Standards and Accountability in Schools


Edited by: Thomas J. Lasley II, Charles J. Russo & Allan G. Osborne Jr.

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    Charles J. Russo

    University of Dayton

    Allan G. Osborne, Jr.

    Principal (Retired), Snug Harbor Community School, Quincy, Massachusetts

    Volume Editor

    Thomas J. Lasley, II

    University of Dayton

    Advisory Board

    Francine DeFranco

    Homer Babbidge Library, University of Connecticut

    Ralph D. Mawdsley

    Cleveland State University

    Martha M. McCarthy

    Loyola Marymount Univsersity and Indiana University

    Mark E. Shelton

    Monroe C. Gutman Education Library, Harvard University


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    About the Editors-in-Chief

    Charles J. Russo, JD, EdD, is the Joseph Panzer Chair in Education in the School of Education and Allied Professions and adjunct professor in the School of Law at the University of Dayton. He was the 1998–1999 president of the Education Law Association and 2002 recipient of its McGhehey (Achievement) Award. He has authored or coauthored more than 200 articles in peer-reviewed journals; has authored, coauthored, edited, or coedited 40 books; and has in excess of 800 publications. Russo also speaks extensively on issues in education law in the United States and abroad.

    Along with having spoken in 33 states and 25 nations on 6 continents, Russo has taught summer courses in England, Spain, and Thailand; he also has served as a visiting professor at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane and the University of Newcastle, Australia; the University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina; South East European University, Macedonia; the Potchefstroom Campus of North-West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa; the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and the University of São Paulo, Brazil. He regularly serves as a visiting professor at the Potchefstroom Campus of North-West University.

    Before joining the faculty at the University of Dayton as professor and chair of the Department of Educational Administration in July 1996, Russo taught at the University of Kentucky in Lexington from August 1992 to July 1996 and at Fordham University in his native New York City from September 1989 to July 1992. He taught high school for 8½ years before and after graduation from law school. He received a BA (classical civilization) in 1972, a JD in 1983, and an EdD (educational administration and supervision) in 1989 from St. John's University in New York City. He also received a master of divinity degree from the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, New York, in 1978, as well as a PhD Honoris Causa from the Potchefstroom Campus of North-West University, South Africa, in May 2004 for his contributions to the field of education law.

    Russo and his wife, a preschool teacher who provides invaluable assistance proofreading and editing, travel regularly both nationally and internationally to Russo's many speaking and teaching engagements.

    Allan G. Osborne, Jr. is the retired principal of the Snug Harbor Community School in Quincy, Massachusetts, a nationally recognized Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. During his 34 years in public education, he served as a special education teacher, a director of special education, an assistant principal, and a principal. He has also served as an adjunct professor of special education and education law at several colleges, including Bridgewater State University and American International University.

    Osborne earned an EdD in educational leadership from Boston College and an MEd in special education from Fitchburg State College (now Fitchburg State University) in Massachusetts. He received a BA in psychology from the University of Massachusetts.

    Osborne has authored or coauthored numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, monographs, and textbooks on legal issues in education, along with textbooks on other aspects of education. Although he writes and presents in several areas of educational law, he specializes in legal and policy issues in special education. He is the coauthor, with Charles J. Russo, of five texts published by Corwin, a SAGE company.

    A past president of the Education Law Association (ELA), Osborne has been an attendee and presenter at most ELA conferences since 1991. He has also written a chapter now titled “Students With Disabilities” for the Yearbook of Education Law, published by ELA, since 1990. He is on the editorial advisory committee of West's Education Law Reporter and is coeditor of the “Education Law Into Practice” section of that journal, which is sponsored by ELA. He is also on the editorial boards of several other education journals.

    In recognition of his contributions to the field of education law, Osborne was presented with the McGhehey Award by ELA in 2008, the highest award given by the organization. He is also the recipient of the City of Quincy Human Rights Award, the Financial Executives Institute of Massachusetts Principals Award, the Junior Achievement of Massachusetts Principals Award, and several community service awards.

    Osborne spends his time in retirement writing, editing, and working on his hobbies, genealogy and photography. He and his wife Debbie, a retired elementary school teacher, enjoy gardening, traveling, attending theater and musical performances, and volunteering at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

    About the Volume Editor

    Thomas J. Lasley, II is executive director of Learn to Earn Dayton at the Dayton Foundation and a professor at School of Education and Allied Professions at the University of Dayton. From 1998 until 2010, he served as dean at School of Education and Allied Professions, University of Dayton. He completed his baccalaureate (1969), master's (1972), and doctoral degree (1978) at the Ohio State University. Lasley has published in excess of 70 articles in professional journals and also has published a wide variety of op-eds in both regional and national newspapers (Education Week, Columbus Dispatch, and the Dayton Daily News). He has authored or coauthored 13 books. He was instrumental in helping cofound the Dayton Early College Academy, which is a unique educational partnership between the University of Dayton and the Dayton public schools, and was the first early college of its type in the state of Ohio. He serves on a variety of nonprofit boards or committees including Think TV Network (education chair), Dayton Digital Technology High School (president of the board), the United Theological Seminary (trustee), the Ohio College Access Network (chair), Young People Succeeding (co-champion), and The Ohio Early College Association (executive director).

