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

Access to education in Africa: responding to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

T. Chataika and others

Disability and Society, vol. 27, 2012, p. 385-398

Mainstream education remains beyond the reach of many disabled people in Africa, including in those countries which have signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Article 24 of this Convention mandates that disabled people should have full rights to education in inclusive settings. This article reports on presentations at the 2nd African Network of Evidence-to-Action on Disability Symposium held in Cape Town in 2009 on the theme of education. It also challenges various stakeholders to move from evidence to action to ensure the realisation of the educational rights of disabled people.

The Australian middle class and education: a small-scale study of the school choice experience as framed by 'My School' within inner city families

E. Rowe and J. Windle

Critical Studies in Education, vol. 53, 2012, p. 137-151

With the launch of the 'My School' website in 2010, Australia became a relative latecomer to the publication of national school performance comparisons. This paper primarily seeks to explore the school choice experience as framed by the 'My School' website, for participating middle-class families. It draws on Bourdieusian theory of cultural capital and relationship networks and Australian-based school choice research in order to contribute to understanding regarding the application of 'My School' data within participating families. Data collection consisted of qualitative, semi-structured, in-depth interviews with five families, each based within inner-city suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria. The findings of this small-scale study indicate that participating middle-class families possessed highly developed strategies for locating and achieving enrolment in school-of-choice and therefore did not seek to apply available data on 'My School' to decision-making, despite each participant reviewing the available data.

Bridging the implementation gap: an ethnographic study of English teachers' implementation of the curriculum reform in China

C. Yan and C. He

Ethnography and Education, vol. 7, 2012, p. 1-19

This article reports on a study of secondary English teachers' perceptions of and implementation of the New English Curriculum Reform in China initiated in 2009. Ethnography and triangulated data collection methods were employed to gather information about three senior secondary English teachers' interpretations of the New Curriculum and their teaching behaviours. A considerable implementation gap emerged due to a series of contextual constraints, namely teacher intransigence, examination imperatives, learner reluctance and pedagogy/policy inconsistencies. The study suggests the necessity to address the gap between reform ideas at the macro level and the school realities at the micro level throughout the implementation process, particularly at the initial stage. The study highlights three conditions to be fulfilled to bridge the implementation gap, that is, long-term goals, teachers as contextual decision makers and nurturing and developing teachers.

Can a single performance metric do it all? a case study in education accountability

S. Kukla-Acevedo, M. E. Streams and E. Toma

The American Review of Public Administration, vol. 42, 2012, p. 303-319

Public administrators are committed to improving public service delivery, as evidenced by decades of accountability efforts at all levels of government. This movement is especially salient in the public education system, where student standardized test scores are increasingly used as the key performance metric to evaluate schools, teachers - and most recently - teacher preparation program (TPP) effectiveness. Evaluating TPPs using a single quantitative performance metric at the student level is a complicated endeavor. This paper illustrates a key challenge in this type of accountability system, not yet examined in the literature: graduates of individual TPPs tend to cluster in a very small number of districts. The authors present a case study to show how geographic stratification inhibits the ability of statistical models to disentangle the effect of district and school from TPP on student achievement, particularly in rural states.

Collaborative international education: reaching across borders

M. G. Hilgers, B. B. Flachsbart and C. C. Elrod

Multicultural Education & Technology Journal, vol. 6, 2012, p. 45-56

As international boundaries fade and financial pressures increase, universities are redefining the norm in educational models. The move from a synchronous classroom to a blended classroom or a completely asynchronous environment has forced faculty to be creative in delivery while overcoming complexities in the associated infrastructure. Furthermore, geographic boundaries have diminished, leaving universities seeking ways to reach out to growing student markets, such as South-east Asia. However, this rapid international growth and nearly constant revision of delivery has raised serious questions regarding the maintenance of the quality and reputation of the institution. This is particularly challenging for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programmes requiring laboratory facilities, commercial software, and detailed, highly interactive theoretical analysis. The purpose of this paper is to describe the evolution, in the aforementioned environment, of a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-centric university. This paper will examine an example of using a local provider in an international setting to deliver content originating from three universities collaborating to deliver a single STEM degree. The question of quality of education is found to overshadow this entire process, particularly given the strict constraints placed by accrediting organizations.

