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Holding the education accountability system accountable: An evaluation of Louisiana's K-12 test-based accountability system (Part I)

Douglas Harris, Director, Education Research Alliance for New Orleans

Date & Time
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
12:00–1:00 pm
Tulane Medical School Building
1555 Poydras, 7th Floor
New Orleans LA 70112 Map and directions

While much of the attention of New Orleans’ school reforms has been on parental choice, charter schools, and teachers, the test-based accountability system is in many ways reform’s backbone. Teachers can be dismissed and rewarded based on student test scores—specifically, their “value-added” to student achievement. Charter school applications are accepted and renewed based substantially on student test scores, as reflected in the School Performance Scores (SPS). Parents also choose schools based on the SPS. But how well designed is Louisiana’s test-based accountability system to measure performance and improve teaching and learning? What are the system’s strengths and weaknesses?

In this first of a two-part series on the subject, Doug Harris, director of Education Research Alliance (ERA) will present basic principles of an effective test-based accountability system and evaluate Louisiana’s policies for teachers, schools, and districts. The June brown bag will focus on specific recommended changes in the system.

This presentation will draw on more than a decade of Doug’s work. He is author of the book, Value-Added Measures in Education (Harvard Education Press, 2011) and numerous academic journal articles, including one in the nation’s preeminent journal, Science. In addition to being widely cited in the national media on the topic, he has advised seven state departments of education and the U.S. Department of Education on the subject. He is also currently advising Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) with reports due this summer and fall. These brown bags will provide a preview of those reports and seek input on their content.

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