ESSA Accountability Design Competition: The Contenders

Editor's note: For a summary of noteworthy content from contenders' proposals, read "Some great ideas from our ESSA Accountability Design Competition."

Under the newly enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states now face the challenge of creating school accountability systems that can vastly improve upon the model required by No Child Left Behind. To help spur creative thinking about how they might do so, and also to inform the Department of Education as it develops its ESSA regulations, the Fordham Institute is hosting an ESSA Accountability Design Competition. (Details here.)

We were thrilled to receive more than two dozen proposals from policy experts, academics, teachers, and students. On Tuesday, February 2, we’ll see ten of these submissions presented on the Fordham stage. (RSVP here.) Participants will pitch and defend their proposals in front of a live audience and an American Idol-style panel of judges.

So why these ten? I chose candidates that I found to be a) particularly well designed; b) especially creative; and/or c) that raised important issues for the Department to consider in the regulatory process. I also aimed to include a variety of voices, including students and teachers. (Their authors also had to be available to participate at our live event in D.C.)

To be honest, it was a very tough call. As with admissions decisions for elite universities, perhaps using a lottery would have been fairer. I left out a LOT of great proposals, all of which are worthy of your attention.

So without further ado, here are the designs that will be featured in the competition on February 2.

Finalists to be featured in our February 2 competition (listed alphabetically by last name)
Note: Affiliations are for identification purposes only. In many cases, the authors are not representing the views of their institutions.

  1. Chad Aldeman, Bellwether Education Partners
  2. Dale Chu and Eric Lerum, America Succeeds
  3. Sherman Dorn, Arizona State University
  4. Josh Boots, EmpowerK12
  5. Lydia Burns et al., Student Voice Team, Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence
  6. Ronald F. Ferguson, Harvard University and Tripod Education Partners, Inc.
  7. Chris Hoffman et al., Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellows, Teach Plus
  8. Morgan S. Polikoff, Matthew Duque, and Stephani Wrabel, University of Southern California and Baltimore County Public Schools
  9. Jennifer Vranek et al., Education First
  10. Richard J. Wenning, BeFoundation and SpreadMusicNow

Other ESSA accountability designs (listed alphabetically by last name)

  1. Joanna Best, Scissors and Glue
  2. Kristin Blagg, Urban Institute
  3. Catherine Brown et al., Center for American Progress
  4. Jim Dueck
  5. Michael Ford, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
  6. Alex Hernandez, Charter School Growth Fund
  7. Ben S. Jones, MSEd, and John R. Walkup, Ph.D., Learnerati and the Standards Company
  8. Nat Malkus and Max Eden, American Enterprise Institute
  9. Andrew Milligan and Sarah Anderson
  10. Matthew Petersen et al., Harvard Graduate School of Education
  11. Randall Reback, Barnard College
  12. Ryan Reyna
  13. Samantha Semrow et al., Harvard Graduate School of Education
  14. Joe Siedlecki and David Stewart, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Tembo, Inc.
  15. Christine Standring, North Point ESC and Huron City Schools
  16. Melany Stowe

Be sure to set a reminder for Tuesday, February 2 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. EST to hear the proposals and weigh in during the live event. You can follow the conversation on Twitter with @educationgadfly at #ESSADesign.

Michael J. Petrilli
Michael J. Petrilli is the President of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.