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Welfare Reform on the Web (February 2012): Education - overseas

Achieving resource equity within a single school district: erasing the opportunity gap by examining school board decisions

E. C. Darden and E. Cavendish

Education and Urban Society, vol. 44, 2012, p. 61-82

This article examines the failure of school districts to distribute non money resources-controlled primarily by the board of education-equally among students in affluent neighbourhoods versus low-income areas. It is largely an urban phenomenon, although some county-wide and large suburban school systems display similar patterns. Such practices represent a failure to achieve the vision of equity championed in 'Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka'. The main aspects of the opportunity gap addressed in this article are teacher assignment, staff-based budgeting, formal equality over equity, general education funds, parental involvement, curriculum, and building maintenance costs. These elements are widely accepted as important to learning outcomes. Inadvertent disparities in resource allocation, therefore, can foster a growing opportunity gap between well-off and impoverished students. The findings of Necochea and Cline highlight the negative effects on students of unequal resource allocation. Potential legal pathways in the form of Federal and State laws are suggested to combat the intradistrict educational inequity. The article concludes with policy solutions that school districts across the country have implemented to mitigate the harmful effects of unequal resource allocation and their straightforward attempts to erase the opportunity gap among students from different neighbourhoods.

Conceptual and empirical differences among various value-added models for accountability

A. C. Timmermans, S. Doolaard and I. de Wolf

School Effectiveness and School Improvement, vol. 22, 2011, p. 393-413

Accountability systems in education generally include indicators of student performance. However, these indicators often differ considerably among the various systems. More and more countries try to include value-added measures, mainly because they do not want to hold schools accountable for differences in their initial intake of students. This study presents a conceptual framework of these value-added measures, resulting in an overview of 5 different types. Using data from Dutch secondary schools, we empirically provide estimates of these different measures. Our analyses show that the correlation between the different types of school effects estimated is rather high, but that the different models implicate different results for individual schools. Based on theoretical considerations, arguments are given to use the following indicators in the value-added accountability models: prior achievement, student-level background characteristics, and compositional characteristics of the student population.

Conservatives, politics and the crisis of modern education in Australia

J. Bessant

Policy Studies, vol.32, 2011, p. 631-647

This article focuses on conservative critiques of education in Australia, and particularly on how they represent 'declining standards' and 'crisis' in schools and universities. The Howard administration is used as a case study to show how language and particularly moral accountings schemes can be used to persuade audiences of a particular world view and thus secure political support. The author considers how key Australian conservatives have characterised contemporary education and shows how certain metaphors are used to help in the 'discovery' that there major problems with the Australian education system, which become 'policy problems' amenable to 'policy solutions'. The research thus demonstrates how political interests perform a critical role in shaping contemporary 'standards debates'.

Differentiated pedagogy as inclusive practice: The 'Learn not to Burn' curriculum for learners with severe intellectual disabilities

N. Nel, M. Kempen and A. Ruscheinski

Education as Change, vol. 15, 2011, p. 191-208

The most significant barrier to learning in the inclusive education system of South Africa is the curriculum and differentiated pedagogy has been found to be an effective adjunct to inclusive practices in schools. Subsequently a special school in Gauteng implemented the 'Learn NOT to Burn' (LNTB) fire safety programme through the provision of differentiated instructional adaptations and accommodations for learners with severe intellectual disabilities (SID). This study used a qualitative research design to elucidate themes surrounding teacher implementation of the LNTB curriculum. A pilot study was conducted whereby an ethnographic design was used to address the research question. Data collection methods included focus group interviews, questionnaires and journal analysis. The findings focus on the relevance of differentiated instructional practices such as visual stimulating focused activities, hands on learning and the importance of incorporating music in ensuring access to the LNTB curriculum for the SID population.

The Divided university: the impact of budget cuts on faculty in two disciplines

M. Sallee

Tertiary Education and Management, vol. 17, 2011, p. 319-335

This article explores how budget cuts affected faculty in two departments-a physical sciences department and a humanities department-at one research university in the USA. Using theories of academic capitalism as a guide, the author focuses in particular on changes in governance structures and increasing competition between disciplines for resources and prestige. The article suggests that the physical sciences department was relatively spared, due to its ability to bring in external grants and the role played by the department head while the humanities department suffered from a mass exodus of faculty. Both departmental and institutional operations signal the ways in which universities are increasingly adopting market-like behaviours to survive.

