The Center for Educational Accountability was established in 1995, under the direction of Dr. James McLean, through a resolution by the University of Alabama Board of Trustees. Initial funding for the Center was generously provided by Mr. Charles Collatt through the Mayer Electric Foundation, and the Center continues to be funded primarily from outside sources through grants and contracts. During the past six years the Center has received funding for projects in excess of $1 million per year.

The founding purpose of the Center was to improve educational accountability through a program of research and service that addresses the issue from kindergarten through higher education levels for local, state, and national sectors. To serve this purpose, the Center studies the relationships among the resources available for education (e.g., funds, facilities, community support, etc.), educational processes (e.g., curricular implementation, accreditation, policy implementation, etc.), and the outcomes of education (e.g., achievement, retention, graduation rates, etc.). Over the years, the mission and goals have evolved to meet the challenges of contemporary education.

In September 2003, several educational evaluation projects housed at the Civitan International Research Center at UAB were redirected to the Center for Educational Accountability. This shift was prompted by a change of mission and focus at the Civitan International Research Center and was largely facilitated by the efforts of Dr. Billy Stokes through the Rockhold Center in Louisiana. These projects provided the CEA with four outstanding staff members and expanded the center’s accountability efforts in early childhood education through the State of Louisiana.