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School Self-Evaluation and Inspection for Improving U.S. Schools?

The U.S. test-based accountability model holds schools and teachers accountable for student outcomes with little attention to school improvement processes. The authors look at an approach used in several European counties, which entails more school-centered accountability efforts, such as school self-evaluation followed by inspection (SSE/I) to examine school quality.

SSE/I is a complex policy instrument with mixed consequences and many research questions still to be answered. Moreover, accountability models from other countries cannot be naively imported to the U.S. given the vital distinctions in sociopolitical contexts. That being said, a look at some of the purposes or principles behind SSE/I—especially its emphasis on quality improvement—can nevertheless inform efforts to redesign and improve the U.S. accountability model. The purpose of this brief is to take just such a look at this model.

Despite those necessary cautions, the researchers suggest that SSE/I’s underlying purposes and principles, in particular its focus on quality improvement, can help inform the redesign and improvement of the U.S. approach.