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Article

Global School Funding Debates and Reforms  

Elisa Di Gregorio and Glenn C. Savage

In recent decades, important changes have taken place in terms of how governments debate, manage, and allocate funding for schools. These changes have been strongly influenced by a diversification of actors contributing to the school funding. For example, although governments continue to provide the majority of funding resources for schools across member nations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), many nations have witnessed an increased presence of nongovernment actors, such as philanthropies and corporations, in contributing to the funding of both government and nongovernment schools. Many nations have also seen increases in private parental contributions, which has contributed to the expansion of private schooling relative to traditional public schooling. Despite significant diversity in funding models across OECD nations, debates about funding are increasingly informed by a transnational field of policy ideas, practices, and evidence. The OECD has been a central force in facilitating this “global conversation” about the complexity of school funding trends and impacts, particularly in relation to the impacts of funding on student achievement and equity. A key question in these evolving debates is whether “more money” alone will improve outcomes or whether the focus needs to shift more toward “what schools do” with money (i.e., a “what works” approach). In response to this question, the OECD has played a leading role in steering global debates away from a historically dominant focus on whether more funding makes a difference or not to student achievement, toward a different narrative that suggests the amount of money only matters up to a certain point, and that what matters most beyond that is what systems and schools do with money. At the same time, the OECD has been central to producing a rearticulated “numbers-driven” understanding of equity, which understands equity primarily in terms of the relationship between a young person’s background and his or her performance on PISA, and which frames equity as primarily important from an economic perspective. Importantly, however, while schooling funding reforms are increasingly informed by global conversations, policy reforms remain locally negotiated. Recent Australian school funding reforms illustrate this well. Over the past decade, two prominent federal school funding reviews have sought to address funding issues in Australia’s federal system. These reports have been deeply shaped by the distinctive conditions of possibility of Australian federalism, but at the same time have been heavily informed by broader transnational reform narratives and the work of the OECD specifically. Yet while both reviews position the OECD at the center of their respective rationales, each does so in different ways that speak to different policy problems. An exploration of the Australian case and how it relates to broader global conversations about school funding offers important insights into how policies are simultaneously globally and locally negotiated.

Article

Participatory Action Research in Education  

Anne Galletta and María Elena Torre

Participatory action research (PAR) is an epistemological framework rooted in critiques of knowledge production made by feminist and critical race theory that challenge exclusive academic notions of what counts as knowledge. PAR legitimizes and prioritizes the expertise and perspectives that come from lived experience and situated knowledge, particularly among those that have been historically marginalized. In education research, a PAR approach typically centers the wisdom and experience of students (or school-age youth) and educators, positioning them as architects of research rather than objects of study. This form of participatory inquiry and collective action serves as a countercurrent in schools, where democratic inquiry and meaning making contradicts the top-down knowledge transmission practices bounded by prescribed curriculum and high-stakes standardized assessments. Like all scholars, those engaged in PAR contend with questions regarding standards of scientific practice and what counts as evidence even as they co-generate knowledge and solidarity with communities in which they may be members or allies that are outside the academy. PAR projects frequently emerge from a critique of dehumanizing structural arrangements and alienating, often pathologizing, cultural discourses. These critiques spark a desire for research that questions these arrangements and discourses, documenting and engaging critical interpretive perspectives, all with the hope of producing findings that will create cracks and fissures in the status quo and provoke transformational change. PAR builds inquiry in the spaces between what is and what could be, with the assumption that dissonance and/or clashes of meaning with ruptures are generative in the possibility for reframing social problems and reconfiguring human relations. When discordance within the research collective, or between the collective and the outside world, is engaged rather than denied or smoothed over, new and different ways of seeing and being emerge. More than simply a method, critical PAR reflects a philosophical understanding of knowledge as socially produced through history and power, an epistemology that recognizes the liberatory impulse of critique and its potential for transformation. PAR projects privilege standpoints that have been traditionally excluded and excavate operations of power within the research in order to inform analytical lenses necessary to understanding dynamics within the issues and experiences being studied. Examining the potential of PAR in education requires particular attention to the context of what children and youth encounter on a daily basis. Schools have been and continue to be spaces of struggle and contestation for students, in terms of learning and development, mental health and well-being, and physical safety. Federal policies have hollowed out protections for the most marginalized students, particularly youth of color; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth; and immigrant and undocumented youth. The rampant privatization of public education, narrowing of public governance, and the deceptive branding of corporate reform as “equity” is sobering. PAR in education troubles this very context, offering a research praxis of countervailing power, agitation, and generative ways of knowing, and being in relation. This encyclopedic entry details the ways in which participatory spaces bring people together, through inquiry, across a continuum of privilege and vulnerability to make meaning of the conditions under which we are living, with each other, for our collective liberation.

