The Outcome of Assessment


Perhaps because we have come to assess businesses through the “bottom line,” that is, through numbers, we have begun to feel that everything can and should be quantifiable. We put grades on restaurants, as though a spot check can really tell us how safe the food is to eat (it can’t). We put grades on doctors and on teachers, believing we can place a numeric (the grades result from numbers) value on complex interactions affected by factors outside of the control of patients and doctors, students and teachers.

We think we can tell “best” from “worst” through assessable “outcomes” that might (and do) include such things as success rates in surgery or on standardized tests.

Albert Schweitzer would certainly rank among the “worst” doctors in terms of outcomes. Of course, he was working in what amounted to crisis situations… but that wouldn’t matter to the numbers. Maria Montessori, if she…

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