Why do opt-out movements succeed (or fail) in low-stakes accountability systems? A case study of the Network of Dissident Schools in Catalonia

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Abstract

External and standardized assessments based on student results are a contested education policy among school actors. Movements of opposition have emerged in different countries, especially in those contexts with high-stakes accountability systems. However, this phenomenon has not been analyzed in soft accountability systems. The objective of this article is to study the opt-out movement in Catalonia, understood as an anti-standardization movement in a system of soft accountability. In order to do so, we adopt the case study approach as a methodological strategy, based on the triangulation of semi-structured interviews with activists (n = 14), key stakeholders (n = 3), and document and press analysis (n = 25). The results shed light on the emergence and nature of the movement, its opportunity structures, the discursive frames and the repertoires of collective action. Our results show how accountability instruments have a ‘life of their own’ beyond their policy design. In this sense, the opt-out movement in Catalonia identifies potential risks and adverse effects similar to those reported in high-stakes systems, developing a repertoire of collective action and discursive frames similar to other emerging anti-standardization movements in high-stakes contexts.

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How to Cite
Parcerisa, L., Pagès, M., Termes, A., & Collet-Sabé, J. (2022). Why do opt-out movements succeed (or fail) in low-stakes accountability systems? A case study of the Network of Dissident Schools in Catalonia. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 30, (133). https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.30.6330
Section
Testing Opt-out Movements
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.

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.

Andreu Termes, Barcelona Institute of Regional and Metropolitan Studies (IERMB)

Andreu Termes is a postdoctoral fellow at the Barcelona Institute of Regional and Metropolitan Studies (IERMB). His main interest deal with privatization of education and accountability policies, political economy of educational reforms, and segregation and social closure processes.  

Jordi Collet-Sabé, University of Vic - Universitat Central de Catalunya (UCC)

Jordi Collet-Sabé is an associate professor of sociology of education at the University of Vic-UCC (Barcelona) and the former vice-rector for research. His research interests are education policy at global, national regional and local level; family-school relations; and education for the common (good).