For the last few years, “accountability” has been a central term in policy conversations regarding improving education outcomes. But accountability in education is still a relatively new policy arena for state government and for the Feds. Not long ago, education was all local, with no thought that anyone else had a role in accountability. Evidence of student success was largely the province of teachers.
When policy leaders began to realize that education was an economic issue, not just a social one, education moved to the state and federal policy platforms that were formerly occupied only by advocates for civil rights for minorities, the poor and disabled students. Now it is about all kids, not just “those” kids.
There has been resulting confusion for the last 20 years about who is accountable for what and to whom. While there are thousands of pieces of evidence with regard to student performance, we have not been clear on which ones ought to matter, to whom they should matter, and who is responsible. There was, and still is, a tendency to assume that the teacher is responsible for all of it, illustrating a lack of profound respect for teaching, as I discussed in my previous post. It’s assumed that everyone else - from the principal to the president of the United States - just supervises. We should think a little differently.
Instead, a useful principle may be “shared accountability.” The key question is, “What support is necessary to achieve the desired student performance?”
Certainly teachers and parents have the first line of responsibility, but who supports them? Who supports the administrators? Who supports the districts? Shouldn’t accountability for performance be shared across all of these?
If we acknowledge that governors and legislators have a role with responsibility for economic indicators like unemployment, why are they not partly responsible for education indicators? MORE