The culture of education policy making: curriculum reform in Shanghai

C. Tan

Critical Studies in Education, vol. 53, 2012, p. 153-167

This paper explores the culture of education policy making in Shanghai using the conceptual tool of a 'global assemblage'. A global assemblage is essentially a collection of ideas and practices that arise from the interplay between a global form and situated sociocultural elements. Focusing on the global form of curriculum reform, this paper explains how the Shanghai municipal government justifies the introduction of the 'Second Curriculum Reform' using the global imperative while maintaining its socialist ideology and central control on high-stakes exams. This paper highlights the active roles played by the municipal government and other local educational stakeholders in assembling their own logics, tactics and counter-measures in the contested space of the assemblage. It is argued that the success of the curriculum reform is mediated and vitiated by the sociocultural elements of a dominant exam-oriented culture and the traditional approaches of memorisation, repeated practice and didactic teaching. The complex and unpredictable process of implementing curriculum reform in Shanghai illustrates the culture of education policy making against a backdrop of globalisation as a problem space.

Data-based decision making around the world: from policy to practice to results

K. Schildkamp, M. Ehren and M. Kuin Lai (editors)

School Effectiveness and School Improvement, vol. 23, 2012, p. 123-284

This special issue brings together the current research conducted on data use across multiple countries using a wide range of methodologies from qualitative to quantitative studies. Some of these studies are "best practice" studies, where effective data use has led to improvements in student learning. Others provide insight into challenges in the district and school organizational context. Each study draws on recent research and literature in the field. Together, they take the current line of research a step further by studying different facets of data use across a range of different international contexts. The studies in this issue focus on different levels of data use, such as data use at the district, school, and classroom levels, and how these levels interact. They explore the use of different types of data, including assessment data, but also data such as teacher observations. Furthermore, this special issue considers both the positive effects of data use (e.g., school improvement in terms of increased student achievement) and the potential unintended consequences (e.g., referring students to special education so that the average assessment results increase). Finally, two of the articles focus also on the constraints and enablers of data use, such as the role of the school leader.

Differing effects of representative bureaucracy in charter schools and traditional public schools

C. H. Roch and D. W. Pitts

The American Review of Public Administration vol. 42, 2012, p. 282-302

The authors examine the influence of teacher and administrator representation by race and ethnicity on disciplinary tools and standardized test scores within traditional US public elementary schools and charter schools. They argue that school officials within charter schools will be less likely to consider race and ethnicity when making schooling decisions because of their attention to the culture and norms within these schools. As a result, they expect that the translation from passive to active representation will be more difficult in charter schools than in traditional elementary schools. Using data from Georgia, the authors analyze this question empirically and find a statistically significant influence of representation among teachers on disciplinary tools and test scores and a more limited influence of administrative representation on standardized tests. Findings also support the central research question of this study, that is, whether the effects of racial and ethnic representation appear more limited among charter schools than traditional public schools.

Educational interventions, practices and policies to improve educational outcomes among children and youth in out-of-home care

K. Dill and R.J. Flynn (guest editors)

Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 34, 2012, p. 1081-1196

This special issue consists of papers presented at an international conference held in Ottawa in June 2011 that focused on improving the educational achievement of young people in care. Speakers from five countries (Canada, USA, Sweden, Germany and the UK) addressed three main topic areas: the disadvantaged socio-political status of young people in care, many of whom doe not complete secondary or post-secondary education; innovative interventions to improve their educational outcomes; and the effectiveness of tutoring, which is the most common educational intervention for young people in care. Papers fall into three categories: caregivers' influence on educational achievement; interaction between the education and child welfare systems; and methodological concerns.

