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Reimagining Research and Practice in Education. School Learning as Compliance or Creation. Back Matter Pages About this book Introduction This book contrasts authentic approaches to education with classroom practices based primarily on standards external to the individuals who are supposed to learn. While other books tend to promote either a desperate scramble for meeting standards or determined resistance to neoliberal reforms, this book fills that gap in ways that will inspire practitioners, prospective teachers, and teacher educators. Mandates pay only lip service to constructivist and social constructivist principles while thwarting the value of both students and teachers actively creating understandings.

Authors in this book assert the central importance of a range of constructivist approaches to teaching, learning, and thinking, inviting careful reflection on the goals and values of education. Renowned expert W. James Popham provides lots of tips for teaching an accountability-based curriculum. MISSION: At Hawker Brownlow Education we are passionate about the education of students, and strive to produce outstanding resource materials for teachers, parents, school administrators and other professionals in education and allied fields.

Author: W. For example, there might be age- or grade-band specific benchmarks that schools and districts should pay attention to, such as vocabulary attainment, and states can collect and report this information. States may not wish to use the entire range of knowledge, skills, and experiences related to college and career readiness in the measures they use to classify school performance, but much of this information can be useful to inform local educational practice within districts, schools, and classrooms.

At the same time, states are already using a number of college- and career-readiness indicators in their school classification systems. To create an accountability system that explains not just what outcomes were reached but what decisions led to those outcomes, states should consider measuring the effectiveness of coordination among and between each level of the system: states, districts, and schools.

Clearly distinguishing who is responsible for ensuring that students are college and career ready; what they are responsible for; and how they are responsible helps each level of the system—states, districts, and schools—use their limited resources to reach a commonly understood goal for student and school success. Likewise, states can support more effective interaction within and between each level of the system when they know who does what in order to ensure effective leveraging of the tools and resources that the state provides.

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Any highly functioning system continually audits its resources and reassesses how to allocate them to meet its goals. The same is true for systems of education. States, districts, and schools have their own unique resources to contribute to education, which this report refers to as inputs, or the resources that provide a basis for public education. The terms inputs and resources are used synonymously in this report. Inputs include standards, curricula, and course schedules. Each level of the system has its own process for using these resources, or its own method and timeline for using the inputs.

Outputs are the short-term results, such as student growth rates, and outcomes are the long-term benefits that a public education should deliver, such as proficiency and graduation rates. One desired outcome of K education is college and career readiness for all students.

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On the other hand, the baseline expectations for long-term outcomes should be the same for all schools. This means that over time, all schools should be expected to meet the same long-term targets for proficiency and graduation. In designing systems of healthy interaction within and between states, districts, and schools, the critical questions states must ask are: What are the reasonable, short-term outcomes that states, districts, and schools can expect?

How are these measured and by whom and how often are the results reviewed? As Figure 2 shows, there should be a direct relationship among inputs, processes, outputs, and outcomes within state, district, and school systems, as well as between each of them. Table 1 below shows how states can organize a system of inputs, processes, outputs, and outcomes.

This organization is meant to be illustrative, not exhaustive. States have been working toward building comprehensive, next-generation accountability systems that are made up of multiple components, including:. Understanding how all of these components fit together within a system of inputs, processes, outputs, and outcomes can bring greater clarity to how to operationalize these systems cohesively. The matrix detailed in Table 1 below shows how such a system can be organized.

Note that the list included in Table 1 is not comprehensive enough to represent the entire scope of state work within accountability, but it is a start. States may wish to list additional items on this list that further capture the breadth of their work.


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It is essential that states effectively manage these inputs internally and deliver them successfully to districts. To do so, states must have the capacity to build and maintain high-quality inputs and effective processes in each of the categories of accountability.

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A first step toward building this capacity should include an assessment of the current status of inputs and processes, measured against the goal of college and career readiness. The following sections detail how each level of the system can have the greatest effect on student outcomes.

State governments are far removed from classrooms. Still, state-level processes can and do affect student outcomes. For example, academic standards are a key state-level input that has a major impact at the local level.


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A critical component of the academic standards adoption life cycle, which includes the development, review, and adoption of academic standards, is also the implementation of those standards. To be effective in teaching students to meet the adopted standards, teachers must receive information about what technical and instructional shifts are necessary to ensure student achievement.

While teacher preparation and professional development are not generally thought of as accountability indicators, students are not likely to achieve the standards if teachers and leaders are not adequately prepared to teach them. Therefore, measures of teacher practice can be an important set of metrics for states to collect and review continuously.

In addition to these state-specific functions, states must identify and respond to low capacity and performance at the district level. While it is important that states pay attention to all district practices for teaching and learning, ESSA speaks to some very specific district-level capacities that states must monitor. In particular, these include the capacity of districts to implement evidence-based reforms in schools identified as low performing, as well as their capacity to monitor the distribution of resources when districts have a preponderance of these schools within their districts.

In many ways, district-level processes can have the greatest impact on student outputs and outcomes. For example, among all in-school factors, research has shown teachers to have the greatest impact on student achievement. Therefore, accountability systems should measure district-level outputs such as equitable distribution of effective teachers and mastery of instructional practice.

Instruction That Measures Up

In addition, since decisions about the distribution of resources to schools occurs primarily, though not entirely, at the district level, accountability systems should include measures of district-level resource distribution and how well-aligned resources are to student needs. Districts must also monitor school-level capacity to carry out school functions. Although this monitoring should be broad in scope when capturing matters of teaching and learning, districts must pay special attention to schools identified as low performing to ensure that they carry out implementation of school improvement efforts effectively.

Additionally, districts may also want to closely monitor schools not identified for improvement but whose performance indicates that the school is struggling. Paying sufficient attention to schools that are doing well overall is another important function of districts and part of the system of continuous improvement. Understanding the strategies for continuous improvement of schools not identified for improvement is a less understood topic; as a result, CAP is considering developing a resource that describes state and district approaches to supporting these schools.

Many of the conditions governing school decision-making are beyond the control of school teachers and leaders. However, there are critical areas in which principals and teachers have significant authority to make important changes that positively affect students. For example, there is significant evidence demonstrating that both lowering the rate of expulsion among students of color and establishing a culture of high expectations signaling that all children can and should excel often lead to higher student achievement and graduation rates.

Unlike districts or states, schools are best positioned to establish a positive, inclusive, safe, and nurturing culture and climate. How well school leaders assess personnel and student needs around safety, inclusivity, and high expectations is an important set of metrics to include in an accountability system. Figure 3 shows a flow chart of inputs, processes, outputs, and outcomes in an accountability system.

If both inputs and the processes through which they are used are high quality, states can expect to see positive student outcomes. Without high-quality inputs and processes, any positive short- and long-term outcomes will happen sporadically and in spite of the accountability system—not because of it. Including specific metrics that assess the inputs and outputs of state, district, and school actions is critical to understanding the reasons for short- and long-term outcomes.

As states consider how to design their processes, they should keep the following considerations in mind. College and career readiness is one desired outcome of the K education system. Defining college and career readiness with a level of specificity makes it easier to identify which inputs and processes at the state, district, and school levels contribute to achieving this goal.