On September 27, College of Education Professors Jack Schneider and Stephen Sireci met with Congressman Jamaal Bowman and congressional aides to discuss a new policy agenda for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA; formerly known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act {ESEA} prior to reauthorization in 2015).

Along with members of the Beyond Test Scores Project working group, Schneider and Sireci presented ideas outlined in Educational Accountability 3.0: Beyond ESSA.

The report notes that ESEA's iterations have fallen short in addressing systemic inequalities, including those impacting "racially minoritized students, low-income students, students with disabilities, emerging bilingual students, and others."

In turn, the authors suggest six interlocking principles for building toward a more equitable approach to assessing student learning and school & district accountability: 

  1. Align assessment policy with goals for high-quality curricula and instruction.
  2. Develop a system with reciprocal accountability.
  3. Ensure that representative community members play a meaningful role in the system.
  4. Move toward a broader array of school quality indicators.
  5. Ensure interpretable and actionable results.
  6. Design a system that will evolve and improve. 

The authors position their work in relation to several noticeable shortcomings in the educational landscape of the U.S., namely (1) that there is evidence of a "flawed theory of change" in state and federal policies; (2) key stakeholders have often been unable to get involved in conversations about assessment and accountability; and (3) top-down administrative structures have sown distrust among educators and undermined the degree to which systems can evolve.

The authors suggest that under a new system of accountability, theories of change will be re-envisioned to "improve opportunities to learn" and cultivate activities and outcomes that communities desire from their schools. To address stakeholder gatekeeping, the authors contend that community members must play a meaningful role in systems of assessment and accountability. And, to correct for the impact of top-down administration, the authors suggest that a more equitable and effective system of assessment and accountability will be pertinent to localities and connected with high-quality curricula.

Article posted in Academics