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Article

Academic Optimism  

Martinette V. Horner, Derrick D. Jordan, and Kathleen M. Brown

Academic optimism was developed in 2006 as a latent concept that provides insight into the improvement of student outcomes especially for those who, because of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and other demographics, have historically been labeled as underperforming. The three main components of academic optimism (academic emphasis, collective emphasis, and faculty trust) underscore the reality that the teachers, parents, and students all play a critical role in the education arena when it comes to ensuring that students fully grow and stretch to the fullest extent possible. High academic optimism in a school suggests that academic achievement is valued and supported; the faculty has the capacity to help students achieve; and students and parents can be trusted as partners of the school for student achievement. Each of these can be controlled by the actions and decisions of school leaders and faculty so that schools can overcome the effects of poverty on student achievement.

Article

Aligning School Autonomy and Social Justice Approaches to Reform in School Breakfast Clubs in Australia  

Fiona MacDonald

The purpose of education and school reform is a topic of constant debate, which take on a different perspective depending on the motivation of those calling for change. In the Australian context, two of the loudest school reform agendas in the early 21st century center on school autonomy and social justice. The school autonomy agenda focuses on freeing up schools from the centralized and bureaucratic authorities, enabling them to respond to the local needs of their students and school community. Social justice reform focuses on equity, including lack of opportunity, long-term health conditions, low educational attainment, and other intersecting inequalities, and practices of care and nurture that focus on emotional, behavioral, and social difficulties in order to address the disadvantages and inequalities experienced by many students and families. In the early 21st century, school autonomy and social justice reform have been engulfed by neoliberal ideology and practices. Schools are encouraged to engage in a culture of competitive performativity dictated by market-driven agendas, whereas equity has been transformed by measurements and comparisons. Neoliberalism has been heavily critiqued by scholars who argue that it has mobilized the school autonomy agenda in ways that generate injustice and that it fails to address the social issues facing students, families, schools, and the system. Schools are committed to care and social justice, and, when given autonomy without systems-level constraints, they are adept at implementing socially just practices. While the neoliberal agenda focuses on the market and competitive performativity, the premise of school autonomy is to empower school leadership to innovate and pursue opportunities to respond more effectively to the needs and demands of their school at the local level. Schools are implementing social justice practices and programs that introduce responsive caregiving and learning environments into their school culture in order to address the holistic wellbeing and learning needs of their students and school community. With an increasing commitment to addressing disadvantage through the provision of breakfast food, schools are creating wraparound environments of nurture and care that have become enablers of students’ learning and of their connectedness to school and their local community. Adopting a whole-school approach, principals have demonstrated how social justice and school autonomy reform has aligned to address the overall educational commitment to excellence and equity in Australian education.

Article

Community-Based Reforms in the Monitoring Architecture of Elementary Education in India  

Kiran Bhatty

Governance has emerged as a major factor explaining the decline in the quality of public education around the world, including India. Monitoring is an important element of governance, not just as a means of tracking performance but also for planning and policymaking. In recent years, it has gained greater relevance in light of the increased participation of the private sector in all aspects of education delivery. How the government monitors education depends on the structures and systems it has in place to collect adequate and appropriate information, process the information, and follow through with a feedback mechanism. However, for monitoring to be effective, not only is it necessary to get information to the government, but it is equally important to close the feedback loop by acting on the information in a timely fashion. The community can play an important role in this process by verifying official data and providing valuable information not collected by government sources on the functioning of schools in real time. What is required are platforms for sharing that information with the community and a mechanism for response from the government. The importance of community participation in monitoring education was given a boost in India with the passage of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, in 2009, which assigned the monitoring function to the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)—a body answerable to the Parliament of India. This separation of implementation and monitoring functions created an opportunity for the community to participate directly in the monitoring of the RTE Act through an exercise of community monitoring undertaken by the NCPCR. The impact of this exercise was wide-ranging—from creating awareness about the right to education to mobilizing the community to voice their concerns regarding schools, creating platforms of dialogue between the state and the citizens, building trust with teachers, and bringing concrete improvement in the functioning of schools. Unfortunately, the inability to get the process institutionalized with state structures led to its early demise.

Article

Community Participation in School Management in Developing Countries  

Mikiko Nishimura

Community participation in school management has great potentials for removing mistrust and distance between people and schools by nurturing transparency of information and a culture of mutual respect and by jointly pursuing improvement of school by sharing vision, process, and results. Individual and organizational behavioral changes are critical to increase the level of participation. In countries where the administrative structures are weak, the bottom-up approach to expanding educational opportunity and quality learning may be the only option. Nevertheless, when community participation is implemented with a top-down manner without wider consultation on its aims, processes, and expected results, the consequences are likely to be conflicts between actors, a strong sense of overwhelming obligation, fatigue, inertia, and disparity in the degree and results of community participation between communities. Political aspects of school management and socio-cultural difference among the population require caution, as they are likely to induce partial participation or nonparticipation of the community at large. Community participation in school management will result in a long-term impact only if it involves a wide range of actors who can discuss and practice the possibilities of revisiting the definition of community and the way it should be.

