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The Evolution of Accountability Reporting: Lessons Learned Over Nine Years By a State Education Agency. Mindy Crain-Dorough, PhD Southeastern Louisiana University [email protected] Robyn Madison-Harris, EdD Louisiana Department of Education [email protected]

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The Evolution of Accountability Reporting:Lessons Learned Over Nine Years By a State Education Agency

Mindy Crain-Dorough, PhD

Southeastern Louisiana University

[email protected]

Robyn Madison-Harris, EdD

Louisiana Department of Education

[email protected]

overview of presentation
Overview of presentation
  • Background on report development and what Louisiana does
  • History of Accountability Changes
  • Problems/Solutions
  • Recommendations for future directions
purpose of this study
Purpose of this study
  • To compile a list of lessons learned as a reference for other states
  • To document the history of accountability reporting in Louisiana
  • To explain the complexities of the report development process
  • To provide recommendations for improvements accountability reporting in Louisiana and other states
report development not an easy thing to do
Report development – Not an easy thing to do
  • Present complicated information and data in a format that is aesthetically pleasing and understandable
  • Negotiate many conflicting opinions about content
  • Turn complicated and detailed policy into computer programs that calculate scores
  • Coordinating many large data files
  • Extensive checking of all aspects of calculations and report generation has to be conducted.
  • All of these must be done in a very rigid timeframe.
why do we go to all this trouble
Why do we go to all this trouble?
  • Not just to meet federal and state mandates
  • Parents make decisions about which schools to which they will send their children and even where to live.
  • Parents are also driven to take action at their children’s schools.
  • Teachers, principals, and district staff use the results to make decisions about school improvement efforts and funding priorities
louisiana s choices
Louisiana’s choices
  • Reports produced at the state level for districts and schools
  • School Report Card for Parents in paper format and sent home with every child
  • Electronic PDFs of reports are available on LDE website
  • Assessment and accountability reporting are separate
  • LDE works with a contractor to produce reports
back to the beginning
Back to the beginning
  • Louisiana had report cards as far back as 1996-1997 as part of a legislative mandate
  • Transformed report cards into accountability reports in 1998-1999
along comes nclb
Along comes NCLB
  • First reports containing NCLB mandates in 2002-2003
  • Louisiana had to incorporate NCLB into policy and thus the existing reports
  • A dual system created – SPS Component and Subgroup Component
  • Conducted an evaluation of existing reports for what was and was not working
  • Prioritized contents
  • Put highlights in report cards and details in a new report
  • Qualitative – authoethnographic, case study, and phenomenological approaches
  • Data Collection
    • Authoethnographic recount by authors
    • Interviews of current and former accountability staff
    • Document analysis
  • Data Analysis – cross-case examination and content analysis strategies
problems solutions
  • Accountability system changing every year
    • Be organized
    • Planning meetings with key parties
    • Preparation for planning meetings “Regrouping” at the end of each year
problems solutions1
  • Errors in the reports
    • Improve the checking process every year using a log of problems found in previous year(s)
    • Include cross-report consistency checking in the process
    • Create thorough processing rules, “data maps,” and record layouts that work together
    • Communication between report developers, data calculation staff, and the contractor on these issues is key
    • Allow districts to review data in aggregated form before inclusion in reports, especially for new indicators
    • Have emergency plans in place should errors occur
    • Use everyone’s time effectively – hire temps if necessary to do more tedious checking
problems solutions2
  • Too many conflicting opinions about content
    • Use focus groups to obtain evidence of what works best for consumers
    • Develop a protocol for making decisions regarding conflicting viewpoints
problems solutions3
  • Miscommunication within a state agency
    • Is the agency structure conducive to functional report development?
    • Develop an issues database to track issues and their resolutions as well as a process for maintaining the database
    • Develop a thorough timeline with a process for ensuring everyone is on task and a protocol for revising the timeline should unexpected events arise
    • Find a method of meeting regularly to discuss issues and timelines that is most effective for all involved – we are currently having weekly conference calls with the contractor and impromptu meetings in-between
problems solutions4
  • Vendor relations
    • Good vendor qualities include flexibility, availability to devote extensive time to the project, advanced technical skills, and good quality assurance practices
    • Balance of working for us and working with us
    • Establish protocol for staff turnovers and management changes
    • Set standards and roles for quality assurance procedures and processes
    • Regular communication and established communication procedures
problems solutions5
  • New mandates (internal and external to state)
    • Evaluate the current reports for what works and what doesn’t
    • Prioritize contents of the report (current and anticipated)
    • Take advantage of the opportunity to make enhancements to the reports that are undergoing major revision anyway
    • Look at what other states are doing to get ideas
problems solutions6
  • Disasters occur
    • Meet with those most impacted by the events to obtain all information before making decisions
    • Consider all aspects of the accountability system and brainstorm possible impacts
problems solutions7
  • Giving one individual too much responsibility
    • Have a team of report developers
    • Rotate lead responsibility for individual reports every two or three years
problems solutions8
  • Promoting and supporting report release
    • Use Press Conferences, written press releases, and radio announcements
    • Create a “Help Desk” to answer questions about accountability and other agency programs
    • Provide accountability trainings on policy changes, the importance of data quality, and description of report contents to school and district staff
problems solutions9
  • Making reports useful
    • Brainstorm areas in the agency that can be highlighted in the report cards
    • Provide a message to parents in the report card from the superintendent to inspire parents to become more involved in their child’s education
validity and reliability
Validity and reliability
  • Validity
    • Confirm valid use of reports through focus groups and training
  • Reliability
    • Thorough and detailed checking process
  • Transition to interactive accountability reporting and tie to school improvement efforts
  • Combine assessment and accountability data
  • Reduce the number of releases and release the Parent Report Cards earlier
  • Re-evaluate the content and purposes of the current reports
  • Have an “Accountability Czar”