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Welfare Reform on the Web (February 2011): Education - overseas

The challenge of large-scale literacy improvement

B. Levin

School Effectiveness and School Improvement, vol. 21 2010, p. 359-376

This paper discusses the challenge of making large-scale improvements in literacy in schools across an entire education system. Despite growing interest and rhetoric, there are very few examples of sustained, large-scale change efforts around school-age literacy. The paper reviews two instances of such efforts, in England and Ontario. After describing main features of these reforms, the paper presents four main reasons that such efforts are not more frequent: (a) the educational challenge of changing very large numbers of schools and classrooms on a sustained basis; (b) the bureaucratic challenge of improving the connections among different areas of social policy in pursuit of better outcomes for students; (c) the learning challenge of organizing complex systems to do this work while continually modifying the approach in light of new evidence and system feedback; and (d) the political challenge of galvanizing and maintaining the effort required to support these other changes.

Disproportionate Minority Representation in Suspension and Expulsion in Minnesota Public Schools: A report from the Minnesota Department of Education

S. Autumn and others

The International Journal on School Disaffection, vol. 7, no. 2, 2010, p. 5-20

In July of 2009, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) sponsored three focus groups (metro, southern, and northern regions of the state of Minnesota) entitled Listening to Cultural Voices: Disproportionate Minority Representation in Suspension and Expulsion. The focus group participants included superintendents, principals, student services staff, teachers, community members and parents. Participants reviewed Minnesota education trend data regarding suspensions and expulsions, graduation rates, research on discipline outcomes, and juvenile justice data. After the presentation, the participants gathered in focus groups which lasted 90 minutes. The metro area focus groups had 42 participants; southern Minnesota had 6 participants; and northern Minnesota had 14 participants. This report of the three focus groups on Disproportionate Minority Representation (DMR) in Suspension and Expulsion examines the findings from each discussion group, including a summary of their written responses and the pre-post survey.

Double standards and first principles: framing teaching assistant support for pupils with special educational needs

R. Webster and others

European Journal of Special Needs Education, vol. 25, 2010, p. 319-336

Teaching assistants (TAs) are part of a growing international trend toward paraprofessionals working in public services. There has been controversy over TAs' deployment and appropriate role when supporting the learning of pupils with special educational needs (SEN) in mainstream schools. Such debates have been transformed by findings from a large study of school support staff in the UK (the DISS project). The findings from this study show that TA support has a negative impact on pupils' academic progress, especially pupils with SEN. The findings render the current system of support for SEN highly questionable: TAs have inadvertently become the primary educators of pupils with SEN. This paper sets out the likely explanations for the negative effects in terms of three 'frames' - deployment, practice and preparedness - and then uses these frames to identify specific implications for pupils with SEN. The authors offer suggestions on how to make the most productive use of TA support.

(See also European Journal of Special Needs Education, vol. 25, 2010, p. 347-348)

Enhancing learning? A comparison of teacher and teaching assistant interactions with pupils

C. Rubie-Davies and others

School Effectiveness and School Improvement, vol. 21, 2010, p. 429-449

In many countries, teaching assistants are working in schools in increasing numbers. While they formerly supported teachers by completing low-level administrative tasks, they are increasingly playing a pedagogical role and working directly with pupils, particularly those with special educational needs. However, little is known about the quality of the support that teaching assistants provide to these pupils. This paper systematically examines differences in the types and quality of interactions teaching assistants have with pupils compared with the interactions of teachers in the same classrooms. Differences were found, particularly in relation to the development of pupil thinking, and examples of the differential interactions are provided in the paper. Recommendations are made related to the need to examine existing models of teaching effectiveness to take account of the role of teaching assistants in classrooms and the role of teachers managing teaching assistants.

The experiences of students with mobility disabilities in Cypriot higher education institutions: listening to their voices

K. Hadjikakou, V. Polycarpou and A. Hadjilia

International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, vol. 57, 2010, p. 403-426

The Cypriot Special Education Law passed in 1999 and regulations made under it require that the State facilitates the integration of children and young people with disabilities into mainstream schools and higher education institutions. This study explored the personal experiences of students with mobility disabilities in Cypriot higher education institutions. Findings suggest that there is a discrepancy between the requirements of the Special Education Law and its Regulations and the lived experiences of students with disabilities. The law appears to be ignored by higher education institutions in Cyprus.

