ERIC Number: ED293223
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987-Nov
Reference Count: N/A
Educational Accountability within a Context of Academic Freedom.
Zurhellen, Henry S.
Although it has been in the lexicon for 20 years, educational accountability remains an untested concept. Traditionally used in public service areas involving the stewardship of public funds, the term loses its legal-financial context when applied to educational settings. Here, accountability is mainly concerned with furthering school systems' educational effectiveness. Two perennial and conflicting themes are involved in American educational accountability: (1) a quest for efficiency (nonfraudulent use of public money); and (2) an extension of the democratic drive for equal opportunity. These conflicting interpretations make implemention of accountability very difficult. This paper discusses this difficulty, highlighting teacher and student evaluation problems, diversity of opinion issues (like centralization versus decentralization), and teachers' negative, punitive attitudes toward accountability. Ameliorative measures are suggested to overcome opposing viewpoints and make accountability seem a more positive undertaking. There is little evidence, however, that accountability as currently practiced has produced better teachers or instruction. Our society's justice-sensitive and litigious spirit and its disenchantment with the scientific method can confuse conceptualizations of the teacher evaluation process. Accountability is often viewed as a one-way flow of responsibility contrary to our democratic sense of fairness. A two-way relationship among all participants that recognizes both controllable and noncontrollable inputs is essential. Since any accountability system can be subverted by unsympathetic, unwilling staff, then agreement by all is crucial. Included are 12 references. (MLH)
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Studies Association (Chicago, IL, November 4-8, 1987).