Measuring School Quality
Jack Schneider is a prolific author and speaker who examines how educators, policymakers, and the public develop particular views about what is true, what is effective, and what is important in education. He has a particular interest in strengthening public education by looking beyond standardized test scores.
He leads the Beyond Test Scores Project that works to strengthen public education and advance equity through more humane assessment. Schneider is also co-host of the Have You Heard podcast that explores the "age-old quest to finally fix the nation's public schools, one policy issue at a time."
Stanford University: Ph.D., Education
Stanford University: M.A., History
Haverford College: B.A., Political Science
Select Media Coverage (3)
What experts say parents should know before using school rating websites like Niche, GreatSchools
San Diego Union Tribune online
“All Niche is doing there is really reflecting demographic data in disguise,” said Jack Schneider, education professor at the University of Massachusetts and director of the university’s Beyond Test Scores Project. “They are ostensibly telling us about the quality of schools when they are really telling us about the privilege of neighborhoods.”
Should Mass. consider a ‘nuclear option’ for catching kids up in school? Here are 7 big ideas.
The Boston Globe online
Education historian Jack Schneider disagrees with the focus on standardized test scores and said teachers are already overextended, and communities should do more to support students through, say, summer and after-school programming and weekend enrichment. ”For me,” Schneider said, “the question is what then can we do to make sure that the supports that some students have access to outside of school are more evenly experienced by all students?”
The End of Scantron Tests
The Atlantic online
In 1900, roughly 10 percent of teens attended high school; by 1940, some 70 percent did. Colleges, too, were figuring out how to choose among much larger pools of applicants. It was no longer feasible for educators “to rely on their eyes and ears” to evaluate students, Jack Schneider, an education historian at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, told me. Schools and school districts needed data.
Select Publications (3)
Off the Mark: How Grades, Ratings, and Rankings Undermine Learning (but Don’t Have To)Harvard University Press (Book)
Jack Schneider, Ethan L. Hutt
Amid widespread concern that our approach to testing and grading undermines education, two experts explain how schools can use assessment to support, rather than compromise, learning. Anyone who has ever crammed for a test, capitulated to a grade-grubbing student, or fretted over a child’s report card knows that the way we assess student learning in American schools is freighted with unintended consequences. But that’s not all. As experts agree, our primary assessment technologies—grading, rating, and ranking—don’t actually provide an accurate picture of how students are doing in school. Worse, they distort student and educator behavior in ways that undermine learning and exacerbate inequality. Yet despite widespread dissatisfaction, grades, test scores, and transcripts remain the currency of the realm.
The disturbing state of racial diversity in Massachusetts public schoolsThe Washington Post
Jack Schneider, Peter Piazza, Ashley Carey and Rachel White
"Last month marked the 46th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Milliken v. Bradley decision, which marked the beginning of the end of school desegregation in the United States. In determining that school districts could not be compelled to integrate students across their borders, Milliken dramatically narrowed the promise of the 1954 Brown v. Board case. It made district boundaries the inviolable barriers that today do so much to separate young people from each other."
Beyond Test Scores: A Better Way to Measure School QualityHarvard University Press (Book)
When it comes to sizing up America’s public schools, test scores are the go-to metric of state policy makers and anxious parents looking to place their children in the “best” schools. Yet ample research indicates that standardized tests are a poor way to measure a school’s performance. It is time—indeed past time—to rethink this system, Jack Schneider says.