| Volume 61 | Number 3
The Challenges of Accountability
EL Study Guide
The November 2003 issue of Educational Leadership on “The Challenges of Accountability” offers opportunities to debate diverse views of recent accountability measures and to discuss how to respond effectively to these accountability measures in classrooms, schools, districts, and states.
How has No Child Left Behind affected your classroom, school, district, or state? Begin by sharing briefly—in person or in writing—how the new legislation has affected a specific educational practice in your professional life and your assessment of how accountability measures are influencing instruction and student achievement.
After reading the articles by No Child Left Behind critics Richard F. Elmore (“A Plea for Strong Practice,” p. 6) and James Harvey (“The Matrix Reloaded,” p. 18) and its defenders Craig Jerald (“Beyond the Rock and the Hard Place,” p. 12) and Frederick M. Hess (“The Case for Being Mean, p. 22), assign the defense of each author's views to different people in your group and conduct a debate on the effectiveness of the accountability measures of No Child Left Behind. After the debate, evaluate whether the diverse views have altered or refined in any way your assessment of No Child Left Behind and of accountability in general. Individuals in your group may want to submit 100- to 300-word statements of their views to Educational Leadership for possible inclusion in the “Your Turn” column (see the sidebar in the article by Richard Elmore).
Richard Elmore encourages the practice of teachers, principals, and superintendents working together to develop “a common theory of improvement” (p. 9). Only then, he says, can educators reach the kind of internal accountability that also, coincidentally, helps schools do well with external accountability measures. He describes internal accountability as
consensus on norms of instructional practice, strong internal assessments of student learning, and sturdy processes for monitoring instructional practice and for providing feedback to students, teachers, and administrators about the quality of their work” (p. 9).
Plan a series of meetings for teachers and administrators at all levels to work together on creating effective consensus, assessments, monitoring, and feedback in your school or district within the next six months. Establish a date on which to report on your progress.
Craig Jerald suggests creating “a culture of problem solving” (p. 15). Citing the issue of homework, he points out that many teachers complain that parents of low-income students don't have the skills to help students with their homework. Jerald asks, “Are there other approaches to arranging extended practice and reinforcement activities that work for all students?” (p. 16). Brainstorm ways in which your school or district can implement creative approaches to homework that benefit all students and then set up a plan for implementing one of the approaches.
Michael D. Retting, Laurie L. McCullough, Karen Santos, and Chuck Watson (“A Blueprint for Increasing Student Achievement,” p. 71) suggest a three-step process for developing internal accountability: pacing guides, formative assessments, and regular meetings to monitor progress. Meet to discuss how to implement these three strategies as a pilot program in a specific subject area for the second half of this school year.
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Copyright © 2003 by Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development