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.
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.
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.