School Improvement

All students deserve enriching educational experiences, reliable assessments that improve instruction, and holistic supports for troubled schools.  The Broader Bolder Approach to education urges replacing test-based evaluations and mechanistic “turnaround” strategies with enhanced NAEP assessments and accountability systems that emphasize teacher support and development, including inspectorate-type structures.

Policy Advocacy

Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

As the Senate and the House move forward on draft legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, BBA urges our leaders to be faithful to the original civil rights orientation of the legislation. With child poverty at record high levels, and our social safety net tattered, the need has never been more critical for comprehensive supports that boost student ability to strive for high standards. Download the BBA statement here.

Problems with Test-Based Accountability

There is growing concensus that standards-and-accountability alone hasn't produced real gains, and that test-based evaluations are doing harm. See the April 2013 BBA report, Market-Oriented Reforms' Rhetoric Trumps Reality for an exploration of missteps and bad outcomes in three test-based reform pioneer cities. And see our fall 2013 report,  Mismatches in Race to the Top Limit Educational Improvement, for an analysis of how policies aimed at closing achievement gaps fail to tackle underlying opportunity gaps -- and consequences for districts, schools, and students.

Following up on Rhetoric Trumps Reality, BBA offers an evidence-based exploration of lack of gains in DCPS under Rhee-Henderson reforms and questions to ask when 2014 "proficiency" numbers are released.

Accountability Options

A growing number of school districts recognize the limitations of and potential harm from test-based teacher evaluations. Several have adopted Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) systems that employ experienced educators to observe, assess, and support novice and struggling teachers. The Harvard Graduate School of Education has a set of resources to help districts learn about and implement PARs. A recent study provides further insights and guidance based on two California districts’ use of PARs.

Turn Around Strategies

As states develop No Child Left Behind waiver plans, the BBA urges a holistic, rather than piecemeal approach to “turning around” troubled schools and an emphasis on improving instruction rather than firing teachers.

Other Docs/Resources

Share the BBA Principles

Demand reliable, holistic teacher evaluations that prioritize development over elimination. High-stakes testing has led to apparent widespread cheating in Pennsylvania, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. We need a Broader, Bolder Approach to Education!

Demand a stop to NCLB that goes beyond waivers. Great schools focus on whole-child enriching education, not tests. We need a Broader, Bolder Approach to Education!

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Broader, BOLDER Approach to Education

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