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Standards and Accountability

By Elizabeth Cryan Photography with permission from Donnell-Kay Foundation at Rocky Mountain Prep school

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Student- and school-based accountability systems can set a baseline for what students should know, but they are also an equity tool, creating the same expectations for all students regardless of where they were born or what school they attended. When states create statewide academic standards, collect information about whether students are meeting those standards, and use that information to improve outcomes, they can get better results for underserved students. In order to function well, standards must be high, the information must be meaningful to parents and educators, and accountability systems must be carefully designed to create the right incentives for schools and educators.

Bellwether seeks to make the theory of action behind standards and accountability a reality. Through grant-supported reports and blog posts as well as client advising, Bellwether demonstrates how these policies play out in states and schools. We have analyzed how to improve accountability systems, advised advocacy organizations pushing for higher standards in their states, and helped testing organizations understand the larger policy environment in which they operate.

The content below reflects our work on this issue:

Publications

August 11, 2020
When EightCities.org first launched in 2018, it documented the stories of leaders in school systems across the country working to drive rapid...
June 16, 2020
Lina Bankert, Jeff Schulz, Rochelle Dalton, Alison Fuller, Liz McNamee
Postsecondary education dramatically increases the likelihood of employment and economic success. But many young people, especially those furthest...
October 22, 2019
Bonnie O’Keefe, Brandon Lewis, Jennifer O’Neal Schiess, Jason Weeby
In the past decade, school performance frameworks (SPFs) have become an increasingly popular way for school districts to measure and communicate...
October 11, 2019
Bonnie O’Keefe, Brandon Lewis, Jennifer O’Neal Schiess
SchoolPerformanceFrameworks.org is a new website from Bellwether Education Partners designed to help local education leaders design, use, and sustain...
September 17, 2019
Gwen Baker, Lauren Schwartze, Amy Chen Kulesa
Despite some gains over the past 20 years, significant numbers of students are not meeting grade-level expectations as defined by performance on...

Op-Eds

February 24, 2020
We treat poor reading instruction as a problem of craft and assume that if we just make sure teachers know how to teach reading, the politics will...
January 27, 2020
We ask textbooks to do too much and there is no way around the centrality of good teaching.
January 10, 2020
As educational achievement has flatlined, attainment rates have risen. It’s easy to dismiss them, but don’t. They have value, too.