Designing an Accountability Framework

Administrators at every level must understand, evaluate, and communicate the quality of their schools. Tembo has worked with states, districts, and charter management organizations to conceptualize and develop robust accountability and performance management systems. Whether you are working under federal ESSA regulations or local authorizer mandates, we can help.

How can Tembo help?

When it comes to accountability work, each organization has unique needs. To better understand these needs, Tembo differentiates accountability work into discrete streams:

Stakeholder engagement. What do administrators, school leaders, teachers, students, and parents really want out of an accountability system? What information is important to each group? What does each group actually do with that information? How does this help students? Tembo works closely with clients to help navigate the multiple stakeholder groups whose buy-in is essential for the successful development and roll-out of any accountability system.

Metric creation, validation, and calculation. An accountability system is only as strong as the data that supports it. Our data analysts work with clients to better understand what data are available, whether those data are reliable and valid over time, and how those data correlate with one another. Paired with our prior industry experience and best practices, we use these analyses to guide organizations in choosing the best available measures of school quality and equity. Depending on an education agency’s need, our in-house data team can also take the lead on calculating school and subgroup level results for each metric included in the system.

System specification. Perhaps the hardest part of any accountability engagement is setting expectations. What level of performance should we expect from schools? How do we ensure that our expectations are equitable for all schools, knowing that schools serve very different student populations? Our team works closely with our clients to not online define these expectations, but to vet them against actual school performance. Using our BUILD simulation tool, clients can quickly create multiple draft accountability systems and compare schools’ performance on each to better understand how individual decisions impact overall results.

Public reporting. At Tembo, we believe the presentation of information is as important as the data supporting it. With our FIND and EXPLORE software, clients can quickly transform their accountability results into clear online reports for families and students. Using these tools, families and students can search for specific schools and districts using an interactive map or filters. Users can also see clear, concise school and district score reports. Performance information can be complex, so our goal in reporting is to create tools that are visual, friendly, and helpful with context and trends. 

Administrator support. In our experience working with states and districts, accountability systems require ongoing internal support. School leaders, in particular, want to understand their school’s results, as well as how they might improve over time. Our FORECAST simulation tool provides these answers. Using FORECAST, school leaders can view their schools’ past performance, and easily model how changes in specific measures (e.g. attendance rate, graduation rate) would have improved their scores.  

What’s our impact?

Over the past six years, we have supported numerous states and districts in creating performance frameworks and accountability systems for both K12 schools and educator preparation programs.

Our clients have included the Tennessee State Board of Education, the Delaware Department of Education, and the DC Office of the State Superintendent, the School District of Philadelphia, the DC Public Charter School Board, Indianapolis Public Schools, Shelby County Schools, Sacramento City Unified School District, and the Center on Reinventing Public Education. 

See some recent work:

Read about DC’s State Plan >

Explore Tennessee’s Educator Prep Scorecards >

Learn about the FORECAST tool used by Philly principals >