AccountabilityAccountability involves reporting data and acting upon the information to hold schools, districts, states, educators and students responsible for results. The AFT believes that accountability in public education is essential to a standards-driven education system. The AFT believes that:
- Accountability in public education is both important and necessary; thus achievement testing and reporting of data must be open and accessible to the public. Accountability systems also must follow professional standards for test development and the reporting and use of data and must be attentive to test reliability and validity to ensure that the assessments are not used beyond the purposes for which they were designed.
- Standards-based reform requires reciprocity: if the system holds individuals accountable for results, the system in turn must fully support teachers, schools and students in meeting high standards.
- States must provide testing results to teachers, schools and districts in a timely, useful and comprehensible manner. States must work with educators in using test data to enhance learning through changes in instruction and to target appropriate services to students.
- Academically, students start at different points on the achievement scale. Thus states and others should recognize progress in student achievement, not just the attainment of absolute test scores. States should establish benchmarks for different levels of student performance that raise both the floor and the ceiling of achievement for all students.
- Tests should yield specific information about students' strengths and weaknesses in particular skills and content areas. In turn, teachers, schools and districts can use these data to assess and improve their instructional programs and services.
- The reporting and use of disaggregated student performance data can help identify and direct supports to students most in need and areas where schools should target resources and improvements. Test scores should be reported by grade level and student subgroups, including major racial and ethnic groups, socioeconomic status, limited-English proficiency and special education students.
- Assessment results should be used for making "high- stakes" decisions only when students, schools and teachers have received the supports they need to succeed and when other data corroborate the decision.