Book by Nancy B. Shulock
Review by Joey St. Germain
Academic Advisor, College of Human Sciences
The Florida State University
Practitioners on Making Accountability Work for the Public (2006), number 135 in New Directions in Higher Education, is a collection of chapters on institutional and state accountability systems used throughout the United States. In the collected essays, the editor mentions the three main themes of accountability that emerge (p. 1). First, improving higher education is imperative as educational deficits have broad effects on the social and economic status of the United States. Next, state accountability systems must be designed around the educational and workforce needs of the state. Finally, the traditional models of accountability are flawed as there is too much focus on the needs of the institution and limited focus on the needs of the state.
This edition provides a brief history of accountability systems which will give the reader insight as to the humble beginnings of accountability in higher education. This is useful in that it helps the reader understand where accountability systems are and where current practitioners hope to take them. Each essay gives a relatively detailed account of the accountability system of the state and a wide variety of states are included (Kentucky, North Dakota, South Dakota, Virginia, Connecticut, Tennessee, and California). These accounts show the similarity of issues that institutions of higher education face and bring to light both the positives and negatives of public accountability.
The reader must realize this is a higher education journal and in order to get the full impact of the chapters, one should have read some of the literature on accountability issues in higher education. However, if the reader has no background in state accountability, but is interested in the subject this volume would be a great place to begin the study of accountability in higher education. Also, despite the variety of states represented in Practitioners, more states could have been included. Some readers may have found chapters regarding other states more interesting than the chapters on accountability systems of states that had been presented in previous chapters.
Advisors may find Practitioners interesting if they have an interest in higher education administration. Also, if an advisor intends on researching accountability in higher education, this edition may be useful as Practitioners should provide a better understanding of state accountability systems. However, the quintessential academic advisor will find limited utility in this volume of New Directions in Higher Education.
Overall, this a well written collection of essays compiled by the editor, Shulock, and features some of the leading practitioners and administrators in higher education. Each essay provides the reader a wealth of information on the role of accountability in higher education for that particular state in a clear and concise manner. However, unless an advisor is interested in this area of higher education or plans to pursue a career in the upper throngs of higher education, limited information can be gleaned from this volume that would aid in the day-to-day activities of an academic advisor.
Practitioners on Making Accountability Work for the Public. (2006). Book by Nancy B. Shulock (Ed.). Review by Joey St. Germain. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 128 pp., $29.00, (paperback), ISBN # 0-7879-9472-3