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Askwith Essentials: Pass/Fail: How Test-Based Accountability Stacks Up

In the year since the signing of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states and districts have been rethinking their accountability rules, and many are questioning the relationship between testing and accountability. Has test-based accountability helped improve student learning? What do we want to measure in our schools? On Monday, December 5, at 6 p.m., a collection of researchers and policymakers will gather at the Harvard Graduate School of Education to tackle these questions and more in the second event in the Askwith Forum Debates series.

Debate Prep

The Basics

  • Some critics of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) claimed that too great a focus on standardized test scores causes undue stress on students and teachers and leads to poor instruction.
  • Supporters of test-based accountability argue that the problem with NCLB was not with performance measurement through testing, but with what indicators are measured.
  • ESSA, the law that replaced NCLB, still mandates test-based accountability, but offers states more freedom to choose their own mix of assessments and indicators.

Panel Speakers

  • Mitchell Chester, Ed.M.'88, Ed.D.'91, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Rebecca Holcombe, Ed.M.'90, Ed.D.'16, Secretary of Education, Vermont 
  • Thomas Kane, Walter H. Gale Professor of Education and Economics, HGSE
  • Daniel Koretz, Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Education, HGSE

Moderator: Andrew Ho, Professor of Education, HGSE

Event details:

Monday, December 5, at 6 p.m.

Askwith Hall, Longfellow Hall

13 Appian Way

Cambridge, MA, 02138

NOTE: Seating is first-come, first-seated.

This event will be live streamed at