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Natalie Browes, Antoni Verger (2022)
Global governance through peer review: the Dutch experience of OECD reviews of National Policies for Education

This paper seeks to better understand the influence of international organizations within the national policy domain by examining the OECD’s use of peer reviews. Focusing on one such review in the Netherlands, it asks: why are these reviews commissioned, who is involved, how are ideas about educational governance promoted, and how do they impact national policy. Data comes from inter- views with OECD and ministry of education members who were central to the review process. Findings show that policy influence is exercised through subtle mechanisms including socialization, net- working and negotiation. Both parties sought to benefit from the review, particularly from the OECD’s perceived reputation as an ‘external expert,’ able to redirect politicized issues into more tech- nical channels. Further, the Netherlands’ status as a ‘good student’ and the partially restricted voice of the OECD in the Dutch context appear significant factors impacting the nature of the review pro- cess and national policy outcomes.
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Antoni Verger, Clara Fontdevila, Llu铆s Parcerisa (2022)
Constructing School Autonomy with Accountability as a Global Policy Model: A Focus on OECD's Governance Mechanisms

This chapter aims at understanding the role of the OECD in the development and international dissemination of SAWA policies. Specifically, the chapter analyses the governance mechanisms through which these reforms are being promoted by the OECD, namely, data gathering, education policy evaluation, and the generation of policy ideas through different knowledge products and policy spaces. Methodologically, the chapter is based on a systematic literature review of a corpus of 33 papers, which we triangulate with official documents produced by the OECD. The chapter is structured as follows. In the first part, we present our research framework, which covers both our theoretical approach and our methods. In the second part, we present our main results, which we organize according to the different governance mechanisms articulated by the OECD around SAWA reforms. In the last part, we pick up the main points in a concluding discussion.
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Llu铆s Parcerisa, Antoni Verger, Marcel Pag猫s, Natalie Browes (2022)
Teacher Autonomy in the Age of Performance-based Accountability: A Review based on Teaching Profession Regulatory Models (2017-2020)

In recent decades, the governance of educational systems has experienced dramatic changes in many countries. Schools have been given more autonomy whilst being held increasingly accountable at the central level through standardized testing and other forms of external evaluation. The mechanisms of performance-based accountability (PBA) and the consequences attached to test results vary. In high-stakes systems, teachers’ careers are more directly connected to students’ performance, and low performing schools might risk closure, whereas in lower-stakes systems, the official administrative consequences of accountability for school actors are more symbolic than material. The main aim of this paper is to understand the impact of different forms of PBA on teachers’ work from a comparative perspective. Most research on this topic is based on single-context case studies, which makes it difficult to understand the impact of policy factors and professional contexts in teachers’ decisions and autonomy. To address this challenge, we review recent investigations (2017-2020) on the topic and compare their findings in different teachers' regulatory contexts. The review includes 101 articles from the SCOPUS and Web of Science databases. We find that evidence on the impact of PBA on teachers’ perceptions and beliefs are variegated, and that the implications of PBA on teachers’ autonomy does not only depend on the level of accountability stakes, but on teachers’ professional regulation.
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Antoni Verger, Llu铆s Parcerisa (2022)
Test-Based Accountability and the Rise of Regulatory Governance in Education: A Review of Global Drivers

Faced with this reality, this chapter analyses why TBA has been disseminated and adopted as a core tool of regulatory governance in education globally. Specifi cally, the chapter focuses on the reasons, factors and actors behind the international dissemination of TBA. Th e chapter is structured into two main parts. Th e fi rst part focuses on the main drivers and circumstances that, in an increasingly globalized policy and economic scenario, are conducive to the spread and adoption of TBA in education internationally, whereas the second part focuses on the particular role of international organizations in the dissemination and promotion of accountability measures in education. Methodologically, this research is based on the scoping review method which aims to identify the main trends as well as the critical areas of disagreement and the existing ‘gaps’ within a specifi c fi eld of the literature. Th e scoping review approach allows researchers to map the existing literature on a certain topic in a shorter period of time. For the purpose of this particular review, we have used mainly two scientifi c databases: Web of Science (WoS) and SCOPUS. Additionally, we carried out hand searching in key books and journals, grey literature and documents elaborated by international organizations. In total, fi ft y-one documents that focus on the international dissemination of accountability policies in education were selected. All these documents were published between 1995 and 2015.
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Natalie Browes (2022)
Test鈥慴ased accountability and perceived pressure in an autonomous education system: does school performance affect teacher experience?

