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Article

Namita Ranganathan and Toolika Wadhwa

Evaluation studies typically comprise research endeavors that are undertaken to investigate and gauge the effectiveness of a program, an institution, or individuals working in educational contexts, such as teachers, students, administrators, and other stakeholders in education. Usually, research studies in this genre use empirical methods to evaluate educational practices and systems. Alternatively, they may take up theoretical reflections on new policies, programs, and systems. An evaluation study requires a rigorous design and method of assessment to focus on the specific context and set of issues that it targets. In general, research studies that attempt to evaluate a program, an individual, or an institution place emphasis on checking their efficacy. They do not seek to find explanations that have led to the level of efficacy that the variables under study may have achieved. Thus, quite often, they are contested as not being full-fledged research. Evaluation studies use a variety of methods. The choice of method depends on the area of study as well as the research questions. An evaluation study may thus fall within the qualitative or quantitative paradigms. Often, a mixed method approach is used. The purpose of the study plays a significant role in deciding the method of inquiry and analysis. Establishing the probability, plausibility, and adequacy of the program can be some of the main aims of evaluation studies. This implies as well that the programs, institutions, or individuals under study would have an impact on the course and direction of future programs and practices. An evaluation study is thus of vital importance to ensure that appropriate decisions can be made about efficacy, transferability to different contexts, and difficulties and challenges to be faced in subsequent applications. Evaluation studies in India have been done in a vast range of areas that include program evaluation, impact studies, evaluations of specific interventions, performance outcome assessments, and the like. Some examples of studies undertaken by the government and the development sector in this regard are the following: assessment of interventions for adolescence education; impact studies of interventions, programs, and policies launched for education of minorities, including girls; and evaluation of performance outcomes stemming from programs for education of the marginalized. The key challenges in evaluation studies are to gather accurate data in order to establish reliable outcomes, to establish clear relationships between the outcomes and the interventions being studied, and to safeguard against researcher bias.

Article

Christopher DeLuca and Heather Braund

A standards-based accountability paradigm of education currently shapes teaching and learning in many schools around the world. This paradigm is characterized by increased academic standards and greater levels of assessment throughout learning periods. Across policy and curriculum documents, teachers are called to implement assessments to monitor, support, and report on student learning. Assessments can be formative (i.e., used to inform teaching and learning processes) or summative (i.e., used to communicate achievement through grades) and based on a variety of evidence (e.g., tests, performance tasks, conversations, observations, and so on). Given the growing emphasis on assessment as a dominant aspect of contemporary teaching and learning, there is a need for teachers to be assessment literate. The term assessment literacy was initially used to refer to the knowledge and skills teachers required in the area of assessment, historically with a strong focus on principles of measurement and test design. Over the past decade, however, the concept of assessment literacy has evolved. Newer notions of assessment literacy have moved away from demarcating the knowledge and skills needed for competency in assessment and instead recognize that assessment literacy is a contextual and social practice that requires teachers to negotiate their knowledge of assessment in relation to their pedagogy, curriculum, and classroom contexts. Central to this conception is the view that teacher assessment literacy is both sociocultural and contextual, shaped by various factors including teacher background, experience, professional learning, classroom context, student interactions and behaviors, curriculum, and class diversity. With the increased role of assessment in schools, pressure has been placed on initial teacher education programs to prepare beginning teachers with the necessary capacity to become assessment literate. While much of the existing research in the area of assessment education has focused on the value of discrete courses on teacher learning in assessment or on specific pedagogical approaches to enhancing student learning in assessment, results continue to point toward the need for more comprehensive preparation of teachers for the current standards-based paradigm of education. Accordingly, two frameworks for assessment education are described that consider multiple dimensions to preparing assessment literate teachers. These frameworks are DeLuca’s Assessment Education Framework and Xu and Brown’s Teacher Assessment Literacy in Practice Framework. These assessment education frameworks were selected as they work within a contemporary constructivist and sociocultural view of assessment literacy. The two frameworks suggest areas for teacher education that not only include the fundamentals for assessment literacy but also move beyond the fundamentals to engage the messier dimensions of what it means to do assessment work in schools. In both cases, student teachers are pressed to make connections and challenged to enact ideas in context to refine and synthesize their thinking. Xu and Brown detailed the macro- and micro-level influences that further shape assessment decisions in action. The composite picture is that learning to assess is not a neat and tidy enterprise of textbook curriculum. Instead, it is about learning foundational ideas and building an integrated stance toward teacher as assessor through contextualized reflective learning. Driving this learning is an enduring understanding that one’s assessment literacy is always in the making—a continuously evolving competency in relation to new contexts and experiences.

