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Full text of "ERIC EJ1148382: Accountability Policies at Schools: A Study of Path Analysis"

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Received: July 4, 2016 
Revision received: December 27,2016 
Accepted: February 14,2017 
OnlineFirst: May 17,2017 

DOI 10.12738/estp.2017.4.0362 ♦ August 2017 ♦ 17(4) ♦ 1405-1432 

Copyright © 2017 EDAM 

Research Article 

Accountability Policies at Schools: 
A Study of Path Analysis* 

Co§kun Erdag * 1 
Aksaray University 


Turkey is now on its way to reforming compulsory education and having a more effective and efficient 
education system by creating more accountable schools. This research has been designed in a causative 
pattern to discover the effects of external academic performance pressures on school accountability policies 
and school accountability responses based on quantitative data obtained both from teachers and school 
administrators. First, account-giving behaviors related to teaching activities among school teachers and 
administrators directed at themselves and created by academic performance pressures coming from school 
shareholders, the local socio-environment, and upper bureaucracy respectively were discovered. Second, ac¬ 
ademic performance pressures from school shareholders create more support for schools’ policy on market 
accountability, whereas bureaucratic performance pressures create resistance to the policy on performance 
accountability. Third, those who favor obeying the rules for teaching are more inclined to give an account 
of their deeds to the upper bureaucracy. 


School improvement • Accountability • Control • Academic achievement • Path analysis • 

Education policy 

* This study is based on the doctoral dissertation entitled “Accountability Policies at Schools: A Study of Structural Equation 
Modeling,” prepared under the supervision of Prof. Engin Karadag, in Eski^ehir Osmangazi University. An earlier version 
was orally presented at the ISTEL Conference, August 5-7, 2015, in Kurume, Japan. 

1 Correspondence to: Co$kun Erdag (PhD), Department of Educational Sciences, Aksaray University, Aksaray Turkey. 
Email: & 

Citation: Erdag, C. (2017). Accountability policies at schools: A study of path analysis. Educational Sciences: Theory & 
Practice, 17 , 1405-1432. 



One of the main tasks of educational institutions all over the world is to provide students 
with an adequate level of academic skills for the least cost. Basically, all educational 
systems struggle to produce the desired academic performance by effectively and 
efficiently processing various financial, material, and human resources. On the other 
hand, social, economic, technological, and cultural changes generally create adverse 
effects on the education system, particularly on schools, and cause undesired results 
aside from low academic performance to ensue. Considering the criticism of schools 
around the world, one observes that they offer the public few benefits and are unable 
to show the performance expected of them despite the huge amount of investment 
provided; they are expected to behave more responsibly and to be held accountable for 
greater performance and efficiency (Kuchapski, 2001; Nagy, 1995). 

In line with global developments, the Turkish education system has been criticized 
frequently both in terms of academic performance and managerial processes. Firstly, 
Turkish schools are criticized for underperforming both at the national-level exam, 
as in the high school and university entrance exams respectively, and international- 
level exams, as in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the 
Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (T1MSS), and the Progress 
in International Reading Literacy Study (P1RLS). These exams reveal that Turkish 
students have problems with math, science, reading, and problem-solving skills and 
are far behind the achievement level that many developed and developing countries 
have reached (Aydm, Erdag, & Ta§, 2011; Aydin, Saner, & Uysal, 2012; Directorate 
of Research and Development [EARGED], 2003, 2004). Secondly, Turkish public 
administration, thus being very much a part of the Turkish educational administration, 
has frequently been criticized for being oversized, over-formalized, unwieldy, not 
transparent, more bureaucratic, and less responsive than what citizens need (Dinner, 
1998; Eryilmaz, 1997; Goksu, 2002). 

Many projects were initiated after 1990 in response to these criticisms, such as 
the National Education Development Project (NEDP) for improving the quality 
of education, Total Quality Management (TQM) practices for improving schools, 
and Curriculum Laboratory Schools that base school development on strategic 
planning (National Ministry of Education [MEB], 1999, as cited in Kantos, 2010). 
Furthermore, in order to make education more effective, efficient, and accessible, 
the Supporting Basic Education Project (SBEP) led to creating primary school 
standards of quality and determining competencies and performance indicators for 
the teaching profession. The School Performance Management Model and School 
Development Planning Model are two models developed to raise the quality of 
Turkish educational processes and outcomes (MEB, 2002, 2009, as cited in Kantos, 
2010). Just after the Turkish economic crisis of 2001, the IMF and World Bank 
advised governance and accountability policies, and later legislation began to voice 


Erdag / Accountability Policies at Schools: A Study of Path Analysis 

the concept of accountability to restore discipline in allocating public budgets and 
financial performance (Akgeyik, 2004; Dinner & Yilmaz, 2003; Dogruel, 2002). 
Later on, the concept of accountability and its practice began to be defended as the 
main policy for producing and presenting quality educational services, for providing 
financial control, and for improving students’ academic achievement. In this context, 
Information Act No. 4982, the Public Financial Management and Control Law No. 
5018, and the law on the Establishment of the Public Officials Ethics Committee No. 
5176 were enacted. 

