Authentic Alternatives to Accountability and Standardization
Edited By Joe Bower and Paul L. Thomas
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
FERNANDO F. PADRÓ, MICHAEL F. HAWKE, AND LAURIE M. HAWKE
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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