California Department of Education
Taking Center Stage – Act II

Accountability for learning

Accountability is the quality or state of being accountable; especially an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions.1

Every middle grades student has a right to learn. Although teachers are the primary ones held responsible for student learning, they cannot close the achievement gap by themselves. To do so, all stakeholders (school board members, superintendents, principals, teachers, parents, students, and others) must be accountable for results. In addition, the state and the federal government are accountable to provide schools with the fiscal support and resources needed to comply with state and federal mandates.

A results-oriented accountability system depends on data and on the professionals who understand the implications of the data and how to use the data to achieve learning outcomes. Middle grades educators must help adolescents adjust to their rapidly changing emotional, physical, and social worlds while academic rigor significantly increases. At the same time, these educators face the challenges posed by reporting achievement under two different accountability systems:

Both the state and federal accountability systems track California’s huge middle grades student population—grades six through eight that consist of nearly 1.5 million students. According to the California Department of Education’s Fact Book 2010, approximately 17 percent of California’s over 1.4 million English learner students are in grades six through eight.2 In 2008-09, there were 1,286 middle schools, 37 junior high schools, 671 K-8 schools, and many others that include students in any of grades five through eight.3

Years of research and effective middle grades practice indicate that results do not happen to students, they happen with students who are motivated, excited to attend school, and encouraged by people who care. Students who struggle do not give up; they know that the adults in their school will give them the support they need to succeed. Likewise, effective schools provide gifted students as well as those “in the middle” with access to a rich, challenging, and engaging learning environment that invites them to help create meaning and develop a lifelong love of learning.

Related Links


Recommendation 11 — Accountability

California's Public Schools Accountability Act

1Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
2Statewide English Learners by Language and Grade, 2009-10, California Department of Education.
3Enrollment/Number of Schools by Grade Span & Type - CalEdFacts, California Department of Education.

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