In the nineteen-nineties, I was principal of a middle school when the accountability issue burst into prominence in the state of Alabama in the form of norm-referenced testing as the main tool to evaluate school performance. Designed by well-meaning educators to meet the requirements of Alabama legislation, the accountability program in Alabama was developed to put some teeth into the curriculum. Schools and systems that performed poorly faced state takeover. The Alabama accountability issue was one face of a national movement predicated on the idea that the public schools in the United States have failed egregiously and that more stringent accountability standards will set expectations forcing teachers to do a better job teaching and students to do a better job learning (Houston, 2003). Schools and school systems across the United States were facing the same types of accountability standards and were being evaluated through student performance on standardized tests, criterion referenced tests, or a combination of the two.

Author's Biographies

Paul "Tom" Hackett is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at Columbus State University. He served as the Superintendent of the Phenix City Public Schools from 2000- 2003 and as a middle school principal and an elementary school principal in Alexander City, Alabama from 1990-1998. He began his career in Phenix City as an English teacher.

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