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

Bringing schools into the 21st century

G. Wan and D.M. Gut (editors)

London: Springer, 2011

Emerging technologies and globalization have resulted in political, social and cultural changes. These changes have a profound impact on all aspects of human life, including education. Yet while society has changed and continues to change, schools are slow to keep up. This book explores issues related to transforming and modernizing our educational systems, including the impact of societal shifts on education, the efforts at various levels to bring schools into the 21st century, the identification of 21st century skills, the reformation of the curriculum, the creation of alternative models of schooling, the innovative use of technology in education, and many others. It addresses questions like the following: Should school systems adapt to better meet the needs of tomorrow's world and how should this be accomplished? How can schools better prepare students for a changing and challenging modern world? What skills do students need to lead successful lives and become productive citizens in the 21st century? How can educators create learning environments that are relevant and meaningful for digital natives? How can the school curriculum be made more rigorous to meet the needs of the 21st century? This book encourages readers to transcend the limits of their own educational experience, to think beyond familiar notions of schooling, instruction and curriculum, to consider how to best structure learning so that it will benefit future generations. It encourages a deeper analysis of the existing education system and offers practical insights into future directions focused on preparing students with 21st century skills.

Creating inclusive communities

R. Slee (editor)

International Journal of Inclusive Education, vol. 15, 2011, p. 1-193

'Inclusive communities' is an academic field with an indistinct tradition and draws from a variety of social sciences, namely education, anthropology, sociology, psychology and philosophy. This special issue of the International Journal of Inclusive Education will attempt to cross-fertilise themes and contexts (historical and physical). It is innovative in as much as it hybridises theoretical paradigms and creates new conceptual platforms that will surely appeal to the varied interests of the readers, researchers, students, academics, social operators, community planners and developers, activists and the general public (Ganapati 2008). The richness of this special issue lies in its capacity to bring speckled components into one organic whole and develop the notion of communalism from the local to the global and anywhere in between (Schmidt 2006). It will draw on the problematising of a very important mindset; citizenship will not just happen but requires a commitment towards capacity-building, that is to say effective membership, friendship, relationships, supports in the pledge towards inclusivity (Craig 2007). However, the fundamental opportunities to accumulate social capital (Graddy and Wang 2009), participation, well-being and reciprocity are considerable and their existing contributions are often undervalued (Barber 2009). Furthermore, as the concept permeates into sociological and political discourse, its potential to generate further structural inequalities needs to be acknowledged. The theme of 'inclusive communities' will also link with the discourse of social regeneration and transformations. This special issue will seek to attract a wide-ranging liberal and progressive debate around the conceptualisation of concerns without sidelining traditions that have engaged us so strongly in this contest. This issue will attract and attend to the intellectualising of such issues as community education, empowerment, sustainable and community-focused development, post-colonialism, citizenship, village politics, social movements, collective action and political education embedded within an array of minority discourses (Bebbington et al. 2004). The liberating aspect of having 'inclusive communities' is fundamental in the understanding of society (Hunt et al. 2000).

Crossing the line: examination of student demographic changes concomitant with declining academic performance in elementary schools

C. Hochbein and D. Duke

School Effectiveness and School Improvement, vol. 22, 2011, p. 87-118

The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between school decline and changes in school demographics. Using a population of 981 (N = 981) elementary schools in Virginia, the authors identified samples of declining schools: Relational Decline (n = 510), Absolute Decline (n = 217), and Crossing the Line (n = 165). Latent growth models assessed longitudinal relationships between 4 demographic factors and school performance. Of the 4 tested predictors, only changes in the percentages of disadvantaged students maintained significant structural relationships with declining academic performance. Associations between school size and school performance varied depending on sample. Findings suggested that changes in school demographics challenge educators, but that internal school processes account for school decline. Future research might search for a school decline threshold, as well as common processes responsible for the phenomenon. Educators might design procedures so that no one school must face continuous or extensive increases in at-risk student populations.

The distribution of leadership as an influence on the implementation of a national policy initiative: the example of the Laptops for Teachers scheme

B. Cowie, A. Jones and A. Harlow

School Leadership and Management, vol. 31, 2011, p-47-63

Research on the nature of and support for systemic sustainable innovation with ICT is converging with research on policy implementation and studies of school change and improvement to highlight the complex interplay of personal and contextual factors that enable and constrain innovation. In each of these fields, leadership has been found to play a crucial role in initiating and sustaining change and innovation. This leadership is not however the prerogative of any one individual but rather it is distributed over people at all levels of the system and across policies, practices and material resources. Leadership for innovation around and with ICT technologies is also distributed across time because of its substantial financial and knowledge implications. In this article, we illustrate the distributed nature of the leadership that supported teachers and schools to make use of teacher personal laptops accessed through the New Zealand government Laptops for Teachers scheme.

