Imagining Alternatives: The Educational and Public Nature of Assessment


  • Viki L. Montera



;Assessment and accountability are words that have become synonymous with standardized testing. This view has narrowed the curriculum and limited the na-ture of learning and schooling experiences for children. This narrow focus has also driven educational practices away from ideas found in current learning theory. The following case study illustrates one school’s effort to ex-pand assessment and accountability activities, to bring assessment practices in line with recommendations in the learning and assessment research literature and to encourage dialogue throughout the school community regarding the school’s program and students’ learning. Using a narrative constructed from data from one of the school’s assessment activities, the author, who was also serving as the school principal at the time of the event, discusses the complexities and potential of making stu-dent learning public and involving the public in assess-ment. Creating a public forum to explore ideas and con-ceptions about schooling and learning among adults and children links school accountability to awareness and understanding of school purposes and pedagogy. This democratic aspect of assessment and accountability may hold power to influence school reform and imagine educational alternatives beyond the reliance and accep-tance of standardized testing as the gold standard.