Redefining Accountability to Treat Teachers and Leaders Like the Professionals They Are

How to Liberate School Accountability from High-Stakes Testing
Apr 13, 2017

For the last two decades, policymakers have understood “accountability” in K-12 education to mean something very specific: formal consequences for schools and/or educators based on student outcomes (typically test scores). Outcome-based accountability in the form of high-stakes testing has been the primary policy lever used to promote school performance. The Every Student Succeeds Act creates opportunities for policymakers to re-imagine accountability in schools—and not only by incorporating additional measures of student success into outcome-based accountability regimes. 

Accountability exists in other forms that are common outside of K-12 schooling. Elected officials are accountable through the ballot box. Bureaucrats are accountable through rules and regulations. Doctors and lawyers are accountable through professional standards. Consumer-serving firms are accountable through the market. In fact, school choice initiatives such as those promoted by the new administration can be viewed as efforts to inject more market-based accountability into schooling. As my co-authors and I discuss in a recent paper, these varied forms of accountability reflect the fact that, psychologically, accountability can be created in several different ways.

Read more on the Brookings Chalkboard blog.


The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not represent those of Mathematica.