Across the globe, education quality has become synonymous with student per- formance. The shift towards test-based accountability (TBA) has changed what is required of schools and what it means to be a ‘good teacher’. Different tools may trigger a performance orientation within schools, from administrative (such as the Inspectorate) to market (schools competing for students). It is logical to assume that TBA policies will be interpreted and enacted differently in schools at differ- ent ends of the performance spectrum, and this, in turn will affect the expectations on teachers and the pressures they feel. Based on interviews with teachers (n = 15), principals (n = 4) and the school board (n = 1), this study compares the experiences of teachers in two ‘high’ and two ‘low’ performing primary schools under the same management in one Dutch city. Findings reveal that the schools respond differently to TBA, and are facing different performance pressures, yet in all four, test data was found to significantly shape educational practices. It was further found that teachers experience pressure in different ways; however, it cannot be said that those in high- performing schools experience less pressure compared to those in low-performing schools, or vice versa. Rather, teachers’ experience of pressure is more closely connected to their schools’ logics of action: the practices the schools adopted in response to accountability measures and their relative market position.
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Llu铆s Parcerisa, Antoni Verger, Alejandra Falabella (2022)
High-stakes accountability and the expansion of a school improvement industry in Chile

This investigation analyses the emergence of a school improvement industry in Chile, a country well known internationally for being highly marketised and commodified and for its high- stake testing policies (Bellei & Vanni, 2015; Falabella, 2020a; Parcerisa & Falabella, 2017). In this country, not only does school provision follow market rules, but in the last 15 years, the hardening and diversification of accountability measures has contributed to expand a market of commercial services for schools. Resorting to commercial ‘school improvement’ services, which in Chile are known as services of Educational Technical Assistance (ATE, for its acronym in Spanish), is one of the main ways both public and private schools address accountability pressures.
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Antoni Verger, Gerard Ferrer Esteban, Llu铆s Parcerisa (2022)
In and out of the 'pressure cooker': Schools' varying responses to accountability and datafication

Existing research tends to attribute the varying responses to accountability pressures to variables of a different nature, ranging from school leadership styles to the broader socio-economic contexts in which schools operate. However, to date, research has overlooked the role of subjective variables (such as school actors’ perceived and experienced pressures) in the mediation and enactment of PBA. To address this gap, this chapter aims to analyze the production of different patterns of responses to PBA within schools from a policy enactment perspective. On the basis of a mixed-methods study conducted in Chile, we analyze how school actors’ interpretations of and dispositions towards PBA, on the one hand, and their experienced levels of pressure, on the other, influence how they respond to the accountability regulatory system. As we will show, the responses to PBA that have been identified go beyond conventional alignment–decoupling dichotomy and include a more varying range of options. Our perspective is premised on the assumption that the way school actors respond to policy prerogatives is contingent on the way these actors make sense of PBA pressures and expectations within their broader social and institutional frameworks. In other words, the responses to PBA that we identify are the result of analyzing how school actors see and live accountability regulations in their reference contexts. To build our main arguments, the chapter is structured as follows: in the first section, on the context of the research, we introduce Chile’s long trajectory of experimentation with learning metrics and a broad range of related accountability measures. In the second section, we present our theoretical framework, where we highlight the importance of focusing not only on policy interpretation but also on perceived regulatory pressure to understand how policies are enacted. After presenting the methodology of our study in the third section, in the fourth one, we offer the main findings of the research in the form of a new categorization of school responses to PBA regulations. Finally, the conclusions highlight the key mediating role of subjective variables in the configuration of different patterns of school responses to PBA, and we reflect on the research and policy implications of our study.
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Marcel Pag猫s, Gerard Ferrer Esteban, Antoni Verger, Miriam Prieto Egido (2022)
At the crossroad of performativity and the market: Schools' logics of action under post-bureaucratic and hybrid accountabilities

School systems are shifting towards forms of post-bureaucratic governance (PBG), implying higher levels of school autonomy, choice, and performancebased management. Under this governance approach, which combines forms of administrative and market accountability, schools face greater levels of competition and external pressure to perform. Schools experience such pressures unevenly and address them through different responses. The paper develops a mixed-methods case study conducted in Madrid, a Spanish region where PBG reform has intensified in the last decades, and proposes a novel index to position schools within their reference local education markets. The results show that schools articulate a broad range of logics of action, largely interrelated with their position in the education marketplace. We also show that schools’ responses to external pressures are dynamic and marked by tensions of a different nature, which schools need to navigate, often without sufficient support from public authorities.
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Llu铆s Parcerisa (2022)
Movimientos sociales y resistencia al accountability en Chile: estrategias discursivas, identidad y acciones de la campa帽a Alto al SIMCE

