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

Academic and racial segregation in charter schools: do parents sort students into specialised charter schools?

D.R. Garcia

Education and Urban Society, vol. 40, 2008, p. 590-612

This article focuses on how parental school choices affect the degree of racial and academic segregation in charter schools. The research design allows a direct comparison of the racial and academic conditions of the more racially integrated district schools that students left and the more racially segregated charter schools they chose. It emerges that parents enrol their students into charter schools with at least the same degree of academic integration as the district schools that students left. The academic and racial segregation results are used to test the extent to which students congregate into specialised charter schools according to hypothesized patterns and the findings call into question the assertion of charter school advocates that segregated conditions in charter schools are the result of students self-selecting into specialised charter schools.

Breaking the cycle of academic failure for foster children: what can schools do to help?

J.S. Vacca

Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 30, 2008, p. 1081-1087

Many pupils in foster care are struggling in US schools. A majority of these children do not have access to the special programmes, out-of-school-hours activities, and sports that are key to obtaining a well-rounded education. In sum, the education of foster children is often overlooked, and they are one of the most educationally vulnerable populations in US schools. Teachers need to be given incentives by federal, state and local governments to develop innovative programmes that help these pupils succeed. The author argues that:

  • Schools must provide more opportunities for this group to receive direct instruction with an enriched curriculum
  • Schools must improve communication with welfare agencies
  • Schools must provide a caring environment in which foster children have equal opportunities to experience success.

Changing systems of external examination

B. Stensaker, E. Brandt & N.H. Solum

Quality Assurance in Education, vol. 16, Summer 2008, p. 211-223

This paper identifies and reviews changes in systems of external examination in Denmark, Norway and the UK. The authors conclude that systems of external examinations are being transformed from a focus on student performance to a focus on programme quality and coherence in all three countries. The study shows that older and newer forms of quality assurance are becoming more integrated with the potential of creating quality assurance procedures addressing teaching and learning issues more directly.

Choices for whom? The rhetoric and reality of the Direct Subsidy Scheme in Hong Kong (1998-2006)

T. K. Tse

Education and Urban Society, vol. 40, 2008, p. 628-652

School choice programmes have proliferated around the world since the 1980s. Following this international trend, the Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) was launched in 1991 to revitalise Hong Kong's private school sector. DSS schools receive a similar subsidy per student to that received by aided schools, but they may charge fees and have greater control over curricula, entrance requirements, and management than their state school counterparts. Drawing on a number of documents and reports over the period 1987-2006, this article explores the discrepancies between rhetoric and reality, showing how a policy purporting to appeal to choice, diversity, and competition undermines equality, community, and democracy. The author concludes that, under the provision of DSS, the benefits some parents and schools enjoy by being afforded more choices are often achieved at the expense of fewer choices for others.

Differential grading standards and university funding: evidence from Italy

M. Bagues, M.S. Labini and N. Zinovyeva

CESifo Economic Studies, vol. 54, 2008, p. 149-176

In Italy, university grading standards are assumed to be similar across institutions. This presumption justifies the legal value given to university titles and explains why public funding of universities is increasingly related to the number of diplomas or grade points they assign. This article empirically demonstrates the existence of differences in grading standards across Italian universities based on three editions of a survey of a representative sample of graduates. This result suggests that funding schemes based on students' academic performance do not necessarily reward universities offering the best value degrees. Students graduating from institutions routinely awarding high grades and liberally funded on this basis had a stronger probability of being unemployed or ending up in low paid work.

Double-shift schooling: design and operations for cost-effectiveness. 3rd ed.

M. Bray

London: Commonwealth Secretariat, 2008

While double-shift schooling primarily aims to extend access and minimise costs, some systems only achieve these goals at the expense of educational quality. Consequently, policy-makers may be faced with difficult choices when designing such systems. This third edition draws on experiences in a wide range of countries to highlight the advantages and problems of double-shift systems and is designed to assist national and regional policy-makers as well as headteachers and others responsible for running double-shift schools. Comparison is also made with single-shift systems and also with systems incorporating triple or even quadruple shifts.

Gender discrimination and education in West Africa: strategies for maintaining girls in school

T. Tuwor and M. Sossou

International Journal of Inclusive Education, vol. 12, 2008, p. 363-379

Despite some significant increases since the 1960s, girls' enrolment in primary schools in Africa still lags behind that of boys. This paper examines some of the reasons for this persistent gender gap in the three African countries of Ghana, Nigeria and Togo within the West Africa sub-region. It discusses gender relations, cultural practices such as early marriage, child slavery, child fostering/trafficking, poverty and multiple household duties for girls as some of the contributing factors. It is argued that unless these cultural beliefs and values are changed and mandatory measures are put in place, such as holding parents accountable and responsible, gender parity and quality education for all will not be achieved in Africa. A number of strategies for improving school attendance and retention for females are also discussed.

Implementing performance indicators of early learning and teaching: a Chinese study

H. Li and N.C.M. Wong

International Journal of Early Years Education, vol. 16, 2008, p.115-131

This study investigated how early learning performance indicators, newly developed by the government and based on the western ideology of child learning, were implemented in a Chinese context like Hong Kong. Twelve early childhood settings, involving 5747 children and 284 staff, volunteered to implement the indicators over two years and the process was observed and analysed. The socio-contextual factors and the educational implication of the findings are discussed but, overall, the results indicated that: implementing a quality assurance cycle took time, resources and commitment; the implementation helped to enhance practitioners' professionalism; and teacher professionalism was the key to the success of the quality assurance mechanism.

