Accountability games

Assessment and data is confusing everyone, often because it is based on a lazy and silly use of data to predict and ratchet up grades. It is curious how it keeps coming back and it is the same question.

Art teachers don’t understand the basis of the data and so they are unable to develop strategies to engage with it. They keep on hitting their heads on the wrong brick wall.

SLT may, or may not, understand the basis of the data but they don’t care anyway because they just need leverage to impose higher targets in the name of accountability. “We are going to motivate our teachers by challenging them to do better.” Is about as far as they go.

The sad issue is that the assessment structure based on the silly use of data completely undermines the credibility and integrity (reliability and validity) of assessment practice in the classroom. It makes the assessment strategies children and teachers use to raise standards unfit for purpose, but nobody cares because the system (or spreadsheet) is  based on data and so must be right.

I used to think that art teachers can be supported by good explanations about what the data means and how it might be used properly i.e. combining it with professional teacher assessment, discussing and agreeing personal, realistic and challenging targets. It won’t stop art teachers being forced to do silly things but at least they will be able to explain to SLT the real reasons why it is silly.

Papers about targets and assessment were written, a few years ago, to support and inform the department v SLT dialogue about targets. They are still pertinent and can be found by searching ‘assessment’ here. But I am surprised that the questions are still being asked and it seems with an ever increasing air of desperation as logic left the building some time ago. It seems that it is OK for managers to parrot slogans and half truths to justify their accountability games. Well that may be OK for American presidents but it shouldn’t be OK in our school system.

About Dan

Senior Advisor, Art Inspector, Member of the Expert Advisory Group for Art, Consultant working with NSEAD, IOE, QCA, UCE, UOG. Currently lecturer at UCL working on a project in Kazakhstan to develop text books for a new art curriculum.
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