El artículo busca analizar la campaña Alto al SIMCE en Chile, mediante un marco analítico que combina distintas herramientas heurísticas de las teorías de movimientos sociales. Específicamente, el artículo explora los marcos discursivos presentes en las narrativas del movimiento, así como también aspectos vinculados a la formación y trayectoria de la campaña, la identidad colectiva, las alianzas y los repertorios de acción colectiva empleados por los actores para tratar de incidir en las políticas educativas. A nivel metodológico, el artículo se basa en un estudio de caso, con una aproximación cualitativa que combina el análisis documental y de prensa con entrevistas semi-estructuradas a activistas. Los resultados ofrecen reflexiones y conocimiento novedoso sobre los factores externos e internos que pueden favorecer y/o dificultar el éxito de la acción colectiva contra la rendición de cuentas basada en pruebas estandarizadas en el campo educacional.
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Natalie Browes (2022)
All in this together? The reconstitution of policy discourses on teacher collaboration as governance in post-crisis Europe

With the rise of network governance, and its concomitant fragmentation of public education systems across Europe, international studies have recommended teacher collaboration as a means to bring educational stakeholders together. Yet, despite some agreement over the potential benefits to student, professional and organisational learning, there is limited comparative research into the policy response of national governments to this recommendation and the discourses in which any initiatives might be embedded. Such inquiry is important during a time of decreased public investment in education when policymakers might seek to encourage ‘alternative’ forms of collaboration. Employing Fairclough’s three-dimensional framework to Critical Discourse Analysis, this article compares dominant policy discourses on collaboration in England, the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland. Our findings reveal restricted discourses on teacher collaboration in these national contexts. Rather, in line with a global modernisation agenda for education, organisational collaboration and private actor engagement support the shift towards network governance while developing new forms of hierarchical and market control. Future research might therefore consider the impact of these reforms on teachers’ individual and collective practices at the school level and on public education more generally.
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Antonina Levatino, Laura Mentini, Llu铆s Parcerisa (2022)
Teaching as affective labour in a datafied world: a scoping review of the relationship between performance-based accountability and teachers' emotions

Research has shown that in many contexts, the transformation of the public sector associated with new public management (NPM) reforms and performance-based accountability (PBA) has had profound implications for public sector workers' practices, identities and emotional experiences. Focusing on the education sector, in this paper we aim to contribute to the understanding of the relationship between PBA policies and teachers’ emotions by conducting a scoping review of the scientific literature. Our review, which is based on a final sample of 63 articles published between the years 2000-2021 obtained from the SCOPUS database, identifies two main bodies of research. The first deals with an examination of teachers’ emotions and shows how PBA is a crucial part of a changing professional environment that accentuates and/or modifies feelings and emotions already inherent to the teaching profession. The focal point of the second strand of research is the effect of PBA on teachers’ emotions; here, we identify research exploring the emotional effects of PBA, as well as the mechanisms behind different emotional experiences, how teachers deal with emotions emerging from PBA policies and a number of factors that intensify or weaken the emotional impact of PBA. On the basis of our review, limitations of existing research and gaps in the understanding of the relationship between PBA and teachers’ emotions are identified and promising lines of future research formulated
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Llu铆s Parcerisa, Clara Fontdevila, Antoni Verger (2022)
Understanding the PISA influence on national education policies: a focus on policy transfer mechanisms

Over the last decades, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has acquired an increasingly relevant and authoritative role in the global governance of education. The influence of the OECD in education owes much to the greater focus of this international organization on the production of new sources of quantitative data, and to the comparative perspective through which these data is approached (Grek, 2009; Martens & Jakobi, 2010). This shift has been driven by different data-gathering initiatives, among which the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) stands out. Since its first edition in the year 2000, PISA has been administered every three years in an increasing number of countries. Nearly 80 countries have participated in the 2018 edition. According to different observers, PISA has represented a turning point for the OECD and has consolidated its leading role within the global education field (Niemann & Martens, 2018). The success of PISA relies, on the one hand, on its capacity to commensurate complex educational processes, such as teaching and learning, in concrete numerical indicators and, on the other, on the country comparisons that result from this quantification exercise (Martens, 2007; Grek, 2009).
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Llu铆s Parcerisa (2022)
El rol de la investigaci贸n en la configuraci贸n del campo educativo en Chile. Perspectivas, influencias y omisiones