Article

Criticality in the Field of Educational Administration  

Helen Gunter

The field of educational administration has a long and embedded history of taking a critical approach to practice, research, and theory. While there are a range of reviews from within and external to the field, there is no comprehensive contemporary historical overview of the meaning and actuality of critical approaches. A novel mapping and codification project aims to fill this gap by providing six approaches to criticality in the field. Three are professional self–focused—biographical, hierarchical, and entrepreneurial—and three are focused on professional and policy issues as primary research projects—functional, realistic, and activist. An overview is provided for each with examples of field projects/outputs, followed by an examination of the trends in the field. The state of the field is identified as a site for intervention from non-education interests (e.g., business), where non-research forms of criticality, often allied with functional research, tend to be dominant.

Article

Evangelical Christian School Movement  

Vance Everett Nichols

Education founded on belief in Jesus Christ and grounded in the teachings of the Scriptures began in the 1st century. In the ensuing two millennia, Christ-centric forms of education proliferated, with three distinguishable movements arising during that time: The Early Church Christian Schools period (70-590 ce), The Reformation Christian Schools period (1517-1850), and The Associated Christian Schools period (1950-present). Nearly 1,000 years after the conclusion of the first movement, the second movement was birthed, in Europe. Impacted by leading theologians and academics who preceded him, such as John Wycliffe, John Huss, and William Tyndale, Martin Luther led a seismic theological and educational paradigm shift that transformed much of how the Western world thought, with biblically based education as a centerpiece. A hundred years after the end of the second movement, the present movement arose, emerging in the United States. Although evangelical Christian schools have faced significant challenges in the early years of the 21st century—including inconsistent school leadership, economic pressures and uncertainty, accelerating cultural changes, the global COVID-19 pandemic, repetitive inaction at the school-site level to deal with organizational dangers and warning signs, a subsequent crisis of school closures in the United States, wars and civil unrest in diverse places (including the Russian invasion of Ukraine), and violence and repeated threats of violence aimed specifically against Christian schools on campuses outside of North America (particularly in regions of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East)—the movement has nevertheless remained resilient and influential in both the United States and abroad.

Article

International Cooperation for Education in Developing Countries  

James H. Williams

This article looks broadly at the intersection of education, development, and international cooperation. It discusses trends in international cooperation in education for developing countries as well as ongoing challenges. Education has expanded rapidly throughout the world. Even so, the industrialized nations are decades if not generations ahead of parts of the developing world in terms of enrollment and learning attainment. For reasons of equity and economic development alone, it is imperative that all efforts be put to the task of achieving universal school enrollment and learning. To achieve such a goal in the context of what some researchers have termed a 100-year gap requires efforts on the part of national governments and international cooperation on the part of all nations of the world. International cooperation in education includes: (1) the institutions and architecture of international organizations; (2) development assistance, which is closely related; and (3) international agreements to promote education and other development goals. In a broad sense, these initiatives can be seen as moving toward increasingly cooperative relationships between wealthier nations and developing countries. International institutions involved in education include various agencies of the United Nations (UNESCO, UNICEF, ILO, UNHCR) as well as multilateral development banks (the World Bank, IMF, IDA, etc.); regional development banks (Asian Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, etc.); and bilateral development agencies. Development assistance is provided in the form of technical and financial assistance to national governments by bilateral development agencies, the multilateral development agencies, UN agencies, as well as an increasing number of non-governmental agencies (NGOs). The UN Declaration on Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child are foundational documents laying out the rights of all children to education and the obligation of governments to ensure children have access to quality education. Several global initiatives have led the way toward increasing educational participation in developing countries, including Education for All, the Millennium Development Goals, the UN Global Education First Initiative, and the Sustainable Development Goals. The article concludes with a listing of trends in educational development.

