By Karen Seashore Louis
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Extra resources for Accountability and school leadership
The visit coincided with the announcement from TEA that the high school was under threat of school reconstitution due to the AYP results of students in the school. The principal provided the research team access to five-hour-long conversations that the principal convened with faculty from each department. Essentially, the principal told the teachers assembled in her conference room that she was serious about replacing staff if high-stakes test scores results did not improve. During her interview, the principal related that the threat of reconstitution and the pressure of accountability had necessitated these ominous conversations.
It seems that the risk associated with job loss and public embarrassment for leaders whose schools do not perform as expected under the Texas’s present accountability system – currently underpinned by the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test – has resulted in the identification of at risk students as liabilities. The principal of Edgeview high school provided an illustrative quote: There is no incentive to keep low-performing students [y] because a lot of pressure is put on by all the administration in this district.
A math teacher, with almost 20 years of experience teaching in Carver and King high schools, described the pressure on teachers. He related, “Unfortunately, [accountability] puts the pressure on the teachers. We are in a tough situation as teachers. ” A teacher, with 20 years of experience at Douglas and Lincoln, also described the pressure on teachers and students: A lot of students say to me [y] these tests are making me just not want to be here. These tests are making me just want to give up.