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  • Gene Wilhoit

New Possibilities for Accountability

The paper we’ve published on rethinking school accountability — a collaboration with Linda Darling-Hammond at Stanford University — grew from a simple idea: if we were to design an accountability system for a brand new state, how would it work? This 51st state approach opened some important new frontiers that we hope the paper can help push policymakers and educators toward.

The bottom line is that we need new measures that can capture the deeper learning outcomes students need, and the powerful force of accountability systems needs to be focused on meaningful learning, professional capacity, and adequate resources that are wisely used. In addition, the system for the 51st state should recognize the importance of students progressing toward competency levels.

We are positioned to move to a system of multiple assessments “of, for, and as learning,” with curriculum-embedded local performance assessments embodying and supporting learning in classrooms, along with richer and more meaningful assessments that evaluate learning at the state and local levels.

While thinking beyond current conditions, we recognize that the new approach is an intermediate step forward that recognizes constraints of the current educational system. However, we need schools, districts, and states to think about how to move boldly toward assessment and accountability approaches that support more personalized learning anchored in deeper learning, competency-based learning, and student agency.

Read the paper, a shorter policy brief, a two-page document on new principles for accountability, or hear my reflections on the paper in the short video below, as well as comments from Linda Darling-Hammond:

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