Op-eds and Articles

Osborne for U.S. News & World Report: Holding Schools Accountable

By / 10.7.2016

School performance standards are outdated. Here are six ways we can improve them.

Because Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act last December, states are revamping their federally required systems to measure school quality and hold schools accountable for performance. But most are doing so using outdated assumptions, holdovers from the industrial era, when cookie-cutter public schools followed orders from central headquarters and students were assigned to the closest school.

Today we are migrating toward systems of diverse, fairly autonomous schools of choice, some of them operated by independent organizations. Before revising their measurement and accountability systems, states need to rethink their assumptions.

For instance, most states have assumed they should apply one accountability system to almost all public schools. Under the old No Child Left Behind Act, most of those measures were standardized test scores, and what counted was the percentage of students scoring proficient or better. When schools repeatedly failed to meet such standards, most states assumed the proper response was some minor form of restructuring required by No Child Left Behind – perhaps a new principal, perhaps some new teachers, perhaps some new money.

None of these assumptions will produce the schools our children need in the 21st century. The No Child Left Behind Act was an important step in its time, but it relied on the blunt tools most states used back in 2001: primarily achievement scores on standardized math and reading tests.

Read more at U.S. News & World Report.