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High Hopes: How High Schools Respond to State Accountability Policies


"American public education faces increasing pressure to demonstrate the competence of all of its students as they progress through the grades and, especially, as students exit their high schools. In response, policymakers are developing sophisticated accountability and support systems in efforts to steer schools toward improved performance. These systems combine a set of academic goals and standards with a battery of incentives to focus and motivate organizational and curricular change. In addition, these systems often provide resources to support local reform efforts. Although accountability systems such as these are not new to the educational policy environment, the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in January, 2002, ensures that accountability systems focused on academic outcomes will continue for some time to come. This report shines a spotlight on high schools, which bring students to the last benchmarks in the K-12 system, and analyzes the response of teachers, school administrators, and the district administrators to these policies."