Serving public interests in educational accountability: Alternative approaches to democratic evaluation

Katherine E. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Today, educational evaluation theory and practice face a critical juncture with the kind of educational accountability evaluation legislated by No Child Left Behind. While the goal of this kind of educational accountability is to improve education, it is characterized by a hierarchical, top-down approach to improving educational achievement reflecting a climate of control and efficiency. Democratic evaluation is intended for contexts in which there are concerns about top-down control of management and education (MacDonald, B. & Kushner, S. (2004). Democratic evaluation. In S. Mathison (Ed.), The encyclopedia of evaluation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage). This paper examines democratic evaluation approaches to see how these approaches might contribute to making educational accountability more democratic. Suggestions about how evaluators can serve public interests in developing a more democratic accountability are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-460
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Journal of Evaluation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management


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