ESEA Accountability

The District of Columbia’s Accountability System tracks school performance and progress toward academic goals as established under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The system aims to support schools to reduce by half the number of non-proficient students and ensure that 75% of DC students are proficient by 2017.

Under the ESEA Accountability System, each school and local education agency (LEA) receives student proficiency and growth targets. Schools and LEAs are then accountable to reach targets to improve academic achievement. 

Under the ESEA Accountability System, each school is given an Index Score that reflects the performance of their students on the DC CAS. The score not only reflects the number of students scoring Proficient or Advanced on the DC CAS, but also the growth of students from one year to the next. An Index Score ranges from 1-100 and is helpful in allowing families and the community to make an apples-to-apples comparison of public schools and public charter schools. Index Scores are reported for an entire school and for student subgroups including: African American, White, Hispanic, Asian, Economically Disadvantaged, English Language Learners, and students accessing Special Education services. The Index Score additionally determines a school’s classification under the ESEA Accountability System. 

Under the ESEA Accountability System, schools are classified in one of five categories summarizing the performance of their students on the DC CAS. A school’s classification determines the rewards or supports they will receive and the flexibility they have in using federally allocated funds. 

A Reward school is a school with the highest level of student performance and/or growth on the DC CAS.  Reward schools have School Index Score of 80 or above or growth in the top 5% of all schools. Schools in this category receive public recognition, invitations to participate in special programs and are eligible for reward funding.

The 2012 ESEA School Classification List lists the category assigned to each DC school according to the following criteria:

A Rising school is a school with good performance, defined as a School Index Score between 45 and 79. Schools in this category receive professional development and ongoing guidance and technical assistance to support continued growth.

A Developing school is a school with moderate performance, defined as a School Index Score between 26 and 44 that also needs support to continue growing. Schools in this category receive professional development and ongoing guidance and technical assistance to support continued growth.

A Focus school is a school needing targeted support to address large achievement gaps between specific groups of students. Focus schools are required to develop a school intervention plan, set aside a portion of their Federal funding and receive special quality monitoring and professional development. Schools remain in this category until they show two consecutive years of increased performance.

A Priority school is a school needing intense support to address low performance of all students, defined as a School Index Score of 25 or below, or a graduation rate of less than 60% for two or more years in a row. Schools in this category are required to develop an intervention plan, set aside a portion of their Federal funding and receive special quality monitoring and professional development. Schools remain in this category until they show three consecutive years of increased performance.

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Developing School
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A school with a school index score between 26-44.
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ESEA Accountability
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A framework for tracking school performance and progress toward academic goals as established under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
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Priority School
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Schools needing intense support to address low performance of all students.
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School Index Score
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A score that a school receives reflecting student proficiency, mastery, and growth on the DC CAS and determines their classification in the accountability system.
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Elementary and Secondary Education Act
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A federal law governing education guidelines and the funding of schools serving students in Kindergarten–12th Grade.
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Focus School
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A school needing targeted support to address large achievement gaps between students.
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Reward School
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A school with the highest level of student performance and/or growth.
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Rising School
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A school performing moderately well, but needing some additional support to continue student growth.
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School Classification
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A category indicating a school’s academic performance and growth, used to determine school rewards or support and oversight.
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Local Education Agency
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A local school district that operates a public early childhood education, primary or secondary school.