Recent educational reforms in Norway include national tests and monitoring mechanisms to see if key outcomes are being achieved. At the same time, Norway has not established the follow-up mechanisms like high-stakes incentives and rewards that are characteristic of accountability policies in some other countries. As a consequence, one could argue that Norway has only moved “half-way” toward accountability. In contrast, this paper suggests that these developments in Norwegian policies demonstrate the difficulties of navigating the tensions between promoting two key aspects of accountability—answerability for the achievement of short-term goals and responsibility for the fulfillment of broader purposes—and the challenges of building capacity for both. Exploring developments in the Norwegian context highlights what it may take to develop policies that address both answerability and responsibility and reveals some of the cultural, geographic, political, and economic realities that make it difficult to do so.
This article first appeared in the Journal of Educational Change, 14(2), pp 113-138.