    About the Contributors

    Susan R. Bodary is a partner with Education First Consulting and a nationally recognized education policy expert. She has spent her career working at the local, state, and national levels to advance college and career readiness, college completion, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) talent development, and a 21st-century workforce readiness.

    Elizabeth Lasley Cameron received a BA in integrated language arts from Ohio University and a master's in literature from the University of Dayton. She taught English at Federal Hocking High School in Athens, Ohio, with union representation. She currently teaches English at the Dayton Early College Academy in Dayton, Ohio, a charter and nonunion school.

    Kerry C. Coovert is an assistant professor at the University of Dayton. She is currently a member of the Middle Childhood Education Program and works primarily with reading courses and diversity across the curriculum. She has worked with students, teachers, and schools in grades K–12.

    Mary E. Diez is professor and dean of the School of Education at Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A former president of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, she chairs the association's task force on teacher education as a moral community.

    Daniel Fallon was chair of the education division at Carnegie Corporation of New York. He designed and led Teachers for a New Era initiative. Fallon is professor emeritus of psychology and public policy at the University of Maryland at College Park, where he also served as vice president for academic affairs and provost.

    Suzanne Franco is an associate professor in the Educational Leadership department at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Her research interests are school accountability, assessment, teacher preparation, and urban educational leadership. She has worked with value-added scores both on the state level and with individual districts in Ohio.

    Martha S. Hendricks is an associate professor of education at Wilmington College. Her research interests include urban education, educational reform, and the development of novice teachers.

    Sarah Kelly is a program officer at New Visions for Public Schools in New York City. She has worked for the Boston Teacher Residency program and is a former New York City Teaching Fellow. Kelly has a BA in English from Colgate University and an MEd in secondary English from the City University of New York.

    Rodney Kennedy has been the lead pastor at First Baptist Church Dayton since 2003 and is the director of Baptist House of Studies at the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. He received his PhD in rhetoric and homiletics and is the author of The Creative Power of Metaphor and Sermons From Mind and Heart.

    Kathryn Kinnucan-Welsch, EdD, is professor and associate dean for Undergraduate Learning and Community Partnerships in the School of Education and Allied Professions, University of Dayton. Her interests include the professional development of teachers, including teacher preparation and instructional coaching as professional development.

    Theodore J. Kowalski is the Kuntz Family Endowed Chair in Educational Administration at the University of Dayton. A former school superintendent and college of education dean, he recently received the 2011 Distinguished Service Award from the American Association of School Administrators in recognition of research and scholarly books.

    Edward Liu is director of Organizational Learning at Boston Teacher Residency. Formerly an assistant professor of educational administration at Rutgers University, high school history teacher, and founding director of Summerbridge Portland, now writing, Liu is coauthor of Finders and Keepers: Helping New Teachers Survive and Thrive in Our Schools.

    James W. Mahoney has been an educator for over 35 years and, since 2001, has served as executive director of Battelle for Kids (BFK), a national nonprofit that provides strategic counsel and solutions to educational improvement challenges. BFK partners with school districts to improve student progress, teaching effectiveness, and to recognize teaching excellence.

    Jamie Davies O'Leary is a senior Ohio policy analyst and associate editor at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. She has a master's in public affairs from Princeton University and spent 2 years working in Camden, New Jersey, as a Teach For America teacher.

    James L. Olive is an assistant professor in the Department of Leadership Studies at Ashland University. His research areas of interest include the support of marginalized students as well as the intellectual and identity development of all postsecondary students.

    Emmy L. Partin is director of Ohio policy and research at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, overseeing its Ohio-focused education research, policy, and advocacy work. A graduate of The Ohio State University, she previously worked in education policy and public affairs for the Ohio Department of Education and Governor Bob Taft.

    William L. Phillis has served as executive director of the Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding since April 1992. Previously, he served as assistant superintendent of public instruction for the state of Ohio for 16 years and as a teacher, principal, and superintendent for 18 years. He has written articles on a bimonthly basis for the Ohio School Law Journal for about 25 years.

    William A. Proefriedt, a former high school English teacher, is professor emeritus at Queens College, the City University of New York (CUNY). He is the author of High Expectations: The Cultural Roots of Standards Reform in American Education and presently serves as a mentor in CUNY's Faculty Fellows Publication Program.

    C. Daniel Raisch is an associate professor and associate dean in the School of Education and Allied Professions at the University of Dayton. His research interests include school finance, school law, and educational leadership. His consulting interests include strategic planning and administrator and board member relationships. He has published several journal articles and is coeditor of The Encyclopedia of Educational Reform and Dissent. He was a public school educator for 30 years, 25 as an administrator and 18 as a superintendent.

    Dennis M. Reardon presently serves as a member of the State Board of Education, Ohio. In December 2008, he retired from the Ohio Education Association as its executive director, the position he held since 2001.

