The metamorphoses of school accountability systems in Australia

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Australian public school education has been noted for its complex relationship between the roles played out by the federal government and the state and territory governments. Over the last two decades, school accountability systems have provided each of the state and territory governments with the means to deliver school transparency. More recently, Australia’s school reform agenda has included rapid and consecutive federal government initiated changes termed as “the Education Revolution” such as in 2008 - the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians, National high-stakes testing – NAPLAN and, the operationalization of ACARA – Australian National Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority; in 2009 the National Education Agreement; and the inception of the national My School website in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The transparency and accountability mechanisms of this school reform agenda were aimed at improving the quality of educational outcomes and the provision of equity for all Australian students by using nationally comparable school performance data to build a substantive evidence base that would support future improvements made within education. In developing a culture of high expectations, the need for effective transparency and accountability mechanisms that met the needs of parents, policy makers and the broader community was strongly encouraged at the federal government level. Thus, over the last couple of years, in answer to this reform agenda and its associated changes interesting metamorphoses are occurring in Australian school accountability systems across the states and territories. Has the quality of education improved or showing indications for improvement? Have we felt that our productivity measures have indeed added gains in student outcomes? Are we on the right track as we develop a culture of performance and development? This paper aims to outline some of the politicking, governance and equity issues that have arisen around both the federal as well as state and territory school improvement and accountability measures and the affects that this is having currently on public school education within Australia. An overview of each of the current eight states and territories school accountability systems and where they stand will be presented in the first half of this paper and a discussion on the outlined issues surrounding politics, governance and equity will be raised and discussed in the second half. In drawing comparisons with other countries such as UK, USA, New Zealand and Finland, current Australian school improvement and accountability systems and their alleged benefits will be discussed within this paper.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventInternational Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education 2015 - University of Notre Dame, Fremantle, Australia
Duration: 29 Nov 20153 Dec 2015


ConferenceInternational Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education 2015
Abbreviated titleAARE 2015

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