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CA Accountability Policy

**Linked Learning Alliance. (2012). SB 1458 (Steinberg) [Fact sheet]. Sacramento, CA: Author. Available at

This factsheet summarizes the changes to California’s Academic Performance Index (API) enacted by Senate Bill (SB) 1458. Specifically, the bill limits the percentage of standardized tests included in the index for secondary schools, requires inclusion of graduation rates, and allows for the addition of other indicators like promotion rates and measures of college and career readiness. SB 1458 also requires the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) to present alternatives to the current decile ranking system to the Legislature by October 1st, 2013. The first baseline API calculations with the new formula are scheduled to be calculated in May 2016.

**Candidate SB 1458 indicators distilled from multiple input sources [Draft]. (2012). Available for members at this link.

SB 1458 mandates the inclusion of non-test score based measures in California’s API, with a particular emphasis on college and career readiness, but does not stipulate what exactly should be included in the new formula. This document synthesizes input on potential measures from researchers, support organizations, and district leaders involved with the California Linked Learning District Initiative. The resulting list of indicators was developed with the understanding that accountability drives instruction and assessment. Categories of indicators include persistence and completion, equity, experiential learning, college and career readiness, and post-secondary transition.

Carey, K. (2012). Some assembly required: Building a better accountability system for California. Washington, DC: Education Sector. Available at

The author explains that California’s standardized test score based API is not a good measure of 21st century post-secondary readiness and does not provide easily interpretable or actionable data to guide school improvement. Furthermore, he argues that accountability systems, which ignore much of what schools provide for and expect from students, are viewed as illegitimate by and tend to produce antagonistic relationships with the governed. The author proposes the use of more meaningful data such as measures of college remediation and degree completion as well as qualitative measures produced by school visit panels. He concludes with a discussion of California’s Senate Bill 1458, arguing that the bill gives California the opportunity to create an accountability system which uses meaningful data to inform actions, provided it does not fall victim to the rules-based, one-size-fits-all nature of prior systems.

Jones, K. (2004). A balanced school accountability model: An alternative to high-stakes testing. Phi Delta Kappan, 85(8), 584-590. Available at

The author argues that oversimplified and undemocratic state and federal school accountability policies are increasing inequities, trivializing schooling, undermining the teaching profession, and misleading the public about the state of education. He goes on to propose a new model for school accountability based on both outcomes and operations, which includes the following pillars: 1) student learning; 2) opportunity to learn; 3) responsiveness to students, parents, and community; and 4) organizational capacity. The author suggests that opportunity to learn should be measured in terms of resources provided to students as well as practices which influence access to quality teachers and “press for achievement”. The fourth pillar of the model is intended to hold schools accountable for creating the organizational structures and culture–through approaches like distributed leadership and professional development–to improve outcomes for students.

California Senate Bill 1458, 2011-12 legislative session. (2012). Available at sb_1458_bill_20120926_chaptered.pdf

Sponsored by Senator Darrell Steinberg and signed into law on September 26, 2012 by Governor Jerry Brown, SB 1458 limits the contribution to API of standardized test scores to 60 percent for high schools and requires that such tests constitute at least 60 percent of API for elementary and middle schools. Beyond requiring attendance and graduation rates, the bill does not specify what measures will constitute the non-test score based portion of API, but authorizes the SPI to include promotion rates and measures of college and career readiness. SB 1458 also authorizes the SPI to develop a school quality review program including school visits, classroom observations, pupil interviews, or examination of student work should funds be allocated for this purpose in the state budget.

**This document is considered a priority reading.