Article

Early Childhood Teacher Education in Global Perspective  

Olivia N. Saracho

Teacher educators assume that the teacher education programs in their own countries provide a comprehensive scope of possible selections. Nevertheless, how teacher education is planned and implemented differs in each country. They have different practices in both early childhood education and teacher preparation programs, even though American early childhood education theories and practices have guided them. In addition, countries differ in their early childhood education teacher qualifications. Teacher education programs have been attempting to prepare global-minded early childhood teachers who can function in other countries. Teachers who are prepared with global perspectives are able to help students succeed in the interconnected world where they encounter challenges throughout their lives. The globalization of early childhood education and the preparation of teachers in the United States and other countries appear ultimately to be achieving importance, respectability, acknowledgment, and wisdom. Several countries have engaged in transforming early childhood teachers through educational reform, which calls upon countries to expand and improve early childhood care and education. Educational reform has intermittently been a main topic of discourse and seldom an emphasis of commitment in countries around the world. Frequently these reform attempts have emphasized the necessity to advance children’s knowledge, abilities, and views to help them become good citizens and productive adults. Whereas developments may not be equivalent from country to country, the movement is continuous. It is encouraging to see countries functioning to advance programs to prepare teachers of young children and to cope with the demanding difficulties and concerns of early childhood education and the preparation of early childhood teachers.

Article

School Culture  

Diana Gonçalves Vidal and André Paulilo

Over the past several decades, scholars have focused special attention on the relationship between schooling and culture. The first forays focused on curriculum matters, trying to understand how educational policies affected the selection of content and its dissemination in schools. More recently, the concept of school culture has emerged as a frame for researchers, thanks to its ability to problematize how teachers and pupils experience school in terms of time and space. Placing these individuals in the center of the schooling process, the concept of school culture enables scholars to create a more comprehensive analysis of what happens inside classrooms and schoolyards. This tool offers an opportunity for researchers and teachers to debate the merits of tradition and innovation in education, pay attention to material culture as a part of school practices, and consider school community as a social actor. The concept has become commonplace in the academic production in many areas, such as educational sociology, history of education, educational anthropology, philosophy of education, and educational psychology.

Article

Shared Sense-Making, Agency, and Learning in School Development in Finnish School Reforms  

Tiina Soini, Kirsi Pyhältö, and Janne Pietarinen

Curriculum reform is at the heart of educational change and impacts pupils, teachers, other educational professionals, and society at large. Moreover, the way we go about developing our schools and designing curricula defines our future and reveals where we stand regarding the role of education in society. In order to research the desired aims of reforms, it is crucial to understand curriculum making: How does the school develop, and what regulates the development? Learning is at the core of school development. It can be considered as both the aim and the primary means of achieving and sustaining any change in schools. Accordingly, the impact of a school reform is highly dependent on the quality of learning enabled within the school communities. Particularly, the extent to which the reform engages teachers in active and skillful learning by promoting their professional agency is a central determinant of the reform’s outcomes. The core curriculum is the single most influential regulator of school development in Finland. It is renewed approximately every 10 years and provides a common direction and basis for renewing school education and instruction, and sets the framework and foundation for district- and school-level curriculum development work. Teachers in Finland are curriculum makers not only in the class and school, but also at the district and even national levels of the school system. In such a system, teacher autonomy and teacher agency are at the core of school development. Moreover, teachers’ ability to understand the aims of the reform and to integrate, modify, and adopt them as part of their pedagogical practices is essential. This requires making sense of their aims. In Finland, shared sense-making has been the main strategy in the latest participatory reforms, with the aim of promoting transformative learning in professional communities in order to reach reform goals.

