In response to the post, “The Global Achievement Gap,” a reader writes:

“Without accountability no changes in education would be possible. The United States may be on its way to being a third world country, but without educational accountability the issue would not be in doubt. I do think we get extreme with accountability, especially since our accountability process is far from perfect. I advocate a course specific value added approach to accountability, which Texas currently does not have.

And let’s not fool ourselves. The Texas TAKS test is not a high standard. Much of the exit level exam is taken from 8th and 9th grade level materials. In fact, if an 11th grade student has great mastery of 8th grade level curriculum, this student is likely to do well on accountability tests. We won’t even talk about social studies accountability tests in Texas and why students do so well on them (nor will we discuss who predominately teaches those courses). Talk about a joke. It should shame teachers and administrators to complain about high stakes accountability in the form of TAKS when the TAKS standard is so low.”

SC Response:
I’ll admit that the reader takes a somewhat harder stance than I do. However, there are two key points that I would like to add.

First, in Texas, whether social studies teachers want to admit it or not, their test is by far the easiest of the TAKS sections. And everybody knows this, from the Commissioner’s office to the Principal’s office. However, this is a gift. I have long advocated that since the Social Studies test is much easier, that Social Studies should become a reading and writing lab. Cover the content by reading original texts and then write critical commentaries, summaries and comparisons.

Second, if you and your campus are driven by external accountability, you will never progress past ordinary. Great teachers, principals and schools are driven by internal accountability. The need to know and grow is essentially the only motivator. When I was a principal, on my campus, everyone knew that there was the district’s performance expectation and there was the campus’ (real) performance expectation. If you couldn’t keep up with real expectations, you might not go home, but you couldn’t stay with us.

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…