International Handbook of School Effectiveness and Improvement: Review, Reflection and Reframing (Springer International Handbooks of Education)

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International Handbook of School Effectiveness and Improvement: Review, Reflection and Reframing (Springer International Handbooks of Education)


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Springer International Handbooks of Education VOLUME 17

A list of titles in this series can be found at the end of this volume.

International Handbook of School Effectiveness and Improvement Part One

Edited by

Tony Townsend Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL, U.S.A.

with Beatrice Avalos, Brian Caldwell, Yin-Cheong Cheng, Brahm Fleisch, Lejf Moos, Louise Stoll, Sam Stringfield, Kirsten Sundell, Wai-ming Tam, Nick Taylor, and Charles Teddlie

A C.I.P. Catalogue record for this book is available from the Library of Congress.

ISBN-13 978-1-4020-4805-0 (HB) ISBN-13 978-1-4020-5747-2 (e-book)

Published by Springer, P.O. Box 17, 3300 AA Dordrecht, The Netherlands.

Printed on acid-free paper

All Rights Reserved © 2007 Springer No part of this work may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, microfilming, recording or otherwise, without written permission from the Publisher, with the exception of any material supplied specifically for the purpose of being entered and executed on a computer system, for exclusive use by the purchaser of the work.


Hedley Beare

It is fitting that this book is dedicated to Hedley Beare, former President of the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI), for he epitomizes all that ICSEI stands for in its mission to span the boundaries of research, policy and practice. Hedley Beare is unique among scholars in the field of education. He has had leadership experience at senior levels in three of the eight systems of public education in Australia. In the 1990s, following initial appointments in South Australia, he was awarded a Harkness Fellowship to undertake a Doctor of Education degree at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In the decade that followed, he established the two most recently created systems of public education in Australia. In the first of these, in the Northern Territory, it was leadership under the most challenging of circumstances, for he played a key role in the evacuation of Darwin following Cyclone Tracey in 1972. In 1973 he became the first Chief Executive Officer of the newly-created ACT (Australian Capital Territory) Schools Authority, based in Canberra, where he was a leader in what many regard as the most innovative time in school education in Australia, with a powerful role for the community through the creation of school boards (councils) and the establishment of senior secondary colleges. He displayed an approach to leadership and management that was the subject of study around the nation. It was with this background that he was appointed in 1981 as the first professor in the field of educational administration at the University of Melbourne. His career achievements to this point had no counterpart, and would satisfy most people for a lifetime. It was, however, just the start of another career, this time of sparkling scholarship. He co-authored Creating an Excellent School in 1989 that was a best-seller for its international publisher for more than a decade. His review of the literature on school effectiveness and school improvement in that book was a masterpiece, and provided a framework for his contributions in establishing ICSEI in Australia in the late 1980s and his international role as world president of ICSEI in the mid 1990s. v



The scholarship of Hedley Beare in the twenty-first century opened with the publication in 2001 of Creating the Future School. It remains the definitive work on the topic as we pass the mid-point of the first decade of the millennium. It was the outcome of landmark lectures at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo. With insights solidly grounded in his own leadership in the manner described above, he had for more than a decade been looking to the future with a series of presentations and publications that were logically argued and inspirational in their impact. His writing could not be assailed because he presented likely and preferred futures in the context of developments over centuries, with consistent application of timeless values. In 2006 he wrote an important pamphlet for the London-based Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT) entitled How We Envisage Schooling in the 21st Century. It was an important contribution to International Networking for Educational Transformation (iNet), the Trust’s project to link schools around the globe that are committed to significant, systematic and sustained change that leads to high levels of achievement for all students in all settings. The mission of iNet is similar to that of ICSEI. The best of Hedley Beare was on display as he effortlessly and gracefully drew from history, philosophy, spirituality, ethics, curriculum, pedagogy, technology, economics, leadership, management and politics to explain the new education imaginary. Hedley Beare has received a rare combination of awards in Australian education. He is a Fellow of the two largest professional bodies that span all sectors and levels of education, namely, the Australian College of Educators (ACE) and the Australian Council of Educational Leaders (ACEL). He is the Patron of ACEL. He was the first person to receive the highest award of each body: the College Medal (ACE) and the Gold Medal (ACEL). In 2004 he was named National Educator of the Year by The Bulletin, Australia’s leading weekly news magazine, that each year selects 100 leaders in innovation in different fields around the nation. Hedley Beare thus brings the wisdom and experience of five decades of leadership in education to this book. He reveals in Chapter 1 the same masterful grasp of reform in education and deep understanding of the contributions along the way of the effectiveness and improvement movements. It is rich in imagery, as illustrated in the opening paragraph: “What follows are the observations of an old man of the sea, weather-beaten and bronzed, but not browned off by riding for several decades the dumpers, and with the same exuberance as the dolphins do. Nothing is quite as exhilarating as when the surf is up, and I have seen a lot of it.” Brian J. Caldwell The University of Melbourne



xiii Part One

Section 1 A Review of the Progress 1



20 Years of ICSEI: The Impact of School Effectiveness and School Improvement on School Reform Tony Townsend


Four Decades of Body-Surfing the Breakers of School Reform: Just Waving, Not Drowning Hedley Beare


Generic and Differentiated Models of Educational Effectiveness: Implications for the Improvement of Educational Practice Leonidas Kyriakides



Improving School Effectiveness: Retrospective and Prospective John MacBeath



School Effectiveness Research in Latin America Javier Murillo



“Effective for What; Effective for Whom?” Two Questions SESI Should Not Ignore Ira Bogotch, Luis Mirón, and Gert Biesta


Pursuing the Contextualisation Agenda: Recent Progress and Future Prospects Martin Thrupp, Ruth Lupton, and Ceri Brown



Section 2 A World Showcase: School Effectiveness and Improvement from all Corners The Americas 8


A History of School Effectiveness and Improvement Research in the USA Focusing on the Past Quarter Century Charles Teddlie and Sam Stringfield


History of the School Effectiveness and Improvement Movement in Canada over the Past 25 Years Larry Sackney




Table of Contents


School Improvement in Latin America: Innovations over 25 Years (1980–2006) Beatrice Avalos


Europe 11


Growing Together: School Effectiveness and School Improvement in the UK Louise Stoll and Pam Sammons


Educational Effectiveness and Improvement: The Development of the Field in Mainland Europe Bert P. M. Creemers


Asia and the Pacific 13

School Effectiveness and Improvement in Asia: Three Waves, Nine Trends and Challenges Yin-Cheong Cheng and Wai-ming Tam



School Effectiveness and Improvement in Taiwan Hui-Ling Pan



School Effectiveness and Improvement in Mainland China Daming Feng



The Maturing of a Movement: Tracking Research, Policy and Practice in Australia Brian Caldwell


Schooling Reform: Reflections on the New Zealand Experience Howard Fancy

307 325

Africa and the Middle East 18




History of the School Effectiveness and Improvement Movement in Africa Brahm Fleisch


School Autonomy for School Effectiveness and Improvement: The Case of Israel Ami Volansky


Recent Initiatives in School Effectiveness and Improvement: The . Case of Turkey Ismail Güven


Recent Initiatives in School Effectiveness and Improvement: The Case of the Islamic Republic of Iran Azam Azimi


Table of Contents


Section 3 Resources, School Effectiveness and Improvement 22

The Relationship Between Student Attainment and School Resources Rosalind Levaˇci´c



Accountability, Funding and School Improvement in Canada Charles Ungerleider and Ben Levin



Cost and Financing of Education and Its Impact on Coverage and Quality of Services and Efficiency and Equity in Sub-Saharan African Countries Alain Mingat


Resources and School Effectiveness and Improvement Jim Spinks

425 451

Part Two Section 4 Accountability and Diversity, School Effectiveness and Improvement 26



School Effectiveness and School Improvement (SESI): Links with the International Standards/Accountability Agenda David Reynolds


Evolution of School Performance Research in the USA: From School Effectiveness to School Accountability and Back Susan Kochan


Education Decentralisation and Accountability Relationships in Latin American and the Caribbean Region Emanuela Di Gropello



Equity, Efficiency and the Development of South African Schools Nick Taylor


Policy Perspective on School Effectiveness and Improvement at the State Level: The Case of South Australia Steve Marshall


Diverse Populations and School Effectiveness and Improvement in the USA Sue Lasky, Amanda Datnow, Sam Stringfield, and Kirsten Sundell




Section 5 Changing Schools Through Strategic Leadership 32


School Leadership, School Effectiveness and School Improvement: Democratic and Integrative Leadership Lejf Moos and Stephan Huber Leadership and School Reform Factors Robert J. Marzano

579 597


Table of Contents


The Emotional Side of School Improvement: A Leadership Perspective Kenneth Leithwood



Leadership and School Effectiveness and Improvement Halia Silins and Bill Mulford



Leadership Development for School Effectiveness and Improvement in East Asia Allan Walker, Philip Hallinger, and Haiyan Qian


Section 6 Changing Teachers and Classrooms for School Improvement 37

Teacher Leadership: Barriers and Supports Joseph Murphy


The Continuing Professional Development of Teachers: Issues of Coherence, Cohesion and Effectiveness Chris Day and Ruth Leitch




The Evolving Role of Teachers in Effective Schools Eugene Schaffer, Roberta Devlin-Scherer, and Sam Stringfield


Teacher Education and Professional Development for Sustainable School Effectiveness Wai-ming Tam and Yin-Cheong Cheng


School and Teacher Effectiveness: Implications of Findings from Evidence-Based Research on Teaching and Teacher Quality Ken Rowe





System Supports for Teacher Learning and School Improvement Janet H. Chrispeels, Carrie A. Andrews with Margarita González



Curriculum Reforms and Instructional Improvement in Asia Kerry Kennedy


Section 7 Models of School Improvement 44



Effective School Improvement – Ingredients for Success: The Results of an International Comparative Study of Best Practice Case Studies Bert P. M. Creemers, Louise Stoll, Gerry Reezigt, and the ESI Team Self-Directed Learning as a Key Approach to Effectiveness of Education: A Comparison among Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan Magdalena Mo-Ching Mok, Yin-Cheong Cheng, Shing-On Leung, Peter Wen-Jing Shan, Phillip Moore, and Kerry Kennedy Coming and Going: Educational Policy and Secondary School Strategy in the Context of Poverty – Latin American Case Studies Claudia Jacinto and Ada Freytes




Table of Contents




The School Review Process: The Case of the British Schools in Latin America David Bamford


Inquiry-Based Science Education and Its Impact on School Improvement: The ECBI Program in Chile Rosa Devés and Patricia López



Creating New Schools Using Evidence Based Solutions – A Case Study Jenny Lewis


Best Practice in Secondary School Improvement: The Case of Salisbury High School Helen Paphitis



Afterword Learning from the Past to Reframe the Future 51

School Effectiveness and Improvement in the Twenty-First Century: Reframing for the Future Tony Townsend


About the Contributors





This book celebrates twenty years of the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement. According to Judith Chapman’s report in the first issue of the Australian Network News (1989, p. 1): The initiative for ICES was taken by Dale Mann, former Chairperson (1976–85) of the Department of Educational Administration, Teachers’ College, Columbia University, who served as the first Chairperson (1984–85) for the National Council for Effective Schools in the United States ... [who] felt it timely to bring policy-makers, researchers and planners together. By mid-1987 eight countries, the USA, England, Wales, Scotland, Australia, Sweden, Canada and South Africa had shown sufficient interest for an international congress to be conducted in late 1987 or early 1988. “The planning group at Columbia was interested in a Congress in two parts: (1) a conference on school effectiveness open to all with an interest and with papers presented in the normal fashion for such events, and (2) a decision-making meeting at which the organization would be formally constituted and decisions made.” (Chapman, 1989, p. 1) In January 1988, the first Congress was held at the University of London. Policy makers, practitioners and scholars from 14 countries, including the initial 8, together with Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, the Netherlands and Norway, attended the Congress and adopted the name “International Congress for School Effectiveness.” Two years later, to reflect the intimate connection between school effectiveness and school improvement, the name was changed to the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement. As Smink concluded (1991, p. 1) “both approaches need the other to successfully modernize the system.” Since that time conferences have been hosted all over the world, both in Western and Eastern Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific. Each conference has been hosted by a local group of researchers and practitioners who wanted to share xiii



what they were doing with the rest of the world in the hope that both the visitors and the hosts would learn something new, would do something differently or look at the issues of student learning in a different light. The chapters in this book, which outline the developments, and the conditions under which those developments have taken place, from countries around the world, have clearly demonstrated how far school effectiveness research and school improvement developments have come since the early work of Weber (1971) and Edmonds (1978, 1979a, 1979b, 1981) in the United States and Reynolds (1976) and Rutter and colleagues (1979) in the United Kingdom. This book has emerged from a series of discussions conducted over more than a year by people who have guided the development of the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement over the years. All have been key researchers in the field and many have been actively involved in the ICSEI Board, have hosted international congresses or have been involved in editorships of journals in the field. In short, the people who have overseen this book have overseen the development of the field for the past 20 years. The book came about because people in various parts of the world agreed to let the story of what is happening in their part of the world be told. I am extremely grateful for the work that each of the regional editors has undertaken and without them this book would never have been put together. Beatrice Avalos in Latin America, Charles Teddlie, Sam Stringfield and Kirsten Sundell in North America, Yin-Cheong Cheng and Wai-ming Tam in Asia and the Middle East, Louise Stoll and Lejf Moos in Europe, Brian Caldwell in Australia and Brahm Fleisch and Nick Taylor in Africa, have all commissioned papers that collectively document the world history of school effectiveness and school improvement. This is the state of the field midway through the first decade of the new millennium. Tony Townsend Boca Raton, Florida December 2006

References Chapman, J. (1989). “Australian network grows from international beginning” in Network News 1(1), p. 1. Edmonds, R. (1978). “A Discussion of the Literature and Issues Related to Effective Schooling.” A paper presented to National Conference on Urban Education, CEMREL, St. Louis, USA. Edmonds, R. (1979a). “Effective Schools for the Urban Poor.” Educational Leadership, 37(1), 15–27. Edmonds, R. (1979b). “Some Schools Work and More Can.” Social Policy, 9(4), 28–32. Edmonds, R. (1981). “Making Public Schools Effective.” Social Policy, 12(4), 56–60. Reynolds, D. (1976). “The Delinquent School.” In P. Woods (Ed.), The process of schooling. London: Routledge. Rutter, M., Maughan, B., Mortimore, P., & Ouston, J. (1979). Fifteen thousand hours: Secondary schools and effects on children. Boston: Harvard University Press. Smink, G. (1991). “The Cardiff Conference, ICSEI 1991”. Network News International, 1(3), 2–6. Weber, G. (1971). Inner city children can be taught to read: Four successful schools. Washington, DC: Council for Basic Education.

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Tony Townsend

Introduction In January 2007, in Slovenia, the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI) celebrated its twentieth year of bringing people together. Conferences have been held in many parts of the world and each year, key educational researchers, practitioners and policy makers have been brought together to consider ways of making school effective for all students who enter them. Murphy argued (1991, pp. 166–168) that there are four factors which can be considered as the legacy of school effectiveness. He suggests the most fundamental of the four is that “given appropriate conditions, all children can learn.” The second product of the school effectiveness research stems from a rejection of the historical perspective that good schools and bad schools could be identified by the socio-economic status of the area in which they were located. School effectiveness examined student outcomes, not in absolute terms, but in terms of the value added to students’ abilities by the school, rather than the outside-of-school factors. He further argued that school effectiveness researchers were the first to reject the philosophy that “poor academic performance and deviant behaviour have been defined as problems of individual children or their families” (Cuban, 1989; Murphy, 1991). School effectiveness helped to eliminate the practice of “blaming the victim for the shortcomings of the school.” Finally, the research showed that “the better schools are more tightly linked – structurally, symbolically and culturally – than the less effective ones.” There was a greater degree of consistency and co-ordination in terms of the curriculum, the teaching and the organisation within the school. The effective schools research seems to have had the underlying purpose of developing practical means for school improvement, but there are some important distinctions and relationships between school effectiveness and school improvement that can be identified. As Smink pointed out: 3 T. Townsend (Ed.), International Handbook of School Effectiveness and Improvement, 3–26. © 2007 Springer.



School effectiveness is concerned with results. Researchers try to describe certain variables for school success in measurable terms. On the other hand, school improvement places the accent on the process; here one finds a broad description of all the variables that play a role in a school improvement project. Both approaches need the other to successfully modernize the system. (Smink, 1991, p. 3) Substantial progress has been made from the early 1980s, when the five factor model of school effectiveness (leadership, instructional focus, climate conducive to learning, high expectations and consistent measurement of pupil achievement; Edmonds, 1979) was paramount, to a time in the 1990s when it was widely acknowledged that the effectiveness of any school must be considered within the context in which that school operates rather than simply on the various “ingredients” that help to make up the school’s operations. A number of studies at that time suggested that the level of effectiveness of schools varied on the basis of the social environment of the school’s locality (Hallinger & Murphy, 1986), with the outcomes being measured (Mortimore, Sammons, Stoll, Lewis, & Ecob, 1988), the stage of development the school has reached (Stringfield & Teddlie, 1991), the social class mix of the students (Blakey & Heath, 1992) or even the country in which the research was conducted (Scheerens & Creemers, 1989; Wildy & Dimmock, 1992). It had also been shown that total school performance, in terms of its effectiveness, can vary over time (Nuttall, 1992); that schools that are effective are not necessarily effective in all things; some might be effective academically, but not in terms of social outcomes, or vice-versa (Mortimore et al., 1988); nor are they necessarily effective for all students, since different school effects can occur for children from different groups within the same school (Nuttall, Goldstein, Prosser, & Rasbash, 1989). Now school effectiveness and school improvement, in both research and practice, are so mainstream that they almost no longer need any explanation.

An International Perspective Country reports have always been part of the development of ICSEI. At the first Congress of 1988 they formed a major part of the offerings. As Creemers and Osinga (1995, p. 1) indicate: “The major studies (Brookover, Beady, Flood, & Schweitzer, 1979; Mortimore et al., 1988; Rutter, Maughan, Mortimore, & Ouston, with Smith, 1979) were well known but almost nobody had a full picture of the studies and the improvement projects going on in the field in all the countries participating in this first meeting.” A selection of the reports from this first meeting was published in Creemers, Peters, and Reynolds (1989). The second meeting in Rotterdam in 1989 continued the tradition of having country reports and the publication by Creemers et al. (1989) clearly demonstrated that the search for the more effective school was no longer just a tradition in North America and Europe. However, it also became clear that the time it took for research to turn into practice meant that it was not necessary to have country reports at ICSEI in every subsequent year. As it was, there was much new research and activity to report on in all parts of the world that needed to take precedence in the formative years of ICSEI.

20 Years of ICSEI


Consequently, the next major attempt to collate a series of country reports was made for the Leeuwarden conference in 1995 where nine countries from Europe, North America, Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific region joined to become part of the ICSEI reporting network. The major theme of this conference was to try and establish the links between school effectiveness and school improvement. David Reynolds, Jaap Scheerens and Sam Stringfield were invited to comment on some of the developments that seemed to be happening on an international level. These opinions provided a context in which worldwide development in school effectiveness and school improvement, in the areas of research, policy and practice might be judged. Some of the country reports were subsequently published in School Effectiveness and School Improvement (Vol. 7, No. 2, 1996). In 1998, with the support of the Manchester conference, with its theme of “Reaching out to all learners” ICSEI country reports were reactivated, but with the special brief of trying to increase both the number and the diversity of the countries that provided a report. With the specific intent of trying to encourage educators in some new countries to consider development that might fall within the purview of school effectiveness and improvement, whilst maintaining contact with countries that had previously reported. The result was Third Millennium Schools: A World of Difference in School Effectiveness and Improvement (Townsend, Clarke, & Ainscow, 1999) which contained a total of 20 country reports, with some countries not previously represented. New countries from Scandanavia, from the Pacific, from Asia, Africa and from South America were included. It was now possible to see what was happening to education, not only in rich, developed western countries, where the school effectiveness research and school improvement policies and practices were well developed, although not necessarily well implemented, but we were able to chart the progress of countries where the use of the school effectiveness research was comparatively new, countries that had to deal with issues such as making judgements about what effectiveness means when not every child attends school and countries that were struggling to come to grips with the aftermath of military or oppressive regimes. The International Handbook of School Effectiveness Research (Teddlie & Reynolds, 2000) and Improving Schools and Educational Systems: International Perspectives (Harris & Chrispeels, 2006) provided a further evidence of the interest in, and developing understanding of, the international perspective of school effectiveness and school improvement, a tradition that the current volume continues. However, the school effectiveness research has not been universally accepted by educational researchers. Over the years there have been many critics of school effectiveness research, none more so than Roger Slee, Gaby Weiner (see Slee & Weiner, with Tomlinson, 1998) and Martin Thrupp (see Thrupp, 1999) and so the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI) was invited by the American Education Research Association to present a symposium on international developments in school effectiveness and improvement research, which brought the proponents of school effectiveness research face to face with the critics. On Wednesday April 26, 2000, the session entitled “School effectiveness comes of age: 21 years after Edmonds and Rutter, has school effectiveness had a positive or



negative effect on school reform?” was offered to participants at the New Orleans AERA conference. Four papers were offered and a lively debate ensued. The four papers made a very neat package. Two of the papers, “Education reform and reconstruction as a challenge to research genres: Reconsidering school effectiveness research and inclusive schooling” (Slee & Weiner, 2001), and “Reflections on the critics, and beyond them” (Reynolds & Teddlie, 2001), approached the issue from a global perspective. The other set of papers, “Sociological and political concerns about school effectiveness research: Time for a new research agenda” Thrupp (2001) and “Countering the critics: Responses to recent criticisms of school effectiveness research” (Teddlie & Reynolds, 2001) made a much more specific analysis of the issues. It is almost as if with the first set of papers we see the whole forest and with the second set, we see the individual trees. Having both provided a perspective not often available to researchers. So popular was the session and so well received were the papers, that it was decided to publish them in the Journal of School Effectiveness and School Improvement (Vol. 12, No. 1, March 2001) as a means of expanding the debate.

The Current Volume The above serves as a backdrop to the current handbook, which merges the traditions that have developed with the organization itself. First it looks at the development of the linked disciplines of effectiveness and improvement, both through the eyes of proponents and the eyes of those that wish to critique it. Second, it provides an opportunity for the inclusion of country and regional reports as a mechanism to better understand what is happening in various parts of the world. Seven regions of the world are included; North America and Latin America, Europe, Asia, Australasia, Africa and the Middle East. Never before has such a comprehensive collection of papers from various regions of the world been collected together. Third, it provides a link between school effectiveness and improvement and some of the other global issues for education in the modern world; the issues of resourcing, accountability and policy development and working with diverse populations. Fourth, it looks at the people issues, with both a focus on leadership and teacher development. Finally, it provides some specific case studies where school improvement practices using school effectiveness theories have been successful.

Section 1: A Review of the Progress In the first section of the book we have tried to provide the reader with an overview of the progress in School Effectiveness and School Improvement (SESI) research, since it was first mentioned in the 1970s. To do this we have provided an overview of the factors that have affected SESI research and responses to those factors, a chapter that considers the connectedness between school effectiveness and teacher effectiveness research, a chapter that provides an example of the types of research that uses the principles and theories of school effectiveness and improvement and two chapters that seek to identify

20 Years of ICSEI


the limitations of SESI research and provide some possible ways forward that might encourage the authors of those chapters to accept school effectiveness research in the future. In Chapter 2, Hedley Beare, whose thoughts and practice have been so influential on education in Australia and indeed have helped to shape ICSEI itself, provides a masterful review of where ICSEI and school education finds itself today. He provides an overview of the conditions after the World War II and subsequently that have created the pathway upon which ICSEI has found itself and documents the beginnings and progress of ICSEI through this turbulent period of human history. He weaves together the issues that are facing the world at large and the implications that these bring for those in education and he leaves us with the critical challenge that all educators must face. If the world (and education) changes as much in the next 20 years as it has in the past 20 years, what must we do today that will put us at the forefront of these changes in the future. How will education change and how must ICSEI change to remain relevant to the future needs of school students? This is a challenge that we cannot ignore and hopefully, some ways to move forward will become apparent in the rest of chapters in this handbook. In Chapter 3, Leonidas Kyriakides investigates the differentiated nature of both school effectiveness and teacher effectiveness. He discusses the issues surrounding the assumptions that an effective school is effective all the time and for all the students and demonstrates that the analysis must be much more fine-grained than this. He argues that is it primarily the teacher’s adaptive behavior that enables students with different needs to be accommodated that leads to effective classrooms and eventually effective schools, but because of this the unit of investigation may need to shift from the school to the department or even the classroom. He also argues that schools are much more important to students that are disadvantaged than to those that are not, which suggests that a differentiated approach needs to be adopted to really understand how effective teachers might be for different groups of students. He also argues for more longitudinal studies as means of overcoming some of the current methodological problems associated with the case study approach. In Chapter 4, John MacBeath provides us with an overview of a single study, the Improving School Effectiveness Project (ISEP) project in Scotland. This chapter is an important contribution because it not only provides the reader with an overview of how a school effectiveness project might be developed, managed and evaluated, but it is also important because of some of the findings of the project itself and the reflections of the author. The chapter clearly shows how nothing in schools can be taken for granted. What works in one place (e.g., the critical friend) fails to work somewhere else. Some of the findings are used by some schools and school leaders as a mechanism for improvement but are rejected out of hand by others. But what is also important is the reflection of the researcher, where he identifies how much the world has changed outside of school, technologically, socially and in terms of work and family, but how little things have changed inside of school, partially because schools are being measured, with more and more surveillance, in the ways they have always been measured. It clearly shows that the disconnect between schools and the rest of the world cannot continue if success in life is the goal.



In Chapter 5, Javier Murillo provides us with an overview of the Latin American research, which paralleled that of the research in other parts of the world, but is largely unknown because of it mostly being written in Spanish. He also argues however, that part of the reason the Latin American research is largely unknown comes from the assumption by “the big fish” that what works in the context of large developed countries, equally applies in other contexts as well. As well as providing an overview of the research that has been conducted in the past (largely production function based, because of the various countries’ concerns about results) and that which is currently being conducted, he provides us with an argument why we need to learn more about research from various country contexts if we are to develop a truly global approach to effectiveness. Chapter 6 sees our first attempt to provide the critics of the SESI research with an opportunity to review the field, express their concerns and to identify possible ways forward. Ira Bogotch, Luis Mirón, and Gert Biesta welcome the progress that ICSEI has made over the past thirty years but remain concerned on two major fronts. The first they characterize as “effective for what?” where they argue that the inputs and outputs model used by many school effectiveness researchers does not consider the critical nature of what happens between inputs and outputs, what has come to be known as the “black-box” of teaching and learning. They argue that by ignoring this, SESI researchers make an assumption that what is currently being measured is the same as what should be measured and suggest that SESI research should also consider the question of the purpose of education as well as simply the technological consideration brought about by the progress from input to output. Their second major criticism is identified as “effective for whom?” which suggests that SESI researchers have become researchers “in-demand” and in doing so have ignored an opportunity to be research activists, where research is a means to changing what is rather than simply looking at what is. In Chapter 7, Martin Thrupp, Ruth Lupton and Ceri Brown, argue that, although the SESI research has made more concessions related to school and student context, the underlying desire for generalizabilty of findings leads to a superficiality that overlooks what some schools, and people in them, are facing. They propose a contexualization agenda as a possible future development for SESI research and provide an overview of a study underway in Hampshire, England, as a means for demonstrating the types of data that a contextual approach might provide.

Section 2: A World Showcase: School Effectiveness and Improvement from all Corners In the second section of the book, we embark on a world-wide tour that provides us with an overview of the research and practice of school effectiveness and school improvement in five regions spanning the world; the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific, Africa and the Middle East. It is appropriate to start this tour in the United States as much of the work involved in the school effectiveness and school improvement areas emerged from studies that occurred in the United States in the 60s and 70s.

