Featured projects (1)

Most countries in the world are facing reform pressures to make their education systems more effective, innovative and responsive to the new challenges generated by the global economy. In this scenario, managerial policy ideas such as school autonomy and accountability, which aim to modernize public education and strengthen its performance, are spreading broadly. To date, a wide range of countries with different administrative traditions and levels of development have adopted school autonomy with accountability (SAWA) policies, whilst the most active international organizations in the education sector, like the OECD, are strongly promoting them globally. Constituting SAWA as a global model of education reform generates two main questions. First, why and how are SAWA policies disseminating globally, and to what extent does this reform model generate international policy convergence in education? Secondly, how and under what particular contextual and institutional circumstances do SAWA policies generate the expected results, and for whom? The fact that existing scholarly research has achieved inconclusive and mixed findings concerning the SAWA effects on learning outcomes and equity makes this second question especially relevant. To address these questions, the REFORMED project will develop a comprehensive research approach that will scrutinize the different, but mutually constitutive stages of global education policy, from the inception in global agendas stage to their operationalization and effects in multiple contexts (with a focus on the Netherlands, Spain, Norway, Chile and Brazil). Specifically, REFORMED will analyze how and why SAWA policies are being adopted and re-formulated by policy actors operating at different scales (from international bureaucrats to teachers), and will inquire into the institutional frameworks and policy enactment processes that explain the different effects of SAWA at the school level. A robust and multi-scalar methodological strategy that combines quantitative and qualitative methods will contribute to advancing such an innovative approach.

Featured research (7)

El modelo de conciertos educativos español se instauró hace casi cuatro décadas con la Ley Orgánica del Derecho a la Educación del año 1985. Desde entonces, España se ha situado entre los países de la OCDE con un mayor peso de la provisión privada subvencionada. A pesar de que el modelo de conciertos se instauró con la intención de equiparar la oferta pública y la concertada, ha dado lugar a un régimen de provisión mixta caracterizado por una clara dualiza­ción de la red escolar, con consecuencias directas sobre las desi­gualdades educativas y la segregación escolar. La evidencia inten­cional demuestra que los sistemas de provisión mixta, como el español, contribuyen de forma directa a la generación de desigual­dades educativas, y requieren de una regulación eficaz para redu­cirlas o, como mínimo, compensarlas. Este estudio examina la regulación del modelo español de concier­tos y la pone en relación con otros sistemas de provisión mixta de su entorno. El informe identifica distintos modelos internacionales de regulación del sector privado subvencionado, y sintetiza los principales ejes de debate y procesos de reforma impulsados en otros países. Esta comparativa internacional nos permite aportar una mirada más amplia a la relación entre la educación concertada y las desigualdades educativas, así como identificar políticas con las que favorecer mayores niveles de equidad educativa desde una perspectiva de la regulación pública.
The privatization of basic education is a global phenomenon growing in all corners of the world. However, education privatization is a multi-faceted process, which crystallizes and evolves in different forms and which eludes simplistic characterizations. This article defines educational privatization and examines its growth in different regions, discussing why it emerged and how it has developed. The article also reflects on the main effects of education privatization policies, with an emphasis on the challenges these policies pose for educational equity and for the public regulation of education.
In recent decades, the governance of educational systems has experienced dramatic changes in many countries. Schools have been given more autonomy whilst being held increasingly accountable at the central level through standardized testing and other forms of external evaluation. The mechanisms of performance-based accountability (PBA) and the consequences attached to test results vary. In high-stakes systems, teachers’ careers are more directly connected to students’ performance, and low performing schools might risk closure, whereas in lower-stakes systems, the official administrative consequences of accountability for school actors are more symbolic than material. The main aim of this paper is to understand the impact of different forms of PBA on teachers’ work from a comparative perspective. Most research on this topic is based on single-context case studies, which makes it difficult to understand the impact of policy factors and professional contexts in teachers’ decisions and autonomy. To address this challenge, we review recent investigations (2017-2020) on the topic and compare their findings in different teachers' regulatory contexts. The review includes 101 articles from the SCOPUS and Web of Science databases. We find that evidence on the impact of PBA on teachers’ perceptions and beliefs are variegated, and that the implications of PBA on teachers’ autonomy does not only depend on the level of accountability stakes, but on teachers’ professional regulation.
Existing research tends to attribute the varying responses to accountability pressures to variables of a different nature, ranging from school leadership styles to the broader socio-economic contexts in which schools operate. However, to date, research has overlooked the role of subjective variables (such as school actors' perceived and experienced pressures) in the mediation and enactment of PBA. To address this gap, this chapter aims to analyze the production of different patterns of responses to PBA within schools from a policy enactment perspective. On the basis of a mixed-methods study conducted in Chile, we analyze how school actors' interpretations of and dispositions towards PBA, on the one hand, and their experienced levels of pressure, on the other, influence how they respond to the accountability regulatory system. As we will show, the responses to PBA that have been identified go beyond conventional alignment-decoupling dichotomy and include a more varying range of options. Our perspective is premised on the assumption that the way school actors respond to policy prerogatives is contingent on the way these actors make sense of PBA pressures and expectations within their broader social and institutional frameworks. In other words, the responses to PBA that we identify are the result of analyzing how school actors see and live accountability regulations in their reference contexts.

Lab head

Antoni Verger
  • Faculty of Political Science and Sociology
About Antoni Verger
  • Antoni Verger is a professor of sociology at the Department of Sociology of the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Antoni does research on Social Policy, Educational Policy and Comparative Education. He coordinates the ERC funded project REFORMED - Reforming Schools Globally: A Multiscalar Analysis of Autonomy and Accountability Policies in the Education Sector.

Members (11)

Lluís Parcerisa
  • University of Barcelona
Clara Fontdevila
  • University of Glasgow
Gerard Ferrer-Esteban
  • Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
Antonina Levatino
  • Autonomous University of Barcelona
Marcel Pagès
  • Autonomous University of Barcelona
Andreu Termes
  • Autonomous University of Barcelona
Marjolein Camphuijsen
  • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Natalie Browes
  • Consultant