The process of becoming : the political construction of Texas’ Lone STAAR system of Accountability and College Readiness



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As systems of accountability and efficiency continue to permeate public education institutions it is important that research engage the various factors that embody how these systems come to be, whose knowledge gains access to informing their designs, and whose interests are served. Texas has long been recognized as a testing ground for such policy designs, although researchers’ points of departure on such systems have solely focused on the outcomes of these policies in practice. Research on the political construction and discourses that define the underlying goals of these systems continue to be ignored by researchers. Analyses of Texas-inspired federal policies have also predominantly taken an outcomes-based approach, or at most have had episodic engagements with political processes peering down from the balcony to observe the interaction of the obvious actors. To this end, this three-year ethnographic study conceptually and methodologically engages the various dimensions—such as race, class, history, interest, power, and agency—that embody the political lineage of Texas’ new system of Accountability and College Readiness across various contexts. This study further contributes to the dearth of literature that examines the role of research and university researchers in policy debates, and the limits and possibilities of politically engaged scholars in such processes.