Equalities and education in Europe

A. Ross, M. Dooly and N. Hartsmar

Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012

This book is about inequities in education in Europe. The authors have worked together on an analysis of educational inequalities in Europe, which they draw on through the book: they suggest that the countries of Europe, through the European Union, are beginning to address issues of educational disadvantage on a systematic, continent-wide basis. Because of this policy concern, the book is timely in the way that it addresses social and education inequities on the scale of Europe. This is not simply an account of practices and policies. The authors' analysis of individual country and European Union policy documents will be of practical and theoretical use to the policy community and the community of practitioners who are concerned with inequities in society, and in education in particular. The authors want to do more than simply add to the literature and theory: they aspire to make an impact on how education can contribute to positively improving the lives of disadvantaged groups. While some suggest that education is doomed to simply reproduce existing social patterns and replicate social inequities, the authors believe that educational policies have the potential to challenge inequalities, and to transform lives.

The impact of quality assessment in universities: Portuguese students' perceptions

S. Cardoso, R. Santiago & C. S. Sarrico

Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, vol. 34, 2012, p. 125-138

Despite being one of the major reasons for the development of quality assessment, students seem relatively unaware of its potential impact. Since one of the main purposes of assessment is to provide students with information on the quality of universities, this lack of awareness brings in to question the effectiveness of assessment as a device for promoting institutional accountability. Aiming to increase knowledge in this field, the paper addresses Portuguese students' perceptions of the impact of quality assessment. Resorting to the findings of a qualitative study on this subject, it is argued that students seem to assume a rather ambiguous position vis--vis this impact. While seeing assessment as having only a limited capacity to produce changes, students seem reluctant about the possibility of measures being adopted to increase it.

Mandated literacy assessment and the reorganisation of teachers' work: federal policy, local effects

B. Comber

Critical Studies in Education, vol. 53, 2012, p. 119-136

This paper explores how mandated literacy assessment is reorganising teachers' work in the context of Australia's National Assessment Programme - Literacy and Numeracy, which was implemented in 2008. Students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 are tested annually, with school results publicly available. The wider policy context and the emergence of different forms of interconnected educational work associated with the testing phenomenon are described. Taking an institutional ethnography approach, the local effects of the federal policy regime are examined through a case study of one school. What mandated literacy assessment does to educators' work in a culturally diverse low-socioeconomic school community is discussed. Key themes include strategic exclusions of students from the testing process, appropriations and adaptations of literacy theory, work intensification and ethical mediation of results. Questions concerning equity are raised about the differential effects of policy in different school contexts.

Moving beyond the rhetoric: charter school reform and accountability

M. A. Gawlik

Journal of Educational Research, vol. 105, 2012, p. 210-219

The author examined how local charter school educators respond to the accountability measures being imposed on them. Encouraged by early indications of increased test scores, state and federal policymakers continue to support accountability as an effective means to improve schools. Surprisingly, there has been little research on local educators' experiences with and responses to such reforms. This lack of research is striking because teachers, principals, and superintendents are directly responsible for the implementation of accountability mandates, including administering tests, teaching to the state standards, and implementing state-approved curriculum packages. In an effort to understand teachers' and administrators' experiences with public school accountability, the author explores how educators in four charter schools in Michigan understand recent accountability mandates with respect to school reform.

New wine in old bottles? A critique of Sweden's new national training programme for head teachers: does it strengthen or undermine school equality and students' educational rights and guarantees?

S. Rapp

School Leadership & Management, vol. 32, 2012, p. 159-181

This research seeks to look at the effect of the new Swedish training programme for head teachers by comparing it with the previous national training programme and does so primarily through an analysis of documents and texts that served to underpin the two different programmes. To put the Swedish teacher-training programme in an international perspective, the study makes some comparisons to the English teacher-training system. In order to compare and analyse the documents related to the training programmes, a frame-factor theoretical perspective is employed. Even though the new training programme is much more intensive and comprehensive than the previous one and even though it focuses on areas with relevance to school equality and assuring students' legal rights, the study's findings show that the new training programme, like the old programme, is still not sufficient to equip all school leaders with the skills they need to fulfil their responsibilities as required in the schools' charter and to assure school equality and the legal rights and guarantees of students.

