Where Did The Idea of School Accountability Come From?

In a new Bush Institute report, Bill McKenzie and I explore how the big idea of school accountability arose. We look at how the concept took root in the 1960s and kept growing in subsequent decades under both Republicans and Democrats.

The report also addresses today’s challenges to school accountability, which focuses on setting high academic standards, testing students annually and objectively to see if they meet those standards, and attaching some consequences to the results. In this report, you will find suggestions to strengthen this big idea.

The multimedia essay presents footage from speeches given by Presidents Lyndon Johnson and George W. Bush. The digital presentation also contains videos from leading educators and policymakers.

They include Margaret Spellings, former Education Secretary who now serves as President of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, and Mike Miles, Superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District. Along with David Chard, the Dean of SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development, and Chris Garcia, a former principal who now is a leadership coach with the Teaching Trust, they discuss the impact of this big idea as well as ways to improve it.

As policymakers, educators and parents continue to debate concepts like standardized testing, The Big Idea of School Accountability serves as a reminder that school accountability has a proud parentage that is worth preserving and modernizing.

– Sandy Kress

Sandy Kress is a Bush Institute Education Fellow. Bill McKenzie is the Editorial Director of the Bush Institute.

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