This book examines the idea of educational accountability, which has become a new secular gospel. But do accountability policies actually make schools better? Do business management theories and practices make organizations more effective? What if the most widely used management theories and assessment tools don’t work? 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. How is a business-model of economic efficiency supposed to increase the competing, and perhaps mutually exclusive, ends of schooling, such as human development, student learning, personal satisfaction, social mobility, and economic growth? What if students don’t learn much in schools? What if schools were never designed to produce student learning? 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 the Management of Schools
Chapter 3: What Do Grades Measure? Investigating Grades as an Accountability Metric
Chapter 4: Education as a Social Practice: The Foundations of Teaching and Learning
Chapter 5: Nurture and Nature: The Complex Ecology of Student Learning (On What Teachers Can and Cannot Do…)
Chapter 6: A Managerial Coup d’état
Conclusion: Can We De-School Our Schools?
Epilogue: Learning to Learn: Revising the Liberal Arts
Preview: Volume 2: The Myths of Measurement and Meritocracy: Why Accountability Metrics in Higher Education are Unfair and Increase Inequality
About the Author
In his two new books, Beach delivers a two-part assault on the logic of using measurement-based accountability regiments to reform educational systems. In Part 1, Can we Measure, Beach expertly excoriates the accountability movement that has dominated our k-12 public schooling system for decades showing how it has dismantled student learning and teacher morale. Although the chorus of accountability critics has grown louder and stronger over time, Beach’s interdisciplinary approach involving the lessons from history, philosophy, management, measurement, learning theories, motivation, and higher education makes a uniquely powerful contribution to the school reform debate.
J. M. Beach provides a devastatingly effective analysis of the accountability metrics that have wrought so much havoc in the American system of schooling. The accountability pandemic is now a global phenomenon, pushed by governments around the world. As Beach shows, the problems with this system are legion. He makes the case for why accountability metrics are the problem, not the solution.
J. M. Beach offers a searing polemic against quantification and top-down management in education. Skillfully navigating a broad range of topics, he reminds us of the importance of authentic learning, and shows how we might once more elevate that aim. While Beach is a skeptic of what passes for school reform these days, he ultimately offers a hopeful view of what educators, young people, and communities can accomplish together.
Beach has done an amazing job of blending the wisdom of many of the world’s most thoughtful educators with his own ideas about what makes for better schooling. Both volumes deal with issues of assessment and accountability, and the desperate need for more humane systems of using these tools and ideas. These highly readable and well referenced books both inform and stimulate.