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Article

Phonics is a method of teaching people to read and spell (and therefore write) in an alphabetic writing system by associating symbols (letters/graphemes) with sounds (phonemes). The place of phonics in teaching children to read and spell is vigorously debated among researchers, often spilling over into the popular press. Advocates of principally comprehension-based (e.g., whole language) teaching have maintained that little or no phonics instruction is needed; others are of the view that it is essential and must be systematic. Analysis of the most rigorous evidence from research reviews and meta-analyses suggests that systematic phonics teaching is effective for teaching children to read and spell in English, and that the combination of systematic phonics teaching and comprehension-based approaches is probably more effective than either alone. Research has therefore begun on integrated teaching of literacy that incorporates both code and meaning emphases, but currently the requisite professional knowledge and teacher capacity are challenges for many school systems. The principal forms of phonics teaching are synthetic, where children are taught to sound out the letters of a word and to blend (synthesize) the sounds together to form a word; and analytic, in which sounding-out is not taught to start with, but children identify the phonic element from a set of words in which each word contains the element under study, for example, pat, park, push, and pen. There is not yet sufficient convincing research evidence to decide which of these is more effective. Systematic phonics teaching in general is effective across the primary age range, for normally developing and most at-risk children, and probably for children whose first language is not English; and its effects last, at least in the crucial early years. Nonetheless, government policy and reform interventions in this area are sometimes heavy-handed, frequently influenced by political and community pressure, and may face difficulties of scale, resources, and implementation that hamper their effectiveness and generalizability across school systems. A new, large systematic review may be needed to clarify various outstanding issues.

Article

Traditionally, the Norwegian education system has been built on equality and democracy as core values, but the disappointing results in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) introduced the perception of a “crisis in education” and increased the occurrence of national reform initiatives. New assessment policies with an emphasis on performance measurement and emerging accountability practices have characterized the transition processes over the last decade. With increasing focus on monitoring based on performance indicators, there is a risk that the purpose of promoting democracy in schools will be downplayed by instrumental and managerial regulations. However, the Norwegian school reform of curriculum renewal in 2020 also highlights democracy and participation as separate interdisciplinary themes and includes a concrete elaboration of this topic, which strongly emphasizes that schools should promote democratic values and attitudes as a counterweight to prejudice and discrimination. To obtain more knowledge about how school professionals deal with possible tensions and dilemmas in their work with the contemporary reform, it is important to unpack the interplay between managerial accountability based on performance indicators and identify how educators legitimize their work on promoting democracy in schools. To capture the dynamic nature of educational leadership and the daily subtle negotiation, a micropolitical perspective and theory on democratic agency were used to analyze theoretical and empirical material from two larger studies focusing on certain aspects of school reforms in Norwegian lower secondary schools. The findings suggest that educational professionals respond to the policy of inclusion through negotiating and translating tensions between equalizing students’ life chances and being subjected to collective monitoring and control. The findings also illuminate stories characterized by a predominantly individualistic interpretation of the democratic purpose of education and the challenges and opportunities involved in balancing academic achievement with students’ well-being.

Article

The development of inclusive educational practices and their current practices differ significantly between the North American nations of Canada and the United States. Although these countries do share similarities in both theoretical underpinnings and educational programming, the current differences in policy oversight nationally and at the provincial and state levels promote a wider range of policy and programmatic differences across Canada than in the United States. Governance structures, the resulting policies, and their similarities and differences between and within these countries serve as foundations that underpin innovative inclusive educational programming in each country. The interplay between legislation and activism has both reflected and provoked the movement away from special education and toward inclusive education to varying degrees in both Canada and the United States.