Article

Professional Socialization in Schools  

Asiye Toker Gökçe

Socialization is a process through which someone learns to become a member of society. Individuals learn how to perform their social roles, internalizing the norms and values of the community via socialization. Professional socialization is a type of adult socialization. It is a process through which newcomers internalize the norms, attitudes, and values of a profession. They receive instructions, and they learn the knowledge and skills necessary to satisfy professional expectations they are supposed to meet. Thus, they can adjust to the new circumstances and new roles of the profession. Individuals gain a professional identification and feel a commitment to a professional role during the process. In some way, the interpretation of newcomers, the agents of the profession, and the organization produce this. New teachers participate in the community of educators, and they learn how to be a member through the socialization process. They learn new skills, such as how to teach, and internalize new values, such as believing there will be cooperation among colleagues. They learn regulations and organizational contexts, while they develop a style of teaching. As a consequence, they construct a professional identity by internalizing values and norms of the profession and redefining it.This sometimes happens regardless of the school in their professional socialization process. Despite the many challenges inherent in the profession, new teachers are expected to be socialized while performing their duties. Thus, new teachers try to develop an identity and survive in the job through interaction and communication with other teachers. Some adjust easily, while others do not and leave the profession. Some use situational adjustments, while others prefer to strategically redefine the situation within the process. In addition to teachers, new school principals also need to be socialized in their roles in their first year. Becoming a school principal requires different procedures than teachers’ socialization. Nevertheless, models about the socialization of teachers and school principals explain professional socialization as happening through anticipatory, preservice, and in-service.

Article

Professional Standards for Educational Leadership  

Michelle D. Young

Standards are used in a variety of professional fields to identify core elements of practice within the field as well as to describe a desired level of performance. The first set of standards for the field of educational leadership in the United States was introduced in 1996 by the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC). Since then, they have become the de facto national standards for educational leaders. The ISLLC standards have been updated three times and were recently renamed Professional Standards for School Leaders (PSEL) under the authority of the National Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA). Over this same period of time, multiple sets of sister standards (e.g., standards for leadership preparation) have emerged as have evaluation tools and practice resources. Soon after their release, a variety of concerns were raised about the standards and their potential impact on the practice of education leadership, particularly school level leadership. Some argued that the standards were too broad, while others argued that they were too specific. Similarly, concerns were raised about the focus of the standards and what was left out or only weakly included. These and other concerns continued to plague newer versions of the standards. Concerns notwithstanding, today, educational leadership standards are fully embedded in the lifeworld of the educational leadership profession. They have been adopted and adapted by states, districts, professional organizations, and accrediting bodies and used in a variety of ways, including: setting expectations for educational leadership preparation and practice, state certification, leadership recruitment, professional development and support, and evaluating leadership practice.

Article

School Boards and Their Role in the Governance of Education  

Jacqueline Baxter

School governors play an important part in the democratic governance of education in a number of countries and forming a middle tier of accountability between state and schools. They carry out their role in a voluntary capacity. School governors are drawn from a range of backgrounds, including parents, school teachers, local politicians, business people, and professional groupings. They have a variety of responsibilities, depending on the country in which they are based. Their responsibilities can include, among others: developing a strategy for the school, monitoring the school budget, setting disciplinary strategy, setting school fees. Some members of the school board are elected, while others are co-opted or serve in an ex officio function—for example, head teachers. Political, social, and economic changes—based largely on shifts to the political economy of capitalism facilitated via organizations such as The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund since the late 1970s—have resulted in changes across education systems, leading to the globalization, privatization, and deregulation of public policy as a whole, and have affected the role and competencies of school governors. This is particularly the case in England and South Africa.

Article

Teacher Education and Inclusion in the Asia-Pacific Region  

Chris Forlin

While countries across the Asia-Pacific region have since the early 2000s been very forthright in acknowledging the international conventions and declarations that promote inclusive education, there still seems to be a substantial gap between policy and school expectations in most educational systems. Many of the less developed countries have adopted the terminology in the Education For All framework and applied this within their own education policies. Thus, country policies promote an “inclusive approach to education” that enable children with disabilities to attend a regular school. Some policies go further and state that this should be with appropriate differentiation and support. Unfortunately, this is where the strength of the shift in education seems to end for many of the Asia-Pacific countries. There appears to be an ongoing lack of understanding that inclusion means that not all students will achieve through the “same old” ways and that outcomes will need to be different. In other words, governments promote inclusion through policy, but at the same time continue to expect schools to help all students to achieve the same curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment as the way to equity. Countries across the Asia-Pacific region, like elsewhere, vary enormously in their cultural diversity and in their ability to respond to inclusion. Models of teacher education, likewise, will vary and must be focused on what is contextually viable and culturally acceptable within each individual country. Cultural differences, beliefs, values, and understandings associated with inclusion and disability vary enormously across the Asia-Pacific region and are often firmly embedded within historical contexts. These invariably have strong impact on acceptance and in decision-making regarding what constitutes appropriate teacher preparation for working in more inclusive schools. Regardless of context, effective teacher education requires skilled teacher educators who have received full training in regard to inclusion and who are also aware of the needs of classroom teachers when asked to operate an inclusive classroom, within different cultural contexts, and the potential additional strains of large class sizes, and often limited resources. A variety of different models have been applied throughout the Asia-Pacific region to prepare teachers for inclusion with inconsistent outcomes.

