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.
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.
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.
As our nation’s premiere federal education law is considered for reauthorization, BBA calls on Congress to eliminate provisions in the most recent version, NCLB, that have resulted in narrowing of curricula and teaching to the test, employed unreliable measures to grade teachers, and increased federal control that limits state and local flexibility.
The BBA Task Force co-chairs suggest these principles to guide legislators as they debate new language.
BBA and its allies also remind legislators that terminology matters.