Teacher autonomy in the age of performance-based accountability: A review based on teaching profession regulatory models (2017-2020)





professionalism, accountability, autonomy, standardized testing, teachers , decision-making


In recent decades, the governance of educational systems has experienced dramatic changes in many countries. Schools have been given more autonomy whilst being held increasingly accountable at the central level through standardized testing and other forms of external evaluation. The mechanisms of performance-based accountability (PBA) and the consequences attached to test results vary. In high-stakes systems, teachers’ careers are more directly connected to students’ performance, and low performing schools might risk closure, whereas in lower-stakes systems, the official administrative consequences of accountability for school actors are more symbolic than material. The main aim of this paper is to understand the impact of different forms of PBA on teachers’ work from a comparative perspective. Most research on this topic is based on single-context case studies, which makes it difficult to understand the impact of policy factors and professional contexts in teachers’ decisions and autonomy. To address this challenge, we review recent investigations (2017-2020) on the topic and compare their findings in different teachers' regulatory contexts. The review includes 101 articles from the SCOPUS and Web of Science databases. We find that evidence on the impact of PBA on teachers’ perceptions and beliefs are variegated, and that the implications of PBA on teachers’ autonomy does not only depend on the level of accountability stakes, but on teachers’ professional regulation.



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Author Biographies

Lluís Parcerisa, University of Barcelona

Lluís Parcerisa is a Juan de la Cierva Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Teaching and Learning and Educational Organization of the University of Barcelona (UB). His main research interests include the role of international organizations in the global governance of education, the datafication of schooling, and the enactment and effects of school autonomy with accountability reforms in the education sector.

Antoni Verger, Autonomous University of Barcelona

Antoni Verger is professor of sociology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and research fellow at the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA). With a cross-disciplinary training in sociology and education studies, his research examines the relationship between globalization, governance institutions and education policy.

Marcel Pagès, University of Girona

Marcel Pagès is adjunct professor in sociology of education and comparative education at the University of Girona, Department of Pedagogy. His research interests are education reform processes, school governance and inequalities in education.

Natalie Browes, Autonomous University of Barcelona

Natalie Browes is a research fellow at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. She is currently conducting research as part of the international ‘ReformEd’ project, where her work examines the adoption, development and enactment of school accountability policies in the Autonomous Dutch system. In particular, she focuses on the impact of test-based accountability policies on primary school teachers’ beliefs and practices in different school settings.




How to Cite

Parcerisa, L., Verger, A., Pagès, M., & Browes, N. (2022). Teacher autonomy in the age of performance-based accountability: A review based on teaching profession regulatory models (2017-2020). Education Policy Analysis Archives, 30, (100). https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.30.6204



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