Standards and Accountability


Standards and Accountability EPS 9610

October 20, 2020


The Pieces

Content Standards ->Curriculum ->Instruction ->Learning ->Assessment ->Accountability

The question: How do these pieces fit together?

Era of Reform

A Nation at Risk (1983)

America 2000 (1991)

Goals 2000: Educate America Act (1994)

Improving America’s Schools Act (ESEA, 1994)

No Child Left Behind Act (2001)

Race to the Top (2009)

Every Student Succeeds Act (2015)

Nation at Risk

Urged adoption of tougher standards

Stronger graduation requirements

More rigorous curriculum

Higher salaries for teachers

Improved teacher training

America 2000

Children will start school “ready to learn”

National graduation rate of 90%

Master of five core subjects before leaving 4th, 8th, and 12th grade

Lead the world in math & science

All American adults to be literate and prepared for work and citizenship

Every school safe and drug free

Goals 2000/ESEA (1994)

Build upon goals set under America 2000

States were required to create standards-based education system that would apply to all students

Standards in each grade

Tests to be administered to all poor children at least once in grades 3-5, 6-9, and 10-12.

NCLB (2001)

Increase accountability for student performance

Focus on what works

Reduce bureaucracy and increase flexibility

Empower parents

Theory of Action

What is the underlying “theory of action” for the following:

ESEA (1965)

NCLB (2001)

RTTT (2009)

ESSA (2016)

Theory of Action - NCLB

Holding schools and districts accountable for student performance

Concerned with the achievement gap – “the soft bigotry of low expectations”

Lack of funding and know-how in needy schools

Problems of poverty in society and larger culture

Dysfunctional school culture, lax system of governance, and no incentives for improving performance

In 2000, the average African American 12th grader was reading and performing math at approximately the same level as the average white 8th eighth grader

NCLB was primarily targeted towards addressing the third explanation for the achievement gap – need for external pressure focused on student achievement would motivate local education systems to reform

Critics argued that the accountability provisions were unlikely to channel political pressure in constructive ways; standardized tests are too crude for measuring student achievement; reliance on tests lead to “rigging” the system in the curriculum, test prep, and the tests themselves; the laws expectations of 100% proficient by 2014 are unrealistic which leads to inevitable failure; need for a coherent school system to be able to actually implement reform – i.e., low performing schools do not have the capacity to respond to external pressures.

Hold schools accountable for the performance of student subgroups

Challenging content standards

State assessments that mirror those standards

Annually test students to measure competency in the “core subjects” of math and reading

Key components for accountability (NCLB)

1) Academic standards (e.g., GLCEs)

- state developed -> transition to Common Core

2) Achievement standards (e.g., M-Step, Smarter Balance)

- proficiency levels


3)  Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)

- disaggregated by race/ethnicity, low income, special ed, ELL

4) Sanctions

- assistance/plans, corrective action, restructuring

Race to the Top

1) College & career readiness

-> common core standards & assessments

2) Improving teacher effectiveness 

-> reform teacher evaluation & compensation

3) Data systems to guide instruction

4) Turn around struggling schools

-> a) turnaround, b) restart, c) closure, or d) transformation  

5) Promote innovation

-> support expansion of charter schools; STEM programs; etc

Michigan Response to RTT

1) Reform failing schools (RSC 380.1280(c))

    -> identification of 5% lowest achieving schools

    -> under supervision of state reform officer

    -> choose one of 4 approved reform models

    ->  if plan does not work may be placed in EAA

2) Raised the dropout age to 18

3)  Teacher/Administrator evaluation/compensation reform (RSC 380.1249 & 1250)

4) Change to Teacher Tenure Act

5) Expansion of charter/virtual schools 

6) Change cut scores and move to Common Core

Common Core Standards

What are they?

Why do they exist?

What are the arguments for & against state adoption?

ESSA - Accountability

goodbye 100% proficient goal

identify 5% lowest performing schools for “comprehensive support”

identify high schools with grad rate <= 67% for “comprehensive support”

schools w/low-performing subgroup must implement “targeted intervention”

must assess 95% of all students


ESSA - Assessments

Annual assessment of students in grades 3-8, and one in high school, in math & English/language arts

May be delivered in part in form of projects, portfolios, and extended-performance tasks

At high school level, may implement nationally recognized tests

May set target limit for aggregate amount of time spent on assessment administration


ESSA – Teachers & Leaders

Eliminates HQT provision (no minimum bar for entry into the profession)

Districts required to describe how they will identify and address disparities in teacher quality (effectiveness, experience, qualifications) across student subgroups

States must collect and publicly report on these disparities

State must create plans to reduce these disparities

Districts must have mechanisms to inform parents regarding teacher professional qualifications

States must use fed PD funds to increase access to effective teachers for low-income students/students of color


Circling Back

Policy frameworks/models

How do we understand the process for passage of ESSA?

Policy Instruments

Accountability “mandates” remain, but why the softening?

Policy Implementation

More state and local discretion, more variation in implementation?

Policy Diffusion

Who will be the “thought” leaders?


Your district

Go to

Click on “Parent Dashboard” and/or “Student Assessment”

Find your district


Student proficiency on state assessments (district & individual schools – how much variation is there)

Graduation rates/Dropout rates

How do these vary by student subgroup?

How do these compare to other districts/schools in ISD and/or State?

FINALLY – what does this say about the “quality” of your school, administrators, teachers, etc?