Accountability in K-12 Education

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Our schools aren’t doing the job we need them to do. American students trail behind those in many other developed nations, our employers report that young people don’t have the skills and knowledge needed for the workforce, and college remediation rates remain high. In addition, glaring gaps in academic achievement and graduation rates separate low-income students and students of color from other students. 

Our nation needs accountability systems that set ambitious achievement goals, provide clear information to parents and community members, and require decisive action when expectations are not met. These systems will help ensure that federal investments in education actually improve achievement and close gaps between groups, applying pressure where needed to accelerate the pace of improvement.

Recent Actions

  • Read our state-specific summaries of the accountability provisions in the accepted waivers from: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New JerseyNew MexicoOklahoma, and Tennessee. Also, see our recent report on trends — both positive and negative — across all states that have been approved to date.
  • Learn about No Child Left Behind and the waiver process, including the poor history of state goal setting. Check out Ed Trust’s statement on first round waivers, analysis of the accountability comments of the first round winners, and listen to Ed Trust’s joint webinar with the National Center for Learning Disabilities analyzing the content of those first 11 approved applications.
  • The Education Trust joined a broad coalition of 40 other civil rights, disability, business, and education organizations in a letter to House Ed & Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.), opposing the Student Success Act. Among other things, the coalition opposes the bill's lack of accountability standards for achievement and learning gains by subgroups of disadvantaged students.
  • The Education Trust joined more than 30 other education reform groups signing a letter to the Secretary of Education calling for subgroup accountability, while the Tri-Caucus sent a letter  to the House and Senate education committees calling for the same.

For more information:


Additional items of interest:

  • The Education Trust offered public comments to the New York State Education Department on its proposal to seek a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education to allow out-of-grade-level testing for some students with disabilities.
  • The passage of Texas House Bill 5 would lower state high school graduation requirements in math, science, social studies, and English. These changes would mean that far too many Texas students — especially those who are low-income, African-American, and Hispanic —would graduate unprepared for the future. The Education trust has joined with The National Council of La Raza in writing letters to the Texas House and Senate to oppose this regressive legislation.
  • Recently, Ed Trust and over 30 other organizations sent a letter to Secretary Duncan urging swift administrative action on developing regulations for “high quality” teacher preparation programs (under Title II of the Higher Education Act). Although consensus was not reached during the formal negotiated rulemaking process the Department held to develop regulations, the letter underscores that negotiators did unite behind the idea of tying teacher preparation program quality to the student outcomes of their graduates, including outcomes for students with disabilities and English Language Learners. The letter asks the Department to release its draft regulations for formal and detailed comments in order to move forward to final rulemaking. 
  • The Education Trust wrote a letter to Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), Chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, advocating for the inclusion of accountability standards to ensure that states and districts provide quality education to all their children.
  • A coalition of civil rights organizations, business associations, education officials and advocates has written a letter expressing its disapproval of the ESEA reauthorization bill proposed by Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.) because it lacks  adequate accountability standards.
  • Learn about the challenge of turning around low-performing schools in California in "Keeping the Promise of Change: Why California's chronically underperforming schools need bold reform," a report from The Education Trust–West.
  • See how your state fared in the 2011 National Assessment of Education Progress with our state-by-state data sheets.
  • Read our guide to approved state graduation rate accountability plans.