New Vote: The School Accountability Debate Dividing D.C.

According to Darrow Montgomery of the Washington City Paper , the D.C. State Board of Education will vote today on a plan to implement school accountability standards.

The proposal, drafted by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), bases "70 percent of school accountability measurement for elementary and middle schools on standardized tests in reading and math, and 20 percent on 'school climate measures' such as attendance, truancy, and re-enrollment. Half of the remaining 10 percent is based on gains in English-language development and half on “holistic curriculum” such as science, social science, and art."

If the proposal is approved, the standards will be implemented at the state level under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which calls for an accountability system that is broader than the standardized math and reading tests of No Child Left Behind. 

According to Montgomery, Ward 3 school board member Ruth Wattenberg says standardized test scores have merit, but she doesn’t believe a heavy emphasis as OSSE proposes will yield a reliable measure of school quality. “Part of any good accountability system is whether it steers the institutions it measures to do the things that lead to the good end result,” Wattenberg says. “The proposed system doesn’t do that adequately. I’d love to see us measure whether a school provides all kids a well-rounded education and whether school climate is engaging, challenging, safe. This proposal neglects that.” Read more here.