Stakeholder Starting Points

Is the accountability movement heading in right direction?

Local Leaders
& Administrators

Nine in ten principals agree that, ultimately, the principal should be held accountable for everything that happens in the school. But many administrators say that accountability measures, such as standards and testing need to be refined. One explained: “The reform movement is happening at such a quick pace that it’s nearly impossible for us to keep up with it and inform our community in a way that makes sense and is meaningful and valuable for them.” A New York superintendent complained of a lack of dialogue on how to implement accountability: "This department of education knows where it’s headed, has no interest in our concerns and is determined to pursue its course with laser like focus.… I'd have to say that the policies have been much more counterproductive than useful."


Research shows that teachers have questions about the extensive use of standardized testing, especially as a means for measuring student achievement. Many say it has some value, but is not the best way to measure student achievement and should not be used without other types of assessment. “Accountability means you have to answer to them, and they have to answer to somebody,” a teacher told us. “I try to ignore that as much as possible, so I can get back to teaching."

Parents & The Broader Public
Earlier research has found broad support for many of the basic elements of accountability — having students meet higher standards and making sure all students succeed and that principals and teachers are effective in their jobs. But support for specific accountability measures has begun to slip. And even though 45 states have adopted the new Common Core curriculum as a way to ensure that US students meet world class standards, recent polling shows that more than half of parents haven’t even heard of it. Among those who are familiar with it, fewer than half think it will improve the quality of education.

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