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Loss of accountability in education

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017 10:26 a.m. CST • Updated: Monday, Nov. 13, 2017 2:35 p.m. CST

Both No Child Left Behind and Every Student Succeeds Act have a common denominator of attempting to reverse the loss of accountability in education theories and lowering standards the past five decades.  The intent was to stop the practice of blaming the student victims as being defective in lieu of accepting responsibility for the choice of poor education theories, poor teaching methods and low standards.

Lying to themselves and the public (the taxpayers financing the schools) about the status of education — using the media shamefully for this purpose — became the only way educators could function.  Unfortunately, it continues in Iowa today through the use of low standards to inflate results, using averages rather than rankings with other states and other countries, and failing to acknowledge how an average relates to a score using national grade level standards.

Iowa educators fought accountability so hard their teacher training programs continue to use the materials for the dysfunctional system they should be replacing rather than the competency-based system they were supposed to return to with the passage of NCLB in 2001, according to the latest assessments by the National Council for Teacher Quality.  Low standards continue on assessment tests, with the Iowa proficiency claim actually amounting to only a basic entry level on NAEP (which uses national grade level standards for proficiency).  Iowa Education Director Ryan Wise actually praised Iowa’s summer reading program (an acknowledged failure) in his cover letter for Iowa’s ESSA plan of accountability because he had nothing of real improvement to tout.  The Iowa Association of School Boards arranged for Dir. Wise to receive an award for this failed summer reading program because they had nothing else they could point to as an achievement under his leadership. 

Iowa has one of the largest proficiency gaps in the country because of its failure to accept responsibility for its poor education theories and methods, coupled with low standards, and the plan it proposes for ESSA accountability is not going to work because it is not based on leaving the dysfunctional system behind in favor of one that treats all students as capable of learning.

Educators claiming there was nothing wrong with the old system, that this new one is just different, are either lying outright or are in complete denial of the truth. This is what addicts do: they deny the truth and fail to take responsibility, trying to avoid accountability. 

Sue Atkinson


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