Accountability without standardized tests?

I love this story from KQED about a school district in Colorado, because it is an example of local educational officials showing leadership when it comes to challenging our high-stakes standardized testing culture.  The Douglas County School District, outside Denver, is advocating the use of performance-based assessments, which test not only what children know, but how they use what they know.  District officials in Douglas County are not trying to avoid accountability, or even do away with standardized tests altogether.  But, they recognize that a focus on one year-end test can narrow the curriculum, constrain teaching, and inhibit student learning.

Most inspiring to me is the acknowledgement from the lead district official in Douglas County that the positive aspects of the new Common Core standards will be lost if the focus on standardized testing continues:  “While she finds the Common Core State Standards promising as an outline of the skills students should learn, she worries that if the implementation boils down to focus on how schools do on the assessments, then all the effort will end up looking a lot like the last 14 years of high-stakes testing.”  Indeed.