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Think Tank Exec Says ‘Education Needs Accountability Overhaul’

An "F" grade on notebook paper

Marc Tucker, president and chief executive of the National Center on Education and the Economy, said that schools need fewer tests and professional development that is school-based, according to a recent Huffington Post article.

Tucker spoke to the Education Writers Association and the Huffington Post published an edited transcript of that conversation.


He said that standardized tests can be necessary but they must be created well. There was a rush to create tests and the tests themselves are quite expensive. However, Tucker is not anti-testing, as some education reformers are.


When we insisted that our accountability plan required grade-by grade testing, it became impossible for states to use high-quality tests because we required so many of them. Without quite realizing it, what the country did was create an accountability system that made it virtually certain that we would be unable to test the upper ranges of complexity and conceptual mastery that are absolutely required of our kids if they're going to be successful in the new global economy. That was a disaster, and it still is. The only way to get around that is to require, as the top performing countries do, fewer but much better tests.


Subpar teacher preparation programs, low enrollment in education schools and lack of educator support seem to be problems that are unique to the United States. Other countries have made “long-term investments in their teachers over the past 10, 20 and 30 years,” Tucker said.


We see our kids are not doing well, they're falling further behind relative to many other countries. So we get angry, and we introduce test-based accountability. We implement punitive policies for teachers that drives away young people who are from the upper ranges of our high school classes. That gives us less-qualified people going into teaching, the children do even less well, we trust our teachers even less, and we punish them even more.

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