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Campaign for Fiscal Equity
 

Principles for Effective Accountability

DRAFT

I. The purpose of an effective accountability system is to promote high levels of learning and achievement by all students.

Traditionally, accountability has meant compliance with bureaucratic regulations issued by the State Education Department. These accountability principles take a different tack. They emphasize student achievement as their key component and seek to lodge authority and accountability as closely as possible to the school level.

II. To achieve an effective accountability system, the state must assure stable funding and sufficient resources to provide all students the opportunity for a sound basic education.

A guarantee of adequate resources is a prerequisite for an effective accountability system: students, teachers and administrators cannot be held accountable for meeting high standards if they are not given the resources to do so. Stable funding must also be assured if districts and schools are to meet their students' learning needs. In addition, the legislature must provide local schools with the appropriate authority to carry out their responsibilities.

III. All those involved with student learning must take responsibility for promoting high levels of teaching, learning and student achievement. Students, parents, and the local community must take an active role in promoting their schools' success, while educators and elected officials must foster accountability at all levels and ensure that high professional standards and effective policies and practices are in place.

An effective accountability system balances the role of state officials with increased responsibility for student performance by those at the district and school levels. All those involved with student learning must have specific roles and responsibilities that mutually reinforce each other. Administrators, teachers, board members, parents, students and the community at large need to be empowered and seriously involved in a crusade for educational success. In other words, accountability must be everybody's business.

IV. Student achievement and progress should be evaluated at both the district and school levels through a variety of validated and reliable assessments and other indicators. The public should be provided with accurate reports on performance, progress and the availability of resources that are easy to understand.

Public reports should take the form of statewide assessment data and district-level and school-level report cards. A variety of assessments – including portfolios, oral presentations, experiments and written work – should be used to gauge student performance, and all of these assessments must be reliable and validated. School- and district-level data should stress students' progress, rather than performance at one particular time. State and local officials should also collect data on the extent to which schools have the qualified teachers, professional development, class sizes, textbooks, equipment and up-to-date curricula they need to provide all their student the opportunity for a sound basic education.

V. Working collaboratively with districts and local schools, the state should ensure that resources are sufficient and are being used effectively to advance good educational practices. Where failure is persistent, the state should intervene to change conditions and practices that are not resulting in high levels of student achievement and progress.

In addition to making sure that schools have the resources they need, the state should work collaboratively with districts and local schools to make sure that each school has the professional capacity to provide the opportunity for a sound basic education to every student. The state should also, of course, monitor districts as necessary to guard against waste, fraud or gross inefficiency. Where districts or schools persistently fail to meet standards, the state should intervene to reorganize or close the school and/or to remove individuals who continue to fail to meet their responsibilities after sufficient professional support has been provided.


Parents from across the state march on the Capitol in Albany to show support for CFE.
CFE Litigation CFE v. State of New York
In 2006, after 13 years in the Courts, the New York State Court of Appeals affirmed the right of every public school student in New York to the opportunity for a sound basic education and the state’s responsibility to adequately fund this right, but deferred to the Governor and the Legislature to determine the appropriate amount. more >