Teacher Accountability as Formative Assessment: Findings from the National Center on Scaling Up Effective Schools J. Edward Guthrie (Vanderbilt), Christopher Harrison (UNC-Chapel Hill), Marisa Cannata (Vanderbilt) Summary Based on teacher interviews, high value-added (HVA) high schools exhibit dialogic relationships between teachers and administrators. By contrast, teachers in low value-added (LVA) schools feel the weight of outcome-based performance accountability without support or feedback from administrators. This pattern is explored in terms of how accountability practices described as present in the HVA schools and absent in the LVA schools fit a profile of formative assessment. Background The hallmark of “new accountability” is a focus on student learning outcomes, yet evidence suggests that teachers—much like their students—improve in response to feedback and incentives based on assessment of processes and practices (formative), but not to incentives based on assessments of end results (summative). In light of this, we might expect to find that schools that are more effective in increasing student achievement exercise internal accountability practices patterned after a model of formative assessment. We focus in this study on school-level accountability practices and on assessment conceptualized as the full suite of administrator-teacher performance interactions (of which evaluation would comprise a subset). The effectiveness of building-based accountability structures and practices is the most relevant discussion for school personnel who cannot control district- or state-level policy and for whom staff development is a more politically and economically viable option than staff reconstitution. Research Question How do policies and practices related to teacher performance accountability differ between high and low value-added high schools? Method & Sample Data sample consists of semi-structured interviews with administrators, teachers, and staff at a total of eight high schools (two districts, each with two HVA and two LVA schools selected). Schools were chosen for a combination of contrast in value-added performance and similarity in student demographic composition. Data were collected during multiple week-long visits to each school during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years. These data were analyzed through an iterative coding process incorporating directed and summative content analysis. Teachers describe accountability practices in their schools District A District B Examples: Low Value-Added High Value-Added Formative observations and feedback are infrequent, leading teachers to either question or dismiss later summative assessments as irrelevant or invalid. Two-way communication between administrators and teachers creates an environment of trust in which teachers are willing to accept performance feedback as well as consequences for poor performance. Teachers do not receive regular feedback, even when observations were frequent, leading to frustration and anxiety. Teachers report receiving feedback when observations occur, though these are less frequent than in LVA schools. “I have no idea what (classroom observers) thought, whatsoever. Zero. Nothing. I am not expecting to get anything, because I was told there will be nothing in writing. They will have a general debriefing, in general, about the school, and I will somehow get that information passed down to me …But, how I am doing, in their eyes? I have no idea.” “He’s given good feedback but then he gives me one question, like maybe you should do this better or how come you did this instead of this, and so I get positive feedback, and then I get a little bit of negative feedback. The negative feedback is very useful.” Discussion Accountability for teacher performance in high value-added schools shows characteristics of formative assessment. In the schools with the highest value-added and strongest culture of performance accountability, there exist relationships of trust and support fostered by dialogic communication between administrators and teachers. In the low value-added schools, accountability regimes have the characteristics of summative assessment, with all emphasis placed on oncea-year performance reviews. Observation and feedback is less consistent and teachers consider it irrelevant or invalid. Questions over the significance and validity of assessments was most common at schools that relied on formal PDAs to offer feedback to teachers.