Political Behavior

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 181–220 | Cite as

Learning Citizenship? How State Education Reforms Affect Parents’ Political Attitudes and Behavior

  • Jesse H. Rhodes
Original Paper


Over the past three decades, the states have adopted a suite of reforms to their education systems in an effort to improve school performance. While scholars have speculated about the political consequences of these policies, to date there has been no empirical research investigating how these reforms affect the practice of American democracy. Combining data from an original survey of public school parents with information on state education standards, testing, and accountability policies, I examine how design features of these policies influence parents’ attitudes about government, participation in politics, and involvement in their children’s education. My research shows that parents residing in states with more developed assessment systems express more negative attitudes about government and education, and are less likely to become engaged in some forms of involvement in their children’s education, than are parents who live in states with less developed assessment systems.


Policy feedback Interpretive effects School accountability Education policies Citizenship Standards Testing Accountability 



This research was supported with a grant from the Spencer Foundation. An earlier version of this article was prepared for presentation at the 2012 American Political Science Association conference. The author thanks Christopher Howard, Suzanne Mettler, Tatishe Nteta, Steven Teles, and the anonymous reviewers for generous comments on earlier versions; the staff of YouGov/Polimetrix, especially Ashley Grosse, for invaluable assistance in constructing, testing, and fielding the survey; and Jeffrey Mondak and Thomas Rudolph for their editorial guidance and support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA

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