Accountability Lecture: Julian Vasquez Heilig @ NYU Feb. 27

On February 27 I will be in New York City to give a lecture entitled “Accountability: What Was, Is, and Could Be” at New York University in Pless Hall Rm. 634 from 3:30-5. I will discuss the birth of accountability, then a concise of mixed method research on the efficacy of the current form of accountability and conclude with a discussion of Community-Based Accountability.

What was: In the early 1990s, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 7 (1993), which mandated the creation of the first-generation of Texas public school accountability to rate school districts and evaluate campuses. The prevailing theory of action underlying Texas-style high-stakes testing and accountability ratings was that schools and students held accountable to these measures will automatically increase educational output as educators try harder, schools will adopt more effective methods, and students will learn more. Citing the success of the first generation of Texas-style high-stakes testing and accountability, President George W. Bush and former Secretary of Education Rod Paige, two primary arbiters of No Child Left Behind lassoed their ideas for federal education policy from Texas. NCLB replicated the Texas model of accountability by injecting public rewards and sanctions into national education policy and ushered in an era where states and localities are required to build state accountability systems on high-stakes assessments.

What is: The purpose of the research presentation is to better understand student outcomes in the midst high-stakes testing and accountability. This talk will present a concise of mixed method research studies that ask the following questions and more: Have student outcomes improved since the inception of accountability? To what extent does theory inform our understanding of the impact of high-stakes exit testing in high schools? What are the perceptions of teachers, principals, and students regarding the effects of high-stakes testing and accountability?

What could be: What is a viable alternative to the current top-down conception of accountability and high-stakes testing? Community-Based Accountability would involve a process where superintendents, school boards, school staff, parents, students and community stakeholders set short-term and long-term goals based on their local priorities. Multiple measures plans developed at the local-level would serve as alternatives to NCLB’s intense focus top-down, one-size-fits-all policy. It would enable local communities to focus on the outcomes that really matter in addition to test scores (i.e. career readiness, college readiness, safety). This new form of accountability would allow for communities to drive a locally based approach that focuses on a set of measures of educational quality for their one-year, five-year, and ten-year goals. State and federal government role would be to calculate baselines, growth, and yearly ratings (Recognized, Low-Performing etc.) for the goals that communities select in a democratic process.

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