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Welfare Reform on the Web (February 2008): Education - overseas

Do schools matter for early school leaving? Individual and school influences in Australia

G.N. Marks

School Effectiveness and School Improvement, vol. 18, 2007, p. 429-450

In Australia not completing school is associated with poorer labour market outcomes. Early school leavers are more likely to become unemployed, have lower earnings, and over the life course accumulate less wealth. This article explores the relative importance of students' social characteristics, their academic performance, and schools themselves for school leaving using longitudinal data from the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study. The strongest influence on school leaving was academic performance in the PISA tests. In general, academically weak students are more likely not to complete school. The effects of student performance on early leaving are about four times stronger than those of socioeconomic and cultural background. These early school leavers can probably be best helped by post school vocational training.

Equity in assessment: discrimination and disability issues from an Australian legal perspective

J.J. Cumming and E.A. Dickson

Education and the Law, vol. 19, 2007, p. 201-220

When educators consider issues of equity, their predominant concern is accommodation of students with special needs, cultural issues, and creating alternative assessment activities that have equivalence to standard tests, so as not to advantage or disadvantage any student in their demonstration of knowledge. This article examines equity issues in assessment from a legal perspective, drawing on case histories from Australia, and based in discrimination and disability law. It is intended to assist authorities and practitioners to understand legal implications of educational assessment in order to promote practices that reduce the likelihood of legal claims.

The impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act on per-student public education expenditures at the state level, 1987-2000

M.P. Gius

American Journal of Economics and Sociology, vol. 66, 2007, p. 925-936

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act 1990 are designed to protect the civil rights of individuals with disabilities. More and more parents are now requesting that accommodations be provided under these acts for disabled pupils in state schools, putting additional pressure on education budgets. This study used a panel data set consisting of all 50 US states for the years 1987-2000 to determine if the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 had resulted in a statistically significant increase in per-student public education expenditures at state level. Results indicate that the Act increased per-student educational spending at the state level, but by less than 2%.

International perspectives on teacher professional development: changes influenced by politics, pedagogy and innovation

S. Rodrigues (editor)

New York: Nova Science, 2005

The chapters presented in the book signal a range of professional development models that are being employed by the international science education community and strive to make more explicit some of the theoretical bases on which these models stand. In addition, many of the chapters provide an indication of the importance of teacher agency, teacher risk taking and teacher reflection, by demonstrating:

  • the need for dialogic spaces
  • the place and voice of the teacher
  • the need for risk and reflection
  • the influence of communities of practice on the development of Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK).

Overall, the contributors provide a view of teacher professional development, not in terms of outcomes, but in terms of process. The various chapters also examine the potential of partnership in the development, and impact, of teacher professional development.

The learning society from the perspective of governmentality

J. Masschelein and others (editors)

Oxford: Blackwell, 2007

The book combines works from educationalists, philosophers, historians and sociologists on the topic of the learning society from the perspective of 'governmentality', the approach originally opened up by the French philosopher Michel Foucault. The studies presented, look at ideas and programmes of education as being part of the history of the ways in which human beings conduct and govern themselves and others in the light of specific truth games. They assume there is an intrinsic relationship between the intellectual and practical educational technologies on the one hand and the way in which political power is wielded in our societies, as well as the way in which we govern ourselves, on the other hand. Educational research, from the perspective of governmentality, has been carried out in the Anglo-Saxon world since the beginning of the 1990s and more recently a range of investigations have been set up in the continental context. Both lines of research are present in the book although the more recent continental research prevails.

Legislation and educational change: the struggle for social justice and quality in China's compulsory schooling

W.-W. Law

Education and the Law, vol. 19, 2007, p. 177-199

In 1986 China enacted the Basic Education Law which required the provision of nine years of compulsory schooling for all children. This law enabled China move to provision of universal basic education in a relatively short time, about two decades. However, it did not guarantee provision of good quality education, allowed excessive workloads to be imposed on pupils, and permitted the national emergence of fee abuse, in the shape of the imposition of dubious charges on families by schools. In response, and to rectify these problems, the law was significantly revised in 2006. This article shows that law can be used as a tool for social justice that helps to defend children's right to access good quality basic education.

Making a difference in challenging, high-poverty schools: successful principals in the USA, England and Australia

R.M. Ylimaki, S.L. Jacobson and L. Drysdale

School Effectiveness and School Improvement, vol. 18, 2007, p. 361-381

This article reports case study findings which demonstrate how principals of 13 schools in deprived areas in the USA, England and Australia contributed to improved performance. In the 13 schools studied, principals often demonstrated similar leadership traits and practices. All the principals studied were experiencing changing demographics, increased accountability, higher expectations for student performance, and organisational reforms. In spite of these challenges, all 13 principals demonstrated exemplary leadership skills and were also successful in developing staff, redesigning the organisation, and managing the instructional programme.

Social dialogue and lifelong learning in new EU member states: 'reform fit' in Latvia

C. Woolfson

Journal of European Social Policy, vol. 18, 2008, p. 79-87

Vocational education and training is regarded by EU policymakers as crucial to creating a high-skill workforce capable of adapting to European and global demands in an intensified competitive environment. Initiated in 2002, the Copenhagen process is intended to foster enhanced European cooperation in this field, with a target of developing an integrated framework of qualification recognition at a European level by 2010. The European social partner organisations of employers and trade unions have throughout been seen as key stakeholders in the Copenhagen process. In Latvia, inherent weaknesses in the social dialogue between employers and trade unions compromise the development of joint initiatives which could translate European policy goals into sustainable ground-level initiatives, In particular, the trade union voice in the implementation of any new lifelong learning strategy is likely to remain muted. In addition, 'short-termism' has been the dominant approach to questions of training by employers in neo-liberal post-communist states such as Latvia, while political actors appear to be largely indifferent to issues of human resource development.

Traditional and non-traditional educational outcomes: trade-off or complementary?

M. van der Wal and S. Waslander

School Effectiveness and School Improvement, vol. 18, 2007, p. 409-428

Due to globalisation, technological innovation and cultural pluralism, schools have recently been asked to develop non-traditional competencies such as self-efficacy and learning skills in their pupils, as well as imparting traditional factual subject knowledge. This article explores the question of whether schools can achieve both goals, or whether one set of competencies will be sacrificed in order to deliver the other. By reviewing the literature and conducting multivariate multilevel analysis on data gathered in 26 secondary schools in the Netherlands, this article addresses the probability of trade-off between educational outcomes. The analyses produced no clear evidence for the occurrence of trade-off, but did not support the proposition that traditional and non-traditional competencies are complementary either. It is concluded that both trade-off and complementary may occur, depending on specific school conditions.

Vocational education: international approaches, developments and systems

L. Clarke and C. Winch (editors)

London: Routledge, 2007

The book features contributions from a team of international experts who put forward the argument that too often national vocational education and training (VET) policy has been formulated in ignorance of historical and political developments in other countries and without proper consideration of the social objectives that it might help achieve. A wide range of contrasting international approaches and development strategies are examined in order to demonstrate the central role of the state in implementing an effective system of VET and to assess the extent to which different VET policies can promote equality in the labour market and social justice. Key themes include:

  • the broader educational and social aims of VET
  • the nature of learning in vocational contexts
  • the historical development of VET in the UK, US, Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands and elsewhere.
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