These public and educational management problems have not only been 
experienced in Turkey but also in western nations. The economic crisis of the 
1970s, technological developments, growing knowledge of society and economy, 
and globalization produced many problems in developed countries both in the fields 
of public and educational management. In this context, educational and public 
institutions in this era lost others’ trust because they had not been able to keep up 
with the changing conditions, had not been able to meet public expectations, and had 
been involved in bribery and corruption (Earl, 1995; Hood, 1991, 1995; Kuchapski, 
2001; Nagy, 1995; O’Day, 2002). Because the traditional management philosophy 
emphasizing terms such as work division, specialization, qualification, hierarchy, 
rules, input, process control, and productivity had broken down, the new management 
philosophy of governance was adapted more and more every day to reestablish trust 
in public institutions for providing greater satisfaction, preventing monopolization, 
abolishing arbitrary management, ensuring transparency, sustaining private sector 
cooperation, and holding organizations’ accountable to the needs of citizens. On the 
basis of these understandings, public management has been clearly structured and 
become localized, its services have been reduced to the public level, and a justification 
mechanism for accountability (providing or receiving an account between citizens 
and the government) has been sustained as the natural course of democracy. This 
way, public institutions have tried to control their financial performance and services 
(Akpakaya & Yiicel, 2009; Balci, 2003; Bilgip, 2008; Hood, 1995; Kizilta§, 2005; 
Porter, 1993). 

Naturally, education systems have also been affected from solving problems 
related to the alleged politics and bureaucracy that had been set forth by the public 
administration during this period. The low academic performance among students, 
the expanding gap in students’ achievement rates, and the ever-increasing need of 
science and math skills for highly qualified manpower in a very competitive market, 
in spite of the large cost of producing education services, have strengthened opinions 
on the need for accountability, effectiveness, efficiency, and reliability in schools 
more than before (Scheerens, Glas, & Thomas, 2007). Concordantly, the public 
has high expectations for all students to receive basic skills, for increasing student 



academic performance, and for decreasing the achievement gap between them. In 
particular, the accountability movement, which began in Anglo-Saxon countries, had 
developed different control mechanisms in schools based on the new management 
values, thereby obtaining the desired increase in academic performance (Kuchapski, 
2001; Levin, 1994; McEwen, 1995; as cited in McNelis, 1998, p. 12). 

Accountability as a School Improvement Policy 

In the body of literature, accountability acquires its own diverse meanings under 
different contexts because integrity had not been related to it (Jordan, 2011; Koppell, 
2011; Schillemans & Bovens, 2011). When handled as a term, accountability 
can vary in meaning in Western languages, such as (a) counting and accounting, 
(b) describing or explaining, (c) justifying, and (d) responsibility (Bovens, 2007; 
Kuchapski, 2001; Leithwood & Earl, 2000; Mailer, 2009; Wagner, 1989). However, 
in the context of social relations, accountability describes a bilateral relationship 
based on the process of asking for and giving an account, which builds and furthers 
the trust between individuals. In an institutional aspect, accountability is understood 
as the roles and rules that provide an appropriate usage of authority; when viewed 
from an organizational perspective, accountability is seen as creating a formal or 
informal mechanism to overcome expectations and uncertainties (Dubnick, 2002). 

To build a stronger reliance between citizens and the government, the purpose of 
an accountability discourse is to show how public institutions work both effectively 
and efficiently; it allows the bureaucracy to run more democratically (Balci, 2003) 
and is understood as a value system in terms of the results and situations it has 
produced and as a social mechanism that produces these results (Bovens, 2010). In 
the United States, while the term accountability is mostly understood as the duties and 
responsibilities of institutions and workers, it relates to strong norms of action such 
as reliability, justice, a sense of responsibility, equality, responsiveness, transparency, 
and liability (Bovens, 2010; Considine, 2002; Dubnick, 2007; Klingner, Nalbandian, 
& Barbara, 2001; Koppell, 2005, 2011). In Europe, the basis of democracy is related 
to and expressed as the process of requesting and giving an account, which builds 
reliance between individuals and communities. In this context, accountability in 
Europe first covers earning legitimacy; this relationship of accountability between 
the principal and agent is determined by each party’s authority and responsibility. 
Next, accountability relates to information that is presented timely and properly by 
the agent to the principal requesting it. Thirdly, accountability relates to questioning, 
discussing, and evaluating the agent’s performance in accordance with previously 
determined standards, after which the principal arrives at a positive or negative 
outcome. The last step is to punish or reward the agent in accordance with the 
judgments that the principal reached through the performance evaluation (Aucoin 


Erdag / Accountability Policies at Schools: A Study of Path Analysis 

& Jarvis, 2005; Bovens, 2007, 2010; Day & Klein, 1987; Goodin, 2003; Lemer & 
Tetlock, 1999; McCandless, 2001; Mulgan, 2003; Philp, 2009; Romzek & Dubnick, 
1998; Scott, 2000). 

Educational accountability is disconnected from management in tenns of content 
and process and has been conceptualized differently at different times. While 
accountability had come up in the early 1900’s in terms of effort in the teaching 
process and students’ responsibilities and in the 1960s in terms of education finance 
and student success, in the 1990s it meant school performance standards and 
performance monitoring and evaluation. Recently, accountability has come to mean 
the elimination of insufficient willpower, motivation, and capacity, which are mostly 
seen as the reasons for the low student-achievement levels. In this context, external 
mechanisms are one branch that aims to increase motivation by creating pressure 
to control and change in schools through different tools and policies. This includes 
setting goals and standards; applying tests; producing performance information; 
announcing school performance publicly; increasing competition, participation, 
and professional capabilities; and handing out rewards and punishments. On the 
other hand, the internal mechanisms that create learning environments for higher 
levels of personnel commitment and that provide guidance and support services to 
knowledgeable and skilled personnel are the other branch of accountability policies 
for school improvement. However, in order to cultivate the internal processes that 
help arrive at the desired increase in quality and performance at schools, an external 
pressure for control and change in schools should be created. In this sense, these 
internal and external mechanisms of accountability are seen as inseparable and 
complementary to each other (Elmore & Fuhrman, 2001; Fuhrman & Elmore, 2004; 
Hill & Lake, 2002; Hoy & Miskel, 2010; Mazzeo, 2001; Reeves, 2006). 

