The Politics of Bad News: The Political Foundations of Educational Accountability
Susan L. Moffitt

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Brown University

Primary Discipline

Political Science
No Child Left Behind and associated state policies generate and publicize evidence of educational performance in an effort to promote educational improvement. Though evidence of problems may contribute to program development, bad news about educational performance risks creating a boomerang effect that erodes support for the implementers, the implementers’ institutions, the overarching policy, and political sponsors. Prevailing scholarship examines how policy bears on practice: whether and how information-based accountability policies contribute to measures of educational performance. My project will offer a different perspective by examining how information about practice bears on both policy and on politics: how ‘bad news’ about educational practice has affected state and local education politics and the policies those politics support. My study will use mixed methods to address the following questions: When and where have states responded to “bad news” by developing and improving programs and schools, and when and where have they responded by dismantling the policy, politics or practice?Have information-based education accountability policies produced local and state electoral consequences?Have information-based education accountability policies contributed to local discourse, creating room for new opportunities for political engagement and political enlightenment?This project will inform the design and redesign of subsequent accountability policies by demonstrating where bad news has yielded development or erosion in policy and political support.
About Susan L. Moffitt

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