    Terry Ryan is vice president for Ohio Programs and Policy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. He leads all Ohio operations for the Institute and is a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. He is coauthor, with Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Mike Lafferty, of Ohio Education Reform Challenges: Lessons From the Front Lines, and he coauthored the book The Unfinished Revolution with the English educator John Abbott.

    Janet Santos, a senior policy research analyst at Jobs for the Future (JFF), conducts research on state policies enabling the development of education models that incorporate college-level courses into secondary school curricula. Before joining JFF, Santos was an intern at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform and served as a program associate at The Education Alliance at Brown University. Santos earned her MA in urban education policy and a BA in history from Brown University.

    Philip Smith is a philosopher of education interested in the relationship between education and culture, with particular concern in the tension between the inclinations of individuals to act in their own self-interests and the need to work for the larger interests of the group. Smith has specialized in neopragmatic critiques of John Dewey and the progressive educational tradition. He has taught at The Ohio State University and served as visiting professor at several institutions, including Harvard University.

    Tracey R. Smith is a doctoral student and adjunct faculty member at the University of Dayton and a past governor appointed member of the State Board of Education in Ohio. She served on the Ohio Department of Education Achievement Committee, which tackled educational issues and was responsible for the revision of state standards, and the adoption of Common Core standards. She now works at the Greene County Educational Service Center as director of curriculum.

    Jesse Solomon, director, Boston Teacher Residency, taught secondary math for 10 years. He founded The Teachers’ Institute at City On A Hill, was an instructor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), and is a National Board certified teacher. Solomon holds a BS in mathematics from MIT and an MEd from HGSE.

    Sandra A. Stroot is the senior associate dean of the College of Education and Human Ecology, The Ohio State University. Over the last decade, Dr. Stroot's work has targeted education reform initiatives that impact both school and university settings. Most recently, she is working closely with the Ohio Department of Education to help develop a Resident Educator Program, to support beginning teachers during their first 4 years of teaching in the state of Ohio. Dr. Stroot has contributed to over 10 books that focus on teacher education policy and practice, and she has published a wide variety of articles in professional journals. Dr. Stroot is active as an associate editor for two professional publications and on several boards including the Partnering Anthropology with Science and Technology (PAST) Foundation (president) and the Board of Governors for the Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation.

    Bob Taft received his MPA from Princeton University and his LLD from University of Cincinnati and taught school in Tanzania as a Peace Corps volunteer. He served as governor of Ohio from 1999 to 2007, focusing on standards-based school reform. He is currently a distinguished research associate at the University of Dayton, lecturing on education policy and political science.

    Richard W. Van Vleck is president of Oak Point Capital, LLC, and holds a PhD in business administration. He has been engaged in education for 30 years, as board president of an independent K–12 college preparatory school, advisor to an inner-city public high school, consultant to the Ohio Board of Regents, and adjunct professor of business administration at the University of Dayton.

    Joel Vargas, vice president at Jobs for the Future (JFF), leads efforts to develop and expand early college designs that prepare underserved students for postsecondary success and research to inform policymakers, intermediary organizations, and advisory groups on policies enabling their development and scale-up. Vargas has authored multiple publications and has been recognized as one of the thinkers in “A Look at Higher Education's Next Generation of Thinkers” by the Chronicle of Higher Education. He received an EdD from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

    Kate Walsh has served as the president of the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) since 2002. She previously worked for The Abell Foundation in Baltimore, the Baltimore City Public Schools, and the Core Knowledge Foundation. Her work covers a broad spectrum of educational issues, with a primary focus on the needs of children disadvantaged by poverty and race. Walsh has authored many papers on teacher quality and serves on the Maryland State Board of Education.

    Joseph Watras is a professor of Foundations of Education at the University of Dayton. He served in the Peace Corps in Niger, West Africa, and in the Teacher Corps in Honolulu, Hawaii. Among his publications are five books on the history of education. Several of his articles appeared in such journals as History of Education, Journal of Ethnographic and Qualitative Research, Theory and Research in Social Education, and The International Review of Education.

    John White is an assistant professor of social studies education at the University of Dayton. He has published articles and book chapters on the development of international curricula in history and the social sciences and on the history of Catholic schools in the United States.

    Shaun C. Yoder is a senior consultant at Education First Consulting, managing multistate projects in STEM education, teacher and leader effectiveness, and school turnaround. A graduate of Anderson University, he previously directed the Ohio Business Alliance for Higher Education and the Economy, an affiliate of the Ohio Business Roundtable, and worked in education policy and public affairs for Governor Bob Taft, the Ohio Board of Regents, and the Ohio Senate. He began his education career as a teacher in Ohio's public schools.

    Susan Tave Zelman is vice president for state partnerships for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Previously, she served as senior vice president for the Corporation of Public Broadcasting. For 10 years, she was the Superintendent of Public Instruction for the state of Ohio. She is the author of numerous publications that deal with educational policy and practice and the recipient of three honorary degrees.