Financing of higher education and the role and dilemmas of tariff groups

D. Marjetic and D. Lesjak

International Journal of Management in Education, vol. 6, 2012, p. 56-73

Higher education (HE) in the EU has been experiencing radical changes with the aim of making higher education institutions (HEIs) more responsive to society and of stimulating the transfer of knowledge in the triangle of research, education and innovation. Key obstacles are limited available financial resources. Thus, distribution mechanisms are needed, which will encourage economical and cost-effective use of resources at HEIs and stimulate them to achieve national strategic objectives. Widely used mechanisms for the allocation of public funds include a formula structured with a combination of elements and based on tariff groups, which should reflect the costs of HE.

Fostering inclusive education: principals' perspectives in Trinidad and Tobago

D. A. Conrad & L. I. Brown

International Journal of Inclusive Education, vol. 15, 2011, p. 1017-1029

This paper shares elementary school principals' perspectives from one urban school district in Trinidad and Tobago, regarding factors that might enhance or limit their and/or their faculty's readiness for inclusion in their schools. Qualitative data collection comprised a self-administered questionnaire and focus group interviews. Respondents comprised 18 school principals. Findings revealed a philosophical readiness to embrace inclusive practice, but resistance towards assuming responsibilities for such students within the classroom. Recommendations to facilitate more effective inclusion hinged upon teacher education, leadership and collaborative practice.

Government continues to do its job: a comparative study of governance shifts in the higher education sector

G. Capano

Public Administration, vol.89, 2011, p. 1622-1642

Governance in higher education has undergone substantial changes in recent decades. This paper develops a typology of modes of governance, which is then used to describe and analyse changes in governance of higher education in England, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. The empirical evidence shows that governments continue to govern, and have not lost any of their policy-making power, but have simply changed the way in which they steer higher education.

Humanism and autonomy in the neoliberal reform of teacher training

O. Kascak, B. Pupala and Z. Petrova

Education, Knowledge and Economy, vol. 5, 2012, p. 71-88

This article analyses the discursive unities which make possible the current transformation of teacher training and our understanding of teaching as a profession, while focusing particularly on European educational policy and the situation in Slovakia. Using Foucault's archaeological method, we reconstruct the discursive link points between the circumscribed, and at first glance, different approaches to teacher training, where on the one hand, we have a humanistic and constructivist prism, and on the other, we find the pragmatic, economizing pressure of neoliberal educational policy. Discursive reconstruction, however, shows that these approaches are not contradictory, rather that a humanistic and constructivist discourse, by shaping a specific kind of subjectivity (the teachers), supports the neoliberal reform of teacher training and constitutes the reasoning upon which it is based. The analysis is conducted by drawing together various components: the logic of the higher education reforms, the changes to the epistemological basis of teacher training, the regulation of professional development through professional standards, the psychological content and general permeation of entrepreneurial culture into education right through to the performance culture of the 'portfolios', which are the typical attributes of neoliberal governmentality, and not only in teacher training.

The inclusion lottery: who's in and who's out? Tracking inclusion and exclusion in New South Wales government schools

L. J. Graham and N. Sweller

International Journal of Inclusive Education, vol. 15, 2011, p. 941-953

The last few decades have witnessed a broad international movement towards the development of inclusive schools through targeted special education funding and resourcing policies. Student placement statistics are often used as a barometer of policy success but they may also be an indication of system change. In this paper, trends in student enrolments from the Australian state of New South Wales are considered in an effort to understand what effect inclusive education has had in this particular region of the world.

Integrative model of students' attitude to educational loan repayment: a structural modelling approach

S. Ismail, A. Serguieva and S. Singh

Journal of International Education in Business, vol. 4, 2011, p. 125-140

The purpose of this paper is to measure the antecedents of students' attitude and the impact of students' attitude on the intention to repay study loans. Primary data from 428 students in universities in Malaysia were collected and six constructs from theory were identified: perceptions that loan repayment would affect the quality of life after graduation; awareness of loan repayment issues created by media; perceptions towards loan agreement; parental influence; students' attitude towards loan repayment; and intention to repay loan. A structural equation modelling approach was adopted to analyze the data. Results showed that parental influence and perceptions that loan repayment would affect the quality of life after graduation had a direct relationship with students' attitude towards loan repayment; perceptions towards loan agreement was found to influence belief that loan repayment would affect the quality of life after graduation; and awareness of loan repayment issues created by media was found to affect parental influence. The relationship between students' attitude and intention is found to be statistically positive and significant

LRE re-examined: misinterpretations and unintended consequences

K. J. Hyatt and J. Filler

International Journal of Inclusive Education, vol. 15, 2011, p. 1031-1045

The least restrictive environment (LRE) requirement has been one of the major pillars of special education law in the USA since its enactment in 1975 and has proven to be one of the most contentious principles. Without a decision by the US Supreme Court or further clarification of the wording of the law itself, it is likely that the debate will continue. This discussion is particularly important because misapplication of the LRE principle can result in a violation of civil rights and deprive children of a free appropriate public education. A review of the historical background of LRE, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and relevant court cases supports the contention that the general education setting is the LRE for every child but not necessarily the appropriate placement for all children.

