Ohio is committed to the implementation of a unified state system of support directly focused on improving the academic achievement of all students. Ohio’s statewide system of support includes State Support Teams and Educational Service Center personnel who use a connected set of tools to improve instructional practice and student performance on a continuing basis.
Ohio's Differentiated Accountability Model:
Promoting Flexibility, Innovation for District-Wide
Improvement of Instructional Practice and Student Performance
In spring 2008, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings invited states to participate in a pilot to implement a differentiated accountability model for distinguishing between schools and districts in need of intensive intervention and those that are closer to meeting their goals. The pilots are intended to provide states with additional flexibility for innovation in providing more targeted and effective interventions for districts and schools in need of improvement.
Differentiated accountability represents a significant new development in accountability policy and practice by using federal requirements/funds as a lever for building district/school capacity to improve student performance and by better targeting state support for district-wide continuous improvement under NCLB authority. However, states' differentiated accountability models must maintain the current measurement of adequate yearly progress (AYP) under section 1111 of NCLB.
As one of six states awarded the opportunity to use differentiated accountability, Ohio’s model offers a systematic approach that assists districts and their schools in using data to target improvement efforts by identifying their greatest needs and aligning work around a limited number of focused goals. It does not change how districts or schools make or miss Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), local report card indicators, or school or district designations. It does:
- Allow student progress to be considered when determining improvement status,
reducing the impact of how long a district or school has missed AYP;
- Place districts and/or schools that miss AYP into categories based on degree of complexity
and level of support needed instead of how long a district or school has missed AYP;
- Categorize districts and their schools based upon the collective percentage of
student groups not meeting AYP in reading and mathematics; and
- Require districts and their schools to move through the Ohio Improvement Process (OIP) together, rather than being treated as individual disconnected entities.
Under the current system of federal accountability under NCLB, a series of sanctions is applied based on the length of time a school or district has been in improvement status. Each year the district or school continues to miss AYP, increasing consequences are imposed that range from offering transfer options and tutoring for students to restructuring school or district governance. Under the current law, the consequences are the same whether the district/school missed AYP for one group of students in one subject area, or missed the mark for multiple groups of students in both reading and mathematics.
For districts in corrective action (i.e., those that failed to meet AYP for more than four years), consequences can include replacing district personnel; removing particular buildings from the jurisdiction of the district and establishing alternative governance and supervision arrangements; appointing a receiver/trustee to administer the affairs of the district in place of the superintendent and local school board; and abolishing or restructuring the district.
In contrast to the current system, Ohio’s Differentiated Accountability model treats districts and their schools as part of a system – rather than as fragmented entities within the system – and requires the district and its buildings to move through the improvement process as a unit. Instead of focusing on the number of years that a school or district missed AYP, Ohio’s new model categorizes districts and schools into three risk categories (low-, medium-, and high-support) based on the aggregate percentage of student groups not meeting AYP in reading and mathematics, and provides them with different options for interventions in addition to those required by law.
- Defines leadership as essential practices that should be implemented at all levels of the system
- Takes into account the role and responsibility of the district in making/sustaining improvement
- Organizes district/school data to customize interventions/solutions to critical needs as determined through a comprehensive needs assessment
- Accelerates support and better targets resources and assistance to the districts and schools that need the most support
- Provides high quality consistent training and support through a unified regional infrastructure
These new intervention options require implementation of the Ohio Improvement Process (OIP),
a four-stage process that involves: (1) using data to identify the district’s critical needs;
(2) developing a single coherent plan (CCIP) with a limited number of focused goals and
strategies for addressing those needs; (3) implementing fully the plan across the district; and
(4) monitoring the degree of implementation and evaluating the effects of the improvement
process on student performance.
The first step in preparing for OIP implementation at the district level is the establishment (or
re-establishment) of a district leadership team (DLT). The use of leadership teams to distribute
key leadership functions and direct district-wide implementation of effective practices facilitates
the intentional alignment of resources to address identified weaknesses. It also shifts the focus
from the individual as leader to a team of individuals responsible for doing the right work, doing
it collectively across the system, and holding each other accountable for the desired effect on
The right work, or the essential practices that must be implemented across the system for sustainable
improvements to be made, is defined across six core areas by the Ohio Leadership Advisory Council (OLAC).
