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

Academic performance of subsequent schools and impacts of early interventions: evidence from a randomized controlled trial in Head Start settings

F. Zhai, C.C. Raver and S.M. Jones

Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 34, 2012, p. 946-954

The early school years are a critical transition period for promoting children's scholastic and psychosocial development and for preventing the dissipation of the effects of earlier interventions. Research has suggested that the benefits of high-quality early interventions can be sustained for those who attend continuing enrichment programmes in the early school years, but fade out for those who attend inferior schools. Using data from the Chicago School Readiness Project (CSRP), a cluster-randomised controlled trial conducted in Head Start programmes, this study investigates whether the intervention had differential effects on academic and behavioural outcomes in kindergarten if children subsequently attended high- or low-performing schools. Results show that exposure to the CSRP in the Head Start year had significant effects on academic and behavioural outcomes in kindergarten for children who subsequently attended high-performing schools, but no significant effects on those attending low-performing schools.

Associations between center-based care accreditation status and the early educational outcomes of children in the child welfare system

L. H. Dinehart and others

Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 34, 2012, p. 1072-1080

A corpus of studies have provided evidence that a high-quality early care and education experience can be a significant predictor of a child's developmental and early education outcomes. This finding may be particularly true for children from high risk environments. In an effort to expand the literature on the impact of early care and education on children from particularly high risk populations, this study explores the effect of quality, as measured by accreditation status, on the developmental and early academic outcomes of children in the child welfare system. Findings indicate that attending an accredited centre results in better outcomes for both children in the child welfare system and a comparison group of low-income children not in the child welfare system. However, children in the child welfare system are less likely to attend accredited centres than their non-child welfare counterparts.

Attitudes of teachers and headteachers towards inclusion in Lebanon

M. Khoshen and J. Radford

International Journal of Inclusive Education, vol. 16, 2012, p. 139-156

In the Arabic region, the drive towards inclusive practices in mainstream schools is at a relatively early stage, although, in Lebanon, the recent initiative of the National Inclusion Project (NIP), a project managed by a consortium of four organisations aimed at addressing the exclusion experienced by people with a disability, has the potential to promote rapid change in provision. This study explores the attitudes of teachers and headteachers towards people with a disability in mainstream primary schools in Lebanon, a middle-income Arab country. A mixed method approach was used to collect data. Forty teachers from mainstream schools within the Project completed questionnaires, and key headteachers as well as the consortium managers were interviewed. The sample was purposively selected in order to examine the attitudes of participants with previous experience of students with disabilities. In general, the findings indicate positive attitudes towards the inclusion of students in mainstream schools. However, participants expressed reservations about including all students, especially those with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Further challenges include limited training, availability of qualified specialist teachers and the high cost of supporting inclusion. These findings will inform future research, as more studies regarding the implementation of inclusive education in the Middle East are warranted.

A comprehensive plan for differentiating the training of teachers of the gifted online at the state, district and university levels in Florida, USA

G. Eriksson, C. Weber and L. Kirsch

Gifted Education International, vol. 28, 2012, p. 41-57

The training of teachers for a meaningful use of all that contemporary technology offers to developing curriculum requires constant vigilance, experimentation, innovation, revision and updating. The lifestyle of today's gifted students includes a range of ever-unfolding technologies, such as text messaging, blogging, social networking, personal webpages, video pods, streamed television, online textbooks, online knowledge base, web searching, presentation tools, desktop publishing, graphics infused in word processing, simulations and complex gaming. At the same time, the technology literacy of most teachers is in 'catch-up mode' with constant retraining about how to provide curricula that includes webquests, virtual field trips, virtual passports, interactive maps (Google Earth) and webliography (TrackStar), presented in diverse formats. The following questions will be examined in this paper:

  • How do you cross regional boundaries and local educational administration to provide a comprehensive state-wide teacher training system in gifted education?
  • How do you differentiate teacher training in gifted education that uses appropriate methods, strategies and best practices in teaching gifted students?
  • How do you incorporate the daily technology needs and uses of gifted students into training their teachers?
  • How can you provide teacher training that is independent of time and space to reach teachers beyond their classroom yet make it directly applicable?
  • How do you structure a system of accountability that meets state and national standards for gifted education?