Graduation credit cards: immediate buy in, immediate payoff

R. Eichorm and others

The International Journal on School Disaffection

This report valuates the introduction of graduation credit cards among students at the New Directions Alternative Education Center, Prince William County Public School's (PWCS), one of several initiatives put in place by the Center to enhance student performance. Students at the Center earn credits through classroom based courses, digital instruction and by participating in Learn and Serve Projects. The Graduation credit card is a visual representation of the students' progress. It provides immediate feedback and encourages students to remain focused on their goal of graduation.

Identifying special educational needs: putting a new framework for graded learning support to the test

J. Lebeer and others

European Journal of Special Needs Education, vol. 25, 2010, p. 375-387

This paper reports a field test of a new Graded Learning Support Classification Matrix aimed at identifying special educational needs (SEN) in a more systemic way, and proposed by the Belgian Ministry of Education (Flanders Region), to put a barrier to the trend of referrals to special education schools. Identification as having SEN is not directly determined by a child's medical diagnosis. SEN is considered to be a product of the needed level of curricular adaptation and classroom support, and the child's broad category (cluster) of functional difficulties. A sample of 8648 pupils (aged 2.5-18) from regular and special education were classified according to the new matrix by collaborators at all 73 Centres for Pupils' Counselling (CPC), using the new criteria. Data were compared with current allocations. About 20% of children of primary school age have some kind of 'special' needs. 12.5 % of primary school aged children (8.9% of secondary school) have mild intellectual impairment and/or learning disability; and 3.3% (3.4%) have a diagnosed behavioural or autistic spectrum disorder. Using the new classification matrix, the number of children with SEN is much higher than before, but this reflects the actual classroom reality and it allows a better estimation of true needs and resources, by the government as well as by the school. A matrix presentation of SEN as a 'product' of child characteristics and 'levels of curricular adaptations' seems to be a better answer to special needs than the present linear definition. We propose this broad matrix definition of SEN as an international standard in order to make figures across countries comparable. All staff will have to be trained to adopt a more needs-based, dynamic, contextual assessment system, based on social model of disability, taking into account contextual factors such as family and school environment, rather than the currently widely used psychometric method .

The irregular school

R. Slee

Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2011

Inclusive education has been incorporated in government education policy around the world. Key international organisations such as UNESCO and the OECD declare their commitment to Education for All and the principles and practice of inclusive education. There is no doubt that despite this respectability inclusive education is hotly contested and generates intense debate amongst teachers, parents, researchers and policy-makers. People continue to argue over the nature and extent of inclusion. The book explores the foundations of the current controversies and argues that continuing to think in terms of the regular school or the special school obstructs progress towards inclusive education. It contends that we need to build a better understanding of exclusion, of the foundations of the division between special and regular education, and of school reform as a precondition for more inclusive schooling in the future. Schooling ought to be an apprenticeship in democracy and inclusion is a prerequisite of a democratic education.

Islam and education

T. Abbass (editor)

Abingdon: Routledge, 2010

Volume I of this collection focuses on theories of education. The gathered materials explore and analyse the impact of the classical Islamic period in history and the developments in education which have emanated from it. Volume II focuses on education in Eastern Europe and Muslim Asia, capturing the essential issues in each of the countries studied, and how they vary across a vast region. The impact of culture and modernization on traditional societies, as well as the ways in which westernized modes of education are introduced, and the aspirations of youth are examined. Volume III looks at education in the Middle East and Muslim Africa. Islam has its origins in the Middle East, and today many of the challenges Muslims face in relation to Islam and education are concentrated in this region. Volume IV explores the education of Muslims in North America and Europe, and of minorities in advanced liberal secular democracies.

Linking entrepreneurship education to graduate entrepreneurship

H. Matlay (guest editor)

Education + Training, vol. 22, 2010, p. 565-734

This special issue focuses upon linking contemporary entrepreneurship education research to graduate entrepreneurial outcomes and, in the process, makes an empirically rigorous contribution to the rich and heterogeneous body of specialist knowledge. In the opening article Gary Packham, Paul Jones, Christopher Miller, David Pickernell and Brychan Thomas set out to examine the impact that enterprise education can have on entrepreneurial attitudes in France, Germany and Poland. In the following article Hytti, Stenholm, Heinonen and Seikkula-Leino evaluate the impact of motivation to study entrepreneurship on individual levels of performance, in terms of the generation of business ideas. In the third article, Henry and Treanor explore the potential of entrepreneurship education within veterinary medicine. The results of their research show that entrepreneurship education has the potential to make a valuable contribution to graduate entrepreneurship in veterinary medicine. The next paper focuses on the role of electronic simulation case studies as used in entrepreneurship education. In the fifth article Hussain, Scott and Matlay explore the impact of entrepreneurship education on succession in ethnic minority family firms operating in the UK economy. In the sixth article Penaluna, Coates and Penaluna set out to evaluate design-based pedagogies and cognitive approaches that develop innovative mindsets. The next article focuses upon problems encountered in evaluating the impact of enterprise modules in the context of HRD research. In the next article, Marco van Gelderen evaluates a vision of entrepreneurship education that has the student's capacity for autonomous action as its ultimate aim. In the final paper of this special issue Bridge, Hegarty and Porter explore what entrepreneurship means for the promoters of entrepreneurship education and what might be appropriate for those students who benefit from it.

