How should we measure the quality of our schools? In his new book, “Beyond Test Scores: A Better Way to Measure School Quality,” Jack Schneider, assistant professor of education at the College of the Holy Cross, examines the use and abuse of standardized tests and offers an alternative vision of educational accountability for the nation’s schools.
Published by Harvard University Press, Schneider’s book seeks to challenge the test-and-punish regime in place since the passage of No Child Left Behind.
“The present assault on public education is often justified by policy makers who point to test scores as evidence of failure,” says Schneider. “But standardized tests measure very little of what a school actually does. Worse, they tend to tell us more about a school’s demography than about its programming.”
The book discusses work done by Schneider and his research team, who have developed a new framework to more comprehensively assess educational effectiveness and more accurately capture a broader array of school strengths and weaknesses. While providing a clearer picture of performance for parents, educators, and administrators, Schneider’s work also challenges common assumptions about what makes a good school.
“This project, at its core, is my effort to improve our conversations about school quality,” Schneider explains. “Too often we accept vague assertions about ‘good’ or ‘bad’ schools without asking basic questions like ‘good at what?’ or ‘based upon what evidence?'”
Through his research, Schneider shows that with more effective data in hand, those involved in public education — from policy makers and administrators, to educators and parents — can make better-informed decisions and work to take collective action together towards common goals.
“Beyond Test Scores” is Schneider’s third book, following “From the Ivory Tower to the Schoolhouse: How Scholarship Becomes Common Knowledge in Education” (Cambridge: Harvard Education Press, 2014) and “Excellence For All: How a New Breed of Reformers Is Transforming America’s Public Schools” (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2011).
Schneider also recently teamed up with journalist Jennifer Berkshire to talk about education policy in the Trump Era on their podcast “Have You Heard.” The podcast, which is available on both iTunes and SoundCloud, covers policy issues ranging from the rise of for-profit universities to the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers to corporate education reform.
Additionally, Schneider regularly serves as an expert on education in the media. See a selection of his contributions below:
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