In the state of Florida, USA, a three-tiered comprehensive approach provides online training and certification to teachers at the state level, through the WOGI (Working on Gifted Issues) project, at the district level that builds on Florida State Training Modules for local relevance, and at the university level that can be incorporated into a graduate Master's degree with a specialization in gifted education.

Downward spirals, boiled frogs, and catastrophes: examining the rate of school decline

C. Hochbein

Leadership and Policy in Schools, vol. 11, 2012, p. 66-91

The purpose of this study is to determine the validity of common assumptions about the rate at which school decline manifests. From a population of 981 elementary schools in the state of Virginia, the author uses three operational definitions of school decline to identify samples of declining schools: Absolute (n = 217), Relational (n = 510), and Crossing the Line (n = 165). Descriptive data and latent growth model results indicated that catastrophic declines and downward spirals rarely exist. Instead, analyses suggested temporal improvements possibly mask the longitudinal negative trend of declining school performance.

Exploring the politics of reconciliation through education reform: the case of Brcko District, Bosnia and Herzegovina

B. Jones

The International Journal of Transitional Justice, vol. 6, 2012, p. 126-148

Education reform in Brcko district of Bosnia and Herzegovina is considered successful in terms of integrating and fostering reconciliation between the three main ethnonational groups, Bosniaks, Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Croats, after the 1992-1995 war. This article examines the politics of reconciliation as played out in and outside classrooms and challenges assumptions underpinning any notion of institutional reform leading directly to reconciliation. In doing so, it shifts the view from institutions to people, locality and contestation. Findings from empirical fieldwork conducted in 2007 and 2008 demonstrate how the actions of those whom education is supposed to transform in fact mediate and might even subvert the ways in which reform plays out in daily life. The article posits a need to understand this link in order to be able to assess fully the success of such interventions undertaken in the name of transition.

Global Education Inc: new policy networks and the neo-liberal imaginary

S. J. Ball

Abingdon: Routledge, 2012

The book offers an account of contemporary trends in education reform and public sector governance, focusing on the increasing role of business and philanthropy in education service delivery and education policy and the emergence of new forms of 'network' governance.

Inclusive assessment and accountability: policy to evidence-based practices

M. Davies and S.N. Elliott (editors)

International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, vol. 59, 2012, p. 1-111

In a world of increasing accountability in education, large scale assessments have become more common as countries attempt to measure educational outcomes. All too often, however, students with disabilities are not provided with the opportunity to fully participate in these assessments, or to meaningfully access much of the curriculum content upon which they are based. This lack of full access and participation occurs despite policy statements that affirm the inclusion of students with disabilities in large-scale assessments. The papers in this special issue provide a descriptive and analytic review of current cutting-edge research that offers assessment policies and practices that work to facilitate full inclusion in assessment while minimising negative consequences for disabled students. Many of the research-based and field-tested practices have also been shown to result in improved testing access, test accessibility and subsequent validity for many students with, and some without, disabilities.

Instructional leadership in charter schools: is there an organizational effect or are leadership practices the result of faculty characteristics and preferences?

P. Trabert Goff, M. Mavrogordato and E. Goldring

Leadership and Policy in Schools, vol. 11, 2012, p. 1-25

Notable differences in leadership practices in US charter and public schools have been documented, as have differences in teacher attributes between these schooling sectors. Given that teachers are not distributed to charter and public schools at random but rather select (and are selected by) these institutions, we ask: to what extent do differences in teacher characteristics and preferences influence leadership practices across schools? This study applies regression analysis to assess the relationship between teacher characteristics and preferences and principal instructional leadership practices. Contrary to expectations, we find that teachers' characteristics and preferences do not shape their principal's instructional leadership practices.

