Archives

2009

Vol 4, No 11 (2009): Melting Pot Influences on Secondary English Curriculum Policy

This article explores how racial, cultural, and linguistic diversity are addressed in secondary English curriculum policy in Massachusetts, U.S.A. Data are analyzed through theories of the sociology of knowledge and the myth of the United States melting pot. Analysis revealed that curriculum policy privileged Eurocentric literature and the English language and adhered to a melting pot ideology. The article considers how the international educational policy movement toward post-standardization may afford greater responsiveness to diversity.

Vol 4, No 10 (2009): The kinds of knowledge principals use: Implications for training

Information about how school principals operate pertains mainly to the actions of principals. However, the kinds of knowledge that the principalship demands have not been isolated as clearly, more often than not being conflated with actions. As principals’ duties become more complex, it becomes more important to ground specific practices in robust knowledge of relevant theoretical principles. One aspect of the principal’s job where this is particularly germane is the resolution of unfamiliar, complex, unstructured challenges. This paper presents findings from research into how principals think when dealing with problematic situations, in particular the types of knowledge they use. Four broad categories of knowledge were identified and, within those, twelve specific types. The research lends credence to the oral report or think-aloud method for making thinking processes available for analysis, and the findings indicate how the content of preparation programs may be adjusted to better qualify principals for the contemporary demands of their work. A prime recommendation is the inclusion of opportunities for the development of tacit knowledge.

Vol 4, No 9 (2009): Impacts of School Organizational Restructuring Into a Collaborative Setting...

This case study tells the story of an elementary school staff on the west coast of Canada that decided to address their perceived problem of teacher isolation by transforming the internal organization of their school into a collaborative environment designed to foster collegial practices among themselves. The main guiding question of this study was: can a collaborative organizational structure facilitate and sustain a level of collegiality in which people feel safe from attack, where difficult questions are addressed, and where the status quo can be safely challenged? In this study, the transformation of organizational structure of the school elicited and molded, to an extent, the professional behaviours of members of the staff into professional collegial patterns of interactions. However, we have found that educators seemed to have made individual choices to maintain a certain degree of isolation, of privacy, shielding themselves from reflective inquiry and criticism.

Vol 4, No 8 (2009): Recruiting New Teachers to Urban School Districts: What Incentives Will Work?

Many urban districts in the United States have difficulty attracting and retaining quality teachers, yet they are often the most in need of them. In response, U.S. states and districts are experimenting with financial incentives to attract and retain high-quality teachers in high-need, low-achieving, or hard-to-staff urban schools. However, relatively little is known about how effective financial incentives are to recruit new teachers to high-need urban schools. This research explores factors that are important to the job choices of teachers in training. Focus groups were held with students at three universities, and a policy-capturing study was done using 64 job scenarios representing various levels of pay and working conditions. Focus group results suggested that: a) many pre-service teachers, even relatively late in their preparation, are not committed to a particular district and are willing to consider many possibilities, including high need schools; b) although pay and benefits were attractive to the students, loan forgiveness and subsidies for further education were also attractive; and c) small increments of additional salary did not appear as important or attractive as other job characteristics. The policy-capturing study showed that working conditions factors, especially principal support, had more influence on simulated job choice than pay level, implying that money might be better spent to attract, retain, or train better principals than to provide higher beginning salaries to teachers in schools with high-poverty or a high proportion of students of color.

Vol 4, No 7 (2009): Salary and Ranking and Teacher Turnover: A Statewide Study

This study examined three years of data obtained from the Academic Excellence Indicator System of the State of Texas regarding teacher turnover rate and teacher salary. Across all public school districts, teacher salary was consistently negatively related to teacher turnover; that is, where salary was lower, turnover rate was higher When data were regrouped by highest- and poorest-paying school districts, teacher turnover rate was found to be twice as high in the poorest-paying school districts. Implications of these findings and suggestions for further research are discussed.