En las últimas décadas, la globalización capitalista ha generado profundas transformaciones en los campos educativos, favoreciendo la emergencia de nuevos actores, procesos de influencia y modelos de gobernanza. Esto cambios han promovido una extensa literatura sobre el rol de los movimientos sociales en la producción del campo, pero otros actores, como los y las académicos/as, expertos y agentes que ejercen de intermediarios del conocimiento han sido escasamente analizados. Considerando esto, el artículo desarrolla un modelo conceptual para analizar los factores y actores que contribuyen a la configuración del campo educativo en Chile, analizando particularmente el rol que pueden desempeñar los y las académicos/as y la investigación educacional en este proceso. El análisis permite relevar las principales formas de influencia de la investigación en los procesos de producción del campo educativo, relevando cuatro importantes futuras líneas empíricas de investigación.
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Llu铆s Parcerisa (2022)
Teachers' beliefs about standardised testing and test-based accountability: comparing the perceptions and experiences of teachers in Chile and Norway

The global popularity of test-based accountability appears to signal political trust in standardised assessments as valid and relevant measures of education quality. Nonetheless, research shows that educators’ perceptions of standardised testing and test-based accountability can vary significantly, as do their responses to accountability demands. Considering the key influence of teachers’ beliefs on the way in which they respond to education reforms, in this paper we examine teachers’ beliefs and opinions about standardised tests and test-based accountability. We rely on a comparative study on the interpretations and experiences of standardised testing and test-based accountability demands of compulsory education teachers in Chile and Norway. These cases were selected following a most-different-systems design approach. By relying on data derived from an electronic survey (n=2,531) and in-depth interviews (n=60), the analysis shows how in both contexts, teachers are relatively critical about the validity, usefulness and fairness of the standardised tests, signalling a lack of trust of teachers in standardized testing and test-based accountability. Still, despite similar trends, some key differences in the beliefs of Chilean and Norwegian teachers are found, which highlight the influence of the sociocultural context in shaping teachers’ beliefs. By illuminating how teachers in different contexts make sense of test-based accountability, our analysis contributes to the understanding of why the often-reported mismatch between policy expectations and policy outcomes might occur.
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Antonina Levatino, Llu铆s Parcerisa, Antoni Verger (2022)
Understanding the Stakes: The Influence of Accountability Policy Options on Teachers' Responses

Under test-based accountability, undesired teachers' responses -including illicit practices to inflate test results- are usually associated to so-called high-stakes policies. However, the influence of different types of stakes in the generation of undesired effects has been overlooked in education research. Based on a survey experiment, our results indicate that the type and level of stakes (e.g. high- vs low-stakes, material vs symbolic) do not differ in triggering undesired accountability effects. Counterintuitively, individual symbolic consequences trigger similar reactions among teachers than material incentives. In-depth interviews give insights into the social mechanisms that lead to symbolic effects having such an influence in understanding teachers' reactivity to accountability.
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Llu铆s Parcerisa, Alejandra Falabella (2022)
La Consolidaci贸n del Estado Evaluador a Trav茅s de Pol铆ticas de Rendici贸n de Cuentas: Trayectoria, Producci贸n y Tensiones en el Sistema Educativo Chileno

Chile es un caso particularmente relevante para el estudio de la introducción de políticas de rendición de cuentas (RdC). Durante la primera década de los 2000 Chile intensificó el uso de estas medidas para intentar corregir “las fallas” de un mercado escolar altamente desregulado. El artículo examina el proceso de adopción de las políticas de RdC y la consolidación del Estado evaluador por medio de la construcción del “Sistema de Aseguramiento de la Calidad” durante el período 2006-2011. A nivel teórico, el artículo se basa en el enfoque de “la política y la semiótica de la adopción de políticas”. Metodológicamente, el estudio examina los documentos asociados al ámbito de la política (discursos oficiales, leyes, discusiones parlamentarias, informes, documentos gubernamentales), sumado a 27 entrevistas semi-estructuradas a personas involucradas en la producción de políticas (policy-makers, funcionarios del Ministerio, parlamentarios, asesores y técnicos). El artículo examina el proceso de construcción de la política, los factores que abrieron una “ventana de oportunidad” para consolidar dicha política, las disputas discursivas durante el proceso de deliberación, y la emergencia de la RdC como lugar de consenso que sedujo tanto a la derecha como al centro-izquierda.
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Llu铆s Parcerisa, Antoni Verger (2022)
Rendici贸n de cuentas y pol铆tica educativa: Una revisi贸n de la evidencia internacional y futuros retos para la investigaci贸n

