School Accountability under NCLB: Ambitious Goals and Competing Systems

August 2005

This short report from EdSource compares California's own accountability system (codified in the 1999 Public Schools Accountability Act) to the federal No Child Left Behind Act and explains both the modifications California is making to its system and the flexibility within NCLB it seeks from the feds. It's a useful document in which EdSource, a think tank focusing on education policy issues in California, breaks down the differences and points of tension between Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under NCLB and California's Academic Progress Index (API). The most important gap between the two is that API is based on growth in scores, while AYP, famously, is not. California has also granted more leeway than has NCLB to subgroups in closing the achievement gap. The state proposes to bridge these gaps by toughening its requirements for subgroups and ratcheting up overall growth expectations on statewide exams. However, like many states, California is waiting to see if the feds will assent. The challenge to Secretary Spellings is to accommodate California's growth model while maintaining NCLB's high expectations and focus on gap-closing. You can order a copy for $5 here.