The purpose of this paper is to articulate how a theory, developed in 1968 by Garrett Hardin to describe how shared resources, or “commons” can become depleted, also elucidates the mechanism by which standardization of educational outcomes and assessment have come to dominate current education discourse. We then present results of a case study of a school struggling to succeed within a context of a district’s hyper-focus on standardized measures of success, and employ the theory to illustrate its usefulness to explain what we found at the school site. We believe this theoretical framework provides interesting perspectives on current trends toward standardization that threaten the quality of public education and suggests useful courses of action to mitigate against those threats.
Grinell Smith and Colette Rabin. "Understanding Resistance to Standardization in Education: The Tragedy of the Commons as a Theoretical Framework" American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting (2012).