Diversity and inclusion in Australian schools

M. Hyde and others (editors)

Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2010

Diversity and Inclusion in Australian Schools presents a clear, socially-oriented approach to understanding and developing inclusion in education. The text conveys positive dimensions to promoting the implementation of inclusive education policy in practice, while at the same time focussing on those areas that are currently providing challenges to many teachers in inclusive learning environments. Its many practical examples and suggested classroom activities are balanced with relevant evidence-based information to assist students with their understanding of the issues about diverse abilities as they relate to inclusion in classroom and associated school and community activities.

Diversity, equality and achievement in education

G. Knowles and V. Lander

London: Sage, 2011

Most classrooms contain children from a variety of backgrounds, where home culture, religious beliefs and the family's economic situation all impact on achievement. This needs to be recognised by teachers in order to establish fair, respectful, trusting and constructive relationships with children and their families, which will allow every child to reach their full potential. This book looks at real issues that affect teachers in the classroom, and examines a variety of influences affecting child development. It provides teachers with the theoretical and practical information they need to ensure they understand the complex factors which affect the children in their care, and it encourages good, thoughtful teaching. Dealing with some of the less widely addressed aspects of diversity and inclusion, the book considers:

  • children who are asylum seekers
  • the notion of 'pupil voice'
  • what diversity and equality mean in practice
  • gender and achievement
  • looked-after children
  • social class
  • disability
  • ethnicity and whiteness

Education policy, space and the city: markets and the (in)visibility of race

K.N.Gulson

Abingdon, Routledge, 2011

Drawing on three case studies of K-12 public schooling in London, Sydney and Vancouver, this book examines the geographies of neoliberal education policy in the inner city. Gulson uses an innovative and critical spatial approach to explore how the processes and practices of neoliberal education policy, specifically those relating to education markets and school choice, enable the pervasiveness of a white, middle-class re-imagining of inner-city areas, and render race "(in)visible." With urbanisation posited as one of the central concerns for the future of the planet, relationships between the city, educational policy, and social and educational inequality deserve sustained examination.

Educational apartheid in the Basque region

R. Ramesh

The Guardian, Mar. 31st 2011, p. 25

Randeep Ramesh reports from the Basque Country where more than half of the students attend privately run, but publicly funded schools known as concertadas, way above the Spanish national average of 26 per cent. Classes at concertadas are almost entirely white which has prompted commentators to warn that Spain is sleepwalking into a form of educational apartheid.

The Heavens may fall: school dropouts, the achievement gap, and statistical bias

R.R. Verdugo

Education and Urban Society, vol. 43, 2011, p. 184-204

In this article, the author examined the achievement gap by noting that the reported math scores among 17-year-olds is upwardly biased when compared with the scores of this same cohort 4 years earlier when they were 13 years old. It is upwardly biased because an important event happens over the 4-year period between 8th and 12th grade-a large percentage of students leave school without graduating, and they tend to be the poorest performing students. The analyses indicate that there is indeed a considerable amount of bias in these test scores, for all three ethnic-racial groups and thus for the reported achievement gaps. There are two conclusions to be drawn from the analysis. First, it is inappropriate to compare the eighth-grade scores with those that occur 4 years later when they are 17 years old. Over the 4-year period, the population of US high school students has changed as a result of significant events, such as dropout rates. These rates are especially significant among Black and Hispanic students. Second, because of such bias, the achievement gap, as reported, is misleading and adjustments need to be made if we are to get an accurate portrait of student achievement and the achievement gap.

Neoliberalism, globalisation, and the American universities in Eastern Europe: tensions and possibilities in 'exported' higher education

R.F. Amthor and S.A. Metzger

Globalizations, vol. 8, 2011, p. 65-80

This article explores the role and impact of US higher education institutions in Eastern Europe , using the American University in Bulgaria as a case study. Exclusively structuralist, critical analyses of such institutions can lead to the conclusion that they are a form of neo-colonialism and cultural imperialism based on capitalist hegemony. However the post-structural lenses applied in this research which allow for more attention to the local dynamics and human interpretation and agency may point the way to more positive roles for US higher education institutions abroad. They may be able to attend to the need to prepare imaginative intellectuals that can critically engage with their own traditions and envision themselves as citizens responsible beyond narrow localities.

Organizational culture and its impact on partnering between community agencies and postsecondary institutions to help low-income students attend college

A. Kezar

Education and Urban Society, vol. 43, 2011, p. 205-243

Given the importance of postsecondary institutions partnering with community agencies and groups to meet a variety of essential goals such as access and success of students, this study investigated one such partnership with the aim of attempting to understand the experience of community-led partnerships and the role of culture in partnerships between community agencies and postsecondary institutions in the United States. Although the collaboration literature often assumes similarities among nonprofit organizations, this study identified a host of differences that need to be carefully negotiated and worked through while developing a partnering. Knowledge about the areas of culture differences serves as a guide for forming and developing relationships between postsecondary institutions and community agencies that further the goals of urban educators.

