School actors’ enactment of a performative accountability scheme in Russia: Tensions, dilemmas and strategies

Galina Gurova*, Marjolein K. Camphuijsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-203
JournalEuropean Educational Research Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2019


The authors would like to thank the organizers of the Summer School in European Education Studies (SUSEES) for providing the opportunity to write a paper for this Special Issue. A special thank is awarded to Emiliano Grimaldi, for his comments on the manuscript. Finally, the authors would like to acknowledge and thank members of the research group ‘Eduknow - Knowledge, Power and Politics in Education’ at the Tampere University and members of the research project ‘Reforming Schools Globally: A Multi-Scalar Analysis of Autonomy and Accountability in the Education Sector (ReformED)’ at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, as well as the anonymous reviewers who provided constructive feedback on earlier drafts of this article. The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Data collection was supported by the Academy of Finland grant 273874 for the research project “Transnational Dynamics of Quality Assurance Policies and Evaluation in Brazil, China and Russia” 2014–17. Also, this work was supported by the European Research Council under the European Union’s “Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation”, [grant number 680172 - REFORMED].

FundersFunder number
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme
European Research Council
Academy of Finland273874
Tampereen Yliopisto
Horizon 2020680172
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona


    • Performative accountability
    • Policy enactment
    • Logics of action
    • Global education policy
    • Standardized tests
    • Russian education


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