Vol 4, No 6 (2009): The Unintended, Pernicious Consequences of "Staying the Course" on the United States' No Child Left Behind Policy

The phrase “no child left behind” has become a familiar expression in American education circles and in popular culture. The sentiment implied by these four words is noble. However, the effects of the top-down implementation of the high-stakes testing provisions of the law have been anything but salutary for public school children, teachers, and administrators. This claim is supported by data describing many of the ways in which well-intentioned but desperate educators, from the statehouse to the schoolhouse, have been driven to game the system in ironic defense of the children, teachers, and administrators least equipped to defend themselves. It is argued herein that, instead of reauthorizing the stronger accountability tenet of NCLB, it might do very well to let it fade away.

Vol 4, No 5 (2009): The Effects of Education Accountability on Teachers: Are Policies Too Stress-Provoking for Their Own Good?

Education policies in the United States and other nations have established academic standards and made teachers accountable for improved standardized test scores. Because policies can have unintended effects, in this study we investigated U.S. elementary school teachers’ perceptions of their state’s accountability policy, particularly its effect on their job engagement. We found support for a path model relating lack of policy support to teacher burnout via two mediators: role conflict and reduced self-efficacy. Results of interviews with a subset of teachers were consistent with the model. We conclude with recommendations to reduce teacher stress in manners consistent with the goals of accountability policies.

Vol 4, No 4 (2009): Evaluating Higher Education Policy in Turkey: Assessment ...

The admission procedure to higher education institutions in Turkey is based on the student’s high school grades and Central University Entrance Examination (CUEE) score, with a much greater weight on the latter. However, whether the CUEE is an appropriate measure in the admission process to universities is still a much-debated question. This study assesses the validity of the CUEE as a selection tool for design-based departments by examining the relationship between CUEE scores and success in university education in two design-based departments, architecture and city planning. The analysis is then extended to test the relationship in three engineering departments, computer engineering, civil engineering, and mechanical engineering. Based on the bivariate correlation and one sample t-test result, we report that CUEE scores and graduation grades have no relationship at all. We conclude that the current admission procedure to design-based schools based on solely a central examination score is not preferable.

Vol 4, No 3 (2009): A Quantitative Analysis of Countries’ Research Strengths

This study employed a multidimensional analysis to evaluate transnational patterns of scientific research to determine relative research strengths among widely varying nations. Findings from this study may inform national policy with regard to the most efficient use of scarce national research resources, including government and private funding. Research output from 34 countries is examined using a conceptual framework that emphasizes the ratio of research resources devoted to a particular field to research output measured by publications in peer-reviewed journals. Using cluster analysis and k-means analysis, we conclude that countries’ research output (as measured by the number of published peer-reviewed articles) and their efficiency (as measured by a ratio of research output to dollars allocated to research) together indicate a comparative advantage within any given country’s own menu of research choices and an absolute advantage relative to other countries. This study implies that the more countries engage in publication in areas of relative strength and consume research in areas of relative weakness, the stronger their entire research agenda will become.

Vol 4, No 2 (2009): Using a DEA Management Tool through a Nonparametric Approach: An Examination of Urban-Rural Effects on...

This paper examines urban-rural effects on public upper-secondary school efficiency in northern Thailand. In the study, efficiency was measured by a nonparametric technique, data envelopment analysis (DEA). Urban-rural effects were examined through a Mann-Whitney nonparametric statistical test. Results indicate that urban schools appear to have access to and practice different production technologies than rural schools, and rural institutions appear to operate less efficiently than their urban counterparts. In addition, a sensitivity analysis, conducted to ascertain the robustness of the analytical framework, revealed the stability of urban-rural effects on school efficiency. Policy to improve school efficiency should thus take varying geographical area differences into account, viewing rural and urban schools as different from one another. Moreover, policymakers might consider shifting existing resources from urban schools to rural schools, provided that the increase in overall rural efficiency would be greater than the decrease, if any, in the city. Future research directions are discussed.

Vol 4, No 1 (2009): Exploring the impact of applicants’ gender and religion on principals’ screening decisions for assistant principal...

