Do the Dots Connect? Examining the Accountability Theory of Action to Improve CSI Schools
Improvement in CSI schools is supposed to occur through (a) measuring school performance using multiple indicators of different facets of performance; (b) providing schools, districts, and the broader community clear information about the areas of underperformance; and (c) requiring CSI schools to develop and implement a plan for improvement with supports provided by states and districts. Despite its logic, previous accountability policies with similar intentions have not achieved widespread improvement in low-performing schools. We present findings from our study of the implementation of CSI policy in three states, investigating the efficacy of the accountability theory of action by examining the strength of three key links: the measures used to identify schools, the coherence of schools’ approaches to improvement, and the supports provided to CSI schools. By identifying the strengths and weaknesses in these areas, we identify obstacles that may hinder the desired improvement.
Drew Atchison is a senior researcher at AIR and has helped conduct a number of studies examining federal accountability policy. Currently, Atchison is directing an IES Education Research Grant examining the impact of CSI designation in ESSA accountability systems.
Ms. Boyle is a Senior Researcher at AIR where her research and evaluation work focuses on policies related to accountability, school improvement, and English learners. She has over 19 years of experience studying the implementation of ESEA programs.