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

Are local policies supporting instruction becoming standardized?

D.L. Duke and others

Leadership and Policy in Schools, vol. 7, 2008, p. 1-29

Using a random sample of 21 school districts in Virginia, this study examined whether instructional policies at the local level had become standardised as a result of state and federal accountability initiatives instituted since 1995. The policies reviewed covered seven topics including, class size, student grouping, homework, remedial instruction programmes, school-year programmes for students who had failed state tests, summer school programmes, and retaking state tests. The researchers found that the majority of the 21 districts had adopted or amended policies as a result of the accountability measures.

Attitudes and intention of Greek and Cypriot primary education teachers towards teaching pupils with special educational needs in mainstream schools

S. Batsiu and others

International Journal of Inclusive Education vol. 12, 2008, p.201-219

The aim of this study was to record the attitudes and intentions of Greek and Cypriot primary school teachers towards teaching children with special educational needs (SENs) in mainstream school. Drawing on 'Planned Bahaviour Theory', the study involved involving 179 educators, 87 from Greece and 92 from Cyprus. Descriptive statistics indicated that school teachers have positive attitudes about the possibility of teaching students with and without SENs. The authors conclude that experience, attitude strength, self-identity, knowledge, information and also tertiary-level education in the subject of special education, have a positive effect on the attitudes and intentions of people who want to teach pupils with SENs in mainstream schools.

Engaged universities for new times

B. Muirhead, C. Burnheim and C. Power (guest editors)

Education, Citizenship and Social Justice, vol. 3, 2008

This special issue focuses on international developments in university commitment to research and teaching that specifically seek to improve the quality of life in local, often urban, contexts. The authors of this special edition suggest a key strategy for building and sustaining democracy may lie in the unique combination of intellectual, social and financial capital embodied within the modern university. They argue that universities and communities have the resources and capacity to co-produce and co-create powerful strategies for solving global problems manifested in the local community as well as helping both to become national and global leaders and providing social, cultural and physical capital and infrastructure.

Enhancing the quality of VET in Hong Kong: recent reforms and new initiatives in widening participation in tertiary qualifications

D. Lim

Journal of Education and Work, vol. 21, 2008, p. 25-40

In Hong Kong, as elsewhere, vocational education and training (VET) is seen as second-class and good enough only for those who do badly in academic education. Graduates are seen to end up in low status jobs, with little chance of proceeding to university. To remove the stigma traditionally attached to VET, the Vocational Training Council, a government-funded organisation, has adopted a number of strategies. These include producing and implementing a strategic plan to make VET more relevant and cost-effective, exposing the myths traditionally attached to VET, providing a through-train system to facilitate progression, and proactively seeking external accreditation for courses.

Extracurricular activities in school, do they matter?

B. Shulruf, S. Tumen and H. Tolley

Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 30, 2008, p. 418-426

There is a large body of literature that suggests that participation in out of school hours activities may boost the academic attainment of some underachieving groups of secondary school students. However, most of this research measured associations rather than causal effects. This study presents a robust methodological approach determining whether pupil participation in out-of-hours activities might have causal effects on academic outcomes and attitudes towards literacy and numeracy during secondary schooling in New Zealand. The results failed to provide conclusive evidence for the effects of out-of-hours activities on pupil performance.

Framing ICT implementation in a context of educational change: a multilevel analysis

E.M.L. Wong and S.C. Li

School Effectiveness and School Improvement, vol. 19, 2008, p. 99-120

The purpose of this study was to develop multilevel models that could be used to examine ICT implementation within the context of managing change in schools, with a view to understanding what institutional context brings about a paradigm shift in student learning as well as organisational features of schools. A multilevel analysis using hierarchical linear modelling (HLM) provided the researchers with a two-level model, encompassing a teacher level model and a school level model, which portrayed the implementation of ICT in schools.

International trends in inclusive education: the continuing challenge to teach each one and everyone

D. L. Ferguson

European Journal of Special Needs Education vol. 23, 2008, p.109-120

Inclusion began in the USA and Europe as a special educational initiative on behalf of students with disabilities as early as the 1980s. Now, more than two decades later, schools in these countries are changing as educators, parents, politicians and communities try to prepare for the new challenges and promises of the twenty-first century. Advances in technology, the global economy and politics, changes in what 'counts' as knowledge, and the skills and abilities demanded by the businesses and industries of the future all combine to render obsolete much of what schools have been doing up until now. Determining how students with disabilities and special education needs will continue to fit into this future is the ongoing challenge for inclusion. While much progress has been made, trends point to some troubling results especially for minority students, and students with some kinds of disabilities. The newest challenge is to make inclusive practices available to everybody, everywhere and all the time. This paper reviews the status of the efforts being made to meet this challenge and the author describes the five broad changes that systemic school improvement efforts must deliver if progress toward fully inclusive schooling is to continue.