Internationalizing the curriculum: pedagogy for social justice

C. Joseph

Current Sociology, vol. 60, 2012, p. 239-257

Following the end of the Cold War and the ascent of neoliberalism, education has come to be considered as a commodity and a private consumer good rather than a public good. This resulted in cuts in government funding and pressure on universities to attract more fee-paying international students to cover growing budget deficits. This has led to a drive to develop the skills and ability of staff and students to work efficiently across different national and cultural systems. This article looks at ways in which student diversity within the Australian higher education system shapes academics' pedagogical practices in internationalising the curriculum.

Maximizing educational opportunities for youth aging out of foster care by engaging youth voices in a partnership for social change

A. Day and others

Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 34, 2012, p. 1007-1014

Although previous studies have documented low high school completion and college enrolment rates for young people in foster care, their own voices have been conspicuously absent from the research. This study seeks to explore the barriers to completing high school and enrolling in college as perceived by young people in foster care. Forty-three high school and college students from across the state of Michigan who are or were in foster care spoke before panels of policymakers at two public forums. Eight main barriers to high school completion and college enrolment were identified. The most frequently cited was a lack of supportive relationships with caring adults.

Men vs women; educational leadership in primary schools in Greece: an empirical study

V. Brinia

International Journal of Educational Management, vol. 26, 2012, p. 175-191

This paper aims to present some of the persistent gender issues that cause inequities in teachers' professional development and keep women away from reaching higher levels of educational administration, although they are the majority of teaching personnel. It seeks to focus on the under-representation of female teachers in leadership positions and to identify the barriers which stall female advancement and exclude women from the main 'leadership pipeline'. The basic rationale is that women's role is crucial in order to meet the new demands of school in a dramatically changing society requiring a different style of leadership. The original study, conducted in 2009, examined in depth the professional experiences of 20 male and 20 female primary principals from schools located in different districts of Greece. Open-ended and semi-structured interviews were used to guide the original research. Similar to Skrla's study, all participants were provided with opportunities to reflect on their experiences as primary school leaders and answered questions where they talked openly about them. Two research instruments were designed to examine the leadership attitudes of both women and men primary school principals. The first was a demographic questionnaire. The second method of investigation was an in-depth interview with a smaller group selected on the basis of their responses to the questionnaire. In the interviews participants were asked 14 questions concerning the above central themes and a further set of questions that pertained specifically to their role at home and at school. The interviews were subsequently transcribed and analyzed according to Giorgi's method. The literature points to a great number of factors which may influence women to remain in the classroom situation rather than seek promotion but few of these were reported in the data as being of powerful influence. However, several factors were identified as being very important to women: women usually became teachers because they liked working with children and to lose contact with this group was seen as a strong disincentive to seeking promotion; many women are very attracted to the social aspects of their work and would not choose to place themselves in a work situation where they would be unhappy; women's promotional chances are usually diminished by three main extrinsic factors: many have a break in service and may experience difficulty in gaining re-entry, many women work either part-time or have difficulty in gaining scale post status and as a result do not have the necessary experience to gain promotion, family commitments sometimes make it difficult, and supply teachers are not generally eligible for training. Furthermore, subordinates tend to view females in senior positions as emotional, sensitive and indecisive when they are facing difficult situations. Finally, women still face stereotypes concerning their management abilities, with the most important being the imposition of themselves.

Supporting refugee students in schools: what constitutes inclusive education?

S. Taylor and R. Kaur Sidhu

International Journal of Inclusive Education, vol. 16, 2012, p. 39-56

The worldwide rise in numbers of refugees and asylum seekers suggests the need to examine the practices of those institutions charged with their resettlement in host countries. This paper investigates the role of one important institution - schooling - and its contribution to the successful resettlement of refugee children. It begins with an examination of forced migration and its links with globalisation, and the barriers to inclusion confronting refugees. A discussion of the educational challenges confronting individual refugee youth and schools is followed by case studies of four schools and the approaches they had developed to meet the needs of young people from a refugee background. Using these findings and other research, the authors outline a model of good practice in refugee education. The article concludes by discussing how educational institutions might play a more active role in facilitating transitions to citizenship for refugee youth through an inclusive approach.

