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Redefining accountability in adult basic education : an emancipatory approach to student assessment in British Columbia's school districts Moss, Raymond Douglas

Abstract

This retrospective case study chronicles and critically interprets the design, development, and eventual demise of a student-centred mechanism for assessing accountability in adult basic education (ABE). ABE is understood as an attempt to address the learning needs of adults at risk of economic and social marginalization and provide them opportunities to further learning. From 1998 to 2001 the British Columbia's Ministry of Education was engaged in examining the accountability practices of ABE programs offered by the province's school districts. In the final two years of that timeframe it developed in collaboration with the field an accountability framework intended to be capable of acknowledging the many ways program success might be demonstrated and measured; adaptable to demographic, economic, and cultural changes; sensitive to local differences, learner needs, and political priorities; and emancipatory in its orientation toward learners and program providers. Implementation of the framework was stayed due to a change in government. This study reflects upon my experiences as the school district senior administrator in adult education seconded by the ministry to be the framework's principle architect. Through examining the idiosyncratic political and professional context of developing ABE accountability policy for British Columbia's school districts, this study uncovers more universal themes associated with the power dynamics of teaching professionals, their various governmentalities, and the social construction of failure and success. This lays the basis for further studies in the political economy of accountability policies and practices for adult basic education.

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