Article

Children’s Rights, Student Voice, Informal Learning, and School Reform  

Roseanna Bourke and John O'Neill

Children’s conceptions and experiences of learning greatly influence how and what they learn. Traditional forms of schooling typically position learners at the periphery of decisions about their own learning. Curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment practices emphasize the attainment of system-mandated learning outcomes, and this emphasis predetermines much of what is deemed by adults to be important or worthwhile student learning. Children consequently come to view their school learning in fragmented, individualistic, and narrowly adult-defined and controlled ways. Many state schooling system settings permit only limited choice and decision making by children. However, the history of compulsory education also contains numerous instances of schoolchildren organizing and taking collective action against the wishes of adults on issues that are of concern to them; and of states, communities, and individual schools where radically different schooling approaches have been attempted, both inside and outside the publicly funded system. These “free,” “alternative,” or “democratic” schooling initiatives are part of long-standing “progressive” education counter-discourses that aim to demonstrate the benefits of child-centered and even child-determined schooling. Such initiatives have encountered both resistance and support in schooling systems and consequently offer useful lessons with regard to contemporary discourses around children’s rights and student voice, as well as their contribution to schooling system reform. In recent decades, the combined effects of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and growing scholarly interest in “student voice” research and reform efforts in ordinary schools have increased expectations that children should have a meaningful say in their learning at school. The UNCRC underpins polity efforts to facilitate young people’s active participation in decision making in areas that affect them across the social agencies. Although contemporary “student voice” initiatives offer some promise for more of a “partnership” between adults and children in the ordinary school, they are often conceptualized and enacted at a superficial or tokenistic level. In continuing to position children simply as students who need the protection and direction of adults, schools fail to give adequate attention to the rich ways in which out-of-school learning contributes to a child’s holistic identity, to the learning strategies young people use in their day-to-day lives outside of compulsory schooling settings, and how these might help shape children’s agentic participation in meaningful decision making about what and how they learn while at school. A greater focus on the discursive processes of informal and everyday learning in family and community, and on the learning strengths or funds of knowledge children acquire in these settings, encourages the kinds of school and classroom conditions in which children and young people actively explore aspects of their world that interest them, experience agency in and commitment to their learning, and make choices about who they spend time with and what they prioritize in their learning. Informal learning affords young people the ability to naturally self-assess their learning and develop sophisticated understandings about what works for them and why. When young people actively engage with physical, technological, and social spaces, to advance their learning, they also learn to appreciate the utility of the tools and people around them. All these competencies or capabilities have relevance for what occurs in formal schooling settings also. Getting to know about the informal learning experiences of young people outside school influences the ways teachers think about who their learners are, learning as a phenomenon, and about the pedagogical repertoire they use to develop and enhance children’s capabilities. These pedagogical insights enable teachers to subtly or radically change their approaches to learning, the interactional framework of the classroom, and the teachers’ relations with families and with the local community that children negotiate each day.

