Accountability structures that support school self-evaluation, enquiry and learning

Melanie Ehren*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


This chapter explains how current top-down, standardised accountability systems shape the ecosystem in which schools are working, narrow teaching and learning, and prevent schools from developing a culture of professional learning. It presents an alternative model of ‘intelligent accountability’ which supports schools to become enquiring and learning organisations. The chapter shows how standardised accountability systems, such as high-stakes testing and school inspections, have standardised aspects of a school’s organisation. It draws on work of M. C. Alkin to present an alternative, more localised and subjective model of evaluation which would support schools in using research evidence to improve their practice, and develop a research-engaged organisational culture. P. J. DiMaggio and W. W. Powell’s work on isomorphism is used to understand how formal and informal pressure, uncertainty and professional networks and norms lead to high levels of standardisation of schools’ cultures and structures which are narrowly organised around the standards in accountability frameworks.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAn Ecosystem for Research-Engaged Schools
Subtitle of host publicationReforming Education through Research
PublisherTaylor and Francis AS
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781351329453
ISBN (Print)9781138574458
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


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