Defining Strong State Accountability Systems: How Can Better Standards Gain Greater Traction?

Rigorous standards and aligned assessments are vital tools for boosting education outcomes but they have little traction without strong accountability systems that attach consequences to performance. In this pilot study, Eileen Reed, Janie Scull, Gerilyn Slicker, and Amber Winkler lay out the essential features of such accountability systems, intended to add oomph to new common standards and aligned assessments. “Defining Strong State Accountability Systems” identifies six essential elements of effective systems:

  • Adoption of demanding, clear, and specific standards in all core content areas, and rigorous assessment of those standards;
  • Reporting of accessible and actionable data to all stakeholders, including summative outcome data and other formative data to drive continuous improvement;
  • Annual determinations and designations for each school and district that meaningfully differentiate their performance;
  • A system of rewards and consequences to drive improvement at the school and district levels;
  • A system of rewards and consequences to drive improvement at the individual student level; and
  • A system of rewards and consequences to drive improvement at the individual teacher and administrator level.
     

What distinguishes the report from previous work on this subject is that it insists that individuals—both students and adults—must be held accountable along with institutions. These elements were developed from in-depth analyses of the strengths and weaknesses of seven states’ accountability systems and provide a framework for Fordham’s future analyses of state accountability systems during the early years of Common Core's implementation. Download the study to learn more.