Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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Preface

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pp. vii-x

Some time ago—in the eighth grade, I believe—I came to a sort of epiphany about U.S. politics. Reflecting on “I’m Just a Bill” from the America Rock Saturday morning educational series on ABC, I decided (for the purpose of realism) that Bill, our cartoon legislative friend trying to become a law, should be surrounded by ninety or so expired...

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1. The Best-Laid Plans

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pp. 1-24

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Samuel W. King, the newly appointed superintendent of the Portland, Oregon, schools, wanted results. Eager to improve his town’s public education, King turned to standardized tests. He initiated a comprehensive system of test-based accountability, publishing the test results in the local newspapers...

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2. The Problem of Quality

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pp. 25-45

What, exactly, do teachers and principals do with and for children when they are at school? Parents send their children to school for the better part of their waking lives but rarely have much of an idea about what has happened at the critical interface between their minds and the variety of experiences they encounter and in which they have...

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3. Making the Grade (or Not): Success and Failure in NCLB’s World

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pp. 46-73

On a cool August day at the 2003 Minnesota State Fair, Republican governor Tim Pawlenty helped a South St. Paul fifth-grader named Jeremy look up his school’s brand-new report card on the Internet. Calling the program Accountability on a Stick—in reference to the fact that people attending the Minnesota State Fair can find almost...

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4. Top-Down and Bottom-Up: NCLB, Charter Schools, and the Public School Principalship

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pp. 74-106

Accountability systems based on cross-sectional test score results tell us much more about the race, ethnicity, and resource inequalities of students than about the underlying quality of the schooling. But it is also true that leadership can matter to academic achievement, even when measured with an instrument as blunt as aggregate test scores. ...

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5. Rethinking Assessment

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pp. 107-129

The results of the analyses in the previous chapters provide cause for concern but also for hope. Unfortunately, identification under No Child Left Behind appears to be related mostly to factors that principals and teachers cannot control. Identification also appears to produce the kinds of unfortunate bureaucratic responses that the theory...

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6. Carrots, Sticks, and Unbroken Windows: Making NCLB Live Up to Its Promises

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pp. 130-150

The measurement of educational quality is as messy and complicated as education itself. But it is not impossible, and it would be a mistake to wave our hands and assume that No Child Left Behind cannot be fixed. The law undoubtedly constitutes a flawed vehicle, but it makes the kinds of promises to our most disadvantaged ...

Appendix: Supplementary Tables

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pp. 151-168

Notes

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pp. 169-187

References

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pp. 189-199

Index

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pp. 201-206