Article

Taro Komatsu

The relationship between education and peace is an area of educational research that merits sustained attention from scholars. A recent review of literature on this relationship pointed out the lack of rigorous research studies and robust evidence showing this link. This is surprising, given its significant implications for policy makers and practitioners who wish to educate youths to build and sustain a peaceful and just society. In fact, those who are engaged in education and peace research often grapple with the gap between their intuitive belief in the power of education to transform individuals and society on one hand, and the difficulty in establishing the causal relationship between the two concepts on the other. Still, today’s incessant tide of violence around the world has been propelling researchers to investigate the intersection of education and peace in order to better understand this connection. The change in the nature of conflict has also given a new impetus to the research on education and peace. Today’s conflicts are generally fought between cultural groups within a nation, rather than between nation-states. Less developed nations, many of them being multicultural, are particularly prone to the risk of violent conflict. A study suggesting that the percentage of extreme poverty in fragile and conflict-affected societies will increase from the current 17% to 46% by 2030 confirms the close relationships between conflict, poverty and development. Because violence caused by internal conflict is a major obstacle to achieving universal access to education and other development goals, research on education and peace has become an important agenda item in the development aid community. This has added international aid organizations to the major players in education and peace research. To date, most research studies have attempted to determine how education contributes to, or negatively affects, peace, rather than the other way around. The notion of peace, in the meantime, is no longer merely defined as the absence of war, but has been expanded to include the absence of structural violence, a form of violence that limits the rights of certain groups of citizens. This definition of peace has enlarged the analytical scope for social science researchers engaged in peace-related studies. The research field of education and peace has expanded beyond curriculum, textbooks, and pedagogy to also include education policy, governance, administration, and school management. Research may explore, for example, the impact of equitable and inclusive education policy and governance on the development of citizenship and social cohesion in the context of multicultural societies. Importantly, scholars engaged in education and peace research need to consider how peace-building education policy and practices can actually be realized in societies where political leaders and education professionals are unwilling to implement reforms that challenge the existing power structure. Normative arguments around education for peace will be challenged in such a context. This means that education and peace research need to draw on multiple academic disciplines, including political science, sociology, and psychology, in order to not only answer the normative questions concerning peace-building policies and practices, but also address their feasibility. Finally, the development of education and peace research can be enhanced by rigorously designed evaluation studies. How do we measure the outcomes of peace-building policies and practices? The choice of criteria for measurement may depend on the local context, but the discussion and establishment of fair and adaptable evaluation methodology can further enhance education policy and practices favoring peace and thus enrich the research in this field.

