By Karen Seashore Louis
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Extra resources for Accountability and school leadership
Focus group members revealed that their principal had used school TAKS test data and returned mail to identify low-performing Latina/o students in the school and then to accuse them of being illegal aliens. He called a meeting of the students and threatened to report them to US immigration authorities regardless of whether they were actually illegal aliens or not with the intention of encouraging their departure. Understandably, Tierra teachers were very hesitant to discuss the details of this meeting.
For schools involved in our work, the costs of high-stakes accountability are clearly greater for at-risk students. It is important to point out that the purpose of a public school is not to produce a snapshot test score, or a school rating, or a gold star for a principal or superintendent, but to educate children. Thus, any operationalization of student outcomes should foster that collective goal as a public good, rather than fomenting an environment in which students are viewed as either assets or liabilities.
To triangulate the research process, research team members (a mix of faculty and graduate students) from Rice University, Stanford University and the University of Texas at Austin independently conducted axial coding that identified consistent themes within the phrase coding. Informant data were triangulated with fieldnotes, archival materials provided by schools and local press reports. For synthesis, informant counts by category were conducted to understand the representativeness of the dominant themes generated in the field interviews.
Accountability and school leadership by Karen Seashore Louis