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In Chapter 8, Charles Teddlie and Sam Stringfield provide an overview of the antecedants to the study of school effectiveness and outline the difference between school effectiveness research, which focuses on educational processes (e.g., Brookover et al., 1979; Edmonds, 1979; Weber, 1971) and school effects research, which focuses on educational products (e.g., Coleman et al., 1966; Jencks et al., 1972). They also provide us with an analysis of the overlapping efforts of school effectiveness researchers who peaked in terms of output and interest between the 1980s and the mid 1990s and the school improvement researchers which started in the early 1990s and continue to work through what has now become known as Comprehensive School Reform. The authors outline some of the key areas where the field is still untouched, or at least underresearched, and identify a number of possible future areas of study that suggest that there is still much work to be done. They end with a plea that we use strong research to guide our improvement efforts, something that seems not to be happening as much as it should at the moment. In Chapter 9, Larry Sackney explains the difference between the American and the Canadian history of school effectiveness and improvement, with the major difference being that school education is the responsibility of the provinces (as in the USA) but with no federal system of education there is no national government that intervenes in what might happen locally. This has enabled provincial governments to adopt their own version of restructuring without something like No Child Left Behind directing the traffic. As it runs out most provinces have adopted a similar strategy and series of programs as the other provinces, but it is one that focuses more on learning and building capacity at the community level than simply measuring and reporting. Nevertheless Sackney makes the case, as do others, that unless improvement strategies focus on what happens in classrooms (which is where learning happens), then little improvement will occur. In Chapter 10, Beatrice Avalos provides us with an opportunity to see just how different are the circumstances facing less developed regions of the world, where Gross Domestic Product is just a fraction of that in the developed world and where issues of getting every child into school in the first place, in a climate of safety and support, is much higher priority than the issues of measuring how well students do when they get there. Nevertheless, as well as the efforts related to improving educational opportunities for every child, Avalos provides us with an insight into what Latin American countries are doing to improve education for students in schools as well. As with the previous chapters, it becomes obvious that the teacher is the key to student improvement. It is only when reforms are accepted, owned and implemented by teachers that real change occurs. As with the Canadian examples, the need to consider whole communities becomes apparent. We then move across the Atlantic to Europe, where issues of school effectiveness and school improvement emerged almost simultaneously with those in the United States. In Chapter 11, Louise Stoll and Pam Sammons provide an overview of the separate history of school effectiveness and school improvement research in the United Kingdom from the first studies of Reynolds (1976) and Rutter and colleagues (1979) through the formative years of Mortimore and colleagues (1988) and the impact of the



conservative governments of Thatcher and Major to a time where the quantitative and measurement based approaches associated with effectiveness met and embraced the qualitative and process based approaches of improvement. They provide us with an overview of the key studies and an insight into the need for policy-makers, researchers and practitioners to work together if real change is to be achieved. They identify some of the challenges and critiques faced by researchers in the field but are confident that the processes and structures developed during this era will continue to guide educational research into the next significant era of change and development. In Chapter 12, Bert Creemers outlines the development in the rest of Europe, where school effectiveness research started a little later than in the United Sates and the United Kingdom but has been at the forefront of much research focused on developing theoretical models for guiding effectiveness studies. He identifies the continuing tension between school effectiveness and school improvement in Europe where neither is used as well as it might be to inform and support the other, and finishes with an argument that it might be where the two meet and in the joint pursuit of both effectiveness and improvement that the next major developments may occur. The Asian-Pacific region contains some of the oldest societies known to man, but research in school effectiveness and improvement is largely unknown by the rest of the world. The work of those systems that are well known (such as Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore) reflects only a small part of the research that has emerged within the last decade. This new understanding of what has been happening in other parts of Asia is enabling school effectiveness researchers to look at school development with a new lens. In Chapter 13, Yin-Cheong Cheng and Wai-ming Tam provide an overview of the developments occurring in Asia over the past decade and a half. They identify what they call three waves of development, starting with the search for effective schools in the early 1990s followed by a search for school quality over the past few years, with the currently breaking wave of searching for what will make schools effective in this rapidly changing, increasingly diverse and technologically oriented world in the future. They identify nine trends for educators to consider and frame these within four levels of interest, the macro level, which considers national issues, the meso level, where system issues are discussed, the site level where individual schools need to address issues and the operational level where the actual processes of teaching and learning occur. Their analysis of the trends identifies a series of questions and issues that decision-makers at all levels will need to address if we are successful in our search for the effective school of the future. In Chapter 14, Wendy Hui-Ling Pan argues that many of the change processes at work in western societies simply do not fit into the Asian culture and that some of them, such as school self-management are much harder to implement because of the cultural context that exists. The current international concerns of globalization and localization are issues currently being considered in Taiwan. She outlines the reform movement accepted by the Taiwan government over the past 20 years and highlights the role of school based curriculum development, where 20% of the curriculum is determined locally. She identifies some of the issues and problems associated with having local empowerment of teachers and communities and

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highlights some possible strategies that might be used to improve the effectiveness of schools within this context. In Chapter 15, Daming Feng looks at the recent history of educational change in mainland China and in doing so further highlights the differences between a western approach and that employed by those with different cultural roots, and the difficulties implicit in just assuming a western approach can be implemented universally. He identifies the government’s move over the past decade from prioritizing key schools to the detriment of ordinary and disadvantaged schools to one where the disadvantaged schools are receiving the attention they deserve. However, his comment that “a school leader’s priority, according to the Confucian perspective of leadership, is not ‘supervision’ but tapping the natural moral source from his or her subordinates and bringing every positive factor into being” which is based on the base value of man as being essentially good (as opposed to the Christian concept of “original sin”) leads to a conflict of leadership when self-management, teacher involvement and empowerment are seen as the way forward. He identifies a series of things to consider if we are to address change in disadvantaged schools, but recognizes the inherent difficulties in trying to do this on a huge scale. In Chapter 16, Brian Caldwell outlines the history of the development of school effectiveness and school improvement research and its translation into policy and practice in Australia. He identifies five stages from early development to impending maturity in the field. Stage 1 was the development of Values – “what ought to be”; Stage 2 established Reputation – through the identification of good practice based on the early research; Stage 3 considered Modeling – which refined practice using better data and analyses; Stage 4 developed Dependability – where clarity and confidence of what can and should be done at the school level were developed; and Stage 5, which has not yet been fully realized is Alignment: where education authorities can move from what works in individual schools to whole system effectiveness. He argues for a “new enterprise logic of schools” that goes deeper than structure and function and identifies six characteristics of what should be considered if this is to be instigated. He further argues that “alignment” both between policies and practices within school systems and of resources, which now need to include intellectual capital, social capital as well as financial capital should be directed at securing high levels of achievement by all students in all settings. In Chapter 17, Howard Fancy provides an overview of the radical changes that the New Zealand government implemented in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the regional layers of education that had previously existed were removed and individual schools negotiated directly with government over education provision and accountability. He discusses the changes in governance and curriculum that were designed to keep New Zealand at the forefront of educational achievement internationally and were also tailored to ensure that the degree of variance in the performance of students from different classes of society was minimized. This development is significant in that the government has used evidence based research and development and that they came to the viewpoint that if change was to occur, it would happen through strengthening the ability and attitudes of teachers at the classroom level and the interaction of home and school at the local level. This is different to many other countries where the



focus has been on the restructuring of schools and districts or instead have put a focus on school leaders as the locus of change. In Chapter 18, Brahm Fleisch introduces us to issues in Africa where there has been little history of school effectiveness and improvement research. He argues that there are three main reasons for this. First, there are few researchers at the university level with an interest and a background in this area, and it has been university researchers that have provided the impetus in other parts of the world. Second, in a continent where issues of access and equity have taken priority after long histories of neglect in these areas, then issues of effectiveness of provision takes a back seat to just getting people into school in the first place. As Mingat points out in a later chapter, countries with limited resources need to determine if they are to focus on access for large numbers of the population, or improving the quality for those advantaged few that have traditionally had access. To try and do both at once is a very difficult task. Finally, he argues that there has been some resistance to the “narrowness” of the school effectiveness research. He suggests for some time yet, Africa will rely both on external resources, generally through AID agencies and other external grants and on external understandings of school effectiveness and improvement as many projects are driven by academics from countries supporting education development. The current state of the school effectiveness research is thus at a very early stage of development and there still needs to be identified an independent understanding of African work in the field. In Chapter 19, Ami Volansky outlines the progress and regress of school reform in Israel, from early efforts of school autonomy in the 1970s and 1980s, through a school based management model in the 1990s to the current period where the impact of government concerns about raising achievement quickly has left many schools in an educational limbo, where the requirements of new task forces are not being implemented and the progress of the years under school based management has been stalled because of a lack of political support. This chapter clearly demonstrates that substantial and rapid changes in policy and the reform agenda may lead to no movement at all. . In Chapter 20, Ismail Güven provides us with a look at Turkey, a country that has struggled to bring about universal education to its whole population. He identifies some of the difficulties facing a country that is trying to first of all lift the level of participation in compulsory education, second to try and improve the quality of what happens in the schools and third come to grips with the difficulties associated with trying to bring about local reform with a centralized system. He identifies a number of programs that the government has implemented, mostly with educational loans by international agencies, to increase enrolments, to change curriculum to address the rapidly changing economic environment, to improve the system of educational provision and to increase the education and effectiveness of teachers. What we see is the difficulty of trying to do all of this at once in a short period of time and what we also start to understand is the necessary role and obligation of countries that are more well off to be involved in this development. In Chapter 21, Azam Azimi provides an overview of the education system in the Islamic Republic of Iran, where we get to see a different understanding of what effectiveness and progress in education might mean. As with Turkey, we see a country that

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is redefining itself in terms of ensuring that all students are able to attend school, and what that means when you have substantial variations in the level of financial support able to be provided by government and parents. Here we see goals and a strong linked curriculum being identified at the national level and the establishment of student organizations as a mechanism for maintaining focus on the learning and value systems that the country requires. We also see the influence of Islam as a mechanism for guiding the social and value aspects of education at a national and local level. The author of this chapter identifies that issues of school effectiveness are not as high on the national agenda as they are in some other countries, but leaves us with the question that is asked by some other authors as well … effectiveness for whom, effectiveness for what?

Section 3: Resources, School Effectiveness and Improvement In Section 3 of the volume, we turn our considerations to issues that affect all school systems, with perhaps the most important of these being the issue of the connection of funding to achievement, the connection of inputs to outputs. There has been much debate about the importance of additional funding to bring about further improvements in the level of student achievement, with educators claiming that there can be no further developments without additional resourcing, but there has been a general response by governments around the world that there is no evidence to suggest that additional funding will make any difference. In Chapter 22, Rosalind Levaˇci´c provides the reader with a comprehensive overview of the way in which economists make sense of the “education production function” where the level of outputs are assessed based on the level of inputs at the school and system level. She identifies that for economists, the process part of the equation, the specifics of what actually happens on a day to day basis in schools, remains a “black box” for the most part. She provides an overview of studies in the UK, Europe and the OECD countries that focus on the issue of resources and outputs and concludes that for targeted subjects and targeted groups, additional resources can make a difference, but overall, the differences are small. Whether the additional funds required to make these improvements are seen as being “worth it” is likely to remain a debate into the future. In Chapter 23, Charles Ungerleider and Ben Levin provide us with an overview of the changing nature of funding and policy making in Canada, where the early funding model of a substantial local contribution to education funding was replaced by most of the funds being delivered by the various Canadian provincial governments. They identified that the changing economic and social conditions of the provinces led to a point where controlling budget became more important to government than raising quality, although both were expected simultaneously. They identify the impact of choice and structural change on Canadian school communities, but also express hope that since the last few years have seen more of a focus on improvement strategies and teacher development, that there will be a continuation of Canada’s position near the top of the international league tables when it comes to student achievement. In Chapter 24, Alain Mingat provides an excellent coverage of the complexities and concerns related to education funding in developing regions. Three sources of funding



are identified, government, private and donor, but the disbursement of this funding is more complex than one might first consider and the chapter outlines how much disparity there is between countries in sub-Saharan Africa, in just this first piece of the puzzle. Decisions about coverage (how many people will be served), equity, where the funding will be spent and quality, or how much money and how it is spent are all linked and the issue of student outcomes and raising the capacity of the people in the country is also linked to how funding is utilized in ways that will support learning. None of these issues is simple and it is clear that many countries have not yet been able to establish a strong link between funding levels and outcomes. Since politicians seem to be more interested in quick fixes and immediate funds, some of the decisions made are not leading to medium or longer term solutions. Mingat identifies an important role for funding agencies in ensuring that funds are targeted in ways that will make a difference. In Chapter 25, Jim Spinks outlines an argument and a model for funding that should be compulsory reading for all politicians and district or state level school administrators. His starting point is to develop a student focused funding model that will lead to both excellence and equity in achievement, where the vast majority of students who enter the system emerge with substantial value added to their learning. He identifies a series of principles that need to be considered in the development of such a funding model and provides a specific example of how this might work in practice. The sum of all individual student funding needs becomes the funding required by the school and he argues for research to look at how schools that are successful at adding value to their students utilize their funds as a means for developing a system wide process for the allocation of public money.

Section 4: Accountability and Diversity, School Effectiveness and Improvement In Section 4 we look at a series of analyses of some of the dominant issues in the school effectiveness and school improvement research areas. Perhaps the most consistent outcome of the late 1990s until the present time has been the focus on accountability issues by governments of all persuasions from around the world. There are many models of accountability and many ways of collecting, analyzing and reporting data on student achievement, but one thing is for sure, the accountability focus is something that is international and something that will not go away in the future. However, the accountability issue has also raised issues of diversity, with many arguments related to linking accountability to diversity in a way that creates a fair and equitable method of measuring progress, one that does not vilify or punish schools on accountability measures when the diversity of the school suggests other ways of dealing with the problem of under-performance. In Chapter 26, David Reynolds, who has now entered his fourth decade of research into issues of school effectiveness, provides us with an analysis of the strength and weaknesses associated with school effectiveness research. He argues that as a comparatively new discipline, the early research, with comparatively unsophisticated goals and outcomes was seized upon by politicians and education systems that, in turn, developed relatively unsophisticated policy responses to the issues facing them. He further

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argues that the more recent work where school effectiveness and school improvement research have used a range of data to identify possible ways forward in classrooms, schools and systems is in danger of being ignored because of the previous negative response to what the politicians did last time. He responds to the concerns of many of the critics of school effectiveness by outlining an approach that takes into account the contextual differences of schools, departments and classrooms and provides an overview of some policies and processes that, if implemented, might make a difference at these levels. In Chapter 27, Susan Kochan provides an historical and philosophical consideration of accountability in the United States. She discusses how the impact of the Coleman Report in 1966 led to two different but linked research activities, one being the school effectiveness research, where mixed methods approaches helped to identify not only outcomes but some of the factors that led to those outcomes, and the school indicator research, where large scale quantitative approaches provided an overview of whole schools or whole systems, but lacked the more fine grained analysis that would enable a better understanding of the data collected. Kochan provides us with an understanding of how the school effectiveness research became less popular, perhaps because it had achieved what it set out to do, and this allowed the school indicator research to lead to the school accountability movement characterized by such terms as No Child Left Behind and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). She suggests that while only the large scale data collection exists then we may make judgments about individual schools that are not supportive of student learning. She suggests that a return to mixed methods approaches of the school effectiveness studies may provide as with a better understanding of the processes within the school that might make a difference to all students in the longer term. In Chapter 28, Emanuela di Gropello provides an analysis of the various models of decentralization that have occurred in Latin American Countries as a means for increasing performance and accountability. She identifies a series of relationships that are established in various ways which creates three basic models of change. The first relationship is called the “compact” which can be defined as the relationship connecting policymakers (governments) to organizational providers (systems); the second is called “voice” which connects citizens and politicians; the third is “client power” connecting clients to the frontline service providers (schools), and the fourth is “management” which connects organizational providers and frontline professionals (principals, teachers). Using her analysis di Gropello identifies a series of lessons for those seeking to decentralize education systems in ways that are both effective and efficient and a series of challenges for those who are trying to do so at various levels of the education enterprise. She identifies the importance of giving genuine voice and power to local communities but with continued emphases on the other relationships if positive change is to occur. In Chapter 29, Nick Taylor provides an overview of the strategies used by the South African government since Aparthied to try and overcome the lack of skills and high levels of social inequity in the country. He reports on a series of projects that first focused on the poorest performing schools and later focused on those that were performing moderately as a means of improving the economic proficiency of the country.



He identifies a major reason for there only being moderate improvements as being the inability of the middle level management, such as provinces and districts to perform the necessary pressure and support mechanisms required for large scale improvement. He concludes that sooner, rather than later, the majority of schools, in the poorest performing category, will need to be once again targeted if the country is to make its next move forward in the international economic scene. In Chapter 30, Steve Marshall provides the perspective of the Chief Executive (CE) in the improvement process. As CE of the South Australian education system, he outlines the theory and strategies used to promote improved learning outcomes at all levels. He argues for a systems theory approach where all levels of the organization are involved in learning, in leadership and in professional conversations as a means to focus everyone’s attention on students and their achievement. He provides an overview of the principles for change utilized as a basis for improvement, strategies that can be used at different levels of the system and mechanisms for measuring not only student achievement, but organizational health. This chapter is a must read for any leader that heads an organization that focuses on whole system change and improvement. In Chapter 31, Sue Lasky, Amanda Datnow, Sam Stringfield and Kirsten Sundell consider some of the structural and relationship issues that affect education reform, especially in diverse communities. They argue that educational reform involves formal structures, such as district offices, state policies, but also involves formal and informal linkages among the various structures that make up the education system. They provide an overview of the literature, and in some cases the paucity of the literature for each of Structural linkages (linkages from state and federal policy domains that affect education), Formal linkages (official communications sent between policy domains), Informal linkages (communications that are not official, but are reform specific), Relational linkages (the ties that may help implement or block reform), Ideological linkages (conceptual bridges that make it possible to change an individual’s attitude) and Temporal linkages (continuity over time). They argue there is a complexity brought about by these linkages that demands additional research in these areas if school reform in diverse communities is to succeed.

Section 5: Changing Schools Through Strategic Leadership It is clear from the majority of the research in most parts of the world that the impact of the school leader (or school leaders) on the level of effectiveness and improvement is high enough to be considered critical to the result. Yet, many parts of the world have different structures, different mechanisms for preparing school leaders and different ways of identifying how much responsibility the leader will take in decisions and implementation. We turn now to review how school leaders impact on school effectiveness and improvement in various ways. In Chapter 32, Lejf Moos and Stephan Huber introduce a discussion of what democratic leadership might look like. They provide an overview of the well-known models of leadership, transactional, transformational, integral, instructional and distributed, but argue that the pressures of globalization and the expectations of systems have

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indicated the need for a much more comprehensive leadership approach, where the management and people development components of leadership combine through high levels of communication to create communities of learners, held together by shared identity and commonly held goals and values. In this way the current deficit approach which seems to pervade many education systems can be replaced by an approach that allows democratic principles to be upheld and used. In Chapter 33, Robert Marzano outlines a blueprint for school leaders to use to bring about increased levels of student achievement. The principal who, to Marzano, is the most important actor in the process of improvement first needs to help school communities identify the “right” work to focus on, and he provides 11 factors at school, classroom and student levels and 25 strategies for promoting these factors for our consideration. The second component of the process is to manage the change and Marzano identifies both first- and second-order change as issues to be considered. First-order change, which may be considered straight forward and following already identified rules and processes, may be followed by second-order change, which considers changes to the organization and the people in it, is much more complex and difficult to manage. He argues that perhaps much of the reason why many of the educational reforms that provided much promise to improving student achievement have not worked, is that the second-order changes required to embed these reforms in practice were handled as if they were first order changes. In Chapter 34, Kenneth Leithwood considers leader practices that impact on developing and emotional climate that leads to school improvement. He identifies a series of emotions at play within schools, including teachers’ individual and collective efficacy, their job satisfaction, organizational commitment, morale and engagement as well as the emotions of stress and burnout that emerge if the ones previously mentioned are not fostered. He discusses five broad categories of organizational conditions, those associated with the classroom, school, district, government and broader society, that impact on the emotions of teachers at any given time and he categorizes a series of principal practices that influence teacher emotions. These are aimed at direction-setting, developing people, redesigning the organization, and managing the instructional program and contain a series of sub-categories that can identify specific principal practices that support the development of positive teacher emotions. He also reports on two leadership traits that can’t be characterized, that of being friendly on the one hand and acting as a buffer between the impacts occurring outside of the school and the teachers on the other. He argues that unless we consider the emotional concerns of teachers, issues such as retention of quality staff will always be a problem. In Chapter 35, Halia Silins and Bill Mulford report on the findings of the Leadership for Organizational Learning and Student Outcomes project where they researched three aspects of high school functioning in the context of school reform: leadership, the school results of Organizational Learning, and student outcomes. They argue that leadership characteristics of a school are important factors in promoting systems and structures that enable the school to operate as a learning organization. They argue Learning is transformational in nature and can be defined by six dimensions: Vision and Goals; Culture; Structure; Intellectual Stimulation; Individual Support; and Performance Expectations. They identify and consider four dimensions that characterise high



schools as learning organizations: Trusting and Collaborative Climate; Taking Initiatives and Risks; Shared and Monitored Mission; and, Professional Development and argue that school level factors such as leadership, Organizational Learning and teachers’ work have a significant impact on non-academic student outcomes such as participation in schools, academic self-concept, and engagement with school which in turn influence retention and academic achievement. In this way both distributed leadership and organizational leadership impacts specifically on student learning outcomes. In Chapter 36, Allan Walker, Philip Hallinger and Haiyan Qian provide an overview of leadership development in East Asia, with a particular focus on Singapore, Mainland China and Hong Kong. They discuss the importance, context and progress of leadership development in the region and argue that leaders make a difference in terms of both school effectiveness and school improvement, but that their influence is often played out through indirect effects. They argue that leadership is socially constructed within the particular context in which they work, including education reforms which impact the work of principals which are common across the region. They suggest that principals now need to respond to conflicting demands of promoting participation and collaboration at the local level, but also respond to increased accountability measures. They argue there is a need for more meaningful approaches to principal learning and development across the region to ensure that leadership development structures not only account for the knowledge required for leading school improvement, but also how it is implanted and contested in line with specific contexts.

Section 6: Changing Teachers and Classrooms for School Improvement It is clear from both the past research and the chapters in this volume that the impact of teachers on student learning is critical and thus any attempt to improve student learning must focus attention on what happens in the classroom. It has been argued that classroom management, the curriculum and student–teacher relations are the three most critical aspects of variation in student performance, outside of family and social background, so if we are to change what happens to students, it will ultimately be through what teachers do in their classrooms. We now turn to the issues of improving teachers and classrooms as the mechanism for improving student outcomes. In Chapter 37, Joseph Murphy considers the impact and constraints associated with teacher leadership, where new accountability requirements has led to the need for a more distributed model of leadership. He suggests that two key domains, organizational structure and organizational and professional culture, hinder the inculcation of teacher leadership. These factors lead to the acceptance of a series of understandings about how the school should operate and these are described as a series of norms, on the one hand about teaching and learning, which include legitimacy, separation of teaching and administration, and managerial prerogative which can associated with teachers being followers, not leaders, and as such should be compliant to the wishes of the school leader. A second set of norms relate to the the nature of work of teaching, and include autonomy, privacy and egalitarianism which lead to a culture of civility and conservatism. These norms, when taken together, suggest that in many cases, neither teachers

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nor administrators really want to have teachers as leaders and even where they do, the support structures and incentives are not sufficient to enable this to occur without extra work and stress on those involved. He then discusses a number of support systems that might help to promote teacher leadership, including establishing values and expectations for the activity, providing support structures, training, and resources, (most importantly, time) as well as offering incentives and recognition, and ensuring role clarity. In Chapter 38, Chris Day and Ruth Leitch discuss the role and importance of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) in strategies designed to improve school effectiveness. They argue that there are competing discourses of professionalism which lead to different understandings of the purposes and practices of CPD in terms of whether teachers are autonomous professionals or agents of some systemic change. In this sense who defines effectiveness dictates not only the kinds of CPD developed but also which kinds of CPD will be resourced and assessed. They argue that there are different interpretations of effectiveness because CPD serves three interrelated purposes; the development of the system, the development of the individual teacher and, ultimately, it is hoped, the student, and so assessing the impact of CPD is not always a simple matter, and this might support why there is little research done in this area. They describe Guskey’s (2000) five level model, which considers the differences in impact of CPD from measuring participant response (at the lowest level) through to student outcomes (at the highest level). They indicate that across Europe, whilst there is agreement on the need to improve the quality of education, there exists a wide range of diverse and sometimes contradictory agendas running, with regard to the purposes and requirements of CPD, leading to an absence of national or trans-national strategies with common purposes, processes or standards. In Chapter 39, Eugene Schaffer, Roberta Devlin-Scherer and Sam Stringfield provide an examination of teacher effects within schools in the USA. They start with the major focus of recent reform, namely, the increasing demands for measurable effects in student achievement then look at the school effects research focusing on those that consider teacher behavior within school effects research. A number of school change projects that focus on teaching and teacher involvement in school improvement and some general trends in teacher effects/development are discussed, and they give consideration to the types of training that might occur at the preservice level and the effective induction of new teachers into the profession, followed by ongoing professional development. They conclude that teacher involvement is essential to successful reform efforts, and that support of teacher development is the pathway to achieving desired changes and provide a series of practical suggestions for teacher involvement in school improvement and some indications of future possible research in the field. In Chapter 40, Wai-ming Tam and Yin-Cheong Cheng outline the impact of education reform on teacher training in the Asia-Pacific region, one that has experienced rapid economic growth and occasional instability in the last 20 years when they were enticed to compete in the world market. Given this, large-scale reforms to both the education system and teacher education followed. Mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, and India provide case studies of the efforts to transform the



education system quickly, in order to prepare the country to compete in the global knowledge economy as well as the need to utilize education as a means of solving social issues, such as equality, cultural identity, and the impact of globalization. Two trends are outlined, decentralizing decision-making power to schools and the shift from a bureaucratic to a market-driven accountability system. They identify a series of directions for reform in the Asia-Pacific region, related to questions of standards and competence in teaching and learning, issues of accountability, and cost-effectiveness, how to promote long-term development and sustainability of the teacher education system, including attracting, developing and retaining competent teachers, and how to improve school effectiveness. They report on two broad strategies, the consolidation of teacher education and the consolidation of knowledge and competence within the system, designed to upgrade teacher qualifications, provide an incentive structure to attract teachers, and the development of the teacher as a reflective practitioner through building a professional learning community. In Chapter 41, Ken Rowe provides a strong argument that much of the previous research into school effectiveness has been looking for change in the wrong place. He suggests that most of the knowledge base is derived from small-scale case studies, there are relatively few large-scale studies capable of providing valid generalizations, and the methods used to analyze the data have not allowed for the modeling of complex interrelationships between inputs, processes and outcomes. Finally the criterion measures used in school effectiveness studies have typically been limited to un-calibrated raw scores on standardized tests of students’ cognitive achievements with little attention being paid to other valued outcomes of schooling. He argues that more recent research, focused on quality teaching indicates the proportion of variation in students’ achievement progress due to differences in background is considerably less important than that associated with class/teacher membership and that it is not so much what students bring with them that matters, but what they experience in classrooms. He argues that most reforms in education are directed at the preconditions for learning rather than at influencing teaching and learning behaviors and that there is a future need for a reframing of the “school effectiveness” research agenda to one that focuses on quality teaching and learning if we are to see improved student outcomes. In Chapter 42, Janet Chrispeels and Carrie Andrews with Margarita Gonzalez argue that teachers work with their assigned students, but are isolated from one another and have limited opportunities for learning with and from colleagues. They discuss how the use of grade level teams of teachers might improve student achievement. They consider data collected from a case study in California and identify the major issues that emerged from the research. Key factors included the importance of goal focus, including the nature of the goal, the development of group norms and establishing a clear agenda as necessary conditions for team learning. They found that when teams were discussing student work, creating objects, or observing each other teach, the principles of high-quality professional development were being enacted and teacher learning was taking place. Key issues were the opportunity to reflect on their practice and the provision of social-emotional support by both other teachers and the principal. They indicated the importance of enabling district or school goals to be translated into meaningful work by grade, department, or interdisciplinary teams as well as by

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individual teachers and the need for both the district and the school principal to find the time required for team discussion (including providing substitutes to enable this where necessary), training for teacher leaders, and communicating its instructional goals to enable teachers to work effectively as grade level or department teams. In Chapter 43, Kerry Kennedy argues that Asia is characterized more by diversity than uniformity, in political structures, culturally, economically and with different stages of development. A common feature of all these countries is recent education and curriculum reform, which is shaped by both economic and social agendas. “High development” countries seek to maintain their competitive advantage through education. “Medium development” countries aspire to move upwards through education. However, they do this in vastly different economic, cultural, political and values contexts. On the other hand, “Low development” countries are more interested in getting all of their students into school in the first place, or training teachers or providing other infrastructure requirements. While the need for curriculum reform is acknowledged, infrastructure and access issues represent pre-conditions for successful curriculum reform. From an economic perspective, the main characteristic has been the “liberalization” of curriculum. The state has co-opted progressivist principles to support an economic instrumentalism as the basis of the school curriculum, where curriculum and instructional reform is driven by an economic need to provide workers for the new economy. He argues that even in the well developed countries policies for a liberalized curriculum are easier to devise to put into practice. When there are many reforms occurring at the same time, implementation faces significant hurdles. He suggests that policy makers need to think carefully about the sequencing and pacing of curriculum and instructional reform and consider their relationship with other reforms, community values and community needs to be involved in the activity of change, if the reform is to be successful.

Section 7: Models of School Improvement It is now accepted that any study of school effectiveness that does not focus some attention on issues of school improvement will not have the value of one that does. Section 7 of the book considers issues of school improvement as a mechanism for creating change and fostering improved student outcomes. It is important then that we consider some examples of school change that have used the principles of school effectiveness as a means of improving the lives of students. First we consider the macro-level with cross-country studies, from Europe, from Asia and from Latin America, that help us to establish a framework that might assist school systems, schools and school leaders in changing what they do and then we consider some specific examples where these changes have made a difference. In Chapter 44, Bert Creemers, Louise Stoll, Gerry Reezigt and the ESI team report on the Effective Schools Improvement project where they develop a comprehensive framework that can be used by practitioners, researchers and policy-makers alike, although they make the point that the framework “can never be used as a recipe for effective school improvement or as a ready-made toolbox for the implementation of improvement in schools.” The framework was developed by investigating the relationship



between effectiveness and improvement in eight European countries with strongly varying educational histories and policies. The purpose was to bring together ideas from different theories, build on findings from school improvement studies and integrate them in a coherent way. The research identified three factors relating to context pressure to improve, resources and alignment of the educational goals with those set by the authority involved. It also established that there needed to be active intervention at the school level, as individual teacher initiatives were not enough if there was to be a sustained and lasting impact on the school as an organization. To do this, schools needed to foster an improvement culture, consider the five stages of the improvement processes as a part of everyday life and focus on improvement outcomes, either stated in terms of student outcomes (the effectiveness criteria) or change outcomes which ultimately influence student outcomes (the improvement criteria). They argue that while effective improvement requires school level processes, the framework does not dictate what those processes might be for any individual school and while the importance of teachers is acknowledged, individual teachers are not considered to be the main lever of change for effective whole school improvement. In Chapter 45, Magdalena Mo-Ching Mok and Yin-Cheong Cheng, Shing-On Leung, Peter Wen-jing Shan, Phillip Moore, and Kerry Kennedy report on a study that seeks to investigate the nature of self-directed learning in secondary students in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, to identify contributing factors to their self-directed learning and draw implications for teaching and learning from the results. They used a model with three components, the prior cognitive, motivational, and volitional conditions of the learner, the learning actions; and the outcomes of the learning and four linking processes, planning, monitoring, and feedback leading to first- and secondorder learning. They found that on average, secondary students were motivated, had adaptive attributions for their academic outcomes, were able to set learning goals, and self-monitor and self-regulate their own learning. However, the academic selfconfidence was low and there was a reluctance to seek help. These results provide the opportunity for educators to consider how to establish the conditions that will lead to self-directed learning in their students. In Chapter 46, Claudia Jacinto and Ada Freytes illustrate and discuss how policies on student retention and learning outcomes in Argentina, Uruguay and Chile are shaped by how schools “re-create” or redefine the external proposals as the participants (school authorities, administrators, supervisors, parents and students) are “re-creating” the policy through their beliefs, values and strategies. They discuss three possible strategies used by schools: appropriation, when proposals are adapted to the school’s culture and circumstances and are connected to other school activities; resistance, where there are contradictions between the change proposals and the ideas and behavior of the teachers and school heads and where school actors do not commit themselves to their implementation, often incorporating the new elements into their discourse but rarely into their practice; and passivity, where schools receive projects uncritically, where there appears little capacity to learn from experience, where there is lax coordination between principal and teachers and where it appears to depend on individual teachers’ initiatives rather than on the institution as a whole. They suggest social harmony builds agreements between the young people’s behavior and those of the school culture.

