Evaluation Study of the Immediate Intervention/Underperforming Schools Program and the High Achieving/Improving Schools Program of the Public Schools Accountability Act of 1999

Jennifer O'Day and Catherine Bitter

The recent nationwide move to hold schools accountable for student performance is not an entirely new phenomenon, but it is significant in that it is so closely linked to the call for a systemic, standards-based overhaul of education. As part of this reform, states and districts are designing new approaches to holding schools and districts accountable for accomplishing their missions, or more particularly for moving the children in their charge closer to achieving state standards in key academic domains.

Following this trend, California state lawmakers spent much of the late 1990s attempting to put the elements of a standards-based accountability system in place. The result was the Public Schools Accountability Act (PSAA) of 1999, which incorporates three central components designed to encourage improvement of practice and student learning. These components are: The Academic Performance Index (API); The Immediate Intervention/Underperforming Schools Program (II/USP); and The High Achieving/Improving Schools Program (HA/ISP), including the Governor’s Performance Award (GPA) program.  

In December 2001, AIR, in partnership with Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) and EdSource, contracted with the California Department of Education to conduct the legislatively mandated independent evaluation of these components. The evaluation addresses the impact of II/USP and GPA as well as factors that contributed to or hindered achievement growth in participating schools.