    The standards and accountability debate has been a prominent part of the educational and political landscape for the past several decades. Public faith in schools in the United States has been repeatedly and openly questioned by a wide range of social and educational critics. In the 1950s, that questioning occurred with the launching of the Russian satellite Sputnik: Were we competing with the Russians? In the 1960s, concerns surfaced when sociologist James Coleman and others began to document that public schools were simply not creating equitable opportunities for all young people: Who was responsible for ensuring a quality education for each child? In 1983, the Nation at Risk report was released, and politicians asserted that America's public schools were simply not effective: Specifically, were schools in the United States educating young people to be competitive in a globalized world? In 1994, President William J. Clinton signed into law Goals 2000, a document that provided a mandate for defined academic standards and specific performance measures; and in 2002, President George W. Bush promoted and supported the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, which for the first time mandated testing in reading and math for every student in grades 4 through 8: What standards and assessments were needed to ensure that all students were making adequate academic progress? Finally, and most recently, the Obama administration promulgated its own educational legislative fix (Race to the Top) to reward states endeavoring to establish strong standards and reward excellent teaching.

    All of these efforts were intended to enhance the quality of schools throughout the United States and to create educational conditions where young people could be more competitive with peers, nationally and internationally. Indeed, embedded within the current accountability rhetoric is a strong focus on mitigating the degree to which U.S. students are falling behind their counterparts in other countries. Educational reformers have called for change, and standards and accountability are two of the critical pillars associated with making schools more effective; a third “pillar,” but not one to be discussed in this volume, is educational choice. In essence, reformers assert that with academically rigorous standards and with assessment and accountability protocols to measure student progress relative to those standards and with choice, or the parents’ right, to determine where a child will be educated and who will teach “my child,” the policy ingredients are in place to ensure a more productive and internationally competitive education system.

    Reform sounds simple on the surface, but the standards and accountability goals are ones that easily and perhaps necessarily become compromised or impacted by several conditions. Some of those “mitigating” conditions will be discussed here as a means of contextualizing the point–counterpoint essays presented in this volume.

    Condition 1: The focus on student achievement limits the ability of policymakers to appreciate and value the social and pedagogically complex nature of the teaching act.

    Teaching is an inherently social and moral activity. Teachers interact with students daily, and through each verbal and nonverbal interaction, they both share part of themselves and learn something about their students. With the accountability movement, there has been a concomitant and seemingly necessary fixation on student achievement. To paraphrase Gary D. Fenstermacher and Virginia Richardson (2010), high-stakes accountability negatively impacts a teacher's ability to create the type of social relationships that are necessary for both moral development and democratic understandings.

    Schools, in essence, have an important responsibility in terms of cultural transmission, and a critical part of that transmission process is having classrooms within which the moral, aesthetic, and democratic nature of the human experience can be negotiated in thoughtful ways by teachers and students. The emphasis on accountability does not prevent such knowledge transmission, but it does make it potentially more difficult to foster essential social bonds in an environment where high-stakes test performance is premised as the sine qua non of excellence.

    Condition 2: The absence of common, universal standards regarding what students should know and be able to do in reading, mathematics, and science, as well as other key disciplinary areas, has created a “proficiency variance.”

    The No Child Left Behind legislation (2002) mandated that all students evidence proficiency in reading and mathematics by 2014. Such a prescription sounds straightforward, but the reality is that how states define proficiency begins to dictate their apparent success in fulfilling the federal mandate. The unintended consequence of the federal prescription (for all children to be proficient) was a move by individual states to “adjust” the proficiency bar. In essence, states began to differentially define what it means to be proficient such that a student in one state, say South Carolina, may have to read or compute at a very different performance level than, for example, a student in Oklahoma.

    Unfortunately, the focus on accountability has also often created an emphasis on teacher evaluation approaches that are not healthy from either a policy or a practice perspective. Specifically, some seek to tie the success of a classroom teacher to a single variable: student test scores. As this chapter is being written, the Los Angeles Times is under heated criticism for its decision to make public (on August 29, 2010) student test scores as a means of profiling teacher effectiveness. Quite obviously, union leadership was outraged (threatened to strike) because of the Times' decision. But, interestingly, the criticism of the practice created some unusual bedfellows (e.g., Rick Hess from the conservative American Enterprise Institute). Hess represents a critical voice about much of what occurs in traditional public schools. He is a choice proponent (recall that “choice” is one of the reform pillars for conservatives) and an advocate for real change in how schools operate and how educational professionals are prepared. But, curiously, he came out rhetorically swinging vis-à-vis the overreliance on Los Angeles's student test data. Instead of using teacher effectiveness data as a tool, Hess asserts that the Times treated them as a weapon. In his words,

    sadly, this little drama is par for the course in K-12. In other sectors, folks develop useful tools to handle money, data, or personnel, and then they just use them. In education, reformers taken with their own virtue aren't satisfied by such mundane steps. So, we get the kind of over caffeinated enthusiasm that turns value-added from a smart tool into a public crusade. (Just as we got NCLB's ludicrously bloated accountability apparatus rather than something smart, lean, and a bit more humble.) When the shortcomings become clear, when reanalysis shows that some teachers were unfairly dinged, or when it becomes apparent that some teachers were scored using sample sizes too small to generate robust estimates, value-added will suffer a heated backlash. And, if any states get into this public I.D. game (as some are contemplating), we'll be able to add litigation to the list. This will be unfortunate, but not an unreasonable response—and not surprising. After all, this is a movie we've seen too many times.

