November 25, 2006

Draft of Accountability Frankenstein completed

The manuscript is done, or at least the initial drafting is done. It's a relatively short MS—approximately 68,000 words, excluding references. In revision, that will probably stretch to 70,000, but it's unlikely to get much larger. (December 28 update: The revised manuscript is about 73,000 words, with 12,800 words in the references section.) In contrast, Jennifer Hochschild and Nathan Scovronick's The American Dream and the Public Schools (2003) is 97,000 words long, excluding references. Their book has about 200 pp. of text.

This is the last call for anyone who wants to read parts of or the entire manuscript. If you have the time to read it and return thoughtful criticism to me by December 8, you will have my eternal gratitude and a copy of the published book. Just e-mail me with your interest.

I thought I'd finish yesterday, but I had a tough nut to crack with readings on expertise. Is the problem of our reliance on test scores and policy autopilot one of kowtowing to experts? It didn't match up well to the concerns of the existing literature on technocracy and professional expertise (whether critics such as Frank Fischer or more measured analysts such as Stephen Turner, who is a fellow faculty member at USF). I've decided that the authority given psychometricians is less the cognitive authority that Merton and Turner discuss than a referential authority ("the Thing exists, and there are Experts who can handle it") and the blithe assumption that test scores mean something concrete. While I have some concerns about the closed process, the greater danger is the assumption of the reality of test scores beyond a limited heuristic purpose.

But my conceptual wrestling is over, or at least the first round. Sometime in the next few days I need to start cleaning up the references section, which is currently 66 double-spaced pages long (about 14,000 words). It'll get a page or two longer as I flesh out some sketchy citations, but most of it is wrestling things into APA shape. And then on to substantive revisions.

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Posted in Accountability Frankenstein on November 25, 2006 1:31 PM |