Board Accountability

Over half the school year has gone by as 2007 has closed out, and 2008 finds schools and districts returning to the work of educating our states children for the 21st Century. Many of us in education also continue following what both State and Federal officials are doing towards reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind legislation. In two previous issues of this newsletter, we have looked at two of the building blocks of any “Good” board, and now we will look in 2008 towards what makes a “Great” board. Although Vision and Structure are very important pieces of School Board Standards, NCLB has made us focus more on the critical accountability piece. Before we start looking, at Accountability in Delaware let us look first at the definition of accountability, and then how it relates to education and board standards.
The Wikipedia website defines accountability as “A is accountable to B when A is obliged to inform B about A’s (past or future) actions and decisions, to justify them, and to suffer punishment in the case of eventual misconduct”. Words used synonymously with accountability include but are not limited too answerability, enforcement, responsibility, blameworthiness, liability and other terms associated with the expectation of account giving. As a leader in either the public or private sector, accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, decisions, policies, governance, and encompassing the obligation to report, explain, and be answerable for resulting consequences. A nonprofessional’s definition is to take responsibility for ones actions towards another, and suffer the consequences if those actions do not meet the others needs.

School Board Standard 3: Accountability

All school boards are accountable to the local communities that they serve. To be accountable to the community a board measures continuously its performance towards accomplishing its visions, and reporting these results. A board does this by collecting and analyzing data from assessments of the education programs and individual student performances. The board also evaluates the staff and superintendent annually to their performance and reports this as well to the stakeholders. Finally, boards are accountable for the public monies they are in trusted to oversee and all long-term plans for the future of the district. To use a clique school boards are “where the rubber meets the road” or “where the buck stops.”
The Delaware Department of Education has a very good article on its website that looks at accountability, and I just want to take a moment to hit some highlights. In 2004, Delaware made changes to its existing accountability system to bring it in line with the new NCLB requirements. These changes had several elements, which helped to make for more valid and reliable accountability. The first element looks at the core subjects and is the State Progress Determination. The current DSTP test is Delaware’s second element and it uses student performance to determine whether the student and district is meeting Adequate Yearly Performance (AYP). Accountability for not making AYP has consequences that boards and districts must constantly be aware of and work towards preventing by constantly making improvements for the students. Ultimately, Parents make the accountability system in Delaware succeed by paying attention to their students needs and working with educators to meet them. If we as board members keep this in our minds and focus on the visions and plans we set with the community then we have met our accountability responsibility.

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About Gary M Wolfe

The Author spent 10 years as a member of the Milford Delaware Board Of Education, and is currently seeking the 18th Senatorial seat in the Delaware Legislature.
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