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Can schools be held accountable without real consequences?

By Matt Barnum, LA School Report |

California is hoping to redefine school accountability in the “California Way.”

While state officials are hard at work designing a system in line with the oversights demanded by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the new federal K-12 education law, they also want to remain true to the state’s ethos of de-emphasizing test scores and focusing on helping — rather than “punishing” — struggling schools.

“We have had now basically three years without a functioning accountability system and we’re approaching the moment when we actually have to put something in place,” said David Plank, a Stanford professor and executive director of the research group Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE).

A report released in May by a task force convened by the state superintendent lays out a series of metrics — beyond standardized test scores — for judging schools, but says little about what happens to the ones that persistently score poorly.

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