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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, Lluís 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 Pagès (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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