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State Policy Center: Next Generation Accountability

The nation’s young people deserve an education system that is worthy of their aspirations. Yet, without an effective accountability system, it is all but impossible to determine if the education system is equipping students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in our rapidly changing world. When well-designed, accountability systems do more than shine a spotlight on the performance of all students, particularly those who have been historically marginalized. They also create incentives for state, school district, and school leaders to act in ways that reflect our priorities. And, critically, they provide a mechanism through which additional resources can be provided to districts, schools, and students with the greatest needs.  

Accountability systems should guide lawmakers in addressing historical inequities, by leveraging disaggregated data to create policies and programs tailored to where support is most needed. Without data that specifically identifies how our education system is serving marginalized students, including students of color, students with disabilities, students learning English, and students from low-income families, lawmakers in too many states are not able to meet their promise to be good fiscal stewards and adept representatives of their constituents. Accountability systems should also drive resources and support toward places where our current system is not successfully serving students. Unfortunately, evidence suggests some state systems may overlook considerable numbers of low-performing students and schools.  

We need state accountability systems that meet this generation of students where they are and recognize the diversity, complexity, and changing nature of our schools and world. Doing so means state accountability systems need to broaden their aspirations—leaving no group of students or schools overlooked, providing significant resources to support all students’ goals and needs, and prioritizing preparation for postsecondary education and the workforce. 

As we strive to provide students with an education that prepares them for a future they will shape, we must reform our accountability systems to ensure equity, prioritize excellence, and foster continuous improvement. All4Ed presents a set of policy proposals that empower state policymakers to enact meaningful changes and build a more inclusive, forward-looking education system. 

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Model Policy 1: Rewarding Readiness Act

States can more effectively measure and promote college and career readiness by using an index that includes measures of college readiness and measures of career readiness that meaningfully measures actual readiness and prioritize integrated college and career readiness.

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Model Policy 2: Ensuring All Students Count: The Minimum N Education Data Act

By selecting a low n-size, states can make their accountability systems more equitable by increasing the number of schools held accountable for the results of individual student groups, even if the school has smaller enrollment numbers.

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Model Policy 3: School Ratings Mean School Support

States can improve their accountability systems by reviewing their data to determine whether schools receiving low ratings are being overlooked for support and analyzing their performance as well as the resources made available to them

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Featured Resources

Undermeasuring: College and Career Readiness Indicators May Not Reflect College and Career Outcomes

When Equity Is Optional: Does Accountability Drive School Spending? 

We dive deep into school spending & resource equity to shed light on areas needing improvement.

College and Career Readiness Close-Up

In this series, we follow up with three state leaders in CCR: California, Louisiana, and Georgia.

Additional Resources

All4Ed: Building A Fast Track to College
All4Ed: College and Career Pathways
Every Student Succeeds Act
When Equity Is Optional