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Why starting accountability with student need matters

It is critical that we always start an accountability conversation with student, not adult need. Consider the following:

When we start with student need we acknowledge the purpose of the work. It isn't that the adults don't have additional things to do, but they are additional to student need.


Starting with adult needs makes a mess of things. For instance:

No matter which adult needs are allowed to drive the accountability, they cannot help but cover at best a subset of student needs. Note that this is a structural, not a

philosophical argument. That is, if you start with adult needs you will create a structure that misses student needs, plain and simple.


Even if you love tests and the current accountability systems, you cannot claim they address student needs. See below:

Test scores will always be at best a partial accounting that will miss the larger picture. Which is why it is such a mistake to treat them as a complete description of school quality. If you really want to understand the quality of a school, a system based on test scores can't get you there because it was never designed to do that.

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More than a decade ago when I started Test Sense we were all about a better accountability for schools, but there was still enough of a vestige of the old way of thinking that the word "test" crept in

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