I have been thinking, more and more, about accountability in Seattle Public Schools. I have been thinking about what it would look like, how it would work, whom it would serve. More and more I come back to the idea of supervision - long absent - from the district level.
Here are a couple examples:
A student has an IEP. Who, if anyone, conducts a review to determine if the IEP was followed and to assess the quality and efficacy of the special education services provided to the student? Both the teacher and the principal have a conflict of interest. It would have to be someone from outside the school building. It would have to be district-level staff. And if no one conducts such a review, then we have no accountability. In the absence of accountability we don't know what we have.
A school claims to offer an Advanced Learning Opportunity (ALO). Who, if anyone, conducts a review to determine if there really is an ALO and to assess the quality and efficacy of the program and the services provided to the students? No one. That means no accountability.
District Policy (B61.00) says that the Board is supposed to "Require and consider periodic reports on educational program." and that the Superintendent is supposed to "Prepare and present reports on the educational program as required." It also says that the Board is supposed to "Require annual report on school district programs." and that the Superintendent is supposed to "Provide annual report on District programs." It does not say what must be included in these reports.
District Policy (C42.00) says "It is the policy of the Seattle School Board to provide for the continuous and rigorous evaluation of its educational policies and programs to determine (a) whether such policies and programs are being carried out, and (b) the extent to which they are successful in achieving intended outcomes." Policy C42.01 lays out the procedure for these evaluations. This procedure was adopted in 1985 and may not have been followed since that year. It requires the Superintendent to identify an Evaluation Agenda and appoint a Committee. These things just aren't done. I don't know why this policy hasn't been repealed or enforced.
Finally, there is Policy (C45.00) which plainly reads: "A review of all schools and programs will be conducted annually using a process and criteria as approved by the Superintendent. Support and intervention will be provided for schools and programs identified as not meeting the criteria, with those failing to improve subject to progressive interventions/sanctions as determined by the Superintendent." No such reviews take place. No support or interventions were ever provided.
Seattle Public Schools is in desperate need of regular reliable reviews of quality and efficacy. The District is supposed to be making them, but they have not been. This is the accountability that has been absent, and this should be the accountability that gets introduced.