Pedagogic struggles to enhance inclusion and reconciliation in a divided community

M. Zembylas

Ethnography and Education, vol. 5, 2010, p.277-292

This article explores the successes and failures of teachers' pedagogies and school policies to establish a culture of inclusion and reconciliation at a shared secondary school in Cyprus-a school in which students from the two conflicting communities (Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots) are co-educated. Drawing on an ethnographic study based on interviews and observations of six teachers, interviews with students and the school principal, and observations of students' interactions inside and outside the classroom, it is shown that there is resistance to shared education and the formation of reconciliation pedagogies. While most teachers choose to avoid contentious issues rather than exploring them in order to prevent possible conflicts, a few others push for clear integration policies and pedagogies. It is argued that although these efforts are well-intentioned they simply reinforce existing divisions due to the lack of commitment to systemic structural change.

School choice in the stratilingual city of Vancouver

E. Yoon, and K. Gulson

British Journal of Sociology of Education, vol. 31, 2010, p.703-718

This paper examines the links between language, social difference and political domination in the practices of parental school choice at the heart of a global city, Vancouver. Vancouver is a highly diverse city, especially in terms of language. Its inner city is replete with multiple languages whose exchange values are not equal. In this context, our case study of two elementary schools observes that white middle-class parents choose a predominantly white school - whose students are non-ESL and have a second language choice of French - in a socially and ethnically mixed inner city neighbourhood, creating a stark imbalance in the student population of local neighbourhood schools. This paper examines parents' accounts of their choices, which they rationalise on the basis of linguistic competency and differentiation from multilingual others. We draw from Pierre Bourdieu's theory of language and symbolic power and Ghassan Hage's spatial theory of nationalist practice to understand the linguistic dimension of school choice rationalisation made by white middle-class parents. In the context of these insights, we argue that the way anglophone white middle-class parents choose their children's schools is intricately linked to active processes of reproducing a stratilingual society in Canada.

Special and inclusive education in the Republic of Ireland: reviewing the literature from 2000 to 2009

R. Rose, M. Shevlin and E. Winter

European Journal of Special Needs Education, vol. 25, 2010, p. 359-373

Provision for pupils with special educational needs in Ireland has undergone considerable change and review in the first decade of the twenty-first century. In response to international demands for a more equitable education system that recognises diversity and considers how schools might address the needs of pupils who have been previously marginalised, Irish legislation has focused upon the development of inclusive schooling. Researchers during this period have endeavoured to understand how responses to the demand for greater inclusion have impacted upon the perceived need for change. This paper reviews the research literature for this period and identifies four key themes under which research has been conducted. The literature pertaining to these themes is explored and a possible agenda for future researchers identified.

Special education in society and culture: comparative and developmental perspectives

G. Stangvik

European Journal of Special Needs Education, vol. 25, 2010, p. 349-358

International organisations make ambitious attempts to improve education for students with special needs. The article indicates that such global ambitions are tempered by recent educational developments and by comparative research that underscores the importance of locality by showing the unique character and antecedents of educational practices, a fact that affects national policy and practices as well as the transfer of new models and policies for special education. This is particularly the case when the transfer model is adopted from highly developed societies. Research even indicates that implementation of inclusion, the core of this model, may be seriously threatened by the new economy and the strain its puts on the education system.