    Hess and many others would not argue against the use of student test scores as a metric for assessing teacher performance. What they do criticize is an overreliance on test scores such that they become a defining aspect of the teaching act.

    What is now evidenced is variability across states in terms of defined standards as well as the degree to which students have to demonstrate knowledge and skills relative to those defined standards. Such variation makes it difficult to determine how one student (e.g., in South Carolina) compares to another student (e.g., in Oklahoma). On state mandated measures, both students might be viewed as proficient. Yet if both students were to take a national metric of performance, such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), then their proficiency might be evaluated quite differently (i.e., South Carolina has strong state proficiency standards; Oklahoma has quite weak ones). As a result, a “basic” level reader in South Carolina may be a “proficient” reader in Oklahoma.

    Paul E. Peterson and F. M. Hess (2008) rated three states (Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Missouri) as having world class standards, while other states (e.g., Georgia and Oklahoma) set proficient levels far below the NAEP proficiency requirement.

    One very significant variable that will likely mitigate this second “proficiency variance” condition is the push by the National Governors Association and the state education chiefs to promulgate a set of common state academic standards. The standards are referenced by some of the authors in this volume, and clearly, as more states embrace those standards, there will be concomitant efforts to ensure comparable proficiency requirements relative to those standards across the adopting states.

    In essence, with the common academic standards, participating states will (or at least should) work together to create comprehensive assessment systems to measure and evaluate student performance (a circumstance that is already emerging with the announcement of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC), and the emergence of this more comprehensive approach will better ensure that students, regardless of where they live, are exposed to and able to demonstrate the content knowledge and academic skills they need to be academically successful, especially in mathematics and English language arts. The common academic standards are not a silver bullet, but they do represent a chance to mitigate the way in which, up to now, geography has dictated what content students are expected to learn and the degree to which they are expected to learn it.

    Condition 3: The inability of traditional teacher preparation programs to prepare an effective teacher for every classroom in the United States.

    The focus on quality teaching is not new in American education but the understanding of how important good teachers are to achievement is now a well documented phenomenon. Several decades ago, the popular view was that parents (home environment) served as the most significant predictor of student performance. By the start of the 21st century, however, researchers began to document that though parents influence how much intellectual and social capital a student brings to school, it is teachers who influence the actual amount of academic growth that occurs in the classroom. Highly effective teachers produce real growth (1½ years or more) but ineffective teachers often are unable to produce anything close to one year of academic growth. The research conclusions represent a consensus about the importance of the teacher: Teachers make a difference!

    The real controversy has come into play with regard to how to prepare highly effective teachers (and prepare more of them) and how to identify the ineffective teachers (and move them out of classrooms). The solutions proffered on how to prepare better teachers and how to dismiss ineffective ones are filled with practical problems and ideological bias. Conservative reformers often argue for creating more teacher preparation channels (and expanding alternative human capital development options such as Teach For America) while those within the traditional education establishment are characterized as defenders of the extant education monopoly—a monopoly that limits an infusion of human capital into classrooms. For example, there are many educators who assert that deregulation (or even overregulation) will not permit better quality teachers to enter the workforce; they suggest, instead, that change can come from within the system of programs now operating in states and that any effort to “open” credentialing options simply further compromises efforts to have an effective teacher within every PreK–12 classroom in the United States.

    There are also calls by reformers for more quality control relative to who enters the teaching field and to what happens to prospective teachers once they enter a teacher preparation program. The Washington, D.C.–based National Council on Teacher Quality has now promulgated a set of standards that directly addresses the idea of attracting and recruiting higher quality candidates into teaching (e.g., students who graduate in the top half of their high school classes). Countries that recently have educationally outperformed the United States (e.g., Finland and Singapore) attribute part of their excellence to the quality of the people they attract into the teaching profession. Finland, for example, draws its teacher talent from the top 5$ of the high school graduates; the United States draws disproportionately from the bottom third of the high school graduates.

    The debate about how to ensure an effective teacher in every classroom is probably best captured by contrasting the voice of Linda Darling-Hammond (2010), who argued that effective teachers can be prepared (and are probably best prepared) by traditional teacher education programs, to that of Barbara Velton (2010), who extolled the power of the now popular Teach For America (TFA) program.

    Darling-Hammond (2010) asserted that quality teachers emerge from quality training and extensive preparation. In her words,

    in Scandinavian countries like Finland, Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands, all teachers now receive 2 to 3 years of graduate-level preparation for teaching, generally at government expense, plus a living stipend. Typically, this includes a full year of training in a school connected to the university, like the professional development school partnerships created by some U.S. programs, along with extensive coursework in pedagogy and a thesis researching an educational problem in the schools. (p. 45)

    Velton and others who argue for TFA assert that such programs work because “recruits” are directly mentored in the specific teaching area for which they will (and eventually do) have classroom responsibility. Traditional programs prepare for generic circumstances: The prospective teacher is trained to teach anywhere the credential qualifies. The TFA approach immerses the neophyte in the culture of the school assignment and, as a result, the TFA teachers are able to more directly apply what they are “short-coursed” pedagogically to use in the situation where they will use it. The traditional candidate is trained for all classrooms that a license applies. As you can see, there is shared concern with preparing highly effective teachers; there is sharp disagreement on how best to accomplish the goal.

