Accountability: It Takes a Village

(As we prepare for our 2017 School Quality Reports release on November 8th, we’re taking the week to celebrate accountability in education. We are publishing thoughts from parents, school leaders, and education stakeholders as they explain why accountability matters in education. Our blog series has already published pieces by Jo Baker, Patricia A. Brantley, and Ramona H. Edelin. The following is authored by Andrea Jones, parent of a student at City Arts and Prep.)

When I first started on my school search for my child, I mainly looked at the numbers. I would look at PARCC scores, School Quality Reports, and the school’s curriculum. My decision was based solely on the numbers. What I have learned since, is it takes more than that to make a great school. It takes dedicated administrative staff, teachers, and parents, as well as high accountability standards. If there is something missing, the school will not function well. I realized this from the first public charter school I encountered. The curriculum was ideal but it was not implemented and the number of teachers leaving throughout the school year was high. The administrative staff did not communicate regularly with parents and parents did not form a PTA (or even try).

I have seen my share of great schools and not so good schools. I hold my school accountable because I hold myself accountable to being an active participant in my child’s education. I’m learning along the way, but what I’ve learned is how to pick the right school: you have to ask more questions, get the data, and understand the data. I didn’t ask enough questions before. If I received answers, I didn’t ask to see the proof in their data. My goal is to ask the school a lot of questions as if I am an investigative reporter because my child’s education is very important to me.

I monitor the teacher turnover at my child’s school and if it is high, I ask lots of questions. Being active on a PTA board and in my child’s school ensures all students will get a quality education because I’m meeting with teachers, assisting teachers in the class, and giving input to the administrative staff to make sure days run smoother and children are learning. Quality education is not just in a class. Quality education is in after school activities, field trips, and volunteering. Our children need to be well rounded which means learning math and science, but on top of that learning foreign language, financial budgeting, team building and social skills through sports, and so on.

Accountability matters in education because our future is changing and these children need to be prepared for that. We cannot hold only the teacher accountable. Parents need to ask the school hard questions to make sure the school understands that accountability is important. The school staff needs to work with parents to hold parents accountable as well. It takes a village which means parents, administrative staff, and teachers need to be held accountable in giving our children the best education possible so they will have a successful future.

- Andrea Jones

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