This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
Accountability has become one of the major keywords in education during the last two or three decades, and it is not being discussed without controversy. Accountability has always been deemed a necessity for schools to fulfill their purpose in society; however, different views on whether and to what extent schools can be regulated from the outside have led to dissimilar assumptions about who should be accountable to whom and by what means. In a globalized world and with the influence of powerful transnational actors, accountability systems have been converging in the past decades. At the same time, new accountability instruments have been woven into existing structures and processes that have been culturally, historically, and socio-politically preshaped. Accordingly, approaches towards educational accountability worldwide today seem to be similar and diverse at the same time. In this context, the question is how these accountability systems relate to the institutional conditions they are situated in, and how different actors coordinate the order in education within different types of accountability and governance systems. Finally, one can also discuss to what extent accountability policies affect power relations and normalize inequalities within society.