Article

Higher Education in Thailand  

Sukanya Chaemchoy, Thunwita Sirivorapat Puthpongsiriporn, and Gerald W. Fry

Thai higher education has a long history dating back to the 19th century. Its great modernizer, King Chulalongkorn the Great, was visionary in realizing the importance of expanding education to modernize his kingdom and avoid Western colonization. Thailand was the only country in Southeast Asia never to have been colonized. The country’s first formal institution of higher education, Chulalongkorn University, was established in 1917, named in honor of this visionary king. Since that time, Thai higher education has evolved in diverse ways. Key trends have been (a) massification, (b) privatization, (c) diversification, and (d) internationalization. Massification began in the 1960s with the opening of universities in each of Thailand’s major regions. In the 1970s, two open universities with huge enrollments were established. One of those, Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University (STOU), was a university without walls, serving students throughout the Kingdom. Then Thailand’s teacher training colleges became a large system of comprehensive Rajabhat Universities (38 universities, across every region of the nation). In 1969, authority was granted for private universities to be established, and over the past decades there has been a proliferation of such institutions (now totaling 71). Thailand’s system of higher education is highly diverse, with many different genres of institutions under 12 different ministries and agencies. Another important trend is internationalization, with a dramatic growth in the number of international programs and students during the period 2000-2020. Major reforms of higher education have been primarily structural in nature. In 2003, the Ministry of University Affairs merged with the Ministry of Education (MOE) to become one of its five major commissions, the Office of the Higher Education Commission (OHEC). Then in 2019, OHEC was moved out of the MOE to become part of a new Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research, and Innovation (MHESI). As the nation moves into the decade of the 2020s, Thai higher education faces major challenges. The most critical is declining enrollments, primarily the result of Thailand’s great success in reducing its fertility rate. With the dramatic growth in higher education institutions, there are simply inadequate numbers of Thai students to fill available spots. A second related issue is the problem of the quality of Thai higher education. Reflective of this problem is the failure of any Thai higher education institutions to be highly ranked in international systems. Many of Thailand’s best students choose to study overseas. Another major issue is funding, with problems related to the ways funds are spent and the low pay of university professors. Also related to the funding issue is Thailand’s low ranking on how much it spends on research and development. This important area receives inadequate priority, though there were significant improvements in 2018 and 2019. There are also curricular issues in terms of what students should be taught and how, as well as concerns that Thai students are not being adequately prepared for the new digital 4.0 knowledge economy. In 2021, Thailand is mired in a “middle-income trap,” and to move beyond that, it is imperative that Thailand improve the quality, equity, and efficiency of its higher education system.

Article

Teacher Unions  

John McCollow

Teacher unions (or alternatively “education unions”) are organizations formed to protect and advance the collective interests of teachers and other education workers. What the collective interests of educators entail and how they should be pursued have been and remain active matters for debate within these organizations. Different unions at different times have responded differently to these questions, for example, in relation to the degree to which an industrial versus a professional orientation should be adopted, and the degree to which a wider political and social justice agenda should be embraced. Several ideal-type models of teacher unionism have been identified, as well as various strategic options that these unions might employ. A spirited debate is ongoing about the legitimacy and power of teacher unions. One perspective portrays them as self-interested special interest groups, and another as social movements advocating for public education. The status of teacher unions as stakeholders in educational policymaking is contested, and union–government relations occur across a spectrum of arrangements ranging from those that encourage negotiation to those characterized by confrontation and hostility. Internationally, education unions face significant challenges in the early decades of the 21st century. Neoliberal economic and industrial policies and legislation have eroded the capacity of unions to collectively organize and bargain, and the global education reform movement (GERM) has created a hostile environment for education unions and their members. Despite these challenges, education unions remain among the most important critics of GERM and of global neoliberal social policy generally. The challenges posed and the strategies adopted play out differently across the globe. There is evidence that at least some unions are now prepared to be far more flexible in adopting a “tapestry” of strategies, to examine their internal organization, build alliances, and develop alternative conceptions of the future of education. Researchers, however, have identified certain internal factors in many teacher unions that pose significant obstacles to these tasks. Unions face difficult choices that could lead to marginalization on the one hand or incorporation on the other.

Article

Common Core Standards (U.S.)  

