This paper, written in collaboration with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), provides a deep and nuanced examination of how states might respond to the student success or school quality indicator accountability provision (i.e., the so-called “5th indicator”) under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Conversations with state personnel reveal state education agencies (SEAs) are evaluating the range of choices for the school quality or student success indicator. Specifically, states are considering if indicators already being measured for state reporting or district accountability are suitable, which offers an advantage of reducing the implementation burden. Alternatively, SEAS are considering implementing new indicators to encourage an expanded definition of student and school success going beyond the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001.
Leveraging the experience and leadership of states through CCSSO, we provide guidance on indicators, measures, and pathways being considered by state leaders to push the boundaries of what SEAs previously included in their accountability systems and explore what can be implemented inexpensively at scale. We focus on three indicators: (1) College and Career Readiness, (2) School Climate, and (3) Student Social-Emotional Mindsets and Skills and discuss the ways each indicator can be operationalized within an accountability system. We then provide brief case studies of three states seeking innovative pathways to comply with ESSA’s requirement of including at least one other indicator of school quality or student success in the state accountability system. Finally, we discuss key measurement concerns for states to be attuned to as they plan for, implement, and evaluate their updated systems.