Politics of accountability theory contends that policymakers are unlikely to adopt external accountability policies. Contrary to the theory, many countries have adopted external school accountability policies, while Israel has not. The disequilibrium theory of policy selection is used to analyze differences among countries in school accountability policymaking. I find that the symbolic potency of policies helps to explain these differences. The symbolic potency of external school accountability depends on the extent to which school performance is perceived as a problem, the degree to which powerful stakeholders are affected by the problem and some broader political and administrative factors. Where client stakeholders are stirred out of their apathy, the education policy subsystem will adopt school accountability policies. However, preliminary evidence reveals implementation obstacles that may render these policies ineffective.
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