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We are a national nonprofit focused on dramatically changing education and life outcomes for underserved children.

With permission from DC Prep

We Have Six Service Areas

Alex Spurrier
Chad Aldeman
Jennifer O'Neal Schiess
Andrew J. Rotherham

For nearly two decades, state and federal policymakers have built standards-based accountability systems as a way to improve educational outcomes and to ensure that all students are held to the same rigorous standards. While the standards-based reform era has not fully lived up to the lofty goals of its early proponents, it has demonstrated some successes. Achievement scores and graduation rates have risen since the implementation of standards-based accountability systems, particularly for the most disadvantaged students, and we have much more information on school performance than we did prior to adoption of these policies, particularly for traditionally underserved students.

Yet those results have come with trade-offs. Imposing state standards limits teacher autonomy. Testing all students every year takes time out of the school day and costs money. And criticisms of standardized tests and their limitations as measures of quality, as well as pushback against how the data is used to drive decisions that affect schools, educators, and students have mounted over time. As federal accountability requirements have placed more pressure on states and schools, support for accountability has eroded on both the left and right ends of the political spectrum.

As a global pandemic interrupted purposefully designed systems of testing and accountability, we are left with critical questions: How does the underlying theory of standards-based accountability and its foundational goals of equity and transparency hold up decades later? What do key stakeholders need from these systems now? Given what we’ve learned from decades of successes and failures, how should these systems continue to evolve in the face of mounting political opposition?


Monday July 20th, 1-1:45 p.m. EST

A global pandemic has interrupted standards-based accountability systems, which were originally built as a path to higher and more equitable outcomes for students. But with the twin forces of COVID-19 and the national call to action on racial inequity, the question of how we should measure the impact of education systems on students, particular students of color and low-income students, is more urgent than ever.

Join a panel of prominent leaders to discuss the past two decades of successes and failures in the pursuit of ambitious educational outcomes and rigorous standards for all — and key ways leaders should make their testing and accountability systems resilient to changing circumstances on the ground.

Lina Bankert
Jeff Schulz
Rochelle Dalton
Alison Fuller
Liz McNamee

Postsecondary education dramatically increases the likelihood of employment and economic success. But many young people, especially those furthest from opportunity and from underserved communities, are not accessing postsecondary pathways or realizing the benefits that come with a degree. To disrupt this inequity, we must better support students to identify, pursue, and complete college.

Postsecondary advising is just one lever for closing the degree divide, but it has only recently emerged as a priority and expectation of K-12 systems. As a result, few school districts provide systemic, equitable, and high-quality advising to meet the needs of all students, especially those furthest from opportunity.

Hailly T.N. Korman
Michael Johnson
Max Marchitello

The recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other Black people, often by law enforcement, have added momentum and renewed urgency to longstanding efforts to rethink and perhaps eliminate the relationship between police and schools. This two-page resource is designed to aggregate and amplify the existing work of advocates, researchers, community organizers, and students in order to offer practical questions and next steps for school and district leaders considering a reevaluation of schools’ relationship with law enforcement.