We must be honest with ourselves. We cannot say out of one side of our mouths that teaching is among our society’s most important professions, and then not ensure that our teachers are effective. We cannot insist that education is a major lever of social justice and equity, and then resist holding our schools accountable for educating our most at-risk youth.
RELAX, I’M NOT JUST TALKING ABOUT TESTS
To be clear, accountability needs to be more than simply a yearly state exam. These one-off exams are vulnerable to many of the arguments hurled against accountability; in addition to not only running the risk of being socially biased, the massive importance placed upon one such exam can incentivize teachers and schools to teach students to pass an exam, rather than master a concept. This risk, however, ought not push us to eliminate accountability, but rather increase and diversify our methods of measuring effectiveness.
In my school, I am held accountable to a variety of measures that do not just include student test performance, but also take into account in-class observations, student surveys, and student growth algorithms that emphasize student growth alongside student proficiency.