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 Sep. 16, 2019

I Hate to Inform You, but Not Everyone Is Above Average in Wobegon

Wherever you live, there is a high probability that Minnesota is low-key superior to your state.  We are the safest state in America, we have…

By Chris Stewart

Read Post

Posted Sep. 9, 2019

The Biggest Threat to Public Education Is Still Its Insidious ‘Belief Gap’

For a long time school reform seemed to be winning the public argument about the failure of schools to prepare students academically. During that run,…

By Chris Stewart

Read Post

Posted Sep. 6, 2019

Teachers, I Love You. But Sometimes Your Unions Are Full of It.

Ironically, I spent part of my Labor Day arguing with unionized teachers on social media. Yep, I sure did. Because every time I make an…

By Tanesha Peeples

Read Post

Posted Sep. 3, 2019

The Three R’s of Parents Who Want to Raise Free Children

A parent’s power to determine the right to choose where, when and what their children learn is only one power among many that create what I call parental sovereignty—a concept I believe is rooted in three essential R’s: roles, responsibilities and rights. …

By Chris Stewart

Read Post

Posted Aug. 30, 2019

Want a Better Assessment? Start by Asking the Right Question.

In state after state, politicians, parents, advocacy groups and educators are re-evaluating the role that end-of-year tests should play in K-12 education. Given the high…

By Arthur VanderVeen

Read Post

Posted Aug. 20, 2019

If We Care for Kids, We Can’t Shut Down Teachers Who Truly Want to Do Better by Them

This teacher said a thing and I thought all hell would break loose.  It happened last week when my 8 Black Hands crew recorded a…

By Chris Stewart

Read Post

Posted Aug. 13, 2019

No, But Seriously, How Are the Children?

Last week I made what I thought was a simple request: for all of us to prioritize the question “how are the children?” as if…

By Chris Stewart

Read Post

Posted July 31, 2019

You Won’t Fix Providence’s Public Schools Until You Tackle the Root of the Problem

The recently-published report on Providence public schools, where I teach and where my children learn, contained just one major finding. That finding didn’t have to…

By Ellen Foley

Read Post

Posted July 30, 2019

Episode 31: Go Yonkers! Go Philly! (feat. Tracy Fray-Oliver & Derek S. Mitchell, Ph.D.)

In this episode, we speak with recipients of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Networks For School Improvement Grants about how they are using the…

By Education Post

Read Post

Posted July 18, 2019

This 11-Year-Old Is Begging for a Good Education and a Safe Place to Learn. Something Needs to Change.

Since the release of the blistering Johns Hopkins report on the Providence Public Schools, the new state education commissioner, Angélica Infante Green, and the city’s…

By Erika Sanzi

Read Post

OUR NETWORK

Featured Posts

Posted Sep. 16, 2019

I Hate to Inform You, but Not Everyone Is Above Average in Wobegon

Wherever you live, there is a high probability that Minnesota is low-key superior to your state.  We are the safest state in America, we have…

By Chris Stewart

Read Post

Posted Sep. 12, 2019

Democratic Presidential Candidates Aren’t Talking About K-12 Education and That’s Why We Crashed Their Debate in Houston

All eyes may be on the third round of Democratic presidential candidates’ debates happening tonight. But let me direct your attention for a second to…

By Tanesha Peeples

Read Post

Posted Sep. 17, 2019

Teachers, If You Want a Say in What Happens at Your School, You Have to Speak Out

Welcome to a new school year! Amidst the busyness of planning and preparing, remember to take a step back and reflect on how you want…

By Mary Conroy Almada

Read Post

Accountability

How does the federal government support our public schools? Find out the ABC’s of ESEA, ESSA and No Child Left Behind →

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