Start Date

22-6-2013 12:30 PM

End Date

22-6-2013 2:00 PM

Keywords

school accountability, history, United States

Description

This paper examines the origins, development, and effects of test based accountability between 1976 and 2009. Using evidence from North Carolina and other southern states to illuminate broader national developments, the paper focuses on three overlapping waves of test based accountability that began in southern states in the 1970s and spread throughout the United States in the decades that followed: 1) the minimum competency movement of the late 1970s and early 1980s, 2) the raising of high school graduation requirements and the implementation of more rigorous high school exit exams in the 1980s and 1990s, and 3) the adoption of more comprehensive and coercive forms of high stakes testing in elementary as well as secondary schools during the 1990s. These waves of accountability replaced a civil rights agenda that promoted opportunity with an accountability agenda that placed responsibility for educational outcomes on students, teachers, and schools. The history of accountability in North Carolina and other southern states illustrates how NCLB evolved out of and derived from policies that were first established by southern states as the courts forced educational authorities to dismantle dual systems in the 1970s. I argue that during the last quarter of the twentieth century test based accountability has served as a politically expedient and palatable alternative to addressing the discrimination that persisted in schools and the task of providing all students, especially African American students, with equal educational opportunities. The proponents of test based accountability, including African American leaders who began to endorse these policies in the 1980s, have argued that test based accountability would close achievement gaps. However, evidence from tests administered in North Carolina since 1980 show that test based accountability has done little to promote racial equality in educational achievement.

Additional Files

Baker Table 1.doc (58 kB)

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Jun 22nd, 12:30 PM Jun 22nd, 2:00 PM

The Origins, Evolution, and Effects of Test Based Accountability: North Carolina and the Nation, 1976-2009

This paper examines the origins, development, and effects of test based accountability between 1976 and 2009. Using evidence from North Carolina and other southern states to illuminate broader national developments, the paper focuses on three overlapping waves of test based accountability that began in southern states in the 1970s and spread throughout the United States in the decades that followed: 1) the minimum competency movement of the late 1970s and early 1980s, 2) the raising of high school graduation requirements and the implementation of more rigorous high school exit exams in the 1980s and 1990s, and 3) the adoption of more comprehensive and coercive forms of high stakes testing in elementary as well as secondary schools during the 1990s. These waves of accountability replaced a civil rights agenda that promoted opportunity with an accountability agenda that placed responsibility for educational outcomes on students, teachers, and schools. The history of accountability in North Carolina and other southern states illustrates how NCLB evolved out of and derived from policies that were first established by southern states as the courts forced educational authorities to dismantle dual systems in the 1970s. I argue that during the last quarter of the twentieth century test based accountability has served as a politically expedient and palatable alternative to addressing the discrimination that persisted in schools and the task of providing all students, especially African American students, with equal educational opportunities. The proponents of test based accountability, including African American leaders who began to endorse these policies in the 1980s, have argued that test based accountability would close achievement gaps. However, evidence from tests administered in North Carolina since 1980 show that test based accountability has done little to promote racial equality in educational achievement.