Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Accountability Work Plan: Part I

In his State of the District speech on September 12, 2005, the Superintendent spoke to the need for greater system accountability, characterizing it as something “to embrace, not to fear.” On October 12, 2005, an Accountability Work Plan was presented to the School Board, and then revised on November 30th.

Now, ironically, the Accountability Work Plan cannot be found anywhere on the district website. That makes it hard for us to hold them accountable for what they have promised, doesn't it?

So in preparation for next week's "State of the District" speech, I've decided to publish pieces of the plan every day, inviting every one to comment on how the district is doing.

A. Introduction

On September 21, 2005 the Seattle School Board passed a motion directing the Superintendent to prepare an Accountability Plan. The motion read as follows:

I move that the Seattle School Board direct the Superintendent to prepare an accountability plan for Seattle Public Schools that will address the accountability of people for assuring academic achievement for all students.

The accountability plan should address the entire personnel continuum including hiring practices, job descriptions, clear performance expectations tied to academic achievement, periodic monitoring, training and support, evaluations based on the predetermined expectations, and consequences for failure to meet expected outcomes.

This Accountability Work Plan is intended to respond to the Board’s request.

A. Statement of the Issue

The need for greater accountability in the Seattle School District has been identified as a high priority by the School Board, the public, and the Superintendent.

In the School Board’s October 5, 2005 evaluation of the Superintendent, the Board framed the issue:

A meaningful, constructive, and comprehensive accountability system implemented for all adults is unusual in K-12 systems but is long-overdue if we are serious about academic achievement and accountability for all students.

According to the Board, its greatest concern with the Superintendent’s performance in the area of academics is the link between academics and employee evaluations and development. Board members were unanimous in deciding that progress did not meet expectations for the following benchmark:

· Meaningful academic improvement is part of all performance evaluations and employees’ professional growth supports academic effectiveness.

The public has also identified the lack of accountability at the District level (senior leadership) and school level (principals, teachers) as one of the greatest weaknesses of Seattle Public Schools. In particular, the public cited lack of trust in administration and failing teachers passed from school to school as examples of lack of accountability. (Results from Community Advisory Committee for Investing in Educational Excellence, Community Meeting No. 1, September 13, 2005).

In his State of the District speech on September 12, 2005, the Superintendent spoke to the need for greater system accountability, characterizing it as something “to embrace, not to fear.” The Superintendent and senior staff uniformly agree this accountability work is the right thing to do.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have read the accountability plan and it was, without a doubt, the funniest official school district document I have ever read.

The Accountability Plan is a paragon of irony. It describes what accountability would be like and ists all of the action steps that would be required to achieve it.

This is followed by a MUCH shorter list of action steps that the District will actually commit to taking. That, in itself, is pretty ironic. Imagine saying "Here are the ten things that I absolutely must do. I'll do three of them."

For each action steps there is a person responsible and a deadline. That offers the greatest irony of all. Nevermind all of the tasks that they did not offer to complete, even from the severely reduced list of action steps they said they would take, they haven't taken hardly any of them.

Whom do we hold accountable for failing to fulfill the accountability plan?

For those who are interested, the Board will be conducting their annual performance review of the Superintendent. Now is the time to send in your input on that matter. Has Mr. Manhas done well? Has he disappointed? Send your comments to the Board this month. This is when they want to read them.