UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Experiences of responsibility and professionalism in an educational accountability context MacNeil, Kimberley


This research project sought to explore how individuals working within a particular accountability context perceived their roles and responsibilities related to their participation in an educational change initiative. Accountability policies are often invoked in order to achieve desired improvements across educational systems, but managerial accountability in particular too often fails to effect the change it is intended to promote. Professional accountability has been called for in response to the shortcomings of managerial accountability. However, solely relying on professional accountability may inadequately address the complexities of change, and has led some to call for a combination of managerial and professional accountability. Secondary analysis of interview data from a larger, existing, longitudinal case study was employed to investigate educators’ experiences of accountability in educational change. In the larger project, a case study design was used to examine how members of a professional learning community (PLC) in one urban, inclusive, and multicultural school district in British Columbia made changes to practice in support of students’ learning through reading (LTR). In a secondary analysis of interviews from that study, conducted with 40 participants ranging from classroom teachers, teacher consultants, school- and district- level administrators regarding their experiences related to the change initiative, the present study addressed the following two research questions. From stakeholders’ perspectives: (1) How was professional responsibility evidenced within a professional learning community? (2) What conditions supported teachers to build from, and act upon, their sense of professional responsibility within the context of a larger accountability structure? Findings suggested that (1) participants evidenced professional responsibility in the ways they committed to continuous learning/improvement and focused on student needs; and (2) conditions supportive of professional responsibility were related to working in trusting relationships; availability of needed supports (e.g., from others, structures, resources, from different levels in the system); shared goals; and experiences of formalized accountability structures.

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