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Alex Spurrier

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Alex Spurrier
Headshot of Bellwether Education Partners team member Alex Spurrier
Senior Analyst
Policy and Evaluation

Background: Alex Spurrier is a senior analyst with Bellwether Education Partners in the Policy and Evaluation practice area. Prior to joining Bellwether in March 2019, Alex worked as a senior data scientist at the Kentucky Center for Statistics, conducting research and working with partners from early childhood, K-12, post-secondary, and workforce organizations to help them utilize longitudinal data for program improvement.

Previously, he served as a Harvard Strategic Data Project Fellow at the Kentucky Department of Education, where he led the creation and execution of the agency's research agenda and developed tools using statistical software to improve the speed and accuracy of analysis projects. Before that, he conducted education policy research and analysis for TNTP and ConnCAN, covering school finance, charter schools, teacher evaluation, teacher compensation, and other issues. Alex got his start in education as a fifth-grade teacher and Teach For America corps member in Hartford, CT.

Alex holds a master’s degree in public policy from Trinity College in Hartford, CT and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Bethel University in St. Paul, MN.

Why I do this work: Every child deserves access to an excellent education. I was fortunate to have attended excellent public schools, but that’s not the case for millions of students across the country. I’ve dedicated my career to improving education policy so that more children have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Recent Media

Publication
Alex Spurrier
Chad Aldeman
Jennifer O'Neal Schiess
Andrew J. Rotherham

For nearly two decades, state and federal policymakers have built standards-based accountability systems as a way to improve educational outcomes and to ensure that all students are held to the same rigorous standards. While the standards-based reform era has not fully lived up to the lofty goals of its early proponents, it has demonstrated some successes. Achievement scores and graduation rates have risen since the implementation of standards-based accountability systems, particularly for the most disadvantaged students, and we have much more information on school performance than we did prior to adoption of these policies, particularly for traditionally underserved students.

Yet those results have come with trade-offs. Imposing state standards limits teacher autonomy. Testing all students every year takes time out of the school day and costs money. And criticisms of standardized tests and their limitations as measures of quality, as well as pushback against how the data is used to drive decisions that affect schools, educators, and students have mounted over time. As federal accountability requirements have placed more pressure on states and schools, support for accountability has eroded on both the left and right ends of the political spectrum.

As a global pandemic interrupted purposefully designed systems of testing and accountability, we are left with critical questions: How does the underlying theory of standards-based accountability and its foundational goals of equity and transparency hold up decades later? What do key stakeholders need from these systems now? Given what we’ve learned from decades of successes and failures, how should these systems continue to evolve in the face of mounting political opposition?