Home > Uncategorized > Differentiated Accountability Sensible for Doctors… and Schools

Differentiated Accountability Sensible for Doctors… and Schools

An article by Kate Taylor in today’s NYTimes called to mind a conversation I had several years ago with a Dartmouth Hitchcock doctor regarding metrics used in the medical field. Titled “New York Schools for Off-Track Students May Face Stricter Rules”, the article describes a proposal to be reviewed by the NY Regents that recommends holding “transfer schools” to the same standards for graduation rates as regular high schools. The problem is that the transfer schools are designed to address the problems failing students encountered in regular high schools and, consequently, the students enter well behind their age cohorts when they enroll. Here’s an overview of the problem these districts face under the proposed regulations:

Under the (proposed) regulations, schools that fall short of a six-year graduation rate of 67 percent would be put on a list to receive “comprehensive support and improvement.” Only four of the city’s 51 transfer schools currently meet, or are on track to meet, that benchmark.

The transfer schools do poorly on this benchmark because by the time a student enrolls in a transfer school they are often three years behind their peers making it mathematically impossible to succeed.

How does this relate to medical metrics? My doctor friend noted that one of the clearly and unarguably objective metrics proposed for measuring the effectiveness of doctors was the death rate of patients… a metric that was quickly rejected since oncologists ended up having a horrific death rate as compared to, say, dermatologists. This kind of inherent disparity led each field of medicine to develop their own metrics that had nuances within them… in effect a form of differentiated accountability.

And in the end, that is what the city schools are seeking, as noted in the closing paragraph of Ms. Taylor’s article:

New Visions for Public Schools, a nonprofit group that oversees and supports 69 high schools in the city, including 10 transfer schools, has urged the State Education Department to convene a panel of experts to come up with a customized accountability system for transfer schools.

Ms. Ramirez, from the city’s Education Department, said it was not that the city did not want the schools’ performance to be scrutinized. “It’s all about differentiated accountability,” she said.

Will the Regents “…convene a panel of experts to come up with a customized accountability system for transfer schools”? I hope they will… and in doing so I hope they might examine ALL of their accountability systems to determine if they might tailor them to address the unique needs of students each school serves.

 

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