Schools for the future Europe

J. Sayer and L. Erler (editors)

London: Continuum, 2012

Schools for the Future Europe brings together a team of leading academics, policy makers and education professionals to explore the emergence, development and application of European education policy up to the 2009 Lisbon Treaty and beyond. The book charts the historical development of a Europe-wide education policy, and examines how that policy has sought to address such issues as European citizenship, human rights and bilingual schooling. Taking as examples the intended future extension of the European Schools and the European Baccalaureate, and a case study of work towards the first British European Academy or Free School at Culham, UK, the book critically explores the interplay of EU action programmes, policy and rhetoric on secondary education. In the final section, the editors draw on the insights of the previous chapters to outline an achievable programme for the future development of education policy structures and practice in schools for Europe.

Sustaining higher education reforms: knowledge and policy implications learned from Thailand

K. Phusavat and others

International Journal of Educational Management, vol. 26, 2012, p. 284-301

This paper aims to share experiences of Thailand's higher education reforms in which academic excellence cannot be sustained without proper financial and fiscal considerations. The overall goal is to disclose the experiences and future issues facing public universities. The paper is based on actual involvement by Kasetsart University in assisting the Commission of Higher Education's (CHE) university reform efforts. In addition to projects supported financially by CHE, Kasetsart University has also participated as a committee member and an invited expert. The paper is narrative in nature. It begins by showing the positive impacts from higher education on a country's level of competitiveness, and the inter-relationship between higher education and innovation. The paper describes the country's recent major reform initiatives to achieve academic excellence and raises concerns over their sustainability for public universities. The experience of Thailand can be helpful for many countries as it is moving from an industrial-based economy towards a knowledge-based economy. The major concern is that academic excellence for public universities cannot be sustained without more effective fiscal management and public-private partnership. Finally, despite the fact that the article is descriptive; the knowledge and lessons learned should be beneficial to scholars and practitioners who are interested in higher education reform.

Teacher involvement in school mental health interventions: a systematic review

C.G.S. Franklin and others

Children and Youth Services Review, vol.34, 2012, p. 973-982

Schools in the USA are large providers of mental health services to children and adolescents. Recent federal educational policy initiatives have ushered in Response To Interventions (RTI) and school-wide behaviour supports that have the potential to involve teachers in school mental health interventions. The results of this ten year review suggest that teachers are not only involved in the delivery of school mental health interventions, mainly as team members working with other professionals such as social workers and psychologists, but may also sometimes serve as the sole providers of these interventions.

Teaching assistants and class teachers: differing perceptions, role confusion and the benefits of skills-based training

R. Butt and K. Lowe

International Journal of Inclusive Education, vol. 16, 2012, p. 207-219

Research has shown that teaching assistants (TAs) working in mainstream classrooms with special needs students in Australia are being required to perform quite complex tasks such as curriculum modification and differentiation yet they are not required to have any formal qualifications or training in these tasks. In the United Kingdom, TAs are not required to have any formal qualifications, while TAs employed in the USA are required to hold a two-year post-secondary degree or have obtained an associate's or higher degree. Initial research was undertaken in Stage 1 to identify the roles and responsibilities, skills and training needs of TAs working with special needs students in one school in Canberra, Australia. Information was obtained through separate focus group interviews conducted with class teachers and TAs. Stage 2 involved the design and implementation of five skills-based training modules developed to respond to needs identified in Stage 1. In Stage 3, interviews were conducted with the TAs to determine the effect the training had on their skills and their ability to assist both the class teachers and the students whom they support. Results from the study indicate that there exists role confusion as well as a different emphasis and perception by class teachers and TAs of the skills required to perform in the role of a TA. Results also indicated that specifically targeted skills-based training benefited the TAs and the TAs perceived that this benefit flowed through to the class teachers and the students they support.

