Standards and Accountability Do Not Create Flexibility

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Sandy Kress who was a senior education advisor to President George W. Bush pushed back at The 74 against education reformers who believe we need to get away from standards and accountability.

He wrote

Here’s another baffling question: Why are reformers lambasting standards-based reform? Don’t they realize that without measurement and accountability, there is no effective way to show whether the status quo is succeeding and, thus, no basis to press effectively for reforms to the status quo

Simply put, without accountability, there is, for the most part, no strong case for reform or reformers. The keepers of the status quo will happily hold power and exercise it fully, especially if there is little data-based pressure from the outside to force them to do better or face change.

I understand what he’s trying to say here, but the problem is, however, standards and accountability have not created flexibility, quite the opposite.

Instead, we have a culture of “mother, may I?” at the federal level that never existed until President George W. Bush passed No Child Left Behind. This did not succeed in raising student achievement, but it did reveal the state of K-12 education in the United States.

So, if that was the goal, congratulations I guess.  There perhaps were some modest gains initially, but no one can deny we are stagnant. The standards and accountability movement has not raised student achievement. 

What it has accomplished is to create layers of bureaucracy both at the state and federal levels and has taken local control away from elected local school boards.

That’s not a win.

I do have to wonder what education reformers are arguing for this? None that I have seen. 

One thought on “Standards and Accountability Do Not Create Flexibility

  1. I find his reference to the 85-90% of children (and their parents) attending public school as “status quo” to be offending. Maybe the “deformers” are tired of being the “keepers of the status quo”….or maybe they are just morphing into the next big fad to take over education?

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