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Teachers’ understanding of accountability in the context of a whole school revitalisation program

Swan, Alan (2011) Teachers’ understanding of accountability in the context of a whole school revitalisation program. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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This study investigates teachers’ perceptions of accountability in secondary public schools participating in the Innovative Designs for Enhancing Achievement in Schools (IDEAS) Project. The focus is internal accountability, a concept seen to be a necessary condition for schools to improve performance against external accountability measures. The study investigated whether teachers’ perceptions about accountability aligned with what constitutes internal accountability. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposively selected sample of teachers engaged with the IDEAS Project in four Western Australian public secondary schools. The findings indicate that teachers perceived three interdependent layers of accountability: internal, external and moral; and they categorized accountabilities at each layer as either formal or informal. Teachers involved in the study described perceptions of accountability inclined toward collective responsibility, challenging conclusions from previous studies that teachers’ perceptions of accountability are individualistic. The national accountability agenda that focuses teacher attention toward data from literacy and numeracy assessments was found to have a positive influence on teachers’ perceptions about accountability. Participants suggested that the data from these assessments often brought staff together to review teaching and learning, with a focus on improving student achievement. Since little was known about the participants’ perceptions of accountability prior to involvement in the IDEAS Project, a relationship between the program and teacher perceptions of accountability cannot be inferred. Further research is recommended regarding the efficacy of the IDEAS Project in shifting teacher perceptions from an individualistic orientation toward a collective orientation associated with internal accountability.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Wildy, Helen and Cumming-Potvin, Wendy
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