When I first thought of writing this post, I thought perhaps the reason I am so disenchanted with the idea of accountability was because I don't know what it means anymore - but I realized that, in fact, it's quite the opposite - I know exactly what accountability means today.
Accountability has become a synonym for punish.
I'm no longer willing to play the Accountability Game. There are other ways to ensure schools provide good learning opportunities. For this, I look to Finland's Pasi Sahlberg:
The North American educational system abounds with buzzwords like accountability. As Sahlberg explained, the concept of accountability came into education in the 1970s. “Previously,” he said, “accountability was used solely in a business context, but governments increasingly began applying it to education, and the result was the rise of standardized tests and other measures that held education accountable. Accountability is about making information public—ranking schools or provinces or teachers.” And it is based on the belief “that competition is the answer to any problems in schools.” Imposing a national curriculum is another common way to respond to concerns about student performance. Interestingly, the success of Finnish students notwithstanding, there is no word in Finnish for accountability in an educational context.
When I tell others that I don't believe in accountability, I get some awfully peculiar looks. But if Finland can offer real learning opportunities to their children, and they don't even have the word accountability in their language, surely we can be imaginative and open-minded enough to see that we don't need accountability either.
Here's more on Finland's paradoxes.