La rendición de cuentas (RdC) ha devenido un tema central en la agenda educativa global, y actualmente muchos países están adoptando nuevos sistemas de RdC en sus sistemas educativos. Sin embargo, las reformas de RdC, lejos de ser homogéneas, se pueden basar en enfoques y operar en direcciones muy diferentes. Utilizando una metodología de revisión de literatura conocida como scoping review, este artículo analiza los principales efectos de las políticas de RdC en diversas dimensiones educativas. La evidencia revisada muestra que la RdC tiene efectos diferentes dependiendo del diseño, la recepción y el proceso de aplicación de dicha política, así como del contexto socioeconómico e institucional de las escuelas en que se aplica. El artículo identifica además las principales lagunas de la literatura existente sobre RdC en el ámbito educativo, y sistematiza cuatro premisas con las que orientar investigación futura sobre la temática.
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Llu铆s Parcerisa, Marcel Pag猫s, Andreu Termes L贸pez (2022)
Why Do Opt-Out Movements Succeed (or Fail) in Low- Stakes Accountability Systems? A Case Study of the Network of Dissident Schools in Catalonia

External and standardized assessments based on student results are a contested education policy among school actors. Movements of opposition have emerged in different countries, especially in those contexts with high-stakes accountability systems. However, this phenomenon has not been analyzed in soft accountability systems. The objective of this article is to study the opt-out movement in Catalonia, understood as an anti-standardization movement in a system of soft accountability. In order to do so, we adopt the case study approach as a methodological strategy, based on the triangulation of semi-structured interviews with activists (n = 14), key stakeholders (n = 3), and document and press analysis (n = 25). The results shed light on the emergence and nature of the movement, its opportunity structures, the discursive frames and the repertoires of collective action. Our results show how accountability instruments have a ‘life of their own’ beyond their policy design. In this sense, the opt-out movement in Catalonia identifies potential risks and adverse effects similar to those reported in high-stakes systems, developing a repertoire of collective action and discursive frames similar to other emerging anti-standardization movements in high-stakes contexts
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Marcel Pag猫s (2021)
Enacting performance-based accountability in a Southern European school system: between administrative and market logics

Performance-based accountability (PBA) policies are increasingly adopted in a wide range of education systems in order to reform school governance and to improve students’ results and schools’ performance. Countries around the world have been implementing national large-scale assessments to make school actors more accountable and responsible for students’ results. This policy model has been generalized in countries with diferent administrative traditions, including those with a short tradition in New Public Management. This is the case in Spain, where PBA has been adopted unevenly in diferent regions, with Madrid being one of the earliest adopters. In recent decades, Madrid has developed a model that combines administrative test-based accountability with a system of broad parental school choice, which also facilitates the activation of market forms of accountability. However, the combination and interaction between market and administrative forms of accountability is understudied. This paper adopts a policy enactment perspective to analyze, through a case study approach, the interaction of administrative and market forms of accountability and its enactment at the school level. The case study is based on a set of 41 semi-structured interviews with teachers, principals, and school inspectors in a sample of eight schools in Madrid, combined with document analysis of school educational projects and improvement plans. The evidence suggests that administrative and market forms of accountability tend to generate dynamics of interdependence, resulting in increasing external pressures which schools tend to address with superfcial responses, including teaching to the test, or second-order competition between schools.
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Marjolein Camphuijsen, Antonina Levatino (2021)
Schools in the media: framing national standardized testing in the Norwegian press, 2004鈥2018

In the education sector, media outlets have been increasingly active in reporting on standardized testing. The purpose of this paper is to identify the most recurrent discursive frames used by the Norwegian regional and local press when informing their readers about national standardized testing, and to explore whether differences over time and across geographical localities exist in the pervasiveness of frames. Our analysis is guided by framing theory, and builds on a corpus of 3,046 articles that focus on national testing, published by 155 Norwegian regional and local newspapers between 2004 and 2018. The analysis identifies four different discursive frames within Norwegian press coverage, namely the frame of ‘performance’, ‘transparency and empowerment’, ‘misinterpretation and misuse’, and ‘criticism’. The four frames convey highly distinct causal and normative beliefs and realities about national standardized testing. While the dominance of the frames varies over time and across Norwegian counties, the frame of ‘performance’ is increasingly pervasive, something that potentially contributes to naturalize performative-oriented reporting and competition in education. The study highlights the importance of systematic media analyses to identify circulating principle beliefs on education, and of not limiting research to national newspapers in order to grasp geographical variation in media coverage.
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Sotiria Grek, Antoni Verger (2021)
World Yearbook of Education 2021: Accountability and Datafication in the Governance of Education

