In this study, the authors explore English as a Second Language (ESL) placement as a measure of how schools label and process immigrant students. Using propensity score matching and data from the Adolescent Health and Academic Achievement Study and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, the authors estimate the effect of ESL placement on immigrant achievement. In schools with more immigrant students, the authors find that ESL placement results in higher levels of academic performance; in schools with few immigrant students, the effect reverses. This is not to suggest a one-size-fits-all policy; many immigrant students, regardless of school composition, generational status, or ESL placement, struggle to achieve at levels sufficient for acceptance to a 4-year university. This study offers several factors to be taken into consideration as schools develop policies and practices to provide immigrant students opportunities to learn.
This article analyzes Chicago's new Renaissance 2010 school plan to close public schools and reopen them as choice and charter schools. Grounding the analysis in participatory research methods, the authors argue that Chicago's education accountability policies have laid the groundwork for privatization. They furthermore argue that Renaissance 2010 is part of a neoliberal corporate and financial urban agenda of gentrification, African American displacement, and the class conquest of the city by the middle and upper-middle classes. The authors conclude with a discussion of emerging resistance to the plan, suggesting that education may be a focal point of anti-neoliberal economic and social struggles. (Contains 16 notes.)
The development of a school improvement plan (SIP) has become an integral part of many school reform efforts. However, there are almost no studies that empirically examine the effectiveness of SIPs. The few studies examining the planning activities of organizations have generally focused on the private sector and have not provided clear or consistent evidence that such planning is effective. Some studies have even suggested formal planning can lead to inflexible and myopic practices or may simply waste time and resources. This study explores the relationship between the quality of SIPs and school performance by examining a unique dataset from the Clark County School District, the fifth largest school district in the nation. The study finds that, even when controlling for a variety of factors, there is a strong and consistent association between the quality of school planning and overall student performance in math and reading.
Using the 1992 National Education Longitudinal Survey data set, this study assessed the effects of students attending religious schools on the academic achievement of those children. The results indicate that those children attending religious schools performed better academically than those who did not. Students from religious schools included all private religious schools examined in the study. Students who did not attend religious schools included students attending public schools and nonreligious preparatory or other private schools. Results also indicate that Black and Hispanic students as well as children of low socioeconomic status performed better academically in religious schools than in nonreligious schools. These results suggest students attending religious schools in general perform better academically than do students attending nonreligious schools. The significance of these results is discussed as it relates to school choice and learning from the religious school model.
Student’s access to college is influenced both by their level of academic preparation to do college-level work and the cost of participating in postsecondary education—on this point researchers and policy makers seem to agree (Perna, 2006). The relative importance of each, however, is very much a subject of disagreement and that debate has implications for policy formation, particularly when resources are scarce. In this article, I begin by summarizing the evolution of this debate from the late 1990s through today. Much of this conversation took place on the federal stage in anticipation of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). Next, I examine one particular report issued by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and I respond empirically to several of the critiques levied by the education research community. In this reanalysis of the report on college access by Berkner and Chavez, I make several adjustments to illustrate how a number of methodological limitations affect the inferential claims in their report. My conclusions suggest that the definition of “college qualified” has important implications for these sorts of analyses and that the cost of college influences students’ decisions to attend college both directly in terms of their perceived ability to attend college and through family income and the choices they make to prepare for college. Considering a fuller range of post–high school alternatives reveals important influences of race and class, which are masked by the focus on 4-year college attendance.
People live in a time where neoliberal positions, with their assumption that private is good and public is bad, are dominant. Yet, as the author and others have demonstrated, such positions consistently privilege particular and identifiable classed and raced groups. This is not accidental. Society, like many others throughout the world, is organized around extremely powerful dynamics that are very hard to interrupt. As David Gillborn, author of the book "Racism and Education," would claim, this privileging is one of the predictable effects of the ways in which such things as "race" permeates people's everyday lives. It is not intentional in the usual sense of that word. However, to say that the effects are potent is to engage in understatement. How are people to understand these effects and the realities that both produce and are produced by them? Do people see them as accidental, as oddities that somehow seem to happen? Or are they truly constitutive dynamics that are at the very core of society? Over the years, it is the latter position that has become ever more telling in critical analyses of major economic, political, and cultural institutions. There are a number of traditions that have helped take this set of critical understandings as seriously as it deserves. In this article, the author discusses Gillborn's "Racism and Education," which provides one of the clearest expositions of critical race theory (CRT) available. Among its guiding principles is that the "shared power and dominance of White interests" provides the center of gravity in the complex of social structures, relations, and actions in this society and in so many others. In the process of marshalling his evidence and arguments, Gillborn is also careful to show that CRT deals with issues of "intersectionality," that is, not only with race but with the axes of differentiation of such constitutive dynamics as class, gender/sexuality, and disability. This is a key point. Although CRT bases its arguments in a clear concern for the structures, processes, and embedded assumptions surrounding White dominance, it has increasingly shown its ability to come to grips with the contradictory assemblage of differential power relations in the real world. Gillborn also reminds people of what is at stake inside and outside of schooling if they ignore the realities of racism and of the constant struggles against it.
