A Teacher’s Perspective: Why Accountability Matters for Kids

Written by Aaron Loewenberg, Public Policy & Advocacy Intern | 4 years ago

To an outside observer, sometimes my kindergarten classroom has looked chaotic and maybe even a little hectic, as you might imagine with a class of 21 five and six year olds.

That’s because I have always been a big fan of engaging students through active exercises and tasks to make learning fun.  As a kindergarten teacher, I recognize my significant role in shaping how my students view school.  As the opening act to their formal schooling, it was always important to me that all of my students felt a sense of accomplishment and confidence in their education.

Having started my teaching career in 2011, I have only taught during the No Child Left Behind era. While NCLB has had its many faults, it has also been a powerful motivator for schools to pay closer attention to how they meet the needs of students with learning and attention issues.

For me, increased accountability helped me to remember the importance of reaching every single student in my classroom, regardless of their disability status; and it has been a constant reminder that as the classroom teacher I’m ultimately held responsible for ensuring the academic achievement of all of my students, not just the majority of them.

Now, as Congress inches toward rewriting No Child Left Behind, I am concerned that it will undo this strong accountability and revert back to the days when there was little incentive for schools to focus on students who learn differently.

As an educator, I hope that Congress will continue to embrace accountability and use it to shine a light when students are underperforming, and require schools to intervene to improve student outcomes.

This couldn’t be more important for students with learning and attention issues.

In fact, recent research from the Institute for Education Sciences – the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education – provides proof that strong accountability measures benefit students with disabilities.  It found that when schools were held accountable for the performance of students with disabilities, these students were more likely to:

  • Deliberately be moved from self-contained classrooms to regular education classrooms;
  • Receive 2-3 hours/day of extra instruction in reading and math;
  • Receive extra opportunities for instruction outside and within the school day;
  • Have access to co-teaching (general and special educators); and
  • Have general and special educators who have had access to 3 or more days of professional development related to teaching students with disabilities.

As a teacher who has spent four years in the classroom, I support strong school accountability and hope Congress agrees.   Setting the bar high for both schools and teachers is necessary to ensure that all students receive top-quality instruction and none are ignored.