Federal education accountability policy is fundamentally flawed because it creates incentives for educators and other policy makers to:
• Ignore some critical curricular elements in favor of focusing all effort on raising the test scores of disadvantaged students in basic math and reading skills alone. This myopic focus widens the “achievement gap” in critical thinking, citizenship development, and other essential areas of education
• Ignore the need to strengthen early childhood education, families, and after-school programs by failing to include these supports in accountability calculations.
These two flaws conflict with President-elect Obama’s stated goals of broadening the curriculum and of investing in early childhood, family support, and after-school programs.
A lthough we should re-commit to a strenuous accountability policy in education, it is not clear how to correct the flaws in No Child Left Behind (NCLB ). As a consequence, we recommend a research and development effort to design a new accountability policy and avoid perpetuating the distortions created by NCLB.