Indicators of the Conditions of Instruction. The link between instructional practice and student performance suggests the need to collect information on the conditions of instruction to which students are exposed, in addition to the student outcome measures used in the assessment system. Such indicators serve as “leading” indicators of school progress and suggest needed areas of improvement. They also could point out possible inequalities.
Measures of instructional practice at the district level also indicate the extent to which districts are fulfilling their role in building local capacity to improve instruction and student performance.
Accountability. Accountability creates an incentive for students, teachers, and administrators to focus their attention on the standards. It also closes the loop in the system by providing an explicit link to instructional improvement; rather than hit the hammer harder, administrators provide assistance where the accountability measures suggest it is needed, and direct teachers' and school administrators' attention to the standards.
Such a system is never “complete.” States and districts need to examine each component and the system as a whole, continually, to determine the extent to which it is achieving the goal of improving teaching and learning. In the following chapters we outline the criteria for each of the components.