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ERIC Number: EJ780980
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1539-9664
Accountability Lost
Berry, Christopher R.; Howell, William G.
Education Next, v8 n1 p66-72 Win 2008
In school districts across the nation, voters elect fellow citizens to their local school boards and charge them with the core tasks of district management--hiring administrators, writing budgets, negotiating teacher contracts, and determining standards and curriculum among them. Whatever the task, the basic purpose of all school board activities is to facilitate the day-to-day functioning of schools. If board members do their jobs well, schools should do a better job of educating students. Not surprisingly, school board members agree that one of their most important goals is to help students learn. According to a 2002 national survey, student achievement ranks second only to financial concerns as school board members' highest priority. The authors wondered, though, do voters hold school board members accountable for the academic performance of the schools they oversee? Do they support sitting board members when published student test scores rise? Do they vote against members when schools and students struggle under their watch? These questions led them to undertake the first large-scale study of how voters and candidates respond to student learning trends in school board elections. They analyzed test-score data and election results from 499 races over three election cycles in South Carolina to study whether voters punish and reward incumbent school board members on the basis of changes in student learning, as measured by standardized tests, in district schools. In addition, they assessed the impact of school performance on incumbents' decisions to seek reelection and potential challengers' decisions to join the race. They found that in the 2000 elections, South Carolina voters did appear to evaluate school board members on the basis of student learning. Yet in the 2002 and 2004 elections, published test scores did not influence incumbents' electoral fortunes. The possible reasons that their results differed so dramatically from one time period to the next hold important implications for the design of school accountability policies. (Contains 1 figure.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: South Carolina
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001