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ERIC Number: ED513029
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 267
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1092-8269-6
Education Accountability in the Era of No Child Left Behind: What Counts versus What Matters
Thompson-Shriver, Mary M.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison
Education policy is characterized by struggles over meanings of key concepts related to schooling, teaching, and learning, especially as these meanings affect practice. In this study, I examine the notion of "accountability" as a floating signifier, analyzing its usage by the proponents of the No Child Left Behind Act (2001) and following it into the realm of education practice at the department of education in a Midwestern state, the district office in a Midwestern city, and a high school in that same city. The study presents an investigation into how schools and teachers are positioned through discourses of NCLB policy and websites of NCLB advocacy groups. I also examine responses to the policy and alternative meanings of accountability, constructed through words and practices of those working in the field of education. Finally, I consider the problem of "speaking different languages" and the impediments this phenomenon engenders in the dialogue and implementation of education reform. To investigate the circulation of meanings of accountability in public education, I utilized a combination of tools from discourse analysis and ethnography to trace meanings of the concept of accountability in various educational sites. I conducted an analysis of the discourse of accountability on electronic publications of The Achievement Alliance and The Business Roundtable, and concurrent with ongoing examination of these websites, I observed and took field notes in four high school classrooms for two years. I also interviewed teachers and administrators at the school, district, and state level. I characterized the discourse in NCLB advocacy texts as "accountability as audit", wherein the worthiness of schools and teachers is demonstrated through standardized test scores. In contrast, I found meanings of accountability spoken and enacted by education practitioners reflective of a more holistic definition exemplified by discourses and practices of "caring" and "professional responsibility". Through a mapping of various meanings of accountability constructed from the data, I posited a binary relationship between the discourses of accountability and subjected these divergent meanings to an analytics of power. I conclude that the resulting conflict of meanings results in an unproductive relationship between federal policymaking and on-the-ground educational practice. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001