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High-Stakes, Test-Driven Accountability Debated in New York Times

Kevin Welner, (303) 492-8370,

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BOULDER, CO (May 4, 2015) — A “Room for Debate” exchange, published this morning in the New York Times, brings into stark contrast the different directions policymakers can take U.S. schools in the upcoming years. The debate is between Patricia Levesque, the CEO of the Foundation for Excellence in Education and a long-time educational advisor to Jeb Bush, and University of Colorado Boulder Professor Kevin Welner, the director of the National Education Policy Center. Welner is the co-author of the recent publication calling for the nation to move beyond test-driven schooling.

Perhaps surprisingly, Levesque and Welner agreed on the importance of addressing opportunity gaps and on several specific approaches: recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers and principals “while giving them the resources to do their jobs,” a strong focus on K-3 literacy, maintaining high expectations for all students, and sustained investment in high-quality pre-K programs.

They vehemently clashed, however, on the issue of high-stakes, test-driven accountability policies. To read the debate, go to Room for Debate at the New York Times.


The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information on the NEPC, please visit