Accountable for what and to whom? Changing representations and new legitimation discourses among teachers under increased external control.
This article discusses how teachers construct new representations about accountability and professionalism in the context of increased external control. Over the last decade in particular, concerns about the quality of schooling and the quality of teachers has been raised by both politicians and the public alike, while prominent policy responses have seen an increased emphasis on student performance and the external control of professional work. Based on a 1 year long fieldwork in a Norwegian municipality, the findings imply how forms of external accountability are accepted by many teachers as a necessary and desirable development, but also one that is resisted as the policies are seen to downplay the broader aims of education. In this tension of external and internal accountability, however, alternative discourses have developed. In particular, an emphasis on scientific knowledge and researchinformed practice becomes an important representation for enhancing professional legitimacy and trust. By opening up the concept of accountability, it is possible to investigate how teachers’ representations of being accountable may take new forms when teacher professionalism is reconstructed in policy.