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Education Research International
Volume 2012, Article ID 930279, 8 pages
Research Article

Teachers’ Professional Identities in an Era of Testing Accountability in Japan: The Case of Teachers in Low-Performing Schools

Graduate School of Education, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan

Received 6 March 2012; Revised 8 August 2012; Accepted 12 August 2012

Academic Editor: Daniel Moos

Copyright © 2012 Masaaki Katsuno. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper presents tentative findings and discussions arising from an ongoing study on whether and how Japanese teachers’ professional identities have shifted in the context of heightened testing accountability. After a brief description of policy development that led to the introduction of national testing in 2007, previous studies of teacher identity are reviewed. Having explored some ambiguity in the existent theories regarding the trajectories and consequences of identity work, the paper goes on to report and to analyse the cases of six teachers from three low-performing elementary schools in a northern Japanese administrative region. With the limited size and scope of the sample, the present research cannot claim generalisability, but it can still raise a number of theoretical issues for further investigation, such as the precariousness of teachers’ strategies for sustaining their professional identities and the need for locating teachers’ identity work in the micropolitics of schools.