More than ever, parents want to know how their children are achieving and how their children's school ranks compared to others. And even though education experts and some testing experts may disagree, Congress, state legislators, and citizens are increasingly insistent that objective testing and accountability are needed to measure the results of teaching. This book takes a hard look at the professional, technical, and public policy issues surrounding student achievement and teacher effectiveness—the controversial issues that often divide educators from parents and their elected representatives.
The book shows how defective tests and standards and a lack of accountability cause American students to fall behind those of other countries—despite our schools' receiving nearly the world's highest levels of per-student spending. The book takes on common objections to testing, reveals why they are false, and shows how tests can help even in a child's earliest years.
The book also presents several specific constructive uses for tests, including diagnosing children's learning difficulties and procedures for solving them, measuring the impact of curriculum on specific aspects of achievement, and assessing teachers' strengths and weaknesses. The book tells what's wrong—and right—with the NAEP Science and Mathematics Tests and the TIMSS Observational Study. And, in two detailed case studies, authors describe how one state's accountability system failed whereas another state's has worked well. This book ultimately shows that test results can clearly inform educators and students of progress or lack thereof, evaluate the degree to which programs and practices are working, and ultimately play a vital role in improving American schools.