In her review of Stop High-Stakes Testing: An Appeal to America's Conscience by Dale D. Johnson et al., Luanna Meyer questions the premise that anyone can achieve "the American dream" through education. Specifically, she argues that the United States’ system of public schools and universities does not equal the playing field among the rich and the poor, and, in fact, public schools are just another place that allows poor children to fail. The book authors and reviewer alike sharply criticize the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), arguing that holding schools accountable via student test scores, without addressing fundamental issues of poverty, disparities in health care access, racism, funding inequities, etc., will only reflect what is already known—that children from middle-class and wealthy families will outperform poor children on standardized tests.
Should, as the book authors suggest, the NCLB be repealed and all forms of public school accountability based on testing be discontinued? What are the benefits, if any, of retaining NCLB? What are alternative approaches to school accountability that do not ignore historical, cultural, and societal inequities? On what basis should schools be held accountable, i.e., on math, science, and reading only or expanded to other subjects such as arts, music, critical thinking, etc.?
By Luanna H. Meyer
PsycCRITIQUES, 2009 Vol 54(11)