The State Board of Education’s System Performance Accountability workgroup met Tuesday in Renton. The SBE’s accountability proposal was on the table, and the workgroup attempted to reach a consensus.
Before reviewing the proposals, workgroups members shared the feedback they have received from stakeholders. Reciprocal accountability and funding were two of the most cited concerns, trailing well behind “receivership” — nearly the word of the day. Stakeholders also shared their value of balancing accountability and intervention with recognition of success.
Next, Pete Bylsma recapped his accountability index proposal. This proposal includes the matrix the SBE would use to determine the performance level of schools and districts (exemplary, good, acceptable, struggling, priority). The index would be calculated annually, and there was concern from workgroup members that a fluke year (good or bad) could skew the index score of a district of school. Mr. Bylsma acknowledged that is possible and responded the SBE could elect to modify how the index is calculated.
Mr. Bylsma then moved into the recognition system, which workgroup members seemed to generally support. Questions rose over schools/districts receiving recognition for doing well in one area of the index (ex. Reading WASL scores) while performing poorly in all others. Some thought providing a pat on the back sent the wrong message to schools and districts, while others argued encouragement is necessary to keep up morale. Some workgroups members advocated for recognition of successful schools and districts so they may serve as models to other schools and districts. Other concerns were raised about the weighting of inputs in the index and the cut scores for each tier. Some thought graduation rates and achievement should be weighted more.
Janell Newman of OSPI then gave a brief presentation on OSPI’s Summit program, a voluntary support program for struggling schools.
This was followed by a presentation of Mass Insight’s proposal on school and district turnaround (via the Innovation Zone). Andy Calkins of Mass Insight began by showing how this proposal will mesh with efforts already in place in Washington, and why the state should do both. Academic receivership came up again and certain people in the room began to tense up. Meghan O’Keefe of Mass Insight said this term can be changed.
Some questions were brought up about the need for the Innovation Zone if the state already has the Summit program, which has proven effective. There was then a slightly heated discussion about intervention options related to local school boards (reconstitution, restructuring and takeover), along with possible mayoral takeover of districts.
The idea of “academic watch” surfaced, which would be comparable to the “financial watch” system used by the state. In this sort of system, the state works with districts to make improvements with the understanding that if things don’t change, a leadership change will be made. Workgroup members preferred this model, where accepting assistance is the requirement rather than mandated intervention strategies.
A draft accountability system is supposed to be presented at the full Board meeting in November. We’ll have to wait and see if that remains the case.
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