The project will investigate how the accountability of schools differs according the school management model and whether accountability is linked to differences in learning outcomes. Recently, a great deal of attention from international development donors has focused on new models of school management (e.g. community-managed schooling or privatization), however there is insufficient data on the extent to which these management models are linked to differences in perceived accountability and/or students' learning. Furthermore, the exclusive focus on cognitive outcomes does not capture schools' social contribution in terms of social inclusion and participation.
We propose to take a more sophisticated approach to accountability than previous research by examining the perceived accountability of multiple stakeholders: parents, teachers and school management. We also take an expanded view of accountability, drawing upon the concepts of social return impact and blended value accounting to consider how the outcomes of education can include increased social inclusion by addressing marginalities along the lines of caste and gender in addition to cognitive outcomes
The project will involve quantitative data collection on the perceived accountability of various school stakeholders (i.e. parents, teachers, and management), cognitive learning outcomes, and children's well-being and social inclusion. These data are collected using established research instruments that have been employed in international contexts. Data from the quantitative component of the study will be used to examine how different models of school management are related to perceived accountability, student learning outcomes and social value (i.e. inclusion and cohesion).
Additionally, we will undertake in-depth qualitative case studies on a subset of schools, which will provide insights into the engagement between different stakeholders and the perception of accountability relationships. The qualitative studies will provide a foundation for the generation of theories to explain quantitative findings and contribute to theoretical understandings of accountability and organizational relationships in education.
The project brings together management and education researchers from the University of Bath, Tata Institute for Social Sciences (Mumbai), Tribhuvan University (Nepal) and Roskilde University (Denmark). Through its quantitative and qualitative components will provide a robust body of evidence to examine how models of school management relate to perceived accountability, cognitive learning outcomes and the social contribution of schools.
The project will influence the activities and decisions of several key stakeholders, specifically:
-Educational practitioners (teachers) and educational leaders (managers) in urban areas of low-income countries (i.e. Mumbai, India and Kathmandu, Nepal).
-Policymakers on education in developing countries (i.e. India and Nepal) as well as policymakers in regional organizations (i.e. SAARC).
-Policymakers on education and international development for bilateral and multilateral development donors (e.g. DFID, USAID, UNDP, EuropeAid, the World Bank, etc).
-Staff and decision-makers at international non-governmental organizations (e.g. Save the Children, Oxfam, Plan, ActionAid, etc).
Impact is maximised by involving key stakeholders at all stages of the research cycle (i.e. planning and instrument preparation, implementation and data collection, and analysis and dissemination) through consultations with a steering group of stakeholders. This steering group will be composed of individuals representing the stakeholders identified above and will provide input to the meeting at two meetings as well as interim webinars. The specific interests of stakeholders will be represented in a series of stakeholder-generated questions added to the primary research instruments as described in the Pathways to Impact document.
Impact will be supported by a targeted programme of research communications throughout the research cycle. Targeted communications will include policy briefings and press releases and meetings convened with policy makers and the national and international levels. Additionally, the project team will publish articles in the local press summarizing key findings, produce briefings for school leaders, teachers and parents in each location, and organize dissemination events for local stakeholders (i.e. educators, NGO staff, local government staff, etc). Communication will be supported by Bath's Institute for Policy Research (IPR) and will include updates via social media and a blog that is regularly updated by the research team.