The ethical practice of teaching literacy: Accountability or responsibility?

Alex Kostogriz, Brenton Doecke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


This article focuses on the recent introduction by the Australian government of standardised literacy testing, and raises questions about the impact of this reform on the professional ethics of English literacy teachers in primary and secondary schools. We draw on data collected as part of a major research project, involving interviews with teachers about their experiences of implementing standardised testing in Victoria and South Australia that focused on the changing nature of their work practices through the implementation of such tests. The paper traces the ways in which teachers' work is increasingly being mediated by standardised literacy testing to show how these teachers struggle with the tensions between state-wide mandates and a sense of responsibility towards their students. Through an analysis of research data collected in public schools, the paper challenges circumscribed understandings of ethical practice on the part of teachers as a matter of being publicly accountable through mechanisms like the publication of standardised test results. It invokes, instead, a situated notion of professional ethics as responsiveness to those around us. The paper argues the primacy of an ethic of care that cannot be measured, and which is enacted in resistance to the judgments made by standardised tests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-98
Number of pages9
JournalAustralian Journal of Language and Literacy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • literacy education
  • language education

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