The purpose of the book is to reconceptualize the notion of accountability as part and parcel of the increasing datafication in education, understood as the processes and effects of quantifying education, from education policymaking to pedagogy and education practice in all its physical and digital manifestations.
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Marjolein Camphuijsen, Antonina Levatino (2021)
Appendix. Schools in the Media: Framing National Standardized Testing in the Norwegian Press, 2004-2018

Full list of newspaper articles analyzed in Camphuijsen and Levatino (2021).
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Antonina Levatino (2021)
Surveying principals and teachers: Methodological insights into the design of the REFORMED questionnaires

This note describes the methodology behind the design of the REFORMED Survey questionnaires. The Survey constitutes one of the main pillars of REFORMED RS2 which is aimed at exploring the intricate relationship between SAWA policies, contextual contingencies and policy enactment dynamics. The aim of this note is essentially twofold. On the one hand, it provides detailed information on the key concepts used in RS2 as well as the theoretical underpinnings and content of the questionnaires. On the other hand, it presents a detailed overview of the methodological steps followed to conceive and develop them. The information contained in this note is relevant for those researchers who want to use the data collected through the REFORMED Survey. It also provides useful methodological insights that can be valuable for those who want to undertake similar research endeavours.
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Llu铆s Parcerisa (2020)
To align or not to align: The enactment of accountability and data-use in disadvantaged school contexts

Despite the growing number of researches about performance-based accountability (PBA) in education, there is still scarce evidence on the mediating role of subjective variables (e.g., perceived pressure and alignment to PBA mandates) in the enactment of PBA in socially disadvantaged contexts. This is paradoxical because marginalized schools are usually those that are on probation and have to cope with the threat of sanctions more frequently. Existing investigations on PBA enactment have put increasing attention to the role of situated and material contexts, but there is still limited knowledge on how subjective variables can mediate policy enactment processes and enable the adoption of different school responses. To address these gaps, the article aims to explore how the perceived accountability pressure, the school performative culture, and meaning-making processes at the school level are mediating the enactment of PBA policies in disadvantaged schools. At the theoretical level, the study is informed by sense-making and policy enactment frameworks. Methodologically speaking, the investigation uses a comparative case study approach based on two extreme cases, which have been selected on the basis of a factorial analysis that combines both survey and secondary data. The extreme cases represent two different scenarios, which, despite operating in similar situated contexts, are characterized by having opposite levels of perceived pressure and alignment with the performative culture. The case studies combine survey data (n = 39) with documentary analysis and semi-structured interviews with the management team and teachers (n = 7). The findings show that subjective variables, in interaction with other contextual factors, can exacerbate or inhibit PBA regulatory pressures and trigger diverging school responses.
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Marjolein Camphuijsen (2020)
Coping with performance expectations: towards a deeper understanding of variation in school principals' responses to accountability demands

In recent decades, performance-based accountability (PBA) has become an increasingly popular policy instrument to ensure educational actors are responsive to and assume responsibility for achieving centrally defined learning goals. Nonetheless, studies report mixed results with regard to the impact of PBA on schools’ internal affairs and instructional practices. With the aim of contributing to the understanding of the social mechanisms and processes that induce particular school responses, this paper reports on a study that examines how Norwegian principals perceive, interpret, and translate accountability demands. The analysis is guided by the policy enactment perspective and the sociological concept of “reactivity”, and relies on 23 in-depth interviews with primary school principals in nine urban municipalities in Norway. The findings highlight three distinct response patterns in how principals perceive, interpret, and translate PBA demands: alignment, balancing multiple purposes, and symbolic responses. The study simultaneously shows how different manifestations of two social mechanisms form important explanatory factors to understand principals’ varying responses, while it is highlighted how the mechanisms are more likely to operate under particular conditions, which relate both to principals’ trajectories and views on education, and to school-specific characteristics and the local accountability regime. The study contributes to the accountability literature by showing how, even in the relative absence of material consequences and low levels of marketization, standardized testing and PBA can drive behavioral change, by reframing norms of good educational practice and by affecting how educators make sense of core aspects of their work.
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Marcel Pag猫s, Miriam Prieto Egido (2020)
The instrumentation of global education reforms: an analysis of school autonomy with accountability policies in Spanish education