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Schools were slowly incorporating principles and practices that moved away from a punishment-based system of regulations and towards a vision of school order that is built collectively. They argue that it is a challenge for teacher education and professional development to strengthen capabilities to promote harmonious school environments and improve learning outcomes, especially for the poor. In Chapter 47, David Bamford provides a case study of a review process developed and modified by the Latin American Heads Conference as a means to support school self-evaluation and improvement. He describes the review process that occurred in the British Schools of Montevideo, Uruguay, together with the impact that it had on the schools and the school staff and governors and the subsequent changes to the review process brought about by the review activity. He articulates the initial reticence by some staff and the processes of self-evaluation and data collection used prior to the visit. He focuses on the importance of the review being for the purposes of selfimprovement rather than as an assessment of the worth of the school. He then describes some of the changes in the school that can be attributed to the review process and the developing understanding of the value of such a process expressed by teachers and administrators alike. The chapter provides encouragement of the types of “continuous improvement” models of school self-evaluation that are being adopted in many parts of the world. In Chapter 48, Rosa Deves and Patricia López describe how the Inquiry Based Science Education (ECBI) Program, initially co-sponsored by the Ministry of Education and the Fundación Andes, a private foundation in Chile, became a model for strengthening the bonds between policy making, teacher capacity building, school practice and student outcomes. The program was piloted with around 5,000 children attending poor schools in Santiago and was then expanded to approximately 30,000 students in partnership with Chilean universities. Children became engaged in many of the activities and thinking processes that scientists use to produce new knowledge and they were able to develop the ability to monitor their own learning. Five different components of the program are described: curriculum, professional development, material resources, community support and evaluation and it is clear that the partnership approach between all the stakeholders is a key to the program’s success. The Program also benefited from international cooperation, from people and institutions undertaking similar projects in Latin America and other parts of the world. This help included training, rights to high quality materials, sharing of translated materials, collaboration with workshops and participation in international conferences. In turn, the Chilean program is now being used as a model to begin similar programs in other Latin American countries. In Chapter 49, Jenny Lewis discusses the improvement processes undertaken by a primary school in Australia that led to it move from being a “school at significant risk” to a multiply award winning school. The school community built an evidence-based environment that promoted sustainability through innovative and informed Evidence Based Leadership in Action through the use of authentic evidence and by reconnecting all parts of the school so that staff could share their knowledge, perspectives and experiences about students and programs. Strategies such as these moved the school’s use of evidence from a reactive to a proactive perspective. The sharing of leadership,



focused professional development, mentoring and sharing at weekly team meetings were viewed as important strategies to build a culture of professionalism in which mutual trust, shared knowledge and responsibility, where all teachers were viewed as leaders and undertook leadership roles. Evidence-based improvement became a way of life. Traditional testing was viewed as too abstracted from what was being taught in classrooms and, with parent permission, these approaches were removed in favor of daily teacher judgments of evidence about student progress. The school developed a networked-based knowledge management system that combined the relevant data into an integrated information system and tutorials were developed to help teachers manage information, analyze and act on data. These activities helped the school to substantially improve what it was doing in a way that encouraged all stakeholders to be involved. In Chapter 50, Helen Paphitis documents the journey of an Australian secondary school, and herself as teacher, then school leader, then principal in the school, over the last 20 years of growth and development. In the mid-1990s, the school faced negative community perceptions, high welfare dependency, and low attendance, retention and achievement rates. She documents the changes including the introduction of Care groups, less than 15 students, who remained in the same care group, with the same teacher, for their 5 years at the school, the development of Enterprise Education and a school aim to place every student in employment, further education or training. Sustainable whole school improvement was brought about by three factors: setting directions, developing staff and enriching teaching and learning, and building infrastructure for continuous improvement and the development and progress has been sustained by a structure that divides the work of the organization into eight manageable and clearly defined functions: Operations, Human Resources, Curriculum (Teaching and Learning), Care, Finances, Facilities, Marketing and Strategic Alliances, each managed by a different school leader. This chapter provides us with an opportunity to see what can happen when commitment, focus and time are aligned to support organizational change.

Afterword: Learning from the Past to Reframe the Future In Chapter 51, Tony Townsend brings together the various pieces of data that are contained in the book and looks at the key things that have been learned from the research around the world. He identifies a series of issues that are woven throughout the handbook, such as the impact of change and globalization, issues related to how we might define school effectiveness, issues related to the political nature of school effectiveness, issues that focus on improving our understanding of learning and professional development and issues that focus on furthering international understandings and cooperation. He discusses a number of future research possibilities that look at reframing and redefining the field of school effectiveness and improvement, including redefining the way in which we look at effectiveness, redefining how we measure effectiveness, redefining the structures of schooling to more closely reflect the complexity of the activity of education, redefining the experience of students within schools, and redefining teacher education so that it matches with the other changes that are

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happening, both in education and in the wider society. He argues that these areas will help to redefine research in the field into the next decade. There is much to read and analyze in the book and it may be daunting for the reader to start at the beginning and progress all the way through. Perhaps the best way of approaching this book is either by country or by theme. It may be helpful to read chapters from your own country, or one that is like your country first, to reflect on what others perceive is happening where you work and then to consider chapters on a similar theme from other countries and regions of the world. Alternatively, you may wish to start by looking at a country that you know nothing about, and you are sure to find at least one, to consider some of the cultural, economic, political and social conditions that help to shape educational experiences in those countries and then reflect on how they differ from the conditions in which you find your own experiences. In the end, you will find that we are more alike than we are different, but our different situations create different experiences for people as they move through the education system. That, in turn, creates researchers with different starting points, different goals and different methodologies. It is the richness of this mix that makes this book worth reading, from cover to cover.

References Blakey, L., & Heath, A. F. (1992). Differences between comprehensive schools: Some preliminary findings. In P. Cuttance, & D. Reynolds (Eds.), Schools effectiveness: Research, policy and pratice (pp. 96–121). London: Cassell. Brookover, W. B., Beady, C., Flood, P. K., & Schweitzer, J. H. (1979). School social systems and student achievement: Schools can make a difference. New York: Praeger. Coleman, J. S., Campbell, E., Hobson, C., Mc Partland, J., Mood, A., Weinfield, F., et al. (1966). Equality of educational opportunity. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govt. Printing Office. Creemers, B., & Osinga, N. (1995). ICSEI country reports. Leeuwarden, the Netherlands: GCO. Creemers, B., Peters, T., & Reynolds, D. (Eds.). (1989). School effectiveness and school improvement. Amsterdam: Swets & Zeitlinger. Cuban, L. (1989). The “at-risk” label and the problem of school reform. Phi Delta Kappan, 71(8), 780–801. Edmonds, R. (1979). Effective schools for the urban poor. Educational Leadership, 37(1), 15–27. Hallinger, P., & Murphy, J. (1986). The social context of effective schools. American Journal of Education, 94, 328–355. Harris, A., & Chrispeels, J. H. (Eds.). (2006). Improving schools and educational systems: International perspectives. London: Routledge. Jencks, C., Smith, M., Ackland, H., Bane, M., Cohen, D., Gintis, H., et al. (1972). Inequality: A reassessment of the effect of family and schooling in America. New York: Basic Books. Mortimore, P., Sammons, P., Stoll, L., Lewis, D., & Ecob, R. (1988). School matters: The junior years. Somerset: Open Books. Murphy, J. (1991). Restructuring schools: Capturing and assessing the phenomena. New York: Teachers College Press. Nuttall, D., Goldstein, H., Prosser, R., & Rasbash, J. (1989). Differential school effectiveness, International Journal of Educational Research, special issue Developments in School Effectiveness Research, 13, 763–776. Nuttall, D. (1992). Letter to The Independent, 21 November. Reynolds, D. (1976) The delinquent school. In P. Woods (Ed.), The process of schooling (pp. 217–229). London: Routledge. Reynolds, D., & Teddlie, C. (2001). Reflections on the critics, and beyond them. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 12, 99–113.



Rutter, M., Maughan, B., Mortimore, P., & Ouston, J. with Smith, A. (1979). Fifteen thousand hours: Secondary schools and their effects on children. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Scheerens, J., & Creemers, B. P. M. (1989). (Eds.). School effectiveness and improvement: Proceedings of the First International Congress. Groningen: Rion. Slee, R., & Weiner, G. (2001). Education reform and reconstruction as a challenge to research genres: Reconsidering school effectiveness research and inclusive schooling. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 12, 83–98. Slee, R., & Weiner, G. with Tomlinson, S. (1998). School effectiveness for whom? London: Falmer Press. Smink, G. (1991). The Cardiff conference, ICSEI 1991. Network News International, 1(3), 2–6. Stringfield, S., & Teddlie, C. (1991). Schools as affectors of teacher effects. In H. Waxman, & H. Walberg (Eds.), Effective teaching: Current research (pp. 161–179). Berkeley: McCutchan. Teddlie, C., & Reynolds, D. (Eds.). (2000). International handbook of school effectiveness research. London & New York: Falmer Press. Teddlie, C., & Reynolds, D. (2001). Countering the critics: Responses to recent criticisms of school effectiveness research. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 12, 41–82. Thrupp, M. (1999). Schools making a difference: Let’s be realistic! School mix, school effectiveness and the social limits of reform. Buckingham, Philadelphia: Open University Press. Thrupp, M. (2001). Sociological and political concerns about school effectiveness research: Time for a new research agenda. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 12, 7–40. Townsend, T., Clarke, P., & Ainscow, M. (1999). Third millennium schools: A world of difference in effectiveness and improvement. Lisse, the Netherlands: Swets & Zeitlinger. Weber, G. (1971). Inner city children can be taught to read: Four successful school. Washington, D.C.: Council for Basic Education. Wildy, H., & Dimmock, C. (1992). Instructional leadership in Western Australian primary and secondary school. Nedlands: University of Western Australia.


Hedley Beare

The waves of reform, they are called. What follows are the observations of an old man of the sea, weather-beaten and bronzed, but not browned off by riding for several decades the dumpers, and with the same exuberance as the dolphins do. Nothing is quite as exhilarating as when the surf is up, and I have seen a lot of it. Swimming skills, I have discovered, are not the whole story. I have also learnt the value of assiduously studying the tide charts and reading carefully and constantly the short and long-range weather forecasts. And I have always stayed close to the water. All these things matter. Just now, though, I am surveying the long capes and bays of the coastline, the great sweep of the sky and the erosions made by storms, and speculating on how the geography of the seascape has altered. Waves of change have done it all.

The Two Major Cradles of Reform There were two, notable, decade-long episodes which pushed the school reform movements into the shapes they took. The first was the period of post-war reconstruction after the chaotic mess of 1939–1945. The end of the Second World War produced the need for the rehabilitation, re-settlement, and employment of returning service personnel, and the so-called baby boom. A decade and a half later, this nest of demands had produced the educational upheavals of the 1970s – curriculum reform, school reform, system reform, massive new building activity, indeed an almost total re-jigging of educational provisions. The second period of widespread social and economic reconstruction occurred in the 1980s, coinciding with the terms in office of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister in Great Britain and of Ronald Reagan as the President of the United States. Their political stance was similar, namely to introduce policies based on the market economy, allowing the built-in incentives of competition to introduce the discipline of getting value for the dollar and of achieving outcomes through private enterprise. 27 T. Townsend (Ed.), International Handbook of School Effectiveness and Improvement, 27–40. © 2007 Springer.



The waves of school reform over the second half of the twentieth century were fashioned in these two cradles and their aftermath. There is a tendency to overlook the educational upheavals of the 1970s and the 1990s, as though schools have always been the way they are now. It is prudent to consider just how far and how quickly the education enterprise has come, and for educators to be given some praise for the miracles they have achieved.

The First Major Reform Period There are few people around now who remember what schooling was like prior to the post-war period of upheaval. Schooling then was staid, stereotyped, almost one-track in its orientation. Of the secondary school cohort which began at around Year Seven, only about 5%, or 1 in 20, survived to Year Twelve. It was a process designed to produce drop-outs, and where one dropped off the conveyor belt determined the employment options and life chances available to that person. It was a process almost designed to confirm class structures. So post-war reconstruction delivered an upheaval that imposed enormous pressures for change on a one-best-way system.

Expanding the Post-School Area Governments were forced to cater for the education and retraining of returning service personnel. It also gave those ex-servicemen and women a second chance to change their station in life and it produced a challenge to entrenched class consciousness. For example, men and women born into the working class could now go to university. There was inordinate pressure on tertiary, post-school, and technical training places, and all the post-school areas expanded, a movement which left universities starved for funds and requiring national bale-out money. The technical institutes and colleges and ultimately the whole Technical and Further Education (TAFE) sector were produced by this period.

The Post-War Baby Boom and Enrolment Pressures At secondary school level, there was huge enrolment pressure resulting from the baby-boom. A system which had existed to weed out the non-academic students and to produce an elitist tertiary sector was challenged to expand to cater for a wave of new enrolments and the wide spectrum of students which showed how inadequate had been the curricula in use in those schools. In physical terms there were too few schools and huge building programs were undertaken, many of them in new housing estates. There certainly were not enough teachers, and teacher education expanded. The independent schools were also claiming that they could not keep going because of the insurmountable demands for places, plant, and programs. From the mid-1960s, then, the universal cry was for more resources, for tax dollars. There were insufficient funding and personnel to sustain the educational enterprise the country needed.

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The Funding Crisis When I returned from overseas study in 1970, I found that the South Australian DirectorGeneral of Education John Walker was heading an interstate panel set up by the Australian Education Council (AEC, the body consisting of the State Ministers of Education and their bureau chiefs) to draw up a rescue document for schools, which emerged as “A statement of needs in Australian schools.” It was an appeal to the Commonwealth Government, documenting the extent of the crisis in school funding, and the imminent danger of system collapse. It was a precursor to the famous Karmel Report.

The Curriculum Revolution There was a wave of students feeding into secondary schools on the back of the arguments made in books like H.C. Dent’s Secondary education for all, published in 1944. The title became a political catchcry of the period. To build the post-war society we wanted, every child must now have some secondary education. It brought in its train the awareness that the stereotypical one-size-fits-all curriculum had to go. So there grew up alternative courses and new approaches to exams, to streaming, and so on. With psychology now influencing the make-up of learning programs, “catering for individual differences” became policy, affecting fundamentally the way primary school curricula were written. Books with titles like Every kid a winner and Schools without failures appeared, arguing that the curriculum now needed to be remodeled and individualized to suit the range and scope of children now turning up to be educated. It caused huge reform in the curriculum area and a movement towards school-based curriculum-making.

New School Designs But more than that, it forced a radical redesign in the physical structure of schools. Open-plan schools, for example, started to crop up everywhere, with some magnificently innovative designs. They were architectured to enhance the curriculum delivery and not inhibit it, egg-crate classrooms were scorned, and teachers had to learn the techniques of team teaching. National Governments began by allocating extra funding to upgrade the most expensive parts of the school plant, in particular science laboratories and library facilities. In the 1960s and 1970s many schools were built with the library as a resource centre placed physically at the heart of the school, and with most classrooms literally opening into it.

National Intervention By the early 1970s, then, the question was whether national governments could or would respond appropriately, especially in jurisdictions like USA and Australia where schooling was a constitutional responsibility of the States, and in the UK where local education authorities anchored a national system locally administered. The response in the USA



came through the bills like the ESEA legislation, funding under the rubric of veterans education. In Australia, the Whitlam (Labor) Government acted immediately on being elected in 1972 to institute a series of commissions to dispense federal dollars – a Schools Commission, a Tertiary Education Commission, TAFE Commission, and even a shortlived Children’s Commission. Professor Peter Karmel, one of the country’s most respected economists, chaired an Interim Schools Commission to put a dollar-and-cents value on the needed reform effort. His totals far exceeded those of the Walker (AEC) document.

A National Baseline for School Resourcing The Karmel committee worked on the basic principle that it is unacceptable for any school in the nation, no matter in what jurisdiction, to be operating below an acceptable standard of resourcing. It was called “equality of educational opportunity,” meaning that no child should be disadvantaged by being forced to attend an under-resourced school. Governments (and the public which elects them) need to be reassured that every school meets that acceptable level of operation. Resource equalization caused all sorts of problems. A dollar spent in San Francisco will purchase three times as much as a dollar spent up in the Rocky Mountains. To build a school at remote Millingimbi or Yuendumu in Australia’s far north was hugely more expensive than to build a look-alike school in the Sydney metropolitan area. Ensuring that urban-trained teachers would be prepared to go out and work in those contexts posed problems too. Equality of educational opportunity really meant moving resources to where the children were so that no child was overtly disadvantaged by where they lived or by the school they attended. To achieve the result in Australia required that State Governments receive grant money through the Commonwealth Government to top up State funds. In addition, many of the independent schools were poor, Catholic, parochial schools needing great amounts of federal money to bring them up to the national resource threshold. By the 1990s an anomalous situation had eventuated in which the Federal Government was spending most of its educational tax dollars to hold up the non-government sector, giving the appearance that the sector was in fact federally supported at the expense of the State Government schools.

The Examination System There were other significant moves. Federal money was made available for schoolbased innovations, for national in-service education, for curriculum development. The federal authorities recruited the Australian-born Professor Malcolm Skilbeck from Belfast to create a national Curriculum Development Corporation in Australia. He was subsequently appointed to head the reform-driven Schools Council in the UK. External examinations were under fire also. The State of Victoria invented several alternatives, including a technical certificate. In the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) a new kind of Year Twelve certificate did away with external examinations and gave authenticity to what the schools were teaching through an accreditation process which included academic and public experts, and a moderation of school-based assessments using a nationally normed scholastic aptitude test.

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New Systems Emerge The two Australian territorial school systems emerged as free-standing entities in their own right in the middle of this reform decade, the first new public school systems to be created in Australia for over a 100 years. Seen now in retrospect, they were unique manifestations which could never have happened except in a context of reform like that of the 1970s. How were they different? The Australian Government did not have a Ministry of Education until 1967, for primary and secondary schooling were by constitution a States matter. But from that point on there was no resisting the surge to resource the schools properly; and the Territories were after all a federal responsibility. The creation of the ACT schools system enabled state-of-the-art ideas which had been seething for several years to be implemented in a new system. It was clear that the Commonwealth Government and Canberra residents wanted to do something different from merely repeating the patterns of a normal state-type department of education. Senior secondary education was reformed through the creation of Secondary Colleges providing non-custodial learning programs which were not in thrall to an external examination certificate system or the stranglehold that university entry has over it. There was a new mode of accrediting courses thrown up by the colleges themselves, with academics serving on every one of the review panels. From the outset, every school had a board on which parents had a representative voice. The system itself placed a representative on each school board also, with every person in the administration’s head office invited to serve on a school board. At any one time, then, there was someone at head office who knew intimately the life of any particular school. The old inspectorial system was dispensed with since it represented supervision from the top. Instead a collegial system was used where people could talk to each other and use each other’s advice. Any review of a school used professional colleagues rather an imposed supervision system. The system put great stress on the professionalism of teachers. At Harvard I had had the privilege of hearing the experts on what the new mode of management for schools would be. I might have been brash to think school administration could be done like that but we tried it, even in simple things. When people started calling the office in which I worked “The Authority,” we changed its name to the Schools Office to convey the impression that it was there to support the work of schools. Its officers labored hard to get across the orientation in the public mind that the school system existed to service the learning needs of children. Seen now in context, the decade of the 1970s was a humid crib which nurtured innovation, and which over time produced multiple offspring, multiple concatenations and trendlines.

The Second Major Reform Period The seeds of the second major reform movement were beginning to sprout while the first movement was in full flower.



The Impact of Home Background and SES In the late 1960s, the Coleman Report in USA (published in 1966) had resulted from the largest single survey of school attainment ever conducted. Its principal finding was that if you know the socioeconomic status (SES) of the parents you can predict accurately what the schooling history of their children will be. Whatever inputs the school receives, the same people will come out on top, and you can grade the attainment of students on the single factor of their SES. Christopher Jencks’ studies and his book on equality of educational opportunity (1972) reached the same conclusion. Similar studies done elsewhere confirmed the view. An impressive study concluded in 1974 by Dr. Bill Moore, head of the Centre for Research in Measurement and Evaluation in the New South Wales Education Department, and titled In Loco Parentis, collected longitudinal data on a generation of students, tracking them right through primary and secondary schooling. His conclusion was that if you know the level of the parents’ satisfaction with their child’s schooling, their socioeconomic level and their occupation and feed these data into the computer, you can predict accurately what in fact does happen to the child – what year she will drop out of schooling, what achievement patterns she will have had to that point, what occupation she is likely to pursue. “When home-based educational objectives clash with school-based objectives,” he observed, “the student normally resolves the conflicts by rejecting school. The key figures in the whole dynamic social complex are the parents.” This nest of reports concluded that schools have a far smaller impact than we are inclined to think they have; or – to put it in blunt language – schools don’t make much difference. It is the learning capital a student brings to school with her, largely derived from home background, that most determines her performance. Financial allocations, spending tax dollars on schools, hardly affect the outcome measures at all. These findings were bound to cause a reaction, not least a political one, and especially from those whom the former system had favored. The opposition began to emerge strongly in the middle 1980s. It is clear, the critics were saying, that parents know some schools do better with their children than do others, some schools confer a very significant advantage, and parents are willing to spend a lot of money to capitalize on the difference. They became known as outlier schools, those doing better than their colleagues, even when they are of the same social class and in similar neighborhoods. The Rutter study of schools in London (Fifteen Thousand Hours, published in 1979) used some rather strange indicators of success (the number of school days lost through absenteeism, the amount of bullying in the yard, for example), but it showed that some schools do indeed make a significant difference. By studying the qualities of outlier schools, then, we may discover what they were doing right, whether there were common characteristics which led to their success, and whether there were better ways to ensure value for the resources invested. This educational soul-searching then ran into a remarkable synchronicity. Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1979, retiring from the position in 1990. Ronald Reagan was elected US President in 1981 and held office until 1989. Throughout the entire 1980s, then, the conservatives’ brakes were applied to government expenditures on both sides of the Atlantic, on the premise that you cannot keep

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throwing money wilfully at public problems and assume that they will be solved. The approach aimed to free people from regulation, to sponsor private enterprise and to outlay on the basis of whether the contracted-out functions or services were satisfactorily discharged. The contract price is paid if an appropriate end-product is delivered. That sort of funding mode began to invade schools. It was not enough that schools had adequate funding; they must also show evidence that they were adding value to a child’s learning. The better they did it, the more likely it was that government would reward them. This “movement to the right” (as commentators called it) was a very powerful counterbalance to the school reform whirlpool of the 1970s and 1980s, based on resource levels and inputs. When the economics of the free market/competition became dominant under Reagan and Thatcher, education was ripe for the pickings. Indeed some economists, like Eric Hanushek and the Chicago School, suggested that schools might be made efficient if funds were taken away from them, forcing them into economies and an attention to outputs. The purchasing power of the consumers, parents, and open competition were useful disciplines to exploit over schooling. The free market approach also demanded that if parents were so important and not least as customers, they ought to have the power to select the school their child should attend, and not be zoned into a school because it happened to be in the neighborhood. Parental choice thus became a political issue, and the public discussion swung towards the quality of educational outcomes rather than the quantity of inputs, to whether the educational dollar was being spent wisely.

What Makes a School Effective? Two terms entered the vernacular during this period, namely efficiency and effectiveness. Effectiveness simply means “that which produces an effect” – I aimed to achieve this outcome and I did. Efficiency superimposes another criterion on the top of that, by asking whether those outcomes were achieved with the best, most parsimonious usage of the resources. Using the dollars to achieve a specified or planned outcome (effectiveness) and to do so without waste (efficiency) became the operative criteria in policy. The two words soon became associated with a third, namely excellence, pushed by the internationalism which was now affecting the patterns of world trade. The Berlin Wall went down during Reagan’s watch, Japan, South Korea and the Asian “tiger” economies like that of Singapore were becoming major players, Russia and China were entering world markets on the markets’ own terms, and trade barriers were falling. It was no longer enough to be effective or efficient, therefore. On any economic dimension (including education) the quality had to be good enough to ensure competitiveness in international terms. The hallmark of “world’s best practice” became the means to show how closely the local product approached international standards. So the three E’s were used as universal criteria – effectiveness, efficiency, excellence. Ronald Edmonds was one of the pioneers of the school effectiveness movement. A school practitioner and scholar from Harvard, he identified from inner city schools five characteristics which made a school effective. The first was the leadership of the principal and his attention not merely to management but to what was going on in



classrooms (instructional leadership). The effective school also had a broadly based and pervasive instructional focus; it concentrated on its educational program first and foremost (focus on learning). As a third quality, the school provided an orderly and safe climate conducive to teaching and learning; it was a safe environment in which students could learn, experiment, and make mistakes (a safe climate for learning). Fourthly, the school had high expectations of every student; every child was expected to succeed (high expectations). And finally, measures of pupil achievement were the basis for evaluating the school (planned achievement levels). It was admittedly a fairly simple fivepoint scheme, but it was seized upon by schools and school systems and started to find its way into practice, policy, and research all around the world. Other studies, especially in the United States, began to build on the Edmonds initiative, developing much more sophistication by the early 1980s. There was keen interest across the Atlantic too, in particular in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia. The awareness that the experts, including school officials and researchers, should get together regularly on this issue of school effectiveness and compare notes produced the decision to create the International Congress on School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI). From the outset it had an active membership of teachers, principals, school leaders, policy makers, and academics. One wit said that ICSEI consisted simply of an annual conference and a journal, but its influence grew rapidly and had a demonstrable impact on school practices around the world. A difference of approach was also becoming apparent among member countries. The Americans had tended to use qualitative research, based on case studies. They identified schools which seemed to be doing particularly well and tried to extract from observation what made them work, expanding well beyond Edmonds’ five-point scheme. On the other side of the Atlantic, the university community was using test evidence, quantitative research, to isolate what worked better, holding certain variables steady while introducing interventions with other variables. Educators at the school level, however, wherever they were, were impatient to put good ideas into operation without waiting for the research findings to come out. So the tension between research and practice emerged early, and explains why “school improvement” was introduced into ICSEI’s title. It produced nevertheless a healthy research/practice interface.

The School Effectiveness Movement The qualitative vs. quantitative methodologies interface, the case study vs. empirical study approaches, and the practice vs. research orientations caused concerns on both sides of the Atlantic for those associated with ICSEI were anxious to meet the criticisms from hard-nosed scientific rationalist approaches and to assemble research evidence which had the persuasive bite that was needed. The research community jumped in early and arranged the first ICSEI conference in London; it was 8 years before the venue moved to the North American mainland. Even so, educators crowded to the ICSEI conferences. They included people with an investment in running schools, school system chiefs, and university-based researchers, a coalition of people interested in sponsoring school transformations which were based on reliable and tested theory. It is what gave ICSEI its great strength.

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In the light of this approach, those who have been involved in that reform movement from the outset need to ask where the ideas came from, why they did what they did, how they were able to accomplish some things and not others, and why the movement was so influential. It needs a retrospective analysis done with the perspective of distance.

What Did We Learn From The Outcomes Policy Era? It is provocative to ask how the productive mix of research, scholarship, theorizing, planning and actual practice came together, for the effectiveness/outcomes movement dramatically influenced education policies and in-school practices.

What Drives Research that is Policy-Rich and Practice-Oriented? Research, especially when it is policy-related, started to be seen in a different way in these decades. A research unit located inside a bureaucracy will always feel somewhat pressured to do what the bureaucracy wants, and to come up with findings the bureaucracy wants to own. They will be asked for validating evidence, not research that shows up a waste of time or money or intellectual shallowness. The Director General might embargo a piece of research, say that he does not want it done, or when it is done not want the results to be made public. For face validity, research needs to be conducted from an independent base which ensures that the findings are not skewed. In the 1970s the ACT system developed an effective model. The Canberra College of Advanced Education (CCAE) was new, and was developing higher degree courses in Education as well as an enviable research capacity. The Education Dean, Phillip Hughes, an educator of national renown, also happened to be (the lay) foundation chairman of the ACT Schools Authority through its early stages. The new school system was able to say to its individual teachers, many of them in senior school positions, that the system needed research on several specified topics, which could contribute to an M.Ed. thesis. The representative case was that of Doug Morgan who had charge of the agency for the accreditation of the new Year Twelve school certificate. He did his Masters thesis researching a problem on school measurement for which the system needed answers, but he was supervised independently by an academic from the CCAE. When research like this is done by leading-edge professional people in schools, and is supervised from an academic base that has no direct allegiance to the school system you get some very heady advice. The ACT Schools Authority was able to recruit as Head of the system’s research unit Dr. Bill Donovan from the academic staff of the University of Tasmania. His function was to review research which the system needed to have done, firm up proposals, fund them where necessary, negotiate with contractors or students to undertake the pieces of research, and then interpret the policy implications for the system once the findings were in. He was an in-house academic, situated in the Schools Office but brokering the research which the school system needed. This approach to research not only frustrated the imperialism that comes from having the locus of research inside the system and



under its control, but also enabled the system to harness the volunteer enthusiastic effort of the educators themselves, their payoff being that they gained a degree out of it. Such a melding of research and policy development manifested in the 1990s in states like Victoria during the effectiveness movement, especially during Minister Don Hayward’s introduction of the substantial innovation called Schools of the Future. It is not always possible to say which piece of research influenced which policy maker, and it blurred the boundaries between who was the researcher and who was the policy maker.

Teacher Professionalism From the late 1970s through to the mid-1980s there was another substantial and parallel change going on in the minds of the people who were running schools and school systems. They needed to be abreast of the latest ideas in education, and wanted for a means to access them. With the burgeoning of programs of higher degrees and graduate diplomas in education, they sponsored the understanding among teachers that in-service education is not merely upgrading but rather equips them to be the theoreticians where practice is occurring. They created in the profession a generation of practitioner/ theoreticians; and an upgrading of the whole teaching profession occurred. The introduction of steep fees for higher degree study is now tending to reverse the trend.

A Graduate Profession A parallel change was that all new teachers were now graduates, their pre-service education resulting not merely in a certificate but in a degree. In order to function intelligently in a theory-driven and evidence-based education system, the educator needs to be thoroughly professional from the outset. The pressure was on universities to provide courses which were relevant, and were taught by staff members who were actively engaged with the day-by-day practice of schools.

School Use of Outcomes Data And this change produced a major transformation, for schools became adept at collecting data on a range of dimensions, allowing them to give an account of themselves in areas like parent satisfaction, staff morale, achievement in comparison with “like” schools, issues of world’s best practice, on top of an impressive bank of consistent, school-wide data on individual student achievement, much of it longitudinal, suitably normed and dove-tailed into state-wide and national curriculum frameworks.

Computerization of Schools Such an important transformation would have been impossible without using the new techniques of information technology. Put simply, schools computerized. Though they may not recognize themselves as such, the teaching profession is one of the most

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sophisticated users of front-edge computer technology in society. Their capacity has revolutionized the internal management of schools and has been crucial to the success of implementing the policies which have come out of the school effectiveness and improvement movement. Schools would have been incapable of keep tracking of or systematically analyzing student outcomes data without it.

The Transformations Encouraged The effective schools movement has found itself in harmony with several other major initiatives of the time. One has been the international networking of schools, a kind of down-line exchange of knowledge and expertise. The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust in the United Kingdom was an invitation for schools to break their boundaries and to interact with other schools in the areas of their known expertise. Not surprisingly, the movement went international, iNet becoming the arm which allowed schools across the developed world – Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan, Chile, China – to join the UK network. In the USA, the Charter Schools were a compatible spin-off. A school which could define its uniqueness, put up a program to give body to that speciality, win parent backing, and which could survive because it delivered on its promises, was given not only legitimacy but a legal basis on which to become a stand-alone school. In the UK in much the same way, the policy of “opting out” allowed schools to become disengaged from the jurisdiction of the local authorities. It allowed the New American Schools to emerge, with models for schooling which clearly broke the old patterns, but were considered safe because they were always under the discipline of accountability, of specifying objectives in a manner which could be tested and where their outcomes could be validated.

