As everyone knows, I am not a fan of the “No Child Left Behind” act. Whatever its intentions were, its outcome has done more to harm and set back education than it has done to achieve what it set out to do.
I am not arguing against accountability in the classroom. Everyone who does a job, be they a teacher in the classroom, a worker on the assembly line, or a CEO of a major business, has to be accountable for the work that they do.
But accountability in education is not necessarily measurable in the short-term. If one wanted to determine how well students have learned a subject, you have to see what they do with that information later. This means that any testing of students cannot be done the same year that they learned the information; yet, that is effectively what we are doing with NCLB-related testing. Because of the way that many of these tests are scheduled and with the pressures put on teachers and instructors to do well on these tests, we do not teach information but rather how to do well on the tests. In effect, we are teaching the tests! Scores will go up but of what value are those scores.
Now, there is a report that standardized testing fails (see F for Assessment: Standardized Testing Fails) for additional information.
What is the solution? Teach beyond the test; teach skills that require thinking and analysis, not simply memorization and recall. Look at Bloom’s Taxonomy and move up the scale to the higher levels. If you have to test for accountability, test when the results are valid, not immediately after the lesson.