Article

South Africa’s constitution, wider legal context, and educational policies should enable its teachers to help create environments in which the safety and welfare of all their learners are protected and in which lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, or intersex (LGBTQI) learners, and other vulnerable leaners, can develop integrated identities. Life Orientation (LO) is the main learning area in which comprehensive sexuality education and human rights are addressed. But despite the supportive policy framework, research shows that the school curriculum only makes oblique references to gender and sexual diversity, and that for the most part schools are not ensuring that educators or schoolgoing youth learn how to respect the diversity of human sexuality and genders. Instead, heteronormativity, cisnormativity, homophobia, and transphobia remain prevalent in South African schools and textbooks, with very little intervention from teachers to challenge discrimination. How it is possible to make sense of the disparity between what the country’s laws and policies stipulate and what is actually happening in schools? Why is it that policies are not resulting in improved experiences for the vast majority of learners who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), are same-sex attracted or nonbinary, or assumed to be LGBT? Why have South African school governing bodies, principals, and teachers not been able to respond to the fundamental changes in the country’s democracy in ways which disrupt, or even challenge, hetero- and cisnormativity, making schools safer for all learners? There are a number of known challenges to the implementation of LGBT-inclusive practices and curricula in South Africa. More research is required to understand how best to ensure that teachers are willing and able to integrate topics around gender and sexual diversity into their curriculum without perpetuating heteronormativity, cisnormativity, homophobia, and other forms of oppression.

Article

Young people’s experiences with spaces commonly called “the streets” are greatly influenced by gender and sexuality. Because queer and trans youth are policed in specific ways because of their identities and presentations and because queer and trans youth are more likely to experience homelessness than their peers, it is vitally important to understand the ways these young people are making meaning, knowledge, and culture from their experiences on “the streets” within the contexts of the United States and Canada.

Article

Robert E. Slavin and Nancy A. Madden

The development, evaluation, and dissemination of Success for All (SFA)—a comprehensive improvement approach for elementary schools—is a story of how developers, coaches, researchers, and practitioners work together to implement this program. There is considerable formal research informing the program and its continual development. However, although there is reliance on rigorous, quantitative research methods in informing model development, there is also a very strong commitment to learn from teacher practice. SFA seeks a constant interplay between teachers’ practice and research. The knowledge SFA coaches bring to the table, many of whom were former SFA teachers, is also integral to the continual development of the model and its implementation strategies.

Article

Educational reform measures adopted in India since early liberalization led to systemic changes in the provisioning and practice of school and teacher education. Despite judicial intervention, the state withdrew from the responsibility of developing institutional capacity to prepare teachers, leading to a de facto public policy that undermines the potential role of teachers and their education in achieving equitable, quality education. The policy narrative constructed around quality and knowledge created the logic of marginalizing the teacher, undermining the teacher’s agency and the need for epistemic engagement. Commitment to the Constitution-led policy frame was gradually subverted by a polity committed to privatizing education and a bureaucracy committed to incrementalism and suboptimal solutions to the several challenges of universalizing quality education. A discourse constructed around teachers, their education, and practice led to narrowing curriculum to a disconnected set of learning outcomes and putting the onus of learning on the child. In the absence of robust institutional monitoring of the Right to Education effort and poor fiscal and teacher provisioning, this act too became a target of neoliberal reform, leading to dilution. The wedge between the constitutional aims of education and market-based reforms has become sharper as the practice of education prioritizes narrow economic self-interest over crucial public and social concerns. This has gradually hollowed out the Constitution-centered national policy perspective on education as critical to the needs of India’s disadvantaged and plural society. A major fallout of this has been the decoupling of concerns for social justice from those for quality education.

Article

Federalism is a common object of study in various fields, including political science, economics, law, and history. In the field of education, however, the analysis of how educational policies are shaped by federal contexts is relatively recent. Despite the influence of U.S. constitutionalism and federalism, the historical trajectory of both Latin American federalisms and the distribution of responsibility for providing education are characterized by a centralizing federalism. This was the case at least until the final years of the 20th century when decentralizing processes based on cooperative intergovernmental relations, linked to a transfer of authority that limited the equitable provision—both in quality and quantity—of public education began.

