No Child Left Behind, and the accountability narratives of school leaders
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Since its inception in 2001, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has been a deeply influential accountability-based educational reform in the United States. This dissertation examines the ways in which this accountability policy has affected school leaders. Drawing upon the existing theorization of policy scholarship (e.g. Ball, 2008; Raab, 1994), this dissertation reviews macro and micro studies of NCLB's education reform policy, and suggests the need for a meso-sphere of analysis to examine regional pressures that shape the implementation of NCLB's accountability-based reform policy. The dissertation's analysis is situated within a theoretical discussion of NCLB's reform, which examines the question of whether the policy is more progressive or conservative. Employing a two-case qualitative study of two rural/suburban school districts' building and district-level administrators, this research examines the micro, meso, and macro-accountability pressures that school leaders narrate. It also analyzes some of the complex tensions inherent in these narratives. Through this analysis, the dissertation examines the ways in which NCLB policy has influenced the narratives of school leaders, and the complex manner in which these actions and beliefs have influenced the implementation of NCLB's reform.