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

Analytical Review of School Reforms Toward the Education 2030 Agenda in Zanzibar  

Said Juma

Zanzibar is a semiautonomous archipelago in the Indian Ocean along the East African coast. It gained independence in 1963 from the British. After the Zanzibar Revolution in January 1964, it united with Tanganyika to form the United Republic of Tanzania in April 1964. The Government of Zanzibar has its own executive branch led by the president of Zanzibar, legislative body (called the House of Representatives), and judicial system. The national framework for the education sector is informed by legislations, policies, and plans such as Zanzibar Vision 2020, the Zanzibar Strategy for Economic and Social Transformation, the Zanzibar Education Development Plan II, Education Act No. 6 of 1982 (amended in 1993), Children’s Act No. 6 of 2011, the Spinster and Single Parent Children Protection Act No. 4 of 2005, the Local Government Authority Act No. 7 of 2014, the Zanzibar Vocational Education and Training Policy, and the Zanzibar Education Policy. The mission of the 2006 Zanzibar Education Policy is to strive for equitable access, quality education for all, and promotion of lifelong learning. This mission is consistent with the global Education 2030 Agenda as elaborated in United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4. Responding to reforms in both local and global education-related goals and plans, Zanzibar introduced reforms to address areas such as (a) the structure of the formal education; (b) the language of instruction; (c) the entry age; (d) curriculum; (e) inclusive education and learners with special educational needs; (f) alternative education; (g) decentralization; (h) school inspection; (i) married students, pregnant girls, and young mothers; and (j) education financing. Other measures to reform the education sector were announced by the Zanzibar president on the anniversary of the country’s revolution in 2015 and 2017. Many of these reforms are in effect, and plans for decentralization, education financing, and school inspection reforms are not yet in full operation. Some of the reforms promise positive results, such as an increase of enrollment in preprimary and primary schools, due in part to the removal of the voluntary financial contribution. Introduction of inclusive education has contributed to increasing community awareness of the right to an education for all without regard to gender, (dis)ability, or socioeconomic status. Likewise, some pregnant girls resume studies after delivery. However, there have been challenges in the implementation of some of the reforms, including the change in the language of instruction from Kiswahili to English for some subjects at the primary level. Though the actual implementation of the reforms on decentralization and education financing is yet to come into effect, there are potential risks that might negatively impact quality, equity, and inclusion. The risks include the lack of clarity of the responsibilities and functions of each actor, insufficient resources to meet the actual needs of schools, and limited capacity at the local level for the commitment to inclusive education.

Article

Examining Education Reforms of India in the Matrix of Rights and Biopolitics  

Jyoti Dalal

Three significant reforms were established at the turn of the century in India: the National Curriculum Framework of 2005, the National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education of 2009, and the Right to Education Act of 2009. All three reforms reflect a contradiction between the rights of citizens and the regulatory biopolitical inertia of the state. Indian State has undergone cyclical shifts in its orientation. In certain phases, rights became the fulcrum to guide policy and legal framework, and in other phases, the regulatory impulse of the state was at the center. The neoliberal turn of the 1990s marked a sharp shift in which the state left behind its welfare outlook and adopted a more regulatory structure. The rights-based agenda of the three reforms needs to be understood against the backdrop of the changing nature of the state. The three reforms stand apart from those instituted before and after, in that they were informed by a critique of the rights-based framework even while working within it. The three reforms and their social context provide an example of the tension between rights and biopolitics; the reforms emerged as a response to this tension. While proposing rights-based reforms in school education, the intent was much more ambitious, going beyond the immediate domain of education. Occurring in the middle of a neoliberal, market-driven discourse, these reforms critiqued the 21st-century state and pushed it to serve the role of a provider and not just a regulator.

Article

History of Curriculum Development in Schools  

Daniel Tanner

The evolution of curriculum development in schools reflects the evolution of knowledge and civilization itself. What knowledge is of most worth? How shall it be codified, structured, and transformed into curriculum for the acculturation and growth of successive generations so that the future is better than the past? How can the school be designed and equipped as a productive and democratic learning environment? These are some of the questions that intersect with the fundamental factors of the education process, namely the learner, the curriculum, and the society. When these fundamental factors are set in opposition or isolation, the possibility for educational progress is impeded or set back. Embracing the idea of progress and the science of education, the experimentalist movement over the first half of the 20th century sought to dissolve the dualisms carried from ancient Greece (e.g., mind/body, intellect/emotion, abstract/concrete knowledge) in endeavoring to create new designs and structures for curriculum synthesis to meet the democratic prospect and the universal educational needs of the rising generation. In sum, the experimentalists reconstructed curriculum development into a process of problem solving for educational progress, holding to the paradigmatic principle that the structure and function of the school curriculum must be in congruence with the nature and needs of the learner for effective living in the democratic society. The paradigm holds the fundamental factors in the education process as necessarily interdependent and in harmony. The curriculum paradigm explains why so many reforms imposed on the schools predictively are destined for failure simply because they set the fundamental factors in conflict with each other. The march of democracy in global affairs will require a resurgence of the progressive vision for the curriculum of the democratic classroom and school in which students are engaged openly with each other and with the teacher in investigative cooperation, collaboration, and consultation.

