Accountability Practices in the History of Danish Primary: Public Education from the 1660s to the Present

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In this paper we focus on primary education accountability as a concept and as an organizational practice in the history of Danish education. Contemporary studies of education policy often address questions of accountability, but the manifestations of school accountability differ significantly between different national settings. Furthermore, accountability measures and practices have an impact on both the ways and means by which societies approach their cultural edifices and educational systems. In other words, accountability measures and practices tend to have a disciplining effect on their surroundings. Hence there is a need to clarify the characteristics and traits connected with the concept—both at an analytical level and at a practice level. One way of approaching this endeavor is to turn to the history of education, because the discourse and practice of accountability incorporates numerous historical antecedents, technologies, and arguments.
This article presents the case of Denmark, using the key analytical questions of school accountability put forth by Joseph C. Burke as a starting point, namely “who is accountable to whom, for what purposes, for whose benefit, by which means and with which consequences”. Our focus areas are the diachronic legal framings of school accountability since early modernity, the differing practices of school accountability at different administrative levels in the same period, and the interplay between these entities, in which the complexities of transfer and translation between levels are pivotal. The article is analytically divided into four chapters, one treating the period of absolute monarchy, from 1660 to 1849; one treating the era of the national state, from 1849 to 1933; one treating the welfare state, from 1933 to 1990; and one treating the era of globalization and the marketization of education, from 1990 to the present.
Empirically the paper is based on the relevant body of laws, archival sources of the Danish Ministry of Education found in the Danish National Archive, and archival sources of the Regional Archive of Northern Jutland, as well as existing research in the field.
TidsskriftEducation Policy Analysis Archives
Udgave nummer120
Sider (fra-til)1-31
Antal sider31
StatusUdgivet - 8 dec. 2014

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