ERG SES H 08, Studies on Education
Accountability in education has become a centerpiece of educational reforms for three decades. A growing concern for the efficiency and the quality in education systems has led a drive for reforms and change. Accountability then became both an “instrument and a goal” (Bovens, 2006) to improve performance of public schools and equity in education systems. Despite the increasing popularity of accountability policies in education there is little evidence that accountability policies have a positive impact on equity in education systems (Carnoy & Loeb, 2002; Hanushek & Raymond, 2005; Harris & Herrington, 2006; Lee, 2008; Figlio & Loeb, 2011). Nevertheless studies show that accountability in education and accountability policies take several forms depending on the context where they are implemented (Carnoy & Loeb, 2002; Maroy & Voisin, 2014). Consistently the impact of accountability policies on efficiency and equity vary depending to the forms they take and the policy tools they use (Mons, 2009; Carnoy & Loeb, 2002). Furthermore most of the comparative studies that analyze the impact of accountability on equity are cross-national studies performed in a context of high-stakes accountability policies - mostly in the United-states, and a few comparative studies that include education systems of European Union were performed so far.
My purpose is to present and discuss the preliminary findings of my doctoral thesis that aims at providing some insights into the relationship between accountability and equity in education systems. The main contributions and objectives of my work are twofold. First I build original indicators of accountability at the education system level that allow me to characterize different types of accountability in different contexts (see below). Second I link these indicators to several indicators of equity in order to better understand the relationship, if any, between different types of accountability and equity in education systems. Consistently I address these central questions: is there any significant relationship between accountability and the degree of equity in education systems? What is the strength of this relationship? Does this relationship vary depending on the type of accountability?
As a theoretical framework I use the concept of accountability in a broad sense. Accountability refers to “different types of mechanisms (both external and internal) for controlling and ensuring quality in public institutions” (Vezely, 2011, p. 4-5). As such accountability refers to several policy tools put in place at the education system level in order to make school’ actors accountable for pupils achievement. Indeed accountability in education stand on a combination of tools (standards, large-scale assessment and consequences for actors) but the range of these tools can widely vary from one education system to another (Voisin & Maroy, 2014). In order to distinguish different types of accountability I use as a conceptual basis Maroy & Voisin’ (2014) work that typifies four types of accountability linked to the tools used at the education system level and the rationales of accountability policies (a regulation through strong accountability, a regulation through neo-bureaucratic accountability, a regulation through reflexive responsibilizationand accountability, and a regulation through soft accountability). Furthermore equity refers here to different conceptions of equality: equal opportunities of outcomes (the impact of socioeconomic background on students’ results), equality of results and equality of basic skills (Crahay, 2000; Dupriez, Orianne&Verhoeven, 2008).
Bovens, M. (2006). Analysing and assessing public accountability. A conceptual framework. European Governance Papers (EUROGOV). N. C-06-01. Carnoy, M. & Loeb, S. (2002). Does external accountability affect student outcomes? A cross-state analysis. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Vol. 24, No. 4, pp. 305-331. Crahay, M. (2000). L’école peut-elle être juste et efficace ? De l’égalité des chances à l’égalité des acquis. Bruxelles: De Boeck & Larcier. Duproez, V., Orianne, JF, Verhoeven, M. (Eds) (2008). De l’école au marché du travail, l’égalité des chances en question. Berne: Peter Lang Figlio, D. & Loeb, S. (2011). School Accountability. Dans E. A. Hanushek, S. Machin & L. Woessmann (dir.), Handbooks in Economics, Vol. 3 (p. 383-421). The Netherlands: North-Holland. Hanushek, E. A. & Raymond, M. E. (2005). Does School Accountability Lead to Improved Student Performance? Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Vol. 24, No. 2, 297-327. Harris, D. N. & Herrington, C. D. (2006). Accountability, Standards, and the Growing Achievement Gap: Lessons from the Past Half-Century. American Journal of Education, Vol. 112, No. 2, pp. 209-238. Maroy, C. & Voisin, A. (2014). Une typologie des politiques d’accountability en éducation: l’incidence de l’instrumentation et des théories de la régulation. Education comparée/nouvelle série, Vol. 11, pp. 31-58. Mons, N. 2009. Les effets théoriques et réels de l’évaluation standardisée. Revue française de pédagogie, Vol. 169, pp. 99-140. Veselý, A. (2013). Accountability in Central and Eastern Europe: concept and reality. International Review of Administrative Sciences, Vol. 79, No. 2, pp. 310-330.
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