October 25, 2015

William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net
Daniel Quinn, (517) 203-2940, dquinn@greatlakescenter.org

First brief in a series of concise publications considers alternative accountability approaches

EAST LANSING, MI (Oct. 26, 2015) – This weekend the Obama Administration announced a shift away from policies it had previously supported, backing away somewhat from past policies that strongly promoted reliance on test scores in educator evaluation systems and in the evaluation of teacher preparation programs.

As a part of a new series of briefs being released beginning today by the National Education Policy Center with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice, William J. Mathis, University of Colorado Boulder, discusses the efficacy of three types of school evaluation approaches: (1) test based accountability; (2) multiple measures; and (3) school self-evaluations plus inspectorates.

In School Accountability, Multiple Measures and Inspectorates in a Post-NCLB World, Mathis concludes, no evaluation system by itself is capable of overcoming the deficiencies of a school or community lacking resources.  According to Mathis, the only way for school evaluation systems to succeed are “with all around accountability.”

Mathis makes eight recommendations for policymakers:

  1. Adequate student opportunities and resources to achieve each state’s goals;
  2. Continued development of multiple-measure approaches that strive for balance and clarity;
  3. Cautious use of standardized test scores;
  4. Avoidance of data aggregation into a single score;
  5. Development and implementation of school visitation teams, with a priority on higher need schools;
  6. External reviews focusing on guidance and support rather than sanctions;
  7. Trained and qualified reviewers who meet prescribed standards; and
  8. Multiple stakeholders involved in the design of state’s evaluation/inspectorate program.

This is a section of Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking, a multipart brief that takes up a number of important policy issues and identifies policies supported by research.  Each section focuses on a different issue, and its recommendations to policymakers are based on the latest scholarship.

Find William Mathis's brief on the GLC website:

This report is published by the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder, and is made possible in part by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

This brief is also found on the NEPC website at:


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The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

Visit the Great Lakes Center website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/