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de-testing and de-grading schools

Authentic Alternatives to Accountability and Standardization


Edited By Joe Bower and Paul L. Thomas

A century of education and education reform, along with more than three decades of high-stakes testing and accountability, reveals a disturbing paradox: education has a steadfast commitment to testing and grading. This commitment persists despite ample research, theory, and philosophy revealing the corrosive consequences of both testing and grading in an education system designed to support human agency and democratic principles. This revised edited volume brings together a collection of updated and new essays that confronts the failure of testing and grading. The book explores the historical failure of testing and grading; the theoretical and philosophical arguments against testing and grading; the negative influence of tests and grades on social justice, race, class, and gender; and the role that they play in perpetuating a deficit perspective of children. The chapters fall under two broad sections. Part I, Degrading Learning, Detesting Education: The Failure of High-Stake Accountability in Education, includes essays on the historical, theoretical, and philosophical arguments against testing and grading. Part II, De-Grading and De-Testing in a Time of High-Stakes Education Reform, presents practical experiments in de-testing and de-grading classrooms for authentic learning experiences.
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Chapter Two: Assessment and Quality: Policy-Steering and the Making of a Deus ex Machina


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Assessment AND Quality

Policy-Steering and the Making of a Deus ex Machina



One very major concern about education—one of many that are perennially driving the desire for education reform—is assessment. Utility and verisimilitude in measurement are important along with reliability in relation to outcomes. Outcomes themselves are tied to disciplinary concerns and aligned with identified standards and more often the wider well-being of the economy and workforce development. The fear is that assessment generates “weak” measurements rather than “strong” ones, with high-stakes testing and national standards seen as a means to guarantee “strong” measurements of student learning or at least mitigating subjectivity to provide more certainty (Geelan, 2015).

Quality has become a term with multiple meanings and practices. It is a professional field (big Q) as demonstrated in the practices of, among others, the American Society for Quality (ASQ). As a field, practitioners look at organizations from systems and process perspectives. It utilizes quantitative techniques with an outside-in focus to ensure stakeholder needs are met. There is genuine interest from Quality professionals to work with education to enhance the quality of learning and do more to influence student success leading to and after graduation (Padró, 2012). The different background, preparation, and mindset creates challenges on the part of educators and Quality professionals to understand the unique aspects of...

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