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Welfare Reform on the Web (June 2005): Education - Overseas

Does school accountability lead to improved student performance?

E.A. Hanushek and M.E. Raymond

Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, vol.24, 2005, p.297-327

The cornerstone of current US federal education policy has been expansion of school accountability based on measured pupil test performance. The No Child Left Behind Act 2001 reinforces the prior movement of many states towards policies based on measured student achievement. Research shows that the introduction of accountability systems into a state leads to higher growth in achievement than would have occurred without accountability. However, simply reporting student results has minimal impact on performance; the force of accountability comes from introducing financial rewards for success and penalties for failure such as threats of takeover. Results also show that this policy instrument has not succeeded in reducing the Black-White achievement gap, although it did narrow the Hispanic-White gap.

The Effect of gender differences in primary school access, type and quality on the decision to enrol in rural Pakistan

C.B. Lloyd, C. Mete and Z.A. Sathar

Economic Development and Cultural Change, vol.53, 2005, p.685-710

The achievement of universal primary education with an emphasis on girls' enrolment is now a priority in Pakistan. Article seeks to assess the role of primary school access, type (i.e. public vs private) and quality on parents' decisions to enrol or not to enrol their children in primary school in rural areas. Finds that: 1) girls are more likely to be enrolled if there is a state primary school in the village; 2) the presence of a private as well as a state school does not increase overall enrolment; 3) girls are more likely to be enrolled if their mothers are educated; 4) variations in state school fees have a small impact on boys' enrolment but a larger one on girls' enrolment; and 5) girls are less likely to be enrolled if their fathers work in agriculture.

Global perspectives on E-learning : rhetoric and reality

A.A. Carr-Chellman (editor)

London: Sage, 2005

E-learning is a growing trend around the world. It is used in schools, nonprofits, business and industry, and higher education. It has been heralded as the next democratizing force in education, offering access regardless of physical limitations, job status, geography, etc. It has also been challenged for perpetuating the myth that education alone rectifies failures to meet social needs. Further, the financial incentive to privatize online education leads many to question its democratic merits. This volume offers an overview of online teaching and learning around the world including several case studies of international online education and the rhetoric that surrounds this form of teaching and learning.

Marketing fear in America’s public schools: the real war on literacy

L. Poynor and P. M. Wolfe

Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2005

This book looks at how the political actions of the conservative right disempower and control teachers, school districts, parents, and children through an atmosphere of fear used as a strategy to ensure that schools follow the conservative political agenda, supporting and imposing measures such as increased accountability, high stakes testing, and direct-instruction phonics programmes. The book looks at what the conservative factions are doing and why.

Rethinking the SAT: the future of standardized testing in university admissions

R. Zwick

New York: Routledge, 2005

In February 2001 University of California president Richard C. Atkinson recommended the elimination of the SAT 1 (the test commonly known as SAT) as a criterion for admission to the university and advocated an immediate switch to college admissions tests that are closely tied to the high school curriculum. This speech reignited controversies about the use of standardized tests in college admissions. Supporters regard standardized admissions tests as "common yardsticks" for measuring students' academic achievement or potential in a fair and balanced way. But in the eyes of many, these tests restrict educational opportunities for people of colour, women and other groups. Atkinson himself opposed the SAT 1 partly because it is viewed as being "akin to an IQ test." This volume addresses themes that are at the heart of the admissions debate. What is the history of these tests in California and elsewhere? How are admission test scores related to students' cultural background and academic preparation? How well do these tests predict academic success? Most basically, the book addresses the question, how should we decide which students get the opportunity to go to the college of their choice?

Scaling up success: lessons from technology-based educational improvement

C. Dede, J.P.Honan, L.C. Peters (editors)

San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass, 2005

This book tackles one of the greatest challenges facing school districts: How do we take successful programmes and best practices serving a few classrooms or students and scale them up to serve schools throughout the district? Using innovations in technology as an example, the book looks at ways in which scaling up can be achieved.

Social cause dissemination and feedback using multimedia and Internet-based techniques: the case for equality in education

W.J. Lundstrom and D. Watkins

Journal of Public Affairs, vol. 5, 2005, p.66-70

Educational segregation in the USA has reappeared due to the flight of persons of means from the inner cities to the outer suburbs. Children left behind are predominantly from minority ethnic groups and receive education of a poorer quality than that found in suburban schools. Article describes the production of an electronically based programme to disseminate information about this situation to policymakers with a view to gaining their active support for remedial measures.

Student achievement in charter schools: a complex picture

R. Buddin and R. Zimmer

Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, vol.24, 2005, p.351-371

Research clusters charter schools into four major categories: charter schools that convert from conventional state schools; charter schools that start from scratch; charter schools that rely on classroom-based instruction; and those that have a significant percentage of instruction outside the classroom. Based on these four distinctions, authors find significant differences in performance. Analysis suggests that classroom-based charter schools started from scratch are performing best, while nonclassroom-based schools are performing poorly. Classroom-based conversion charter schools are generally performing on a par with conventional state schools

Transformations in academic production: content, context and consequences

T. May

European Journal of Social Theory, vol.8, 2005, p.193-209

Universities are subject to considerable changes as environmental pressures increasingly place their futures in question. Article argues that there is an affinity between forms of academic professionalism and the managerialism found in universities as an answer to the changing pressures to which they are subject. Both exhibit an individualism and separate knowledge from knowing. Overall this detracts from the culture of universities.

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