I spent the morning doing a "radio tour" of talk shows around the country, explaining our new Accountability Illusion report. A common question is why it matters that states are implementing NCLB so differently. After all, states had very different accountability systems before NCLB. That's true, but we think it's a problem, for three reasons.
First, it surely demoralizes educators to know that their very own schools, deemed "in need of improvement" under NCLB, would be considered acceptable, even praiseworthy, if located elsewhere. (Play our "Fix that Failing School" video game to get a sense of just how capricious the system can be.)
Second, what drives the state-to-state variation in Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) results isn't a principled difference about what it means to be a good school. Rather, we witness state education departments going through subtle machinations to create outcomes that they judge sensible, or at least politically saleable.
Third, variable and discrepant school ratings were one thing when states set the penalties (if any) for schools that didn't make the grade as defined by the states. But NCLB created the trappings of a national accountability system. Now every state...