NGALC Meeting #3 Recap
Hearing the voice of urban school leaders
NGALC members gathered on September 20th for a third and final meeting. Unlike the other sessions, there were no expert presentations. This gathering focused on hearing from the members and hashing out their thinking on next generation accountability after three months of reflecting together on the opportunities and challenges ESSA presents. For the first two sessions, experts and those with deep experience in the field of accountability led much of the discussion. By design, this meeting placed school leaders in the driver’s seat.
What we heard is that educators want a system that takes a strong stance on equity, but at the same time, is viewed as supportive, rather than punitive and compliance-driven. Urban school leaders came away with much greater appreciation for the complexity of accountability policy, and they are particularly open to learning how they can go back to their buildings and help build teacher buy-in around the next generation accountability policy, though they worry about their capacity to do this job, and the work that doesn’t get done if schools prioritize getting better at accountability.They also noted that central to capacity is the culture of labor-management collaboration. Schools that have worked hard to build this culture over a period of many years are much better positioned to implement accountability systems that lead to improvements in teaching and learning, while others will have a difficult time getting past the “anti-NCLB bias” that has built up over years.
These views are critical to understanding how states embrace policies that lead to “shared responsibility” and “reciprocal accountability” with urban districts serving their most disadvantaged students. We’re hard at work sorting out all of the learnings of this learning community. Look for a final report in the coming weeks.