Standards-based accountability: Reification, responsibility and the ethical subject

Alex Kostogriz, Brenton Doecke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Over the last two decades, teachers in Australia have witnessed multiple incarnations of the idea of 'educational accountability' and its enactment. Research into this phenomenon of educational policy and practice has revealed various layers of the concept, particularly its professional, bureaucratic, political and cultural dimensions that are central to the restructuring of educational governance and the reorganization of teachers' work. Today, accountability constitutes a core concept of neoliberal policy-making in education, both fashioning and normalizing what counts as teacher professionalism in the 'audit society.' This article focuses specifically on the recent introduction by the Australian Federal Government of standardised literacy testing in all states across Australia, and raises questions about the impact of this reform on the work practices of English literacy teachers in primary and secondary schools. We draw on data collected as part of a major research project funded by the Australian Research Council, involving interviews with teachers about their experiences of implementing standardised testing. The article traces the ways in which teachers' work is increasingly being mediated by standardised literacy testing to show how these teachers grapple with the tensions between state-wide mandates and a sense of their professional responsibility for their students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-412
Number of pages16
JournalTeaching Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • ethics
  • professional responsibility
  • reification
  • standards-based accountability

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