Article

During the 1930–1940s, the Progressive Education Association’s Eight-Year Study ushered in an era of secondary school experimentation, establishing an organizational process (the cooperative study) and introducing a research methodology (implementative research) for educational renewal. Cooperative studies embraced a democratic ideal that participants would work together for a greater good and maintained a fundamental belief that a diversity of perspectives, coupled with open discourse, would serve to better develop educational practices. Although no unified theory was established for cooperative study, activities focused on problem-solving were intended to expand teachers’ abilities rather than to establish a single method for the dissemination of educational programs. Implementative research was grounded in a faith in experimentation as an “exploratory process” to include gathering, analyzing, interpreting, and discussing data, and sought to determine the validity (in contrast to reliability) of programmatic interventions. Drawing on 1930s progressive education high school practices, more than a hundred selected secondary and post-secondary schools throughout the United States—public and private, large and small, Black and White, rural and urban—participated in national and regional cooperative studies, funded primarily by the Rockefeller Foundation’s General Education Board. Experimental projects included the Progressive Education Association’s Eight-Year Study (1930–1942), consisting of 30 sites with 42 secondary schools (and 26 junior high schools) throughout the United States; the Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools of the Southern States’ Southern Study (1938–1945), consisting of 33 White secondary schools in the American Southeast; the American Council of Education’s Cooperative Study in General Education (1938–1947), consisting of 25 colleges throughout the United States; and the Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools for Negroes’ Secondary School Study (1940–1946), consisting of 17 Black secondary schools in the American Southeast. These cooperative studies served to explore and further develop progressive education practices at the secondary and post-secondary school level. The intent of the 1930s–1940s cooperative study projects was to develop school programs that would attend to the interests and needs of adolescents without diminishing students’ chances for further education. Guided by “Eight-Year Study progressivism,” cooperative study staff placed great trust in the ability of teachers to address complex issues, belief in democracy as a guiding social ideal, and faith in thoughtful inquiry to create educational settings that nourished both students and teachers. Based on these fundamental themes, many cooperative study schools adopted what became a distinctive view of progressive education with correlated and fused core curricula, teacher–pupil planning, cumulative student records, and summer professional development workshops. Notions of “success” for these projects prove difficult to ascertain; however, innovative forms of curriculum design, instructional methodology, student assessment instruments, and professional development activities arose from these programs that served to influence educational theory and practice throughout the mid- and late-20th century. Perhaps equally important, cooperative study, along with implementative research, displayed the importance of educational exploration and school experimentation, implicitly asserting that a healthy school was an experimental school.

Article

Mark Carter, Jennifer Stephenson, and Sarah Carlon

The term data-based decision-making can refer to a wide range of practices from formative classroom use of monitoring in order to improve instruction to system-wide use of “big” data to guide educational policy. Within the context of special education, a primary focus has been on the formative classroom use of data to guide teachers in improving instruction for individual students. For teachers, this typically involves the capacity to (1) determine what data need to be collected to appropriately monitor the skill being taught, (2) collect that data, (3) interpret the data and make appropriate decisions, and (4) implement changes as needed. A number of approaches to such data-based decision-making have evolved, including precision teaching, curriculum-based assessment, and curriculum-based measurement. Evidence from systematic reviews and meta-analyses indicates instruction incorporating data-based decision-making has positive effects on outcomes for students with special education needs although the size of these effects has been variable. While the extent of the research base is modest, there are indications that some specific factors may be related to this variability. For example, the use of decision-making rules and graphic display of data appears to improve student outcomes and the frequency of data collection may differentially affect improvement. The presence and frequency of support offered to teachers may also be important to student outcomes. There is a need to increase our research base examining data-based decision-making and, more specifically, a need to more clearly define and characterize moderators that contribute to its effectiveness. In addition, there is a case for research on the wider use of data on student outcomes to inform broader policy and practice.

Article

Nurahimah Mohd Yusoff and David Jimoh Kayode

As stipulated in some educational documents, no country can grow beyond the quality of its teachers. Thus, teachers need necessary support in discharging their responsibilities, and teacher evaluation is a valuable tool because of the relevance of teacher evaluation to both the teachers and the stakeholders. Therefore, teacher evaluation in terms of formative and summative assessments helps in determining what is working well in classrooms, identifying areas of improvement for teachers, and providing options for teachers’ professional development to support their continued growth. Stakeholders in education have several roles in ensuring effective teacher-evaluation strategies and in determining how effective teacher evaluation can be achieved. In assessing students, teachers test student knowledge in order to determine what they have learned, what they have not understood, and how effectively the courses are being taught.

