I don't know where this fits, but for accountability we need full and open school audits.
Visits from a team that includes folks from the state capital and working educators. They will visit the school, have free rein to walk in and out of any classroom, to examine records, curriculum, watch teachers in action, interview students and faculty and parents.
I fully agree that "Just take our word for it" is not an accountability system. Neither is "Prove yourself with paperwork." You want to see if somebody is doing their job-- go look.
The audit team visits for a week and makes an evaluation of the school's strength and weaknesses, creating a full description of the school's impact on children and the state of the children it is serving. Look at all the items mentioned in the first part of the proposal, including student health and well-being, breadth and depth of programs, effectiveness of the staff, degree to which school is meeting the needs of the children and community.
Response to First Replies
Imagine my delight to wake up this morning and find my plan had already been looked at. I can already taste-- what are we getting for this, Mike? Money? Fame? A box of fudge?
@mpolikoff @palan57 Fair enough but also clarifying. It shows that #ESSA doesn't allow "anything goes" or the evisceration of accountability— Michael Petrilli (@MichaelPetrilli) January 14, 2016
It's true that my plan may not meet the letter of the ESSA. I'm okay with that. And I'm not sure what Polikoff's objection is-- not enough hard numbers? Too many things outside the test? How exactly does my plan eviscerate accountability?
But this exchange reminds me that the ESSA leaves me with the same old question about accountability-- accountable to whom, and for what?
Because the answer in ESSA, buried in some new language, seems to be the same old "accountable to the federal government for test scores." Except that the feds can no longer be specific about how the scores should look and what happens if you "fail," making ESSA vaguer and unlikely to satisfy literally anybody at all except test manufacvturers.
Because any accountability system that is based on standardized testing materials produced and assessed on a large scale and covering only a sliver of the school program-- that's an accountability system that's a piece of useless crap, like checking the health and well-being of an elephant by analyzing its toenail clippings. Not completely and utterly useless-- just mostly useless, and a waste of resources.
So the challenge for any accountability system under ESSA will be to design a system that can co-exist with the federal regulations that mandate measures that don't provide accountability at all.
Look-- we know this! We've been doing the kind of test-based accountability called for by ESSA for over a decade, and it has accomplished absolutely bupkus other than to provide marketing fodder for the charter-based privatization of public schools, which in turn has also produced bupkus in terms of improving education. We have been trying test-based accountability and it does not work.
I would love to see real accountability for schools. But a test-based rating system is not it. So to have real accountability, we're going to have to do more than put lipstick on that pig-- we're going to have to bury that pig way inside some other structure, maybe slaughter and cook that pig and feed it to a lion.
Sure, there are nuts and bolts to work out, but I'm not giving that stuff away for free! I need something to start my consulting business with.
Okay, I'm done now. When you're ready, let me know, and I'll tell you where to send my check. Or the fudge.