External Accountability Mechanisms 

External accountability policies are believed to trigger schools’ internal building 
mechanisms for producing higher quality education services and higher levels of 
student achievement and have developed many external control points or sources of 
pressure for raising performance and creating bilateral relations that encompass being 
called to account and giving intra-school accounts. This situation over the social 
course of time has fonned who will give what results, how they will be explained 
and to whom, and how they can defend the legitimacy of their actions. These external 
mechanisms, which exert some stress on schools with differing content, relate to 
accountability for politics, law, bureaucracy, performance, market, and profession 
(Adams & Kirst, 1999; Darling-Hammond, 1989; Darling-Hammond & Ascher, 
1991; Heim, 1995; Kuchapski, 2001; Stecher & Kirby, 2004; Wagner, 1989). 



Bureaucratic accountability model. This model describes a mechanism where 
upper management is authorized to award, punish, and determine the related standards 
and rules about what is done for providing education services and how. Schools, 
however, are held responsible based on the hierarchical structural mechanism of being 
called to account for and give accounts of effective using and processing of inputs 
and for adopting and fulfilling the aims and rules determined by top management, 
who will reward or punish them as a result of their actions (Adams & Kirst, 1999; 
Bovens, 2010; Darling-Hammond, 1990; 0‘Day, 2002). 

Performance accountability model. This model changes the focus of interest 
from education processes and inputs to education results. Performance accountability, 
derived from expectancy and goal-setting theories, defends the main reason for low 
school performances as a lack of motivation and willpower. Concordantly, it aims to 
solve these by implementing policies such as developing an education program for 
core subjects with high standards, especially for math, science, and reading skills, 
by evaluating success through standardized tests, by declaring school performance 
results to the public, by rewarding or punishing schools based on their performance 
results, and by implementing teacher training and developmental standards (Spencer, 
2006). On the other hand, in order to achieve higher academic performance for less 
cost, performance-accountability policies implement teacher-incentive strategies 
such as teacher performance contracts and paying for performance (Bruns, Filmer, & 
Patronas, 2011; Fuhrman, 1999; Mintrop, 2002). 

Market accountability model. This model defends policy implementations 
such as sharing the management and control of schools with the local community, 
leaving the locals to decide about the teaching program, instruction, budgets, and 
staff. It deregulates the rules exposed by the top authority and benefits from home 
and environmental factors because it believes schooling is such a technical and 
complicated process that its problems can’t be solved strictly through centralized 
management. Concordantly, it provides parents with a choice of schools for their 
children, allowing them to transfer the child to a different school when dissatisfied, and 
to participate in decision-making and teaching activities for those who have to stay at 
a school. Furthermore, schools are left to themselves under free-market conditions by 
removing the rules that regulate schools, expecting them to find their own solutions 
to their problems. The market accountability model also includes other policies, such 
as allowing the private sector to open magnet and charter schools, implementing a 
more competitive financial system in which every child is supported financially by 
the government through vouchers and tax support, preparing and declaring school 
performance information for schools to compete for more successful students, and 
forming school leagues to compare schools based on their performance (Bruns et al., 
2011; Chavkin & Williams, 1987, as cited in Parker & Leithwood, 2000; Hill, 1996; 
Kuchapski, 2001; Leithwood & Earl, 2000; Spencer, 2006). 


Erdag / Accountability Policies at Schools: A Study of Path Analysis 

Professional accountability model. This model asserts that the educational 
system cannot be effectively or efficiently managed through bureaucratic means 
and regulations because of its highly technical and complicated nature. The model 
instead says that it becomes possible to reach greater levels of student achievement 
when appropriate authority and support are provided to qualified school teachers with 
high competency and knowledge. In order to have such teachers, this model presents 
professional teaching standards, in which teachers can judge which teaching practices 
are beneficial, and become responsible to the students, parents, upper management, 
and the community. These standards also help determine which qualities teacher 
should have, how they are trained and selected for the profession, and how their 
performances are evaluated. On the other hand, based on the idea that only teachers 
who are experts at teaching can bring the best solutions to education’s problems, 
talented and skilled teachers are claimed to have the authority to determine and 
discuss the problems in school teaching, make their own decisions about what is to 
be done, and defend their decisions in front of parents, society, the board of directors, 
or school councils and then put them into practice. Furthermore, this accountability 
model asserts the benefit of teachers’ professional knowledge on budgets, programs, 
and teacher-related decisions, that it assists their teaching practices and develops 
inter-teacher cooperation (Bruns et al., 2011; Darling-Hammond, 1985; Hess, 1991; 
Kuchapski, 2001; Leithwood & Earl, 2000; 0‘Day, 2002; Ranson, 2003). 

However, external accountability policies are claimed to have no positive impact 
on motivation or student academic achievement. Rather, it has a negative influence 
on students, the teaching staff, and schools in general. An accountability policy based 
mainly on higher performance in schools has been criticized for its foundational 
assumptions; its conceptualizations are thought to be weak and immature (McEwen, 
Fagan, Earl, Hodgkinson & Maheau, 1995). Similarly, the accountability mechanisms 
put into practice have not increased schools’ academic achievement. Implementing 
tests, school performance reports, public information, rewards, and punishment are 
unable to provide the desired changes or developments. Instead they lead to unwanted 
results in school processes and teachers (Levesque, 2004). In particular, performance 
accountability practices irritate teachers because teachers carry the burden of a 
school’s low performance and are blamed for lacking the competences that would 
increase students’ academic performance. Afterwards, they lose society’s respect, 
and the rewards given to teachers are claimed to not motivate them any more directly 
than the punishments that are given when teachers are unsuccessful (Abelmann & 
Kenyon, 1996; Certo, 2006; Kelley, 1998; Mintrop, 2002; Valli & Buese, 2007). 

