Investigating Internal Accountability and Collective Capacity: Taking a Closer Look at Mathematics Instruction

Jori N. Hall


This case study uses multiple methods and gathers perspectives from administrators, teachers, and students to examine how a middle school develops internal accountability (Elmore, 2004) to address the needs of its diverse learners and external accountability mandates. Building on Newmann, King, and Rigdon’s (1997) framework for collective capacity, the school’s capacity to enact its internal accountability is explored. An in-depth investigation within the context of the school’s mathematics program, focusing on the academic needs of low-income, African American learners is conducted to further explore collective capacity as primarily enacted vis-à-vis teachers’ instructional strategies. The data presented contribute to a more complex and contextual perspective of teaching and learning within a high-stakes testing environment. The findings of this study show that despite tensions around student accountability and curricular demands, the school successfully incorporates internally-generated accountability and mandated strategies into their internal accountability system and demonstrates leadership capacity at multiple levels. 


Mathematics instruction, Internal Accountability, Collective Capacity

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