In this experimental study, a national random sample of high school principals (stratified by gender) were asked to evaluate hypothetical applicants whose resumes varied by religion (Jewish, Catholic, nondenominational) and gender (male, female) for employment as assistant principals. Results reveal that male principals rate all applicants higher than female principals and that the gender and religion of applicants failed to negatively or positively affect principals’ evaluations. These results suggest that discrimination based on an applicant’s gender and religion failed to be manifested during the pre-interview stage of the selection process. The paper concludes with a theoretical discussion of the distinction between explicit and implicit prejudice, and encourages future researchers to investigate the potential impact of prejudice on employment selection decisions and to consider whether schools should promote diversity in leadership positions.

2008

Vol 3, No 9 (2008): Corruption and Educational Outcomes: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Corruption is a problem that continues to plague developed and developing countries worldwide. Previous studies have explored the negative implications of corruption on several aspects of human development, but, despite its serious and long-lasting consequences, the impact of corruption on educational outcomes has started to receive attention only in recent years. This study empirically investigates the relationship between corruption and educational outcomes, using a sample of 50 countries. Study findings show that corruption is negatively associated with educational outcomes, after controlling for other variables, and suggest that continued efforts be made to control corruption.

Vol 3, No 8 (2008): Trends in Technology Planning and Funding in Florida K-12 Public Schools

This empirical research investigates trends in technology planning and funding in Florida’s K–12 public schools between the 2003–04 and 2005–06 academic years. Survey items that focused on funding and planning issues on Florida’s statewide school technology integration survey were analyzed using logistic models. Results indicate a significant increase in the number of schools revising their technology plans on a regular basis; a significant increase in the frequency with which Florida’s K–12 public schools are seeking funding for technology-related initiatives; a significant increase in parent, administrator, teacher, and student involvement in the technology planning process; and a significant decline in adequate funding for software and hardware needs. In addition, schools with low proportions of economically disadvantaged students sought and were awarded significantly more funds from donations and federal and state grants. Implications for educational leadership and policy are provided.

Vol 3, No 7 (2008): Administrator Perceptions of School Improvement Policies in a High-Impact Policy Setting

This study investigated school administrators’ perceptions of school improvement policies in a high-impact policy environment by measuring the impact of accountability, site-based management, professional development, and scheduling reform on the three dependent variables of a) academic outcomes, b) staff morale, and c) parent and community involvement. Using a convenience sampling method, 49 public school principals from Texas participated and an online survey was constructed to gather both quantitative (i.e., Likert scale) and qualitative (i.e., open ended response) data. The findings clearly point to principals, regardless of geographical district type and grade level school type, viewing less controversial and more intrinsically oriented policies (i.e., site-based management and professional development) as having a greater positive impact on outcomes as a whole than more radical alternatives (i.e., accountability and time and schedule reform). The evidence suggests that more aggressive school improvement policy approaches are likely failing to generate enough convincing outcomes to generate high commitment and confidence from school leaders. Further studies may look at the interaction of policy impact with minority student enrollments and with subgroup populations.

Vol 3, No 6 (2008): Testing the Testing: Validity of a State Growth Model

Possible threats to the validity of North Carolina’s accountability model used to predict academic growth were investigated in two ways: the state’s regression equations were replicated but updated to utilize current testing data and not that from years past as in the state’s current model; and the updated equations were expanded to include additional socioeconomic, financial, and demographic variables. The updated equations were found to explain a very low proportion of the variance in growth statewide, with R2 values ranging from .054 to .135. This suggests that the state’s model is extremely unpredictive of academic growth. The expanded equations were found to offer almost twice as much predictive power as the updated equations and, hence, the state’s model.

Vol 3, No 5 (2008): A Study of Counselors' Legal Challenges and Their Perceptions of Their Ability to Respond

The authors explore the results of a study that assessed the types and frequency of legal issues encountered by counselors and counselors’ perceptions of their ability to respond to these issues. They also assessed whether the participants’ perceptions were related to practice setting, years of experience, completion of a course in ethics, recent completion of continuing education in ethics or legal issues, state licensure status, certification by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC), and highest degree earned. Results demonstrate that counselors feel most prepared to deal with situations encountered most often, but that school counselors do not feel as prepared to face most ethical and legal issues.

