Although some progress has been made toward focusing on student outcomes rather than the prior historical emphasis on school resources, it is clear that there are many other indicators that can be used to judge the quality of schools. Student achievement provides a valuable indicator of school performance, but judgments about school quality are stronger when they are based on multiple indicators in conjunction with student achievement. These indicators can include a combination of student achievement, prior achievement and backgrounds of students, school organization, and instructional processes. The need for increased data of several types to define successful and unsuccessful schools is a clear concern of states and the directors of their accountability systems. However, perhaps the strongest push is for accountability assessments to provide more information through the reporting of “diagnostic” results that can help teachers and schools improve teaching and
learning. At the opening address of the 2006 Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Policy Forum, Executive Director Gene Wilhoit (2006) emphasized the need for robust and comprehensive systems that provide diagnostic data to be used in instructional decisionmaking:
The growing consensus is that in the era of standards based reform, a major missing piece of the puzzle is data. Every state must quickly develop a robust system of student data and information that allows us not only to report on assessment data for state and NCLB accountability purposes, but to use those data for diagnostic and instructional decision making.