Federal Education Policy and the States, 1945-2009
The Carter Years: Accountability - States Lead
These laws, and others like them, put a strain on local school budgets and forced administrators-who faced rising expectations for high academic achievement-to try to produce better educational outcomes with fewer educational resources; that is, do more with less. Perhaps the most important lesson to be learned from the rising accountability movement of the 1970s was that it began at the state level and only gradually percolated up to the federal level. As officials in Massachusetts observed as early as 1973 in a "Plan for Advancing Quality and Excellence by the Organization and Management of Public Education," the public demanded accountability. "There is increasing concern on the part of the public about higher educational expenditures and how these increased costs relate to improved programs and services," the report commented, so it was time for "a results-oriented school management system characterized by needs assessment, goal definition, careful consideration and selection of action or program alternatives (so-called program budgeting), long-range planning, . . . and careful evaluation techniques." Similar calls for educational "accountability" rippled through virtually every state-and, eventually, up to the federal government.