Multiple Measures of Accountability
There are lots of policy issues around education to pay attention to but today I think it is important to look every so briefly at some of the indicators that the Every Student Succeeds Act requires and some of the indicators that are suggested by the law. States were allowed back in 2015 when the act passed to include a fifth indicator, after the indicators of achievement in English Language Arts and Math performance, achievement and growth in elementary and middle schools, and high school graduation rates.
The fifth indicator was to be something about school quality and student success, but is often just something about absenteeism, which although important, was not the ideal fifth indicator.
“All states must have a multiple-measure accountability system, which include the following four indicators: achievement and/or growth on annual reading/language arts and math assessments; English language proficiency, an elementary and middle school academic measure of student growth; and high school graduation rates. All states also had to include at least one additional indicator of school quality or student success, commonly called the fifth indicator. Most states use chronic absenteeism as their fifth indicator”—Child Trends
So what does that mean to state policy of the conditions of education that they are providing? It may well be that states are lagging behind where we want them to be because it is very hard to control the conditions under which you educate your state’s students. The conditions are the X factor in school quality that many reformers of education try to avoid. First of all, who can control the poverty, lack of safety, availability of food, premature birth rate, etc., around a school? Isn’t it hard enough just to work on the school?
The school is a reflection of the community that surrounds it. The students are the crucial connection point. To think we could really improve schools without improving neighborhoods and the very conditions of the community surrounding our schools is short-sighted. Looking to the horizon around schools would suggest a better school improvement strategy like Purpose Built Communities (PBC). If we are to lift our schools, with better indicators of the conditions of education, and including the well-being of children, we must consider a wider strategy that includes the families around our schools.