Accountability as testing: Are there lessons about assessment and outcomes to be learnt from No Child Left Behind?

Luke, Allan & Woods, Annette F. (2008) Accountability as testing: Are there lessons about assessment and outcomes to be learnt from No Child Left Behind? Literacy Learning: The Middle Years, 16(3), pp. 11-19.

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The fact that debate has continued over literacy teaching for the past three years since the 2005 release of the National Inquiry into the Teaching of Reading (National Inquiry into the Teaching of Reading, 2005), and that recent rearticulations of the Report’s findings by its lead author (See for example Milburn, 2008) continue to take headline space, reminds us that literacy education remains a contentious policy and pedagogic issue for communities, schools, systems, teachers and students – and for politicians. During the past three to four year period we’ve all watched the latest literacy crisis played out in the pages of our newspapers and television current affairs shows. This crisis has predictably led to policy and curriculum initiatives offering simplistic solutions to the latest perceived problems. Under the last Conservative Federal Government, these Australian media and policy responses paralleled the debates in the United States over the No Child Left Behind Act (United States of America, 2001). So in a context where accountability is being narrowly framed as testing, and literacy likewise framed as basic decoding skills, are there lessons to be learnt for Australian teachers and policy makers in the No Child Left Behind legislation? Research dispelling the success of NCLB has been available since its inception, but more recently the official reports have been calling the policy decisions implemented as part of this legislation into question, and political support for both NCLB and the Reading First program is beginning to waver. In this short paper we first lay out a brief introduction to the NCLB legislation and its policy effects. We document the official results and the critiques. We then suggest some lessons that Australian policy-makers and educators must consider as the decision about how best to promote a high quality / high equity system for all Australian school children is made in the new political context. We aim to offer a scientific and bibliographical resource for teachers who wish to engage with the debate.

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ID Code: 14392
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: accountability, literacy, No Child Left Behind, phonics hypothesis, standardised curriculum hypothesis
ISSN: 1320-5692
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > SPECIALIST STUDIES IN EDUCATION (130300) > Education Assessment and Evaluation (130303)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2008 Australian Literacy Educators' Association
Copyright Statement: Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Deposited On: 15 Aug 2008 00:00
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2012 05:36

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