- Transitioning accountability systems
- Implementing state and federal programs and policy
This session will present an overview of promising approaches to promoting improved academic achievement for low performing students (i.e. ‘equity’) in state accountability systems by analyzing the components prominently featured in state responses to the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility initiative. Leaders from Indiana, Georgia, and Utah will describe key aspects of their revised accountability systems to include: use of consolidated subgroups, evaluating achievement gaps, incorporating measures of growth, and combining measures into an overall index. Acknowledging that these accountability mechanisms present both opportunities and threats, suggestions to help guide evaluation of these practices are discussed.
Given its central prominence in education policy, the purpose of this session, is to provide an overview of contemporary approaches to emphasize equity in state accountability systems. Educational equity is based on the principles of fairness and justice, broadly referring to the aim of promoting improved academic achievement for low performing students.
The presenters will focus on approaches prominently featured in state responses to the federal ESEA flexibility initiative announced in September 2011. Accountability approaches examined include: consolidated subgroups, achievement gaps, growth, and mechanisms for combining measures into an overall index.
The session will begin by presenting summary information detailing the extent to which states have incorporated various approaches. This information is based on a paper co-authored by the lead presenter and moderator that included a thorough analysis of all state waiver applications.
Next, state leaders will chronicle their experiences designing and implementing innovative systems that promote equity in response to the ESEA waiver. In particular, Indiana will discuss the use of a performance based consolidated subgroup based on the lowest quartile. This approach is designed to increase inclusion of low performing students and promote gains for high needs students. Georgia will discuss how achievement gaps are incorporated in the system and how multiple indicators are combined into an overall index to provide a more complete portrait of overall school performance . Utah will discuss the incorporation of Student Growth Percentiles in the state comprehensive accountability system. Utah’s approach involves separate growth components for all students and below proficient students to emphasize improvement for the state’s most at risk students.
The session will conclude with an overview of the opportunities and threats associated with each of these approaches. In particular, an examination of the unique challenges associated with transition of the full state accountability system as states move to the common core will be discussed. That is, how can systems maintain coherence and emphasize equity as various indicators, such as the state assessments, are changing? This discussion will also include suggestions for ongoing research and evaluation in order study the impact of these important accountability innovations and suggest practices for the future.
This session will be most relevant to state leaders and those working to design and validate accountability systems that support federal policy. The framework of ‘equity’ is featured to keep the focus of accountability on meeting the intent of ESEA – improving the equality of educational opportunity for public school students in America.