From a Department of Education "white paper":
The American public is telling government officials that they support accountability in their schools. Public opinion polls show that Americans want students, teachers and administrators held to higher standards. Schools and the professionals who staff them should be held more responsible for student performance. Recent polls document that: Three-fourths of the public favors testing children for promotion to the next grade. 70 percent of the American people think that graduation requirements should be stricter than they are now. Three-fourths of the public supports national achievement testing of students in their local schools to compare with students in other communities. The public overwhelmingly supports competency testing of entering teachers Almost two-thirds of the public disapproves of teacher tenure laws that grant teachers, in effect, lifetime contracts. . . .
For too long the public has been kept in the dark about where their school systems and states stand in relation to others on student performance. A lack of communication has meant a lack of accountability, which in turn has eroded public confidence in our school systems. Taxpayers are unwilling to support spending increases when they do not know what they are buying. Parents are unwilling to get involved when they do not see themselves as shareholders in the educational endeavor. To redress this problem, states and school districts have begun sharing information on school performance with their constituencies. They are recognizing that if parents and other members of the community have information about the schools, they will be better able to make informed judgments and help develop better schools