Splintered Accountability

State Governance and Education Reform

By Arnold F. Shober

Subjects: Public Policy, Education, Political Science, Education Policy And Leadership
Series: SUNY series in Public Policy
Paperback : 9781438430768, 307 pages, January 2011
Hardcover : 9781438430751, 307 pages, April 2010

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

List of Tables
List of Figures
List of Abbreviations

Part 1
1. Introduction
2. Autonomy and Scope in Government Agencies
3. Expectations for Scope-Seeking Agencies

Part 2
4. Historical Roots of State Involvement
5. Bringing Them to the Table: Managing Interests
6. Leading by Example: State Superintendents' Influence
7. Making New Friends: Institutional Turnover

Part 3
8. The View from the Dome: Legislative Salience
9. Budgeting for Success
10. Conclusions and Implications

Historical Appendix

Statistical Appendix

A Note on the Sources


Detailed study of how real education reform works.


The No Child Left Behind Act declared that improving education in every school in the United States was a top national priority. However, this act did not acknowledge how state departments of education have successfully constructed reforms for the past few decades, despite the power struggle between governors, legislators, school districts, and state boards of education. Drawing upon archival sources, state budget documents, interviews, and statistical analysis, Splintered Accountability amply demonstrates that sustained education reform is best left in the hands of the relatively autonomous state departments of education in order to maintain curriculum standards, school finance, and teacher licensure systems. Comprehensive and successful education reform originates from within state education agencies, propelled by savvy state superintendents.

Arnold F. Shober is Assistant Professor of Government at Lawrence University.

Arnold F. Shober is Assistant Professor of Government at Lawrence University.