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Elizabeth Currin, Department of Education

Ph.D. Candidate, Education
2018-2019 Rothman Doctoral Fellow

Currin’s research addresses the “Age of Accountability,” a decades-long period defined by top-down education reforms that position teachers as both the problem and the potential solution for America’s so-called failing public schools. This, Currin argues, leads to increased teacher stress, a loss of creativity, and a shift in teachers’ answering to superiors rather than their own students.

Through oral histories of three teacher researchers, Currin uses “zoom analysis” to examine how their work supplies counter-narratives to the “accountability” model. Teacher researchers take an inquiry stance toward teaching, continuously examining their own work in order to hold themselves accountable for improvement. The in-depth narratives of Currin’s participants illustrate this powerful process, making them “historical mentors” for tomorrow’s teachers.

Based on this research, Currin recommends that educators can reclaim accountability through stories and not just numbers. This shift in emphasis would not only motivate more teachers from various backgrounds, but also inspire teachers to share their stories with legislators and administrators. This might lead to a shift in policy that better supports the professional development of teachers and their academic goals for students.