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By Ralph Martire
Whether it's the Beltway or Springfield, it seems increasingly difficult for elected officials to cross party lines and reach consensus on issues that really matter -- with one notable exception. Nearly everybody, liberal, conservative, or somewhere in between, supports holding public schools "accountable" for educating students. Unfortunately, broad consensus hasn't resulted in sound policy. Indeed, the accountability systems at both the federal and state levels are fundamentally flawed.
By now, most people are familiar with the largely discredited, high-stakes testing approach to accountability adopted under the federal "No Child Left Behind" legislation. Ostensibly to ensure all children -- irrespective of race, ethnicity or income level -- are learning, NCLB requires every school district in each state to demonstrate "adequate yearly progress" in student achievement on standardized tests. The glitch is, NCLB compares the performance of children currently in a specific grade to the performance of different students who were in that grade during the preceding year.