Assessing Accountability in U.S. Public Education

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Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting and Financial Management

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Public education accountability rests almost exclusively with schools rather than governments. This paper explores its three dimensions: economy, efficiency, and effectiveness. Performance indicators of these dimensions were developed which facilitated testing of significant differences in means over time using analysis of variance. Only salary and wage expenditures per instruction personnel exhibited greater economy. Instructional equipment per pupil was related to increased efficiency. Several indicators suggested enhanced effectiveness. Student/teacher ratio declined and top performers in public schools improved in achievement. Graduation rate, an indicator of achievement and participation, significantly rose in recent years. In summary, several effectiveness indicators revealed encouraging trends with school accountability. The absence of government accountability was associated with limited progress in the remaining dimensions of economy and efficiency


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