Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Assessment and Accountability. (Editorial)

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Assessment and Accountability. (Editorial)

Article excerpt

The terms "assessment" and "accountability" are often used interchangeably, but they do have different meanings. "In general, when we access our own performances, it's assessment; when others access our performance, it's accountability," according to Richard Frye, a planning analyst for the Office of Institutional Assessment and Testing at Western Washington University.

Facing Challenges

Parents and the political arena are outspoken supporters of both assessment and accountability as part of their demand for reform in education. A variety of commercial technology applications are available for collecting and analyzing student performance, and provide data on the effectiveness of learning strategies. Since education is the constitutional responsibility of the state, governors are also playing a lead role in efforts to revitalize the educational system. The No Child Left Behind Act requires the inclusion of all students in state assessment programs, and holds students and educators accountable for performance relative to state standards. However, a number of challenges still need to be addressed, including:

* Federally mandated testing programs are usually based on a traditional one-test-fits-all design. Regional variations and variations outside of the average range of students are not well defined.

* Cost is always an issue; too often demand is for quantity, not quality. Testing companies sell what the market demands, which does not always determine the needs of both students and teachers, and how to help individual students.

* Teachers need to develop their own tests to meet state standards.

* Test scores cannot be the sole determining factor in making important decisions about schools, teachers and students.

Kurt Landgraf, president and CEO of Educational Testing Service, made the following points when he spoke before the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce:

* Commercial assessment applications are difficult to customize and don't always meet each state's local requirements. …

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