    Condition 4: The inability of traditional teacher preparation programs to ensure a high quality teacher for our neediest students.

    Condition 4 is clearly connected to Condition 3. The inability to ensure the adequate and effective preparation of all new teachers means that some students are not being taught by those on the high end of the professional bell curve. Every parent wants the best possible teacher for his or her child. Unfortunately, there are vast differences in the quality and effectiveness of the classroom teachers in U.S. classrooms: Some teachers create real value-added gains in the students they teach; others are unable to effect such growth.

    Part of what readers will see in the essays within this volume includes the very different ways in which policymakers are endeavoring to solve the “quality” issue. As alluded to earlier, those on the ideological right tend to look toward programs such as TFA or the New Teacher Project (TNTP) to infuse talent into U.S. classrooms. For them, quality starts with ensuring that those recruited to teaching have the intellectual abilities to handle the complex demands of teaching. The premium for conservative critics is placed on the intellectual talents of the prospective teacher candidate—the candidate is expected to learn the pedagogical skills in situ.

    One recent article in the popular press captured this intellectual asset emphasis by declaring that in many respects, it was harder for a Harvard graduate to get into TFA than it was for him or her to be admitted to law school. The research on whether TFA graduates actually foster academic achievement is mixed and, not surprisingly, ideological. Critics of TFA point out that TFAers turn over quickly; one of the few real knowns about teacher quality is that more experienced teachers (regardless of how they received that experience) are more effective than teachers with less experience (especially just 1 or 2 years of experience). In essence, those critical of TFA assert that TFA teachers simply do not have a commitment to the profession and to young people and that they leave before they can really allow their expertise to mature to a point where they can impact the students they teach.

    Those within the education establishment (the traditionalists) see quality emerging by enhancing the teacher education practices that already are in place. True, they agree that recruiting good candidates is important, but the defenders of traditional teacher education emphasize that with more academically rigorous clinical experiences and with more focused and purposeful disciplinary preparation, quality can be achieved and, more important, the candidates will have a commitment to the profession sufficient to stay in teaching for longer periods of time.

    What remains unquestioned by almost all is that students of color and those who are economically challenged are much more likely to have a “prepared” teacher who is unable to create real value-added learning than are those who live in more socioeconomically advantaged circumstances, but the teacher expertise is only one part of the school excellence equation.

    The complexities of securing high quality teachers for all students are often an outgrowth of another mitigating condition: the inability to ensure a high quality leader who can create a culture of learning at a school and who can identify effective and ineffective teachers.

    Condition 5: The inability of schools to recruit and retain high quality educational leaders compromises efforts to foster educational excellence in schools.

    To ensure that quality teachers are in U.S. classrooms, it is imperative that schools have the right administrators in leadership positions. For years, weak teachers have been conveniently moved from school to school because administrators simply did not want either to deal with the paperwork necessary to dismiss a weak teacher or they were unwilling to deal with the concomitant conflict that accompanied efforts to fire an ineffective classroom teacher.

    School leadership is essential to the emergence of any quality school. Emerging research commissioned by the Wallace Foundation and conducted by the University of Minnesota's Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement highlights the significance and attributes of quality school leaders. High performing school principals are instructional leaders who know how to leverage all the professional assets within a school to create programs that make a difference. They also engage in data-driven decision-making protocols to assist them (and their teachers) in thinking through the nature and essence of best classroom practices.

    The question confronting policymakers is, how do schools go about securing these high-end principals and what is the best way to educate them? Similar to the circumstance with teacher preparation, there are a range of answers about how best to educate future school leaders. Those within the educational establishment tend to argue for established university-based preparation programs. They would assert that the preparation programs now in place have the capacity and expertise to prepare effective school leaders. Those critical of extant practices argue either for deregulation of the preparation practices or for the use of alternatives that would permit the intellectual talents of those from other disciplinary areas (e.g., business) to bring their unique gifts and abilities to address the complex problems facing schools.

    So the question becomes, how can schools secure the best leadership possible and, equally important, how can schools better ensure that quality administrators, once employed, are retained in positions long enough to really make a difference? The Wallace Foundation study (see Samuels, 2010) clearly documents not only the attributes of effective principals (e.g., instructional leaders who can leverage and enhance the talents of all the teaching staff) but also the importance of keeping those leaders in place for extended periods of time.

    The essays in Chapter 8 capture some of the controversy around how best to prepare effective school leaders as well as how to better attract and recruit quality talent to school leadership positions.

    Condition 6: The inability to fund schools in ways to ensure that every child has access to adequate and sufficient educational resources and opportunities.

    Few issues create more debate than whether schools are over- or underfunded. Many from the world of business perceive that for far too long education has been, for example, expanding its administrative infrastructure without concomitantly reducing its costs. Critics argue that the public schools constantly demand more funding but there is a real failure on the part of the schools to show results that justify those costs.

