Under the newly enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states now face the challenge of creating school accountability systems that can vastly improve upon the model required by No Child Left Behind (NCLB). To help spur creative thinking about how they might do so, and also to inform the Department of Education as it develops its ESSA regulations, the Fordham Institute hosted the first ever ESSA Accountability System Design Competition!

Herein are ten proposals from education groups, students, and professors offering new ways of thinking about accountability in schools. Participants defended their proposals in front of a panel of accountability experts and a live audience. You can download their presentations slides here

The event was also interactive. Attendees and online viewers had a chance to vote on each proposal.

Expert round-ups of the competition’s best ideas:

Michael J. Petrilli: "Some great ideas from our ESSA Accountability Design Competition
Andy Smarick: “How should states measure school success?
Joanne Weiss: “ESSA Accountability Design Competition: My big takeaways

Finalists' proposals featured in the competition:
Note: Affiliations are for identification purposes only. In many cases, the authors are not representing the views of their institutions.

  1. Chad Aldeman, Bellwether Education Partners
  2. Dale Chu and Eric Lerum, America Succeeds
  3. Sherman Dorn, Arizona State University
  4. Josh Boots, EmpowerK12
  5. Lydia Burns et al., Student Voice Team, Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence
  6. Ronald F. Ferguson, Harvard University and Tripod Education Partners, Inc.
  7. Chris Hoffman et al., Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellows, Teach Plus
  8. Morgan S. Polikoff, Matthew Duque, and Stephani Wrabel, University of Southern California and Baltimore County Public Schools
  9. Jennifer Vranek et al., Education First
  10. Richard J. Wenning, BeFoundation and SpreadMusicNow

For more information about the contenders, click here.



        Tony Bennett
        Former Florida Commissioner of Education
        Charlene Mendoza
        Teacher and Founder, Arizona College Prep Academy
        Andy Smarick
        Partner in Policy and Thought Leadership , Bellwether Education Partners
        Joanne Weiss
        Education Consultant, Weiss Associates LLC


Michael Petrilli
President,Thomas B. Fordham Institute