Accountability for schools requires quantitative measures of success

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Rising graduation rates among public high school students — both nationally and here in Utah — is encouraging news. This shows that positive results can follow policies that focus specific attention on the performance of individual schools.

The use of letter grades as an evaluation metric has its naysayers. Some have questioned the fairness and thoroughness of using a single letter as a grade. Whether or not a letter grade is appended to a school ranking system, methods of holding individual schools accountable for their performance — through quantitative measures — do indeed result in better performance.

Proof of that cause-and-effect relationship exists in the latest report on graduation rates from the U.S. Department of Education, which shows an average graduation rate across the nation of 80 percent, and 81 percent in Utah. The report attributes increased graduation rates among underperforming schools across the country to the efforts of community and district levels to focus on the performance of those schools and the student populations they serve.

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