U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings Announces Approval of Three Additional States to Use Differentiated Accountability Under NCLB
Archived Information

January 8, 2009
Contact: Jo Ann Webb
(202) 401-1576

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings today announced the approval of three additional states—Arkansas, Louisiana and New York—to use the Differentiated Accountability Pilot aimed at helping states develop a more nuanced system of accountability to distinguish between underperforming schools in need of dramatic interventions and those that are closer to meeting the goals of No Child Left Behind. In July 2008, the Secretary approved the first six states to use the Differentiated Accountability Pilot—Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, and Ohio. Beginning in school year 2009-2010, a total of nine states will implement the pilot based on assessment results from the 2008-2009 school year.

Differentiated Accountability will allow states to vary the intensity and type of interventions to match the academic reasons that lead to a school's identification for improvement. In addition, some states and districts have a large percentage of their schools identified for improvement, thus impacting their capacity to provide meaningful, intensive reforms. Differentiated Accountability will assist those states by targeting resources and interventions to those schools most in need of intensive interventions and significant reform.

When choosing the three additional states, the Department used the same rigorous peer review to ensure that the selection process was fair and transparent for all participating states. Recommendations were given to Secretary Spellings, who made the final approvals. In return for this flexibility, all states participating in the pilot must commit to building their capacity for school reform; take the most significant actions for the lowest-performing schools, including addressing the issue of teacher effectiveness; and use data to determine the method of differentiation and categories of intervention.


  • When the pilot was first announced in March 2008, 17 states submitted a Differentiated Accountability proposal: Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. The Department submitted the proposals of all 17 states to a peer review panel of nationally recognized experts who represented a wide range of perspectives from academia to the private sector to state and local organizations.

  • In June 2008, the peer teams began reviews of the first state proposals submitted and held conference calls with state representatives. June 13-14, 2008, the peer panel met in Washington, D.C., to review each state's Differentiated Accountability proposal using the Department's Peer Review Guidance, which can be found at

  • After considering the peers' comments, the Secretary approved six states to participate in the Differentiated Accountability Pilot program—Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland and Ohio.

  • In Fall 2008, the Department invited states to submit additional Differentiated Accountability proposals. Again, proposals were submitted to a peer review panel and underwent the same rigorous review.

  • In January 2009, the Secretary, upon recommendations from the peer review panel, approved three additional states to participate in the pilot program—Arkansas, Louisiana and New York.

As a condition of participation, the states must share data, participate in an evaluation and provide timely information to the Department regarding how the Differentiated Accountability model is implemented and its effects on student achievement. To learn more about the pilot program, visit:



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Last Modified: 01/09/2009