    The questions around school funding often revolve around the issue of adequacy. That is, what type of funding is needed to ensure adequate funding for every student? Complicating the answer to this question is the fact that “adequacy” is often contingent on the unique needs of the students being served. A student who comes from an affluent family, who is an independent learner, and who does not require substantial or even any supplementary support services needs one type of funding support from the local school district, while a student who comes from either a poor family in an urban setting or a special needs student in a rural setting might need a very different level of financial support.

    In fact, there is a whole set of variables that defines the issue of adequacy. Allan R. Odden and Lawrence O. Picus (2008) identified some significant components to adequacy funding. For example, given what the state expects in terms of curriculum and curriculum delivery, what are the explicit implications in terms of what needs to be provided for students to successfully engage with the learning opportunities provided or, given what level of proficiency a student needs to demonstrate on the state's assessment protocols, what are the implications for what needs to be available in order for each student, except for those who are most significantly and severely disabled, to experience success? In essence, any effort to succinctly define adequacy would meet with failure because adequacy is tied up with a wide variety of issues around what a student needs and what a state expects.

    Property taxes continue to produce the largest amount of local revenue for education. As a result, wealthy school districts are advantaged over poor districts; they can simply produce more revenue for the students they educate. Some states adjust formulas to address the differential needs that students bring to the school, but even with those adjustments, there are problems with ensuring that the dollars are available at the level needed for each student to be properly and effectively educated. The problem has been especially acute recently because of state budget deficits across the United States. States have imposed cuts, and those cuts, though impacting all districts, often take away services from students that families with more capital can compensate for by using personal resources. Indiana, for example, recently significantly reduced the delivery of music and art education in response to state budget challenges. Poor families have limited ability to secure, on their own, services of art or music teachers to work with their children. Affluent families, on the other hand, have a choice: They can use personal resources and make a decision to secure assistance when appropriate curricula are not available at or provided by the local school.

    As you can see, even in good times, there are challenges associated with making certain that every child has the educational opportunities that a quality educational program provides. In economically difficult times, those challenges are exacerbated, and it becomes even more difficult to ensure anything close to adequate and sufficient resources for educating every child. That said, many conservatives would argue that schools fail to deliver such services simply because they are poorly managed or at least focused too fully on social issues at the expense of basic education programs. You will read two essays in this volume (see Chapter 14) where the authors capture quite cogently these arguments about whether schools have or do not have sufficient funds and whether the resources for adequacy for all children are available to educators and for families.

    Condition 7: The “will” to make necessary changes to ensure equity is often compromised by politics of educational policy and practice.

    Over the past several decades, education has become increasingly political. The importance of educating young people has always been part of political rhetoric, but in the modern era, the politics of education announced itself with Sputnik in 1957. Americans suddenly felt threatened by the emerging Soviet advantage in the race to space, and everyone frantically looked for answers for why the United States had apparently lost its educationally strategic advantage.

    In part, it became a debate between those arguing for student-centered instruction (the progressives using the ideas of John Dewey) and those asserting the need for more teacher-centered and traditional instruction (conservative thinkers such as Hyman Rick or Albert Bector). Joseph Watras (see Chapter 1) captures some of this debate in his description of the shortcomings of accountability efforts and of how the Eight Year Study was used to help identify the best way (student-centered or teacher-centered instruction) to educate students in the United States.

    The debate about how best to educate America's children continues to rage today; each U.S. president and every state governor has a clear education agenda. Over the past couple decades, the agenda debate has focused heavily on standards and the need for specifying for teachers what students should learn and when they should learn it. The first President Bush initiated the standards movement in 1989; President Clinton then modified the Bush “agenda” to create Goals 2000 (see D. M. Sadker, M. P. Sadker, & Zittleman, 2008). The goals were ambitious and broad (e.g., the United States will be first in the world in math and science by the year 2000), but they became part of the public school agenda.

    The second President Bush transitioned the emphasis on standards to a focus on testing. Besides the With No Child Left Behind (2001) law, the United States legislatively mandated annual testing, academic proficiency for students (as measured by the individual states), report cards to publicly inform communities about each school's progress, and highly qualified teachers in every classroom to ensure curriculum delivery.

    The Bush agenda was then “tweaked” by the Obama administration with Race to the Top in 2009. The Obama focus endeavored to make student academic growth (value-added) a clear part of the teacher evaluation process. Highly effective teachers are those who can foster at least 1.5 years’ academic growth, and the Obama agenda focused on rewarding states that found ways to identify and even incentivize the work of the best classroom teachers and, concomitantly, to find ways to rid classrooms of those who were ineffective.

    As the agendas of different U.S. presidents and state governors have emerged, the political debates about education have become more strident. Union leaders in many states opposed the Obama (Race to the Top) agenda because they decried the emphasis on testing and apparent inability of assessments to be used across all disciplinary areas (e.g., measuring academic growth in music or art would be highly problematic).

