The debates over the value of standardized tests have polarized educators for long enough. It is time to move toward a synthesis of assessment methods.
All standardized tests have their place, even the weak ones. Without them we would have nothing—no way to hold people accountable for teaching or learning. But we need to look at the schools that are doing well on the standardized tests and realize that those schools are focusing on the curriculum and on the students.
Accountability follows responsibility. If there is no accountability, little by little, people lose their sense of responsibility and start blaming circumstances or others for their poor performance.
Which results have value for students and their learning? How can educators assume a greater role in defining assessment and accountability? To answer these questions, we must move beyond a counterproductive criticism of existing tests and toward a more cooperative and transitional path. Clarity on these issues comes from schools whose accomplishments show us a way out of the current confusion that too often surrounds assessment and accountability issues.