Music Teacher Stress In the Era of Accountability

R. D. Shaw

While there is an established body of literature on teacher stress and on the factors that may make music teaching uniquely stressful, there has been little or no research on how the recent era of accountability influences music teacher stress. In this article, I review the literature on music teacher stress and on how accountability reforms may impact this experience of stress. I then detail the findings of an interview-based multiple case study I performed with instrumental music teachers in Michigan. I present the findings through a model of an earthquake (the accountability reforms) and its main shocks/aftershocks (the particular stressors caused or influenced by the reforms). "Main shocks" of the accountability "earthquake" included stress over changes to teacher evaluation, changes to teacher tenure, and the need for the teachers' schools to improve their test-score-based school ratings. "Aftershocks" included intensification from increased workload, a general atmosphere of building-level stress, uncertainty, and a recasting of the significance of large group performance festivals. Finally, stress from the main shocks and aftershocks combined with "normal" job stressors to increase the cumulative experience of stress. Implications for teachers and researchers are offered.

Journal Arts Education Policy Review
Year 2016
Volume 117
Issue 2
Pages 104-116

Shaw, R. D. (2016) Music Teacher Stress In the Era of Accountability. In: Arts Education Policy Review, Vol. 117, No. 2, pp. 104-116. Available at


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