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

History of Educational Administration in the United Kingdom  

Tony Bush

The study of educational administration in the United Kingdom began in a limited way in the 1970s, but it became much more significant following the 1988 Education Reform Act, which gave substantial powers to principals and school governing bodies. This led the scope of leadership and administration to be greatly expanded to include management of finance, staff, pupil admissions, and the school site as well as their traditional roles as instructional leaders. Provision for public education was disaggregated from 1999, when education devolved to assemblies in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales as part of the government’s devolution agenda. In England, the government established the National College for School Leadership in 2000, which had a major impact on policy, research, and practice for the next decade, before its decline starting in 2013 and its eventual closure in 2016. School leadership preparation is now at a crossroads, within an increasingly fragmented school system and without the national voice that the College provided.

Article

Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and School Leadership in Action  

Tomoko Takahashi

Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871–1944) was a geographer, elementary school teacher and principal, and educational reformer, who was active in the early-to-mid 1900s in Japan. As a school leader and scholar-practitioner guided by a passion for supporting teachers and improving education for the happiness of children, Makiguchi scrutinized pedagogy as a science and proposed a number of reforms of the Japanese education system, key elements of which, he believed, were failing teachers and students alike. His proposals included, among many: the establishment of standards of competency expected of school principals as well as a system of examination to uphold these standards; the abolition of a government-led school inspection system that pressured and restricted teachers from freely conducting teaching activities; and the establishment of an “education research institute” and an organization for the training of teachers. The growing number of modern educational scholars and practitioners paying attention to Makiguchi’s work and philosophy find his ideas not only valid and applicable to education in the 21st century but also remarkably innovative and insightful. His proposal for school leadership was still but a voice in the wilderness in the 1930s. It was also a bold and audacious attempt for him, especially at the time of the militarist regime. Makiguchi is often compared with his contemporary John Dewey (1859–1952). Evidently, Makiguchi and Dewey were both visionaries, passionate school leaders, and fearless reformers. Bearing this in mind, Makiguchi deserves much more attention than he has received thus far—at least as much as Dewey, if we are to balance the historical account of progressive education as a transnational phenomenon.

Article

Reforms of the Matriculation EFL Tests in China  

Jia Lin

In 2013, the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China initiated fundamental reforms of the Matriculation English as a Foreign Language Tests (the Matriculation EFL Tests hereafter) in order to solve problems in college admissions and K–12 education. Under the guidance of the Ministry of Education, provinces announced their specific reform plans. This round of reforms features holding the Matriculation EFL Tests multiple times per year and involving nongovernment testing companies in test development and administration. This indicates China is on the way to aligning with international educational assessment standards and practices. Meanwhile, some proposed reforms are unexpectedly deviating from the longstanding English fever and have triggered heated debates and disputes in China. Proposed reforms of the Matriculation EFL Tests reflect China’s current language policy and the trend of de-Westernization. These reforms will have both positive and negative influences on test development, the K–12 EFL curriculum, instruction, and learning. Social impacts and potential influences on social justice caused by this round of reforms also deserve attention.