Is a Third Major Reform Period Developing? Is there a third wave of school reform about to break? The answer is an unequivocal, “Yes,” for the change factors are already clearly visible. We now live in a borderless world in which trade, interaction patterns, a huge number of enterprises, and social contacts are being internationalized. Patterns of schooling, curricula, assessment methods, learning programs, student achievement data are in the process of becoming international and interchangeable too, at least in the developed world. The world’s population centre of gravity is also moving inexorably to China and India, and to Central Africa. The twenty-first century will see the development of a nonEuropean cultural orientation, dominated by black and predominantly non-Christian countries. This generation of school children, wherever they live, will be forced to succeed in a multi-cultural, multi-faith, and multi-lingual world. And as many commentators have pointed out, unless there is urgent action among the present generation on earth, we may be in the end-time of the planet, or of human



civilization. The factors have been well documented – global warming and the melting of the polar ice-caps, climate change and extreme weather, the shortage of clean water, pollution of the oceans, species extinctions, population displacement from rising sea level and, perhaps most basic of all, the escalation of the world’s population. Any natural disaster now – earthquake, hurricane, forest fires, mudslides and flooding, tsunamis – cause a human disaster on unprecedented scales because there are now so many more people who have settled, perhaps unwisely, in areas likely to be affected. This generation has to learn quickly how to be responsible citizens of the globe. A powerful indicator of the new wave of change is the hand-held mobile telephone. It is now an all-purpose device with multiple functions, and it is revolutionizing the thinking and interaction patterns across the world. It is soon to become a powerful teaching and educational device which will outdo in its significance what the computer has been for the previous generation. So the new wave is upon us. The major difference, if present evidence is to be noted, is the rapidity with which the new rollers will hit us as a species on earth. In terms of education and schooling, there are some developments which emerge.

A New Career Mode for Professionalized Educators One of the most obvious changes will be new patterns of employment and deployment among educators, who are already acting and thinking like professionals. There will be a mixing and matching of skills in much better ways than we have known in the past. For example, a proposal was put to me in the ACT Schools Authority that the Australian National University was having difficulty placing in suitable employment a person recently graduated with a Ph.D. in chemistry. Why not therefore appoint her to teach part-time Year Eleven and Twelve classes in a secondary college and also to undertake part time research on the academic staff at the university? A hybrid appointment like this benefits both the university and the secondary college, and makes use of special expertise to illuminate the work in each place. No two people are alike, least of all those professionally trained, and each is likely to seek out a highly satisfying career by taking on a set projects or assignments, in what has been called a portfolio career. Teachers most of all are entrepreneurial enough to explore these possibilities, and will inevitably do so.

The Theory/Practice Conundrum As a consequence, it is likely that teacher education itself will metamorphose from what it is now. It is already possible for a leading school or two with the right mix of academic and teaching staff to work in a symbiotic relationship with a tertiary institution. The research and development done from such a partnership not only extends the theory base of the profession but also extends the qualifications and expertise of the staff members, wiping out the artificial divide between who has the theory and who knows how to put it into practice. What emerges, then, is a clinical model for research, training and practice similar to what is now current in medical and engineering schools. The tradition in medical

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schools has always been to have adjunct and full Professors working as surgeons in teaching hospitals and generating from that base data which extends the theory of the profession’s science.

Superseding the Idea of Classes and Classrooms The days of the one-best-way solution, the one-best-way method, are gone. Diversity is with us. In the city of the future with the communications technology now available within it, the best educators will have portfolio careers, not salaries; many will not want to be tied necessarily to one school, to functions which they think other people could perform better than they could, or which do not make direct use of their developed expertise. So “classrooms” in 10 or 15 years’ time will have gone through a pretty substantial transformation. The assumption that there are certain learnings associated with certain ages, that it is appropriate to cluster students by age and teach them a lot of predetermined, content-rich, age-related material, that the curriculum and knowledge are stable are notions which will have been superseded. Knowledge refuses to be put into boxes like that, the old subject divisions are breaking down, and the curricula are becoming hybridized. Schools, then, will set up groups of learners – a house system, if you will – with whom a mixed group of teachers will be associated, acting as a team. They will do some individual instruction, some group instruction and some project supervision. They will direct learners to where they will find the information, and often the students will bring back a heap of data for the learning group to unscramble. Group learning as well as individual learning will be valued, and assessed as such.

Rethinking Examination, Assessments, and Certificates Certificates certify that this student has attained a defined level of skill or competence in particular areas. At any level in the schooling system it is possible to make out a certificate stating that Jane Smith has reached a level of competence in analytical skills, giving a profile of her scaffolding knowledge, the basic knowledge she has acquired which holds the learning program together, and detailing the evidence which confirms her learning profile. The old end-of-year exams belong with the industrial revolution and do not fit anymore. It’s a silly way of doing assessment. If parents are such an integral part of the success of their children at school, they have to be brought along with what the school is doing. One of the jobs of educators is to keep them informed. Using the “gold standard” or going back to “league tables” is a reversion to the 1960s, to inappropriate conformities and stereotypes.

Size of Systems There has been a debate over many years over how big a school system should be. In terms of stereotypes a nationally controlled system may seem logically defensible but it can also be personally a disaster. How could a decision-maker in the national capital



decide what is in the best interests of two or three Aboriginal children in the remote north of Western Australia? Certainly some kind of coordinating or modifying mechanism is needed to ensure that no pockets get lost. There will always be machinery either nationally or provincially, but the key policy thrusts need to be taken by a unit close enough to families. The key policy-creating mechanism needs to be small enough to ensure that every single child is given an education which is the most appropriate for him or her. It has something to do with social size rather than geographical size, with how well people can communicate and interact. I have sympathy with the UK local education authority or the US district school system, which are of a size where parents know they can talk to the decision makers, and where learners are treated as individuals with idiosyncratic needs.

What is Best for the Learning Child? It often happens that last year’s innovation becomes this year’s rigidity. ICSEI may well be at the point where it has to consider the next giant step it should take. A generation of educators and policy-makers has gone through ICSEI in 20 years, and one has to ask how the next generation will use the organization. The fundamental question is whether it continues to be useful. Put more directly, in the final analysis the question will be whether it is improving the education on offer to the world’s children. So will school effectiveness, school efficiency, educational excellence, and school improvement survive as focal factors in policy? On past evidence, it is unlikely, at least in their present form, although the weather forecasts and the tide tables on which to make such reliable predictions are not yet to hand. But one thing is very clear. The sea levels across the earth are rising, literally as well as metaphorically. Be ready. You will soon see surf like we have never seen before!


Introduction Students’ individual differences present a pervasive and profound problem to teachers and schools. At the outset of instruction in any topic, students of any age and in any culture will differ from one another in various intellectual and psychomotor skills, generalized and specialized prior knowledge, interests and motives, socio-economic background, and personal styles of thoughts and work during learning (Tomlinson, 1999). This argument has a strong history in Educational Effectiveness Research (EER). The first effectiveness studies undertaken in Europe during the 1970s (e.g., Rutter, Maughan, Mortimore, Ouston, & Smith, 1979) were concerned with examining evidence and making an argument about the potential power of schooling to make a difference to students’ life chances. During the last three decades, publication of these studies was followed by numerous studies in different countries into school effectiveness and school improvement efforts, aimed at putting the results of research into practice (Teddlie & Reynolds, 2000; Townsend, Clarke, & Ainscow, 1999). A major aim of effectiveness studies was to support teachers and schools attempting to provide equal opportunities to their students with different learning needs arising from their background and personal characteristics. Coming from the history of research in inequality in education, it was evident that EER would look at the educational outcomes of disadvantaged children in particular and search for equity in schools. This meant looking at the amount in which schools were able to compensate for initial differences in defined outcomes. However, most effectiveness studies, while examining the magnitude of teacher and school effects, have paid very little attention to the extent to which teachers and schools perform consistently across differing school groupings (Kyriakides, 2004). As a consequence, the concepts of teacher and school effectiveness have been developed in a generic way, drawing up a “one size fits all” model, in which the assumption is that effective teachers and schools are effective with all students, in all contexts, in all aspects of their subjects and so on (Campbell, Kyriakides, Muijs, & Robinson, 2004). 41 T. Townsend (Ed.), International Handbook of School Effectiveness and Improvement, 41–56. © 2007 Springer.



Such conceptualisation of effectiveness has led to a simplistic dichotomy between effective and ineffective teachers, eschewing the possibility that teachers may have strengths and weaknesses in their professional practice. This makes it difficult to use findings of teacher effectiveness/ school effectiveness research for measuring such strengths and weaknesses and, therefore, as a source for formative teacher evaluation/school evaluation (Kyriakides & Campbell, 2003; Reezigt, Creemers, & de Jong, 2003). Furthermore, despite evidence supporting differentiated educational effectiveness, researchers have tended to develop generic models of educational effectiveness. In this context, in the next section, I present a review of studies investigating differentiated teacher and school effectiveness conducted in different countries. I then make a case for the importance of developing differentiated models of educational effectiveness, and propose strategies for using differentiated models of educational effectiveness to improve practice in terms of both quality and equity. While this is a review of research in Europe, in some cases prior work in the United States has influenced and provided a base for this research. Therefore, pertinent American research will also be cited.

Differentiated Teacher and School Effectiveness Research During the last four decades, EER has shown that effective teaching demands orchestration of a wide array of skills that must be adapted to specific contexts (Brophy & Good, 1986). Although causal relations between teacher behaviour and student achievement have been demonstrated, resulting in a description of effective teaching practice, many characteristics of effective teaching vary according to student background (e.g., socio-economic status (SES), prior achievement, gender) and personal characteristics (e.g., students’ thinking style and personality), teachers’ objectives and subject area. In the first three parts of this section, I examine whether or not there is strong evidence for differentiated teacher effectiveness along three key dimensions: differentiated effectiveness in promoting progress of different groups of students according to their background characteristics; differentiated effectiveness in promoting progress of different groups of students according to their personal characteristics; and differentiated effectiveness in relation to the type of objectives that can be pursued within or across subjects. While these dimensions do not encompass the total range of possible dimensions of differentiation (see Campbell et al., 2004), they cover a number of issues at the forefront of current concerns in the field and have implications for developing strategies for improving teaching practice. The main findings of studies investigating differentiated school effectiveness are presented in the last part of this section.

Differentiated Teacher Effectiveness in Promoting Progress of Different Groups of Students According to their Background Characteristics Most studies investigating differentiated teacher effectiveness have been concerned with the extent to which different teacher behaviours are necessary for students of different SES and ability levels. Some evidence demonstrates that low and high ability

Models of Educational Effectiveness


students and low and high SES students respond to different teacher behaviours and styles (e.g., Brophy, 1992; Maden, 2001; Mortimore, 1999; Snow, 1986). Specifically, research into teacher effectiveness has revealed that low-SES students need more structure, more positive teacher reinforcement and need to receive the curriculum in smaller packages followed by rapid feedback (Brophy, 1986). Moreover, instructionalmethod differences can moderate the correlation between general intelligence measures and student achievement gains (den Brok, 2001). Less able learners do less well in conventional instruction or in environments in which independent learner activity is required to fill in gaps left by incomplete or less structured teaching. In the latter situation more able learners excel, whereas they do not benefit as much from tightly structured teaching (Snow & Lohman, 1984). Furthermore, middle and high ability students do not benefit from praise unrelated to the task. On the other hand, low achievers benefit from non-contingent feedback, due to many of these students’ low self-esteem. These findings seem to reveal that teachers who are effective with students of different background characteristics are able to differentiate their teaching practice, being aware that generic teaching skills do not have the same effect on low and high SES students’ progress (Creemers & Kyriakides, 2006). For example, effective teachers provide non-contingent feedback to low rather than middle and high SES students. Furthermore, students from lower SES backgrounds have been found to benefit from a more integrated curriculum across grades and subjects (Connell, 1996). Connecting learning to real-life experience and stressing practical applications have been found particularly important to low-SES students, as has making the curriculum relevant to their daily lives. This approach may diminish disaffection as well as promote learning (Hopkins & Reynolds, 2002; Montgomery et al., 1993). According to Mortimore (1999) effective teaching of low SES students should be teacher-led and practically focused, but not low-level or undemanding. There are no clear data, however, on racial and ethnic influences on relationships between teacher behaviour and student achievement. Although indirect influences mediated through SES have been identified, patterns of teacher behaviour unique to particular racial or ethnic groups have not. In general, differentiated teacher effectiveness research yields more powerful main effects than interactions, and the interactions that do appear tend to be ordinal since it appears that certain groups of students need more instruction than others but not a different form of instruction. Nevertheless, it is important to acknowledge that teacher effectiveness studies provide some empirical support for the effectiveness of using adaptive teaching in culturally diverse classrooms (e.g., Cole, 1985; Snow, 1986). The use of discourse styles already familiar to children in their cultural community outside of school to bridge to school reading activities is one example. Another one is establishing classroom participation rules that are sensitive to difference between participation rules common in some cultural groups and those typical of conventional schools. A third example involves choosing activities in biology that allow different students to capitalise on their own specialised prior knowledge and interests. These demonstrate how an effective teacher can use an observed student aptitude to circumvent, and eventually remove, potential student learning difficulties.



Early research into teacher effectiveness has also demonstrated that teachers’ classroom behaviour depends on the students’ grade level. Generally speaking, effective teaching in the early grades involves a great deal of instruction in desired routines and procedures (Good & Grouws, 1979). Less of this is needed in later grades, but it becomes more important for students to identify the reasons for which they are dealing with a teaching task and to follow up on accountability demands (Brophy, 1986). In the early grades, lessons involve basic skills instruction, often in small groups, and it is important that each student participates overtly and often (Slavin, 1987). In the later grades, lessons involve applications of basic skills and instruction in more abstract content. In addition, overt participation is less important than teachers’ structuring, clarity and enthusiasm (Clark et al., 1979). Finally, although effective teachers of the later grades are expected to treat students’ contributions with interest and respect, the praise and symbolic rewards common in the early grades give way to a more impersonal and academically centred instruction in later grades.

Differentiated Teacher Effectiveness in Relation to Student Personal Characteristics Typically, aspects such as student learning styles and personality traits are put forward as key to student learning, and teachers are urged to take these factors into account in the classroom. However, the relationship between psychological characteristics of learners and teacher behaviour has not been systematically examined (Muijs, Campbell, Kyriakides, & Robinson, 2005). On the other hand, psychologists have demonstrated strong relations between student achievement and student personal characteristics such as personality and thinking styles. It is important to note that personality traits may be taken as different modes of relating with the environment. There have been several models of these traits. In this chapter, I refer only on the so-called Big Five model because it seems to dominate and underpin current European research and theory, and accounts for a large amount of variability in personality (Blickle, 1996). According to this model, the factors of personality are as follows: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience. Most of the Big Five personality traits have been found to be associated with academic performance. For example, openness to experience is related to academic success in school (Shuerger & Kuma, 1987). Extraversion and neuroticism have also been associated with academic performance after nearly 40 years of investigation. Recent studies reveal that extraverts under-perform in academic settings because of their distractibility, sociability and impulsiveness (Demetriou et al., 2003). The negative relation between academic achievement and neuroticism is usually explained in terms of anxiety and stress under test conditions (Chamorro-Premuzic & Furnham, 2003). But the factor more consistently associated with academic performance is conscientiousness (Blickle, 1996; Chamorro-Premuzic & Furnham, 2003). Both intelligence and personality comprise salient individual differences which influence performance: intelligence, through specific abilities which facilitate understanding and learning; personality, through certain traits which enhance and/or handicap the use of these abilities (Ackerman, 1996).

Models of Educational Effectiveness


In searching variables that contribute to school achievement, psychologists have also devoted considerable attention to the so-called stylistic aspects of cognition. The idea of a style reflecting a person’s typical or habitual mode of problem solving, thinking, perceiving and remembering was initially introduced by Allport (1937). In the past few decades, the style construct has attracted considerable research interest and many theoretical models have been postulated. Grigorenko and Sternberg (1995) classified various theories of styles into three approaches: cognition-centred, personality-centred and activity-centred. These three approaches differ not only in the focus of their interest, but also in how they address the functional aspects of styles. The cognition- and personality-centred approaches typically imply that styles are either-or constructs and consistent across various tasks and situations. For example, a person could be either field-independent or field-dependent. In this chapter, I examine theories of thinking style in the activity-centred framework since this framework allows for change and is, thereby, the closest to EER. Moreover, psychologists have generated evidence that activity-centred styles explain individual performance differences not explained by abilities (Zhang, 2001). Finally, an educational effectiveness study has shown that activity-centred styles associated with the theory of mental self-government (Sternberg, 1988) can be treated as student level factors explaining variation on student achievement gains (Kyriakides, 2005a). The argument for the importance of investigating teacher differentiated effectiveness in relation to student personality and thinking styles not only arises because these two factors were found to be associated with student achievement, but also because of the main findings of research on differentiated instruction. Research on differentiated instruction is partly concerned with teachers’ attempt to teach according to individual learning styles. For example, the American Dunn and Dunn learning style model suggests at least five different instructional methods for teaching identical content. Each of the methods responds to the learning styles of specific students. Researchers have modified this model to examine numerous instructional practices as they affect students at various levels, with diverse learning-style characteristics (Farkas, 2003). A meta-analysis of 42 experimental studies based on Dunn and Dunn’s model was conducted to determine the value of teaching students through their learning-style preferences (Dunn, Griggs, Olsen, Beasley, & Gorman, 1995). It was found that students whose learning styles are accommodated would be expected to achieve 75% of a standard deviation higher than students who have not had their learning styles accommodated. Because each of the experimental studies provided responsive and non-responsive instructional strategies to students’ learning-style preferences, the data suggested that matching students’ learning-style preferences with educational interventions compatible with those preferences was beneficial to their academic achievement. Similar arguments can be made in relation to Kolb’s experiential learning theory which presents a way of structuring a session or a whole course using a learning cycle (Kolb, 1984). Different stages of the cycle are associated with distinct learning styles. In the literature, there is also an attempt to identify the effect of different teaching methods on students with different personality types (Boekaerts, 1996; de Raad & Schouwenburg, 1996; Nussbaum, 2002). For example, Shadbolt (1978) found that students high on a neuroticism scale performed better with structured, rather than



unstructured, teaching methods. However, one study conducted in Cyprus has investigated teacher differentiated effectiveness in relation to student personal characteristics (Kyriakides, 2005a). An element in this study was investigating whether generic teaching skills found to be consistently correlated with student achievement may have a general effect across all students but also effect students of different thinking styles and personality traits to a different degree. In this study, stratified sampling was used to select 32 out of 147 Cypriot primary schools. All the year six students (N  1721) from each class (N  81) of the school sample were chosen. Different criteria for measuring teacher and school effectiveness were used. Data on students’ cognitive achievement in mathematics and Greek language were collected using external and internal forms of assessment. Affective outcomes were also measured through a questionnaire exploring students’ attitudes towards peers, teachers, school and learning. These outcome assessments were administered to the student sample at the beginning and end of school year 2001–2002. Questionnaires to students, teachers, and headteachers were also administered to collect data about explanatory variables. In addition, observations were carried out to measure teachers’ classroom behaviour. “The Personality Inventory” including 50 items, ten for each of the Big Five factors of personality (Costa & McCrae, 1997), was also administered to the students. Structural equation modelling analysis affirmed the theory on which the inventory was developed. Finally, students’ thinking style was measured by a short version of the “Thinking Styles Inventory.” Based on results of five exploratory factor analyses of students’ responses to items in each of the five dimensions of mental self-government, it was possible to identify factors representing each thinking style other than the “oligarchic” style. Multi-level analysis for each outcome measure was carried out to investigate teacher differentiated effectiveness in relation to student personal characteristics. The main findings of this study follow. First, one type of personality (conscientiousness) and two thinking styles (executive and liberal) were found to be related to achievement in both cognitive outcomes and affective outcomes of schooling. Second, in the case of mathematics, a statistically significant cross-level interaction was identified between executive thinking style and teachers’ ability to provide practical and application opportunities. Specifically, the effect of the executive style on mathematics achievement was higher when teachers provided more practical and application opportunities for students. Third, the multi-level analysis of student progress in language revealed a statistically significant cross-level interaction between liberal style and teachers’ ability to give information. In this case, the effect of the liberal style on student achievement gains in Greek language was higher when teachers spent less time in giving their students information. Finally, teacher differentiated effectiveness was identified in relation to students’ personality. The teacher effect in cognitive outcomes was found to be more significant for students with lower scores in openness to experiences. Similarly, the teacher effect in affective outcomes was found to be more significant for students with lower scores in conscientiousness. This study not only reveals that both personality and thinking style should be treated as factors explaining variation of student achievement gains, but evidence also supports the importance of investigating teacher differentiated effectiveness in relation to

Models of Educational Effectiveness


student personal characteristics. However, it is important not to overestimate the differentiated nature of teacher effectiveness. This study has shown that most variables measuring teaching skills (e.g., practical application opportunities, giving information, providing feedback) have a general effect across the three outcome categories but also operate differentially in relation to types of student personality and thinking style. This suggests that the concept of differentiated teacher effectiveness in relation to student personal characteristics ought not to be polarized against a generic concept. Rather the former should be incorporated as a refinement into the latter.

Differentiated Teacher Effectiveness in Relation to the Different Objectives that can be Pursued Although differentiation in effective teaching has mainly been examined in relation to student background characteristics, effective teaching seems also to vary according to teachers’ objectives and content of the subject taught (Campbell et al., 2004). First, evidence for differentiation between subjects can be identified from two parallel projects looking at teacher effectiveness in numeracy and literacy conducted in England. While there were clear similarities between the characteristics of effective teachers in the two studies, effective teachers of numeracy were more likely to differentiate tasks by ability than were effective teachers of literacy (Askew, Rhodes, Brown, William, & Johnson, 1997; Medwell, Poulson, & Wray, 1999). It can be expected that there are more differences between subjects, which may be related to such factors as the more or less hierarchical nature of the subject, whether it is science, arts, or humanities based and the extent to which the subject is loosely or tightly coupled (Muijs et al., 2005). Moreover, classroom environment and educational effectiveness studies including interpersonal teacher behaviour revealed that teacher influence was associated with student achievement in mathematics whereas proximity was associated with achievement in language (den Brok, Brekelmans, & Wubbels, 2004; Kyriakides, 2005b). Second, it has been shown that there is a relation between objectives and the way students master objectives (Kyriakides & Creemers, 2006). Therefore, teachers should take into account both their students’ characteristics and their objectives in organizing their teaching practice. Specifically, early American teacher effectiveness research demonstrated that if students need new information, they are likely to need group lessons featuring teacher information presentation followed by recitation or discussion opportunities (Brophy, 1986). Follow-up application or practice needs also depend on the objectives. When students are expected to reproduce knowledge on cue, routine seatwork assignments and tests might suffice. On the other hand, if students are expected to integrate broad patterns of learning or apply them in everyday life situations, students should be given the opportunities to solve problems, make decisions, or construct projects. In recent decades, there has been an increasing emphasis on higher order thinking skills and some evidence supports that different teaching methods may be needed to address higher order thinking skills (Muijs et al., 2005). In particular, direct instruction methods found to be highly effective in teaching basic skills may be insufficient for addressing higher order thinking skills (Costa, 1984; Muijs & Reynolds, 2001). These views have led to the development of models of teaching seeking explicitly to address



higher order thinking. A number of approaches have been developed aimed at improving students’ higher order thinking skills, often focussing on the development of metacognition, the use of strategies for solving problems and teaching modelling approaches (Adey & Shayer, 1994; de Jager, 2002). Finally, research into differentiation in assessment reveals that effective teachers use assessment techniques in line with lesson objectives and students’ background and personal characteristics. This is because different assessment strategies are seen as more effective and relatively bias free for specific groups of students and for measuring specific skills. In this context, many psychometric studies have been conducted investigating differential item functioning of national tests in European countries by taking into account differences in student background and in objectives and subject content (e.g., Glas, 1997; Linn, 1993). In general, it has been found that the nature and cognitive level of the information given and questions asked during an activity depend on the activity’s objectives and its place within the anticipated progression through the curriculum (Hayes & Deyhle, 2001).

Research into Differentiated School Effectiveness Research into school effectiveness has provided strong evidence of the existence of differences between schools in their overall effectiveness in promoting students’ academic attainments. However, early beliefs that school influence might be as large as family or community influences were misplaced (Scheerens & Bosker, 1997). Nevertheless, it cannot be claimed that school effects are of little consequence. For example, it has been shown that an average difference between an effective and non-effective school of twothirds of a standard deviation implies a lead of or falling behind an entire school year for the average student (Scheerens, 1992). But although the magnitude of school effect has been identified, there may be considerable variations in these effects within schools, across subject domains, cohorts, grades and teachers. Thus, the consistency and stability of school effects comprise two of the most fundamental issues in EER. Consistency refers to different criterion variables whereas stability has to do with different time points. Studies on school effectiveness investigating the stability (e.g., Gray, Jesson, Goldstein, Hedger, & Rasbash, 1995; Luyten, 1994) and consistency (e.g., Kyriakides, 2005a; Opdenakker & Van Damme, 2000; Thomas & Mortimore, 1996) of school effects have revealed that school effects are stable to a certain degree but that there appears to be a lack of consistency across subject domains. Thus, variations exist between schools in their effectiveness in promoting different kinds of academic outcomes (Kyriakides, 2005a; Mortimore, Sammons, Stoll, Lewis, & Ecob, 1988; Opdenakker & Van Damme, 2000; Smith & Tomlinson, 1989; Tizard, Blatchford, Burke, Farquhar, & Plewis, 1988). Indeed, Fitz-Gibbon, Tymms, and Hazlewood (1990) and Sammons, Thomas, and Mortimore (1997) show substantial variation between the effectiveness of different schools’ subject departments. Based on these findings, the unidimensionality of school effects in secondary schools is questionable. Departmental differences in effectiveness may be a more relevant concept than overall school differences in effectiveness. Another important aspect of the unidimensionality of the concept of a school effect is whether general effectiveness should or should not be separated from differentiated

Models of Educational Effectiveness


effectiveness. Studies concerning the stability and consistency of school effectiveness have been based on the assumption that the effectiveness of a school is its effectiveness for the average student, with respect to aptitude, SES etc. Little attention has been paid to the extent to which schools perform consistently across differing school groupings. Studies investigating differentiated school effectiveness have mainly been concerned with the schools’ capacity to be effective with different groups of students according to their background characteristics. In England Sammons, Nuttall, and Cuttance (1993) showed that for primary schools differential effects could only be demonstrated for the prior attainment position of students and not with respect to their gender, SES or ethnicity status. Moreover, the evidence about differentiated school effectiveness related to pupil gender and for ethnic differences shows little overall consensus (Nuttall, Goldstein, Prosser, & Rasbach, 1989). Similar findings have emerged from two studies investigating differentiated school effectiveness in relation to student background characteristics conducted in Cyprus (Campbell et al., 2004; Kyriakides, 2004). No evidence of significant differentiated school effectiveness in relation to sex and social class was identified. However, it was found that although Cypriot schools that are considered effective for the lower attaining pupils are also effective for the higher attaining pupils, school effects are more significant for lower than for higher attaining pupils.

Towards the Development of Both Generic and Differentiated Models of Educational Effectiveness Four main conclusions emerge from studies investigating teacher and school differentiated effectiveness. First, studies investigating differentiated teacher and school effectiveness reveal that although educational practice remains basically fixed and non-adaptive in most countries, it is primarily the teacher’s adaptive instructional behaviour which makes teachers and schools able to provide equal opportunities to students with different background characteristics. Relying on the development and use of differentiated textbooks and curriculum may be necessary, but is insufficient, for promoting equity at the school level. The most critical factor is the teacher’s ability to respond to students’ different learning and affective needs. Effective teachers are able to provide different learning support systems to different groups of students in order to help them achieve different types of objectives. Second, there has been criticism that EER does little to address the problems of social justice and inclusion (e.g., Slee, Weiner, with Tomlinson, 1998; Thrupp, 2001). However, research into differentiated effectiveness seems to provide not only answers to the critics of educational effectiveness research but also a new perspective in the discussion about educational equality. For example, as already noted, studies in Cyprus on differentiated teacher and school effectiveness revealed that specific groups of pupils are systematically being disadvantaged in their rate of learning by comparison with other groups (e.g., Kyriakides, 2004, 2005a). In addition, Cypriot teachers were found to matter most for children who are being disadvantaged. These findings are probably not restricted to Cyprus since studies on differentiated school effectiveness



conducted in USA support the conclusion that schools matter most for underprivileged and/or initially low-achieving students (e.g., Bryk & Raudenbush, 1992; Teddlie & Stringfield, 1993). Therefore, research into differentiated effectiveness may have important implications for policy-makers and teachers attempting to design and implement policies on equal opportunities. Third, it has been shown that teachers and schools may be more effective with some groups of students and less with others. This implies that research on differentiated effectiveness is needed to raise issues concerning the extent to which specific factors connected with teachers’ classroom behaviour are associated with teacher and school effectiveness in promoting specific groups of pupils’ progress. Identifying these factors may be useful for policy makers attempting to design and implement policies on equal opportunities. The question of what exactly makes teachers effective in different areas, and whether there are teachers who are effective in all, or more or less effective in different factors, is one that needs exploring both from a research and professional development point of view. Finally, methodological issues can be raised about the nature of the studies on differentiated effectiveness. In general, research on differentiated effectiveness seems to suffer from many of the weaknesses characterising much educational research. Most qualitative studies rely on case study methodology and interviews, which risks confounding rhetoric with reality due to their self-report methodology. True longitudinal studies, involving ethnographic immersion within the school, would help overcome these issues. Likewise, most quantitative studies are one-off cross-sectional survey designs, making it hard to distinguish correlation and causality. Use of more experimental and longitudinal designs would help clarify these issues (Kyriakides & Creemers, 2006). Overall, however, this review highlights an urgent need for research going beyond one size fits all teacher behaviour studies to look at teaching as a multidimensional role. Such studies will not only help us develop differentiated models of educational effectiveness but may also contribute in establishing strong links between research on effectiveness and improvement of educational practice (Stoll & Fink, 1996; Wikeley, Stoll, Murillo, & de Jong, 2005). In the final section, therefore, I provide suggestions on how teachers and schools might make use of differentiated models of educational effectiveness to improve the quality and equity of their teaching practice.

