"Accountability" in public education shouldn't mean punishing students, educators and schools.

By John H. Jackson, Schott Foundation for Public Education

"Accountability" in public education shouldn't mean punishing students, educators and schools. It should mean ensuring equity and opportunity for all. To that end, this is a big week in the fight for quality education for all children:

  • Eleven civil rights groups including our Opportunity to Learn Campaign have just released recommendations to President Obama, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Congressional and State Educational Leaders urging increased educational opportunity and equity for students of color through improvements to local, state and federal accountability systems.
  • Seventeen organizations including the Schott Foundation have launched A New Social Compact for American Education, a rethinking of accountability that replaces the current paradigm of “test and punish” with a focus on what is needed to support and improve teaching and learning. Their new website highlights the cities and states that are pioneering new, better accountability systems.

The Schott Foundation and members of our Opportunity to Learn Campaign are proud to stand with our allies in both initiatives.  Already we're seeing word spread across social media and in the news outlets like U.S. News & World ReportEducation Week, and the Washington Post.

In its current form, our federal accountability system unfairly penalizes schools without accounting for their student population, location or institutional resources. It places a tremendous burden on schools disproportionately serving low-income students and students of color, leaving them under-resourced and ill-prepared to provide a college and career ready education for those most in need.

A successful accountability system must ensure that the tools and resources for educational success are distributed fairly and equitably. These two new plans point away from the old punitive approach and toward one that lifts and supports the students, educators and schools that most need assistance.

Dr. John H. Jackson is President & CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education.

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