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.
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.