'Nobody will thank me for this': championing the ERA

A. Schilo

Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, vol. 26, 2012, p. 215-223

In recent years there has been a shift within Australian universities to a corporate model of management rather than the collegial approach of the past. Concomitantly, Federal government funding mechanisms have required greater accountability for its financial investment in the sector's research activities. In turn, the daily life of an Australian scholar has undergone a significant transformation. In this current audit culture, academic staff are required to deal with the conflicting demands of onerous teaching commitments, emphasis on increased research production and the devolving of ever burgeoning administration to their own desktops. While university research communities were negotiating the requirements for the 2009-2010 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) assessment, academic life proved particularly challenging for scholars whose work spans both traditional and non-traditional forms of research publication. This paper considers the implications of ERA for staff working in non-traditional research areas and the various negotiations they had to make between the requirements established by ERA and university administration and their own research inclinations. In particular, it focuses on the activities of the 'champions', those assigned the task of collecting and collating the information, the challenges they faced and the strategies they employed to deal with often conflicting impulses; on one hand the need to comply with reporting requirements and on the other, the reticence of their colleagues as well as their own misgivings. In so doing this paper reflects upon the tensions encompassing contemporary scholarly affairs.

The politics of language in education: The Mikro case in South Africa

D. P. Bargueno

Journal of Language, Identity & Education, vol. 11, 2012, p. 1-15

School language policies stand at the nexus of identity politics and human rights in contemporary South Africa. Since 1996, litigation on school language policies has been resolved on the basis of language rights. Courts have emphasized that the mere mention of single-medium schools in the constitution in no way privileges these institutions over dual-medium schools, parallel-medium schools, or schools that otherwise accommodate multilingualism. In turn, legal proceedings have consistently upheld the letter of the law in terms of language rights, and English-speaking students have almost always been accommodated at former Afrikaans-medium public schools. But the constitutional goal of cooperative government remains unfulfilled. As a result, disputes over language policy continue to be costly, emotional, and directed at what "ought to be done" about one specific language, Afrikaans. This article focuses on the shortcomings of one case, the Mikro case, to argue that the vision of public education must be revised in order to consider language rights alongside principles of cooperative government.

Recognising the ordinances of Heaven: the role of Confucianism in higher education management in the People's Republic of China

A. Onsman

Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, vol. 34, 2012, p. 169-184

As part of an ambitious 10-year programme to overhaul and improve its entire education structure, China is currently engaged in developing, reforming and opening up its higher education sector. The stated aims are to increase access, increase resourcing, improve outcomes and lessen direct official interference. Underpinning the programme are aspects of Confucian philosophy as well as Communist Party of China ordinances. Confucian thought however, is far from intractable and how much it has been altered to suit the political perspective is a matter of contention. This paper argues that the term Confucian heritage as it has been applied to governance in higher education is too unstable to inform the analysis of progress and potential in Chinese higher education reform in any meaningful way. Instead, it serves the more civic purpose of providing a popular reference point for China's national and international ambitions in the sector.

The use of talent classes to reproduce differentiated education

A. Rasmussen

Ethnography and Education, vol. 7, 2012, p. 93-107

Talent and the development of talent have become increasingly dominant topics in the public sphere. Issues of talent development also figure as important objectives for education policies in Denmark, where various initiatives, including science centres for talented students, annual talent camps and competitions, and not least resources and funding, are provided to support this 'new' priority in education. This article examines, through an ethnographic approach to a talent class in a Danish secondary school, how current educational policies focusing on talent are perceived and experienced. In addition to this analysis, the phenomena of establishing such classes as an integrated part of ordinary schooling and of the labelling attached to being talented are discussed. The conclusion is that the use of talent classes is a form of socially constructed differentiation with the cohort mainly constituted by those with cultural capital.

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