Accountability for Results: The Realities of Data-Driven Decision Making

by Sandra Watkins and Donna McCaw, Rowman and Littlefield Education, Lanham, Md., 2007, 214 pp., $65 hardcover, $31.95 softcover

The co-authors of Accountability for Results, associate professors of educational leadership at Western Illinois University, have extensive experience working with schools. This practical exposure is evident in how they address the topic.



Accountability has become universally demanded, although the means for measuring accountability vary greatly, which is considered acceptable in this work. The authors advocate SMART (Specific, Meas-urable, Attainable, Results-oriented and Time-bound) goals, an overall framework with program evaluations with published results for each building and the district.

The authors’ fundamental recommendation is that “no more than three goals be written into the school improvement plan. Within each of these three goals there might be four to six objectives (actions needed to accomplish the goals). It is also recommended at the district level that SMART goals be set at one-, three- and five-year intervals.”

The major value of this work lies in the organization of each chapter with an essential question(s), definitions, research, reflective questions, data sets, a summary and resources for continued development.

The shortcoming of Accountability for Results is that the various pieces — professional development, libraries, gifted and talented, the arts, technology, etc. — are not presented as interconnected. A missing strategy, which would have made a valuable closing chapter, could have laid out an approach for bringing together all the data under the total of three recommended goals.

Reviewed by Arthur W. Stellar, superintendent, Taunton Public Schools, Taunton, Mass.