Perspectives of looked after children on school experience: a study conducted among primary school children in a children's home in Singapore

Y.S.C. Celeste

Children and Society, vol. 25, 2011, p. 139-150

This study underlines the importance of education in helping children break away from family disadvantage in Singapore and elsewhere. This study explores the school experiences of a sample of children in residential care in Singapore, using both qualitative and quantitative methods. The findings reveal that looked after children encounter greater challenges in school because of their unique background and lack of resources. Most of them would need to rely on support from the authorities in both the school and the home to improve their educational attainment.

Policy windows, public opinion, and policy ideas: the evolution of No Child Left Behind

V. Jaiani and A.B. Whitford

Quality Assurance in Education, vol, 19, 2011, p. 8-27

The purpose of this paper is to examine the policy process that led to the passage of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act in the United States and the Bush Administration's role in this process. The research design is historical and archival. A description of the NCLB Act is given and the major provisions and implementation are focused upon. How the Bush Administration helped create the opportunity to pass the NCLB Act by building coalitions, and how public opinion affected the evolution of the policy process are focused upon. Finally, a description is given on how policy ideas like the concept of 'accountability' shaped the policy process, and both inspired and constrained the Bush Administration. Findings: the paper argues that the Bush Administration helped create the opportunity to pass the NCLB Act by building coalitions, and public opinion affected the evolution of the policy process. Policy ideas like the concept of 'accountability' shaped the policy process, and both inspired and constrained the Bush Administration. Research limitations/implications: the case is limited to the United States and NCLB, although those cases are particularly important in North America and in evaluation-based research. Practical implications: the paper shows how a policy designer can be limited both by political initiatives and his or her own conceptual grounding. Originality/value: this paper is one of the first to connect the policy process that guided President Bush's design of the NCLB legislation with the concept of 'accountability'. Accountability is a foundational concept in the design of quality assurance systems.

Re-positioning as a response to government higher education policy development - an Australian case study

R. Webber and K. Jones

Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, vol. 33, 2011, p. 17-26

The Australian Catholic University (ACU) has had a long-standing commitment to social justice and to engaging with the rest of the community, arising from its Catholic intellectual tradition and its creation from Catholic teaching institutions. As a university created in 1991 as part of a radical re-structure of Australian higher education, ACU has also been very responsive to government higher education policy. Recently, in the environment of a new Commonwealth government with a social inclusion agenda and an education policy described as the Education Revolution, ACU began a process of disentangling the strands of community service, outreach activities, engagement and third stream activities that have been labelled in recent years as 'community engagement'. This article draws on the findings of a research project aimed at mapping third stream activities at ACU to analyse the ACU response to higher education policy development. It also suggests future directions for the development of third stream activities at ACU.

'Serving two masters': academics' perspectives on working at an offshore campus in Malaysia

K. Dobos

Educational Review, vol. 36, 2011, p. 19-35

This paper explores the effects of the internationalisation of higher education on the working lives of academics at an offshore campus in eastern Malaysia. Using the interpretivist paradigm and grounded theory methods it investigates their perspectives on various themes as those emerge during a series of interviews. These emerging themes are: 'Professional Practice', 'Communication', 'Quality Assurance' and 'Curriculum Issues'. These themes are interrelated, are tied together with the anchor theme of 'serving two masters' and expose important areas that need to be monitored by both the offshore institution and Australian partners in order to ensure the quality and success of their cooperation in the long term.