Vol 3, No 4 (2008): Rankings of International Achievement Test Performance and Economic Strength: Correlation or Conjecture?

Examining a popular political notion, this article presents results from a series of Spearman Rho calculations conducted to investigate relationships between countries’ rankings on international tests of mathematics and science and future economic competitiveness as measured by the 2006 World Economic Forum’s Growth Competitiveness Index (GCI). The study investigated the existence of relationships between international test rankings from three different time periods during the last 50 years of U.S. education policy development (i.e., 1957–1982, 1983–2000, and 2001–2006) and 2006 GCI ranks. It extends previous research on the topic by investigating how GCI rankings in the top 50 percent and bottom 50 percent relate to rankings on international tests for the countries that participated in each test. The study found that the relationship between ranks on international tests of mathematics and science and future economic strength is stronger among nations with lower-performing economies. Nations with strong economies, such as the United States, demonstrate a weaker, nonsignificant relationship.

Africentric education leadership: Theory and practice

This article unveils the largely unknown theories and practices of “cultural reattachment Africentric education leaders,” because many people of African descent are now choosing to reattach (in whole or in part) to aspects of certain African cultures (such as Wolof or Akan). The article offers a brief background of African-centered education, discusses the theories and philosophies of Africentric education leaders, and explicates the methodology of this Africentric research project. Africentric education leaders are concerned about black communities becoming more avaricious but less unified; therefore, they offer African cultural ethos to combat both miseducation and individualism. This article also provides policy recommendations for instituting Africentric education as a comprehensive approach to address myriad problems being faced by black children and communities. In this research I advocate for Africentric theory and also employ ethnographic methods as I examine Africentric education practice.

Vol 3, No 2 (2008): Principal leadership in new teacher induction: Becoming agents of change

This small-scale pilot study investigated the role of school principals in the induction of new teachers in Ontario, Canada. Building upon the theoretical framework of Bolman and Deal (2002), as well as interviews, document analysis, and review of extant literature, the following findings were established: (a) Principals expressed that the educative mentorship of novices requires the engagement of the entire school community; and (b) Principals, veterans, and novices saw teaching as an intellectual, moral, and political endeavor that required their collective involvement. We suggest that principals employ the notion of “communities of practice” to instill a culture of support for new teacher induction.

Vol 3, No 1 (2008): Arts-based instructional leadership: Crafting a supervisory practice that supports the art of teaching

If teaching at its best is an art (Davis, 2005; Sarason, 1999; Grumet, 1993; Eisner, 1985; Barone, 1983; Greene, 1971; Smith 1971), then instructional leadership of teaching, done best, must also be based in art (Behar-Horenstein, 2004; Klein, 1999; Eisner, 1983 & 1998a; Blumberg, 1989; Barone, 1998). The author examines possible applications of an arts-based approach to instructional leadership (Blumberg, 1989; Pajak, 2003; Barone, 1998). Building on the research base regarding instructional leadership as art form, the author combines the Feldman Method (Feldman, 1995) of critique, Eisner’s (1998) notion of connoisseurship, and Ragans’ (2005) articulation of the elements of art and the principles of design to construct a practice that captures both the technical craft of teaching and the aesthetic dimensions evident in artistic pedagogy (Eisner, 1983; Sarason, 1999). Preliminary results of an ongoing implementation study are presented.

2007

Vol 2, No 8 (2007): Using deliberation to address controversial issues: Developing Holocaust education curriculum...