The integration of accountability policies for school improvement is now on 
the Turkish educational reform movement’s agenda, but the relationship of Anglo- 
Saxon accountability models established between external stressors and schools has 



not yet been tested in a Turkish context. This study, based on Turkish teachers’ and 
principals’ views, aims to test a model developed from the literature’s claims that in 
order to increase school academic performance, schools’ sense of responsibility and 
of giving an account should be increased by exerting performance pressures that are 
provided by the surrounding agents both inside and outside of school. One important 
point of this study is to reveal evidence that supports the accountability model fonned 
to explain the increase of motivation and performance in schools. Another point 
helps to determine the most efficient accountability relationships and intervention 
programs to motivate schools and raise a sense of responsibility among school staff. 
Moreover, this study helps show the level of probable resistance among teaching staff 
to different external accountability pressures, which determines the fate of any future 
accountability pressure on schools. 



In this research, a literature-based causal model consisting of the variables of 
academic performance pressures, school accountability, and accountability policies is 
tested based on the school principals and teachers’ views on accountability pressures 
and policies and their impact on the teaching staff. Therefore, this study follows a 
causal pattern, which investigates the causal relationships thought to exist among 
variables (Karadag, 2009). 

In the research, academic performance pressure is the independent variable, whereas 
school accountability and accountability policies are the dependent variables. Due to 
the existence of preconditions in time, correlations, and eliminated alternatives, the 
relationship among variables is thought to be a cause/effect relationship (Neuman, 
2007). The literature review supports the causality represented in the model, which 
says performance pressures and accountability policies cause some variation in 
the dependent variable of school accountability (Camoy, Elmore, & Siskin, 2003; 
Dubnick, 2002; Jordan, 2011; Kogan, 1988; Lemer & Tetlock, 1999; Robinson & 
Timperley, 2000; Romzek & Dubnick, 1987). Covariance among the variables was 
detected by evaluating the correlational analysis results. To eliminate any possible 
alternative explanations, the literature-based theoretical model has been checked 
through path analysis using the program, LISREL 8.8. 

Population and Sample 

The research population consists of 2,552 people in total; 2,310 are teachers and 
242 are school principals at public and private elementary, secondary, and high 
schools in Kiitahya province in Turkey. The sample were drawn using the stratified 


Erdag / Accountability Policies at Schools: A Study of Path Analysis 

sampling method based on the three education groups determined according to 
such teaching conditions as school type, transportation, school facilities, safety, 
and accessibility. Concordantly, every school from different education groups were 
first listed separately and then selected randomly according to type: (a) one-teacher 
elementary schools, (b) elementary schools, (c) secondary schools, (d) general high 
schools, (e) Anatolian and science high schools, and (f) vocational high schools. In 
conclusion, the research sample comprises 357 teachers and 154 school principals in 
total, all of whom have relatively the same socio-economic status and salary. 

Data Collection Tools 

In this study, three different scales have been used. The first scale, the Academic 
Performance Pressures Scale, is for determining the level of different pressures 
for higher academic achievement from different sources. The second scale, the 
Accountability Policies Scale, is for determining the level of teachers’ and principals’ 
sense of account-giving as a response to those pressures being exerted from different 
sources. The third scale, the School Accountability Scale, is the one which revealed 
school principals’ and teachers’ perceptions about the necessity and importance of 
accountability policies. 

Academic Performance Pressures Scale. This scale was developed as a draft 
from Too’s (1989) study on detecting the pressures for academic success on school 
principals and teachers. It consists of 11 items graded from 1 (no pressure) to 4 (high 
pressure) using a 4-point Likert scale. Exploratory factor analysis was perfonned on 
the first half of the dataset using a principal-axis factor analysis with varimax rotation 
because of the assumption that the scale has a multifactor structure (Kline, 1994; 
Rennie, 1997; Stapleton, 1997; Stevens, 1996). To derive the factors from the items, 
factor loadings and their theoretical suitability were analyzed (KMO = .80, Bartlett’s 
p < .01). The items with factor loadings less than .40 for all factors were eliminated. 
Next, Cronbach alpha reliability coefficients were calculated for each factor. As a 
result, a three-factor structure emerged that explains 66.67% of the variance. Then 
as the result of the confirmatory factor analysis carried out on the other half of the 
dataset to determine the scale’s structural validity, the small Chi-square value (% 2 = 
343.14, df= 207, p < .01) and the other goodness-of-fit indices ( GFI - 0.94, AGFI = 
0.95, PGFI= 0.91, RMSEA = 0.04, CFI= 0.95) showed that the factor structure of the 
scale is appropriate. As a result of both exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, 
the following three factors were discovered: school shareholders’ pressures (five 
items, a = .83), social environment pressures (three items, a = .81), and bureaucratic 
pressures (three items, a = .81). 

School shareholder pressure. Higher scores for this indicate that those mostly 
influenced by the results of a school’s practices and outcomes, such as teachers, 



parents, family-school unions, students, and principals, apply pressure on schools 
for higher academic achievement. 

Social environment pressures. Higher scores here indicate that, out of schools, 
local media, and tradesmen and craftsmen groups, some pressure on schools exists 
for higher levels of academic achievement from the local community. 

Bureaucratic pressures. Higher scores here indicate that the upper management 
(school principals, provincial directors of national education, and supervisors) exert 
pressure on the school teaching staff for higher levels of academic achievement. 

