The Accountability Movement

"Accountability makes no sense when it undermines the larger goals of education" (Ravitch, 2010, p. 16).

A Failing Nation

  • Lynne V. Cheney attacked history standards (1994)
  • Claimed there were inadequate references to the nation's great men
  • Opened debate dealing with what history should be taught
  • President Clinton disowned the standards, lead to states aquiring the power to create their own standards
  • Ravitch believes "tests should follow curriculum," not the other way around
  • "A well-educated person has a well-furnished mind, shaped by reading and thinking about history, science, literature, the arts, and politics" (Ravitch, 2010, p. 16)

State Owning Standards

  • Vague standards, "windy rhetoric, devoid of concrete descriptions of what studens should be expected to know and able to do" (Ravitch, 2010, p.19)
  • Teachers rely on textbooks (some created by standardized test companies)
  • Test & textbooks equipped with low standards
  • Colleges reported students were not prepared
New York Daily News (http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/city-new-teacher-evaluation-system-article-1.1360933

No Child Left Behind

  • Market driven
  • Accountability of students and teachers
  • High-stake tests
  • Data-driven
  • Charter schools, deregulation and privatizations
  • Competitions between schools
  • NCLB "sidestepped the need for any standards," while standards set in 1983 were valued (Ravitch, 2010, p. 30)

President Obama

  • Assumed he would appoint Darling-Hammond, campaign advisor on education & Stanford Graduate, advocate of Teach for America
  • Media pressured for a "real reformer," a person who supported "testing, accountability, and choice" (Ravitch, 2010, p. 22)
  • President Obama appointed Arne Duncan, created the Race to the Top
  • The Common Core

The Common Core

  • Claimed to be bipartisan
  • Focuses on math and reading
  • Standards built to create college minds
  • Teachers helped frame and create the standards and objectives
  • Competitive state system
  • 43 states adopted the Common Core while some have repealed it

Nation at Risk

  • Report, not mandate, created by the National Commission of Excellence in Education (1983)
  • Response to radical social reforms of 1960s and 1970s
  • SAT scores had fallen over a decade, created higher standards for college
  • Considered "positively idealistic, liberal, and prescient" compared to the NCLB
  • Recommendations for:
  1. Stronger high school graduates
  2. High academic standards
  3. More time for homework
  4. High teacher standards & salaries
  • Five New Basics:
  1. 4 years - English
  2. 3 years - Science
  3. 3 years - Social Studies
  4. 1/2 year - Computer Science
  5. 2 years - Foreign Language

Ever Heard of Pearson?


1)Ravitch presents the section, Where did Education Reform Go Wrong, using support from the text what are some key problems with Education Reform.

2)According to Ravitch, what was the goal of A Nation at Risk (ANAR)? Compare and contrast ANAR with No Child Left Behind and explain some of the similarities and problems with each reform.

3)When did the "great hijacking" in education occur? what caused it? and what can be done in order to improve education?


Ravitch, D. (2010). The Death and Life of the Great American School System. Philadelphia, PA: Basic Books.

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