Pedagogical challenges of Indian higher education: policy and research implications

K. K. Petra

International Journal of Management in Education, vol. 6, 2012, p. 88-100

This paper briefly discusses the historical development of higher education systems in India. Today, learning faces even greater challenges at the university level, which demand good decision making and effective evaluation of the needs of the industry. The higher education system aims at enriching traditional and innovative learning models, conceptualising courseware in multiple media, personalising learning experiences to custom learning devices, integrating administrative functionalities with other academic units and, not the least, ensuring the expected quality of learning. This paper describes the general philosophy of the programme and the corresponding pedagogical model as well as focusing on recent research methods, methodologies and paradigms in higher education systems in India.

Performance measures and parental satisfaction with New York City schools

E. Charbonneau and G.G. van Ryzin

American Review of Public Administration, vol.42, 2012, p. 54-65

The public administration literature has consistently questioned the validity of user satisfaction surveys as a measure of government performance, particularly in comparison with more objective official measures. This study contributes to the debate using data from a survey distributed to nearly one million parents of children in the New York City state schools and officially reported measures of school performance for about 900 schools. Results show that New York City's official measures of school performance are statistically significant, substantively accurate predictors of aggregate parental satisfaction even after controlling for school and pupil characteristics. In other words, at the school level, parents in New York form their satisfaction judgements in ways that match up fairly well with some of the indicators the school system itself employs to judge its performance. These results can also be interpreted as suggesting that the official performance measures reflect, at least in part, aspects of state schooling that matter to parents.

The politics of education: challenging multiculturalism

C. Kassimeris and M. Vryonides

Abingdon: Routledge, 2012

Education is a thoroughly political enterprise. The process of determining the purpose of education has always been highly controversial. It has resulted in disputes that have not only divided people philosophically, but also on the basis of religion, region, class, race, and ethnicity. As a result, education provides us with a spectacular arena in which to explore the tensions inherent in European and North American societies, as well as an understanding of how current politics shape education policy. This book focuses on the politics of education, relating to the formation of national identities as affected by globalization and multiculturalism. It assesses the ways in which governance institutions, political ideologies and competing interests, both within and outside of the education community, influence the content, form, and functioning of education. As a collection of studies of the political aspects of education and educational policy-making, this book reaffirms that educational phenomena reflect and inevitably serve specific political agendas. Political scientists, sociologists and education scholars will find this to be an important and valuable text.

The rate of return to educational investment in China: a comparative commentary

F. Li, Y. Zhao and W. J. Morgan

Education, Knowledge and Economy, vol. 5, 2012, p. 45-52

This article comments on several features of the rate of return (ROR) to educational investment in China. First, the ROR to educational investment has increased with the expansion of educational provision since the 1980s. Second, the greater the educational provision, the greater the ROR. Third, the ROR in urban areas is more than that in rural areas. Fourth, the ROR in the public sector is greater than that in the private sector. Meanwhile, from an international comparative perspective, it is commented that possible explanations of the above are a history of élite education and of a screening culture; the rapid transition from a planned economy to a market economy; and the segmentation of the labour market in China.

Re-forming the school: taking Swedish lessons

I. Johansson and P. Moss

Children and Society, vol. 26, 2012, p. 25-36

In the context of government decentralisation and integration of services, over the last 15 years Sweden has been developing an all-day school based on inter-professional teamworking and adopting a holistic approach to working with children. The article describes these recent educational reforms in Sweden, which have sought to re-structure the school and develop new ways of working, offers some evaluative comments on this process and considers possible implications of these reforms for other countries. It compares Swedish school reforms with recent English policy developments intended to make 'extended schools' a universal provision by 2010.

Reforms, leadership and quality management in Greek higher education

A. Papadimitriou

Tertiary Education and Management, vol. 17, 2011, p. 335-372

This article reports on research to form an understanding of whether and how quality management (QM) has been adopted in Greek higher education. Greece only recently introduced quality assurance policies. This study describes governmental reforms related to QM policies up to 2010. An issue that is frequently addressed concerns the role of leadership in the implementation and facilitation of QM. Therefore, the study will also discuss how leaders (rectors and vice-rectors) in Greek universities perceived external environmental pressures and to what extent they adopted (or not) QM. Neo-institutional theory has become a dominant approach for explaining how organizations adapt to institutionalized pressures for change of their business theory from their environments and has been applied to different organizational phenomena; therefore, in order to explain why Greek higher education institutions adopt QM the study used the neo-institutional theory.