Suggestions for Possible Uses of Differentiated Models of Effectiveness for Improving Educational Practice During the last two decades, effectiveness studies conducted in different countries have supported the argument that models of EER should be multi-level in nature (Teddlie & Reynolds, 2000). The relationship between factors at different levels might also be more complex than assumed in the integrated models (Creemers & Kyriakides, 2006). This is especially true for interaction effects among factors operating at classroom and student level which reveal the importance of investigating differentiated effectiveness (Campbell et al., 2004). Therefore, researchers should establish models

Models of Educational Effectiveness


of EER which are not only multi-level in nature but also demonstrate the complexity of improving educational effectiveness by taking into account the major findings of research into differentiated effectiveness. A differentiated model of EER may also help us establish stronger links between EER and improvement of educational practice. At least three possible ways exist of establishing links between the results and theoretical models of research into differentiated effectiveness and improvement of educational practice. First, based on the various dimensions used to examine differentiated teacher effectiveness, different teaching profiles can be produced, including those relating to achievement of different groups of students. Teachers could then identify the extent to which their classroom behaviour is similar to any of these profiles and whether specific changes to their practice are needed. Differentiated models of effectiveness are, therefore, useful tools for teacher and school self-evaluation of quality and equity in effectiveness. Since school and teacher self-evaluation is considered as a key to improvement (MacBeath, 1999; MacBeath, Schratz, Meuret, & Jakobsen, 2000), teachers and schools may attempt to improve their practice by providing differentiated support to various groups of students based on their background and personal characteristics. Moreover, teachers and headteachers could be encouraged to draw their own meanings of what makes schools and teachers effective in terms of efficiency and equity by considering the knowledge base of effective teaching practice provided by research on differentiated effectiveness. Second, the findings of differentiated effectiveness research reveal that differentiation of teaching practice should be seen as a significant dimension of measuring the function of each effectiveness factor. The current models of EER do not explicitly refer to measurement of each factor. On the contrary, it is often assumed that these factors represent unidimensional constructs. For example, the comprehensive model of educational effectiveness states that there should be control at school level, meaning that goal attainment and the school climate should be evaluated (Creemers, 1994). In line with this assumption, studies investigating the model’s validity have revealed that schools with an assessment policy focused on formative purposes of assessment are more effective (de Jong, Westerhof, & Kruiter, 2004; Kyriakides, 2005a; Kyriakides, Campbell, & Gagatsis, 2000). However, school level assessment policy can also be examined in terms of many other aspects of the functioning of assessment such as procedures used to design assessment instruments, forms of record keeping, and policy on reporting results to parents and pupils. This implies that EER models should not only refer to various effectiveness factors but also explain the dimensions upon which each factor can be measured. Considering effectiveness factors as multidimensional constructs not only provides a better picture of what makes teachers and schools effective but also helps develop more specific strategies for improving educational practice (Creemers & Kyriakides, 2006). Research into differentiated effectiveness seems to reveal that researchers should examine the extent to which activities associated with a factor are implemented in the same way for all the subjects involved with it (e.g., all the students, teachers, schools). Adaptation to specific needs of each subject or group of subjects is likely to increase successful implementation of a factor and ultimately maximise its effect on student learning outcomes. Therefore, models taking into account findings of research into differentiated effectiveness provide support for the



argument that people of all ages, learn, think and process information differently. This means that effective teachers need to acknowledge, honour, and cultivate individuality, using differentiated instruction and building on the premise that learners differ in important ways (Tomlinson, 1999). One way for teachers to differentiate instruction is by teaching according to individual student learning needs as defined by their background and personal characteristics such as gender, SES, ability, thinking style and personality type. For example, effective teachers would provide more active instruction and feedback, and break instruction into smaller steps for low-SES or low-achieving students. On the other hand, being aware that high SES students thrive in an academically stimulating and demanding atmosphere, they would create such a learning environment for them. In addition to good instruction, warmth and support would be provided to low SES students who need to be more frequently encouraged for their efforts. Similarly, policy makers should adapt their general policy to the specific needs of groups of schools and encourage teachers to differentiate their instruction. Focusing on differentiation does not imply that different subjects should not be expected to achieve the same purposes. On the contrary, adapting the policy to the special needs of each group of schools, teachers and students is likely to ensure that all of them will become able to achieve the same purposes. Support for this argument comes from European research into adaptive teaching and evaluation projects of innovations concerned with the use of adaptive teaching in classrooms (Houtveen, van der Grift, & Creemers, 2004; Reusser, 2000). Finally, using a differentiated model of EER, policy makers could evaluate national and school policy on equality of opportunities in education. The success and failure of school change is affected by the influence that the inputs, processes and context of the school and of education in general have on student outcomes (Hopkins, 1996; Reezigt, 2001; Reynolds, Hopkins, & Stoll, 1993; Stoll, Creemers, & Reezigt, 2006). Even when the effectiveness of different components is improved, the question remains as to whether or not that change induces higher pupil outcomes. Therefore, the evaluation of any policy promoting equality of opportunities can be based on investigating its impact on promoting educational progress of socially disadvantaged pupils. Moreover, the effectiveness of micro-level policies on equality of opportunities in education can be evaluated by examining whether there is any association between the effectiveness of the school and the implementation of such policy. Research is, however, needed to investigate the impact that the use of the differentiated models may have on improving teaching practice at teacher-level through building self-evaluation mechanisms and at national level through establishing an “evidence-based” approach on introducing educational policy promoting the provision of equal opportunities. Generally, it can be claimed that since research into differentiated effectiveness illustrates ample opportunities for promoting differentiation in practice, policy-makers and teachers can use the main findings of research into differentiated effectiveness to define their roles and professional activities and improve their practice. However, further research is needed to identify whether using results and models of differentiated EER results in more effectiveness in terms of both quality and equity.

Models of Educational Effectiveness


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Mortimore, P. (Ed.). (1999). Understanding pedagogy and its impact on learning. London: Sage. Mortimore, P., Sammons, P., Stoll, L., Lewis, D., & Ecob, R. (1988). School matters: The junior years. Wells: Open Books. Muijs, D., Campbell, R. J., Kyriakides, L., & Robinson, W. (2005). Making the case for differentiated teacher effectiveness: An overview of research in four key areas. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 16(1), 51–70. Muijs, D., & Reynolds, D. (2001). Effective teaching: Evidence and practice. London: Sage. Nussbaum, E. M. (2002). How introverts versus extroverts approach small group argumentative discussions. The Elementary School Journal, 102(3), 183–197. Nuttall, D., Goldstein, H., Prosser, R., & Rasbach, J. (1989). Differential school effectiveness. International Journal of Educational Research, 13, 769–776. Opdenakker, M., & Van Damme, J. (2000). Effects of schools, teaching staff and classes on achievement and well being in secondary education: Similarities and differences between school outcomes. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 11(2), 65–196. Reezigt, G. J. (Ed). (2001). A framework for effective school improvement: Final report for the effective school improvement project SOE 2-CT97–2027. Groningen, the Netherlands: GION, Institute for Educational Research, University of Groningen. Reezigt, G. J., Creemers, B. P. M., & de Jong, R. (2003). Teacher evaluation in the Netherlands and its relation to educational effectiveness research. Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education, 17(1), 67–81. Reusser, K. (2000). Success and failure in school mathematics: Effects of instruction and school environment. European Child & Adolescent Psychology, 9, 17–26. Reynolds, D., Hopkins, D., & Stoll, L. (1993). Linking school effectiveness knowledge and school improvement practice: Towards a synergy. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 4(1), 37–58. Rutter, M., Maughan, B., Mortimore, P., Ouston, J., & Smith, A. (1979). Fifteen thousand hours: Secondary schools and their effects on children. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Sammons, P., Nuttall, D., & Cuttance, P. (1993). Differential school effectiveness: Results from a reanalysis of the inner education authority’s junior school project data. British Educational Research Journal, 19(4), 381–405. Sammons, P., Thomas, S., & Mortimore, P. (1997) Forging links: Effective schools and effective departments. London: Paul Chapman. Scheerens, J. (1992). Effective schooling: Research, theory and practice. London: Cassell. Scheerens, J., & Bosker, R. (1997). The foundations of educational effectiveness. Oxford: Pergamon. Shadbolt, D. R. (1978). Interactive relationships between measured personality and teaching strategy variables. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 48, 227–231. Shuerger, J. M., & Kuma, D. L. (1987). Adolescent personality and school performance: A follow-up study. Psychology in the Schools, 24, 281–285. Slavin, R. E. (1987). Ability grouping and student achievement in elementary schools: A best-evidence synthesis. Review of Educational Research, 57(3), 293–336. Slee, R., & Weiner, G. with Tomlinson, S. (Eds.). (1998). School effectiveness for whom? Challenges to the school effectiveness and school improvement movements. London: Falmer Press. Smith, D. J., & Tomlinson, S. (1989). The school effect: A study of multi-racial comprehensives. London: Policy Studies Institute. Snow, R. (1986). Individual differences and the design of educational programs. American Psychologist, 41(10), 1029–1039. Snow, R. E., & Lohman, D. E. (1984). Toward a theory of cognitive aptitude for learning from instruction. Journal of Educational Psychology, 76, 347–376. Sternberg, R. J. (1988). Mental self-government: A theory of intellectual styles and their development. Human Development, 31, 197–224. Stoll, L., Creemers, B. P. M., & Reezigt, G. (2006). Effective school improvement: Similarities and differences in improvement in eight European countries. In A. Harris, & J. H. Chrispeels (Eds.), Improving schools and educational systems: International perspectives. London: Routledge. Stoll, L., & Fink, D. (1996). Changing our schools: Linking school effectiveness and school improvement. Buckingham: Open University Press.



Teddlie, C., & Reynolds, D. (2000). The international handbook of school effectiveness research. London: Falmer Press. Teddlie, C., & Stringfield, S. (1993). Schools make a difference: Lessons learned from a ten year study of school effects. New York: Teachers College Press. Thomas, S., & Mortimore, P. (1996). Comparison of value-added models for secondary school effectiveness. Research Papers in Education, 11(1), 5–33. Thrupp, M. (2001). Sociological and political concerns about school effectiveness research: Time for a new research agenda. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 12(1), 7–40. Tizard, B., Blatchford, P., Burke, J., Farquhar, C., & Plewis, I. (1988). Young children at school in the inner city. Hove: Lawrence Erlbaum. Tomlinson, C. (1999). The differentiated classroom: Responding to the needs of all learners. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Townsend, T., Clarke, P., & Ainscow, M. (Eds.) (1999). Third millennium schools: A world of difference in effectiveness and improvement. Lisse: Swets and Zeitlinger. Wikeley, F., Stoll, L., Murillo, J., & de Jong, R. (2005). Evaluating effective school improvement: Case studies of programs in eight European countries and their contribution to the effective school improvement model. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 16(4): 387–405. Zhang, L. F. (2001). Do thinking styles contribute to academic achievement beyond self-rated abilities? The Journal of Psychology, 135, 621–638.


John MacBeath

Between 1995 and 1999 a team from the University of Strathclyde and the Institute of Education in London conducted an effectiveness and improvement study of 80 Scottish primary and secondary schools. This chapter outlines the purpose, process and outcomes of that study, setting these in the context of the prior studies and exploring what we have learned that confirms or challenges existing knowledge. The chapter goes on to consider what we now have to learn and apply in a social, economic and policy context which is undergoing complex change and to give consideration to the very different canvas on which effectiveness and improvement will have to be drawn in the future.

School Effectiveness: The Scottish Context Scotland is a country which likes to maintain an identity distinct from its immediate neighbor to the south, and prides itself on a fully comprehensive system which encompasses 97% of all children and young people. The remaining 3% attend independent schools. Within the state sector there is no selection by ability, in comparison with England where post-primary school selection by ability still exists in a quarter of all local authorities. Selection at secondary school level is also still characteristic of many European countries, so making comparative data more problematic than policy makers would have us believe. Since 1970, when the Scottish system moved at a stroke from a selective two tier system to one fully comprehensive, it provided an attractive and even playing field for effectiveness researchers. The greater homogeneity of Scottish schools is shown in the 1992 OECD statistics on Mathematics achievement. The variance among schools in England was 63% while in Scotland it was 16%. This was ascribed (Raab, 1993) to the “vertical partnership” of national government, local authorities and comprehensive schools in which respect, historically, Scottish authorities have followed a more coordinating, even interventionist path, than many other countries with regard to 57 T. Townsend (Ed.), International Handbook of School Effectiveness and Improvement, 57–74. © 2007 Springer.



school staffing, resourcing, professional development and school leadership. In recent years local school management has, however, somewhat breached that tradition.

A Legacy of Studies Through the 1980s and 1990s the Centre for Educational Sociology (CES) in Edinburgh produced a substantial and influential body of work (Cuttance, McPherson, Raffe, & Willms, 1988; Gray, McPherson, & Raffe, 1983; McPherson, 1992; Paterson, 1992). Much of this work drew on a Scottish Office database of “Scottish School Leavers,” its purpose, to ascertain why so many young people left school prematurely and without adequate qualifications. The CES data confirmed the powerful effects of factors beyond the control of schools but also demonstrated that individual schools could make a significant difference at the margins. Drawing on the Scottish School Leavers’ database, John Gray and his colleagues (1983) showed that when background factors were applied to examination performance tables, a significant re-ordering of the ranking among schools took place. This led the research team to the conclusion that if parents chose schools on the basis of examination results alone they would very often choose the wrong school. Drawing further on the school leavers’ data, it was found that if you were a pupil of average ability your chances of exam success were better in schools where your peers were of high ability than in schools where they were of low ability. This has since come to be known as the “contextual” or “compositional” effect, suggesting that the social milieu of school may have an additional impact over and above the influence of an individual’s personal and family characteristics. As well as attainment data from these cohorts of young people, researchers also gathered an impressive body of testament from former students, a collection of powerful statements abut the nature of schooling. Published in 1980 as Tell them from Me (Gow & McPherson, 1980) it told the story of “flung aside forgotten children.” Gow and McPherson’s study brought home more vividly than performance data the differing impact of schools on individual pupils. Other qualitative work, although not in the school effectiveness mainstream, added much to help in the interpretation and contextualization of school effects findings which were to follow. The work of Noel Entwistle and his colleagues in Edinburgh, Wynne Harlen and colleagues at the Scottish Council for Educational Research and John Nisbet and colleagues at Aberdeen, for example, made a significant contribution to our understanding of classroom processes while Brown, Riddell’s and Duffield’s in-depth study of four schools (1996) married a school effectiveness approach to an ethnographic case study work. The challenge to the school effectiveness movement was for it to integrate the increasingly-sophisticated data modeling with more qualitative, ethnographic approaches. In his 1989 lecture to the Scottish Educational Research Association David Hargreaves commented: Remember that one of the characteristics of the effective school is the belief by pupils that they are valued by staff. Asking for their views is a practical way in which teachers can value pupils.

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At policy level the Scottish Education Department held a close watching brief on emerging studies, setting up a Management of Resources Unit to drive forward effectiveness work. At local authority level councils began to put into place quality assurance teams and local authorities such as Fife and Grampian (Croxford, 1996; Cuttance et al., 1988) commissioned school effectiveness studies of their schools. In 1998 level the Scottish Education Department published its own intelligence gathering document Effective Secondary Schools followed a year later by Effective Primary Schools (SED, 1989). These two documents were designed to put into the hands of schools issues that had previously been the province of researchers and to serve as a reference for school development planning, seen by policy-makers as the mechanism through which greater effectiveness would be delivered (SED, 1991). The publication of the school self-evaluation guidelines (SED, 1992) signaled a sea change in thinking about how schools improve. Criteria for evaluating school quality and effectiveness were moved from the guarded domain of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate into the public arena, a paradigmatic shift in philosophy that, nearly a decade later, many other countries in the world are emulating. Presaging this development, David Hargreaves described it as an important step in helping teachers “take ownership of their diagnosis of the school and develop a commitment to implementing the solutions they themselves formulate” (1989, p. 12). A 1991 collection of papers under the title School Effectiveness Research: Its messages for improvement (Riddell and Brown) laid the groundwork for a major Scottish-based research project. Although Scotland had moved further and faster than its UK counterparts in school self-evaluation, there was no Scottish equivalent to the Rutter or Mortimore studies in England, nor to Reynolds’ work in Wales or the many American studies which were often used to apply, or possibly misapply, to the Scottish context. In 1995 the renamed Scottish Office Education Department put out to tender a study to which provide empirical data on a national basis and answer some of the key policy issues of the day. It was also seen as further strengthening the rigor of school self-evaluation.

The Improving School Effectiveness Project (ISEP) The tender for the research was won by a collaborative team from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow and the Institute of Education in London.1 The remit for the research team was to shed light on the relationship between school processes and outcomes with particular emphasis on school ethos, development planning, and learning and teaching. It was also asked contribute to the development of a framework for assessing “value-added” and to assess the impact of recent policy initiatives. The team was asked to explore the processes by which school effectiveness is improved, in particular to identify actions (in the context of national initiatives) that would “move” a relatively ineffective school forward; and to establish more clearly how such actions affect classroom learning and teaching and pupils’ attainments. The research team was also asked to take account of insights gained over the last two decades of school effectiveness research elsewhere in the world and to set findings within that wider international context.



A Question of Design The research design was to sample 80 primary and secondary schools on a representative basis across Scotland and track these schools over a 2 year period. Any school joining the project would be required to make a substantial commitment to data gathering at the outset of the project and again 2 years down the line. Schools were asked to work with the research team to gather the following data: ● ● ● ● ●

14 background measures for each pupil in the primary 4 and secondary 2 cohort three attainment tests – one in Mathematics and two in English a pupil attitude questionnaire for all P4 and S2 pupils teacher questionnaires for all staff questionnaires to a random sample of parents.

In 1997, the exercise was repeated for teachers and parents who had been sampled in 1995 and for the P4 cohort, by now in P6. The same applied to secondary schools, but instead of using the ISEP tests for the cohort, whose students were by now in S4, results on Scottish Standard Grade examinations (the equivalent of the English GCSE) were collected. In addition to the data collection across all 80 schools, in depth work took place in 24 case study schools, a sub sample of the 80 designed to reflect the broad characteristics of the larger sample, In these schools 11 qualitative instruments were used to gather information on ethos, development planning, the management of change and teaching and learning. These case study schools had the benefit of two members of the research team to assist with the collection, interpretation and feedback of data. One of the pair assumed the role of critical friend, working alongside teachers and senior leaders to plan and implement change while the researcher had the task of documenting the response to the data and other broader change processes (MacBeath & Mortimore, 2001). The role and influence of the critical friend was a central aspect of the case studies as we wanted to explore the extent to which outside support and challenge could play a part in school improvement. An external researcher was commissioned in the final stages of the project to evaluate the impact of the critical friend (Doherty, Jardine, Smith, & McCall, 2001).

Enlisting Schools in a Time of Crisis The launch of the project took place in the middle of a teachers’ boycott of all additional work with strong discouragement by the unions to engage in any initiatives such as ISEP. At the height of this industrial action members of the research team visited each local authority and invited headteachers to a meeting to put the project before them and essentially to “sell” them the idea of being involved in something which would be of benefit to their schools, especially in respect of self-evaluation. It was a hard sell as many of the heads, however interested, could not, in that embattled climate, commit their schools to such an undertaking. In all cases heads were asked not to make an instant decision but only to do so with the full support of their staff. They, therefore, had to try and convince their staff that this would be a worthwhile undertaking. Some

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heads, keen to be involved, fell at this second hurdle. The selection of the final 80 schools, drawn from over 300 involved in discussions and from a sub set of 100 who volunteered, was a time consuming task but one that achieved its end – a well drawn representative sample including the highest and lowest achieving schools in the country with a distribution that was a close reflection of the national picture.

Multi-Level Modeling One of the important strands of the project was measurement of pupil attainment and progress taking account of the impact of pupils’ background factors and prior attainment. Multi-level modeling was used to examine the relationship between 14 measures of pupil background and previous educational experiences; in relation to attainment. This was done at two points for both the primary and secondary samples – at P4 and P6; and at S2 and S4. We were interested in exploring patterns of attainment at two points in time with a specific focus on Reading and Mathematics. The choice of this restricted focus on the “core” subjects was only taken after long debate within the team, many its members wanting to look more widely and creatively at other less traditional learning domains. It was both a pragmatic and political decision to stay with these two key areas, and to concentrate our analysis on how attainment and progress in English and Mathematics played out in relation to factors such as gender, age, socio-economic circumstances and provision of learning support. Multi-level models were used to examine the extent to which, after controlling for prior attainment and background influences, there was evidence of differences among schools in their effectiveness (Thomas, 1998). Meeting one aspect of its remit the project developed a value-added framework for primary and secondary schools of immediate use to schools in identifying pupils’ differing rates of progress.

The Findings We were not surprised to find that, in common with every other robust effectiveness study, pupil background was strongly related to attainment. Socio-economic disadvantage showed a particularly powerful impact in Reading/English measures for younger age groups at P4, a confirmation of the summer and winter born phenomenon which affects the age, and readiness, of starting school (Mortimore, Sammons, Stoll, Lewis, & Ecob, 1988). As children progress, prior attainment, again unsurprisingly, shows a strong relationship with later attainment. There was, however, evidence that certain groups made more progress than others. For example, girls were ahead in reading by P6, but boys were ahead in Mathematics. At secondary level boys and pupils eligible for free school meals made less progress in English and overall in their Standard Grade results at 15/16. These differences in progress were both within and between schools. After controlling for prior attainment and background, value-added results revealed statistically significant differences in school effectiveness. Up to one third of the variance in primary schools was attributable to the school effect while at secondary level it was between 6 and 7%. These whole school effects did, however, mask internal



variations. In nearly a quarter of the secondary schools, there were both positive and negative value-added scores, for example, positive for English and negative for Mathematics. Similarly, nearly a third of primaries showed a mixture of negative and positive residuals. In other words, it is clear that schools are not uniformly effective or ineffective, reflecting findings by Smith and Tomlinson’s (1989) and Sammons, Thomas, and Mortimore (1997). Among the 36 secondary schools only three (8%) significantly added value across all three academic measures – Standard Grade mathematics, Standard Grade English and overall score for best seven Standard Grades. A similar picture emerged among the primaries. In only a few schools was there significant value-added across the curriculum. Much more typical was a variable pattern of achievement, in some cases children performing very differently in Mathematics and in reading. As found in other studies, value-added is stronger in Mathematics than in language due to Mathematical skill being less affected by home and community factors than spoken and written language. In Mathematics about one quarter of ISEP secondary schools were significantly adding value to pupil achievement. For Mathematics in primary schools, the figure was similar. In the minority of schools which performed consistently and significantly above expectation, there was no socio-economic bias. In other words, although showing very different levels of measured outcomes, value-added scores covered the whole socioeconomic spectrum. One of the three secondary schools performing significantly well in all value-added outcomes had relatively high free school meal entitlement while the secondary school with the highest free school meal entitlement performed above expectation in two out of three of the attainment outcomes. As for gender differences, in primary schools there were no significant differences between boys and girls in reading or Mathematics at P4 but by P6, however, boys were ahead in Mathematics and girls were ahead in reading. This trend continued into secondary. We found, once more in common with other studies (e.g., Paterson, 1992), evidence of a “compositional” or “contextual” effect. That is, the overall composition of the school population in terms of the proportion of pupils with free school meal entitlement has an effect on the achievement of individual pupils over and above the influence of individual pupil background characteristics. This was particularly pronounced for socio-economic measures of attainment and for progress among the secondary cohort from S2 to S4. Martin Thrupp’s work on the social mix (1999) reveals the extent to which this can profoundly affect attitudes and performance, telling a more textured story than the statistical measures which effectiveness research applies. His thesis receives overwhelming support from Judith Harris (1998). In her controversial book The Nurture Assumption she argues, with reference to a substantial body of research, that a child’s identity as a person, her capacity as a learner and motivation as a student, come from the way in which she defines herself within the immediate peer reference group. The categories we use in our analysis – sex, race, ability, class may or may not be salient characteristics of children’s identity but assume greater significance when school structures and the nature of the school’s social mix push these features into social prominence.

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A Question of Attitudes As the Gow and Macpherson studies showed, and as Thrupp’s critique revealed, attitudes to school are not only important drivers of attainment but are also highly infectious. Our ability to measure and aggregate attitudes in the same way as we gauge attainment is problematic (1) because attitudes do not behave in a similar fashion to attainment and (2) because attitudes can only be inferred on any large scale through self report as, for example, through questionnaires. Attitudes do not grow incrementally as children progress through school. Indeed, as the data show, a liking for school, motivation and self-esteem tend to stabilize or even decrease with age and experience. Furthermore, socio-economic status does not, as far as we know, work in the same way for attitudes as it does for attainment. Nor, however commonsensical that it might appear, can we assume that in more effective schools pupils will be happier, more positive and more self-confident. So we found less variance in attitude and attitude change attributable to the individual school than we did for attainment and progress. Indeed, attitudes proved to be virtually stable over time, although there were variations among schools in relation to specific items and cluster of times items (Robertson, 1998; Thomas, 1998). We found little overall correlation between attainment with attitudes at school level, at first sight, a puzzling finding given what we know about ways in which attitudes impact on other factors such as school attendance, bullying and motivation to learn, for example. This may reflect a weakness in the attitudinal measuring instrument, or perhaps in the attainment instrument. It may imply that pupils who do not achieve well have, nonetheless, other sources of satisfaction in school. Or it may mean that both attainment and attitudinal measures tell us little unless complemented by more in-depth approaches. Nonetheless, a factor analysis did show that there were individual questionnaire items and clusters of items that produced a significant correlation between attainment and attitudes. One of the most significant of these was a factor which we labeled as teacher support. It included three key inter-related items: ● ● ●

teachers help me to understand my work teachers tell me how I am getting on with my work teachers praise me when I work hard.

Exploring what issues such as these meant and how factors such as these played out in schools and classrooms was made possible by the deeper inquiry in the 24 case study schools.

24 Schools Research in the 24 case study schools gave us a more fine-grained picture of school and classroom life. In these schools, in addition to classroom observation (generally invitational and ad hoc than systemic and structured), we conducted individual and group interviews with teachers and pupils, a development analysis process (Reeves & MacGilchrist, 1997) and a change profiling activity (MacBeath & Mortimore, 1997) in which teachers evaluated their schools on ten key indicators. These sources helped



to complement and draw out meaning from the quantitative data and gave us insights into the three areas of policy interest to the Scottish Office – teaching and learning, school ethos and development planning. As data from the questionnaires in the whole sample left us with more questions than answers, the case study schools were invaluable in enabling us to probe more deeply into ambiguities in the data. There were, for example large and significant differences not only between schools in teachers’ responses to questionnaire data but also widely differing attitudes within schools by individual, by age group and by subject department. In order to make sense of these variations it was important to go back to staff with the results and enlist their help in teasing out the meaning of the various items. This exploration of the data by teachers and senior management (and in some schools, involving pupils and parents too) was fruitful and always challenging. It was the ambiguities and apparent contradictions within the attitudinal data that led to vigorous discussion as, in the process of feedback and discussion, teachers became more alive to others’ ways of seeing things and reflected on their own responses. Some of these ambiguities could be explained as contextual – feelings on the day the questionnaire had been administered, perhaps colored by recent events or events in prospect. Working systematically in groups through the data, problematising and digging beneath the statistical surface, staff added a qualitative value to the raw figures. It helped staff to find common ground of agreement and disagreement, and to become more understanding of value differences, often subject related. Data, however uncomfortable at times, could be used to move the school on, to address key issues, in particular those where there was marked dissonance between the views of the staff and those of senior, or middle, management. This process of collaborative questioning of beliefs and practices contributed to professional development. Being confronted with compelling evidence could help, in many instances, to move a school forward. This did, however, rely on astute critical friendship and a high level of skill in dealing with the defense mechanisms of heads and senior management for whom the data often came as a shock. Data were received by some headteachers, with denial (I just don’t believe this), with projection (Well they would say that wouldn’t they), sometimes introjection (Should I resign now?), by rationalization (Well it was done on a wet Friday in December, what would you expect?). What also became clear, sometimes painfully, was that in schools without the support of the critical friend, data tended to be taken at face value and either ignored or used to move directly to planning for change. One headteacher famously phoned the research team to tell them the data was “all wrong.” She had personally gone round every member of staff and asked them if they had made these negative judgments. To a man and woman they had all denied any such subversive comment.

Data as Tin Opener Addressing the issues with regard for evidence and reasoned argument illustrated the power of “soft” data as a tin opener, cutting into some deeply entrenched belief systems operating in a school. “Learning disabilities are tragic in children but fatal in

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organizations,” argues Peter Senge (1992). The ISE Project shed new light on some of the learning disabilities of schools but also showed how schools can learn through a process of feedback with appropriate support and challenge. Helping teachers to question their beliefs and assumptions, to deal sensitively and critically with evidence, to engage in dialogue on effects and improvement and proved to be a vital element in professional development and capacity-building. Feedback of attainment data on the Language and Mathematics tests was also an important part of the process, returned as quickly as possible while still fresh in the minds of teachers and useful to them for both diagnostic and formative purposes. In case study schools critical friends played a part in helping staff to mine the data and to become more aware of how “raw” attainment data and value-added data could be used for different purposes. The “raw” data were useful at whole-school level in giving a picture of attainment across the school in a form that could be disaggregated, for example, by gender, by age, by ethnicity or by department. At classroom level, wholeclass attainment levels provide a useful overview for the teacher, but even more useful was disaggregation by gender and by individual pupil scores. Test results further broken down item-by-item helped in pinpointing in finer detail where strengths and weaknesses lay. Teacher interviews were another source of qualitative data which revealed the hidden complexities of school life and classroom culture. Interview transcripts were analyzed painstakingly, identifying fragments of teachers’ comment and value-judgment and then classifying clusters of such fragments against sub themes (ethos, or learning and teaching, or development planning for example). Each cluster was then given a score on a positive and negative scale. These scores were then correlated with pupil attainment, identifying positive correlations between a positive ethos score and a value-added score (Robertson, 1998). Across the 12 primary schools ethos scores ranged from 23 to 32 which served as proxy indicators for internal capacity and improvement potential (Stoll, MacBeath, Smith, & Robertson, 2001, pp. 169–191). The development analysis interview (in which a headteacher and another member of staff are taken systematically, and in-depth, through a recent change in their school) also generated a substantial body of data which was correlated with other measures of effectiveness and improvement. From the development analysis evidence it was possible to rate schools in terms of how they both conceptualized and implemented change (Reeves, 1998). This rating scale provided us, and schools themselves, with a powerful tool for predicting and supporting school improvement, although it could not, in the short term, demonstrate a significant correlation with value-added attainment. The change profile offered yet another lens through which to view the school. The profile contains ten “good practice” items which staff rate on a four-point scale from “very like this school” to “not at all like this school.” Staff filled it in first individually then as a group, trying to reach consensus on their rating. Completed in 1995 and again in 1997 it not only gave us an index of improvement but also generated lengthy debate and focused attention squarely on evidence. The second time round, the same staff that had filled in the earlier version were also asked to rate where the school was improving, declining or staying static with respect to each of the ten criteria. While there was, across the whole sample, evidence of significant positive change for the better, this



differed school by school and item by item, a useful tin opener rather than a source of “hard” data. The ten items of the profile are: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10)

a learning school, high expectations, ownership of change, shared goals, effective communication, focus on pupil learning, effective leadership, home-school partnership, positive relationships, staff collaboration.

While grandiose claims cannot be made for this as a research instrument, it was a useful tool for schools themselves to use to generate dialogue and sharpen the search for evidence. For the research team it added significantly to our understanding of differing perspectives between senior leaders, long serving staff and newly qualified teachers and how these impacted on school ethos, development planning and learning and teaching.