This article ethnographically examines the paradoxical situation in which one high-achieving New York City public school is “constructed” as failing when No Child Left Behind (NCLB) assessments are miscalculated. Drawing upon actor-network theory (ANT)—a perspective that aims to explain how people, their ideas, and the material objects they produce assemble together in dynamic collective activity to attend to a particular issues—this work reveals how those in the school join with a for-profit educational support business, district administrations, and city officials to construct, encounter, and confront the situations created by the miscalculations. What unfolds over the three years after the school is incorrectly labeled as failing is shown to bean example of what is possible, if not probably when accountability-laden, sanctions-drive, and calculation-focused policies, such as NCLB, gain favor. By exploring the gaps between policy texts, policy aims, and their effects, this ANT analysis offers educational practitioners and researchers a way to interrogate and understand the endurance of policies, like NLCB, which show questionable efficacy over time.
Incl. abstract and bibl. Many educational reforms are implemented on a school-by-school basis where the individual or the school is often the target of the effort. But the problems of education transcend the capacity of one school working alone. Networking schools with each other or with partner organizations works to develop social capital; this can be an effective alternative to market-type or hierarchical approaches to reform. In the network model of organizing, authority and accountability are based on the social relationships between network participants. Focusing on new management roles within school networks, the authors' findings suggest that networks promote community-based collaboration, cost sharing, knowledge sharing, and the involvement of external partners. In contrast, challenges to the network strategy include the need for extensive training in group process skills and the need for quality information. The intent of this article is to make the language and discourse of networks more accessible to education reformers.
This article examines how SEAs in three states designed, installed, and operated statewide, longitudinal student information systems (SLSIS). SLSIS track individual students’ progress in K-12 schools, college, and beyond and link it to individual schools and teachers. They are key components of the information infrastructure of test-based accountability. Drawing on science and technology studies, this study documents the strategies SEAs use to assemble and coordinate the vast amounts of technology and people across and beyond the educational system needed to collect, process, and disseminate test-based accountability data through SLSIS. We find that while SLSIS expand state power through what we refer to as informatic power, SEA control over these systems and the data they produce depends on whether SEA staff can manage the competing interests of federal, state, district, and external actors. SLSIS are thus sites of the ongoing contestation of state power within and beyond the educational system.
Over the past 30 years, accountability policies have become more prominent in public K-12 education and have changed how teaching and learning are organized. It is less clear the extent to which these policies have altered the politics of education. This article begins to address that question through the lens of policy feedback. It identifies shifts in interest group coalitions and strategies as one of several elements of a new politics that has emerged in response to accountability policies, and it argues that the Common Core State Standards are a primary example of the feedback cycle influencing future policy.
Incl. bibl., abstract This article examines early implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act's (NCLB) accountability provisions. Theoretically, the author explains how executing education policy in the United States requires federal officials to employ tactics designed to assert control over state implementers while persuading them to adopt federal priorities as their own. Empirically, the main objective is to reveal how control and persuasion have been integral to early federal efforts to keep NCLB on track. The data come from several sources describing state implementation of NCLB and federal efforts to influence state actions during 2002 to 2004. Overall, the author argues that understanding NCLB implementation as a series of control and persuasion challenges confronting federal officials will enable observers to better assess the law's performance.
Michigan’s Local Government and School District Accountability Act of 2011 empowers the governor to appoint emergency managers (EMs) in financially troubled school districts. EMs assume all powers of the superintendent and school board. They can reshape academic programs, nullify labor contracts, and open and close schools. This article analyzes the law’s political origins and early implementation. Relative to prevailing accountability mechanisms applicable to all school districts, in what respects are EM districts more accountable, and in what respects are they less accountable? Our analysis reveals that although the law concentrates control over school operations, it weakens most standard dimensions of district accountability.
The politics of school accountability is significantly different between the time of the publication of the 1997 Yearbook of the Politics of Education Association and the current 2013 volume on accountability. During the mid-1990s, accountability lacked a focus and there was no clear institutional champion. With the 2001 passage of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), states and districts are governed by a common framework of accountability. Students, schools, districts, and states are held accountable for meeting annual academic proficiency standards or Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). As states and districts develop strategies to meet the accountability pressure, there is a need to examine the new politics of accountability. Authors in this volume have offered a useful knowledge base for pursuing this line of investigation. Further, I observe both enduring and new features on the politics and policy of accountability.
Drawing upon research on federalism, localism, and professional autonomy, this article explores how educational stakeholders used social media to discuss and organize against the implementation of Differentiated Accountability in a large Florida school district. The results showed that the stakeholders used social media to engage in sense making and organizing against district policy changes. The authors also find that opposition stemmed from a sense among the commenters that aspects of the policy violated broadly accepted norms of professional autonomy. Strain across the groups ultimately detracted from the fundamental objective of raising student achievement.
