In the never ending debate about accountability, I'd like to bring into the discussion the Central Offices of school districts. In his book Common Sense School Reform, Frederick M. Hess writes:
Status quo reformers support guidelines as to what content will be taught, becuase these encourage teacher collaboration and better enable teachers to work with students who switch schools. Status quo reformers are for "authentic" assessments that try to capture everything a student whould know. They talk about the need to use assessment to help teachers "talk with one another about how their students are doing," "stay focused on teaching well and meeting student needs," and "pay close attention to [curricular] alignment" (60).
There are certainly times when we as teachers feel that out Central Offices are "hawking" our every move. That when, despite our best instruction of the curriculum they have mandated, students do not succeed, they are looking to hold the individual teacher accountable. This feeling, whether a correct one or not, creates a system of distrust. The classroom teacher begins to feel that the Central Office really isn't supporting them, only dictating what to teach. The Central Office begins to feel that the teachers really aren't trying, only focusin on selfish desires.
When will Central Offices trust the teachers? Yes, some teachers will push against the system just to maintain the cozy, non-accountable job they've had for years. But I have to believe that the majority of teachers really want their students to succeed in school. And what bothers those teachers is a Central Office unwilling to bring them into the curricular decisions.
Let us not forget that those in the Central Office are no longer in the classroom. And for as much research data that they analyze, no amount of reading can replace the experiences of the modern day classroom. When test scores do not improve as intended, those driving the curriculum from the Central Office are a part of the problem. Who holds them accountable?