- Teaching Quality
And then I stopped and puzzled.
Accountability used to be my third item. For most of two decades, when I've put words on paper about Kentucky education reform, I've always started with standards showing what students need to know and be able to do, assessments showing whether students were moving fast enough toward the standards, and accountability as a way to ensure that student performance moves upward.
My reasoning was that accountability would be a powerful lever. At one end of the lever, the state would press for results, and at the other end, schools would be moved to find and implement the teacher methods that worked best to strengthen student performance.
Last year, the McKinsey & Company report on How the World's Best Performing School Systems Come Out on Top convinced me that the accountability leverage is not enough. Teaching quality also needs direct attention. State policy has to work directly on the ways that leadership, culture, collaboration, professional development, and evaluations contribute to teachers becoming increasingly skilled at their chosen craft.
Accountability systems still strike me as important. Especially when a school's assessment results show that it is not pulling together quickly enough to strengthen its teachers and thereby strengthen its students, something substantial needs to happen to turn that around.
Still, I'm now thinking of teaching quality as the thing we most need to build, and of accountability systems as mainly a tool to be used in the building effort.
My understanding really has changed.