Accountability

Is my child learning?

Teacher addressing her classIt’s the first question on every parent’s mind when it comes to education.

And the only way we can answer that question is through shared responsibility, shared accountability.

We have a responsibility to set a high bar for every child, regardless of the challenges the child may face, and provide the teaching and support each child needs to meet those expectations. That’s the promise of public education and the right of every child.

We have a responsibility to set a high bar for every teacher. The teacher has the most direct impact on a child’s success in the classroom.

Accountability means holding everyone with responsibilities to high standards of performance.

We look to school districts and states to invest in classroom resources and support teachers — set clear expectations, help teachers develop their craft, provide meaningful support that is tailored to the teacher’s needs, and then provide a fair, multi-faceted review of how well teachers are serving the educational needs of our students. We also look to districts and states to drive improvements in schools that fall short year after year.

We look to principals to establish a safe, welcoming and rigorous school culture with a coherent and compelling vision for learning and growth. We look to principals to foster excellence by recognizing top teachers, providing support to help struggling teachers improve, and replacing those who aren’t showing improvement.

We look to teachers to help every student learn — not just those students who are self-motivated learners. We look to teachers to model that love of learning — learn new ways to engage students, master their subject matter, seek advice and accept critical feedback, and get better at their craft every year.

We look to parents to partner in their child’s education — make learning a priority at home, advocate for their child, and understand how they can help make things better in their children’s classrooms and schools.

And we should all look in the mirror and ask: What more can I do to improve educational opportunities for our kids?

What About Testing?

We need tests. They are one way to answer the question: Is my child learning?

Tests need to be fair, reflective of high standards, and done in moderation. They will tell parents and teachers if a child is learning the basics, while also developing critical-thinking skills. Tests should be used to help identify a child’s strengths and weaknesses, so that learning can improve for that child.

We need to be accountable for the quality of public education, which also means we shouldn’t over-test our children or devote excessive learning time to test prep.

What About Teacher Evaluation?

We need fair, balanced and regular teacher evaluations that allow parents to trust that their child has a teacher who is passionate about his or her craft, knows how to engage students with creative lessons, and connects with students as individual learners.

Test results that show how students are learning should be one measure of a teacher’s overall performance, along with classroom observation, student surveys, and other indicators.

We need to stop fighting this common-sense change to teacher support and evaluation. We can’t return to the past — when there were no clear expectations for teachers, no meaningful training and support, and 97 percent of teachers in America were rated “satisfactory,” largely based on cursory classroom visits and superficial checklists.

We know what is possible when we devote less energy to what separates us and focus more on what binds us together: belief in our kids; hope for a brighter future.

Posted Aug. 16, 2017

Illinois’ School Accountability Plan Doesn’t Work for Our Kids and the Feds Told Them So

It’s comforting to learn that the feds (i.e. The U.S. Department of Education run by Secretary Betsy DeVos) has some serious concerns about Illinois accountability…

By Tracy Dell’Angela

Read Post

Posted Aug. 15, 2017

One Progressive Education Reformer’s Manifesto in the Age of Trump

Chalkbeat recently reported about a March meeting of progressive education reformers where former Education Secretary Arne Duncan encouraged charter leaders to resist the Trump administration’s…

By Peter Cunningham

Read Post

Posted Aug. 9, 2017

Everything You Need to Know About Illinois’ School-Funding Law

(T)he clock is ticking for Illinois’ public schools, most of which are counting on their first slice of their shared $6.7 billion in general state…

By Michael Vaughn

Read Post

Posted Aug. 8, 2017

It’s Gonna Take A Miracle To Keep My Kid in Chicago Public Schools All Year

It’s August, yet it’s chilly enough in Chicago to roast marshmallows. That’s what some friends from our daughter’s preschool invited us to do over the…

By Maureen Kelleher

Read Post

Posted Aug. 7, 2017

Here’s Why You Should Worry Less About Your Kid’s Happiness and More About Their Test Scores

We’ve known this for a while, but here’s another survey to add fuel to the fire: Parents tend to inflate their kids’ academic progress and…

By Tracy Dell’Angela

Read Post

Posted Aug. 3, 2017

Stop Scapegoating Charter Schools and Fix Schools That Are Really Failing Children

There is a crisis in California’s public education system. According to teachers unions and the NAACP, the crisis involves an attempted takeover of the public…

By Chris Bertelli

Read Post

Posted Aug. 3, 2017

If Only We Could Diversify the Teaching Profession. Oh Wait, We Can.

Based on the narratives of recent years, one would believe the pursuit of equity in the teaching profession is akin to the pursuit of an…

By Patrick Riccards

Read Post

Posted Aug. 2, 2017

Kentucky’s Schools Are Getting Better, But Black and Poor Students Are Still Falling Behind

In recent years, Kentucky’s public schools have found themselves in a classic good-news, bad-news situation. The good news: Over the last 10 years or so,…

By Lane Wright

Read Post

Posted July 28, 2017

Superintendent’s View: Right Now Students Face ‘Bare Minimum’ Education in Illinois Until Our Funding Is Fixed

Too often Illinois has been viewed as a laughingstock by the rest of the country for its broken finances and its notorious governors. The chaos…

By Dan Cox

Read Post

Posted July 27, 2017

I Didn’t Have Dual-Language Classes When I Immigrated. Maybe That’s a Good Thing.

Earlier this year, I wrote about dual-language programs in New York City schools, and who really benefits from them. Is it the non-English speakers that Chancellor…

By Alina Adams

Read Post

OUR NETWORK

Featured Posts

Posted Aug. 15, 2017

Everyone Is Entitled to an Opinion on Charter Schools But Parents Deserve the Final Say

Over the last year we’ve seen the NAACP come out forcefully against charter schools. We’ve seen the Trump administration support choice in ways that have…

By Lane Wright

Read Post

Posted Aug. 15, 2017

Every Book You Teach Is a Political Choice. Make It a Step Towards Social Justice.

At NNSTOY’s (National Network of State Teachers of the Year) conference last July, civil rights educator Sharif El-Mekki delivered a moving presentation that ended with…

By Topher Kandik

Read Post

Posted Aug. 14, 2017

Sure, You Hate Trump, But Can You Tell Your Students That?

Is it OK to hate the president? Yes. Is it OK to hate the president from the front of the classroom? That’s harder. As teachers…

By Tom Rademacher

Read Post

Browse by Date

Keep Up With
Education Post

Sign up for weekly emails featuring our top blog posts:

Want more? Get our morning update and join us in #Voices4Ed.

What We’re
Tweeting