Monthly Archives: April 1984

Data-Based Accountability in Education

The policy papers included in this collection of essays address various facets of the complexities involved in measuring the performance of schools. Guy Benveniste of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Education explores the underlying issue of accountability and describes the implications of different types of accountability measures. In “New Directions for State Education Information Systems,” Michael Kirst of Stanford University’s School of Education argues for a state “Information Czar who would coordinate and integrate the various data streams” that are currently collected and disseminated in a fragmented fashion. An argument for identifying and rewarding merit schools, rather than merit teachers, is presented by Walter I. Garms, of the University of Rochester. Garms discusses methods of measuring merit and specific indicators of merit and argues that schools need freedom to manipulate resources to achieve desired results. Gene Dawson of the School of Education at Berkeley describes how data are collected for the California Basic Educational Data System (CBEDS) and offers suggestions for improving their reliability. Edward Haertel of Stanford University discusses general problems of measuring the effects of reform, and analyzes three proposed indicators of quality: SAT test scores, course enrollments, and hours of homework or number of writing assignments completed. Finally, David Stern, of the University of California at Berkeley, further explores the merit school concept and discusses issues related specifically to California’s new “quality indicators” program. Taken together, these papers constitute a significant contribution to our understanding of the complex issues involved in measuring the performance of schools and should be a valuable source of guidance as policy on accountability measures is formed.