Flawed Evaluation of Test-Based Accountability

By Education Next 12/06/2011

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Earlier this year, with Congress struggling to come up with a plan for reauthorizing No Child Left Behind, the National Research Council (NRC) published a report that could influence the future role of test-based accountability in federal education policy. The report, “Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education,” argues that accountability policies have been ineffective at lifting student achievement and should probably be dropped.

In this video, Eric Hanushek of the Hoover Institution discusses the shortcomings of the NRC report with Terry Moe, also of the Hoover Institution.

The Winter 2012 issue of Education Next includes a full critique of the NRC report by Eric Hanushek, “Grinding the Antitesting Ax: More bias than evidence behind NRC panel’s conclusions

As Hanushek explains, the NRC report neglected the scientific evidence when it concluded that NCLB and high school exit exams were not good policies.  By the NRC’s own evidence, test-based accountability is very valuable, and investing in these programs has a rate of return that dwarfs that of virtually all governmental programs.

Research by Hanushek which appeared in Ed Next in 2008 found strong relationships between achievement on accountability-based tests and economic growth. (See: “Education and Economic Growth,” Education Next, Spring 2008)

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