Business groups like to focus “on bottom line gains in student achievement” because this is the way they run businesses. Business leader Edward Rust pointed out that in business it is necessary to “constantly monitor progress against projected results and actual returns”. Devolution requires schools to be accountable to government and for business this means there have to be measurable outcomes.
|National Reforms Testing Agendas Measurement? Surveys|
Test results are the main way of making schools accountable because they allow student achievement to be measured. This form of accountability has meant that head office public servants do not have to judge teaching methods, which would require educational professionals in senior positions, but instead judge outcomes in terms of aggregated scores in tests, sometimes supplemented by other measures such as absentee data and retention data – none of which require expertise in education.
Test results allow schools to be compared if you ignore the fact that test results more often reflect the social class of schools, the resources the school receives, and the socio-economic background of their students, than the educational qualities of a school. For test results to be used as a way of comparing schools, children have to sit the same tests, which means they must have a shared curriculum on which to be tested. A key element of accountability is therefore central control of a standardised curriculum to enable standardised testing. A standard curriculum also allows business to more easily influence what is taught in schools.
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