by Morgan S. Polikoff
American Enterprise Institute
February 18, 2014
It is no exaggeration to say that standards-based reform has been a pillar of US education policy over the past several decades. As the No Child Left Behind Act’s 2013-14 deadline of 100 percent proficiency looms, there has been increasing pressure to update the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The US Department of Education implemented a waiver program in 2012 to provide states the opportunity to implement their own accountability systems. However, analyses of state accountability systems demonstrate that all accountability systems will fall short in certain dimensions. Primarily, school reformers must incorporate the lessons learned from No Child Left Behind into the implementation of the waiver applications. Policymakers ought to consider controlling for student demographics; establishing clear definitions of effective schools; carefully evaluating composite measures used to classify schools; and making adjustments to systems according to short-term analyses of the implementation process.

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