23 SES 12 B, Accountability Policies’ Enactments : Comparative perspectives - Instrumentation Part 1
Symposium to be continued in 23 SES 14 B
New forms of regulatory governance strongly rely on data-intensive policy instruments. Data-intensive instruments are adopted on the top of more traditional fiscal and legislative instruments in an attempt of steering increasingly fragmented and multi-layered policy systems more effectively. These instruments are technically complex and sophisticated in design. Their main functions are to collect new forms of information on public sector performance, and to manage public services’ conduct at a distance (Scott, 2000). In education, regulatory governance has meant the adoption of national large-scale assessments, test-based accountability, and explicit learning standards. These instruments have disseminated widely in the education sector, to the point that are being enacted in countries with very different administrative traditions and levels of economic development. Nonetheless, comparative research on the rationales of adoption of governance instruments and on the trajectories that these instruments follow in different institutional and socio-economic contexts is still scarce. On the basis of a systematic literature review (n=158), this paper enquires into the logics of adoption of national large-scale assessments and test-based accountability instruments, as well as into the modalities of educational governance change that these instruments have triggered in a broad range of institutional settings. Theoretically, the paper is informed by a political sociology approach to policy instruments (Kassim, & Le Galès, 2010), which is combined with premisses coming from historical institutionalism (Mahoney, 2000). The paper shows that, internationally, educational governance reforms advance through path-dependent and contingent processes of policy instrumentation that are markedly conditioned by prevailing politico-administrative regimes. Specifically, we analyze how education policy instruments are adopted for different reasons and evolve differently in the context of Anglo-American, Neo-Weberian and Napoleonic administrative traditions. The paper also reflects on the additive and evolving nature of policy instruments. Specifically, we observe that, in the context of regulatory governance reforms, educational systems are changing as the result of the sedimentation and layering of different instruments, techniques and tools that are not necessarily articulated in a predefined reform program. In fact, we identify numerous cases where, with the passage of time, national standardized assessments and test-based accountability systems tend to gain autonomy from their promoters and, accordingly, adopt functions and generate effects that were not initially foreseen.
Kassim, H., & Le Galès, P. (2010). Exploring governance in a multi-level polity: A policy instruments approach. West European Politics, 33(1), 1–21. http://doi.org/10.1080/01402380903354031 Mahoney, J. (2000). Path dependence in historical sociology. Theory and Society, 29(4), 507–548. Scott, C. (2000). Accountability in the regulatory state. Journal of Law and Society, 27(1), 38–60. doi:10.1111/1467-6478.00146
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