This book examines the idea of educational accountability in higher education, which has become a new secular gospel. But do accountability policies actually make colleges better? What if educational accountability tools don’t actually measure what they’re supposed to? What if accountability data isn’t valid, or worse, what if it’s meaningless? What if administrators don’t know how to use accountability tools or correctly analyze the problematic data these tools produce? What if we can’t measure, let alone accurately assess, what matters most with teaching or student learning. What if students don’t learn much in college? What if higher education was never designed to produce student learning? What if college doesn’t help most students, either personally or economically? What if higher education isn’t meritocratic, actually exacerbates inequality, and makes the lives of disadvantaged students even worse? This book will answer these questions with a wide, interdisciplinary range of the latest scientific research.
J. M. Beach is the founder and director of 21st Century Literacy, a non-profit organization focused on literacy education and teacher training. He was a lecturer in higher education for over 20 years in the U.S., South Korea, and China.
Preface: We Aren’t Measuring What Matters Most
Introduction: Investigating the Myths of Measurement and the Meritocracy of Higher Education
Chapter 1: Public Opinion Surveys: From Managing the Herd to Consumer Satisfaction
Chapter 2: The Premise of Student Evaluation Surveys: Measuring Teacher Effectiveness
Chapter 3: Pressured to Please: The Negotiated Compromise of Playing School
Chapter 4: A Question of Validity: Student Surveys Don’t Measure Teaching or Learning
Chapter 5: Predictably Irrational: The Cognitive Miser and the Limits of Consumer Choice
Chapter 6: Are Students Capable of Evaluating Teaching or Learning? An Investigation of
the “Fox Effect”
Chapter 7: Signaling or Human Capital? Credentialism, Degree Inflation, and Socio-Economic Inequality
Chapter 8: The Myth of Meritocracy: The Cautionary Examples of Ancient China and Modern South Korea
Conclusion: Can Schools Become Meritocratic Institutions?
PreviewVolume 1: Can We Measure What Matters Most? Why Educational
Accountability Metrics Lower Student Learning and Demoralize Teachers
About the Author
Beach argues that the accountability movement, which has already done so much damage to American public schools, is now coming after higher education as well, and he shows that this effort is not only based on faulty measures but also promises to lay waste to a system that is the envy of the world.
Playing school’ is endemic throughout K-12 and higher education. Evaluation--both of students and of educators--is how we score the game. In this scholarly exploration of the sociology, economics, philosophy, and history of contemporary education, Josh Beach explores how and why the scoring rules became bogus and antithetical to supporting learning and improving teaching, rewarding behavior that undermines learning. The current quagmire arose from the postwar push for ‘scientific’ management--and viewing education as a consumer product--enabled by questionable measurement practices, irrational reverence for numbers, and a generous helping of the equivocation fallacy (e.g., conflating students' response to the prompt, ‘how effective was the instructor?’ with actual teaching effectiveness). I recommend this book to anyone who relies on, is subjected to, or engages in the evaluation of teaching and learning.