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Jsl Vol 11-N3

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The Ethics of Public School Fiscal and Academic Accountability Legislation: A Multidimensional Analysis

ePub

PATRICK PAUKEN
BRENDA R. KALLIO
RHONDA R. STOCKARD

ABSTRACT: This article examines contradictions between school accountability legislation and the moral leadership applicable to its development and implementation. Using the ethics of critique, justice, and care, we analyze Ohio’s recent fiscal and academic accountability legislation. Although the analysis focuses on one state, the larger purpose of the article is to bring ethical inquiry about policy formation closer to the workplace of educational administrators, legislators, and education policymakers.

Educational accountability is the process by which state and federal governments, school boards, administrators, teachers, and parents attempt to ensure that school systems meet their goals (Rothman, 1995). Newmann, King, and Rigdon (1997) expand on this definition and generalize accountability into four components: performance results, standards for judging that performance, significant consequences for success or failure in meeting specified standards, and external agents that judge the ability to meet those standards.

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A Critical Sociocultural View of Accountability

ePub

DUNCAN WAITE
MIKE BOONE
MARLA MCGHEE

ABSTRACT: This critical sociocultural view of accountability illuminates heretofore hidden, obscured, or neglected aspects of accountability—its meanings, intended and unintended consequences, and the processes by which it was institutionalized. This perspective exhumes the social and cultural processes—power, democracy, policy making, schooling, and language games—implicated in contemporary notions of accountability. Our unique positioning allows us to critically examine the “Texas model” of accountability from the inside, with implications for other regimes of accountability presently in place or being considered elsewhere.

This article undertakes a critical sociocultural examination of accountability in public schools and education in general, particularly as it plays out in the United States. Though such a treatment is, by necessity, eclectic, our discussion of accountability will primarily draw upon analyses of contemporary U.S. culture and be informed by comparative cultural analysis. Our perspective is somewhat different, in that we, the authors, have an insider’s view of the so-called educational reforms already instituted in the state of Texas and the so-called Texas model of accountability—a model looked to when other states consider accountability and educational reform.1 Our analysis is informed by our studies and other acquired knowledge. We draw especially on our firsthand experiences of working in the Texas public schools and with the school teachers and administrators. Although we will touch upon the high-stakes testing regime in place in Texas, the ultimate focus of our analysis is the broader issue of how accountability plays out in practice.

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Moving Beyond “Good/Bad” Student Accountability Measures: Multiple Perspectives of Accountability

ePub

COLLEEN A. CAPPER
MADELINE M. HAFNER
MAUREEN W. KEYES

ABSTRACT: This article examines three student accountability measures through two different theoretical perspectives: structural functionalism and feminist post-structuralism. The analysis reveals how educators can use various kinds of student assessments, whether typically categorized as traditional or progressive, in both structural functional or feminist poststructural ways—ways that maintain the status quo or support equity and justice for all students. We claim and show that it is not the assessment itself, per se, that is the issue. Rather, it is how we use them that can determine their effects on students. The purpose of this article is to help practicing administrators and scholars in administrator preparation programs to move beyond an either/or view of differing accountability measures, beyond resignation or criticism of the issue of accountability, and consider new questions about and possibilities for the dialogue.

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Balancing the Contradictions Between Accountability and Systemic Reform

ePub

GLADIS KERSAINT
KATHRYN M. BORMAN
REGINALD LEE
THEODORE L. BOYDSTON

ABSTRACT: This article examines the impacts of the National Science Foundation’s Urban Systemic Initiative reforms in four cities: Chicago; El Paso, Texas; Memphis, Tennessee; and Miami, Florida, based on analysis of 47 principal interviews. We analyze the role of school administrators in addressing the demands of both systemic reform in mathematics and science and state, district, and local accountability policies. Specifically, we examine their concepts of their roles and ability to balance contradictions and paradoxes between systemic reform and accountability. Our research demonstrates that principals must overcome many challenges before they are able to affect desired achievement outcomes for all students. Key among the identified challenges is the ability of principals to balance the demands of the reform effort with the press to negotiate multiple policies, especially in the areas of student assessment and school accountability for which they are ultimately responsible.

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Developing an Open Systems View for Assessing Educational Leadership

ePub

STEPHEN O. WALLACE
MICHELE ACKER-HOCEVAR
OWEN SWEATT

ABSTRACT: This article argues that existing accountability standards for educational leaders are inadequate to accommodate the diverse contextual realities in which they must function. Two crucial questions are raised: “What philosophical views of educational leadership will adequately meet the demands of a rapidly changing world?” and “How should such leadership be assessed?” We explore ways to reframe perspectives of leadership accountability by contrasting the paradigms of organizations as machines and organizations as open systems with their applications in educational leadership. We also critique existing models of leadership assessment and propose an open systems framework for school leadership and accountability.

The world in which schools must function is changing at accelerated rates, causing educational leaders to operate in situations that are “increasingly complex and constrained” (Fullan, 1998, p. 6). This situation necessarily means that leadership practices suitable to meet yesterday’s needs are inadequate to meet tomorrow’s demands. Thus we face the challenge of determining how to prepare and assess educational leaders who can effectively and ethically meet the needs of a continually changing society. This article explores two crucial questions related to this challenge: “What philosophical views of educational leadership will adequately allow us to meet the demands of a rapidly changing world?” and “How should such leadership be assessed?”

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