Toward a K-12 Education Accountability System in Washington State

Published In: Toward a K-12 education accountability system in Washington state (Seattle, WA : Center on Reinventing Public Education, University of Washington, Dec. 1997)

Posted on RAND.org on December 01, 1997

by Paul T. Hill, Robin J. Lake

This report sketches a strong and unique accountability system for Washington State, one that is driven by measurements of student performance and incentives to improve, creates clear lines of responsibility, gives every school a chance to perform and improve, employs powerful incentives, and doesn't stop until every child is in a good school. This proposed system meets the standard that all education reform efforts must meet, the "Are we serious test": Are we serious enough to make public real measures of student performance, free of adjustments that shield some schools and school districts from embarrassment? Are we serious enough to create a system in which all actors have clear responsibilities and no one can shrink from acknowledging the connections between their efforts and student achievement? Are we serious enough to reject meaningless slogans in favor of a clear-eyed look at what our schools need if they are to perform? Are we serious enough not to let any adult off the hook until every child has a chance to attend a good school? A system that massages numbers to hide discrepancies in performance, or places some children at risk of failure because it fears making demands on adults, is not serious. Nor is a system based on the slogan, "everyone is responsible for student achievement," without also saying who is responsible for what, and with what consequences. The authors here suggest a system in which the whole community, including business and private sector assistance providers, has a role in improving Washington's schools.

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