachers, and early and frequent interventions to support students, including ongoing diagnostic assessments to help schools develop intervention strategies for failure and accelerated learning.
Citing the hallmarks of successful intervention, the report establishes that early intervention offered regularly and frequently—and tied to the work students are doing as a part of their normal school routine—provides the best support for students. The material used in the early intervention should supplement classroom instruction, be paced to accelerate learning, and be offered in a multifaceted form.
So how can accountability standards be changed to positively impact students?
Click here to read all my suggestions for alternatives to social promotion and retention.