An institutional analysis is presented of the policy, political, and legislative events associated with the failure of an attempt in 2006 by the state of Maryland to take control of 11 schools in Baltimore City and turn them over to independent managers or into charter schools under No Child Left Behind. The place of the failed takeover-to-turnover is analyzed using a path dependent approach. Analysis suggests although state–local governing cultures may mediate the evolution of state education accountability regimes, they do so in embedded sequences of reactions and counterreactions. Findings have implications for further research on localized, performance-based federalism.
Incl. bibl., abstract This article offers a framework for assessing how education policy initiatives may affect a school's capacity to improve its performance. Drawing on the theoretical literature regarding school capacity and case studies of high-stakes accountability policies, the authors develop and illustrate a framework that includes both a resource dimension and a productivity dimension. They argue that this dual dimensional construction of school capacity encourages a more complete exploration of the manner in which education reform policies might alter school capacity.
Incl. abstract and bibl. This article investigates how mid-level managers make sense of and mediate district accountability policy. Arguing that teachers' evolving perceptions and understanding of accountability policies are likely to be mediated by school leaders, the authors explore how school managers enact their policy environments, focusing chiefly on the ways in which they construct district accountability policies. Adopting a cognitive or interpretive frame on implementation, the authors illuminate how school leaders' sense-making is situated in their professional biographies, building histories, and roles as intermediaries between the district office and classroom teachers.
This case study of an urban school board’s experiences under high-stakes accountability demonstrates how the district leaders eschewed democratic governance processes in favor of autocratic behaviors. They possessed narrowly defined goals for teaching and learning that emphasized competitive, individualized means of achievement. Their decision making was private; opportunities for local input were missing. They promoted centrally determined, standardized instructional and administrative practices, not locally driven ones. It concludes that accountability policies that are framed in terms of their potential to further democratic aims by granting greater liberty in exchange for results, and by holding all districts to the same high standards, may disproportionately reduce democratic control in urban settings.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requires that two accountability strategies—raising standards and public pressure through publicizing performance data—be implemented simultaneously. However, when coupled, they may produce an inappropriate consequence for public opinion. The public may misunderstand the drop in achievement that occurs when the bar is raised and become dissatisfied with school performance. To examine this potential negative consequence, the authors analyze data from New York City. The authors find parent satisfaction declined when school performance grades dropped after the implementation of higher standards. This article contributes to our understanding of how the public responds to school accountability data. Because public support for sustained and successful reforms is key, understanding how accountability policies may erode support is critical.
Incl. abstract, bibliographical references, notes on the contributors Today, public school accountability depends mostly on compliance. This accountability-via-regulation will only make charter public schools like district public schools. A different approach to charter accountability is envisioned, designed to help these schools succeed as genuine education alternatives. This accountability-via-transparency is based on giving charter schools operational, financial, and program autonomy in exchange for holding them accountable for results. Furthermore, rather than bureaucratic control from higher levels within the system, charter accountability is propelled mostly by public marketplaces in which a school's clients and stakeholders reward its successes, punish its failures, and send it signals about what must change. In what follows, approaches to accountability in today's charter world are reviewed; how a transparent charter accountability system following Generally Accepted Accountability Principles for Education (GRAPE) would work for charter schools, their sponsors, and statewide programs is described; and three accountability dilemmas that charter schools face are discussed in the conclusion.
This article describes the origins and goals for this special double issue of Educational Policy, which also represents the 2013 Politics of Education Association Yearbook. We provide an overview of each of the articles that comprise this issue and discuss key themes concerning the new politics of accountability that emerge when we consider the articles collectively. These themes include (a) accountability policy has expanded the number and diversity of political actors; (b) accountability policy has contributed to shifts in traditional alliances; (c) political actors are using traditional and new strategies to influence and respond to accountability policy; (d) accountability policy has altered institutional structures and norms, shifting the distribution of power and resources; (e) accountability policy creates more accountability policy; and (f) the focus on performance- or test-based based accountability has contributed to a decline in democratic accountability.
With growing evidence that human capital investment is more efficiently spent on younger children coupled with wide variation in preschool access across states, this article uses a neoliberal approach to examine the potential social costs and benefits that could accrue should the United States decide to implement a centralized preschool accountability system. Conceptual agency-based arguments that support implementing a preschool account-ability system are compared and contrasted with conceptual arguments that oppose centralized accountability. In spite of credible conceptual arguments that local control over preschool access maximizes efficiency, we find the most support for an accountability system that enhances equity through universal access to preschool.
Public officials are increasingly contracting with the private sector for a range of educational services. With much of the focus on private sector accountability on cost-effectiveness and student performance, less attention has been given to shifts in democratic accountability. Drawing on data from the state of New York, one of the most active contracting contexts, the authors examine how contracting poses challenges to democratic accountability and provide suggestions for how policy makers engaging with private sector providers might better attend to the broader public purposes of schooling.