Standards and Accountability

Standards are key aspects of systems used to hold schools, educators, and students responsible for achieving desired educational outcomes. Academic content standards define what students need to know and be able to do. Achievement standards define how well students must perform to be proficient.

Organizations and states define the content standards that are the focus of assessments used for accountability. Increasingly, the focus of these standards is on ensuring that students make significant progress through school and leave school ready for positive college and career post-school outcomes.

Accountability for student learning occurs through several approaches. System accountability holds schools responsible for the performance of students. Educator accountability holds teachers, principals, and other educators accountable for the performance of students. Student accountability holds students responsible for their own learning.

Students with disabilities, English learners (ELs), and ELs 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 post-school outcomes.

If students with disabilities, ELs, and ELs 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.

Related Publications

Considerations for Developing State-Defined Alternate Diplomas for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities

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NCEO Reports: Principios y Características de Sistemas Inclusivos de Evaluación en un Escenario de Evaluación Cambiante (#400 Spanish)

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Lessons Learned About Assessment from Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in College and Career Ready Assessments

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NCEO Reports: Principles and Characteristics of Inclusive Assessment Systems in a Changing Assessment Landscape (#400)

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Lessons Learned About Instruction from Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in College and Career Ready Assessments

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NCEO State Surveys: 2014 Survey of States: Initiatives, Trends, and Accomplishments

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NCEO Synthesis Reports: States' Flexibility Waiver Plans for Alternate Assessments Based on Alternate Achievement Standards (AA-AAS) (#96)

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NCEO Brief: State Assessment Decision-Making Processes for ELLs with Disabilities (#9)

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NCEO State Surveys: 2012 Survey of States: Successes and Challenges During a Time of Change

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Moving Your Numbers: Moving Your Numbers: Five Districts Share How They Used Assessment and Accountability to Increase Performance for Students With Disabilities as Part of District-wide Improvement

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NCEO Policy Directions: Using Growth for Accountability - Considerations for Students with Disabilities (#21)

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NCEO Synthesis Reports: A Principled Approach to Accountability Assessments for Students with Disabilities (#70)

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NCEO Technical Reports: An Analysis of Accommodations Issues from the Standards and Assessments Peer Review (#51)

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NCEO English Language Learners (ELLs) with Disabilities Reports: Delphi Study of Instructional Strategies for English Language Learners with Disabilities: Recommendations from Educators Nationwide (#21)

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PARA Accessible Reading Assessment Reports: What Do State Reading Test Specifications Specify?

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NCEO Policy Directions: Using Systematic Item Selection Methods to Improve Universal Design of Assessments (#18)

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NCEO English Language Learners (ELLs) with Disabilities Reports: ELL Parent Perceptions on Instructional Strategies for their Children with Disabilities (#12)

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NCEO English Language Learners (ELLs) with Disabilities Reports: Educator Perceptions of Instructional Strategies for Standards-based Education of English Language Learners with Disabilities (#7)

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NCEO Synthesis Reports: Progress Monitoring in an Inclusive Standards-Based Assessment and Accountability System (#53)

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NCEO Policy Directions: Putting it All Together - Including Students with Disabilities in Assessment and Accountability Systems (#16)

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NCEO Technical Reports: Are We There Yet? Accountability for the Performance of Students with Disabilities (#33)

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NCEO Synthesis Reports: Principles and Characteristics of Inclusive Assessment and Accountability Systems (#40)

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NCEO Synthesis Reports: Students with Disabilities in Standards-Based Assessment and Accountability Systems: Emerging Issues, Strategies, and Recommendations (#37)

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NCEO Minnesota Assessment Project Reports: Initial Perceptions of English as a Second Language Educators on Including Students with Limited English Proficiency in Minnesota's High Standards (#33)

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NCEO Minnesota Assessment Project Reports: Participation and Performance of Limited English Proficient Students During Second Attempts on a Graduation Exam (#28)

Formats: Online