Hitting ESSA's Elusive Targets on School Accountability

Despite progress on state accountability plans, the myriad of plans and the painstaking nature of their rollout make it difficult for those in the education policy world to paint a comprehensive picture of how states and district leaders are—or are not—holding schools accountable for how well they serve students.

California is one of the more heated battlegrounds for what kind of information is shared with the public and what's done with it. The state has adopted a color-coded "dashboard" system, which assigns ratings to different factors of a school's performance but not an overall score. In February, the state released for the first time a list of hundreds of public schools identified as needing improvement under ESSA's categories.

In a poll of Californians conducted by the University of Southern California's Rossier School of Education and the research group Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), 65 percent of voters who saw the state's dashboard had a positive impression, while just 19 percent had a negative impression. Among parents, the gap was even larger: 81 percent reported a positive impression, while 11 percent said they had a negative impression. See the results from the 2019 PACE/USC Rossier Poll at >>>>

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