The Politics of Accountability and Teacher Preparation

Abe Feuerstein, Bucknell University


In an effort to understand some of the ways that accountability-based reform efforts have influenced teacher education, this article details the politics of accountability in Pennsylvania that motivated sweeping changes in the policies governing teacher preparation in 2006. This case study provides a poignant example of the kind of complex accountability systems now being constructed across the United States in an effort to change teacher preparation. By analyzing primary documents including the legal statutes governing teacher preparation in Pennsylvania, correspondence from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, related newsletters, memos, reports, transcripts of meetings, and testimony before the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, the complex nature of the conflicts underlying the development and implementation of teacher education reform is brought into focus. The study's findings suggest that a deep and uncritical acceptance of accountability-based teacher education reform on the part of educational policy makers is likely to do more harm than good. The article concludes by outlining a framework for developing more intelligent measures of accountability that might preserve professional autonomy and judgment.