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Principals of audit: Testing, data and ‘implicated advocacy’

Thompson, G. and Mockler, N. (2016) Principals of audit: Testing, data and ‘implicated advocacy’. Journal of Educational Administration and History, 48 (1). pp. 1-18.

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Historically, school leaders have occupied a somewhat ambiguous position within networks of power. On the one hand, they appear to be celebrated as what Ball (2003) has termed the ‘new hero of educational reform’; on the other, they are often ‘held to account’ through those same performative processes and technologies. These have become compelling in schools and principals are ‘doubly bound’ through this. Adopting a Foucauldian notion of discursive production, this paper addresses the ways that the discursive ‘field’ of ‘principal’ (within larger regimes of truth such as schools, leadership, quality and efficiency) is produced. It explores how individual principals understand their roles and ethics within those practices of audit emerging in school governance, and how their self-regulation is constituted through NAPLAN – the National Assessment Program, Literacy and Numeracy. A key effect of NAPLAN has been the rise of auditing practices that change how education is valued. Open-ended interviews with 13 primary and secondary school principals from Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales asked how they perceived NAPLAN's impact on their work, their relationships within their school community and their ethical practice.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
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