Improving student retention in higher education

G. Crosling, L. Thomas & M. Heaney

Abingdon: Routledge, 2008

This book explores the issue of student retention in higher education and reviews teaching and learning approaches that encourage students to continue with their studies. The book features action research-based case studies by HE teachers in a range of countries; identifies practical curriculum development strategies that are student responsive, engaging and active; and explores student diversity, alternative teaching and learning approaches and disciplinary study.

Investment in tertiary education: main determinants and implications for policy

R. Boarini and others

CESifo Economic Studies, vol. 54, 2008, p. 277-312

Many OECD countries are aiming to reform their higher education (HE) systems. Calls for reform have been fuelled by low quality and excessive duration of studies, substantial drop-out rates and mismatches between qualifications gained and employer needs. OECD countries proposing to reform their higher education systems face two main challenges: how to make the most of public expenditure on HE and how to increase resources invested in HE without further draining the public purse. This article explores the main determinants of investment in HE. To this end it develops estimates of three main drivers of graduation patterns, namely institutional arrangements for HE supply, availability of funding for students, and private returns on investment in HE. It then empirically assesses how these three factors affect graduation ratios. Based on this analysis, it discusses routes to the reform of HE systems in OECD countries.

Just how flexible is the German selective secondary school system? A configurational analysis.

J. Glaesser

International Journal of Research & Method in Education, vol. 31, 2008, p. 193-209

School systems may be usefully characterised according to Turner's proposed ideal types of sponsored and contest mobility. Germany is a critical case with respect to this typology because its secondary school system is stratified and selective, and yet it offers the opportunity for upward and downward mobility. Drawing on an analysis of a German longitudinal dataset, this paper addresses the question of flexibility or rigidity of the school system, exploring the ways in which factors other than pupils' ability influence selection processes within that system.

Leadership futures

M. Bottery (Guest editor)

School leadership and management, vol. 28, 2008, p. 211-300 (special issue)

Not only must educational leaders deal with those things that happen at personal and local levels, they must also respond to national changes. In turn, driving national legislation are global pressures and the 'travelling policies' which derive from them. All of this makes for greater complexity so to understand what is coming is increasingly an essential skill for educational leaders. The five papers in this special issue all make a contribution to this topic by recognising the different contexts and attempt to understand relationships between them, potential outcomes, and ways of resolution.

Preschool - home cooperation in change

A. Sandberg and T. Vuorinen

International Journal of Early Years Education, vol. 16, 2008, p. 151-161

The purpose of this Swedish study was to elicit preschool teachers' and parents' views on both established and future forms of cooperation between the preschool and the home and was based on individual and focus-group interviews. Results showed that cooperation mainly revolved around the individual child and the form of cooperation which was least established tended to be the school council. Given that different forms of cooperation appeal to different parents, the authors' conclude it is important for preschool teachers to provide varied and rich forms of cooperation; in this way there will be a greater opportunity to reach all parents.

The provision of higher education in a global world: analysis and policy implications

G. Demange, R. Fenge and S. Uebelmesser

CESifo Economic Studies, vol. 54, 2008, p. 248-276

Mobile students and graduates react to the institutional framework of higher education and in their turn induce changes in government policies as competition between educational institutions and countries becomes more intense. This article analyses how government decisions about the financial regime and quality level of higher education interact with individual incentives to invest in higher education in closed economies and in economies open to migration.

Regulation of program supply in higher education: lessons from a funding system reform in Flanders

S. Kelchtermans and F. Verboven

CESifo Economic Studies, vol. 54, 2008, p. 204-228

It is generally agreed that European universities are lagging behind their US counterparts partly because of insufficient investment. Tight government budgetary constraints make it unrealistic to increase public spending on higher education, and politicians in many countries are reluctant to charge tuition fees. This article reports on a funding system reform in Flanders (Belgium), which aimed to provide incentives for institutions to cut costs by reducing the large diversity and duplication of courses. The scheme aimed to make the higher education system more cost effective and therefore reduce the need to increase public funding.

Schooling and settlement: refugee education in Australia

J. Matthews

International Studies in Sociology of Education, vol. 18, 2008, p. 31-45

Schools are a stabilising feature in the unsettled lives of refugee students as they provide safe spaces for new encounters, interactions and learning opportunities as well as delivering literacy which is the key to educational success, post-school options, life choices, social participation and settlement. The author argues that currently Australian schools are poorly funded and equipped to provide effective English as a Second Language teaching and support which means a new cohort of refugee students, mainly from Africa and the Middle East, is struggling. The article identifies the limitations of piecemeal partnership interventions and the domination of psychological approaches that individualise the issues and overemphasise pre-displacement conditions of trauma. The author argues for good practice approaches to schooling and settlement that involve whole-school accounting for organisational processes and structures, policy, procedure, pedagogy and curricula.

Strategic educational development: a national Swedish initiative to support change in higher education

T. Roxå and K. Mårtensson

Higher Education Research & Development, vol. 27, 2008, p. 155-168

This paper explores issues and processes in relation to strategic change in higher education institutions (HEIs), with a focus on educational developers and their ability to contribute to the development of teaching and learning. It describes a national Swedish initiative designed to enhance strategic perspectives and scholarly knowledge formation within the educational development field. The initiative, its results and conclusions are considered in relation to other higher education systems.

Towards an evidence-based reform of European universities

F. van der Ploeg and R. Veugelers

CESifo Economic Studies, vol. 54, 2008, p. 99-120

Universities have a crucial role to play in constructing knowledge-based economies. Europe needs well educated graduates to drive forward economic growth. Unfortunately European universities are hampered by a combination of excessive public control, bad governance, and insufficient funding. As a result they are unable to compete with their counterparts in the US and Australia for the most talented academics and students, and miss out on opportunities for cutting edge research and innovation. The authors argue that the foremost European universities need more autonomy to select students, reward staff, design new programmes, attract more funds and compete more effectively in an increasingly tough environment.

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