In this article we outline how notions of accountability and the achievement gap have relied upon the massive expansion of high-stakes exams in our nation’s schools. Texas-style test and punish accountability manifested in various ways within schools and school culture across the nation via NCLB, which undermined notions of trust within education. More than decade of national education policy focused on high-stakes testing and accountability—despite that the fact that the rise of high-stakes testing also involved considerable legal, ethical, and social considerations. We argue the practice of spending large amounts of time on test preparation and test taking must be reversed lest we continue on the path of maintaining schools solely as machinery for stratification. We conclude that market- and business-oriented ideology, has reinforced the racist under- and overtones of testocracy in the United States and has neither closed the achievement gap nor fomented meaningful accountability or success.
Key Take Away Points
- More than decade of national education policy focused on high-stakes testing and accountability—despite that the fact that the rise of high-stakes testing also involved considerable legal, ethical, and social considerations.
- The practice of spending large amounts of time on test preparation and test taking must be reversed lest we continue on the path of maintaining schools solely as machinery for stratification.
- Testocracy in the United States and has neither closed the achievement gap nor fomented meaningful accountability or success.
Julian Vasquez Heilig is currently a Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and the Director of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership at California State University Sacramento. He also serves as the California NAACP Education Chair. He obtained his Ph.D. in Education Administration and Policy Analysis and a Masters in Sociology from Stanford University. His current research includes quantitatively, qualitatively examining how high-stakes testing, accountability-based reforms, and market-based reforms impact urban minority students. His work has been cited by the New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, USAToday, Education Week, Huffington Post and other print and electronic media outlets. He has also appeared on local and national radio and TV including PBS, NBC, NBCLatino, NPR, Univision, Al Jazeera and MSNBC. He has also conveyed invited testimony in state and national legislative bodies and spoken at more than 25 universities. He blogs at Cloaking Inequity, consistently rated one of the top 50 education websites in the world by Teach100. Follow him on Twitter: @ProfessorJVH. T. Jameson Brewer, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Social Foundations of Education at the University of North Georgia. His teaching experience spans from the middle school, high school, undergraduate, masters, and doctoral levels. Broadly conceptualized, his research focuses on the impact of privatization and marketization of public education by way of school vouchers, charter schools, alternative teacher certification, and homeschooling. Forthcoming books include Becoming a Teacher in an Age of Reform: Global Lessons for Teacher Preparation and the Teaching Profession (Teachers College Press) and Philanthropy, Strategy, and Collective Resistance: A Primer for Educators (Myers Education Press). Follow him on Twitter: @tjamesonbrewer Jimmy Ojeda Pedraza is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Sociology at California State University Sacramento and is a Pathways Fellow at Sacramento State. Prior to this, Jimmy served as a Special Education Resource teacher in a Title I school in Northern California. His research interests include higher education, social stratification and inequality. Jimmy’s current research examines the experiences of historically underrepresented students attending community colleges who participate in transfer assistance programs.
Vasquez Heilig, Julian; Brewer, T. Jameson; and Ojeda Pedraza, Jimmy
"Examining the Myth of Accountability, High-Stakes Testing, and the Achievement Gap,"
Journal of Family Strengths: Vol. 18
, Article 9.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.library.tmc.edu/jfs/vol18/iss1/9