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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:


August 27, 2017
The 74 Million --Rather than trying to get one accountability system to do everything, states should give parents the right tools for their job —...
August 24, 2017
Chad Aldeman, Max Marchitello
Both interim review PDFs were updated on August 31st, 2017. Read this blog post for more information.  Following the first ESSA plan submissions to...
August 24, 2017
U.S. News & World Report -- Education policymakers mustn't give up hope that schools can produce better results.
April 26, 2017
The 74 Million -- What if we told you there were other test consortia, flying under the radar of Common Core backlash, with as many or more states...
January 23, 2017
Bonnie O'Keefe, Kaitlin Pennington, Sara Mead
President Donald Trump’s nomination of philanthropist and education advocate Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education thrust Michigan education into...