This paper analyses, from the perspective of the political sociology of policy instruments, the adoption and re-contextualisation of School Autonomy with Accountability (SAWA) reforms in Spain, with a particular focus on the region of Madrid. Over the last few decades, Madrid has adopted a wide range of education policies that have contributed to consolidate a market-oriented approach in the governance of the educational system. This paper analyses the instrumentation and complex interaction between standardised tests, test-based accountability, school choice and school autonomy in advancing this governance shift. The main objective of the paper is twofold: first, to trace the policy trajectory of SAWA reforms in Spain and Madrid, and second, to identify the rationale of the reform and its related policy ontology in relation to the selection and articulation of different policy instruments as well as the governance implications of these choices. Methodologically, we have conducted a policy analysis case study, analysing data from a set of 35 original interviews with education policymakers and key policy actors, combined with document analysis. The results of our research show how the policy preferences of domestic political actors and the legacies of the politico-administrative regimes mediate the final form and uses of the SAWA policy instruments. These policy instruments can be conceptualised as ‘life objects’ whose development and uses are attached to context specific – and sometimes contradictory – political objectives and rationales.
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Marjolein Camphuijsen, Jorunn M酶ller, Guri Skedsmo (2020)
Test-based accountability in the Norwegian context: exploring drivers, expectations and strategies

This paper investigates how and why test-based accountability (TBA), a global model for education reform, began to dominate educational debates in Norway in the early 2000s, and how this policy has been operationalised and institutionalised over time. In examining the adoption and retention of TBA in Norway, we build on the cultural political economy framework, in combination with a political sociology-driven approach to policy instruments. The analysis draws on two data sources: four White Papers and 37 in-depth interviews with top-level politicians, policy-makers and stakeholders, conducted between September 2017 and February 2018. The findings indicate that ‘scandalisation’ of Norway’s below-expected PISA results and promotion of standardised testing as a neutral device contributed to the relatively abrupt adoption of national testing in the early 2000s. The increasingly dominant policy discourse equalising education quality and learning outcomes led to the institutionalisation of TBA, developed to ensure equity and quality standards in a decentralised education system. Increased visibility, benchmarking and administrative control are identified as key mechanisms in putting pressure on local actors to re-orient their behaviour. The study provides original insights into the drivers, expectations and strategies underlying TBA in a social democratic institutional regime.
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Clara Fontdevila (2019)
Researching the adoption of School Autonomy with Accountability reforms: A methodological note on country case studies

This note presents the methodological approach that guided the five case studies conducted in the context of REFORMED RS1. The case studies aimed at reconstructing and analysing the adoption of school autonomy with accountability (SAWA) arrangements in different countries, and were informed by shared data-gathering procedures and a common analytic strategy. This note gives a detailed description of the main data-collection and data-analysis tools on which the case studies relied, and makes explicit the rationale and the theoretical premises that oriented the design of such instruments. Particular attention is given to the development of the interview guide and to the coding strategy that informed the analysis of the interview data. 
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Natalie Browes (2019)
The instrumentation of test-based accountability in the autonomous dutch system

Test-based accountability or ‘TBA,’ as a core element of the pervasive Global Education Reform Movement (GERM), has become a central characteristic of education systems around the world. TBA often comes in conjunction with greater school autonomy, enabling governments to assess ‘school quality’ (i.e. test results) from a distance. Often, quality improvement is further encouraged through the publication of these results. Research has investigated this phenomenon and its effects, much of it focusing on Anglo-Saxon cases. This paper, drawing on expert interviews and key policy documents, couples a policy borrowing with a policy instruments approach to critically examine how and why TBA has developed in the highly autonomous Dutch system. It finds that TBA evolved incrementally, advancing towards higher stakes for schools and boards. Further, it argues that school autonomy has been central to the development of TBA in two ways. Firstly, following a period of decentralisation that increased school(board) autonomy, the Dutch government saw a need to strengthen accountability to ensure education quality. This was influenced by international discourse and accelerated by a (politically exploited) national ‘quality crisis’ in education. Secondly, the traditionally autonomous Dutch system, shaped by ‘Freedom of Education’, has at times conflicted with TBA, and has played a significant role in (re)shaping global policy and in mitigating the GERM.
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Marjolein Camphuijsen (2019)
School actors' enactment of a performative accountability scheme in Russia: Tensions, dilemmas and strategies

In European and global educational debates, performative or test-based accountability has become central to modernizing and raising the performance of education systems. However, despite the global popularity of performative accountability modalities, existing research finds contradictory evidence on its effects, which tend to be highly context-sensitive. With the aim of gaining a deeper understanding of the mechanisms and contextual factors that explain the effects of performative accountability, this study investigates the enactment of a performative accountability scheme adopted in the Russian school system. The analysis is based on interview and observation data collected during an in-depth qualitative study of two neighbouring schools with contrasting logics of action. Our findings illuminate the specific ways in which accountability policy outcomes are mediated and shaped by schools’ context and agency. We show how schools with different logics of action react to external pressures, and how different professional groups within schools experience policy pressures in dissimilar ways. We conclude that performative accountability mechanisms reinforce instrumental, and impede expressive, logics of action in schools. In both cases they produce tensions, particularly for schools in disadvantaged areas.
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Antoni Verger, Clara Fontdevila, Llu铆s Parcerisa (2019)
Reforming governance through policy instruments: how and to what extent standards, tests and accountability in education spread worldwide

