Assessment Policy and Political Spectacle
by Mary Lee Smith, Walter Heinecke & Audrey J. Noble — 1999
This paper relates the history of assessment policy in Arizona based on an extensive base of interview, observation, and archival data. In less than a decade, two radical shifts took place, from basic skills and standardized testing to progressive reform by performance testing to high-stakes standardized testing based on state standards. We argue that the shape of assessment policy and policy change had more to do with political spectacle (Edelman 1988) and the struggle for power, position, resources, and the control over public schools than with empirical or rational analysis, moral imperative or democratic debate.
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