Article

Crystal Machado and Wenxi Schwab

Early pregnancy is a global issue that occurs in high-, middle-, and low-income countries. Although the teen birth rate in the United States, which is high on the Human Development Index (HDI), has been declining since 1991, it continues to be substantially higher than that of other Western industrialized nations. For countries that are lower on the HDI, the teen birth rate is higher, partly because early marriages, pregnancy rates, and infant mortality rates are higher and more common in these regions. Except for some influential articles written by scholars in the Global south, much of the scholarship related to early pregnancy has been written by those in the Global north. Nevertheless, analysis of available scholarly literature in English confirms that several sociocultural factors—child sexual abuse, intimate partner violence/dating violence, family-related factors, poverty, early marriages, and rurality—lead to early pregnancy and/or school dropout. Although pregnancy can occasionally increase pregnant and parenting teens’ desire to persevere, the scholarly literature confirms that the majority need support to overcome the short- and long-term ramifications associated with early motherhood, such as stigma, expulsion and criminal charges, segregation, transition, strain and struggle, depression, children with behavioral problems, and financial instability. Based on the availability of human and financial resources, educators can use U.S.-based illustrative examples, with context-specific modification, to empower this marginalized group. Providing pregnant and parenting teen mothers with thoughtfully developed context-specific school and community-based programs has the potential to promote resilience, persistence, and a positive attitude toward degree completion. Schools that do not have access to federal, state, and locally funded programs can help teen moms thrive in the new and uncharted territory with inclusive community or school-driven policies and procedures such as the use of early warning systems (EWS) that generate data for academic interventions, mentoring, counseling, health care, and day care for young children.

Article

As more young people find language to describe their gendered experiences, education as a field is reckoning with how to best support and affirm them in schools. Research centering on the experiences of transgender and gender diverse students (TGDSs) has brought to light many issues that impact on their school experiences, such as lack of curricular visibility, in-school support, and lack of appropriate facilities, illuminating the systemic forces at play that hamper TGDS participation and livability in schools and drawing attention to the violence that is enacted against them through erasure and overt transphobia. Examining the pervasive violence that TGDSs face at school through a framework of epistemic injustice provides an entry point conceptualizing of violence as extending beyond direct physical or verbal victimization to include the harm done when an individual is disqualified by others as a knower of their own experience. Cultural cisgenderism, the systemic erasure of TGD people in all aspects of society, is the vehicle by which epistemic injustice organizationally and instructionally informs and creates school climates where TGDSs come to be subject to verbal and physical aggression. Understanding the violence that impacts on every aspect of TGDSs’ academic trajectories as expressions of cultural cisgenderism and epistemic violence provides educators with options for intentionally examining the ways in which school systems are complicit in the production of a silence and invisibility around gender diversity which cultivates unsafe gender climates and thus facilitates more overt forms of harm. Examining the more insidious and normalized forms of epistemic violence opens up space to probe more deeply into how a positive—not merely bearable—school experience might be imagined for and with TGDSs.

Article

Patrick Shannon

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are part of a third wave of school reform in the United States. With accompanying tests, these standards combine calls for increased academic rigor, beginning in the 1980s, with more recent efforts to hold schools, teachers, and students accountable for learning outcomes in publicly funded schools. Origins of CCSS can be traced to the 1996 National Education Summit where the National Governors Association (NGA), philanthropic foundations, and business leaders founded Achieve to broker rigorous high school graduation requirements. In 2009, Achieve became the project manager for the construction of CCSS. In 2010, implementation began with incentives from the Obama administration and funding from the Gates Foundation. Advocates choose among a variety of rationales: faltering American economic competitiveness, wide variability among state standards and educational outcomes, highly mobile student populations, and/or a growing income achievement gap. Critics cite federal intrusion in states’ rights, a lack of an evidentiary base, an autocratic process of CCSS production, and/or a mis-framing of problems facing public schools. With the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, federal advocacy of CCSS ended officially.