In the last decades, most countries have adopted data-intensive policy instruments aimed at modernizing the governance of education systems, and strengthening their competitiveness.Instruments such as national large-scale assessments and test-based accountabilities have disseminated widely, to the point that they are being enacted in countries with very different administrative traditions and levels of economic development. Nonetheless, comparative research on the trajectories that governance instruments follow in different institutional and socioeconomic contexts is still scarce. On the basis of a systematic literature review (n = 158), this paper enquires into the scope and modalities of educational governance change that national large scale assessments and test-based accountability instruments have triggered in a broad range of institutional settings. 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. The paper also reflects on the additive and evolving nature of educational governance reforms.
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Antoni Verger, Miriam Prieto Egido, Marcel Pag猫s (2018)
Common standards, different stakes: A comparative and multi-scalar analysis of accountability reforms in the Spanish education context

An increasing number of countries are adopting accountability systems in education that rely on the external evaluation of students’ learning outcomes through standardized assessments. The international dissemination of this form of accountability, often known as test-based accountability, does not imply that exactly the same policy is adopted everywhere. Accountability reforms, as any other globalizing policy model, are context-specific. The concrete form that accountability reforms adopt is contingent on a range of political, historical and institutional conditions, and to policy-making dynamics and logics that operate at multiple scales. This paper analyzes the trajectory of accountability reforms in two Spanish regions, Madrid and Catalonia, from a comparative and multi-scalar perspective. Based on document analysis of media and official sources, and exploratory interviews with key informants, the paper shows that, although these two regions have pioneered the adoption of test-based accountability reforms in the Spanish context, their accountability systems have evolved quite differently. While accountability reforms in Madrid have been oriented toward the promotion of school choice and competition, Catalonia has adopted an uneven lower-stakes accountability approach with multiple ramifications. In this paper, we explain how and why such diverging trends have been possible within the context of a common general regulatory framework.
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Antoni Verger, Llu铆s Parcerisa (2018)
A Difficult Relationship. Accountability Policies and Teachers: International Evidence and Key Premises for Future Research

This chapter reviews international evidence on the effects of accountability policies in education, with a particular focus on teachers’ work and behavior. Specifically, on the basis of existing evidence, the chapter shows how the different components of accountability schemes (namely their policy design, enactment processes, contextual contingencies, and impact) interact in complex and multiple ways.
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Antoni Verger, Llu铆s Parcerisa, Clara Fontdevila (2018)
The growth and spread of large-scale assessments and test-based accountabilities: a political sociology of global education reforms

The Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) is expanding internationally and reaching countries that seemed to be immune to this education reform approach until quite recently. Accordingly, more and more educational systems in the world are articulated around three main policy principles: accountability, standards and decentralisation. National large-scale assessments (NLSAs) are a core component of the GERM; these assessments are increasingly used for accountability purposes as well as to ensure that schools achieve and promote centrally defined and evaluable learning standards. In this paper, we explore these trends on the basis of a new and original database on NLSAs, as well as on data coming from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) questionnaires. In the paper we also discuss how different theories on policy dissemination/globalisation explain the international spread of NLSAs and test-based accountability worldwide, and reflect on the potential of a political sociology approach to analyse this globalising phenomenon.
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Antoni Verger (2018)
Global Perspectives on High-Stakes Teacher Accountability Policies: An Introduction

This article introduces the special issue “Global Perspectives on High-Stakes Teacher Accountability Policies”. The aim of the special issue is to provide insights into a diverse set of policies focusing on teachers’ accountability, including the underpinning ideas and cultural and socio-economic contexts of these policies, as well as their effects on teachers’ work, the teaching profession and the broader educational environment. While these articles highlight the influence of the “global testing culture” on education systems world-wide, they also demonstrate the need for understanding accountability systems as context-specific. As such, we urge scholars to consider the social, historical, political and geographical contexts within which their research is situated and to promote a research agenda that looks at the specific responses and effects that accountability policies produce in different regulatory settings. This introductory article, first, clarifies the main focus and conceptual framework of the special issue and, second, presents an overview of the papers included in the issue and their main contents. 
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