Accountable to Our Students – Accountable to Their Communities

Every day, teachers are being pressured to compete with each other and push their students over the testing precipice, all in the name of accountability—a word that has become corporate-speak for test, test, test.

On a very different trajectory, Rethinking Schools has assembled two new books that focus on what teachers are really accountable for: the learning, empowerment, and well-being of their students. In this section of the magazine, we are honored to offer five new articles from those books:

A Message from a Black Mom to Her Son” and “Writing for Justice: Persuasion from the Inside Out” are included in Rethinking Elementary Education . Edited by Linda Christensen, Mark Hansen, Bob Peterson, Elizabeth Schlessman, and Dyan Watson, this is a collection of the finest writing about elementary school life and learning from 25 years of Rethinking Schools magazine. The book offers practical insights into how to integrate the teaching of content with a social justice lens, how to seek wisdom from students and their families, and how to navigate stifling tests and mandates.

About Those Tests I Gave You,” “Testing Our Limits,” and “Playing Smart: Resisting the Script” are included in Pencils Down: Rethinking High-Stakes Testing and Accountability in Public Schools , edited by Wayne Au and Melissa Bollow Tempel. Pencils Down pulls together Rethinking Schools’ sharpest critiques of high-stakes testing and the accountability movement, offering concrete ways to resist the tests as well as visionary examples of authentic assessments.

More than ever, we need stories of teaching and learning—and accountability—that offer alternatives to the punitive and profit-driven schemes of the corporate reformers. As the articles in these two books demonstrate, schools can produce learning, joy, and justice, not simply higher test scores.