Pete Bylsma, EdD, MPA, wrote State Accountability Index: Final report to the State Board of Education explains the State Accountability Index which was mandated by the Washington Legislature:
As a first step, SBE is required to adopt objective, systematic criteria to identify schools and districts for recognition and for receiving additional state support. To meet this requirement, SBE has developed an Accountability Index that sorts schools and districts into different “tiers” based on multiple measures. This Index plays a key role in providing feedback about the status of education reform in schools and districts and supporting continuous improvement efforts.
Various stakeholders and technical advisors provided input and feedback about the Index and how to identify schools and districts in most need. This document summarizes the way the Index is calculated, how it is used to identify schools and districts for recognition and additional state support, and its relationship with federal accountability system. The appendixes provide more detailed information about the state accountability system.
The Index was developed using a set of guiding principles. To be effective, the Index should:
• Be transparent and easy to understand;
• Use existing data;
• Rely on multiple measures;
• Include assessment results from all grades (3-8, 10) and subjects tested statewide (reading, writing, mathematics, science);
• Use concepts of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and its Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) system when appropriate;
• Be fair, reasonable, and consistent;
• Be valid and produce accurate results;
• Focus at both the school and district levels;
• Apply to as many schools and districts as possible;
• Use familiar concepts when possible;
• Rely mainly on criterion-referenced measures instead of norm-referenced measures;
• Provide multiple ways to reward success; and
• Be flexible enough to accommodate future changes.
Several assumptions were made during the development of the index.
• Struggling schools and districts should be those that are the most challenged in the state – they should meet a “common sense” test as those needing the most support.
• Struggling schools and districts will be eligible to receive additional resources to make dramatic improvement in student outcomes.
• Struggling schools and districts will be required to participate in a state-supported initiative if offers of additional support are not accepted and substantial improvement does not occur after two years (see Appendix F for information about these issues).
The Index is only one part of the overall accountability system. While it provides evidence and a rationale for descriptive labels applied to schools and districts, the Index does not set improvement goals, nor does it provide all the information needed to improve the education system. Hence, improvement goals still need to be developed and more information needs to be reported. In addition, the state needs to design a system to support schools and districts in most need. This document describes the Accountability Index, examples of how Index results can be reported, how Index data will be used for recognition purposes, and other data that can be reported to keep stakeholders informed. SBE is still in the process of establishing improvement goals.
The Index is based on how schools and districts perform on a set of outcomes and indicators. Specifically, the Index uses a matrix of five outcomes and four indicators. The five outcomes are: the results of state assessments in four subjects (reading, writing, mathematics, science) and the “extended” graduation rate (for high schools and districts). These five outcomes are measured using four indicators:
(1) achievement of students who are not from low-income families;
(2) achievement of students from low-income families;
(3) achievement of all students when compared to “peers,” i.e., those with similar student characteristics (the percentage of students who have a disability, are learning English, come from low-income families, are mobile, and are designated as gifted); and
(4) the improvement in the achievement of all students from the previous year.
The results of these 20 measures form the matrix shown in Table 1.
Table 1: Matrix of Accountability Measures OUTCOME
Ext. Grad. Rate
Achievement of non-low income students
Achievement of low income students
Achievement vs. peers
Improvement from the previous year
Here are the school results
Peter Callahan of the Tacoma News Tribune has written the article, ‘Accountability Index’ A Sore Subject for Struggling Schools
It’s called the “Accountability Index,” but please don’t use it to hold anyone accountable.
That seems to be the message coming out of the state Board of Education that created the index in response to state legislation passed in 2009.
The board had hoped the new index could replace the discredited measurements mandated by the federal government’s No Child Left Behind law. The Legislature wanted the index to “identify schools and districts for recognition and for additional state support.”
The same law calls for a system of mandatory interventions in our poorest-performing schools….
The same law calls for a system of mandatory interventions in our poorest-performing schools.
Each of our 2,000-plus schools is measured based on statewide tests, graduation rates, achievement of low-income and minority students, improvement rates and comparisons with schools of similar demographics.
All schools are given a score, and those scores correspond to labels of exemplary, very good, good, fair or struggling.
But once the index was released by the state board, a right-leaning think tank took the data and used it to help parents and taxpayers find out where their schools rank.
The Washington Policy Center advocates “free market solutions” to public policy issues. On education matters, it has pushed for public school competition including charter schools, as well as giving more authority to principals to shape their schools.
Regardless of that agenda, the results are depressing. According to the center:
“597,000, or nearly 60%, of Washington children attend fair or struggling public schools.”
“Only 93,000, less than 10%, of students attend a very good or exemplary public school.”
Given how much work needs to be done, it is a bit distressing that some school districts objected not to the results of the index but to the policy center’s use of it.
Mostly the board and its staff were unhappy that the index was used to rank schools.
Callahan refers to the Washington Policy Center’s ranking of schools using the accountability index data. Washington Policy Center’s rankings of schools can be found here
In Knute ‘Mossback’ Berger’s Crosscut Article moi said:
In There Is No One Magic bullet Or Holy Grail In Education, Period moi said:
There is no magic bullet or “Holy Grail” in education. There is only what works to produce academic achievement in each population of children. That is why school choice is so important.
Maybe the legislature, governor, and mayor need to stop re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic and look a school choice option.
Knute “Mossback” Berger has posted Trustless in Seattle Schools at Crosscut. Berger details the history of superintendent turnover quite well in his article. He goes on to state:
No public entity will ever get 100 percent trust. But maybe, if the school district is like the Viaduct, something that’s outlived its usefulness, we might be better off making a different set of choices than setting someone up for failure.
Like closing the district and starting a new one from scratch. Tunneling under the old super-structure. Getting a different management system. Turning the district over to the city. Creating a new public entity. Making all schools charter schools with no central school district at all. Going entirely to vouchers. Privatizing the schools. Turning them over to Bill & Melinda Gates.
No idea is a bad idea, except continuing on the same futile path. When you have a record that makes less progress than the racers in Zeno’s tortoise paradox, it seems like it’s time to think way outside the box. Another search, another committee hire, another short honeymoon, another scandal, another budget fiasco, another example of the Peter Principle at work — that path just shouldn’t be an option.
I mean, maybe we should consider: What are we teaching the kids?
Right now, we are on the same path which is a repeat of the past.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Focus on School Choice: Moi Agrees With Seattle Mayor Change Is Needed
Turning Around Failing Schools, The Baltimore School System
The Real Issue Is Preparing Kids For What Comes After High School
All Children Can Learn, Even Poor Children
Education and Poverty
Do Grade Levels Matter?
Good Principals Change The Dynamics of A School
Can We Afford To Rescue Failing Schools? Can We Afford Not To?
Helping Low-Income Fathers To Become Better And More Involved Parents Is Good For Education
Education Is A Partnership And That Partnership Is Broken
Good Schools are Relentless About the Basics
Update: Good Schools Are Relentless About The Basics
Update: The Only Perfect Choice Is School Choice
Dr. Wilda may be contacted at email@example.com
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