Accountability Frankenstein

Understanding and Taming the Monster

Sherman Dorn, University of South Florida

Published 2007

To understand the current moment in school accountability, one must understand the larger contradictions in education politics. Accountability Frankenstein provides a broader perspective on the school accountability debate by exploring the contradictions inherent in high-stakes testing. Accountability Frankenstein explains the historical and social origins of test-based accountability: the political roots of accountability, why we trust test scores while we distrust teachers, the assumptions behind formulaic accountability systems, and the weaknesses with the current carrot-and-stick approach to motivating teachers.

Accountability Frankenstein answers the questions of educators and parents who want to understand the origins of accountability. This book challenges the beliefs of fierce advocates and opponents of highstakes testing. It provides a rescue plan for accountability after the failures of high-stakes testing, a plan to make accountability smart, democratic, and real.

Acknowledgments. Preface. 1. The Political Origins of Accountability. 2. Trusting Tests. 3. How Trustworthy are Test Scores. 4. Setting up Goals and Failure. 5. Consequential Thinking. 6. A Better Way. References.

"The essay reviews the book and sketches an alternative route for ensuring educational accountability and for accomplishing the aspirations of NCLB. Don’t be put off by the histrionic title of the book (and try to temporarily suspend judgment on the histrionic title of the article). If you are in any way concerned with the status and future of US el-hi education, you owe it to yourself to read this book." Dick Schultz in Teachers College Record