Public Information, Public Learning, and Public Opinion: Democratic Accountability in Education Policy

49 Pages Posted: 27 May 2012

See all articles by Joshua David Clinton

Joshua David Clinton

Vanderbilt University - Department of Political Science

Jason A. Grissom

University of Missouri at Columbia

Date Written: May 27, 2012

Abstract

Theories of political accountability rest on the assumption that citizens use information about the performance of government to hold public officials accountable, but citizens’ utilization of such information is difficult to directly examine. We take advantage of the importance of citizen-driven, performance based accountability for education policy in Tennessee to conduct a survey experiment that identifies the effect of new information, mistaken beliefs, and differing considerations on the evaluation of public officials and policy reforms using 1,500 Tennesseans. We show that despite an emphasis on reporting outcomes for school accountability policies in the state, mistaken beliefs are prevalent and produce overly optimistic assessments of the institutions responsible for statewide education policy. However, individuals’ update their assessments of these institutions in an unbiased way when provided with objective performance data. Finally, support for specific policies intended to improve performance is unchanged by the information and more dependent on existing ideological commitments.

Keywords: education policy, public opinion, accountability, survey experiment

Suggested Citation

Clinton, Joshua David and Grissom, Jason A., Public Information, Public Learning, and Public Opinion: Democratic Accountability in Education Policy (May 27, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2067295 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2067295

Joshua David Clinton (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Department of Political Science ( email )

VU Station B #351817
Nashville, TN 37235-1817
United States

Jason A. Grissom

University of Missouri at Columbia ( email )

332 Cornell Hall
Columbia, MO Columbia 65211
United States

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