Back to top

Key Facts

Why Testing and Accountability Matter in K–12 Education
A Data Hole
In the wake of COVID-19, school closures and the testing hiatus have created an education “data hole,” leaving parents and educators without essential information about how students are doing, who is falling behind, and which schools need urgent attention. That needs fixing, starting with the Biden administration’s handling of school accountability under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
Not Entirely Objective
Policy makers must choose metrics that track progress for criteria within the school’s control and in ways that cannot be manipulated. Not all metrics are as objective as they seem. Graduation rates, for example, may be manipulated if schools promote students who haven’t met all their requirements. Other metrics, like attendance rates, are important to track, because less instruction time means less learning.
Transparency Is Key
Reporting standards must improve. Transparency is key. State grading systems for schools should be easily grasped by parents and set up to easily compare schools across the district and state—and beyond. Results should show both proficiency and growth. Monitoring achievement growth encourages teachers to pay attention to all students, no matter their current level of performance.
The Greatest Test
Improvements to transparency on achievement paired with greater accountability will help schools recover from the challenges imposed by the pandemic. But we also need those tests to resume—beginning in 2021.