School Accountability Scale. This scale was developed as a draft from Too’s 
(1989) study on detecting how teaching staff respond to external pressure for 
achievement from different sources. It consists of 11 items graded from 1 (no 
obligation) to 4 (high obligation) on a 4-point Likert scale. Exploratory factor 
analysis was performed on the first half of the dataset using a principal-axis factor 
analysis with varimax rotation. The items with factor loadings less than .40 for all 
factors were eliminated. As a result, a three-factor structure emerged that explains 
65.59% of the variance (KMO = .79, Bartlett’s p < .01). Afterwards, Cronbach 
alpha reliability coefficients were calculated for each factor and confirmatory factor 
analysis was carried out on the other half of the dataset to determine the scale’s 
structure validity. Consequently, the small Chi-square value (yj = 401.23, df = 
211, p < .01) and other goodness-of-fit indices (GFI = 0.91, AGFI = 0.90, PGFI 
= 0.90, RMSEA = 0.05, CFI = 0.92) showed the factor structure of the scale to be 
appropriate. As a result of both exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, the 
following three factors were discovered: towards school shareholders (five items, a 
= .79), towards social environment (three items, a = .80), and towards bureaucracy 
(three items, a = .77). These factors are summarized below. 

Towards school shareholders. High scores for this indicate that the school teaching 
staff feels responsible to give an account for higher-level academic outcomes toward 
the main actors in the teaching processes, such as other teachers, parents, or family- 
school commities. 

Towards social environment. High scores for this indicate that the school teaching 
staff feels obligated toward the local community, local media, and occupational 
organizations to account for the rise in academic achievement. 

Towards bureaucracy. High scores for this subscale indicate that the teaching staff 
feels obligated towards the upper management in a hierarchical order (e.g., school 
principals, middle-level provincial and national administrators, and supervisors) to 
reach higher levels of academic achievement. 


Erdag / Accountability Policies at Schools: A Study of Path Analysis 

Accountability Policy Scale: This scale was developed as a draft based on the 
studies of Bradshaw (2003) and Too (1989) and improved through a literature review 
on accountability policies and practices. Educational accountability policy is defined 
in this study as the external mechanism to increase motivation at schools for higher 
level academic achievement. It consists of items graded from 1 (strongly disagree) 
to 5 (strongly agree) using a 5-point Likert scale. Exploratory factor analysis was 
performed on the first half of the dataset using a principal-axis factor analysis with 
varimax rotation (KMO = .89, Bartlett’s p < .01). Items were excluded that have factor 
loadings less than .40 for all factors. As a result, an eleven-factor structure emerged that 
explains 59.89% of the variance. Afterwards, Cronbach alpha reliability coefficients 
were calculated for each factor, then confirmatory factor analysis was carried out on 
the other half of the dataset to determine the scale’s structural validity. Consequently, 
the small Chi-square value (% 2 = 926.18, df= 542 ,p < .01) and other goodness-of-fit 
indices (GFI= 0.90, AGFI = 0.89, PGFI = 0.91, RMSEA = 0.07, CFI = 0.90) show 
the factor structure of the scale to be appropriate. As a result of both exploratory 
and confirmatory factor analyses, the following four components with eleven factors 
were drawn: professional accountability (professional development [eight items, a = 
.91], teacher autonomy [two items, a = .79], professional competencies [two items, a 
= .77]); perfonnance accountability (academic standards [two items, a = .76], student 
achievement exams [two items, a = .75], performance evaluations [three items, a 
= .77], responsibility and rewards [four items, a = .82], punishment and sanctions 
[five items, a = .85]); market accountability (parental participation [five items, a = 
.81], academic standards [two items, a = .76], information [two items, a = .75]), and 
bureaucratic accountability (legislative alignment [two items, a = .74]). These factors 
and components are summarized below. 

Professional development. In this subscale, high scores indicate that both 
principals and teachers support developing learning environments that help improve 
their field knowledge and skills, pedagogy, and administration. Two sample items for 
this factor are: 

a. Education programs should be initiated for developing teacher knowledge and 

b. An environment should be created where teachers can increase their knowledge 
and experience among themselves. 

Teacher autonomy. High scores indicate that the teaching staff supports policies 
that plan teaching processes and programs; the execution of these plans should be 
handed over to teachers’ expertise and appreciation, therefore empowering them. 
Sample items are: 



a. Schools should be authorized to develop their own teaching program according 
to the standards set by the central government. 

b. When teaching-related decisions are left to teachers’ expertise, the school will 
increase student success. 

Professional competency. High scores here indicate that the teaching staff agree 
with the idea that school administrators and teachers need to show they have the 
necessary knowledge and skills for their duties, teaching methods, techniques, and 
management. The items for this factor are: 

a. Career standards should be established for school directors. 

b. Interns who have started their duty and are successful in performance evaluations 
should be given the right to work in an educational institution. 

Student achievement exams. High scores for this indicate that the teaching staff 
supports monitoring, revealing, and comparing students’ achievements that are 
equipped through the school’s teaching. The related items are: 

a. Parents should be notified of the school’s academic performance results by 
comparing them with other schools. 

b. Students’ class-success levels should be measured with a centralized exam at 
certain times. 

Performance evaluation. High scores here indicate that the teaching staff supports 
that teachers keep upper management informed about students’ academic results, 
and teachers should be evaluated by the school principal based on their students’ 
achievements. The related items are: 

a. Teachers should report their students’ academic performance scores to the 

b. Teachers’ performance must be evaluated by the principal every year. 

Responsibility and rewards. High scores for this indicate that the teaching staff 
supports that teachers and schools are responsible for their students’ academic 
achievement and should be rewarded when they are successful. These items are: 

a. Schools that increase students’ academic performance should be rewarded. 

b. Despite all difficulties, teachers must endeavor to develop classroom education. 

