Accountability is a theory of action on raising student performance by applying pressure on, and providing support for, schools and districts that do not meet academic standards. Annual or periodic reporting on school performance forms the basis of actions to address academic needs. Simply put, what gets measured and reported receives attention from stakeholders in the public arena. This entry further defines accountability in the context of public education before describing the federal role in school accountability in the United States and how it has changed since the mid-20th century.
In the United States, accountability is defined in the context of a decentralized public education system. With a federal system of governance, states assume a leading role in primary and secondary education. The constitution in each of the 50 states affirms state responsibility in this policy domain. States and their localities continued to provide about 90% of the funding in the public education. States exercise control over their academic content standards, educator preparation and recruitment, and the scope of the intervention in low academic performance.