Regulating non-government schools: explaining success and failure

A. Zehavi

Regulation & Governance, vol. 5, 2011, p. 446-464

The challenge faced by governments in the regulation of powerful private actors has allegedly intensified in recent years. This study explores the means at the disposal of governments, and their effectiveness, with respect to the regulation of private actors that demonstrate considerable independence and political efficacy. It is argued that a modified 'Contextual Interaction Theory' (CIT), which focuses on the interaction between generic policy instruments (carrots, sticks, and sermons) and target group attributes (motivation, information, and power), and is augmented by a consideration of a separate institutional dimension, offers a useful analytical framework for understanding both the challenge faced by governments and the options for dealing with it. This framework is applied to a study of the introduction of 'new accountability' to Australian and Israeli non-government schools. The use of the standard CIT lenses helps explain Australian success and Israeli government failure in the introduction of new accountability. Australian success is attributable to a judicious mix of 'hard' and 'soft' instruments that favourably impacted target group information and motivation. In Israel, in contrast, policy instrument mixes failed to alter the main target group's oppositional stance. Institutional engineering, however, could provide a promising way for Israeli policymakers to enhance policy instrument effectiveness, by influencing target group power and motivation.

Solution-focused assessment: rethinking labels to support inclusive education

J. Von Swet, J. Wichers-Bots and K. Brown

International Journal of Inclusive Education, vol. 15, 2011, p. 909-923

In the Netherlands and the USA, the assessment process is changing for children who present learning and behavioural challenges in school. Evaluations for eligibility determinations and support planning are shifting along with disability models and tensions over the provision of inclusive schooling. Legislative edicts influence the assessment process differently in these two countries while both nations seem to be headed in a similar direction. This paper relates evolving disability models to the changing assessment process in each country and proposes that a solution-focused perspective offers an assessment concept which supports the goal of inclusive education. Specifically discussed are the implications of a solution-focused approach for the identification of disability, the assessment of special educational needs, individualised support planning and the essential cooperation within evolving schools as well as the environment beyond.

Understanding Deaf bilingual education from the inside: a SWOT analysis

I. M. Munoz-Baell and others

International Journal of Inclusive Education, vol. 15, 2011, p. 865-889

This article reports on a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis using a nominal group process undertaken to identify and tackle significant factors, both internal and external, affecting those current Deaf bilingual practices in Spain which promote or prevent the processes through which more inclusive (barrier-free) education for Deaf children can be successfully implemented. Seventeen school representatives (eight Deaf, nine hearing) from nine school sites with leading Deaf bilingual initiatives for Deaf children from different parts of the country participated in the study. Ways to improve accessibility to the whole SWOT process were explored to ensure that genuine and significant participation of all school representatives was actually possible. The main strengths pointed out the importance of participation and involvement of staff and others in the educational community. The primary weakness was found in the lack of a learning environment fully accessible to Deaf children. Notable opportunities included a growing acceptance of the bilingual and inclusive school concept by regional educational administrations and societal and parental attitudinal changes towards bilingualism and sign language. The lack of official recognition of sign language was reported as a major threat. Understanding these four internal and external interrelated factors can: (1) help insiders reflect on their practices and use the findings to improve them; (2) guide policy decisions on matching resources and capabilities to the environment in which schools catering for Deaf children operate; and (3) provide the starting point upon which policy-making and further research could be built.

Why they quit: a focused look at teachers who leave for other occupations

S. Cha and L. Cohen-Vogel

School Effectiveness and School Improvement, vol. 22, 2011, p. 371-392

To better understand the factors related to teachers' decisions to leave for jobs outside of education, the study employs a structural equation modelling approach to analyze data from two large national datasets from the US National Center for Education Statistics. The focus on occupation switchers is unique, with most studies of teacher attrition failing to differentiate between teachers who leave by their reasons for doing so. Overall, our findings suggest that district- and school-level leaders concerned about keeping good teachers in the classroom can take steps to improve teachers' job satisfaction by enhancing salaries and improving the conditions in which teachers work. Forced to choose between these levers, administrators may be more successful in boosting satisfaction and reducing the rate by which teachers quit to take a job outside of education by focusing their efforts on improving working conditions.

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