Building Coherent Post-NCLB Accountability Systems That Incorporate Multiple Components

Thursday, June 20, 2013: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Chesapeake D-E (Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center)
Content Strands:
  1. Transitioning accountability systems
  2. Balancing new assessment systems within a state
In this session, three experienced SEA staff who support accountability activities in their states discuss plans for ensuring coherent accountability systems that include federal-, state-, local-, and classroom-level components. Presenters include Race to the Top and NCLB flexibility grantees as well as members of various multi-state assessment consortia, each facing unique implementation challenges. Lessons learned from the NCLB era are shared that will support transition to a system with strategically selected, refined, and integrated components. Particular emphasis is placed on use of student achievement and academic growth data in a state’s comprehensive accountability system at every level.

Over the past ten years, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 has served as a catalyst for a number of key changes in state education agencies’ (SEAs) comprehensive accountability systems. But as states transition from NCLB-era accountability requirements to new and emerging expectations associated with ESEA redesign and reauthorization, they have taken critical steps to strengthen pre-existing state-level components, modify those at the federal- and local-levels as appropriate in their contexts, and add new components to specifically monitor the effectiveness of teachers and leaders in state schools in moving students at all grades toward college and career readiness. How are states managing the transition to new accountability systems? How are assessment and accountability directors, psychometricians, and policymakers working together to ensure alignment, balance, and coherence among the core components of a comprehensive accountability system?  In this session, representatives from three SEAs present their perspectives on meeting these challenges.

One presenting state, North Carolina, is an early Race to the Top awardee with an approved flexibility request and alliance to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium as a governing state. As such, it faces challenges in merging its strong state system with continuing NCLB-requirements while also seeking to quickly incorporate new measures of the effectiveness of teachers and leaders in tested and non-tested grades and subjects. A second state, Alaska, is in the process of revising its high stakes assessments to measure newly adopted rigorous content standards and considering the benefits—and drawbacks—of incorporating multi-state (consortium) accountability to its system. It also is investigating strategies for adding measures of teacher effectiveness in its system to meet NCLB waiver expectations. Nevada, the third state, has been granted NCLB flexibility and is transitioning to a system that capitalizes on the promising elements of its state accountability component while ensuring coherence with its revised school and emerging classroom-level accountability components. This state also is a governing member of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and is actively engaged in discussions with stakeholders about the implications of accountability at this level. Each of these state leaders brings to this session valuable lessons learned about introducing, managing, and surviving significant change related to its accountability system. Each will describe the combination of strategies and supports it is using or plans to use to enlist buy-in from diverse stakeholder groups such as institutions of higher education, business and industry, policymakers, educators, and parents.

Presenters’ comments will be framed around the core principles developed by the CCSSO-convened Next Generation State Accountability Taskforce for promoting college and career readiness for all students. Within their unique context, each state representative will discuss strategies for identifying promising practices; ensuring targeted support for schools, students, and teachers with greatest need; and effective data use for accountability and continuous system improvement purposes. Session attendees also will receive links to other valuable resources to support transition to next generation multi-level accountability systems.