Article

In the past decade, ambitious plans for digital inclusion have been developed in Latin America. These plans included a strategy of massive and universal distribution of equipment at a 1:1 ratio to students at different levels of the education system (i.e., a computer for each student). The programs were accompanied by both policy analyses and independent studies hoping to account for the program’s successes and achievements. These studies can facilitate analysis of the orientations and dimensions of these investigations, considering them as practices of knowledge production that imply the construction of a perspective, as well as indicators and problems that make visible certain some aspects of policy and mask others. They constitute forms of problematizing the social, that is to say, the construction of themes or topics that return to a problem that requires attention, which many times are taken as a reflection of reality and not as the product of an predetermined evaluative perspective. It is also significant that among these evaluative studies, a number were conducted through qualitative perspectives, which facilitate more complex and plural approaches to the processes of technological integration and digital inclusion within the classroom. In these qualitative studies, the construction of categories was part of the research and covered a multiplicity of meanings that the policies took for the actors involved, thus opening a richer and potentially more democratic perspective on the construction of knowledge about educational policy in the region.

Article

As a form of applied research, program evaluation is concerned with determining the worth, merit, or value of a program or project using various research methods. Over the past 20 years, the field of program evaluation has seen an expansion in the number of approaches deemed useful in accomplishing the goals of an evaluation. One of the newest approaches to the practice of evaluation is culturally responsive evaluation. Practitioners of CRE draw from a “responsive approach” to evaluation that involves being attuned to and responsive toward not only the program itself, but also its larger cultural context and the lives and experiences of program staff and stakeholders. CRE views culture broadly as the totality of shared beliefs, behaviors, values, and customs socially transmitted within a group and which shapes group members’ world view and ways of life. Further, with respect to their work, culturally responsive evaluators share similar commitments with scholars to critical qualitative inquiry, including a belief in moving inquiry (evaluation) beyond description to intervention in the pursuit of progressive social change, as well as positioning their work as a means by which to confront injustices in society, particularly the marginalization of people of color. Owing to these beliefs and aims, culturally responsive evaluators tend to lean toward a more qualitative orientation, both epistemologically and methodologically. Thus, when taken up in practice, culturally responsive evaluation can be read as a form of critical qualitative inquiry.

Article

Lisa A. Rafferty and Kristie Asaro-Saddler

There are many benefits to developing self-management skills in children, especially in inclusive classroom environments; individuals with effective self-management skills who work as part of a larger team can improve not only their own overall performance but also that of the group as a whole—inside and outside of the school setting. Teaching students self-management strategies can free teacher time to focus on other essential tasks, which is especially important when working in a classroom environment with children with a variety of learning strengths and needs. Moreover, such strategies can be used to increase students’ opportunities to practice and respond to knowledge and academic skills in the curriculum, as well as support their behavioral needs. Although there are many benefits to developing self-management skills, students with and at risk of disabilities often need explicit instruction to learn about and implement specific strategies to help develop these skills. Fortunately, teaching just a small set of strategies can have wide-ranging benefits and help students regulate many behaviors; additionally, research results suggest that people with a variety of learning strengths and needs can learn to implement and benefit from being taught self-management strategies. Therefore, it seems worthwhile to focus on such skills. Despite these encouraging benefits, however, there are still several areas within self-management research that need to be further explored and discussed. For instance, identifying the appropriate level of teacher involvement in teaching these strategies, determining the potential differential effects of various self-management strategies on the behaviors of students embodying different characteristics, and the potential structural variability and the impact on student outcomes all require further investigation. Given these unresolved questions in the field, it is unclear as to how such variables impact students’ mastery and generalization of self-management strategies. This is especially important since it has been argued that self-management is the most significant goal of education; individuals who can effectively self-manage contribute to society in impactful and meaningful ways.