Teacher education reform for enhancing teachers' preparedness for inclusion

R. Slee (editor)

International Journal of Inclusive Education, vol. 14, 2010, p. 649-739

Preparing teachers for inclusion requires them to gain both theoretical and practical knowledge. Most critically, though, unlike other educational reforms in recent years, it also impinges directly on a person's belief system by challenging their own innermost thoughts about what they consider is right and just. Thus, in addition to gaining formal and practical knowledge during their training, teachers need to have developed positive values, supportive ideals, high moral principles and strong ethical understandings regarding accepting responsibility for the education of all children regardless of the diversity of their needs. Without a sound and relevant knowledge base and positive dispositions towards inclusion, teachers are unlikely to engage fully in the development of inclusive school communities. Clearly, this requires considerable reform, if not a totally new way of looking at both initial and further professional learning to ensure that pre- and in-service courses are better focused towards achieving this aim. This special edition aims to address the need for reform by considering a range of changes that have been implemented internationally to transform teacher education to better facilitate the learning of teachers in preparation for inclusion. It does this by reviewing the development of evidence-based inclusive pedagogies for preparing teachers to become effective inclusive educators. This issue includes six papers written by some of the leading researchers in the area of teacher education for inclusion. Between them the authors have extensive backgrounds in special and inclusive education and particularly in the preparation of teachers to work in diverse school communities. The models for teacher education discussed in this publication have all been applied by the authors who provide a rich dialogue about how teacher educators can adopt new approaches that engage their learners by implementing authentic and realistic programmes. These research-based papers advance discussions about how educators can address the need for teacher education reform by employing more innovative approaches to ensure that teachers have appropriate training for engaging as active participants within inclusive schools.

'There has never been a glory day in education for non-whites': Critical Race Theory and discipline reform in Denver

A. Wadhwa

The International Journal on School Disaffection, vol. 7, 2010, p. 21-28

This study examines race-based and non race-based explanations among discipline reform committee members in Denver for why so many non-white students are suspended, and the possible implications of these discrepancies for the implementation of restorative justice. Based on community members' descriptions of school disciplinary practices, the study offers new framing of restorative justice as a Critical Racial response to inequitable suspension rates.

Trust, time and collective-individual priorities for educational development in marginalised communities

R. Basson

Ethnography and Education, vol. 5, 2010, p. 293-308

This article captures educational development from the perspective of those living on the social margins in South Africa, whose collective-individual priorities resulted in education for the community. The data were fugitive, in the minds of people for the most part, a small sample of key informants being selected by deliberate decision for in-depth interview to probe and uncover their perspective. These data were supplemented with observations of planning meetings, site visits and examination of archival records of meetings, over several years. The data indicate that the development of education is grounded in trust and trust-building, and takes time. The process is described, which suggests, amongst other things, an experience more typical of East Asia than Africa, an important temporal dimension in such provision and a mechanism for assisting marginalised communities to alleviate their condition through education.

Understanding student resistance as a communicative act

J. Kim

Ethnography and Education, vol. 5, 2010, p.261-276

In the current era of 'zero tolerance', disciplinary practices including punishment, expulsion, physical and psychological surveillance, and confinement are a major part of resistant students' lived experiences. This article presents an ethnographic study of student resistance observed in an alternative high school in the USA, which serves students expelled from regular schools. The purpose of this study is to explore how understanding of the meaning of student resistance can be used as a theoretical and pedagogical medium through which teachers can create an equitable educational milieu that upholds the views and experiences of the marginalised students. The study also offers a new insight into resistance theory, drawing upon Dewey's transactional theory of resistance as a communicative act to further suggest how it might be possible for the teachers and students to transcend conflicts in order to establish a more meaningful relationship moving beyond zero-tolerance policies.

Utilization of teacher assistants in inclusive schools: is it the kind of help that helping is all about?

M. Gianfranco

European Journal of Special Needs Education, vol. 25, 2010, p. 341-345

This commentary, based on a subset of data collected as part of the Deployment and Impact of Support Staff (DISS) project, describes:

  • Findings that replicate existing data collected in the US, specifically: marked increase in utilisation of Teaching Assistants (TAs); their use as a key mechanism to support the inclusion of students with disabilities; the inadequacy of their preparation, training and supervision; concerns about the quality of their instruction and concerns about the appropriateness of their increasingly institutional roles.
  • Substantially new findings that extend the field's research base showing a negative relationship between the provision of support by TAs and achievement in core academic subjects in 76% of the comparisons across grade-levels.
  • Implications for policy and practice, exploring educationally viable alternatives to over-reliance on paraprofessionals.

When schools are the ones that choose: the effects of screening in Chile

D. Contreras, P. Sepulveda and S. Bustos

Social Science Quarterly, vol. 91, 2010, p. 1349

The voucher scheme introduced in Chile in 1981 allows for-profit private subsidised schools to choose their pupils. This article examines the relationship of this practice with academic performance using data from the 2005 SIMCE test, in which parents were asked about the admissions requirements of their children's schools. Results suggest that private schools compete to cream off the ablest and most promising pupils, who will cost least to educate and produce the best academic results. Hopes that the voucher system would trigger competition among schools to offer the best quality education have not been fulfilled.

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