Article

Transformational School Leadership to Dismantle Inequitable Systems  

Deirdra Preis

A key reason for the failure of U.S. school leaders to challenge systems of inequity is the lack of exposure to the theory and skill development needed to manage the resistance and political challenges that inevitably occur when interrogating unjust traditions of practice. As preparation programs aim to improve their candidates’ future success in addressing inequitable educational access, it is critical that they develop in their students the self-efficacy around relational practices and strategies needed to manage the micropolitics of transformative work. Examining how transformative K–12 school leaders effectively challenge structural inequities and manage to sustain their leadership positions during turbulent times can help to inform such curricular and instructional revisions. Some of the key practices identified by successful transformative K–12 leaders include engaging in reflection around their positionality, developing racial literacy, effectively facilitating shared visions and collective responsibility for social justice advocacy, building the capacity of stakeholders, developing critical alliances through transparent and authentic community involvement, and participating in supportive professional peer networks that offer ongoing reflection, study, and support. By providing such content and skill practice, and ensuring that instruction and mentoring are provided by faculty who are experienced in transformative leadership, leader candidates can be better prepared for the realities of this challenging work, increasing the likelihood that they will act transformatively upon assuming school leadership roles.

Article

Trust in Education  

Megan Tschannen-Moran

There is a growing awareness of the crucial role that trust plays in every aspect of a school’s functioning and especially to student outcomes. To trust another person or group is to be at ease, without anxiety or worry, in a situation of interdependence in which valued outcomes depend upon the participation and contribution of others. The trustor can rest assured that their expectations will be fulfilled based on confidence in the other party’s benevolence, honesty, openness, reliability, and competence. As citizens across the globe have become increasingly distrustful of their institutions and leaders, the trend away from trust creates a special challenge for schools because trust is so fundamental to their core mission of educating students. The philosopher Annette Baier observed that we tend to notice trust as we notice air, only when it becomes scarce or polluted. These days, it seems evident that trust in our society as a whole has indeed been disrupted and is in scarce supply. As contemporary society has grown more complex, as changing economic realities, changing demographics, and changing expectations in society have made life less predictable, we are beginning to notice trust much more. There are a number of things that make cultivating and maintaining trust in schools challenging. These include the effects of social media, and other new forms of information and the propensity for the news of potential threats to one’s well-being, as well as the well-being of one’s children and community to spread farther and faster than positive news. Trust matters in schools and in our world because we cannot single-handedly either create or sustain many of the things we most cherish. Parents send their children to schools, trusting that they will be safe from harm, as well as guided and taught in keeping with our highest hopes for them. Schools are also invested with a significant share of a community’s collective resources in the form of tax dollars, school buildings, and local employment opportunities. In addition, schools are charged with keeping and promoting a society’s shared values and ideals. They foster and protect the collective ideals of respect, tolerance, and democracy, as well as the vision of equity of opportunity. Indeed, the future of a society rests with the quality of its schools. It is evident, then, why trust has become such a pressing issue for schools in these challenging and turbulent times.

Article

Values-Based Leadership and the Quest for Inclusive Organizational Practices  

Heather Rintoul and Anthony H. Normore

Values-based leadership is, at its core, decisional leadership. Traditionally, educational leadership has tended to fall into a range of rationality dealing with consequences and consensus. This “do things right” approach has come under intense scrutiny by decision makers searching for more ethically justifiable responses through a new vision of education and schooling, a “do the right thing” style of decision making. Decisions based in principle—that is, morals and ethics—are commonly deemed as being authentic, fulfilling, and more justifiable than decisions based on rationality and preference. Embedded in this new moral urgency lies an inherent tension in that “to do the right thing” routinely begs the question “the right thing for whom?” Differences have arisen in terms of what values-based leadership and inclusion means—whose values, who is included, how to address leadership for inclusive practices, thus rendering conceptualization and implementation of inclusive practice qualitatively different according to context. The achievement of all students must be viewed both as an economic and values-oriented imperative consistent with inclusive practices. The term, inclusion is socially constructed and can carry with it stigmatizing and exclusionary effects that ultimately result in perpetuating oppressive forces on already marginalized individuals. Values-based leadership has an emphasis on school settings that are welcoming and affirming to all students, especially those most at risk for failure. Its underlying beliefs and assumptions guide practices and policies of inclusive practices and sound moral decisions. Moral decisions are made, not in isolation, but rather through a journey of interaction and association with others. Unfortunately, this interpersonal journey is often fraught with anxiety because everyone’s experience is sourced in a different worldview. Unravelling the intricacies of resolution possibilities has become increasingly complex because often there may be several equally appropriate responses to any dilemma; therefore, the decisional challenge becomes how to adjudicate between and among possibilities. Values-based leadership for inclusive practices concerns various marginalized groups including English-language learners, those who experience gender discrimination, those who are in the foster care system, and those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered. The broader conceptualization of inclusive schools adds to extant discourses about students with exceptional needs and provides effective strategies that school leaders operating from a social justice framework can implement to create more inclusive school environments for all students.