What Have We Learned? The learning that came from ISEP fed into policy, in particular in relation to selfevaluation and inspection. It had a powerful impact in some of the participating schools and little discernable impact in others. In some cases it brought to the surface issues that were uncomfortable and challenging and led to schools commissioning follow up work with members of the team. For some individual teachers it led to new career pathways as it did for some members of the research team and at least one of the Scottish Office commissioning team. For us as researchers, we learned about the strengths and limitations of effectiveness research and the complexity of change. Among the major findings was that, with regard to pupils’ attitudes to school (both from questionnaire and interview data), teachers consistently underestimated the goodwill and enjoyment of learning that pupils brought with them to school. However there were clear differences from school to school and classroom to classroom, and the key differential was in relation to the quality of interaction between teachers and pupils in class. Some of us were able to explore this further in the projects such as the ESRC Learning How to Learn Project. (James et al., 2003) At school level, pupil response on three particular items varied significantly across the sample of secondary schools. These were – feeling safe in the playground, playing truant and getting homework. All three were at the time, and still remain, areas of high policy priority. Although the correlation between these and the quality of classroom interaction was difficult to establish across the whole sample, case study evidence

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illustrated just how significant these issues could be. In the lowest achieving school in the whole sample with high levels of absenteeism, and labeled by the press as “the worst school in Scotland,” a small group of inspirational teachers’ classrooms became arenas of hope and high expectation, offering renewed incentive for young people come to school, to engage with learning and bounce back from failure. The slogan across the wall in the Science classroom became a leitmotif for other members of staff – Stuck? Good! Now you can learn something. Find a friend. Form a theory. Try it Out. The Science corridor came to resemble a children’ exhibition of work bearing labels such as “I tried this 15 times before I got it to work.” Some schools, like the school we called St. Leopold’s (MacBeath & Stoll, 2001, pp. 152–168), were able to support pupils’ cognitive progress significantly above prediction and a small number of schools achieved better than predicted across all measures. This suggested to us that the remaining schools had an unrealized capacity to raise their performance. The finding that there were significant variations in outcomes across the curriculum within any one school adds to the belief that there may be scope for greater consistency of standards. It was a counsel of caution not to fall too easily into blanket descriptions of “good” or “bad” schools. The strongest predictor of achievement at S4 across all Standard Grade exams was achievement at S2 in Reading and Mathematics. While intervention at S2 level was likely to pay off later, the real effects were at primary level and we were able to make some valid inferences from secondary performance at S4 not only what primary school a child had attended but what teachers they had in the infant classes. The project was able to show unequivocally that schools could make a difference but, more significantly, that teachers could make a difference. However, it was equally unambiguous that school cannot make all the difference, however much Millinerian politicians such the Conservative Minster at the time (Michael Forsyth) chose to believe. Such a view did nothing for the morale of teachers struggling in what are now known euphemistically as “challenging circumstances.” The finding that socio-economic disadvantage had a stronger negative impact on language work than on Mathematics, did provide the spur to examine out of school learning such as after school homework clubs, study support, improved child care and creative approaches to home-school relationships, including parents’ workshops with a concentrated focus on language. These initiatives have since been shown to raise attainment, improve attitudes and boost attendance figures (MacBeath et al., 2001), although they can do nor more than go part way to redressing the social and economic imbalance that lies outside schools.

Beyond ISEP: Tools for Schools Members of the ISEP team made a significant contribution to the introduction and piloting of “new community schools,” referred to in the United States as full service schools and in England as extended schools. Offering extended opening hours, joinedup children and family services and early intervention, these have been shown to go part way to offering a more even playing field for children and young people.



Prior to ISEP members of the team had worked closely with the Scottish Education Department in developing school self-evaluation. ISEP was able to build on and extend that work, offering a repertoire of strategies for gathering attainment and attitudinal data and demonstrating how researchers’ tools of inquiry could be used by schools themselves in monitoring, planning and improving practice. The change profile, reproduced in other formats (e.g., MacBeath, 2005) has proved to be an easy-to-use and powerful “tin opener.” The simple scoring device helps to bring to the surface key issues in effectiveness and improvement, clarifying aspects of school climate, challenging differing views, pressing for evidence. Rather than using it as a one-off, the instrument has proved its use in the longer term, on a more systematic basis, encouraging all stakeholders within the schools to seek hard evidence over time and to monitor improvement in specific areas. The change profile was later adapted for use in a European Commission Project involving 101 schools in 18 countries (MacBeath, Schratz, Meuret, & Jakobsen, 2000) and the methodology was widened to encompass pupils, parents and school governors as well as staff. The success of that project encouraged a number of other old and new countries to replicate the project and to use the SEP (the school evaluation profile as it had now become) as a basis for their own school improvement initiatives. Used for evaluating schools in The Bridges Across Boundaries Project (MacBeath & Brotto, 2005) the SEP now exists in 13 European languages. The teacher questionnaire, with its double-sided structure, modified by ISEP from the Halton Project in Ontario (Fink & Stoll, 1993) also proved to be an instrument with a wider currency. It was used as a data gathering and dialogic centerpiece of the ESRC Learning How to Learn Project (Pedder, James, & MacBeath, 2005) and in the Leadership for Learning seven country project (MacBeath, Frost, & Swaffield, 2004; MacBeath & Moos, 2004).

The Contribution of the Critical Friend A valued contribution of ISEP was the deployment of the critical friend. While selfevaluation tools and strategies can be used by schools themselves without external help, experience from the Project pointed strongly to the need for skilled critical friends to support the process, to smooth ruffled feathers and to challenge when challenge was needed and appropriate. The Project provided a useful testbed for examining the workings of critical friendship not only from the point of view of critical friends themselves, but from the researchers’ viewpoint and from the perspective of those at the receiving end – teachers and headteachers in the 24 case study schools. When it was found that their support and intervention was not everywhere welcome or successful, it provoked closer scrutiny of the role and context of the critical friend’s intervention. The evidence from the Project demonstrates that the critical friend role demands a high level of skill and sensitivity. Even the most experienced in the team found it difficult at times to find the balance between support and challenge and between affirmation and critique. While the Project has been able to identify a number of the requisite skills of such a role it was also found that a critical friend could be successful in one school but not in another (Doherty et al., 2001). This finding was to

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also to be reflected in the European Project mentioned above where the Icelandic critical friend worked with two schools and was rated by one as highly effective but as ineffectual by the other. This aspect of the study has far-reaching applications for the work of local authority advisers and inspectors and for consultants from universities or private agencies (Swaffield, 2002). In cases where local authority advisers have acted as critical friends some of the tensions in the role are highlighted. Experience as an adviser rather than a facilitator could prove not only unhelpful but even counter-productive. In England the government have recently introduced a School Improvement Partner, (a SIP), a “critical friend” to support and advise schools. However, as these SIPS are accountable directly to government and may pass on information which can result in school closure the tensions in their dual role are all too apparent and their role as critical “friends” is open to question.

What Have We Still to Learn? Over four decades we have learned a lot about both potential and limitations of effectiveness studies but we still have to learn how to apply that knowledge to a social world that seems far removed from the world in which Coleman and his team first embarked on their seminal study. Much has changed even since we concluded the Improving School Effectiveness study just half a decade ago. The technological world of today would have been unimaginable to an ISEP research team equipped with tools that in retrospect seem technologically primitive. The world in which young people are now growing up is vastly different from the one familiar to their parents and their teachers. A decade ago to talk of depression in children would have appeared faintly absurd. Yet, the World Health Organization (2006) estimates that 8% of all girls and 2% of all boys in the UK show symptoms of severe depression. In the 5–10 age group, 10% of boys and 6% of girls are affected, and among the 11–15 age group, 13% of boys and 10% of girls. The Mental Health Foundation (, 2004) estimated that 15% of preschool children in the UK have mild mental health problems, and 7% have more severe mental disorders. The highest rates of mental disorders occur among children from families where no parent has ever worked. The Foundation reported a clear link between mental disorders and rates of smoking, alcohol consumption, and cannabis use, most prevalent in the most economically deprived areas. People from the poorest areas are nearly three times as likely to be admitted to hospital for depression as those who are not, and are three times more likely to commit suicide, a quarter of whom will have been in contact with mental health services in the previous year. Poorer people are also six times more likely to be admitted to hospital with schizophrenia, and ten times more likely to be admitted for alcohol-related problems. Between 10 and 20% of young people involved in criminal activity are thought to have a “psychiatric disorder.” A WHO report in February 2006 found that Scotland had areas with the worst health problems and the lowest life expectancy of all European countries.



This is the world that Castells describes at the end of Millennium (1999), a world in which there is a growing disconnect between life as it is lived outside school and the imitation of life that is played out in the classroom. The world of schools and schooling has moved on very little and, as many critics argue, actually regressed. Despite waves of educational reform, class and race inequalities have changed little from the 1970s (Bryce & Humes, 1999). Over the 1990s in Scotland the performance gap between working-class and middle-class students, in fact grew larger between Standard Grade (at 15/16) and Higher Grade (at 17/18). While working-class students were by 2000 more likely than middle-class students to enter further education, in higher education middle-class students outnumbered working-class students by three to one. In England differential achievement at school and access to higher education has remained closely correlated to social background and income. The proportion of 16 year olds who obtained fewer than five GCSE in 2005 (12%) is the same as in 1998/1999. Three quarters of all children receiving free school meals failed to get five GCSE at grade C or above, one and a half times the rate for other children (Social Exclusion Unit, 2004). As the Institute for Fiscal Studies reports, inequality in original income in the UK (before taking account of taxes and benefits) increased steadily throughout the 1980s and has also remained relatively stable since then. The top fifth is still about four times better off then the bottom fifth of the population (National Statistics, 2004). Some of the explanations for this higher level of inequality since the start of the 1980s are described as: ●

● ●

An increase in the gap between wages for skilled and unskilled workers in part due to skills-biased technological change and a decline in the role of trade unions Growth in self-employment income and in unemployment A decrease in the rate of male participation in the labor market, often in households where there is no other earner Increased female participation among those with working partners, leading to an increased polarization between two-earner and zero-earner households

Despite improved access to formal education for more young people, initiatives to close the gap have continued to be frustrated by factors lying largely outside schools. A January 2006 report by the Social Exclusion Unit found that the UK stood out among European countries as having the highest proportion of children living in workless households, at 17% almost twice that of France and three times that of Denmark. This was due in large part to the high number of lone parents’ households without work. The unemployment rate among lone parents has risen in the last decade from 45 to 55%. Babies born to parents from manual backgrounds are 25% more likely to have a low birthweight than children born to non-manual parents, while infant deaths are 50% more likely in manual households. If we have leaned anything from effectiveness and improvement studies it is that school education as we know it has not been able to, and will not be able to, close the gap between the highest and lowest achievers, the most and least well off, the most advantaged and disadvantaged. This is not a counsel of despair but rather a plea for a better way.

Improving School Effectiveness


Terry Wrigley, an outspoken critic of the effectiveness paradigm argues that it has contributed to a locking in place the school as a competitive unit of measurement, narrowing the vision and potential of schools as places of learning and places of hope. Much of the high-level government interest in school improvement has led to an intensification of teaching, accountability, league tables, teachers feeling deprofessionalised and disenchanted (or leaving), a relentless drive for more though not always better – and silence on the question of educational purpose … Have our schools been driven towards efficiency rather than genuine improvement? (Wrigley, 2003, p. 90) One of the most encouraging of current trends is for families, coalitions and syndicates of schools to work together, to share resources (including staffing and students) and to see improvement as a collaborative effort. Attribution of effect, or value-added, then is much less likely to isolate individual school performance or set one school against another competitively. In a collaborative frame of mind schools are less likely to “poach” staff, or students or parents. Such networking and mutual exchange at a local level are described by Hargreaves and Fink (2005) as one of the seven keys to sustainability, a notion which resides not simply in the individual school but in the wider ecology of neighborhoods and communities.

From School to Educational Effectiveness As educational provision moves progressively further away from the black box, nine to four, five day week, subject fragmented, egg box school, the greater the challenge there is to performance rankings of individual schools and to the effectiveness paradigm itself. New community schools, home learning and more adventurous alternatives in the “post-comprehensive” or “new comprehensive” era will require some creative rethinking from researchers because the premise of the “black box” with measured inputs at one end and outcomes at the other will become increasingly problematic. The more seamless and boundary breaking learning becomes the less easy it will be to identify, control and manipulate the school-level variables. Where is the source of learning and added value – the classroom? Study support? Homework, home study and home tutoring? Mentoring and coaching? Social and psychological services? Improved health care? In England the Every Child Matters policy rests on five key “outcomes” (enjoying and achieving, keeping safe, staying healthy, contributing to the community, social and economic well being ), objectives which schools cannot attain by themselves. As inspection moves away its focus on schools to a focus on services to children more broadly, value-added belongs where it has always implicitly been located, in the interface of school, family, community and social agencies. This has immediate and far-reaching implications for how we measure and compare educational achievement and improvement. As effectiveness and improvement researchers we will urgently need, as the Scottish anthem has it – “to think again, to think again.”



Note 1. The Strathclyde team: John MacBeath, Judy Arrowsmith, Brian Boyd, Jim McCall, Jenny Reeves, Pam Roberston, Iain Smith. The London Team: Peter Mortimore, Pam Sammons, Jane Savage, Rebecca Smees, Louise Stoll, Sally Thomas.

References Brown, S., Riddell, S., & Duffield, J. (1996). Responding to pressures: A study of four secondary schools. In D. Woods (Ed.), Contemporary issues in teaching and learning. London and New York: Routledge. Bryce, T., & Humes, W. (Eds.). (1999). Scottish education. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Castells, M. (1999). End of millennium. Oxford: Blackwell. Croxford, L. (1996). The effectiveness of grampian secondary schools. Edinburgh: Grampian Regional Council, Centre for Educational Sociology. Cuttance, P., McPherson, A., Raffe, D., & Willms, D. (1988). Secondary school effectiveness, report to the Scottish education department. Edinburgh: Centre for Educational Sociology, University of Edinburgh. Doherty, J., Jardine, S., Smith, I., & McCall, J. (2001). Do schools need critical friends? In J. MacBeath, & P. Mortimore (Eds.), Improving school effectiveness. Buckingham: Open University Press. Fink, D., & Stoll, L. (1993). School Effectiveness and school improvement: Views from the field; Paper presented at the Sixth International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, Norrkoping, Sweden. Gow, L., & McPherson. A. (1980). Tell them from me. Edinburgh: Centre for Educational Sociology. Gray, J., McPherson, A., & Raffe, D. (1983). Reconstructions of secondary education. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Hargreaves, D. H. (1989) Making Schools More Effective: The challenge to policy, practice and research. The 1989 SERA Lecture, St. Andrews. Hargreaves, A., & Fink, D. (2005). Sustainable leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Harris, J. R. (1998). The Nurture Assumption. London: Bloomsbury. James, M., Pedder, D., & Swaffield, S. with Conner, C., Frost, D., & MacBeath, J. (2003). A servant of two masters: Designing research to advance knowledge and practice, a paper presented at AERA 2003, Chicago USA. MacBeath, J., & Brotto, F. (2005). Bridges across boundaries. Cambridge: Report to the European Commission. MacBeath, J., Frost, D., & Swaffield, S. (2004). Leadership for Learning (The Carpe Vitam Project), Paper delivered at the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, Sydney, January 3–6. MacBeath, J., Kirwan, T., Myers, K., Smith, I., McCall, J., & Mackay, E. with Sharp, C., Bhabra, S., Pocklington, K., & Weinding, D. (2001). The impact of study support. London: Department for Education and Skills. MacBeath, J., & Moos, L. (2004). Leadership for learning, Paper for the ICSEI 2004, Congress, Rotterdam, 6–9 January, 2004. MacBeath J., & Mortimore, P. (1997). School effectiveness: Is it improving? Paper presented at the Tenth International Conference on School Effectiveness and School Improvement, Memphis, January. MacBeath, J., & Mortimore, P. (Eds.). (2001). Improving school effectiveness. Buckingham: Open University Press. MacBeath, J., Schratz, M., Meuret, D., & Jakobsen, L. (2000). Self-evaluation in European schools: A story of change. London: Routledge. MacBeath, J. & Stoll. L. (2001). A profile of change. In J. MacBeath, & P. Mortimore (Eds.), Improving school effectiveness. Buckingham: Open University Press. McPherson, A. (1992). Measuring added value in schools. London: National Commission on Education. Mortimore, P., Sammons, P., Stoll, L., Lewis, D., & Ecob, R. (1988). School matters: The junior years. Somerset, Open Books and Berkeley, CA, University of California Press (Reprinted in 1994 by Paul Chapman, London).

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Office for National Statistics. (2004). Social Trends, 33. Paterson, L. (1992) Social class in Scottish education. In S. Brown and S. Riddell (Eds.), Class, race and gender in schools: A new agenda for policy and practice in Scottish education. Glasgow: Scottish Council for Research in Education. Pedder, D., James, M., & MacBeath, J. (2005). How teachers value and practise professional learning. Research Papers in Education, 20(3), 209–243. Raab, C. (1993). Parents and schools – what role for education authorities? In P. Munn (Ed.), Parents and schools. London: Routledge. Reeves, J. (1998). Planning for Development. Policy Paper no. 7 of the Improving School Effectiveness Project. Glasgow: unpublished. Reeves, J., & MacGilchrist, B. (1997). Gauging the impact of improvement strategies. Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, University of York, September 1997. Robertson, P. (1998). Improving school effectiveness: Summary paper. Paper presented to the Scottish Office Education and Industry Department, February 1998. Robertson, P., & Sammons, P. (1997). Improving school effectiveness: A project in progress. Paper presented at the Tenth International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, Memphis, January 1997. Sammons, P., Thomas, S., & Mortimore, P. (1997). Forging links: Effective schools and effective departments. London: Paul Chapman. Scottish Education Department (SED). (1989). Effective primary schools. Edinburgh: HMSO. Scottish Office Education Department. (1991). Management of educational resources: 5, The role of school development plans in managing school effectiveness. Edinburgh: HM Inspector of Schools, Education Department. Scottish Office Education Department. (1992). Using ethos indicators in secondary school self-evaluation: Taking account of the views of pupils, parents and teachers. Edinburgh: HM Inspector of Schools, HMSO. Senge, P. (1992). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organisation. Sydney: Random House. Smith, D. J., & Tomlinson, S. (1989). The school effect: A study of mutli-radical comprehensives. London: Policy Studies Institute. Social Exclusion Unit. (2004). Tackling social exclusion taking stock and looking to the future. London: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minster. Stoll, L., MacBeath, J., Smith, I., & Robertson, P. (2001). The change equation: Capacity for improvement. In J. MacBeath, & P. Mortimore (Eds.), Improving school effectiveness (pp. 169–191). Buckingham: Open University Press. Swaffield, S. (2002). Contextualising the work of the critical friend. Paper presented at the 15th International Congress on School Effectiveness and Improvement , January, Copenhagen. Thomas, S. (1998). Policy paper 2: Creating a value-added framework for Scottish schools. London: SOEID. Thrupp, M. (1999). Schools making a difference: Let’s be realistic. Buckingham: Open University Press. World Health Organisation. (2006). Available at Wrigley, T. (2003). Is “School effectiveness” anti-democratic? British Journal Of Educational Studies, 51(26), 89–112.


Javier Murillo

Introduction During the last 30 years of the twentieth century a number of studies centered on school effectiveness were produced in Latin America (Murillo, 2003a). But more recently, thanks to a renewal of interest and work in the field, the best and most ambitious ones are those being developed in the early years of this century. This is largely due to the consolidation of a scientific research community focused on school effectiveness and improvement, which is gathered in a research network known as the Red Iberoamericana de Investigación sobre Cambio y Eficacia Escolar (RINACE). In spite of these developments, there is limited awareness in the centers of school effectiveness research about what is being done in the Latin American Region. Classic research reviews at the international level (Clark, Lotto, & Astuto, 1984; Mackenzie, 1983; Purkey & Smith, 1983) as well as more recent ones (Cotton, 1995; Sammons, Hillman, & Mortimore, 1995; Scheerens & Bosker, 1997) have not included work from the Region. Even the reviews that are more sensitive to what happens in different contexts do not include references about what is being carried out in Latin America (Fuller & Clarke, 1994; Harber & Davies, 1997; Levin & Lockeed, 1993; Riddell, 1997). While this may be due to the fact that Latin American research is reported in Spanish, it may derive also from a belief in the universal validity of school effectiveness results. This, of course, is questionable. The education systems of developed countries share common characteristics that are not necessarily present in other regions. For instance, to a large extent they have school autonomy, enough school resources, lack of parental involvement in the school management, and considerable freedom to choose schools, among others. Consequently, their results will be clearly directed to their own circumstances and most likely, will be valid for other contexts. However, not only is the “big fish” not aware of the “small one” but neither is the small one interested in what the big one does. This results in a dynamic of mutual ignorance. Indeed, a perusal of bibliographical references cited in diverse Latin American 75 T. Townsend (Ed.), International Handbook of School Effectiveness and Improvement, 75–92. © 2007 Springer.



investigations on school effectiveness, also points to a lack of awareness of what are influential studies in the Anglo-Saxon domain. This affects the quality of such work. In this brief chapter we attempt to provide a global image of current research on school effectiveness that is being developed in Latin America by Latin American researchers. We focus our attention on its characteristics and contribution, as well as on its limitations and the challenges it must face in the near future. The text is structured in five sections. In the first, we describe some general characteristics of school effectiveness studies in Latin America. Second, we offer a general overview of such studies. The third section presents some of the results on factors of school effectiveness and the last two sections provide a reflection on the future of this type of research and some concluding ideas.

Characteristics of School Effectiveness Research in Latin America School effectiveness research in Latin America has four main characteristics: an undeniably applied character, a considerable emphasis on equity, a big influence from diverse and even contradictory theoretical positions, and a manifest dependence on the state of development of education and research in each country.

Applied Character Perhaps, given the need to improve considerably the quality and equity of Latin American educational systems, school effectiveness research in Latin America has taken an obviously applied character. The concern of Latin American researchers, highly committed to educational transformation, has focused almost entirely on obtaining results that can be immediately applied (Zorrilla, 2003). This has meant subordinating to a second position the pursuit of knowledge to build theory. As Mexican professor Carlos Muñoz Izquierdo (1984, p. 56) has masterfully expressed: Unarguably, the immediate goal of educational research is to generate knowledge that allows us better to understand phenomena occurring within the wide field of educational science. Nevertheless, many of us, in our professional activities, consider knowledge to be just a means of orienting the transformational praxis of reality. We are not interested in knowledge for itself but in its potential to modify educational reality. We undertake this profession as a mediate form of solving some of the problems related to the country’s education. The applied concern of school effectiveness work has some implications for the kind of studies that have been undertaken in Latin America. Thus, research concerned with estimating the magnitude of school effects and analyzing its scientific properties is scarce and, as we will see later, is very recent. Also, researchers endeavor mainly to impact those groups directly involved in change processes such as teachers, administrators, and policy-makers rather than communicate to a wider academic audience.

School Effectiveness-Latin America


This has resulted in there being practically no studies written or translated into English that are sent to international publications, which in turn has contributed to the lack of awareness of what is studied in Latin America.

Emphasis on Equity Latin American studies on school effectiveness have as a second characteristic a deep concern about equity in education (Muñoz Izquierdo, 1996). There are two possible reasons behind this fact. On the one hand, this is how researchers respond objectively to education development demands in Latin America where inequity is one of its major constraints; but also from their subjective side it reflects the degree to which many researchers have a strong commitment to social issues and equity. The emphasis on equity is reflected in an interest to study schools within disadvantaged contexts. A good example is Raczynski and Muñoz’s (2005) recent research focused on schools in Chile that, despite their location in poor districts, achieve outstanding results. But also there is a greater focus on factors of ineffectiveness rather than of school effectiveness. Thus, several studies center on factors such as droppingout or repetition (Filp, Cardemil, & Donoso, 1981; Loera & McGinn, 1992). Through these studies researchers expect to obtain information that could be used to assist schools operating in bad conditions.

Multiple Theoretical Influences Not only are there multiple theoretical influences underlying Latin American studies on school effectiveness, but these influences often are also contradictory. Thus along with references to classic works on school effectiveness, we find a strong influence of production – function studies (Mizala & Romaguera, 2000), and a touch of influence of European sociologists such as Bourdieu and Passeron (1970). Just as Latin American educational systems keep one eye on Europe and the other on the United States of America and suffer contradictory influences from both, many Latin American studies on school effectiveness unashamedly combine both the effectiveness and productivity perspectives. However, while both approaches share a common origin (their reaction to the Coleman Report) and while production function studies have been incorporating variables related to school cultural processes (Fuller & Clarke, 1994) and approaching school effectiveness concepts, their basic proposals are radically different. While economists seek to optimize the efficacy and efficiency of schools for policy decision-making, educational researchers are more interested in gaining in-depth knowledge that will assist in the improvement of schools. It would not be adventurous to affirm that an important part of the scarce popularity of school effectiveness studies among researchers and teachers in Latin America is due to the influence of the production function studies. Such studies give an economics aura to school effectiveness that under no circumstances it possesses. In order to escape the phobia that production function studies engender, researchers in the field tend to avoid the use of the term “school effectiveness” and to settle instead for labels such as “study of associated factors.”



Intimately Related to the Development of Education and Educational Research Finally, there is a clear relationship among the number and quality of school effectiveness studies carried out in each country, the extent of the country’s educational development, and the country’s level of educational research. Using an accepted indicator such as the Human Development Index one can observe a statistically and positively significant correlation between this index and the number of studies produced on school effectiveness (Murillo, 2003b). From this perspective, it is not surprising that Chile, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina or Brazil are the countries where more School Effectiveness Research can be found and that research in Central America, is virtually nonexistent. However, there are also other factors related to greater production of school effectiveness research. One of these factors is the existence of solid research teams such as Cultural and Educational Research Center (CICE) in Venezuela and the Working Group on Standards and Evaluation (GTEE–GRADE) in Peru. Also in Chile, UNICEF and the government working together have supported research on school effectiveness, and in Brazil such research is aided by access to rich data sources.

General Overview of Research Production School effectiveness research in Latin America started in the mid 70s and from that period on a good number of empirical studies aimed at identifying the school factors related to student achievement have been carried out. Reports by the Institute of Socioeconomic Research of the Bolivian Catholic University based on the data collected through the Latin American Economic Integration Joint Studies Program (Comboni, 1979; Morales, 1977; Virreira, 1979), as well as work by Muñoz Izquierdo, Rodríguez, Restrepo, & Borrani (1979) in Mexico, and by Barroso, Mello, and Faria (1978) in Brazil can be considered as first exemplars of research on school effectiveness with some weight in the Region. Since then, the number of studies on school effectiveness carried out in Latin America exceeds 50. This figure can be considered as acceptable, particularly as the number and quality of the studies increases notoriously year after year. Within the above group of studies we can distinguish six clearly different lines of investigation: (1) studies whose design and data collection have been carried out ad hoc with the purpose of knowing what factors are related to school effectiveness; (2) studies that make a secondary use of data collected for other purposes, mainly data pertaining to educational system assessments; (3) studies on school effects; (4) studies that deal with the analysis and assessment of programs for school improvement; (5) studies that seek to learn about the relationship between school factors and student achievement; (6) work that is focused on the analysis of the school culture from an ethnographic perspective.

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Studies Specifically Designed to Identify School and Classroom Factors Associated with School Achievement Here we consider studies that were specifically designed and developed to identify school and classroom factors associated with student achievement and, in some cases, evaluate their contributions. They represent the most orthodox studies on school effectiveness and share some common characteristics: (1) They all possess a theoretical foundation that is based on work about school effectiveness, though, as we have mentioned, they are also influenced by other sources. (2) All of them have used specific data collection instruments, which makes the information obtained and the instruments themselves more suitable to the purpose of the research. (3) Research procedures are varied, from quantitative studies with large samples to work with prototypical schools, although the latter are more common. (4) Their results point to the relationship between school factors and student academic achievement. Among the above studies we particularly note research carried out in Venezuela by the Cultural and Educational Research Center team (CICE), which is directed by Mariano Herrera and Marielsa López (Herrera, 1993; Herrera & Diaz, 1991; Herrera & López, 1992; López, 1996). These studies were published as School Effectiveness by Herrera and López (1996) and constitute a milestone in Latin American research concerning the topic. In Mexico, the work of Schmelkes, Martínez, Noriega, and Lavin (1996) opened the door to a series of Mexican studies of remarkable quality about school effectiveness. Among them, is Guadalupe Ruiz Cuellar’s (1999) as well as Eduardo Lastra’s (2001) doctoral theses. Another country with a substantial production of “orthodox” studies on school effectiveness is Chile. There, the works of Himmel, Maltes, and Majluf (1984, 1995), Zárate (1992), Concha (1996), and Bellei, Muñoz, Pérez, and Raczynski (2003) shine with their own light. In all of them, the concern was to study successful schools in poor areas. In Brazil, the study of Barroso et al. (1978), as well as Castro et al. (1984), and the most recent one of Francisco Soares (2002) are worth mentioning. Finally, in Uruguay we note work by Ravela et al. (1999) through the Measurement of Educational Results Unit (UMRE). The authors analyzed ten public schools at elementary level located in socio-culturally disadvantaged areas, which showed an extremely high rate of effectiveness in the 1996 sixth grade assessment.