    As politicians, educators, and policymakers heatedly debate how best to educate America's children, America's children continue to matriculate through schools across the country. The constant policy changes and practice compromises make it difficult for classroom educators to know what to expect and to know how they will be evaluated. The consequence is an education system that fails to meet the standards of practice necessary to ensure that every child receives an adequate and effective education. The question is, are there sufficient dollars available to reform the education system that exists in the United States today even if some of the policy conundrums are successfully addressed?

    Condition 8: The inability to engage communities in solving the educational problems for all students who populate schools.

    For several decades, the United States has held a dominant position in world economics and politics. Much of that dominance could be attributed to the education system, especially the higher education system, in the United States. Though the quality of K–12 education has been heatedly discussed, the prominence of American postsecondary institutions has gone largely unquestioned. In fact, since the very beginning of America's efforts to educate every child and Horace Mann's advocacy for the “common school,” the United States has confronted a fundamental challenge in terms of educating all its young people. The affluent have, by and large, been served well by the extant system. The offerings provided by schools coupled with the intellectual capital that students bring to school enabled the vast majority of socioeconomically advantaged students to achieve to their potential. The problem confronting educators and policymakers has been how to educate those who come from less privileged backgrounds, regardless of their race or ethnicity.

    Education continues to be a key to personal economic success. According to the U.S. Census Bureau (American Community Survey: 2005–2009), of those in the adult U.S. population (25 or older) with less than a high school diploma, 24$ live in poverty; for those with an associate's degree (or at least some college) or a higher college degree, 8$ and 3.7$, respectively, live below the poverty line.

    The achievement gap for students of color as compared to White students continues to be a reality despite significant efforts to reduce academic performance differences. Regardless of what report one accesses in terms of student achievement, the distinct and profound difference between wealthy and poor students or students of color and White students quickly becomes apparent. The result of these differences for poor students and students of color are lower high school completion rates (e.g., 65$ of poor children earn a diploma; 91$ of the upper income students do so); weaker college preparedness (e.g., 21$ of poor children are college ready; 54$ of the upper income students are prepared); and college enrollment (e.g., 63$ of the poorest students enrolled; 91$ of the affluent students matriculate) (see Hoffman, Vargas, Venezia, & Miller, 2007). The problem for the United States is one of available human capital. If it is true that many of the jobs of the future do not even exist now, then it is also quite true that the United States will need a highly educated workforce to adequately address its uncertain future. The jobs of the future may not be well defined, but it is clear that an uneducated and unskilled workforce will not be adequate to address the economic challenges.

    The Lumina Foundation has set a goal for 60$ of Americans to hold some type of high quality, marketable degree by 2025 (at present, less than 40$ hold such degrees). President Obama challenged the country to lead the world in terms of college degrees by 2020. Whether it is the Lumina goal or the president's challenge, the theory of action appears clear: If the United States is going to continue as a world political and economic leader, then it needs to have a well educated population, and achieving that goal means that schools will have to find better ways to educate all students, not just the economically or socially advantaged and not just those who embrace the importance of education. What will be needed are citizens who have the skills to contribute to the social welfare; they cannot be dependent on others for their financial welfare.


    Taken together, these eight mitigating conditions illustrate the complexity of 21st-century education policy and practice. Dealing with those conditions fosters a wide variety of solutions focused on attracting better teachers into classrooms and making schools more accountable for educating all students.

    In this volume, you will see through a series of point–counterpoint arguments not only how different educators and policymakers perceive that problems should be addressed but also why they advocate for particular changes. There are no policy silver bullets and few, if any, simple solutions. Rather, there is an inherent complexity to almost every policy position, whether measuring student academic growth or licensing individuals for classrooms who are “well educated” but who lack pedagogical preparation. There are also unintended and unforeseen consequences to many apparently logical policy solutions.

    The purpose of this volume is for readers to see the diverse perspective and to then use those diverse views to help shape a more informed personal understanding of what could and should be done to make classroom practices more effective and schools more accountable.

    Thomas J.Lasley, IIUniversity of Dayton
    Further Readings and Resources
    Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). Teacher education and the American future. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(1–2), 35–47.
    Fenstermacher, G. D., & Richardson, V. (2010). What's wrong with accountability?Teachers College Record (ID No.: 15996). Retrieved July 2, 2010, from
    Hess, R. (2010). LAT on teacher value added: A disheartening display. Retrieved August 18, 2010, from
    Hoffman, N., Vargas, J., Venezia, A., & Miller, M. S. (2007). Minding the gap. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
    National Council on Teacher Quality. (2010). Rating the nation's education schools. Washington, DC: Author.
    Odden, A. R., & Picus, L. O. (2008). School finance: A policy perspective. Boston: McGraw-Hill.
    Peterson, P. E., & Hess, F. M. (2008). Few states set world-class standards. Education Next, 8(3), 70–73.
    Sadker, D. M., Sadker, M. P., & Zittleman, K. R. (2008). Teachers, schools and society (
    8th ed.
    ). Boston: McGraw-Hill.
    Samuels, C. A. (2010). Study: Effective principals embrace collective leadership. Retrieved July 23, 2010, from
    Velton, B. (2010). Learning on other people's kids. Charlotte, NC: Information Age.
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