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News Brief


States Take the Lead on Accountability

Call on Congress to Embrace Bipartisan Fix to AYP
Contact:Melissa McGrathmelissa.mcgrath@ccsso.org202-336-7034

Washington, DC, June 20, 2011 - The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) announces that 41 states have agreed to work together to dramatically improve student achievement through the development and implementation of improved state accountability systems. The Principles for State Leadership on Next-Generation Accountability Systems (Principles)  and Roadmap released today were developed by the Next Generation Accountability Taskforce, a bipartisan group of state education officials convened by CCSSO, and endorsed by states across the nation.

This agreement provides a clear avenue for Congress to update and reauthorize the accountability provisions within the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and if reauthorization is not completed, paves the way for state developed waiver proposals as described in the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2002. Federal action must support, not hinder, state leadership on next-generation accountability systems and provide states with room to promote continuous innovation. In the four years that ESEA has been due for reauthorization, states have continued to lead efforts to support improved student achievement including the development and adoption of better academic standards, improved assessment systems, and enhanced data systems.

The Principles hold states, districts and schools accountable to ensure that every student has access to a high quality public education and establish a framework for next-generation accountability that builds on and moves beyond current accountability standards in NCLB based on adequate yearly progress (AYP) requirements. These newly developed accountability systems will allow states to continue to make annual accountability determinations for schools and districts using disaggregated subgroup performance data, while focusing on status and growth in student achievement. These systems will hold states accountable for increasing student achievement by using targeted interventions for low-performing subgroups and schools with large achievement gaps, as well as continuing interventions for schools where nearly all students are low-performing. States will convene in a CCSSO consortium to use the nine principles to develop and implement individual accountability systems. In adhering to the principles, each state will have the autonomy to determine the details of its own unique accountability system.

"States are strong supporters of rigorous accountability systems and have no intention of backing away from that. We are committed to ensuring that every student has access to an education that prepares them for success in college and careers. In order to do that we need to create a system that holds states, districts, and schools accountable for promoting innovation, evaluation, and continuous and sustained improvement," said Christopher Koch, Illinois State Superintendent of Education and CCSSO President.

"No Child Left Behind has served its purpose and has now become a stumbling block to future progress. Since Congress has not yet acted, states have taken the lead, come together and identified a solution that will better serve today's kids in today's world. The principles provide the right guidance for states in establishing unique accountability systems that will ensure all students have access to a high-quality education that prepares them for success in postsecondary education and the workforce," said Tom Luna, Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction.

"States have the responsibility and the desire to design accountability systems that lead to increased student achievement. We call on Congress and the Administration to ensure federal law sets high expectations for student achievement but returns power and judgment to states and districts with regard to the means of achieving those goals," said Joe Morton, Alabama State Superintendent of Education.

 "Following on their impressive leadership in developing and adopting Common Core State Standards, I am pleased to see states proposing new and thoughtful approaches to accountability," said U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. "As we move forward I believe these principles can serve as an important guidepost for reauthorization."

"The states' message to Congress is direct and simple: As you fix the problems with No Child Left Behind, don't impose a single right answer from Washington to fix our problems," said U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN).

States prefer ESEA reauthorization but if reauthorization is delayed, states will exercise the express authority granted to them under NCLB's waiver provision to propose new, improved models of accountability. Further, state education officials call on Secretary Duncan to approve those models aligned with the principles announced today.

"The many reform efforts advanced by states over the last few years are a clear indication of their strong commitment to ensuring that every child has access to a high quality education. This leadership is demonstrated again today as states promote college- and career-readiness for all students by establishing next-generation accountability systems," said Gene Wilhoit, CCSSO Executive Director.