Work on School Effectiveness Using National and International Evaluations Over the past few years, there has been an overwhelming interest in the evaluation of educational systems occurring all over the world and, particularly, in Latin America. The impulse given in this respect by international organisms such as UNESCO’s Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC/UNESCO), and the Iberoamerican States Organization (OEI) has been really important. Nowadays, all the governmental ministries in the Region have established an evaluation center or a



department for the evaluation of their educational systems. Such is the case of the Bolivian System of Measurement and Evaluation of Educational Quality (SIMECAL), the Chilean System of Measurement of Educational Quality (SIMCE), the Brazilian System of Evaluation of Basic Education (SAEB) and the Mexican Education Evaluation National Institute (INEE). This fact clearly contrasts with the virtual lack of research centers within the national ministries of education. One of the usual objectives of the national evaluation systems is to gain understanding of the factors associated with academic achievement. Therefore, diverse countries have performed special analyses to identify them. The best example of this tendency is the international evaluation carried out by UNESCO’s Latin American Laboratory for the Quality of Education Evaluation (Laboratorio Latinoamericano de Evaluación de la Calidad de la Educación [LLECE], 2001). The studies situated within this framework are usually based on a more or less elaborate concept of school effectiveness, but they share the usual limitations implied in the use of data, which was not obtained expressly for that objective. Even the UNESCO Laboratory study is based more on school production function studies than on work that deals with effectiveness (Casassus, 2003). All these studies share the advantages and limitations of this type of special usage of data: a large amount of data pertaining to the country, quantitative data collected through surveys and standardized tests, and a non-specific design for the objective, of studying school effectiveness. In addition to the LLECE’s study (2001) other interesting studies are the following: ●

Argentina: Re-analysis of the national evaluation data by Delprato (1999) and Cervini (2002, 2003, 2004). Bolivia: Use of evaluation data performed in the early 90s by the OREAL/ UNESCO (REPLAD, 1994; Vera, 1998, 1999), data from the SIMECAL’s national evaluations (Talavera & Sánchez, 2000); and data from the teacher evaluation system (Mizala, Romaguera, & Reinaga, 1999; Querejazu & Romero, 1997; Reinaga, 1998). Brazil: Use of data from the System of Assessment of Basic Education (SAEB) by, among others, Barbosa, Beltrˇao, Fari´nas, Fernandes, and Stantos (2001), Esposito, Davis, and Nunes (2000), Fletcher (1997), Soares (2004) and Soares, Cesar, and Mambrini (2001). Chile: Use of data from the System of Measurement of Eduation Quality (SIMCE) by Mizala and Romaguera (2000), Mizala, Romaguera, and Ostoic (2004), Redondo and Descouvieres (2001), Redondo, Descouvieres, and Rojas, (2005). Colombia: with data from the National System of Evaluation of the Quality of Education (SABER) see Cano (1997), Ministerio de Educación Nacional (1993), Piñeros and Rodríguez Pinzón (1998) as well as international evaluations such as the Third Study on Mathematics and Science (TIMSS) in Colombia (Ávila, 1999), or of LLECE (Pardo, 1999). Honduras: Use of information from the Learning Evaluation undertaken by the Quality of Education Measurement External Unit (Fernández, Trevisgnani, & Silva, 2003). Mexico: where Tabaré Fernández’s doctoral thesis (2004a) stands out, using data from the Language Arts and Mathematics National Standards Program, as well as a series of studies compiled by National Center of Evaluation for Superior

School Effectiveness-Latin America


Education (CENEVAL) (2004) using the data base after 9 years of implementing the EXANI I test (from 1994 to 2002) that is both an admissions and exit test used at middle school level (Carvallo, 2005). Peru: Use of data from the two evaluations of the educational system carried out until now; the first of them by the World Bank (1999), and the second one by the Ministry of Education through its Measurement of Quality Unit (UMC) (Benavides, 2000; UMC/GRADE, 2001).

In spite of their clear methodological limitations, these studies represent the most important contributions to the knowledge of factors associated with academic achievement in Latin America.

Estimates of School Factors As we have indicated earlier in this paper, the evidently applied character of school research in Latin America has meant that only recently researchers have approached the study of school effects. This interest has been helped by the availability of data generated through the different systems of evaluation of educational quality to which we have referred. Thus, from the year 2001 on, studies that have estimated the extent of school effects in Latin America have been carried out in Brazil and Mexico using data from national evaluations. In these studies the effects of socio-cultural background have been controlled and multilevel models have been used in their estimation. Thus far, no study that proposes the analysis of the scientific properties of school effects has been published. In Brazil, different researchers utilized data generated through the SAEB system (Sistema Nacional de Avaliação da Educação Básica) to estimate the magnitude of the school effects (Barbosa & Fernandes, 2001; Ferrão, Beltrão, & Fernandes, 2003; Ferrão & Fernandes, 2003; Fletcher, 1997; Soares, Alves, & Oliveira, 2001). Results from these studies suggest a great diversity of school effects among the different Brazilian states. Thus, the variance in achievement explained by schools varies between 8 and 17%. In Mexico, the studies of Eduardo Lastra (2001) and Fernández and Blanco (2004) are noted. These researchers, using secondary analysis of national evaluation data from 1998 to 2002, and multilevel models in a very steady way within the period studied, reported that the extent of school effects was around 20%. Specifically, they found variance of 28% for Mathematics, and 26% for Spanish as a result of school effects.

Assessment and Analysis of School Improvement Programs From the very beginning of the school effectiveness movement, the relationship with school improvement has been constant and two-way oriented. This also applies to Latin America. Thus, research data about factors associated with achievement have helped to launch successful school improvement processes. But, at the same time, the opposite has occurred as many of the results on effectiveness have derived from the analysis of school improvement programs. If, in general, the quality and quantity of educational studies developed in the Region cannot be rated as satisfactory, the quality and quantity of innovations undertaken by



teachers can be considered as being remarkable. The motivation and innovative capacity of Latin American teachers are extraordinary when compared to what happens in wealthier countries. Regarding these experiences there are good efforts to present these experiences in a systematic way in many countries as well by international organizations like the Andres Bello Convention and by the Partnership for Educational Revitalization in the Americas – PREAL – (see de Andraca, 2003), or by UNESCO/ OREALC (see Blanco & Messina, 2000). The following are some of the accounts that offer a high contribution to the knowledge of factors associated with achievement: ●

Diverse analyses of the Quality Improvement of Basic Schools in Poor Areas Program in Chile, known as the P-900 program. Among such analyses, those of Carlson (2000), and Vaccaro and Fabiane (1994), should be mentioned. The account of an experience in quality improvement of basic education in five rural areas in Ecuador, where an innovation experience in 3,000 rural schools was validated during the course of three years (UNICEF, 1997). The analysis of educational innovations in schools of Quito Metropolitan District (Education Office – Quito Metropolitan District, 1994). The qualitative evaluation of the Program to Lower School Drop-Out (PARE) in Mexico (Ezpeleta & Weiss, 2000). The evaluation, in 1991, of the Multilevel School Project from 1984 to 1989 in Bolivia (Subirats, Nogales, & Gottret, 1991).

Studies that Seek to Find the Relationship Between Specific School Factors and Students’Achievement. Not all the knowledge about factors associated with student achievement can be obtained from complete studies on school effectiveness. Research that analyzes the relationship between one or more factors, or the achievement in its various expressions, also provides interesting data to the policy or teacher decision-making processes, and is useful in the design of future studies. Therefore, a good number of investigations situated in other lines of research or fields can be useful to our purpose; making the domain of analysis broader and more complex, and the intended exhaustiveness of previous sections an impossible mission. For this reason, the studies to which we will refer do not pretend to offer more than the taste of a more complex reality. In order to facilitate understanding, we have organized these studies according to the group of factors they analyze: teacher effectiveness, school and classroom climate, financial resources, school administration, early childhood, nutrition/malnutrition, and bilingual education. One of the first reviews of teacher effectiveness in Latin America was carried out by Magendzo, Hevia, and Calvo (1982) as part of the international study commissioned by the International Research Review and Advisory Group on the same topic (see Avalos & Haddad, 1981). Among the good studies in Latin America we note Filp, Cardemil, and Valdivieso’s (1984), analysis of teacher characteristics that are associated with educational achievement. Also, the study of Arancibia and Álvarez (1991) who analyzed teacher factors that directly or indirectly affect students’ achievement.

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A second line of research analyzes climate either in the classroom or in the school, and relates it to student achievement. Filp et al. (1981) examined the association between the classroom environment and teacher-student relationships as factors of school failure. Lopez, Neumann, and Assael (1983), studied the set of social interactions that take place inside the classroom, and an ethnographic study in four Latin American countries examined how classroom and school teaching and environment contribute or not to the construction of school failure (Avalos, 1986). Brazilian professor Francisco Soares (2003) analyzed the influence of both teacher and climate on students’ achievement and Fernández (2004b) suggested that climate represents the background for the shared feelings that support both the agreements as well as the individual and collective actions that have a direct impact on the school’s effectiveness. As previously mentioned, school production function studies have focused on the influence of financial and material resources on student results. In this context Virreira’s (1979) sought to establish a way of diminishing operational costs of the school system while maintaining a steady performance or, alternatively, increasing such performance while keeping the costs constant. Another area studied is school administration and its influence on students’ achievement. Here we note the work of Chilean Oscar Maureira (2004), who developed a causal model to analyze the effect of school leadership on student achievement; also, the more qualitative study of professor Nacarid Rodríguez (2001) on school leadership in Venezuelan schools. A widely studied factor in Latin America is early childhood. The concern for raising quality in compulsory education and for expanding schooling to higher levels has produced an interesting line of research aimed at finding out if children who attend preschool get better results in the first years of elementary education. Thus, Subirats et al. (1991) analyzed the experience of a network of countries in the Region with the purpose of finding out whether there was a relationship between preschool education and 1st grade student achievement. Their goal was to propose policy measures on aspects related to school success and improvement in learning of children belonging to disadvantaged areas. Regarding nutrition Morales (1979), in Bolivia sought to bring out the relationships between elementary children’s nutrition levels and their academic achievement, as well as their impact on late entry into the formal education system. Morales hypothesized that social class could explain chronic malnutrition but that in turn it would not be the only determinant of school performance. He found, however, that late entrance to school is strongly related to malnutrition, especially in the case of rural children for whom food is a major issue. In closing, we note the concern about intercultural bilingual education all over Latin America, since the early eighties. The studies of Doria Medina (1982), Barrera (1995), and Vera (1998) in Bolivia, Valiente and Kuper (1998) in Ecuador, and Cueto and Secada (2003) in Peru are some of the most relevant ones.

Ethnographic Studies About School Finally, ethnographic research on education is an important development in Latin America with a clear influence on school effectiveness research. It has contributed to



a better understanding of school operations and culture. Among the most important work we highlight Leonor Pastrana in Mexico (1997), who carried out an ethnographic study on the institutional conditions of teaching, and Cuauhtémoc Guerrero (1996) who focused on the analysis of school management through the description of job administrators. A comparable work is that of Rodríguez (2001) from Venezuela, who studied five Venezuelan schools looking at their management, autonomy, and leadership. In Argentina, we recognize the study of Brandi, Filippa, Schiattino, and Martin (2000) entitled: The transposition of knowledge in specific school districts. School knowledge and institutional culture. Also of interest is the study by Edwards, Calvo, Cerdá, Gómez, and Inostroza (1994) on school management and teaching in secondary schools in Chile.

Research Results: School Effectiveness Factors The many studies on school effectiveness carried out in Latin America over the years, as well as the contribution of related work offers an intricate web of results which are not easy to untangle. All of them contribute to a better understanding of the reality of education, and particularly to the understanding of the diverse factors associated with student achievement. Table 1 offers a summary of the contributions of some of the relevant studies. As seen the factors highlighted in these studies share many features with classic reviews like that of Sammons et al. (1995). Elements such as school and classroom climate, leadership, shared goals, high expectations, methodology or teamwork appear repeatedly in studies not only in Latin America, but also in the rest of the world. Additionally, we find differences such as those that refer to resources and teacher quality, including their initial preparation and working conditions. Almost all the studies in Latin America stress the importance of management of financial and material resources as factors directly related to student achievement and, therefore, directly relevant to the quality of education. Thus, the quality and quantity of school resources really matter. There are two reasons that explain the difference in importance of this factor between developing and developed countries. One the one hand, there are extreme inequalities among schools in developing contexts and the lack of minimal conditions to operate as required in many of them. On the other hand, what continuously appears to be important is the effect of the initial and continuing preparation of teachers, their work stability and conditions. In Latin America, not all the teachers have the required qualifications, they have no opportunity or have little opportunity of continuous professional development, and their salary is much less than satisfactory. Consequently, very often teachers must work in two schools or have an extra job to cover their expenses. Without doubt, these conditions impact on student achievement; and seeking to redress them should be a governmental priority if education quality is to be attained. Levin and Lockeed (1991) are correct in their assertion that characterizing effective schools in developing contexts requires including such factors as their infrastructure, resources and equipment. In the light of this review, one would have to add the quality of teacher initial and continuing preparation, higher salaries, and full time commitment to teaching.

School Effectiveness-Latin America Table 1.


School effectiveness factors according to selected studies carried out in Latin America

School factors School climate Infrastructure School resources School financial management School Autonomy Teamwork Planning School community involvement Shared goals Leadership Classroom factors Classroom climate Classroom quality and resources Teacher-student ratio Teacher planning (work in the classroom) Curricular resources Didactic methods Student assessment and follow-up Factors related to the school staff Teacher qualifications Professional development Stability Experience Teachers working conditions Involvement Teacher-student relationship High expectations Positive reinforcement





































































1. Himmel et al. (1984); 2. Concha (1996); 3. Herrera and López (1996); 4. Piñeros and Rodríguez Pinzón (1998); 5. Cano (1997); 6. Barbosa and Fernandes (2001); 7. LLECE (2001); 8. Bellei et al. (2003); 9. Raczynski and Muñoz (2005).

The Future of School Effectiveness Research in Latin America Running the risk of being mistaken, we could state that School Effectiveness Research in Latin America has a promising future. If we attend to interest in the topic on the part of the scientific community, the number of young researchers who are specializing in the field, and the number of studies being developed and are publishable in the near future, we can expect for the coming years an important increase in the number and quality of the studies. Let us take a look of some of the milestones that point to a promising future.



In the first place, we must highlight the Iberoamerican School Effectiveness and Improvement Research Network (RINACE),1 which is helping to develop awareness of there being a community of researchers in the field. In addition, a greater exchange of information is increasing both interest in the domain and in the quality of the studies produced (Murillo & Hernández, 2002). RINACE was established in October 2002 as a professional network of researchers from Latin America, Spain, and Portugal, committed to increase the quality and equity of education systems by developing research on school effectiveness and improvement. The network is organized as a network of networks that operates in practically all the countries in the Region. There is also a specialized journal that serves Iberoamerica: The Iberoamerican E-Journal of Research on Quality, Effectiveness and Change in Education (REICE).2 This publication is playing an important role both in promoting and disseminating research. Finally, we note one of the most ambitious studies on school effectiveness being carried out in the area, aimed at impacting not only politicians and administrators, but teachers and researchers as well. This is the Iberoamerican School Effectiveness Study (IIEEE), sponsored by the Andres Bello Agreement (CAB), which has collected data from more than 9,000 students belonging to 90 schools in 9 different countries over a period of 4 years (2001–2005). Half of the schools are considered particularly effective while the other half are branded as ineffective. The above developments allow us to reiterate our optimism in a very promising future: more and better studies, greater awareness of the specialized literature, and a new generation of well trained young researchers who are interested in these themes. However, there are still many challenges. While there have been achievements, there is much more to be accomplished. There will be the need for more and better studies, more financial support, a better circulation of research production, better preparation of researchers, and an increasing use of the results. Also, an effort must be made to present local research studies beyond regional boundaries.

Some Concluding Ideas Latin American school effectiveness research developed by Latin American researchers in Latin America does exist. Day after day this research acquires greater importance not only because of an increasing number of studies but because of also because of the quality of their contribution. Thus if we wish to have a global vision of school effectiveness research it is absolutely necessary to know and recognize what is being produced in Latin America. Traditionally, recognition of school effectiveness research has been circumscribed to the developed world. In this sense, it has had largely an ethnocentric focus, centered almost exclusively, on the contributions of a small number of countries with very specific characteristics of education, economy, and culture. Its results, however, have been taken as valid and recommended as policy by international financial organizations to other country contexts. This, however, should change. The belief that what is done in some places can have universal validity is a fallacy. Research results can only be valid if they are obtained or referred to the context where they will be applied.

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We believe that school effectiveness research in Latin America is coming of age, that it can broaden the vision of research in the field and that the analysis of its results can provide a basis for more solid generalizations and policy decision-making. In short, we think that there are three potential contributions that Latin American school effectiveness research can offer (Murillo, 2005): ●

Provide, a panorama of school effectiveness in countries with serious problems of infrastructure, equity and quality, with traditionally centralized systems, and with very little school autonomy. Highlight sensitivity towards equity as an essential goal of any school system and one of the most important concerns of the school effectiveness movement. Finally, unveil the big importance of school financial and material resources, the quality of their teachers and of working conditions over school results.

Without doubt, school effectiveness research can contribute to increase the levels of quality and equity of school systems. But for this to happen it is critical that it be referred to the context where results will be used and developed by local researchers who are sensitive to and knowledgeable about the realities to be studied. On the other hand, knowing and valuing what is being done in other contexts is also a necessity today. It is the only way we can contribute to build a more equitable, fair, and fraternal world.

Notes 1. 2.

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Ira Bogotch, Luis Mirón, and Gert Biesta

Introduction We begin with the assumption that the School Effectiveness and School Improvement (SESI) movement represents one of the most dominant models of school improvement world-wide. The claim is consistent with state and national education policies as well as many administrator and teacher practices. The names James Coleman (1966) and Ronald Edmonds (1979) serve as abiding historical markers for both affiliated and independent researchers whose research claims purport that school matters (or not) for all children. In its narrowest iteration, SESI reflects specific tenets addressing administrative and teacher actions and their effects on both school climate and student academic performance. More broadly, the influence of SESI has become ideological, an irony given the movement’s claims that the evidence presented is objective (Luyten, Visscher, & Witziers, 2005). Instead, to many, SESI represents a normative model that establishes, monitors, and judges measurable criteria of effectiveness. Moreover, its influence extends beyond SESI studies themselves; that is, by drawing connections to SESI, however tenuous, school reforms in general attain the status of legitimacy by attribution. At the same time that we explore the roots of this dominance, we note that as educational researchers, we ourselves have conducted educational reform studies, empirical and theoretical, outside the borders of SESI. Our conceptions of effectiveness, broadly speaking, as well as our research methods are very different. All of that will be made evident in this chapter. Thus, our critique is meant to engage the paradigmatic assumptions of SESI; for, it is our belief that only by confronting the substance of this dominant research tradition is it possible to enter into pragmatic dialogue of new meanings and practical deconstruction. We will offer readers alternative ideas challenging SESI with respect to educational goals and research methodologies. We believe that SESI’s focus on the instrumental questions (e.g., how to make schools, through leadership and teaching, etc. more effective) evades the more fundamental questions: “effective for what” and “effective for whom.” 93 T. Townsend (Ed.), International Handbook of School Effectiveness and Improvement, 93–110. © 2007 Springer.


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Based on our own reviews and research, we view SESI today as being at a conceptual crossroads. In part, the movement has stalled in its own recycling of research designs, measures, and authors. Yet, at the same time, SESI welcomes critics into its midst, suggesting a readiness to embrace new ideas and methods. If so, then we believe there are the possibilities for building new international research alliances with those currently residing outside the borders of SESI. We start with internal critiques offered inside of SESI literature as our points of departure. Here we note a number of apparent shifts being made in SESI; that is, shifts from studying the effects of organizational dynamics to studying the effects of teaching and learning. There has also been an internal call for mixed and qualitative research designs and methods affixed to large scale and longitudinal quantitative studies. Both fall within the category we call “progress.”

Tracking the “Progress” of SESI Because the history of SESI is so well-known to our Handbook readers, we will summarize milestone reviews in a table (Table 1), with an emphasis on post-2001 reviews. For readers who wish to familiarize themselves with pre-2001 reviews, we recommend Teddlie and Reynolds (2001), Townsend (2001), as well as sociological critiques offered by Thrupp (2001). Table 1 indicates a perceptible shift from the focus on overall school and administrative variables to a closer look at the dynamics of teaching and learning. There is also a shift in tone from that of neutral observations to a tone of friendly, yet critical descriptions of the movement as a whole. We should not minimize the importance of these shifts or the promoting of internal, self-critiques. In fact, throughout most of the

Table 1.

SESI research agendas

Edmonds (1979)

Mortimer (2001)

Muijs, Harris, Chapman, Stoll, and Russ (2004)

Luyten, Visscher, and Witziers (2005)

Strong administrative leadership

Seminal studies of within-school effects on student learning Replication studies with more sophisticated methods Shift toward school improvement International comparisons

Teaching and learning

Political ideology

Effective distributed leadership

Theoretcial limitations

High expectations for students

Orderly school climate Teaching and monitoring of basic skills

Information rich Methodological environment flaws Positive school culture Learning environment Continuous professional development

Effective for What; Effective for Whom?


1980s and 1990s, school reforms have avoided independent critical research such that the packaged reforms as well as the inquiry models (e.g., Accelerated Schools, see below) of the New American School Movement never have advanced beyond the advocacy stages of conceptual development and implementation knowledge. They quickly became products that were bought and sold to educational authorities, local, national, and international, as solutions to any and all educational problems, regardless of context, people, or politics. Therefore, it stands as a strength of SESI that it has shown methodological transparency and has continuously asked reflexive questions pertaining to how to measure specific effects of schooling on student learning and overall school improvement. It is this transparency and reflexiveness which have contributed to the literature and supports future school reform efforts, including critiques. At the same time, we question whether SESI researchers are, in fact, identifying the relevant effects of student learning and school improvement. Within the research community, SESI has acknowledged its own methodological limitations whether in terms of sampling, designs, or statistical analyses. Such limitations, however, are less known throughout the wider policy community and to the public at large. Moreover, the extensive reviews by Mujis, Harris, Chapman, Stoll, and Russ (2004) and Luyten et al. (2005) recycle the seminal studies of the 1980s and 1990s while claiming to have discovered new evidence of progress. Granted, any reanalyses of past works may lead to a stronger consensus based on internal reliabilities of the previously cited studies. But why have the same studies and limited number of journals been recycled is the real question? Most of the new evidence does not come from post-2001 research. For example, Mujis et al. (2004) offered a reformulation of the 1979 axioms, with new emphases on teaching and learning. Yet, fewer than 10% of the studies they referenced were post-2001. The authors wrote, “[we found that] the degree of consensus concerning the key elements of improving schools in disadvantaged areas [that] are worth serious consideration” (p. 169). What new consensus did they find? Without new evidence, the review is primarily a re-analysis of past studies using current terms such as distributed leadership. Moreover, the shift in focus to teaching and learning is still presented to the research community in a list logic, rather than as a new synthesis or integration of complex dynamics among people and contexts across the variables being studied. What we read are more discrete variables with new descriptive measures. That of course allows for more correlational and cross-sectional analyses, rather than asking new and deeper questions of the variables. Similarly, Luyten et al. (2005) referred to eight studies [out of 82] that were post2001. Here we did see a maturation in terms of theory and method in documenting “good” classrooms and “good” schools which have brought more contextual variables into the school effectiveness and improvement models. At the same time, we hear from practitioners how district, state and national authorities continue to adopt multiple school reform strategies that potentially overwhelm practitioners, especially teachers (Wonycott & Bogotch, 1997). Some of the new initiatives introduced by central authorities run counter to the tenets of school effectiveness, but such contradictions are ignored by policymakers and district level administrators as well as by promoters of packaged school reforms. Any devolution of power through school effectiveness data collection and analysis (e.g., data disaggregation) has been thwarted by the systematic


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appropriation of decisions by central authorities and the mandated adoption of standardized practices in administration and instruction. As a result, there has been less emphasis worldwide on educator professionalism/quality and more emphasis on standardization and simple test measures. In general, the “public” has focused on the managerial, procedural, and formulaic, ignoring teacher judgment, quality and professionalism as well as global issues of class, race, and ideology. School effectiveness embraced organizational dynamics of leadership and instruction. Its focus on closed systems’ thinking within organizational theory was meant to advance our understanding of schools as both routine and complex organizations. That is, to the extent that school organizations themselves instituted rigid and prescribed routines and structures, manipulating variables and testing for differential effects seemed logical. The routines extended to roles and tasks. Therefore, aggregated measures of individual principals became the proxy for administrative processes; aggregated measures of teachers became the proxy for teaching and learning, that is, instruction. Within a systems’ model, these proxy variables could then be categorized as inputs, outputs, with minimal attention paid to the proverbial “black box.” The earliest research designs and methods depicted the organization through correlations of multiple independent variables leading or predicting outcomes on a single or multiple dependent variables. During the early phase of SESI research, the individual within a school organization, principal, teacher, student, etc., was not viewed as the most significant influence on teaching, learning, and leading. Single subject designs, case studies, and mixed methods were pushed to the side as data across classes, schools, states, nations, and reform models were collected, measured, and reported. As new research designs were appended to SESI, significant progress was made in addressing the actual complexities of schooling. In fact, researchers reported that the role of individual principals and individual teachers did matter to the same if not larger degree than the class or school as a whole. Yet, we have no systematic research comparing and contrasting “effects” from educational institutions designed around the ethic of professional autonomy as opposed to educational institutions that impose standardized structures and practices. Would individuals, as professional educators and students, make better educational choices than do the educational systems of today? Is collective systems’ thinking superior to individual decisions made by expert professionals working in public settings? These are important and unanswered empirical questions. The decade of the 1990s brought about a fundamental shift in how policymakers and the public thought about public schools. With a new emphasis on outcomes instead of inputs, the public was directed towards bottom line measures called student achievement and accountability. While SESI studies correlated multiple variables to student achievement, a more fundamental change in the means (processes) of schooling was also happening, but not as predicted. The intent was to improve teaching and learning through the policy levers of accountability testing [Finn (1990 cited in Finn & Walberg, 1994)]. Instead, accountability has resulted in publicly ranking schools, districts, states, and nations, narrowing subject areas taught in the curriculum, and refocusing instruction for extended periods of time on teaching students the efficiencies of test taking. Policymakers claim that these were all unintended consequences. But that

Effective for What; Effective for Whom?


response only begs the real questions which are what have been the effects on teaching and learning and have schools improved as a result? When we look to the measures of student achievement, we often land on data generated by large-scale achievement tests. While such tests are supposedly aligned to state and national standards, the data themselves are macro indicators of school, district, and state performance. While technology allows administrators and teachers to disaggregate data down to individual teachers, students and classrooms, this would have a significant effect on school improvement only if the data had real time applicability in terms of guidance and teaching (Heritage & Yeagley, 2005). Practitioners need timely, accurate, detailed, and comprehensive information to provide guidance for ongoing teaching and learning and to steer school improvement efforts. (p. 324) Instead, the content of the tests encapsulates the Fall months of teaching in a Spring administration, with data given at the end of the year or over the Summer for more macro planning for the following year on a different group of students. In some districts, practice exams given throughout the year serve as benchmark assessments within a school. The demands for real time applicability, however, are met by efficiency measures, as states revert back to multiple choice questions that allow easy and quick scoring. Much of the cognitive and assessment research on extended response questions, critical thinking, and alternative testing lose out to measures of efficiency while retaining the nomenclature of “effectiveness.” Even the so-called “new” conceptual frameworks that we read in the two major reviews of literature were imported from other academic fields and dated. Mujis et al. (2004) imported contingency, compensation deficit, and additivity as frameworks for assessing their findings. Luyten et al. (2005) cited Dahl and Lindblom (1953) and Thompson (1967), seminal theorists who combined political dynamics with organizational change. We see this as progress in terms of bringing contingency and politics into the analysis, but the scholarship is not strong enough yet or made relevant to move SESI into the twenty-first Century. What then should we make of this looking back and recycling? What we found was that the reviews looking backwards, recycling the same studies and authors, and importing theoretical frameworks were used to sharpen, not deepen the understandings of SESI. So, what exactly was the purpose of conducting these reviews? Has the field exhausted its own literature? Are there other research questions and methods? Where does SESI go from here? The remainder of this chapter highlights the two questions that should not be ignored: “effective for what” and “effective for whom.” In the next two sections, we explore these questions in more detail. We address the “effective for what” question by looking in more detail at what in many SESI studies has not theorized, that is, the black box of the interactions between “input” and “output” or what we prefer to call it, “teaching” and “learning.” We then address the “effective for whom” question by looking particularly at alternative research approaches that do not rely upon a technological model (i.e., producing knowledge through research and then implementing it), but


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articulates more collaborative models of working where knowledge production and application are much more closely connected and, more importantly, where there is a direct relationship between researchers and practitioners.

