If the nation truly wants every child to graduate from high school ready for college and a career, it must hold schools responsible for that outcome. Accountability systems shine a light on school performance; create incentives for improvement; and direct resources to the schools and students that need them most.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides states with the opportunity and flexibility to create accountability systems that measure school performance comprehensively, while ensuring that the performance of individual student subgroups matters.
Specifically, under ESSA, states must now establish multiple-measure accountability systems that include
- student scores on annual assessments (with the option for including student growth based on annual assessments for high schools);
- English language proficiency;
- at least one indicator of school quality or student success;
- for elementary and middle schools, a “measure of student growth” or other academic indicator that allows for meaningful differentiation in student performance; and
- for high schools, graduation rates.
Going beyond a test score when assessing achievement provides more transparent and precise ways to continuously track performance, monitor accountability, and ensure the most at-risk students are not lost in the numbers.