ERIC Number: ED564139
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Jan-7
Reference Count: N/A
Called to Account: New Directions in School Accountability. Quality Counts. Education Week. Volume 35, Number 16
Edwards, Virginia B., Ed.
For the past decade and a half, the fight to improve America's schools has been fought largely on two fronts: academic standards as one battleground, and accountability the other, with the issue of mandatory testing adding heat to a very public--and increasingly politicized--debate. The questions for policymakers and educators are as direct as they are complex: What should students be expected to learn, how should we measure what they've learned, and what should be the consequences when they don't achieve as expected? Even as disputes rage over standards and assessments in light of the Common Core State Standards, accountability has become entangled with a host of its own political, practical, and educational issues. For some, the very term "accountability" is synonymous with testing--especially mandated, federally driven assessments like those enshrined in the now-defunct No Child Left Behind Act and its successor, the Every Student Succeeds Act. Accountability is also bound up with the question of consequences: for schools that are subject to state accountability systems; for teachers, whose pay and job security can be linked to students' test scores; and for students themselves, whose promotion and even graduation can hinge on how they fare in the assessment world. At the same time, pressure mounts for schools and districts to include a variety of non-academic factors, such as school climate, in the accountability equation. This year's 20th edition of "Quality Counts" takes a deep look at issues surrounding educational accountability and how the changes being ushered in by what's widely seen as a scaling back of the federal government's policy footprint are putting newfound autonomy and opportunities for innovation in the hands of states and school districts. "Education Week" reporters traveled to schools and districts on both coasts to examine the changing face of state and local accountability approaches. They explored how those strategies can give a more fleshed-out portrait of school effectiveness and their potential to support and improve schools and struggling students. Over the years, "Quality Counts" has examined issues as diverse as standards, testing, teaching, English-language learners, international competitiveness, school climate, and the impact of the Great Recession on schools and districts. The snapshots from those reports highlighted in Quality Counts 2016 offer historic perspective and have continuing relevance in the education policy debate. One key takeaway from this year's results on the Chance-for-Success Index, with its cradle-to-career perspective: While the nation as a whole saw some small gains at either end of the arc--early childhood and outcomes for adults--it posted a dip in results in the crucial K-12 time of life. The multifaceted K-12 achievement indicator, which is based heavily on the NAEP scores as well as Advanced Placement tests and high school graduation rates and is updated biannually in line with NAEP's reporting schedule, yielded a C-minus for the nation as a whole, the same grade as two years ago, the last time the indicator was produced. Lastly, this year's report once again offers detail on how K-12 funding is allocated throughout the states and what that says for the nation as a whole. Overall, the U.S. earned a C in the area of school finance, based on 2013 data, the most recent available. The analysis found that in general, states did better in terms of how equitably they distributed their funds than they did on overall funding. Articles in this issue include: (1) Path to Accountability Taking Bold New Turns (Allyson Klein); (2) Policy Hammers (Stephen Sawchuck); (3) Highlighting NCLB-ERA Research (Sarah D. Sparks); (4) Student Achievement in the Era of Accountability; (5) Quality Counts at 20; (6) Moving Beyond Just Academics as a Way to Assess Effectiveness (Evie Blad); (7) At a Los Angeles School, Carving Safe Spaces to Share and Learn (Evie Blad); (8) States Collaborate in Pursuit of Fresh Accountability Ideas (Andrew Ujifusa); (9) In School Turnaround Efforts, Massachusetts Enlists Districts (Alyson Klein); and (10) Measuring up: Latest Scorecard Puts States, Nation to the Test.
Descriptors: Educational Quality, Accountability, State Government, Local Government, Government Role, Educational Change, Educational Policy, Educational Legislation, Federal Legislation, Educational Research, Evaluation Methods, Educational Environment, School Turnaround, School Districts
Education Week. Available from: Editorial Projects in Education, Inc.. 6935 Arlington Road Suite 100, Bethesda, MD 20814-5233. Tel: 800-346-1834; Tel: 301-280-3100; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: http://www.edweek.org/info/about/
Publication Type: Collected Works - Serial
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California; Massachusetts
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001