Punishment and sanctions. High scores here indicate that the teaching staff 
agrees that principals and schools primarily need to be given the necessary support 
for improvement when they fail to increase student performance; those who keep 
failing should be punished and sanctioned. The items are as follows: 


Erdag / Accountability Policies at Schools: A Study of Path Analysis 

a. Despite developing support, teachers who cannot increase student academic 
performance will be transferred to another school. 

b. Despite developing support, school directors that cannot increase student 
academic performances should be dismissed. 

Participation. High scores here indicate that the teaching staff supports the idea 
that parents should take part in making decisions and in the teaching practices. These 
items are: 

a. Parents must have more rights to speak up for making decisions about school 

b. The school education program should be prepared according to local and 
parental preferences. 

Academic standards. High scores for this indicate that the teaching staff 
supports that parents’, citizens’, and upper management’s expectations for students’ 
achievement keep schools focused on targets and motivate them to reach their targets. 
These items are: 

a. Parents’ expectations on school perfonnances determine school staff behavior. 

b. Teachers’ main duty should be to increase students’ academic success. 

Information. High scores here indicate that the teaching staff supports the public’s 
need to be notified about information on students’ performance problems as well as 
opportunities that schools present. The items are as follows: 

a. Information about students’ performance problems should be generated. 

b. Schools should provide parents with information about the opportunities they 
provide students. 

Legislative alignment. High scores for this indicate that the teaching staff supports 
that teaching practices should obey the rules as set forth by the upper management. 
The items are: 

a. The education process in schools should be carried out according to the Ministry’ 
rules and regulations. 

b. Education services at schools should be inspected according to their legislative 
suitability to increase student success. 




The main goal of the research is to test the theoretical model that defines the 
determinants of school accountability and the behaviors that provide accountability 
in schools. The fit for the theoretical model to the empirical data was tested with 
the help of path analysis. As such, a theoretical model was first established between 
the exogenous variables (school shareholders’ pressure, social-environment 
pressure, and bureaucratic pressure) and the endogenous variables (professional 
development, teacher autonomy, professional competencies, academic standards, 
student achievement exams, performance evaluations, responsibility and rewards, 
punishments and sanctions, parental participation, academic standards, information, 
legislative alignment, professional accountability, performance accountability, market 
accountability, bureaucratic accountability and accountability towards shareholders, 
accountability towards the social environment, and accountability towards the 
bureaucracy). Secondly, the associations between the model’s variables using 
Pearson’s product-moment correlation analysis were defined, and then the goodness- 
of-fit indices were calculated to detennine the model’s fitness to the empirical data. 
The indices used are the goodness-of-fit index ( GFI ), adjusted goodness-of-fit index 
(AGFI), root-mean-square error of approximation ( RMSEA ), Chi-square (%’), degrees 
of freedom (df), the ratio of % 2 / df and the f-coefficient. Although controversial in 
the literature, coefficients obtained from GFI and AGFI that range from 0 to 1 are 
evaluated as a good fit when higher than .85 (Anderson & Gerbing, 1984; Cole, 1987) 
or .90 (Kline, 2005; Schumacker & Lomax, 1996). An RMSEA value for margin of 
error that ranges from 0 to 1 between the observed and generated matrix should be 
closer to 0 for fitness; therefore, values of 0.1 or less are considered a good fit. While 
an x 2 / df between 2 and 5 is considered a good fit, values below 2 are considered a 
perfect fit (Joreskog & Sorbom, 2001). In the research, L1SREL 8.80 was used for 
path analysis, and IBM SPSS Statistics 20 was used for the other analyses. 


The Results of Correlation Analysis Related to the Theoretical Model 

Table 1 displays the correlation coefficients among the variables. The Pearson 
correlation calculations show that the sense of account-giving for academic 
performance, accountability pressures, and policies for performance correlate to each 
other positively or negatively. Accountability pressures for academic performance 
variables moderately and positively correlate to sense of account giving (from 
r = .31 to r = .45). Correlations between the variables of accountability pressures 
and accountability policies (from r = -.05 to r = .10), and between the variables of 
accountability policies and sense of account-giving (from r = .05 to r = .16) are both 
weak (p < .05). 


Table 1 

The Pearson Product Moment Correlation Matrix Relations between Academic Performance Pressures, Accountability Policies and School Accountability Scales 

Erdag / Accountability Policies at Schools: A Study of Path Analysis 




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Parameter Estimates and Goodness-of-Fit Indices 

Table 2 displays the goodness-of-fit indices, which reveal the theoretical model’s 
validity as contributed by the causally-related variables of school accountability, 
accountability policies, and academic performance pressures. The theoretical model’s 
goodness of fit was determined through RMSEA, % 2 , % 2 / df, GFI, and AGFI. The 
calculations show that the RMSEA value, which reveals the mean of the covariance 
and variance unexplained by the model, is found to be .08; this is regarded as an 
adequate fit (MacCallum, Browne, & Sugawara, 1996). The GFI value is found to be 
.90, which indicates the rate of relation between the theoretical model’s covariance and 
variance is explained. The AGFI goodness-of-fit value is found to be .88; both these 
values demonstrate that the theoretical model fits the data obtained (Hoyle & Panter, 
1995; Kline, 2005; Schumacker & Lomax, 1996). Additionally, the ratio of f / df, 
which represents the goodness of fit between the observed and increased covariance 
matrices, is calculated to be 1.12. This means the model is acceptable (Hair, Black, 
Babin, & Anderson, 2010; Joreskog & Sorbom, 2001; Schumacker & Lomax, 1996). 
These parameters all indicate that the predicted model fits the observed data. 

