The Limits of Sanctions in Low-Performing Schools


  • Heinrich Mintrop University of California, Los Angeles



Low Achievement, Motivation, Sanctions


The article reports on a study of 11 schools that were labeled as low-performing by the state accountability systems of Maryland and Kentucky, nationally known for complex performance-based assessments. The study shows that putting schools on probation only weakly motivated teachers because the assessments were largely perceived as unfair, invalid, and unrealistic. Administrators responded with control strategies that rigidified organizations, forestalling dialog and learning processes. Instructional reform developed only feebly. On the other hand, some schools remedied inefficiencies and were able to "harvest the low-hanging fruit." The schools struggled with severe problems of teacher commitment.


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Author Biography

Heinrich Mintrop, University of California, Los Angeles

Heinrich Mintrop was a teacher in both the United States and Germany before he entered into his academic career. Currently he is an assistant professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. He explores how education policies form institutional structures that in turn shape teaching and learning in schools. He is particularly interested in the tension between student achievement and citizenship, accountability and democratization in educational systems across the world. He recently published "Changing Core Beliefs and Practices Through Systemic Reform: The Case of Germany After the Fall of Socialism" in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis (1999) and co-authored with Bruno Losito, CEDE Italy, "The Teaching of Civic Education," a chapter in the IEA Report on Civic Education in 28 Countries (2001). In recent years, Dr. Mintrop has turned to the issue of school accountability with emphasis on policies that support school improvement in low-performing schools. This work has so far produced a number of articles and book chapters. A book at Teachers College Press on Low-Performing Schools Facing High Stakes is forthcoming.




How to Cite

Mintrop, H. (2003). The Limits of Sanctions in Low-Performing Schools. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 11, 3.