Standards and Accountability
Academic content standards define what students need to know and be able to do. States adopt academic content standards that are the focus of assessments used for accountability. Achievement standards define how well students must perform to be proficient. Standards are key aspects of systems used to hold schools, educators, and students responsible for achieving desired educational outcomes.
In addition to academic content standards, there are English language proficiency (ELP) standards that define progressive levels of language development for English learners and English learners with disabilities.
Students with disabilities, English learners, and English learners with disabilities should be included in all aspects of standards and accountability. Past history showed that when excluded, these students suffered many unintended consequences such as watered-down curricula and less instructional attention. This often resulted in depressed progress through school and failure to achieve positive postsecondary outcomes.
If students with disabilities, English learners, and English learners with disabilities are to benefit from standards and accountability, they must be included in all aspects of the system. Students need access to rigorous standards through high quality curricula and instruction. They also need valid, reliable, and fair assessment of their progress toward the standards. Careful alignment of student learning to the standards set for all students will ensure that progress, not just access, occurs.