Investigating School Accountability Systems

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For nearly three decades, states have developed systems to measure student outcomes, identify low-performing schools, and provide targeted supports designed to improve student outcomes and remedy persistent inequities. These systems include standards, assessments, measures, report cards, technical assistance infrastructure, and interventions to identify, catalyze, and sustain improvement.

As long as accountability systems have been in place, AIR has conducted research and evaluation on the design and implementation of these policies. Our work spans accountability activities from developing performance indicators to providing supports to districts and schools. From landmark studies of accountability under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), to cutting-edge research on accountability under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), AIR is on the forefront of accountability research.

Key Projects

The Impact of CSI Designation in Multiple Measure ESSA Accountability Systems. Through an Education Research grant from the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education, AIR is conducting a study to examine whether student outcomes in CSI schools improvement and whether CSI schools different from non-CSI schools in other dimensions.

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Study of Schools Identified for Comprehensive Supports Under ESSA. This study’s report, due to be released in 2024, examines implementation of ESSA's CSI provisions in order to understand how states, districts, and schools are responding to the requirements of ESSA.

ESSA State Accountability Profiles. Initially funded by the U.S. Department of Education, policy experts at AIR closely reviewed the state plans submitted in 2017 and summarized the key elements in concise profiles.

Study of Early Implementation of Flexibility Under ESEA. The purpose of this study was to explore state and district processes, successes and challenges, as well as school-level experiences associated with the early implementation of the accountability provisions of ESEA flexibility.

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Study of School Turnaround. Funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, this study examined the improvement process in a purposive sample of 35 case study schools receiving federal School Improvement Grants (SIG) over a three-year period (2010–11 to 2012–13 school years). This study produced 6 reports and briefs.

National Longitudinal Study of No Child Left Behind. Part of the federally-mandated National Assessment of Title I, the NLS-NCLB and partner study (the Study of State Implementation of No Child Left Behind) surveyed states, districts, principals, and teachers to assess implementation of the landmark federal law. These studies produced two reports on NCLB accountability as well as two reports on school choice and supplemental educational services.

Study of the Public Schools Accountability Act of 1999 (California). One of AIR’s first accountability studies, this evaluation assessed the impact and implementation of the Immediate Intervention/Underperforming Schools program of California’s early accountability law. Study publications include a report and a brief.

Kerstin Le Floch
Managing Researcher
Image of Drew Atchison
Principal Researcher
Steven Hurlburt
Principal Researcher
Laura Hamilton Headshot
Senior Director, Education Measurement and Assessment