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As schools across the country prepare for new standards under the Common Core, states are moving toward creating more aligned systems of assessment and accountability. This paper recommends an accountability approach that focuses on meaningful learning, enabled by professionally skilled and committed educators, and supported by adequate and appropriate resources, so that all students regardless of background are prepared for both college and career when they graduate from high school. Drawing on practices already established in other states and on the views of policymakers and school experts, this paper proposes principles for effective accountability systems and imagines what a new accountability system could look like in an imagined “51st state” in the United States. While considerable discussion and debate will be needed before a new approach can take shape, this paper’s objective is to get the conversation started so the nation can meet its aspirations for preparing college- and career-ready students.