Article

The term “Anthropocene” was coined in 2000 by Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer to denote the present time interval as a new epoch of geological time dominated by human impact on the Earth. The starting date for the epoch is contentious—around the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (ca. 1800 ce), at the start of the nuclear age, or some other time, both earlier and later than these dates. The term itself is also contentious because of its humanist and human supremacy focus, and the way it hides troublesome differences between humans (including gender and cultural differences) and the intimate relationships among technology, humans, and other animals. Endeavors such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals aim to achieve gender equality by empowering women to participate in society. However, within this goal is the assumption that women and “other marginalized Others” can be assimilated within the dominant social paradigm rather than questioning the assumptions that maintain the subordination of these social groups. The goals also overlook the divergent impacts on women around the globe. Education in an Anthropocene context necessitates a different pedagogy that provides opportunities for learning to live in and engage with the world and acknowledges that we live in a more-than-human world. It also requires learners to critique the Anthropocene as a concept and its associated themes to counter the humanist perspective, which fails to consider how the nonhuman and material worlds coshape our mutual worlds. In particular, education in the Anthropocene will need to be interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, or cross-disciplinary; intersectional; ecofeminist or posthumanist; indigenous; and participatory.

Article

Satoshi P. Watanabe, Machi Sato, and Masataka Murasawa

The aim of internationalization for Japan during the early postwar period, still emerging from being an ODA (Official Development Assistance) recipient nation, was to promote student exchanges and mutual understanding across nations. Japan then successfully shifted its role to that of an ODA provider in the 1970s, engaging as a responsible citizen in the international community. However, the nation’s competitive edge has slipped with a long-stagnating economy from the mid-1990s onward, the national target has shifted from the ODA provider role towards desperate attempts to regain the lost edge through public investment in research and development as well as promoting internationalization of the nation. As the notions of world-class universities and global university rankings have prevailed worldwide over the last decade or so, the recent policies established by the Japanese government in response to an increasingly competitive and globalizing environment of higher education have transformed to leveraging domestic universities to compete for placement in the global university rankings. Balancing the reputation demonstrated in the global university rankings and generated inequalities in the service and quality of education provided among these institutions seems to be critically lacking in the current debate and hasty movement toward internationalization by the Japanese government. These hastily made policies do have some strong potential to build Japan’s universities into stronger institutions for learning, research, and producing globally competitive graduates. However, thorough long-range planning, keen insight into the overall impact of the policies, and clear long-term goals will be critical in attaining success.

Article

Marta Caballeros, Jeannette Bran, and Gabriela Castro

Inclusive education, as stated in declarations and human development goals, features in the educational policies being implemented in Central American and Caribbean (CA-DR) countries (Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and the Dominican Republic). The policies seek to give the entire population of each country permanent access to quality education services, and they have a particular focus on people with disabilities. However, there are considerable challenges to be overcome, caused by a combination of historical factors and the sociopolitical and economic context. Some of the countries still have significant levels of poverty and inequity, both of which hinder the development of inclusive education. At the same time, inclusive education is expected to help eradicate social exclusion and facilitate social mobility. This paradigm began as an effort to secure disabled people’s right to education, and countries have since been working to offer disabled people access to regular schools. Nevertheless, segregated education services or services with an integration aim still persist. Moreover, poverty causes many students to drop out of school, or never to enroll at all. Each country has vulnerable or marginalized groups in its population. The work being done, from an inclusive perspective, follows two main routes: reorienting education systems toward inclusivity; and offering these groups affirmative actions to ensure their regular attendance at mainstream schools that have quality programs for all. If CA-DR countries are to achieve inclusive education, they must fulfill two requirements. Firstly, they must develop intersectorial interventions that revert causes of exclusion—education policies in isolation are unable to do that. Secondly, they must take action to ensure that inclusive education is achieved in practice in the classroom. There are advances toward inclusion, but more work is needed to answer the question of how CA-DR countries can develop inclusive societies, based on social protection and quality education services for all, that give proper attention to diversity, practice equity, and promote social mobility. Bottom-up strategies are valuable in the effort to achieve inclusive education.