Table 2 

Goodness offit parameters for the Model of School Accountability for Academic Performance 

Fit Parameters 










x 2 


X 2 /df 


Tables 3 and 4 show the path analysis results for the relationship among the 
theoretical model’s latent variables of academic performance pressures, accountability 
policies, and school accountability. A diagram showing the result of the theoretical 
model’s path analysis is shown in Figure 1. According to the findings, the path 
coefficients that show the direct effects from the subscale of academic performance 
pressures on the School Accountability Scale and the Accountability Policies Scale 
are found to be statistically significant. The direct effect of a single unit of variance in 
the exogenous variable of school stakeholder pressure on the endogenous variables 
of accountability towards school stakeholders and of market accountability policy 
are .55 and .11, respectively. The direct effect of a single unit of variation in the 
exogenous variable of social environment pressure on the endogenous variables of 
accountability towards the social environment and of bureaucratic accountability 
policy are .49 and .37, respectively. Finally, the direct impact of a single unit of 
variance in the exogenous variable of bureaucratic pressure on the endogenous 
variables of bureaucratic accountability and of performance accountability policies 
are .31 and -.10, respectively. On the other hand, all parameters except for these are 
determined to be statistically insignificant. 


Erdag / Accountability Policies at Schools: A Study of Path Analysis 

Table 3 

Path Coefficients and Significance Values Related to School Accountability Policy 

Exogenous and endogenous variables 

Pressure for 
Performance [dj 
Path Coefficients 


Pressure for 
Performance [dj 
Path Coefficients 

Pressure for 
Performance [d j 
Path Coefficients 


l x 



l x 



l x 


School accountability sub-scales 

1 - Accountability to school shareholders [xj 







2- Accountability to socio-environment [x 2 ] 







3- Accountability to bureaucracy [xj 







Accountability policies scale components 

4- Professional Accountability Policies [xj 







5- Performance Accountability Policies [xj 







6- Market Accountability Policies [x ] 







7- Bureaucratic Accountability Policies [x 7 ] 







*p < .05. 

The direct influence of a one-unit variance in the variable of bureaucratic 
accountability policy on the variable of accountability to socio-environment and 
accountability to bureaucracy is .09 and .16, respectively; where all other parameters 
are statistically insignificant. 

Table 4 

Path Coefficients and Significance Values Related to School Accountability Policy (Continued) 

Professional Performance Market Bureaucratic 

Accountability Accountability Accountability Accountability 
Policies [d ] Policies [d ] Policies [d 3 ] Policies [dj 
Exogenous and endogenous variables Path Path Path Path 

Coefficients Coefficients Coefficients Coefficients 













School accountability subscales 

1 - Accountability to stakeholders[x g ] 









2- Accountability to socio-environment [x 9 ] 









3- Accountability to bureaucracy [x 10 ] 









*p < .05. 

Discussion and Theoretical/Practical Implications 

Some significant effects have been identified as a result of the path analysis 
performed to determine the effects of both academic performance pressures and 
accountability policies on the accountability of school principals and teachers toward 
improving academic success. The goodness-of-fit indices are sufficient, as calculated 
in the path analyses based on the data set. 



Among the effects, the hypothesis that the pressure of academic performance 
from school stakeholders prompts school teaching staff to make statements to school 
stakeholders about the academic performance to justify results has been accepted. Some 
empirical studies in the literature exist that support this finding. Jithitikulchai (2013) 
found that parents’ requests, the mounting pressure to enhance academic success, and 
the pressure created from teachers’ peer reviews increase the accountability of school 
staff, thus increasing academic performance. Deci, Spiegel, Ryan, Koestner, and 
Kauffman (1982) and Flink, Boggiano, and Barrett (1990), have also ascertained that 
teachers who work to achieve higher levels of student achievement in different studies 
try to control teaching with a higher sense of responsibility and motivation compared 
to other teachers; they make more efforts toward student success. Secondly, academic 
performance pressure that comes from the social environment prompts school staff 
to give an account to both the local society and bureaucracy of students’ achievement 
levels and self-justify their deeds. Today, efforts are being made to build parent- and 
community-based leadership, particularly in the United States, for developing low- 
performance schools. Such a civil society initiative fosters a strategy to hold schools 
more accountable in order to increase students’ academic achievement by creating a 
coercive force upon them (Flenderson & Mapp, 2002). Rouse, Flannaway, Goldhaber, 
and Figlio (2007) suggested that out-of-school performance pressures lead teaching 
staff to produce performance-enhancing policies. Emerson, Fear, Fox, and Sanders 
(2012) also noted that a school community fonned by students, teachers, and local 
families shape student and parent behaviors, as well as school education and teaching 
policies and activities, to meet the needs of students and to improve academic 
performance. Thirdly, the hypothesis was accepted that bureaucracy-based academic 
performance pressures push the school teaching staff to try to justify and explain their 
academic performance results to the upper bureaucracy. According to Jithitikulchai 
(2013), bureaucratic pressure was put on the school staff through evaluation 
exams that detennine student achievement levels; thanks to this, school staff acted 
with greater accountability. Locke and Latham (2002) pointed out that specific, 
challenging, but achievable performance targets that are set by senior management 
increase individuals’ motivation and therefore their performance. Barrett (2005) 
found out that, based on the Tanzanian example, the local community and education 
bureaucracy were influential in forming teachers’ responsibilities and identities. When 
any pressure for greater student success was increased by school stakeholders, or social 
environment, or upper management authorities, the accompanying sense of necessity 
to give an account of their deeds to the school shareholders, social environment, and 
bureaucracy also increased, as supported by the studies (Anderson, 2005; Bruns et al., 
2011; Leithwood & Menzies, 1998; World Bank, 2003). In another study, Ada, Akan, 
Ayik, Ylldirim, and Yalpin (2013) argued that school management that values greater 
student academic achievement and expects this from the teachers and parents who 


