JOHNSON CITY (Feb. 25, 2013) – Programs and policies designed to improve student learning by holding schools accountable for performance on standardized tests are brought into serious question in a new book published by an East Tennessee State University professor.
Dr. Eric Glover is the author of The Myth of Accountability: What Don’t We Know?, published by Rowman & Littlefield Education. Glover is a professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis in the ETSU Claudius G. Clemmer College of Education, where he also coordinates the principal training program.
In his book, Glover challenges the idea that schools are failing and goes on to argue the opposite.
“Yes, there are failing schools serving children of poverty, but overall our schools have improved and continue to improve in spite of accountability measures that limit their ability to do so,” Glover said. “Today, our best classrooms and schools are organizations that should be emulated by business and other entities, and they are models of the learning organizations that enterprises strive to become. Sadly, accountability-based reform policies actually limit student and teacher learning.
“The educational reform movement has failed for nearly 30 years. It hasn't worked because it can't,” he said.
According to Glover, an examination of educational statistics reveals that the United States has some of the best and worst schools in the world. He believes the true “villain” behind school failure is poverty, and while schools can help overcome this problem, he says they cannot do it by themselves and they cannot do it with accountability-based reform.
He also states that accountability is contrary to the psychology of the complexity of human learning, describing it as entirely dependent on “carrots and sticks,” an assumption that all human behavior is based on external motivation.
“It is through individual internal motivation that true change, innovation and human progress will occur,” he said. “Reform mandates ignore the laws of systems science. Accountability is a management control device that limits system variety. It is a useful tool for producing standardized products, like automobiles and electronic devices, but is inappropriate for developing human beings.
“Accountability creates sameness at the expense of excellence,” he said.
Rather than emulating factory production techniques in schools, Glover believes that children are better served by recognizing that schooling is an extension of the first and most successful of all human organizations: the family. In The Myth of Accountability, he presents the “lead-teach-learn triad” or “LTL,” as a framework for understanding the ability of humans to learn from one another.
“Quite simply, humans are better leaders, teachers and learners than other creatures,” he said. “In truth, the foundation of all human organization and the common attribute found among all successful human ventures is two or more individuals engaged in an LTL relationship.
“The relationship between mother and child is the first such relationship encountered by each individual and the essential element behind the development of human civilization,” he said. “LTL represents a more realistic model for improving school than accountability mandates that characterize teachers as factory line operators and students as the objects they produce.”
“Open Inquiry” and “Developmental Empowerment” are two concepts Glover introduces as ways to improve LTL practices in schools and other organizations. Open Inquiry is a set of conversational tools for listening, valuing and respecting others that leads to learning. Developmental Empowerment is a research-based proposition for understanding human development as a function of the construction of learning.
“Eric Glover is an educational leader and scholar who truly ‘gets it’ in this time of radical change occurring in schools across our nation,” said Linda Stroud, director of schools for Greeneville City Schools. “He not only clearly defines the issues, but offers a workable solution for practitioners and school leaders. Educators should have two copies of this book...one to read and use, and one to give to a local or state policy maker.”
To learn more about The Myth of Accountability: What Don’t We Know? or to order a copy, visit www.rowman.com or call (800) 462-6420.