James Paul Gee
Assessment in Education 10.1 (25-44) 2003
Publication year: 2003


Over the last few years, the issue of testing has been central to school reform efforts in the United States and a number of other countries (McNeil 2000). Standardized tests are used for what policy makers call “accountability”, that is, they are used to hold schools and teachers accountable for the achievement of all students, rich and poor alike. This testing and accountability agenda has often been tied to calls for a return to “basic skills” and even to scripted forms of instruction in reading, math, and science. The view of learning and assessment on which this whole agenda is based is a profoundly impoverished one. Worse, the agenda implies that if rich and poor children are simply exposed to the same texts and facts in school, they will all “pass the test” and problems of equity will thereby be taken care of.