Democratic School Accountability: A Model for School Improvement

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For what, to whom, and by what means should schools be held accountable? What are the purposes and goals of schooling in a democratic society? What can serve as a fair system of quality assurance for schools in a world of change and complexity? Democratic School Accountability addresses such concerns by defining and describing an alternate vision for school accountability. Working from a model adapted from the world of business, the contributors depict dimensions for school accountability based on democratic values and local empowerment. The central premise is that schools, districts, and states should together be accountable for student learning, but also for providing opportunities to learn, being responsive to students, parents, and communities, and developing organizational capacity for high performance. The system described in this book is built on high-resolution information gathering, not high-stakes testing. It proposes and shows examples of using local and multiple methods for assessing student learning, cultivating and sustaining the professional knowledge and skills of teachers, engaging the community in meaningful and empowered decision-making, organizing schools for greater performance, and conducting self-studies and external visitations for monitoring and fostering high quality schooling within the local context. This book encourages readers to step out of the box of the current approach to school accountability and to reframe the very concept of accountability so that it may truly serve as a positive force for school improvement and renewal. It is a hopeful expression of what could be.

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Editorial Reviews

Reference and Research Book News
Jones and co-authors describe a new model for school accountability that provides a more nuanced alternative to the present system of using high-stakes testing. ... Particular emphasis is placed on the importance of schools being held accountable to their primary stakeholders: students, parents, and the local community.
Adam Urbanski
Better schools and real accountability are indeed possible and necessary. But we cannot achieve this through threats, bribes or fixation on testing. In Democratic School Accountability, Ken Jones and his co-authors give voice to caring educators and offer a sensible and promising alternative to the prevailing and wrong-headed policies. It's about time.
Doug Christensen
We owe our students and our teachers something better than what is done through high-stakes, standardized testing schemes of accountability. Our students and our teachers deserve something that measures learning, provides immediate and empowering feedback, and something that is part of a systemic approach to improvement that leads from the classroom up and the classroom out and is supported and celebrated as the center of the real work of accountability. Dr. Jones' model is one every school should consider and the book is a must read for all leaders of learning—teachers, principals, superintendents and policy leaders.
Deborah Meier
This is just the book we need to start the discussion we've not been engaged in: accountable for what? In this modest—but critically important—book we have the chance to explore this from the bottom up and the top down. What a relief, and how thought-provoking. Each chapter builds upon the last, culminating in a different but eminently practical way of opening up new possibilities.
Linda Darling-Hammond
Those who care about improving public education should read this book. In contrast to much of what passes for 'accountability' these days, it paints a vivid, on-the-ground picture of the kind of system that could provide a 'full, complex, and high-resolution picture' of how schools are actually doing—and help them support rich and rigorous learning for all of their students.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781578864621
  • Publisher: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 6/8/2006
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Ken Jones is an associate professor and director of teacher education at the University of Southern Maine. He has been a middle school teacher, professional development coordinator, district mathematics supervisor, and director of a school—university partnership. Throughout his educational career, he has focused on authentic learning, teacher development, and systemic school reform and renewal.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Foreword Part 2 Introduction: Raising Schools Chapter 3 A New Model for School Accountability Chapter 4 Connecting High-Quality Local Assessment to Teacher Leadership Chapter 5 Opportunities to Learn: Beyond Access to Engagement Chapter 6 Teacher Quality and the Teaching Profession: New Messages, New Messengers Chapter 7 School Capacity: Organizing for High Standards and Continuous Learning Chapter 8 Bottom-Up Accountability: An Urban Perspective Chapter 9 The Accreditation Process: An Inside/Outside School Quality Review System Chapter 10 A Local Accountability System in Progress Chapter 11 A Question of Balance: State Oversight vs. Local Ownership Chapter 12 Thinking Ahead

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