The Infrastructure of Accountability

The Infrastructure of Accountability Data Use and the Transformation of American Education

Edited by Dorothea Anagnostopoulos, Stacey A. Rutledge, and Rebecca Jacobsen, foreword by Jeffrey R. Henig
Pub. Date: April 2013
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-533-6
paper, 296 Pages
Pub. Date: April 2013
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-531-2
Price: $33.00

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The Infrastructure of Accountability brings together leading and emerging scholars who set forth an ambitious conceptual framework for understanding the full impact of large-scale, performance-based accountability systems on education.


Methodologically diverse and inductive in spirit…[these essays] are looking at the ways the accountability systems operate on and through real people—people who sometimes misunderstand, sometimes deliberately flout, and sometimes creatively reconfigure the incentives meant to steer them and the data meant to inform them. — From the foreword by Jeffrey R. Henig, professor of political science and education, Teachers College, Columbia University

The balance of perspectives in a single volume is refreshing—especially for a subject where taking sides appears to be standard operating procedure. The Infrastructure of Accountability should be required reading for anyone interested in the construction and consequences of test-based accountability systems. — James P. Spillane, Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Chair in Learning and Organizational Change, School of Education and Social Policy, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

The authors show how the geometric growth of quantitative data on the performance of students, teachers, and schools may reshape the complex ecology of the classroom in ways that are more conducive to efficiency than education. The foreword and introduction alone are worth the price of the book. — David F. Labaree, professor of education, Stanford University School of Education

More than just supplying readers with a general knowledge of accountability, the diverse perspectives provided in this book allow for a holistic understanding by making visible the "practical, political and moral contours and consequences of this infrastructure." — Kenneth E. Hoover, School Administrator

The time is ripe for an evidence- and theory-based conversation about the future of accountability policies in education, and this book should be used to inform this conversation. I only hope that policymakers and the individuals and organizations that advise them will read this collection and pay attention to the existence and implications—both positive and negative—of the infrastructure of performance-based accountability systems as they consider the best way to move forward. — Katharine O. Strunk, TCR

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About the Editors

Dorothea Anagnostopoulos is an associate professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University. She earned her PhD in education from the University of Chicago, where she also earned an MAT/English. Her research crosses several domains, including educational policy, urban education, teacher education, and classroom discourse, and has been widely published in journals such as Research in the Teaching of English, Discourse and Society, Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis, and the American Educational Research Journal. Her policy research uses a cultural sociological perspective to examine how teachers and students make sense of educational accountability policies and how such policies shape the distribution of resources, opportunities, and social identities in urban high schools. She is coauthor with Kenneth K. Wong, Francis Shen, and Stacey Rutledge of The Education Mayor (Georgetown University Press, 2007). Anagnostopoulos taught high school English in rural, suburban, and urban schools prior to receiving her doctorate.

Rebecca Jacobsen is an assistant professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University. Rebecca received a PhD in the politics of education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her dissertation, entitled “Priorities in Public Education: An Analysis of Elite and Popular Opinion on the Goals of Public Education,” received a 2007 dissertation fellowship award from the Spencer Foundation. Her work focuses on the ways in which public opinion is shaped by school accountability data. She has published articles in Public Opinion Quarterly, American Education Research Journal, and Education Finance and Policy. She is coauthor with Richard Rothstein and Tamara Wilder of Grading Education: Getting Accountability Right (Teachers College Press, 2008) and with Martin Carnoy, Larry Mischel, and Richard Rothstein of The Charter School Dust Up (Economic Policy Institute and Teachers College Press, 2005). Jacobsen taught in the New York City Public School system prior to earning her doctorate.

Stacey A. Rutledge is an associate professor of educational leadership and policy at Florida State University. She received a master’s in teaching social studies from Brown University and a doctor of philosophy in education from the University of Chicago. Her research explores how policies at multiple levels of the school system aimed at improving teaching and learning, such as test-based accountability and teacher quality, shape the work of district and school administrators and teachers, and, ultimately, students’ learning opportunities. Rutledge is currently serving as a lead investigator for the National Center for Research and Development on Scaling Up Effective Schools, which is aimed at identifying the policies and practices of effective high schools. Her research has been published in American Journal of Education, Teachers College Record, and Leadership and Policy in Schools. She also taught high school social studies in Chile and Massachusetts before beginning her doctoral degree.

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