On Madison School District Administrator Accuracy & Accountability

TJ Mertz:

Or who should be held accountable for the accountability design work being done by MMSD? These aren’t easy questions. Accountability is confusing, maybe not as confusing as the Abbott and Costello routine, but confusing (who should or should not be held accountable for the results of accountability measures is even more confusing….add teachers, families, the economy, inequality, …. to the list below). The chain of accountability goes from the voters who elect Board Members, to the Superintendent who the Board hires, fires and evaluates, to the administrators the Superintendent hires (with the consent of the Board, but for better or worse this has been a rubber stamp consent), supervises and evaluates. It also loops back to the Board, because they are responsible for making sure administrators have the resources they need to do good work, but this chain continues back to the Superintendent and the administrators who prepare draft budgets and should communicate their needs and capacities to the Board. The Superintendent is the bottleneck in this chain each time it loops around because the the MMSD Board has almost entirely limited their action in evaluation, hiring and firing to the Superintendent. Right now MMSD has an Interim Superintendent, so evaluation, hiring and firing is moot and the key link in the chain is broken. Like I said, confused.
What is clear is that the only lever of accountability community members hold is their vote in school elections. Three seats are up in April (Board President James Howard has announced his intent to run for re-election; Maya Cole and Beth Moss have not publicly stated their plans).
Mary Burke noted that the left hand and the right hand didn’t appear to be coordinating. To be more specific, she pointed out that on page 15 (of the pdf) there is a chart with the stated goal “95% of all 11th graders will take the ACT in 2012-13,” but chart itself shows annual incremental increases, culminating at 95% for all groups in 2016-17. It was long ago decided that all students would take the ACT in 2012-13, whoever prepared the left part of the chart knew this, but whoever did the increments on the right did not (and apparently didn’t read the left part). Here it is:

This is not the first time administrative accountability issues have been raised.
It would certainly be a new day in the Madison schools should radical governance change arrive via school board elections.