This article ethnographically examines the ways in which No Child Left Behind (NCLB) links local practices to the centralized processing of data through its narrowing of procedures and measurements aimed at accountability. Framed by actor-network theory, it draws upon data consistently collected between June 2005 and October 2008, and then intermittently through October 2010, to consider the ways in which policy technologies, such as standardized testing, bring together New York City (NYC) public schools, district administrators, for-profit educational support businesses, and government officials to address the accountability requirements of NCLB. This article reveals how, through a range of sophisticated mechanisms that support the generation and comparison of data, NYC schools become reduced to data calculation and management centers. NCLB's standardization, privatization, and marketization encourage local policy actors to become complicit in standardizing and quantifying academic assessment through their reliance on services and products marketed to schools and districts that are not meeting academic benchmarks. These services, mostly offered by for-profit vendors, help keep schools in compliance with policy requirements, but replace a focus on student learning with the production, management, and sometimes the fabrication, of data.
- Actors institutions
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