Reframing Accountability as a Strategy to Save Public Education

September 10th, 2012

At the Schlechty Center we share a vision of a totally new and different kind of accountability system for our nation’s public schools, one that is based on transforming public education rather than reforming it, based on saving public education rather than destroying it.

Our vision

  • encourages a focus on engagement rather than compliance and a focus on being accountable for progress as opposed to simply accounting to government groups.
  • strives to improve performance instead of punishing students, staff, and schools.
  • fosters trust rather than blame, collaboration rather than competition, and flexibility rather than rigidity.
  • encourages and promotes students’ learning at profound levels as opposed to their simply learning what is needed to pass standardized tests.
  • fosters recognizing and rewarding creativity and innovation rather than limiting and regulating them.

The current national accountability system, while well-intended, does not support our vision. At the Schlechty Center we are opposed to accountability strategies that serve to discredit and undermine public education and those who teach our children and run our schools. But it is not enough to simply be against something without offering an alternative. We need a solution we can champion. It is for this reason that the Schlechty Center is developing a prototype to serve as a comprehensive systemic tool that can be used by advocates of public education to reframe accountability.

We don’t claim to have all of the answers but we do have a point of view and we are pretty good at asking the right questions. We will use this blog to share pieces of our work as we go. We will solicit suggestions and examples of artifacts that are being used to account for progress as opposed to simply account to state and federal agencies.

Our vision, and the strategy and frameworks that will follow, are based on some basic beliefs we share and invite others to consider:

  • People perform better in organizations that build the capacity to perform.
  • The primary purpose of evaluation is improvement, not punishment.
  • Strategic thinking and design precede strategic planning.
  • Customization is a more important value than standardization.
  • A focus on engagement is more desirable than a focus on compliance.
  • Public education needs to be redesigned and saved, not dismantled.

This first piece is titled “Are You Ready?” We invite you to use it with others to see if there are common beliefs and commitments.  We invite your reactions and suggestions concerning how you might use this work.