Development of New Accountability Process Provides Framework for Shared Responsibilty for Student Success

February 23, 2000
A process for linking student performance to a variety of administrative and instructional processes, including staff evaluations, professional development and resource allocations, is being developed on the theme of "shared accountability."

The Board of Education's Research and Evaluation Subcommittee already has endorsed the framework for how such a process would be designed and implemented. A formal presentation of the proposed system is planned for the February 23 evening Board meeting. A series of meetings with representatives of key stakeholders in the accountability model has been underway for several weeks.

A significant feature of the accountability process is a new teacher evaluation system that has been under development for some time. Other evaluation systems for principals, other administrative staff and support personnel are being developed.

The teacher evaluation system would include several key components, including the use of student results, revised standards and rubrics, a professional growth cycle, a peer assistance and review program, and a plan for training staff. The evaluation model is based on both classroom observation and data analysis to help teachers make adjustments in instructional practices that promote improved teaching and learning.

The evaluation system is part of a systemwide process of examining student results down to the level of individual students and making the adjustments needed to improve student achievement throughout the county.

Everyone is responsible

Shared accountability starts with the premise that everyone in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is responsible for boosting student achievement-from students and parents, classroom teachers, principals and central services staff all the way to the superintendent. The shared accountability process will be used to measure performance, report and analyze results, and set targets for improvement. It will enable each member of the MPCS team to make adjustments in order to make a difference in student performance.

The process requires measuring the performance of every MCPS employee, using new evaluation systems based on student, school and system results. Employees will be given the tools and support they'll need to improve student results. Staff development teachers based at each school and systemwide supports, such as school performance teams, will help build staff capabilities. Time to collaborate with peers and integrate best practices will be built into the process.

Components of accountability

Four indices will be used to assess performance: proficiency, productivity, equity and quality. The proficiency index measures how students in a school meet or exceed MCPS and state standards. The productivity index indicates how much students gain academically from one year to the next compared with similar students in the system. The equity index shows how each racial/ethnic group in a school is doing compared to the other groups in the school. And the quality index shows the extent to which a quality learning environment is provided.

The indices are not the only component of the system of shared accountability. Performance evaluation systems will all be based on the same standards and measures.

An easily understandable decision support system and data warehouse are planned. Access to understandable data will be key to giving staff the information they need to answer questions about student and school performance.

In addition, a reporting system must be developed to make clear where strengths and weaknesses lie.

Setting targets

Shared accountability acknowledges that the process of setting targets does not motivate if those who must carry out the work are told what the targets have to be. Instead, MCPS envisions beginning the process close to the source-with parents, students, teachers and principals.

Individual schools will develop targets that reflect their particular needs, rather than having one set of targets that all schools must follow. After looking at the data and determining what their targets are, principals will bring recommendations to their community superintendents, who will negotiate with them. Community superintendents, in turn, will bring recommendations to the deputy superintendent, and then to the superintendent, who will take them to the Board of Education.


The school system hopes to finalize the accountability model by spring 2000 and complete the executive staff evaluation system by July 2000. The teacher evaluation system pilot will begin July 2000, with teacher evaluation phased in starting July 2001.

Principal and central services evaluation systems are expected to be completed during the 2000-2001 school year. The data warehouse will be phased in starting September 2001.

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