“The Accountability Plateau,” by Mark Schneider, just published by Education Next and the Fordham Institute, makes a big point: that “consequential accountability,” à la No Child Left Behind and the high-stakes state testing systems that preceded it, corresponded with a significant one-time boost in student achievement, particularly in primary and middle school math. Like the meteor that led to the decline of the dinosaurs and the rise of the mammals, results-based accountability appears to have shocked the education system. But its effect seems to be fading now, as earlier gains are maintained but not built upon. If we are to get another big jump in academic achievement, we’re going to need another shock to the system—another meteor from somewhere beyond our familiar solar system.
So argues Mark Schneider, a scholar, analyst, and friend whom we once affectionately (and appropriately) named “Statstud.” Schneider, a political scientist, served as commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics from 2005 to 2008, and is now affiliated with the American Institutes for Research and the American Enterprise Institute. In his new analysis, he digs into twenty years of trends on the National Assessment of Educational Progress—the “Nation’s Report Card.”
(photo credit: Phil Jern)