Accountability and transparency must be woven into the fabric of all our processes and programming. Measurement and evaluation are the cornerstones of accountability and must be part of all that we do. We make routine use of data-producing tools like TCAP and the value-added assessment, and we must continue to find quantitative ways to inform instruction, evaluate programs, and improve performance. The data produced from student performance measurement for compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act are just a start. We must expand our use and management of data to inform our decisions in all aspects of instruction and operations.
The accountability that comes with proper measurement and evaluation of teaching, learning, programming and support services is also an important resource management tool. Program evaluation makes possible the informed application of assets in the resource constrained environment of public education. One of the most powerful strategies that I will employ for educational improvement is to insist that every dollar and every dime in our budget are supporting student learning and are focused on our mission.
Accountability, however, is not simply making data driven decisions or evaluating our progress, it is also holding ourselves and our students to specific standards of performance and behavior. Our work must not be measured exclusively in terms of effort and intention, but primarily in terms of results and outcomes.
The Knox County Schools has already taken a huge step forward in defining accountability for our entire educational community. In addition to the accountability requirements defined in the No Child Left Behind Act, the goal of “100-90-90-90” has been the battle cry of the KCS for the past few years. This bold, measurable goal statement sets our educational objectives as:
• 100% of our students will complete high school
• At least 90% will graduate with a regular diploma
• At least 90% of those will take the ACT, and
• At least 90% of our ACT takers will score a 21 or better.
I believe that these outcome measures should remain at the forefront of our instructional discourse, as the simple yet powerful guiding parameters which focus our work and define our future success.
As we continue to embrace broad accountability, our students will be expected to fully engage in learning, adhere to norms of appropriate behavior, and diligently strive to meet the high academic standards set forth for them. Teachers, administrators and other school system staff will be expected to relentlessly focus on student learning, demonstrate success, and uphold the highest standards of ethics and integrity. There will be clear expectations for all of us, and known consequences for failure. All of us will be called to meet challenging outcome goals that will enable student success today, and for the future.