An overview of school accountability, from MaineToday.Com:
Maine eductors...have long fought the practice of grading schools based on student performance. When the Maine Educational Assessment - the state's standardized test - was established in the mid-1980s, state officials promised that the data would not be used "like a basketball score in the paper"...
School "report cards," though, are common in other states. Long before the federal No Child Left Behind Act arrived...many states were giving parents information on school performance. Some experts warn that unless Maine educators embrace public accountability, the state's schools are in danger of falling behind.
"It has become a way we do business in education in most places," said Kati Haycock of the Education Trust, one of the groups that pushed for No Child Left Behind. "Maine is one of the last states to move in this direction."
For schools to be accountable and for reform to occur, the public must have a way to evaluate the performance of schools, proponents say.
For schools that do poorly, lists that grade school performance - like the ones released by Maine's education department last month - give principals the leverage to prod teachers to do things differently, and for politicians to provide more money, they say. High-performing schools provide examples of teaching methods that work best.
Moreover, they say, the data must be given to the public, not just to administrators for examination in the privacy of their offices.
"We need to be able to tell how our schools are doing," said Lisa Gross, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Education, which has been ranking schools since 1997. "This is important information that holds schools accountable for student performance."
Kentucky, which has moved from the bottom of national rankings to somewhere in the middle, gives cash to schools that do well; schools that do poorly get more teacher training.