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ERIC Number: EJ776560
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2002
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1539-9664
Randomly Accountable
Kane, Thomas J.; Staiger, Douglas O.; Geppert, Jeffrey
Education Next, v2 n1 p57-61 2002
The accountability debate tends to devolve into a battle between the pro-testing and anti-testing crowds. When it comes to the design of a school accountability system, the devil is truly in the details. A well-designed accountability plan may go a long way toward giving school personnel the kinds of signals they need to improve performance. However, a poorly designed scheme, which ignores the statistical properties of schools' average test scores, may do more harm than good. The recent debate over the reauthorization of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is a case in point. From his first days in office, President Bush promised to make education reform a centerpiece of his administration, using the reauthorization of the ESEA as an opportunity to give the state-led accountability movement a dramatic shove forward. Within six months of his taking office, both houses of Congress had passed bills that imposed new federal standards for the states' accountability efforts. However, both bills were seriously flawed. They created standards that, over time, would have identified nearly every school in the nation as "low performing," forcing them to spend precious resources developing unnecessary school-improvement plans. A tide of paperwork would have crowded out time for learning. This almost turned the most significant federal foray into education policy in decades into an embarrassment. Changes were made by a House-Senate conference committee, so the law, as enacted, remedied the most glaring problems, but created others. The saga illustrates the difficulties of designing an effective accountability system. After discussing these issues, the author present the results of research on schools in North Carolina that illustrate the importance of adhering to certain principles in designing accountability systems. (Contains 1 figure.)
Hoover Institution. Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-6010. Tel: 800-935-2882; Fax: 650-723-8626; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California; North Carolina
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Elementary and Secondary Education Act