Erdag / Accountability Policies at Schools: A Study of Path Analysis 

have higher expectations from teachers and their involvement in teaching practices 
increases teachers’ motivation. In a study conducted in private schools by Tiirkoglu 
(2015), schools that have work contracts with teachers, where the managers, parents, 
and students have higher expectations of success and where teacher perfonnance is 
monitored and evaluated, also increase teacher responsibility and motivation. Other 
two studies by Ozen (2011) and Kardas (2016) indicated that teachers and principals 
have very little perfonnance pressure placed upon them, and showed that teachers 
and principals prefer complying with and fulfilling government regulations that are 
not directly related to teaching, learning, or academic achievement. Therefore, if 
teachers’ and principals’ sense of responsibility for student learning plays a big role in 
producing a healthier environment for student learning and increases student success, 
then the accompanying intervention should focus on creating a school atmosphere 
where each external agent of the upper bureaucracy, parents, school community, and 
teachers should strongly communicate their expectations from student learning and 
school perfonnance. 

The hypothesis, that stakeholders’ pressure on schools for greater student 
achievement increases the support for market accountability policies, has been 
accepted. This finding is confirmed by other studies’ results (Leithwood & Menzies, 
1998; Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2011; United 
Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, 2014; Westhorp et al., 
2014; World Bank, 2003). In these studies, as student, parent, and teacher pressures 
demanding higher achievement increase in schools, teachers and administrators 
adopt more policies such as parental participation in school decisions, producing 
performance information and disseminating it to the public, and establishing 
expectations and standards for student success. Parents see teachers as having the 
primary responsibility for improving students’ academic performance. Parents, 
especially of students with low academic perfonnance, demand more from schools 
to further improve performance. These parents prefer to work with teachers in a 
coordinated manner and to be involved in their teaching processes and decisions. 
They request feedback on all aspects of the school, their knowledge, and performance. 
Such participation is also supported by teachers (Russell & Granville, 2005). Regular 
interactions and communication between parents and teachers is said to lead schools 
to support parental participation in decision making and processes, as well as to 
collaborate so as to provide parents the necessary information and tools for teaching 
(Ferguson, 2008). 

The hypothesis that support for perfonnance accountability policies among 
teaching professionals diminishes as bureaucracy-based academic performance 
pressures on schools increase has been accepted. Bureaucratic performance 
pressures create a negative reaction among teaching professionals toward teachers 



and principals being held accountable for students’ academic performance, making 
student achievement evaluations, assessing teacher and principal performance, 
awarding successful schools, or punishing unsuccessful ones. This dissatisfaction with 
performance accountability policies is confirmed by studies (Herman & Golan, 1991; 
Ikeler, 2010; Mathers, 2000). Likewise, in the case of performance accountability, 
some inappropriate practices and behaviors can emerge to prove the school is high- 
performing, such as narrowing the curriculum, teaching for a test, including high 
performing students but excluding low performers (Figlio & Loeb, 2011). 

Lastly, the hypothesis that teachers who support compliance with legislation for 
higher academic performance try to justify themselves and their labor against the 
upper bureaucracy and their socio-environment has been accepted. From this, one 
can consider that teachers who advocate compliance with legal regulations and 
norms for high performance are naturally influenced by the community and the state 
as regulatory and rule-making authority in front of school advocates. Here, while 
the rules are blessed by teachers, one can deduce that these rules are not followed 
in the course of teaching, and when duties and responsibilities are not carried out 
as anticipated, low performance results in school. In other words, teachers need to 
believe in the importance of monitoring the teaching processes and to check that they 
are done correctly so as to determine what the teachers and school administrators 
have been doing wrong in regard to teaching to make the necessary corrections; they 
need to believe that following the rules and regulations is important for their own 
career and professional development and to naturally feel responsible and try to act 
in accordance with the rules (Kutsyuruba, 2003). 

When considering the research findings as a whole, one can conclude that 
while academic performance pressures on schools from different sources strongly 
influence the accountability of school staff to give reasons for their behavior and 
their efforts to air themselves, there is often no impact from performance pressures on 
the accountability policies the school staff adopts, and no impact of adopted school 
policies on school accountability. This finding can be interpreted as the theory of 
school accountability, which has developed within the Anglo-Saxon mentality and 
practice and has shaped more developed countries’ education systems, does not work 
within the Turkish education system nor its accompanying culture and practices. On 
the other hand, one can say that any increase of performance pressure on schools 
from upper bureaucracy will more likely result in resistance to the performance 
accountability policy, while an increase in school-stakeholder pressure will likely 
produce agreement with the market accountability policy. In this sense, market 
accountability policy will welcome school teaching staff and lead to cooperation and 
collaboration between parents and school. On the contrary, any bureaucratic pressure 
for student performance on schools will result in a rejection of its accompanying 


Erdag / Accountability Policies at Schools: A Study of Path Analysis 

performance accountability policy. This may result from feelings of inadequacy or 
lack of the required teaching capacity at schools for higher-performing students. In 
this sense, any intervention to increase student academic performance should not 
focus on any external control mechanisms but on the school’s capacity building 
practices and assistance in developing both school and teacher capacities, which 
instead will eventually allow for the realization of a quality learning environment 
and teaching process. 

Furthermore, the theoretical model created based on the literature represents 
just 10% variance in school accountability behaviors. Therefore, the model must 
be enlarged by adding different variables. In order to define and understand the 
relationships among the current performance pressures, accountability policies, and 
accountability behaviors of school professionals, some qualitative evidence should 
be collected and analyzed. 

School Accountability Model 

Figure 1 . School Accountability Model Path Analysis Diagram 


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