Assessment and Accountability

Charting the Course to Postsecondary Success

Postsecondary readiness has become a centerpiece of major education policy initiatives, but few systems are available to track students’ progress toward this goal, and even fewer focus on anything beyond academic achievement. To address this gap we developed a college-readiness index for middle school students. Given its predictive power and its focus on affective traits like motivation and behavior, the index may help educators intervene early and appropriately to keep students on track.

Using Cost-Effectiveness Analysis to Make Policy Decisions

Cost-effectiveness analysis is a useful but underutilized tool that researchers can employ to provide policymakers with information that promotes more efficient use of educational resources and helps them maximize gains in student learning. A recent study applies the method to dropout prevention programs and finds a wide variation in costs of producing high school graduates.

“Spreading the Wealth”: Populating Classrooms in the Age of Performance-based Accountability

Data from Florida suggests that performance-based accountability encourages principals to use performance data in student assignment decisions, but not necessarily in ways that ensure that the lowest-performing students are assigned to the most effective teachers.

How Teacher Evaluation Methods Matter for Accountability

Despite the increasing use of value-added types of evaluation, little is known about the relationship between teachers’ value added scores and principals’ evaluations of the same teachers. Data from Florida suggest that the choice of evaluation tools within accountability systems could influence not only which teachers are rewarded in the short term, but the qualities and activities of the teaching profession in the long term.

Science Instructional Time Is Declining in Elementary Schools: What are the Implications for Student Achievement and Closing the Gap?

Despite concerns about student preparation in STEM fields, time for science instruction in elementary grades has been steadily falling since the early 1990’s. Average science instructional time in California falls well below the national average which may explain our poor performance on national science tests.

The Gap That Can’t Go Away: The Catch-22 of Reclassification in Monitoring the Progress of English Learners

When English Learners become proficient and are reclassified, they no longer are included in current achievement measures of English Learners. This leads to overestimates of the achievement gap and underestimates of English Learner progress.

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