Over 500 Professors Sign Letter saying that Bush-Obama Style Test Based Accountability Does Not Work

February, 2015

Both Congress and the Florida Legislature need to pay attention! More than five hundred university professors signed a statement authored by the National Education Policy Center detailing that test based accountability used during the Bush and Obama administrations, as well as in Florida and many other states, have been ineffective in improving academic achievement or closing achievement gaps.In other words, both No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top/Common Core have been a failure.

Here are some of the concluding statements of the paper with some commentary:

"The broad consensus among researchers is that this system [NCLB and RTTT] is at best ineffective and at worst counterproductive. The issues now being debated in Washington largely ignore these facts about the failure of test-based educational reform, and the proposals now on the table simply gild, rather than transform, a strategy with little or no promise...
The ultimate question we should be asking isn't whether test scores are good measures of learning, whether growth modeling captures what we want it to, or even whether test scores are increasing; it is whether the overall impact of the reform approach can improve or is improving education. Boosting test scores can, as we have all learned, be accomplished in lots of different ways, some of which focus on real learning but many of which do not. An incremental increase in reading or math scores means almost nothing, particularly if children's engagement is decreased; if test-prep comes at a substantial cost to science, civics, and the arts; and if the focus of schooling as a whole shifts from learning to testing."

The data shows that even test scores have not improved significantly under all of this expesnive, stressful "drill and grill," "teach to the test" accountability. Here is national data from the Cato Institute that we have shown before showing stagnant scores and little meaningful closing of the achievement gap despite $2 TRILLION in federal education spending:

There is contradictory data from Florida regarding NAEP scores. 
A 2010 Heritage Foundation report gives Bush's reforms great credit in improving the achievement gap between white and minority students with this chart and he brags about that a lot in his speeches:

Yet, the 2011 NAEP report itself said the following:
In 2011, Hispanic students had an average score that was15 points lower than White students. This performance gap was not significantly different from that in 1992 (15 points). (Emphasis added).

In addition, an NPR fact check report by Kyla Calvert about Bush's touting of this information at a recent Detroit Economic Club speech:

Can the above-average scores that Florida's Hispanic students receive on these national tests be attributed to Bush's reforms? It's hard to say.

On the 1998 reading test, Hispanic fourth-graders were already scoring higher than Hispanic students nationally, but by only about half a grade level instead of nearly two grade levels.

Hispanic eighth-graders scored two points behind the national average on that same exam. On the 1996 math exams, Hispanic students in Florida scored two points ahead of the national average in both fourth- and eighth-grade math.

Since 2003, fourth-grade reading scores for Florida's Hispanic students have risen twice as fast as for Hispanics nationally.

But on every other exam -- fourth-grade math and eighth-grade math and reading -- the national average for Hispanics has risen faster than average scores in Florida.
(Emphasis added).

Finally, here is an infographic from Conversation Ed showing that scores on the statewide assessment FCAT only improved 1% in ten years while Florida spent 20% of its education budget on testing, which is the second highest in the nation:
While this groups statements on test score -based accountability are accurate, their proposed solution s of spending more money as shown above are not particularly helpful and their ideas about expanding universal preschool are inaccurate as documented in much research that shows:

The following are what really reduces or even eliminates the achievement gap according to research by Dr. William Jeynes of the University of California at Santa Barbara:

1. ´╗┐Intact Families and Religious Faith

Dr. Jeynes found, "data from the National Educational Longitudinal Survey to examine the impact of student religious commitment and living in intact families on academic achievement among black and Hispanic 12th graders. Students with intact families and high levels of religiosity scored as well as all white students on most achievement measures and higher than their black and Hispanic counterparts without intact families or high religiosity. "(Emphasis added). Believe it or not, these two combined ERASE the achievement gap and is the only thing known to accomplish that feat. For all the billions and billions, if not trillions, of dollars spent on education at the state and federal levels, this is the only thing that actually accomplishes that noble goal. When we discuss welfare reform, we need to not penalize Dad's involvement as families wean of the program and we will reap many other important benefits.

2. Phonics Instruction

There are significant improvements in reading scores for poor and minority children taught with phonics. This has been known for a long time from many other additional studies and is just common sense, but unfortunately for our nation's poorest children, is not being adequately implemented.

3. Real Parental Involvement

The positive effects of parental involvement hold for both White and minority secondary children on academic performance. We do need to empower parents as much as possible.




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