School leadership and its effects on student achievement

P. Pashiardis and S. Brauckmann (editors)

International Journal of Educational Management, vol. 25, 2011, p. 5-103

This special issue of the International Journal of Educational Management has multiple origins. The first was the publication of the initial findings of the Programme for International Student Achievement (PISA) which coincided with the beginning of the new millennium and had a great theoretical and practical impact on studies on student achievement. Second, in the field of educational research, the tradition of school effectiveness has had a history of expansion for more than 30 years now. Studies of the first wave of school effectiveness were carried out in the early 1970s, mainly in the USA and the UK. These studies were conducted as a reaction to the pessimistic findings of the congressionally mandated study that was carried out in the USA by James Coleman and his colleagues, known as the Coleman Report (1966). In the first paper of this Special Issue, 'A validation study of the leadership styles of a holistic leadership theoretical framework', Stefan Brauckmann and Petros Pashiardis mention that the overall purpose of their paper is to describe the EU-funded Leadership Improvement for Student Achievement (LISA) project. In this study, the main aim was to explore how leadership styles, as conceptualised in the developed dynamic Pashiardis-Brauckmann Holistic Leadership Framework, directly or indirectly affect student achievement at the lower secondary level of education in seven European countries. The next paper in this issue, 'Leadership effects on student achievement and sustained school success' by Stephen Jacobson, sets out to examine the effects of leadership on student achievement and sustained school success, especially in challenging, high-poverty schools. In terms of its methodological approach, the paper combines a review of the leadership literature with qualitative findings drawn from longitudinal studies of the International Successful School Principalship Project (ISSPP). In the next paper, 'Leadership and organisational performance: from research to prescription?' by Daniel Muijs, we get an overview of research on the impact of leadership on student outcomes, the main leadership activities related to these outcomes, and strengths and weaknesses in the current research base. Effectively, this paper is a literature review of key papers addressing the relationship between leadership and student outcomes through a consultation of key authors and journals in the field. The next paper, 'Revised models and conceptualisation of successful school principalship for improved student outcomes' by Bill Mulford and Halia Silins, presents models and a reconceptualisation of successful school principalship for improved student outcomes. This study's approach is qualitative and quantitative culminating in model building and multi-level statistical analyses. The final paper included in this Special Issue, 'Exploring the impact of school leadership on pupil outcomes: results from a study of academically improved and effective schools in England' by Pam Sammons, Qing Gu, Christopher Day, and James Ko, explores the impact of school leadership, particularly that of the principal (headteacher), on school improvement in England.

Stimulating the informal sector through vocational education in Botswana

L. Sekwati and N. Narayana

International Journal of Education, Economics and Development, vol.2, 2011, p. 81-89

It is generally agreed that in informal sector in Botswana, as in other African countries, is important for employment creation and poverty reduction. However the growth of the sector is hindered by lack of access to technical and business skills, leading to low productivity and stagnation. This article argues that vocational education has a key role to play in stimulating the growth of the sector by equipping participants with technical and business skills to expand their enterprises. Unfortunately the current vocational education and training set up is not responsive to the needs of people working in the informal sector. An extensive training needs assessment survey is recommended to identify areas of the vocational training sector that need strengthening, including reform of institutional arrangements.

A systemic perspective on school reform: principals' and chief education officers' perspectives on school development

K. Pyhältö, T. Soini and J. Pietarinen

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 49, 2011, p. 46-61

Purpose: this study aims to gain insight into of the perceptions comprehensive school principals and chief education officers have about the implementation of school reform and the means they use to facilitate the development of such. Design/methodology/approach: this research project was carried out using a systemic design research approach. Open-ended questionnaires provided the data for the study and these were completed by educational leaders operating in local school districts in Finland. Findings: the results demonstrate that pedagogy was emphasized most often as the core of school reform by principals but chief education officers considered technical and financial factors to be critical. Nevertheless, both groups had quite similar ideas on how to promote school development. Research limitations/implications: the findings reflect the Finnish educational system and capture only two levels of leadership within the system. Future research ought to focus on studying school reforms within different school systems as a complex of correlated events, processes, strategies, interactions and qualities. Practical implications: to be able to achieve a successful and sustainable school reform more attention must be devoted to creating and activating collaborative learning environments, not only for pupils and teachers, but also for educational leaders at all levels of school administration. Originality/value - the study adds to an understanding of the often-mentioned gap or conflict in perceptions and beliefs between different actors in an educational system.

Teachers' perceptions and concerns on the banning of corporal punishment and its alternative disciplines

L. Laurence, L. Yuan and Y. Yuan

Education and Urban Society, vol. 43, 2011, p. 137-17

Corporal punishment (CP) has been officially banned since December 2006 in Taiwan. It was considered useful to explore the perceptions and concerns of elementary school teachers on the issue of banning CP and on alternative methods of discipline in 2008, two years since the ban took effect. In this study, 323 teachers were stratified randomly and drawn from 42 schools in Keelung City for the survey and 5 teachers were interviewed. The main finding of this study was that while most teachers understood and supported the policy of banning CP in schools, there remained certain concerns about the effect of such a ban. These concerns and conflicting viewpoints were especially over issues related to the difficulty of disciplining students while respecting their human rights. An overwhelming concern was that some teachers might ignore students' misbehavior and passively discipline to cope with the new law.

Universities face funding fears as states scrap tuition fees

A. Topping

The Guardian, March 16th 2011, p. 27

The German university fee system is on the brink of collapse after another state confirmed that it would abolish charges for students following a change in local government. The city of Hamburg - a state in its own right - will follow the lead of several other states that have scrapped fees since the February 2011 elections that saw Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats ousted by the centre-left Social Democratic Party.

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