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Aurora Institute

Aligning State Accountability as a Driver of Student-Centered Learning

Education Domain Blog

Author(s): Susan Patrick

Issue(s): State Policy, Create Meaningful Qualifications, Redesign Accountability Systems for Continuous Improvement

How can “Accountability 3.0” — the next generation of K-12 education accountability at the federal level — do a better job of aligning state accountability as a driver of student-centered learning to provide success for each and every student?

First, policy requires a shift around real quality assurance and continuous improvement based on student learning for student success.

New Accountability 3.0:

  • Understand the student level of proficiency, background and context upon entry to a program or school.
  • Identify each student’s individual learning goals and growth targets and holds all students to the same high standards.
  • Benchmark a student’s proficiency level upon entry (need to use an adaptive assessment because students may be on a continuum above grade level or below grade level, and then signals interventions and resources for filling gaps).
  • Provide multiple measures of assessment throughout every week of the school year, including formative assessments for learning, embedded assessments on student proficiency, and emphasizes performance-based assessments on what a student can know and do through a “performance” and demonstration of mastery of the learning objectives and competencies.
  • Provide a clear picture of each student’s profile (personalized learning plan) with concrete levels of proficiency on standards in real-time and a focus on gap closure and growth.
  • Validate daily data on ground by using summative/moderating assessments throughout the year as prescribed by the movement through the ladder of learning progressions at the appropriate time when a student is ready for assessment throughout the year. The focus is on moderating data on the ground and providing validated data.
  • Determinations enable analysis of accountability aligned to effectiveness of student learning by how well a program is serving all students.

Determinations in an Accountability 3.0 program would be made on a finer set of multiple measures of data and would help close the achievement gap by focusing on progress in real-time for students, and make available information for educators and students. The focus on equity would provide better data for student demographics to ensure systems are addressing that all students on track for graduation, closing achievement gaps, serving vulnerable students, analyzing the effectiveness based on the amount of learning per unit of time, and better determining cost effectiveness for amount of learning per unit of time (with time-bound targets).

Thus, a student learning centered system requires a student learning centered accountability system in order to function. Accountability can move from cohorts of students and “bar graph” measuring of blunt proficiency once a year, to deeply understanding how well a program is serving each and every student, accelerating all students toward success, and closing achievement gaps. Imagine that entry data, daily competency growth data, and summative validating data rolled up to create scatter plot graphs – and knowing how much a program has succeeded in supporting students and educators to improve learning and close gaps?

Next time: The current system of accountability is focused on school accountability – I propose the unit of measure and alignment should be “student learning” accountability.