Teaching through an ethics of belonging, care and obligation as a critical approach to transforming education

B. C. McCartney

International Journal of Inclusive Education, vol. 16, 2012, p. 171-183

This paper considers the experiences of a New Zealand family and their 'disabled' daughter Clare's 'inclusion' and 'exclusion' in her early childhood centre and the implications of these experiences for shifting from a discourse of 'inclusion' to 'belonging' based on 'an ethics of care and obligation to others'. The paper argues that the meanings and understandings of 'inclusion' for disabled children in education are variable and that they often default to dominant deficit discourses whilst believing themselves to be 'inclusive'. It also argues that we must consciously develop a critical awareness of how exclusionary power operates in society and in our own settings. This study presents ideas drawn from a 'pedagogy of listening' and Te Whaariki - The New Zealand Early Childhood Curriculum to critically reflect on some of the early childhood education experiences of Clare and her family. It is suggested that teachers' use of critical reflective 'child's questions' can be a tool for educational transformation towards the full and meaningful participation of disabled children in education.

Thrice disabling disability: enabling inclusive, socially just teacher education

S. A. Thompson

International Journal of Inclusive Education, vol. 16, 2012, p. 99-117

The goal of this Canadian inquiry was to create a social justice-oriented inclusive and enabling pedagogy by situating traditional individualised views of disability alongside three alternative understandings: a disability studies in education perspective, a First Nations view of disability and one based upon the autism pride/autism-as-culture movement. Using both these conventional and somewhat unconventional views of disability, a self-reflective case study was conducted in which the author attempted to facilitate an inclusive pedagogy in a university class, 'Working with Diversity and Difference'. At course conclusion, the author explored teacher candidates' notions of disablement and inclusive practices/strategies. Data sources included five focus group transcripts, 12 weeks of online discussion board postings and eight student assignments, namely inclusive teacher resource files. Data were triangulated and second-level member checks completed. Some students reported how the pedagogy enabled a reflective practice such that it disrupted their ableistic educational impulses, while others talked more about specific classroom implications to facilitate inclusion. Interestingly, when most students entered into the inclusive conversation beginning from a particular exceptionality, label, or diagnosis (such as intellectual disability), they tended to do so exclusively from an individualised medical model view of disability. Implications for inclusive teacher education pedagogies are discussed.

Virtually there - transforming gifted education through new technologies, trends and practices in learning, international communication and global education

G. Eriksson

Gifted Education International, vol. 28, 2012, p. 7-18

It is the year 2025 and I am compiling this article for an instant VPD (videopod) that is streamed over the world. An EESR (Educational Expert Service Request) came from an empathetic computer HIAS (Hi, I am Sam) that matched my qualifications with a quest by online activists SFT (Searching for Truth) to examine global interactions in education. This online SFT think tank is examining brilliance in action with ideas generated through WCN (wireless communications networks) in their brains. I have consulted and updated my IM (I am) virtual self that contains my visual image and bodily movements with facial expressions, having internalized video images with my values and actions, and monitored my biological rhythms. My IM will present my best contemporary self via a virtual social network system with a database of my past interactions and intelligent decisions. I have spoken certain words: gifted students; global issues; sustainability; social change, etc. The intelligent search site has screened millions of information bits from journal articles, research studies, multimedia presentations and contemporary thought; related this to my previous compilations; compared this with other expert trends in thoughts and compiled my VPD. My global (and galactic) audience is instantaneous and can drop in at any time to request a chat with their IM or add new information to the compilation or a TW (transformational WIKI). I link this to my virtual families with simultaneous translations into other ethnic languages and send the link to my authentic family connections on four continents. Join in this virtual knowledge conversation, recreated constantly. Here it is.

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