Learning to label: socialization, gender, and the hidden curriculum of high-stakes testing

J. Booher-Jennings

British Journal of Sociology of Education vol. 29, 2008, p.149-160

Although high-stakes tests play an increasing role in students' school experience, scholars have not examined these tests as sites for socialisation. Drawing on qualitative data collected at an American urban primary school, this study explores what educators teach students about motivation and effort through high-stakes testing, how students interpret and internalise these messages, and how student hierarchies develop as a result. The author found that teachers located boys' failure in their poor behaviour and attitudes, while arguing that girls simply needed more self-esteem to pass the test. Most boys accepted their teachers' diagnosis of the problem. However, the boys who felt that they were already 'doing their best' and 'working hard' began to doubt that educational success is a function of merit and effort. She concludes that students learn about much more than the three Rs through their experiences with high-stakes testing, and argues that future research should attend to the social dimensions of these experiences.

National board certified teachers are making a difference in student achievement: myth or fact?

W.A. Rouse

Leadership and Policy in Schools, vol. 7, 2008, p. 64-86

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in the United States, founded in 1987, serves as a clearing house for National Board Teacher Certification whereby individuals must demonstrate competence and professional teaching excellence through a two-part process. This study forms part of the debate as to whether this advanced level of teacher certification may create a more highly trained and better equipped workforce which may in turn increase student academic performance and achievement. Of the fifty-four participants, 27 were National Board Certified Teachers and 27 were non-National Board Certified Teachers from kindergarten to eighth grade level. Results of the study revealed that a statistically significant difference did not exist in student achievement data between the two groups of teachers.

Research assessment as a pedagogical device: Bernstein, professional identity and Education in New Zealand

S. Middleton

British Journal of Sociology of Education vol. 29, 2008, p.125-136

Recent restructuring of research funding for New Zealand's higher education institutions is 'outputs-driven'. Under the Performance Based Research Fund, units of assessment of research quality are individuals, every degree teacher receiving a confidential score of A,B or C (if deemed 'research active') or 'R' ('Research Inactive'). Despite its relatively high number of A and B rated individuals, Education's collective ranking was low. The author interviewed staff and draws on Bernstein to explore how this process affects professional identity formation, a process involving engagement with changing 'official' external identities. This paper gives an overview of Bernsteinian concepts, historicises Education's changing official identities and illustrates how these enabled and constrained particpants' self-definitions before, during, and immediately after, the quality evaluation.

A Spanish intervention programme for students with special education needs: effects on intellectual capacity and academic achievement

L. F. Pérez and J. A. Beltrán

European Journal of Special Needs Education vol. 23, 2008, p.147-156

The purpose of this study was to determine whether the application of a school intervention programme based on the theory of multiple intelligences improves the academic achievement of students with low intellectual capacity, and whether the intervention programme also improves their level of general intelligence. The assessment design is quasi-experimental, with a non-equivalent control group, and with pre- and post-treatment measurements. The independent variable is the administration of the programme and the dependent variables are participants' intellectual capacity and academic achievement in subject matters considered essential in the curriculum – mathematics, language and social sciences. The study was carried out with 113 students aged between 11 and 16 years. The results show that the project has fully achieved the proposed goals, contributed to scientific knowledge about the development of intelligence and shown that the teaching of processes is one of the most effective methods to increase academic learning. Significant improvements were observed in learning and in intellectual capacity.

Strengths and limitations of Ontario post-secondary education accessibility plans: a review of one university accessibility plan

B. M. Opini

International Journal of Inclusive Education vol. 12, 2008, p.127-149

This paper examines the strengths and limitations of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act (ODA) accessibility plan prepared by one post-secondary education institution in Ontario, Canada, during the 2004/5 academic year. The paper focuses on ways the intersectionality between disability and gender is not voiced in the plan and its implications for female students with disabilities. It is argued that future accessibility plans need to pay attention to these intersections and, therefore, frame their initiatives in a manner that would address systemic sexism and inequitable power relations that serve to marginalize persons with disabilities, particularly women, hence rendering them marginal in post-secondary institutions.

Teachers, policies and practices: a historical review of literacy teaching in Australia

K. Whitehead and L. Wilkinson

Journal of Early Childhood Literacy vol. 8, 2008, p.7-24

This article uses a historical lens to illuminate literacy teaching as it is constructed in two recent reports, Teaching Reading and In Teachers' Hands. In surveying these texts alongside 19th century sources, the authors suggest it is significant that contemporary reports decontextualize literacy teaching, downplaying students' social locations and failing to recognize the infrastructure of mass compulsory schooling. In contrast to the 19th century when students' social class and irregular attendance were seen to mediate literacy achievement, 'teacher quality' is all that counts in recent reports. The historical perspective, therefore, not only highlights present concerns but also exposes some of the silences in these reports.

Vice-principalship in Hong Kong: aspirations, competencies, and satisfaction

P. Kwan and A. Walker

School Effectiveness and School Improvement, vol. 19, 2008, p. 73-97

This article details a large study of vice-principals undertaken in secondary schools in Hong Kong. The study examined areas of core competency related to the work of vice-principals and how vice-principals perceived that these related to school success. The research also looked at factors that affected the level of job satisfaction of vice-principals and classified these according to whether or not these individuals had aspired to principalship. Generally, the findings indicated that competency gaps can affect the level of job satisfaction and that the impact of these gaps varies according to career orientation.

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