Local Decisions Under Central Watch: A Nordic Quality Assurance System
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Quality assurance or accountability, as we use the term, refers to when an actor, in virtue of contractual obligations, has the right to hold another actor responsible to a set of standards, to judge whether the standards have been met and to impose sanctions if the standards are deemed unfulfilled. In this chapter, we compare how (and if) these rights have been distributed and enacted in educational administration in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. By specifying contractual obligations, we wish to separate accountability from other kinds of asymmetric power relations, such as those between parent and child, and focus on acts of delegation and control. We find that there is variation between the four Nordic countries. It is clear that Sweden has gone furthest in reintroducing central command through the use of statutory regulations, oversight and sanctions, whereas Finland has largely abstained from developing a comprehensive system of national quality control. But in Finland, international evaluations and assessments are used to position the country in the global context and to identify national strengths and weaknesses. Finland also tries to take an active role in the development of international evaluations, so that they meet the needs of the Finnish education system. Denmark and Norway have positioned themselves in between the two extremes, both having developed national oversight systems with monitoring and reporting requirements, but so far without the addition of hard sanctions.
Transnational Influences on Values and Practices in Nordic Educational Leadership: Is there a Nordic Model?
Comparative and Cross-Cultural Education