These six areas include: (1) data and the decision-making process; (2) focused goal setting process; (3) instruction
and the learning process; (4) community engagement process; (5) resource management process; and (6) board
development and governance process.
In districts and schools that have shown steady and sustainable improvement, leadership teams
use data to identify a few district goals and strategies around instruction and achievement, intentionally focus
effort across the district on implementing strategies and action steps to achieve the goals, and continually monitor
the degree of implementation and its desired effect on student performance. April Domine, OLAC member and
superintendent of Big Walnut Local Schools, describes the importance of focus when she says,
“All the leadership standards depend on one thing - the will to focus. Leaders must insist that
we target all resources, focus every discussion/decision and continuously communicate the
focus until every classroom demonstrates the vision. A mentor always said to me, “Leadership
is saying no to good ideas” and this has never been more true. If we don’t learn to do this in
education, we will continue to have a history of disconnected good ideas that frequently
change and never see large scale change in every classroom.”
At stage one of the OIP, the DLT uses the Ohio Decision Framework to review relevant data and answer essential
questions, helping to focus the team on the most important problems or critical needs of the district. The OLAC
performance assessment rubric, an electronic tool for use by teams in benchmarking their performance against
OLAC essential leadership practices, provides a source of data for use in answering questions about leadership.
Completion of the decision framework results in a district profile that should be used to affirm priority areas for goals
At stage two, the DLT develops a focused plan with a limited number of goals and strategies based on the decision
framework profile and directs building leadership teams (BLTs) to complete the building decision framework, reviewing
relevant data and identifying any additional focused action steps – related to district goals – that are relevant to their
building. Each BLT develops a school improvement plan with action steps aligned to the district goals and strategies.
Stages 1 and 2 should be completed about every five years unless the district encounters significant changes
that would warrant an intensive review of the data and the re-establishment of district goals. Otherwise, it is anticipated
that district goals would remain stable over time.
At stages three and four, the focus is on full implementation of the district and school plans, the ongoing collection and review of data by the DLT and BLTs to gauge the degree of implementation, and the evaluation of the effects of implementation on the achievement of all students and student groups. A five-year OIP Implementation Schedule that includes major steps and target time lines is provided on page 4. See the center OIP Graphic for a description of each stage of the OIP.
OIP Guiding Principles
- Improvement is everyone’s responsibility – at all levels of the district and in all districts.
- Leadership – the purpose of which is the improvement of instructional practice and performance, regardless
of role – is a critical component of the OIP and must be addressed in more meaningful ways to ensure
scalability and sustainability of improvement efforts on a district-wide basis.
- State-developed products and tools, including professional development, must be designed
for universal accessibility and applicability to/for every district in the state.
- A unified state system of support requires the intentional use of a consistent set of tools
and protocols by all state-supported regional providers, rather than allowing for multiple approaches across the state, based on preference.
Differentiated accountability provides a vehicle for moving away from a focus on external controls imposed from outside the school district to a focus on internal accountability that holds all adults
in the system accountable for improving instructional practice and student learning. Rather than focusing on making improvement on a “school-by-school” basis, the OIP provides a more systematic approach using a connected set of processes and tools for helping districts redefine expectations
for how people operate collectively across the district as a system. Recent meta-analytical studies
on the impact of district and school leadership on student achievement provide strong support for
the creation of leadership teams to clarify shared leadership roles/responsibilities at the district
and school level, and validate leadership team structures needed to implement quality planning, implementation, and ongoing monitoring on a system-wide basis. When school board members, superintendents, central office staff, principals, and teachers “stay the course” on the right work,
as defined by focused goals for instruction and achievement, student learning increases.
The following documents provide more details about Ohio's Improvement Process and other supporting information. They include:
Ohio's Accountability System
Details the four factors within a school district or building's local report card that collectively determine its designation.
Value-Added, a component of Ohio's accountability system, measures growth or improvement over a period of time to determine the "value" gained by a student during that time period.
Value-Added Toolkit (18MB Zip file)
Value-added analysis is a statistical method used to measure a school’s impact on the rate of student progress from year to year. Value-added analysis has the potential to be one of the most important school improvement tools...(more)
How to Interpret Your School's Value-Added Score (PDFs)
Elementary School | Middle School | High School