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Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2006): Education - Overseas

Can No Child Left Behind close the gaps in pass rates on standardized tests?

C.M. Hoerandner and R.J. Lemke

Contemporary Economic Policy, vol.24, 2006, p.1-17

No Child Left Behind is the latest US federal legislation aimed at eliminating perceived achievement gaps across socio-demographic groups of pupils. Article quantifies the extent to which the worst-performing US schools can realistically increase their pass rates in standard tests by removing inefficiencies and mimicking the educational practices of better-performing schools. Using data on junior schools in Illinois, the authors find that 30-50% of the performance gap between the best and the worst schools is due to factors beyond the school’s control such as racial composition of students. Factors that the schools can control, such as hiring more teachers, account for only 10-25% of the gap.

Knaves or knights, pawns or queens? An evaluation of Australian higher education reform policy

B. Dollery, D. Murray and L. Crase

Journal of Educational Administration, vol.44, 2006, p.86-97

Government policy in Australia has transformed universities from public agencies into quasi-commercial organisations operating in a competitive environment. Universities use market incentives to influence the behaviour of students, who are defined as consumers of higher education products. Academics are now expected to perform additional revenue-raising tasks, such as summer school teaching, with little or no financial reward. Academics, feeling exploited, have responded by reducing the effort they put into teaching. The reforms have thus had the unintended consequence of jeopardising teaching quality in universities, with heavy-handed government intervention in the form of the Australian University Quality Agency a forlorn attempt to bolster it.

John R. Minnis

Adult Education Quarterly, vol.56, 2006, p.119-133

Many governments in Sub-Saharan Africa continue to expand formal education in times of economic decline, in the hope that more investment in it will stimulate growth. Unfortunately the skills acquired by graduates cannot be used in the absence of vibrant labour markets. Instead, they compete for scarce white collar jobs in already bloated state bureaucracies. Author argues that the money would be better spent on nonformal education that does not lead to credentials but to useful skills and knowledge that could be used to improve agricultural production.

S. Marginson

Thesis Eleven, issue 84, 2006, p.44-59

The American public university is losing status vis-à-vis the Ivy League private sector. In mass education it is challenged by for-profit institutions such as the University of Phoenix. Meanwhile, state budget cuts bite deeply into public universities, while state legislators invoke the public mission of those universities to block unpopular tuition fee rises. This article comments on the implications of Craig Calhoun’s essay for reinventing the public university, focussing on two theorisations that provide resources for this: Samuelson on public and private goods and Habermas on the public sphere.

Role of special/support teachers in Greek primary schools: a counterproductive effect of inclusion practices

A. Vlachou

International Journal of Inclusive Education, vol.10, 2006, p.39-58

In Greece it is assumed that use of support rooms and part-time withdrawal of children with special needs from mainstream classes are the most effective ways of promoting inclusion. This article challenges this assumption on the grounds that the system separates and isolates special needs teachers and children. It fosters isolation as it perpetuates practices such as special needs teachers conducting one-to-one sessions in separate rooms, and individualised educational programmes.

C. Calhoun

Thesis Eleven, no.84, 2006, p.7-43

Universities have flourished in the modern era as central public institutions and bases for critical thought. However, they are currently undergoing a deep transformation in their internal structure and their relationship with the rest of society. Public funding is playing a proportionately smaller role in elite research universities. Instead they are depending increasingly on private funds such as student fees, endowment gifts and commercialisation of their own intellectual products. While it is clear that public communication amongst scholars is vital to their capacity to offer public benefits, this is under threat from the rising cost of print publications, the pervasive pursuit of private intellectual property rights and the slow institutionalisation of quality standards on the Internet. There is also a tension between populist calls for wider access to higher education and the need of elite institutions to maintain their reputations for academic excellence by accepting only the best students.

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