NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Teachers Reject Accountability Policies

March 18, 1999

A recent Public Agenda survey of employers, parents and teachers reveals that teachers are at sharp odds with the two other groups when it comes to initiating policies which would hold them accountable for student performance.

  • Asked if it would be a "good idea" to tie financial incentives for teachers and principals to student performance, 60 percent of employers concurred, as did 53 percent of parents -- but only 23 percent of teachers wanted their pay tied to the educational progress of their charges.
  • On ending principals' tenure and terminating them if students don't meet standards, 77 percent of employers said yes, along with 70 percent of parents -- but only 33 percent of teachers gave that idea the nod.
  • Overhauling failing schools by getting rid of teachers and principals drew a positive response from 66 percent of employers and 62 percent of parents -- while just 32 percent of teachers agreed.

Nevertheless, a few states are demanding greater accountability of their public school educators.

Using year-end tests to track students' progress, North Carolina rewards teachers and staff members with cash bonuses if their students meet or exceed standards. Teachers and staff members at low performing schools can lose their jobs -- but only after the state gives schools a chance to turn around by offering them more money and help from outside consultants.

In Texas, high-school students can't graduate unless they pass a statewide test. Schools and districts can qualify for cash awards if students exceed the standards -- or be sanctioned if performance lags.

Researchers at the Rand think tank in California have established that from 1990 to 1997, students in those two states showed greater improvement in test scores than students in other states -- even though they scored below average on nationally standardized tests.

Source: Anna Bray Duff, "Holding Schools Accountable," Investor's Business Daily, March 18, 1999.


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