Politics of education and teachers’ support for high-stakes teacher accountability policies


  • Oren Pizmony-Levy Teachers College, Columbia University
  • Ashley Woolsey Teachers College, Columbia University




Accountability, education reform, politics of education, teachers, teacher evaluation system, teachers’ attitudes, experimental design, New Jersey


Although educators are at the center of contentious high-stakes teacher accountability policies, we know very little about their attitudes toward these policies. This research gap is unfortunate because teachers are considered key actors in successful implementation of educational reforms. To what extent do the politics that accompany the introduction of high-stakes teacher accountability policies affect teachers’ support for the policies themselves? To address this gap, we used data from an experimental survey of teachers in New Jersey (n=444), where a new reform—Teacher Effectiveness and Accountability for Children of New Jersey Act (TEACHNJ)—was signed into law in 2012 and implemented shortly after. The cornerstone of the reform is a new evaluation system that ties student performance on standardized tests to teachers’ evaluation. We found that the majority of teachers oppose the new evaluation system. Teachers’ attitudes were shaped by the politics of the key actors advocating for the policy, perceptions of implementation efforts, and beliefs in the potential outcome of the policy. Open-ended responses indicated that teachers question the validity of the evaluation system and are concerned about the negative intended and unintended consequences of the system. We conclude this paper by discussing the implications of these findings for policy studies and policymaking.


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Author Biographies

Oren Pizmony-Levy, Teachers College, Columbia University

Oren Pizmony-Levy is an Assistant Professor in the Department of International and Transcultural Studies. He holds a PhD in sociology and comparative and international education from Indiana University-Bloomington. His research and teaching focus on the intersection between education and social movements. One line of research examines the accountability movement and its role in the emergence of international assessments of student achievement (e.g., TIMSS, PIRLS, and PISA). Another line of research examines the Opt Out movement in the United States.

Ashley Woolsey, Teachers College, Columbia University

Ashley Woolsey completed her Masters in International and Comparative Education at Teachers College, Columbia University (MA’ 14). Her research interests include policy planning and implementation. This article is based on data she collected for her thesis titled “Teacher Perceptions of Implementation Effectiveness of TEACH N.J.” She currently works as a middle school social studies and special education teacher at Memorial Middle School in Fair Lawn, NJ. Ashley participates in various initiatives to improve education policy implementation and effectiveness at the local and state levels.




How to Cite

Pizmony-Levy, O., & Woolsey, A. (2017). Politics of education and teachers’ support for high-stakes teacher accountability policies. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 25, 87. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.25.2892



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