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George W. Bush Institute Begins Advancing Accountability Initiative

September 14, 2012

Recent statistics show that by 2018, two-thirds of American jobs will require some form of postsecondary education. While the United States has witnessed improvement in student performance over the past decade – especially among previously underserved students in lower socioeconomic groups – the current level of global competition makes it more critical than ever that all U.S. students receive a quality education that puts them on the path to college or a well paying job.  

To help more students along that path, the George W. Bush Institute (GWBI) today launched “Advancing Accountability,” an initiative to ensure that accountability remains a strong and positive force for improvement in schools in the face of changing national education laws. 

Many of the improvements in education over the past decade were due in part to the accountability systems required by No Child Left Behind, the sweeping bi-partisan education law enacted in 2002 under President Bush’s leadership. Recently, the federal government has offered to waive federal requirements under that law for states that agree to certain prescribed reforms, and members of Congress have proposed a series of reauthorization bills that would significantly weaken existing accountability requirements.  

“The vision of our work is grounded in the principle that each state must have a strong accountability system that measures student achievement and holds schools accountable for ensuring that students are prepared for college level work or a good job,” said Dr. Kerri Briggs, Director of Education Reform at the Bush Institute. “While laws change and reforms evolve to meet present day needs, preserving education’s core values of accountability, transparency and equality is critical to ensure the success of our students and the future of our country.”

Dr. Briggs and Eric Smith, Bush Institute Fellow and former Florida State Education Commissioner, developed the Advancing Accountability initiative with specific goals in mind: to advance school accountability as a critical tool for improving student achievement and closing the achievement gap, and also to monitor how states are changing their accountability systems and analyze what those changes mean for students. 

The Bush Institute is already analyzing each state’s accountability plan against measures of 10 core principles. The first states to be analyzed include Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Tennessee.  

“We started our work with the 11 states that initially received waivers to NCLB, and we’ll continue to add states as they apply and receive waivers over time,” said Dr. Smith. “We’ve assessed each waiver through a series of principles that cover issues such as goals, content and performance standards, use of assessments, a focus on student groups, options and information for parents and interventions.”

The Bush Institute will also explore and create solutions to challenges states and districts face when implementing accountability systems. Throughout the year, the Bush Institute will host small group meetings with leaders in education reform to cover topics such as effective school choice models, considerations for transitioning to new standards and accountability systems, and school turnaround models.