Article

Status, Content, and Evaluation of Lesson Study in Japan on Teacher Professional Development  

Takashi Nagashima

In Japan, various styles of Lesson Study (LS) have been born over 140 years. The first issue is what should be the focus of observation in the live lesson. There are two trends with regard to the target of observation. One is teacher- and lesson-plan-centered observation since the Meiji era (1870s), and the other is child-centered observation since the Taisho era (1910s). The former is closely related to administrative-led teacher training. The latter is more complex and can be further divided into five types. The second issue is which activities are given priority in the LS processes: observation of the live lesson itself, preparation before the lesson, or reflection after the lesson. Furthermore, each activity can be designed as a personal or a collaborative process. Thus, there are roughly six types of LS in Japan related to this issue. Which type is adopted depends on the period, lesson-study frequency, and school type. In addition, it is noteworthy that the type of LS implemented is closely related to which of demonstration teacher or observers are regarded as the central learners. The third issue is whether to regard LS as scientific research or as literary research. Teachers and researchers in 1960s Japan had strong interest in making lessons and lesson studies more scientific. On the other hand, as teachers attempt to become more scientific, they cannot but deny their daily practice: making improvised decisions on complicated situations without objective evidence. Although lesson studies have been revised in various forms and permutations over the last 140, formalization and ceremonialization of lesson studies has become such that many find lesson studies increasingly meaningless and burdensome. What has become clear through the discussions on the three issues, the factors that impede teacher learning in LS are summarized in the following four points; the bureaucracy controlled technical expert model, exclusion of things that are not considered scientific, the view of the individualistic learning model, and the school culture of totalitarian products. To overcome obstruction of teachers’ education in LS and the school crisis around the 1980s, the “innovative LS Cases” has begun in the 1990s. The innovative LS aims not for as many teachers as possible but for every teacher to learn at high quality. In the innovative LS Case, what teachers are trying to learn through methods of new LS is more important than methods of new LS itself. Although paradoxical, in order to assist every single teacher to engage in high quality learning inside school, LS is inadequate. It is essential that LS address not only how to actualize every single teacher to learn with high quality in LS but also through LS how to improve collegiality which enhances daily informal collaborative learning in teachers room. Furthermore, LS cannot be established as LS alone, and the school reform for designing a professional learning community is indispensable. Finally, the concept of “the lesson study of lesson study (LSLS)” for sustainable teacher professional development is proposed through organizing another professional learning communities among managers and researchers.

Article

Teacher Education in Poland  

Joanna Madalinska-Michalak

Teacher education in Poland is viewed as a lifelong journey, encompassing preservice training, induction, and ongoing professional development. The primary emphasis is on empowering teachers as perpetual learners and tailoring their education to meet individual needs, as well as the needs of educational institutions and students. In Poland, teacher education is deeply integrated with higher education and has been shaped by substantial reforms. The current landscape of teacher education in Poland is a result of significant reforms initiated by the state, aligning with the Bologna process. The Bologna process aims to harmonize higher education systems across Europe by establishing the European Higher Education Area. This facilitates student and staff mobility, enhances inclusivity and accessibility, and boosts the competitiveness of European higher education globally. The changes in teacher education in Poland have also emphasized quality assurance, qualifications frameworks, recognition processes, and more. The overarching objective is to elevate the quality of teaching and learning. Comparative analysis of Poland’s teacher education system and international findings suggests several policy initiatives that should be implemented. These initiatives can be broadly categorized into two sets: strategies aimed at improving the status and competitiveness of the teaching profession, and targeted approaches for attracting and retaining specific types of teachers, particularly in specific schools. To enhance teacher education in Poland, recommendations include limiting the number of teacher education candidates based on demand, increasing funding, and implementing more selective admission processes within higher education institutions. Moreover, strengthening support for teacher mentors and improving the socioprofessional position of teachers is seen as essential. Attracting and recruiting the best teachers in Poland is a critical challenge, particularly in the face of emerging trends and teacher shortages. To address this issue effectively, it is essential to improve the image of the teaching profession, enhance working conditions, and provide incentives for aspiring educators. Additionally, more flexible teacher education programs that accommodate a diverse range of candidates and prepare teachers for the changing educational landscape are necessary to ensure a continuous supply of high-quality teachers.