ERIC Number: ED471865
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2002-Jun
I Say "Refining," You Say "Retreating": The Politics of High-Stakes Accountability.
Hess, Frederick M.
This paper examines ways in which context influences the implementation of high-stakes accountability systems. The trajectory of implementation efforts has followed a familiar course, with the emergence of scattered opposition prompting officials to "refine" testing systems in predictable ways. These efforts placate critics while softening the coercive impact of accountability. Whether these revisions eviscerate the larger system depends largely on the balance of political pressure. The paper addresses such questions as "Why do high-stakes accountability systems launched to widespread acclaim meet growing pockets of resistance even as student performance soars? Why are accountability provisions softened or made more flexible in predictable ways? and What are the implications of these issues for the promise of accountability-driven reform?" The paper outlines the general political dynamic by discussing the minimum-competency-testing push of 2 decades ago. It then surveys more recent efforts in California, Massachusetts, Texas, and Virginia to distill some insights regarding the role of context in the politics of coercive accountability. It argues that the fate of high-stakes reform turns on the willingness of the public and officials to accept high levels of concentrated costs and on the relative strength enjoyed by key critics. (Contains 101 endnotes.) (RJM)
Descriptors: Accountability, Administrator Attitudes, Educational Policy, Elementary Secondary Education, Evaluation Utilization, High Stakes Tests, Political Attitudes, Program Implementation, Public Opinion, Resistance to Change, School Policy
For full text: http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/pepg/TAConfPapers.htm.
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper prepared for the "Taking Account of Accountability: Assessing Politics and Policy" Conference (Cambridge, MA, June 10-11, 2002).