It's official: Federal policymakers across the political spectrum are finally willing to admit that Congress overreached when it passed No Child Left Behind and put Uncle Sam in the driver's seat on education accountability. First there was (Republican) Senator Lamar Alexander's proposal to get the feds out of the business entirely, save for requirements around the worst five percent of schools. Then there was (Democratic) President Obama's waiver package, which allows states to make a pitch for their own approach to accountability. And, this week, there's the (bipartisan) Harkin-Enzi bill, authored by the chairman and ranking member (respectively) of the Senate education committee, which, well, it's hard to tell exactly what it does, but it surely reduces the federal footprint around accountability. (Try making sense of the convoluted bill yourself. And quick?the mark-up is next week.)
[pullquote]Could we be watching the beginning of the end for the accountability movement in toto?[/pullquote]
But if the debate around the federal role in accountability is coalescing, a much bigger question remains wide open: Could we be watching the beginning of the end for the accountability movement in toto?
One harbinger might be California Governor Jerry Brown's veto of a bill to tweak his state's accountability system by adding ?multiple-measures? to a test-score laden index. Brown's complaint wasn't the multiple measures per se, but the notion of data-based accountability writ large. ?Adding more speedometers to a broken car,? he wrote, ?won't turn it into a high-performance...