Article

Ruth Berkowitz, Aidyn Iachini, Hadass Moore, Gordon Capp, Ron Avi Astor, Ronald Pitner, and Rami Benbenishty

Educational practitioners and researchers have increasingly recognized the importance of the context in which learning occurs, particularly the influence of school climate on students’ academic, social, and emotional outcomes. School climate is based on the subjective experiences of school life for students, staff members, school leaders, parents, and the entire school community. A school’s climate reflects its norms, goals, values, interpersonal relationships, teaching and learning practices, and organizational structures. A large body of evidence connects a positive school climate to improvements in children’s learning and healthy development in school. A positive school climate is also an essential component within comprehensive school improvement processes. Nonetheless, the divergence and disagreement in defining and measuring school climate in the literature are evident. There is a major interest in school climate improvement and school climate policy. However, the policy context that supports school climate varies considerably across the United States and internationally. Clarification regarding the dimensions of school climate and continued research on how a positive school climate contributes to both school and student outcomes remain important.

Article

Lisa Johnston, Leah Shoemaker, Nicole Land, Aurelia Di Santo, and Susan Jagger

The field of early childhood education and care (ECEC) in Canada has been informed by a myriad of influences and these factors continue to shift and shape the curriculum, pedagogy, research, and practice in Canadian ECEC. Historically, following many of the theories and practices embraced by the United States, early child-care centers, day nurseries, and kindergartens were established to alleviate pressures on overcrowded schools and allow for mothers to work outside of the home. At the same time, Canadian child care took on a broader role in social welfare and later social justice, working to reduce inequities and inequality. These motivations have not been shared across all ECEC, and this is particularly evident in Indigenous early education. Here, Indigenous children and families have endured the horror of the residential school system and its legacy of colonialism, trauma, and cultural genocide. Along with these underpinning histories, Canadian ECEC has been informed by, is continuing to be shaped by, and is beginning to be guided by a number of models and movements in early learning. These include developmentalism, child-centered pedagogies, Reggio Emilia approaches, children’s rights, holistic education, the reconceptualist movement, and postdevelopmentalism, and many of these approaches are not mutually exclusive. Finally, the policies and practices at federal, provincial, and municipal levels and the unique tensions between these levels of government structure Canadian ECEC policy and practice. Provincial and Indigenous early learning frameworks are created to enhance educator understandings and application of program principles, values, and goals, and these embrace responsive relationships with children and families, reflective practice, the importance of the environment and play in learning, and respect of diversity, equity, and inclusion, to name but a few shared principles. Taken together, the complexity of ECEC in Canada is clear, with historical approaches and attitudes continuing to preserve structures that devalue children and those who work with them, while concurrently efforts continue to honor the rights and voices of all children, advocate for professionalization in the field of ECEC, and reveal and reconcile past and current truths and injustices in Indigenous children’s education and care, in order to support and heal all children, families, and communities.

Article

The Italian education system has gained prominence worldwide thanks to its pioneering history in initiating the process of mainstreaming students with disabilities, in providing educational plans tailored to students’ needs, and in the gradual broadening of the vision of inclusion as a means to guarantee quality education for all. At the same time, teacher education programs have reinvigorated their key role in preparing and supporting teachers who are inclusive of all students. Several factors over the past 50 years have been fundamental in shaping the way inclusion is perceived in the 21st century. First, the theoretical frameworks underpinning pedagogy and teaching practices have undergone a complete paradigm shift from an individualized-medical model to a biopsychosocial model, bringing about a new challenge for all stakeholders involved. Second, in line with this evolution, latest reforms and ministerial provisions in initial teacher education and continuous professional development are evidence of the change in perspective regarding the teachers’ pivotal role in promoting and facilitating inclusive practices. However, this shift has not only called for a rethinking of the teachers’ pedagogical and didactic stances. It has also entailed a reconsideration of the necessary professional competencies, understood as a complex interplay of pedagogical knowledge, values, attitudes, and skills to be able to implement effective teaching methods and strategies that favor inclusion. Thus, it has placed a heavy responsibility on teacher education institutions to ensure that current and future teachers are ready, willing, and able to face the complexity characterizing 21st-century classrooms. Italian schools have also been doing their utmost to ensure better school experiences for all their students. An array of projects, both ministerially funded and school-based schemes, have been designed and implemented to create universally functional curricula to meet all the students’ learning styles and promote inclusion. One of the most important lessons to be learned from these intricate developments and initiatives is that collaboration among all stakeholders on micro, meso, and macro levels lies at the heart of effective and sustainable inclusive education.

