When Performance Matters: The Past, the Present, and Future of Consequential Accountability in Public Education

A recent article by Sandy Kress, Stephanie Zechmann, and J. Matthew Schmitten published in the Harvard Journal on Legislation provides a well-researched look at NCLB and other national experiments in consequential accountability. “The “consequential accountability” model of education reform involves creating explicit standards for students, testing against those standards, and assigning consequences to schools for failure to meet those standards. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (“NCLB”) represents the current high watermark of the consequential accountability movement and of federal involvement in education reform. NCLB conditions the receipt of Title I federal education funds on schools implementing consequential accountability systems. The Act is currently up for reauthorization, which presents a valuable opportunity to use lessons learned from past consequential accountability experiments to improve the legislation by strengthening federal accountability policies. Toward that end, this Article reviews the evolution of consequential accountability in the United States and argues that this reform model has led to significant gains in student achievement vis-a-vis students at schools without consequential accountability. The Article evaluates different state consequential accountability models and contrasts them with the federal model embodied in NCLB. Finally, the Article offers suggestions for which aspects of NCLB should be maintained, and what improvements would help maximize the effectiveness of consequential accountability in bettering America’s system of public education.”

Read the pdf here: http://www.harvardjol.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/185-234.pdf