This paper explores how a cross-cultural project responded to the need for new Holocaust educational materials for the Republic of Latvia through the method of curriculum deliberation. Analysis of interview, observational, and document data drawn from seven curriculum writers and numerous project members suggest that curriculum deliberation helped awaken a controversial and silenced history while attending to a wide range of needs and concerns for a variety of stakeholders. The findings highlight structural features that empowered the curriculum writers as they engaged in protracted rumination, reflected upon competing norms, and considered the nuances of the curriculum problem in relation to implementation. Understanding the process, challenges, and promises of cross-cultural curriculum deliberation holds significance for educators, curricularists, and educational researchers wishing to advance teaching and learning within silenced histories and controversial issues.

Vol 2, No 7 (2007): Professionalism, Demographics, and Motivation: Predictors of Job Satisfaction Among Nigerian Teachers

This research article examines the intensity of satisfaction in the teaching career amongst the secondary school teaching workforce and identifies some work-related factors associated with job satisfaction. The main focus of this study is to probe the impact of the hygiene and motivation factors as a predictor of job satisfaction and see how they align with other existing studies. For the purpose of this study, hygiene factors are factors that cause dissatisfaction and motivation factors are factors that cause employees to be satisfied with their job. A questionnaire was used for data gathering, and multiple statistical procedures were employed in the analysis. The findings revealed that both the extrinsic (hygiene) and the intrinsic (motivation) factors are predictors of job satisfaction. In particular, this research work is written for educational administrators, policymakers and planners that are interested in empirical information methods that might help them improve secondary schooling in Nigeria and elsewhere.

Vol 2, No 6 (2007): Teacher Education Reform in the United States and the Theoretical Constructs of Stakeholder Mediation

In the United States, 48 of the 50 states have adopted standards-based policies that attempt to reform teacher education and licensing from an input-based course and credit system to one based on outcomes and performance through their authority to approve preparation programs. This article draws from qualitative, collective case study research that examines implementation tensions between the new program approval policies and the program administrators, faculty, and students of teaching at three Wisconsin teacher-preparing institutions.The findings suggest that stakeholders' beliefs and sensemaking mediate the policy directives to the point that program completers continue to receive the same preparation despite reform efforts. The theoretical constructs to support this claim are presented and potentially shed light on stakeholder mediation in other education reform efforts.

Vol 2, No 5 (2007): Deciding to Change: One District’s Quest to Improve Overall Student Performance

This single case study of a school district responding to federal and state accountability pressures presents a rare analysis of educational decision making as it happens. It focuses in particular on the challenges and choices of making a strategic decision and the transition from that decision into implementation. Using a conceptual framework of multiple stakeholder decision making and a mixed methodology, this article demonstrates who has influence in decision making, how that influence directs decision making, and the effects of the ways in which strategic change decisions are communicated. This particular school district formulated its change decision collaboratively but issued an implementation directive to the schools that was hierarchical in nature. The result is rapid implementation with some unresolved problems. Practical implications suggest that education leaders can be thoughtful about aligning transition choices with desired outcomes. Research implications lead to further examination of implementation consequences stemming from transition choices.

Vol 2, No 4 (2007): Accountability Systems: A Comparative Analysis of Superintendent, Principal, and Teacher Perceptions

A key assumption of NCLB appears to be that assessment data in and of itself can foster or promote change. Specifically, the supposition is that by requiring assessment data to be reported yearly, schools will be motivated - and will have the ability - to address those areas where student achievement is lagging. This assumption rests on the notion that educator competence in understanding and utilizing such data will result in academic success. Testing this assumption with empirical evidence is an important component of researching the efficacy of current accountability policies and practices in general. Over the past three years we have been involved in a series of empirical examinations of accountability. Each of these studies has been aimed at gathering varied perspectives on and about accountability, ranging from superintendents to principals to teachers. Our research examines education accountability at three interconnected layers: district administrators, principals, and teachers. This nested data set (superintendents were surveyed, as were their principals, and their principals’ teachers) allows for not only an examination of the perceptions and reflections of the members of each group but also for an evaluation of the consistency of those beliefs across the members of the educational community. This study will present findings from research projects that speak to each of these levels, focusing on how each understands education accountability and how those meanings are consistent across groups and to what degree.

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