ERIC Number: ED556473
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
Accountability and the Federal Role: A Third Way on ESEA
Darling-Hammond, Linda; Hill, Paul T.
Center on Reinventing Public Education
In summer of 2014, two groups of scholars and policy experts met separately to rethink educational accountability. These groups came from what most would consider different "camps" on school reform--one focused on transforming teaching for "deeper learning" and the other focused on choice as a means for leveraging school improvement. However, both were motivated by concern that accountability as enacted under No Child Left Behind had begun to create a strait jacket for schools that was undermining the goals of improvement and equity. At the same time, both groups felt it important to maintain the law's goals of focusing the nation on raising achievement for all children and closing the achievement gap. Both believed the federal government still must play a role in ensuring that states and localities work seriously and effectively to improve options for children at risk. The papers resulting from these separate sets of discussions agreed on many important points, including that: (1) Parents and the public need to know whether children are learning what they need to graduate high school, enter and complete four-year college, or get a rewarding, career-ladder job; (2) Student test scores can provide valuable information, but they should be used in combination with other valid evidence of school effectiveness and student progress (e.g., course completion, progress toward graduation, and more); (3) Assessment of schools should focus on meaningful learning, not just on what is easiest to test. Measures should be tightly linked to the knowledge and skills needed for college and career readiness, including students' abilities to learn and solve problems independently, and apply knowledge; (4) Because a student's level and pace of learning in any one year depend in part on what was learned previously and on the efforts of many professionals working together, the consequences of high and low performance should attach to whole schools, rather than to individual educators; (5) School leaders must have sufficient authority, flexibility, and resources to lead their schools and must take affirmative responsibility for fostering school-wide collaboration aimed at continuous improvement in teaching and learning; and (6) States and school districts must have and exercise multiple options when children learn at low rates that threaten their adult opportunities, including remedying resource shortfalls, supporting teacher and leader improvement, changing school staffing, redesigning or replacing chronically ineffective schools, assigning schools to new managers, and allowing families to choose other school options. This paper shows that these agreements have important implications for the design of accountability systems at the local, state, and federal levels, particularly: (1) The need for evidence, judgment, and action, used in combination to ensure that all children learn effectively and that schools continuously improve; (2) The importance both of testing with high-quality instruments used appropriately, and of considering multiple sources of evidence in judging student, educator, or school performance; (3) The need for sophisticated judgment systems that put data in context and weigh and balance evidence to determine constructive actions; (4) The need for a clear and sensible delineation of the roles of different levels of government; and (5) The need for continued capacity building and experimentation with approaches to accountability. This paper ends with five implications for the reauthorization of the "Elementary and Secondary Education Act" (ESEA).
Descriptors: Accountability, Educational Legislation, Federal Legislation, Elementary Secondary Education, Educational Change, Federal Government, Government Role, Educational Assessment, Public Education, Capacity Building
Center on Reinventing Public Education. University of Washington Bothell Box 358200, Seattle, WA 98195. Tel: 206-685-2214; Fax: 206-221-7402; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: http://www.crpe.org
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE); Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE)
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Elementary and Secondary Education Act; No Child Left Behind Act 2001