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The future of test-based accountability

from The Brookings Institution

In the U.S., the principal lever for K-12 public education reform for the last 40 years has been test-based accountability. Prior to the 1970s, individual school districts bore nearly all of the responsibility for determining what the students within their purview needed to know and be able to do to advance from grade to grade and graduate from high school. Districts, in turn, deeded this responsibility to teachers in the form of the end-of-year or end-of-course grades they assigned to their students. State-mandated minimum competency tests (MCTs), established in the 1970s, were the first wave of accountability systems designed and overseen at the state or federal level. The standards and accountability systems under which every public school in the nation operates in this century differ in many respects from earlier MCT systems. The most obvious of the differences lies in the conceptualization of what states and the federal government should hold educators and students accountable for: minimum competency versus college and career ready skills. more

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