The move to standards-based education reform created a set of federal and state standards by which student performance is defined in an attempt to create more accountability. The intent of these high-stakes test is to promote accountability and learning. Student success on standardized testing is meant to be a measure of the quality of education and student learning, an assumption that is also not always accurate. Students do better on standardized tests when they have had quality education from the time their academic characters are formed, from the age of three (Perry preschool Study; Abecedarian Study). Students do well when they have high quality teachers that can help them overcome potential obstacles they may face (Illinois experience). Students do well when their teachers, schools, and school districts use methods and techniques that have been proven successful (NYSED). And lastly, students do well when their schools are adequately funded and their teachers well paid. A comprehensive approach to accountability using all of these components has the best chance of closing New York State's achievement gap.
This report summarizes laws and programs that have been implemented in other states, which could be used to achieve a more comprehensive accountability system in New York. There are three interrelated parts to the present report. The first presents accountability laws and systems from the states of Maryland, New Jersey, and New York. The second part describes the North Carolina preschool program More at Four, the Abbott Preschool in New Jersey, and the New York Universal Pre-Kindergarten program. The third part describes initiatives to hire and retain high-quality teachers that have been implemented in Illinois.