Article

Crain Soudien and Yusuf Sayed

After 1994, the South African government put in place an ambitious policy framework to transform the system of teacher education to promote equitable quality education for all. This framework has resulted in the merging and integration of all teacher training colleges into the university sector and ended the racially based apartheid system of teacher training. This ambitious policy program, however, is not underpinned by a robust implementation strategy that sufficiently tackles the country’s historic and structural inequities. What is required, it is argued here, is a transformation teacher education strategy that gives concrete expression to the intent of the post-apartheid teacher education policy framework ensuring that high-quality teachers are trained for the schools serving the most marginalized and disadvantaged learners.

Article

Both significant progress and profound backlash have occurred in the inclusion of sexual and gender diversity across eastern and southern Africa. This includes the decriminalization of homosexuality in Mozambique in 2015 and the introduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Act (later annulled) in Uganda in the preceding year. Simultaneously there is increased pressure on Ministries of Education to engage more robustly with sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) education in education systems across the region. Emerging regional research points to a narrow, heteronormative focus in comprehensive sexuality education; access barriers to sexual and reproductive health services; and pervasive school-related gender-based violence, including homophobic and transphobic violence. Civil society organizations (CSOs) play a key role in developing best practice in advancing the SRHR of sexual and gender minority youth and are therefore a valuable resource for government SRHR policies and programmatic responses. The regional SRHR education policy landscape is underpinned by two policy narratives: that of young people’s SRHR as a public health concern and a focus on young people’s human rights. These policy narratives not only underpin SRHR policy in the region but also in many instances are drawn on in CSO advocacy when positioning the SRHR of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) young people as an important policy concern. These two dominant policy narratives, however, have a narrow focus on young people’s risks and vulnerabilities, may inadvertently perpetuate stigma and marginalization of LGBTQI youth, and may limit youth voice and agency. These narratives also do not sufficiently engage local sociocultural and structural conditions that drive negative SRHR outcomes for young people in the region. Research, advocacy, and policy development toward the full realization of the SRHR of sexual and gender minority youth can address some of the limitations of health and rights-based policy narratives by drawing on a sexual and reproductive justice framework. Such a framework expands the policy focus on health risks and individual rights to include engagement with sociocultural and structural constraints on young people’s ability to exercise their rights. A sexual and reproductive justice framework provides a more robust toolkit when working toward full inclusion of sexual and gender diversity in regional school-based SRHR policy and programs.

Article

Gunn Elisabeth Søreide, Hanne Riese, and Line Torbjørnsen Hilt

Twenty-first-century skills are a global network of corporate and governmental influences that promote competences suited to fit the future knowledge economy. The competences described as 21st-century skills vary across frameworks and initiatives, but the emphasis is predominantly on metacognitive, social, and emotional skills. Some of the most prevalent capabilities are learning to learn, self-regulation, in-depth learning, creativity, innovation, problem solving, critical thinking, ethical and emotional awareness, communication, and collaboration. Research tends to portray 21st-century skills initiatives either as evidence-based knowledge based on the latest research or as part of an economization of the learner to the interests of the market economy in line with neoliberal ideology. The ideas associated with the 21st-century skills movement have nevertheless become part of educational reforms worldwide and are currently also translated into a Nordic education policy context. When global ideas such as 21st-century skills are taken up and used, they are colored by national concerns and consequently change as they travel across contexts. The Norwegian LK-20 reform for compulsory and upper secondary school is an example of how policymakers include global educational ideas in the national curriculum and educational policy, by balancing core 21st-century skills elements with national cultural sentiments about assessment, childhood, educational purposes, and schools’ responsibilities. The balancing of global and national educational ideas can be done by promoting 21st-century skills as a solution to specific national challenges and thus urgent for pupils’ and the nation’s future. A more sophisticated technique is when policymakers frame 21st-century skills by familiar concepts and language associated with existing traditional national educational values, thus seemingly promoting change and continuation simultaneously. In such an intersection between global educational ideas and national educational sentiments, both core elements of the 21st-century skills as well as the more traditional educational concepts and values can be adjusted and altered.