23 SES 07 A, Policy Making and Issues of School Autonomy and Control
Evaluation has expanded at all levels of governance as part of the broad doctrine of New Public Management (NPM) (Hood 1991; Pollitt and Bouckaert 2011). According to this doctrine, market mechanisms should be introduced to enhance efficiency and, in the context of school governance, to support competition between schools, free school choice, improved educational quality, and school effectiveness (Lubienski, 2009; Lundahl, 2013 et al; Merki 2011; NAE 2012). Education systems guided by NPM and characterized by results-based management and local autonomy increasingly rely on evaluation at all levels (Andersen et al. 2009; Elstad 2009; Merki 2011; Mintrop and Trujillo 2007; OECD 2013). It is assumed that evaluation and strengthened accountability will improve quality in education and schooling (OECD 2011), but there is a lack of knowledge if, and if so which evaluations and under what conditions they can contribute to this function (Levin 2010, Ravitch 2010). Recent research and a growing number of scholars question the need for and value of some prevailing evaluations and evaluation systems, and of focusing on performance and measureable results. It is also recognized that teachers are subjected to too much accountability which can have negative effects on professionals and education (Green 2011; Koretz 2009; Lingard and Sellar, 2013; Hargreaves 1994, Day 2002, Ball 2003, Mausethagen 2013a, 2013b). However, could evaluation be a useful tool in local school governance under certain conditions?
Although evaluation is a cornerstone in local school governance it has not been studied much in this context. Local school governance refers to all the public and private school actors’ and institutions’ (e.g. education committees, opposition parties, school principals, teachers and parents) steering of local schools and education.
The purpose of this paper is to develop a conceptual framework to explore and compile knowledge of evaluation in local school governance. It contributes to the understanding of how evaluation is intended to work and actually work in this context. This knowledge promotes better informed discussion about what role evaluation can and should have in local school governance, and an awareness of dysfunctions of evaluation systems and the need to manage the education evaluation web at the local level. The aim is also to frame articles for a special issue devoted to explore the role of evaluation in local school governance. A close look at evaluation in Sweden is an illustrative case as the education evaluation arena is overcrowded and the decentralised education system provides freedom of choice that actors operating in other education systems in Europe and elsewhere can learn from.
While evaluation and evaluation systems and school governance involve many actors and institutions at different levels the framework takes departure in governance research (Bouckehart and Halligan, 2006; Ozga, 2009; Rose, 1999) and research on evaluation and governance (Hansen, 2012; Hanberger 2012). The role of the municipality in a country’s education system largely depends on the division of power between levels of government, and the mandate and discretion given to local governments and independent schools (Holmgren et al, 2012). The discretion varies over time, depending on changes in national school governance and other factors such as being subjected to global and transnational education governance as a member of the EU and OECD (OECD, 2011). The governance structure and mode of governance embeds and steers evaluation and how governance and evaluation should interplay (Liverani & Lundgren, 2007; Hanberger, 2012). Evaluations and evaluation systems are intended to support a certain governance model and promote a certain kind of democracy and democratic accountability (Hanberger, 2009, 2011).
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