The Best Article About Tenure Ever, Explaining Campbell Brown’s Law

Diane Ravitch's blog

We all know, or should know, about Campbell’s Law. That is a social science axiom that says:

“The more any quantitative social indicator (or even some qualitative indicator) is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.”

The short translation: the more you measure people and tie high-stakes to the measurement, the more likely they are to make the measurement the point of their activity, which distorts the activity. Campbell’s Law explains why teachers teach to the test or even cheat, because so much is riding on achieving high test scores. So teachers forget about everything other than test scores, such as citizenship, character, ethics, and so on.

Arthur Goldstein, who teaches high school ESL in New York City, here explains how Campbell’s Law has been…

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