Effective for What: Mistaking Means for Ends and Ignoring Judgments One of the criticisms levelled at SESI is that it is under-theorized (see Coe & Fitz-Gibbon, 1998; Luyten et al., 2005; Thrupp, 2001), with a strong emphasis on cross-sectional research. Yet, SESI claims to have produced valid models mapping relationships between particular variables (see e.g., de Jong, Westerhof, & Kruiter, 2004; Silins & Mulford, 2004). What is missing is a deeper understanding – or at least an attempt to understand – how different variables interact inside the “black box.” Given the focus on school practices, one of the most crucial interactions for the SESI field is the interaction between teaching and learning. In line with much research in education, SESI conceives of the teaching–learning relationship as a relationship that ideally should be understood in causal terms, that is, where teaching is a cause, and ideally the main cause of learning. Although SESI researchers are cognizant of other factors, the teaching–learning interaction is central in much research, particularly the research focusing on effective teaching and teacher effectiveness. The question here is whether teaching–learning interactions represent a causal relationship. We ask, how realistic is it to think of teaching as the cause of learning? Such assumptions would be valid if we could compare the interaction between teaching and learning with physical interactions, that is, interactions in the material world. But the interaction between teaching and learning is precisely not a process of mechanical “push and pull.” Whether teaching will have any impact on the learning of students depends on the meaning making activities of students. Teaching will only have an effect, to put it differently, if students can make sense, interpret, and give meaning to what is being taught. Education is, therefore, not a form of physical interaction, but rather of symbolic or symbolically mediated interaction; it is a process in which everything depends on the response and interpretation of the student (see Biesta, 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999; Vanderstraeten & Biesta, 2001). This is, of course, not to suggest that in education any student response will do. The purpose of education is to communicate meaning and for that reason the key question is how and to what extent the response of the learner can be organised. Education cannot simply consist of presenting students with lessons or educational artefacts such as texts, pictures, CDs, etc. Students will undoubtedly respond to such lessons and artefacts, and, in doing so, will give meaning to them. But this response, and the ensuing meaning, will be completely idiosyncratic. The reason why simply presenting students with artefacts does not count as a case of the communication of meaning is because the meaning of artefacts is not to be found in the artefacts themselves, but in how people respond to and use these artefacts. The meaning-to-be-communicated is to be found, in other words, in the social practices in which objects and artefacts have their meaning. In order to understand and make sense of the interaction between

Effective for What; Effective for Whom?


teaching and learning, it is, therefore, important to see that meaning can only be communicated through participation and, more specifically, participation in social practices which embody particular meanings (see Biesta, 2006). Over the past decades, significant progress has been made in incorporating notions of communication and participation in the understanding of educational situations and, more specifically, the interaction between teaching and learning. Whereas work on communities of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998) and on activity systems (Engestrom, 2001) has provided important descriptions of the dynamics of teaching– learning interaction, in our view the most precise theoritizations of the communicative and participatory nature of educational interactions are still to be found in the works of John Dewey and George Herbert Mead. Recent reconstructions of their works could begin to address one of the most fundamental theoretical gaps in much of SESI research, and could open up the “black box” so as to begin to understand how particular relationships between teaching and learning are established. It is important to see that the potential of this line of thinking is not restricted to the content of teaching or to the interaction between teaching and learning per se. It could well be argued that other “factors” that influence learning, such as group size, leadership style, or even the architecture of schools, only have an effect because of the ways in which students interpret and make use of the meanings and learning opportunities afforded by them. To think of teaching as a particular opportunity for learning suggests an approach which conceives of many “factors” as learning opportunities, as long as it is not forgotten that such opportunities need to be used, and need to be used in a meaningful way by students, in order to have any effect. The foregoing does not suggest that teaching (and for that matter any aspect that potentially impacts upon learning) does not matter at all. It only suggests that teaching cannot be understood as a causal factor and that the teaching–learning interaction cannot be understood in causal terms. Education is, in other words, not a perfect technology. This raises an important question about the notion of effectiveness, because it suggests that we need to move away from the idea that the most effective teaching is the teaching in which teaching controls learning totally. It is, however, not only important to re-think and re-define the very idea of effectiveness itself; it is also important – and this is another area of weakness in SESI research – to acknowledge in a more explicit manner the fact that “effectiveness” is an instrumental value. It is a notion which says something about the value of means and instruments, of ways of achieving particular ends, but is neutral with respect to the ends themselves. The point is that when we talk about the effectiveness of certain processes or activities, there is always a further question to be asked: effective for what? This means that a phrase like “effective teaching” or even the more general ideas of “effective schooling” and “school effectiveness” do not mean anything at all as long as it is not specified what it is that the teaching or schooling aims to achieve. As we have noted, there has been a growing voice from within SESI for the broadening of the educational outcomes measured. Rutter and Maugham (2002), in a review of SESI findings from 1979 to 2002, pointed out the dearth of research into the behavioural outcomes of schooling, as opposed to the academic ones. Walford (2002) and Gray (2004) both remarked on the decline in use of non-cognitive outcomes since the


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early SER researchers as the focus on more easily measurable cognitive outcomes gained hold. They both called for the use of the SER framework to study other aims of education, such as social justice, creativity and democratic awareness, and stress that society’s aims for education extend beyond narrow academic outcomes and that different constituencies have different expectations for schools. Although the issue here is partly one about the research agenda of SESI and the question which kinds of “outcomes” should be taken into consideration, in order to get a better empirical understanding of how different aspects of educational situations and schools might matter, the deeper and more important question is not about which “outcomes” are taken into consideration in SESI, but rather which “outcomes” are considered to be important for education and should count. The fact that many discussions in policy and practice arenas talk about effectiveness without ever asking the question “effective for what?” indicates a lack of awareness that people can and do have different ideas about what the purpose of education is or should be and that research into the effectiveness of certain practices for certain outcomes cannot replace deliberation about what the desirable outcomes of education should be. This is not just a matter of parental choice or student preference. It is not, in other words, a question of accountability if we think of accountability only in terms of choice and preferences (see Biesta, 2004). The question about the purpose of education is fundamentally a political question and, at least in democratic societies, questions about the purpose of education are questions that require open debate and continuous contestation. The question of school effectiveness should always be addressed after and as a function of the always provisional outcomes of democratic deliberation. There is no way in which research on the effectiveness of processes can replace deliberation about the desirability of what such processes should lead to. This is, again, not to suggest that research about means is irrelevant for discussions about ends (and again pragmatism, and particularly John Dewey’s views about the intricate relationship between means and ends – expressed in his idea of “ends-in-view” – are extremely relevant here; see Biesta & Burbules, 2003), since it is always important to know whether certain ends can realistically be achieved and how they can be achieved. But what shouldn’t happen – and in this respect the relative silence about the aims and ends of education in the SESI field is worrying – is that the discussion about the means dictates the discussion about the aims and ends. This relates to one further point we wish to make, a point which has to do with the role of judgment in educational practices. We have already established that what school effectiveness research can indicate is how certain aims and objectives might be achieved, although it can never suggest this with absolute certainty because of the fact that educational interaction is not a technological process. This already suggests that the link between SESI research and educational practice cannot be established in a prescriptive way. What SESI research can show are possible relationships between teaching and learning, for example, or between leadership styles and educational “outcomes”; but whether such possible relationships will be actual in particular situations, is always an open question (Biesta & Burbules, 2003; Bogotch & Taylor, 1993). The idea that research findings can simply be translated into rules for action only makes sense if it can be assumed that the situation in which the research was done is identical to the situation in which the findings of research will be applied. While this may be the case for closed systems in the natural world, this assumption does not hold for open

Effective for What; Effective for Whom?


systems (natural and social) and definitely not for recursive open systems, systems that can learn and reflect and as a result of this can change the way they operate (i.e., social systems) (see Vanderstraeten & Biesta, 2001, 2006). In recursive open systems such as education, the findings of research only specify possibilities and it requires judgments from the social actors in the situation in order to apply such findings. Rather than rules for action, findings of previous research indicate possibilities – possible relationships between actions and consequences – which, on the one hand, can help actors in the situation to understand particular problems in new and different ways, and, on the other hand, suggest possible lines of action to address problems. This is all social research can do, and it is important, both for the producers and users of research, to be aware of such limitations. Having said this, it is also important to acknowledge that the judgments made by educational practitioners in the light of research findings are not confined to the question as to whether particular findings are relevant and applicable in this, particular unique situation (this classroom, this time of day, these students, etc.). The first point is that even if research were able to indicate the most effective way to achieve a particular end, educators may still decide not to act accordingly. There is, for example, a substantial amount of evidence which suggests that the influence of the home environment on educational achievement. This would suggest that the most effective way to achieve success in education would be to take children away from their parents – and presumably do so at an early age – so that they can grow up in an “ideal” environment (see Bettelheim, 1969). Although many educational interventions are aimed at the home environment and the early years’ experience, most societies find it undesirable to take children away from their parents in order to bring about educational success. This example shows that in educational practices the question is not simply whether a particular strategy is the most effective way to bring about a particular end. There is always also the question whether it is the most desirable way. There is a further complication in the case of education. Educators not only need to make judgments about the desirability of educational means and strategies, but they also need to make a judgment about the educational value of their activities and strategies. While certain strategies may be generally acceptable and desirable, the point in the case of education is that students not only learn from what teachers say, but also from how they say it and from what they do. The classic example here, and one used by Dewey, is that of punishment. We may well have conclusive empirical evidence that in all cases physical punishment is the most effective way of deterring or controlling disruptive behavior. Yet, as Carr (1992, p. 249) argues, the practice should nevertheless be avoided not only because punishment may be generally undesirable, but also “because it teaches children that it is appropriate or permissible in the last resort to enforce one’s will or get one’s own way by the exercise of violence.” The point is that in education means and ends are not simply linked in a technical or external way – where the means is neutral with regards to the end – but are related in an internal or constitutive way. Educational means contribute to the achievement of educational ends and outcomes. Or, to put it differently: students learn not only from what they are being taught, but also from how they are being taught. This means that educators not only need to make judgments about what is effective in a particular situation and whether the means to achieve particular ends are desirable; they also need to make a (value)


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judgment about whether means or strategies that are considered to be effective for achieving particular ends are educationally desirable. All this shows that education is a thoroughly moral practice because decisions about what education is supposed to achieve are always moral judgments, that is, judgments that ultimately are about what it means to be an educated person. They are judgments about the moral qualities of people, not simply about their cognition and behavior. All this means that SESI research needs to be seen as one factor in a wider, more complicated and ultimately moral and deeply value-laden process of educational decision-making.

Effective for Whom: The Need for Social Action Owing to the fact that SESI, with a few notable exceptions, is apparently preoccupied with questions of causality, especially between teaching and learning, a preoccupation we have criticized above, asking the question “effectiveness for whom?” makes explicit who benefits from research. In breaking away from natural sciences and technology (as applied to the study of education) and the scientific quest for evidence-based theory of learning (i.e., cognition), the issue of who produces knowledge (i.e., researchers) is central. Similarly, how scientific knowledge is rendered intellectually and socially legitimate is arguably of equal importance. For one of our central concerns here is with the people affected (or disaffected as it were) with the outcomes of SESI research and practice. Put differently, the educational solutions offered by SESI are not likely to transform populations and societies who have been left behind in today’s global economy. The so-called world-class, international standards of learning that are measured by SESI effects on student learning hold out very little promise from transforming individuals, schools, communities, or whole societies. Prescriptions for how such learning is transacted globally stem in large part from the SESI tradition and foundational knowledge. However, without a substantial voice in the production of knowledge standards from teachers and students, specifically minority teachers and students, we expect that the transformation of teaching and learning, as part of the everyday politics of education on the ground are unlikely to occur. If so, then we as educational researchers need to critique knowledge production, knowledge dissemination, and implementation in ways that will materially improve how children are educated in schools, communities, and societies. It is not so much about doing research per se as it is about doing research that matters socially, politically, and educationally – if we intend as researchers to make a difference. Essentially, the term effectiveness refers to solving a problem. Is the problem that we do not know what is happening within schools? Is the problem that we do not have enough measures for such happenings? Or, is the problem that the measures do not answer the questions that the public, including educators, are entitled to ask? Given the complex dynamics across organizational structures, roles, and tasks, it is easy to generate measures that purport to answer specific questions. However, we would ask, what do the numbers mean to students, teachers, and parents? Do the numbers measure the quality of teaching, learning, and leadership or rather the frequency or correlated frequencies of behaviors? Do the numbers measure learning or performance on a multiple choice

Effective for What; Effective for Whom?


examination? All of us seek to understand meanings of school quality not just have a compendium of data describing what is happening inside of schools. Therefore, do SESI measures provide such responses to questions of quality? We think not. Why? There is a problem inside of the heart of SESI research. That is, its strength has been, from inception, the ability to generate evidence of happenings inside of schools. The movement has spawned evidence-based decision making and evidence-based research inquiries. But in what sense does the evidence measure quality as opposed to frequency and data? Have the effects of the evidence made public led to quality teaching and learning as opposed to a narrowing of curricula and output measures (i.e., literacy and numeracy)? In what sense does SESI embrace the moral purposes of education? Epistemologically, the “problem” may be framed in terms of reflexivity (Usher & Edwards, 1996) on the one hand, and “objective” non-contaminated data on the other hand. At its simplest, reflexivity claims that since the activity of the knower always influences what is known, nothing can be known except through those activities. (p. 148) Not only does this perspective question what the researcher knows and produces, but also what the effects are on the others-practitioners, students, and communities. In contrast to SESI, alternative research methods tend to see this “problem” as a resource. That is, by embracing the knowledge producer/researcher as part of the process of knowing, we can then expose publicly how research always embodies power relations and politics. We previously lauded SESI as a distinctive movement that has made its variables and methods transparent (to other researchers). Here, we would urge SESI to go much further by exposing relationships of themselves as researchers to government and educational officials, funding agencies, as well as to their “subjects.” The reason is that “our methodologies, dualisms, frameworks, and categories, all the basic intellectual ‘tools’ of research are implicated with power” (Usher & Edwards, p. 151). Not to surface our roles as researchers reflexively ensures that power relations remain hidden inside of the research itself. Situating oneself inside of a positivist paradigm, however, does not exempt the researcher from this responsibility. [A]n awareness of reflexivity enables us to interrogate our own practices of research, in terms of how they can become part of the dominant and oppressive discourses through a ‘reflexive’ acceptance of the neutrality of research, and in terms of how we, as researchers, are implicated in such discourses despite our best intentions (p. 152).

A Theory of Methodology in Support of Action In the remainder of this section, we have selected one research approach among many that we ourselves have practiced as educational researchers. Michelle Fine (1994; also see Fine, 2005; Roman & Apple, 1990) puts forth three stances qualitative researchers


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may assume in relation to social action. These are the ventriloquist, voice, and activism. Fine argues, first and foremost, that all researchers, but especially those feminist scholars and scholars of color, are “agents, in the flesh … and in the collective, who choose, wittingly or not, from among a controversial and constraining set of political stances and epistemologies” (1994, p. 16). We briefly elaborate upon the most radical of these, activism. For feminist researchers especially, activism “seeks to unearth, interrupt, and open new frames for intellectual and political theory and practice (cited in Fine & Vanderslice, 1992). The radical feminist-activist researcher not only explicitly acknowledges, and embraces, research-as-politics. She or he desires to occupy the knowledge spaces and ontological position of the political domain. Fine asserts that feminist practitioners of this research method in particular openly choose politics, because women, perhaps more than men, may revolt most acutely against domination and oppression. Fine extends the feminist perspective to other marginalized researchers, such as Critical Race Theorists. Such like-minded researchers, be they women, scholars of color, or youth activists become “critical participants” in the discourses over the restless struggle for power and domination, and the particular meaning that power holds for marginalized people, be they women, racial minorities, and in one unprecedented case, poor students of color in recovering New Orleans along with their families. The narrative of oppression post Katrina represents the new African American Diaspora. This stance of activism, in turn, is informed by three distinctions: these are (1) an explicit account about the space the researcher occupies – wittingly. This knowledge space comprises both theoretical space and political ground; (2) the written research text/report itself expresses a critical appraisal of the existing social order and the under girding ideological structures; and (3) the research text presents the images of new social possibilities resulting from reconstruction and the social imaginary. The individual and collective works of the authors provide numerous examples of these activists positions. For example, in demonstrating the first researcher position, Bogotch (1997) shared with readers and participants verbatim texts of oral conversations allowing for competing interpretations that both gave hindsight and anticipation of the actions taken. Through member checking, the author engaged the participants in relationship building and in critiquing their own courses of action, including the role played by the researcher in capturing the dialogues. The second dimension was highlighted by Bogotch & Roy (1997) through the use of sociolinguistic frames and registers in conjunction with a mini-ethnography. The researchers were able to expose the existing hierarchy within the district and school from the middle position occupied by the principal. The analysis exposed how power was used morally, amorally, as well as immorally in daily interactions across the organization. From the inception of participatory action research (PAR), Fine, Tuck, & ZellerBerkman (2006) note that this method of knowledge inquiry has global roots, in Africa, Asia, Central, and South America. In this respect the long roots of PAR parallel the theory and practice of Paulo Freire’s critical pedagogy, with one important distinction. Whereas Freireian methods emphasized the formation, and potential liberation of adult peasants through the formation of dialogic groups and the production of “generative themes” in Brazil, Fine’s work and those of her collaborators, specifically work with

Effective for What; Effective for Whom?


youth across the globe and in the US with the premise that PAR as a distinct form of … “critical inquiry (is) a tool for social change” at once a social movement, social science and a radical challenge to the tradition of science. Put differently, Fine’s use of PAR, and social activism resulting from the production of knowledge from those at the bottom of the research hierarchy, is concerned as much with new forms of knowledge and its production as it is with merely a tool to aid practitioners to reflect critically about their professional practice. The latter was evident when one of the authors (Mirón) was participating in the method of inquiry used in the implementation of Accelerated Schools in the 1990s. Here, reflection was seemingly the end, not the means, of knowledge production gleaned through more conventional forms of action research. Thus, in the struggle to fight the spread of AIDS, and the exposure of human genocide in Dafur and elsewhere, for example, as well as prisons and schools in America, Fine has extended the contexts of her scholarship and advocacy of this research method, and theory of methodology, to engage with and join youth in their collective struggles across the globe, as they collectively resist multiple forms of oppression – and domination by structures and agents of power. This move we want to conceive as political agency grounded in the inversion of the subject-object of research relation (Mirón, in press). This method of research, described below as activist research embeds dimensions of performativity as well as performance (Denzin, 2003; Mirón, 2005). It seeks a form of subject empowerment that builds humanistically upon an innate will to power. Feminist standpoint epistemology enables the research subject to potentially exercise her own will to power, thus becoming a producer of knowledge. Social inquiry is both a research act or performance (Denzin, 2003), as well as a discursive practice that materially and bodily enact the very reality that it seeks to distantly describe through objective laboratory-like methods of science, for example, the colonized other (see Fine et al., 2006). We will not elaborate on this schema here. Suffice to say that calls to reform SESI methods should extend beyond the quantitative–qualitative binary to potentially disrupt the scientific tradition of eschewing any form of advocacy or activism within the social sciences especially. This latter point was significant for our purposes in this chapter.

Conclusions At no time in this chapter have we contested the major SESI premise that what happens inside of schools matters. Moreover, we agree with the internal critics of SESI that other factors located outside of classes and schools and with participants themselves also matter. Towards the conclusion that schools do not make a (statistically significant difference) in the education of children, many urban researchers such as Ronald Edmonds (1979) and later the many researchers cited in this chapter have produced evidence challenging that structural oversight. Indeed, it is now widely recognized that a key predictor of inner city school children’s achievement in school is the quality of teaching and administering. It was towards gaining a deeper understanding of quality with respect to the purposes of effectiveness and to methods of research that capture and transform practice that we sought to provide readers here.


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While SESI has moved slowly towards new understandings of within school dynamics and alternative research methods, we have argued that more is called for in terms of defining quality teaching and learning and quality research. It is one thing to recognize limitations and delimitations in research designs and methods; it is another to develop educational theories by studying relationships that honor the capabilities of participants to determine meanings, purposes, and knowledge. The perspectives and positions we have taken here, as fellow educational researchers, confirm what all of us already know, and that is: The designs that have developed specific task and instructional practices for specific situations appear to be more readily implemented. Designs that rely more on the ‘professional’ and ‘personal’ development of the teachers to lead them to more effective task definition appear to be less readily implemented. (Bodilly, 1998, p. 113) The future of SESI calls for research that builds upon what we already know and incorporates professional, personal, and political dynamics into the research questions and designs. To cite Fullan and Miles (1992) “Educational reform is as much a political as an educational process, and it has both negative and positive aspects” (p. 746). Yet, the echoes of Frederick Taylor still resound in the hallways of schools and State Departments/Ministries of Education: The development of a science … involves the establishment of many rules, laws, and formulae which replace the judgment of individual workman and which can be effectively used only after having been systematically recorded, indexed, etc. (Taylor, 1911/1967, p. 37) Without alternative theories and methods to extend SESI research, evidence-based reforms lack meaning, and more perversely, isolate and misinform the public and participants. SESI researchers, working alone, have not exposed the barriers to professional and personal development of teachers, students, and administrators. Nor has SESI discredited the ghost of Frederick Taylor. SESI has not seriously interrupted or disrupted the traditional grammar of schooling (Tyack and Tobin, 1994). The more complex changes needed to improve schools are still locked inside of the “black box.” Our critique of effectiveness models in SERI raised two questions, “effective for what?” and “effective for whom?” In the first instance, we argued that an overemphasis on finding the correct “technology” to guide school improvement efforts as well as ignoring the genuine educational effectiveness question (“effective for what?”) has led SESI researchers to define quality (or good schools) in largely technocratic terms, ignoring broader, less metrically defined issues of quality, purpose, social values and politics. The second question “effective for whom?” disrupts the status and privilege of the movement’s researchers as well as challenge them to engage within school participants differently. The movement’s clear behavioral assertions, its understandable measures, and its presumed completeness with respect to solutions to problems has made its mission attractive to different and powerful publics (Holly, 1986). As a result, SESI

Effective for What; Effective for Whom?


researchers and its tenets are in demand and utilized by district, state, and national agencies. Yet, the work itself embodies powerful centralized authorities imposing its teachings on those with less power – specifically school building administrators, teachers, and students. Symbolically, SESI communicates a position of strength and action, behaviors favored by ministries, chief executive officers, and various publics. The research alternatives offered here envision new relationships coupled with new methodologies, not yet embraced by SESI. In ending we ask, how might educational researchers engage in international relationships similar to Doctors without Borders, who enter areas with the most serious health problems? Doctors without Borders set up field hospitals without the benefit of running water or electricity, and without enough beds for patients. In contrast, educational researchers establish home bases in communities and nations based on a different philanthropy, that is, securing grants and contracts which determine who, where, and when education will be researched. As a result, there are whole segments of the world that have yet to be explored by educational researchers. This is not a criticism limited to SESI; the entire educational community does not have a social justice arm of activists and advocates, that is, educational rights’ activists for whom education is viewed as a basic right to be enjoyed by all throughout the world. Our professional ethics have had borders, stopping us from reaching the most disadvantaged levels of humanity. We must try again to open the black boxes, the one between teachers/ teaching and students/learning, and the one between the interactions of researchers and researched. That work is indeed complex and with it comes a real sense of danger.

Acknowledgement We would like to thank Gillian Allan, Graduate Assistant at the University of Exeter, for her assistance with the research on which this chapter is based.

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Mirón, L. (in press). Multiple racial subjects: Transnational, national, and indigenous peoples: Beyond categorization. In N. Denzin (Ed.), Handbook of critical methodologies. Thousand Oaks, Ca: Sage. Mortimer, P. (2001). Globalization, effectiveness and improvement. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 12(2), 229–250. Mujis, D., Harris, A., Chapman, C., Stoll, L., & Russ, J. (2004). Improving schools in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas – A review of research evidence. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 15(2), 149–175. Reynolds, D., & Teddlie, C. (2001). Reflections on the critics, and beyond them. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 12(1), 99–114. Roman, L., & Apple, M. (1990). Is naturalism a move away from positivism? In Elliot Eisner, & Alan Peshkin (Eds.), Qualitative inquiry in education. New York: Teachers College Press. Rutter, M., & Maugham, B. (2002). School effectiveness findings 1979–2002. Journal of School Psychology, 40(6), 451–475. Silins, H., & Mulford, B. (2004). Schools as learning organisations – effects on teacher leadership and student outcomes. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 15(3–4), 443–466. Taylor, F. (1911/1967). The principles of scientific management. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. Teddlie, C., & Reynolds, D. (2001). Countering the critics: Responses to recent criticisms of school effectiveness research. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 12(1), 41–82. Thompson, J. D. (1967). Organizations in action: Social science bases of administrative theory. New York: McGraw-Hill. Thrupp, M. (2001). Sociological and political concerns about school effectiveness research: Time for a new research agenda. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 12(1), 7–40. Townsend, T. (2001). Satan or savior? An analysis of two decades of school effectiveness research. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 12(1), 115–130. Tyack, D., & Tobin, W. (1994). The “grammar” of schooling: Why has it been so hard to change? American Educational Research Journal, 31, 453–479. Usher, R., & Edwards, R. (1996). Postmodernism and education. London: Routledge. Vanderstraeten, R., & Biesta, G. J. J. (2001). How is education possible? Educational Philosophy and Theory, 33(1), 7–21. Vanderstraeten, R., & Biesta, G. J. J. (2006). How is education possible? A pragmatist account of communication and the social organisation of education. British Journal of Educational Studies, 54(2), 160–174. Walford, G. (2002). Redefining school effectiveness. Westminster Studies in Education, 25(1), 47–58. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wonycott, A., & Bogotch, I. (1997). Reculturing: Assumptions, beliefs, and values underlying the processes of restructuring. Journal of School Leadership, 7(1), 27–49.


Martin Thrupp, Ruth Lupton, and Ceri Brown

Introduction The last decade of school effectiveness and school improvement (SESI) has seen considerable debate between writers with different readings of how robust SESI is and what it has to offer. Within SESI there are both those who emphasis the strength of SESI’s contribution and view its shortcomings as largely on the margins (e.g., Stoll & Sammons, in this volume; Teddlie & Reynolds, 2000) and those who are also sympathetic but seeking more fundamental changes (e.g., MacBeath, in this volume; Wrigley, 2003). Yet SESI has also attracted less sympathetic criticism from policy sociologists and other external critics for neglecting the social and political context of schooling and supporting damaging neo-liberal reforms (e.g., Angus, 1993; Morley & Rassool, 1999; Slee, Weiner with Tomlinson, 1998; Thrupp, 2001a). These trenchant external criticisms have not always been appreciated by SESI proponents but have nevertheless been useful. They have required SESI researchers to take stock of the nature and direction of their work, to think more about the context of schooling and to recognise the dangers of SESI research becoming too closely aligned with policy. For instance, criticisms from the first author (Thrupp, 1999, 2001a, b, 2002) have stimulated a number of responses from SESI researchers who have either sought to counter the criticisms (Reynolds & Teddlie, 2001; Scheerens, Bosker, & Creemers, 2001; Stringfield, 2002; Teddlie & Reynolds, 2001; Townsend, 2001) or used them as building blocks for their own critical commentaries (Goldstein & Woodhouse, 2000; Gray, 2001; Luytens, Visscher, & Witziers, 2005). We also recognize, however, that if SESI is to change then criticism needs to be followed by a way forward. We believe a key way to shift both the nature of SESI findings and the political use made of SESI would be to pursue what we call the contextualisation agenda. The contextualisation agenda seeks to assert the central importance of context in research related to schools and their performance. It would involve SESI taking as its starting point the diverse local social and political contexts of schools, including differences in pupil intake characteristics (class, ethnicity, turbulence, 111 T. Townsend (Ed.), International Handbook of School Effectiveness and Improvement, 111–126. © 2007 Springer.


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proportion of pupils from refugee families or with special needs) and other school and area characteristics (urban/rural location, LEA policies, market position compared to surrounding schools). We are using “local” broadly here: the social and political features of regions, areas, neighbourhoods and school catchments could all be relevant to our argument. Better contextualised SESI research could be used to underpin contextualised policy and practice and give rise to fairer evaluation of school performance and distribution of resources, the provision of more appropriate advice and support to schools in less favourable contexts and better responses to the needs of marginalised school populations. Just as importantly, such research would be difficult to misuse to support overly generic, context-less reforms of the kind which have been popular with governments in recent, managerialist, times. The rationale for the contextualisation agenda is considered further below. Raising this agenda implies there is not enough being done already and so we go on to illustrate that while there is increasing concern already to recognise and understand context in SESI, there is considerable room for further development. We then argue that school composition research would be a potentially insightful literature for SESI to tap into, although future large-scale studies in this area need to overcome a number of limitations within the existing literature. The chapter concludes by drawing on data from the authors’ research in Hampshire (UK) primary schools to illustrate some of the highly nuanced views of schools which the contextualisation agenda would start to open up.

A Rationale for the Contextualisation Agenda The New Public Management (NPM) holds that social change can be engineered through “one size fits all” organisational change and through more efficient, marketoriented public service delivery which is informed by “best practice,” driven by incentives and targets, and closely scrutinised and monitored. In education what is sought by NPM is the right prescription for “delivery,” with “underperformance” in terms of pupil outcomes being accounted for by deviance from good organisational management and practice. Yet wherever discussion of local context raises social complexity and inequality, NPM assumptions are revealed as simplistic. It is widely recognised that effective management and teaching in one local context is not the same as effective management and teaching in another. By highlighting the differences and inequalities between schools, contextualised SESI discussions will create accounts which are much less “neutral” and politically “naïve” and hence allow for contextualised policy responses that might better meet the needs of specific schools. In part these will involve a fairer distribution of resources to allow for the different organisational designs required in different school contexts, reflecting the fact that the unpredictability of the school day in some schools is, in a sense, entirely predictable given their contexts. The contextualisation agenda would also support contextualised models of practice. It is clear that deliberate adaptations are made by teachers and school leaders in order to deal with the social, political and market contexts of their schools. For instance in Lupton’s (2004) study of the differences between high poverty schools (discussed

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later in this chapter) adaptations used by schools extended to almost every aspect of organisation: lesson lengths, class sizes, ability groupings, additional learning support, behaviour and attendance management, pastoral care, extra-curricular activities and so on. Does this mean that there can be no models of practice to follow because examined in detail, each school’s context, and thus its practice, must be wholly individual? We think not. Most plausibly, common practices are probably adopted in schools with certain clusters of common contextual characteristics, giving a middle ground between wholly generic versions of “good practice” and wholly individualised ones. However, since SESI research has typically been so generic in its approach, these contextualised examples are mostly marginalized. It remains difficult to work out which practices would be most appropriate in schools in particular kinds of settings. A better understanding of local context would allow those providing policy and advice to schools to design interventions which have a better chance of fitting and therefore succeeding within the school environments they are intended for and therefore improving the life-chances of students. Another reason for the contextualisation agenda would be better recognition of marginalised school populations. We are well aware that contextualisation, misused, can be antithetical to social justice. There is a fine line between highlighting the constraints imposed by poverty, social class, immigrant or refugee status, learning difficulties, residential transience or the experience of being in care in order that schools can be equipped and enabled to deal with them better, and allowing those constraints to become the excuse for low expectations and inequitable provision based on race, class or gender stereotypes. The damning consequences of low expectations and unchallenging work within the environment of high stakes testing and the “A–C economy” have been powerfully noted elsewhere (Gillborn & Youdell, 2000). Equally, however, generic discussions that neutralise the characteristics of the students are also unhelpful. Effectively, these discussions adopt a default position that schools are populated by students who are of average prior attainment, speakers and readers of English, keen or at least compliant with the goals of their schools, ready to learn and emotionally, socially, financially and physically equipped to do so – perhaps also white and middle class. From this position, if students do not progress, we can assume a failure of school practice. However, ignoring the “messy detail” of the reality of school populations in order to concentrate on school practice, effectively screens out the needs of students who are from working class, minority or indigenous group backgrounds or who have particular learning needs of one sort or another. It makes it less likely that school funding or organisation or pedagogic practice will be geared towards their needs, and more likely that they will be treated as deficient, failing, and not worthy of support in a system geared to the needs of “typical” or “normal” students. Therefore, providing there is vigilance against taking up a deficit perspective, drawing attention to pupil differences is essential to avoid the dangers of treating schools neutrally. As well as benefiting practice, the contextualisation agenda would also benefit the politics of SESI by signficantly reducing its misuse by policymakers. A key limitation of current SESI research is that it often chimes with these “one size fits all” assumptions of NPM theory and hence can be used to support managerial reform. As Bogotch, Mirón and Biesta (in this volume) put it, “by drawing connections to SESI, however tenuous,


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school reforms in general attain the status of legitimacy by attribution.” However two further points might be made about this observation. First, in some settings the connections between research and government policy are not at all tenuous, for instance the New Labour government in England has commissioned and publicised SESI research and well-known SESI researchers have run its Standards and Effectiveness Unit (Stoll & Sammons, in this volume). Second, SESI has also gained status and influence from being seen as policy-relevant and there is, no doubt, a certain seductiveness about this situation for those researchers involved. In this sense, the advantage of pursuing the contextualisation agenda is that SESI would become too complex and nuanced to support managerial reform: there could be no more lists of effectiveness factors, nor generic solutions to the problems faced by schools. There is some risk attached to such complexity, in potential loss of support for SESI amongst practitioners and policymakers. At the school level this would be because SESI’s lack of social and political complexity is undoubtedly part of what has provided its appeal to some teachers and school leaders. Bell (1999, p. 220) argues for instance that SER “generates a level of spurious certainty amongst senior staff in schools who see the way forward through professional leadership and shared vision, and a similar feeling of false security among teachers for whom purposeful teaching is characterised solely by efficient organization, clarity of purpose, structured lessons and adaptive practices.” Similarly SESI may have less appeal to policymakers if it loses its simple message about schools making the difference. As Howard Fancy, New Zealand’s Secretary for Education argues: Hearts and minds matter. The experience of the last 15 years confirms this. If people believe a child can succeed and that as a teacher that they can make a difference then that child probably will succeed. If those beliefs are not there, then the child probably won’t. Therefore shaping expectations and beliefs has to be a key element aspect of policy and professional development. (Fancy, p. 335 in this collection) Yet it is also important to recognise that the contextualisation agenda would probably be welcomed in many quarters too. Just as some researchers seem to feel the existing SESI agenda has become stale and needs extending (e.g., Bogotch et al., in this volume; Macbeath, in this volume) we think generic SESI findings do not speak closely enough to the concerns of most practitioners and feel that they would welcome a closer focus on “their” kind of school. Moreover if SESI can improve its standing with practitioners, it could also become more influential with policymakers, even if there are increased tensions around the redistribution of resources and increased costs overall.

The Approach to Context in Existing School Effectiveness Research Caught up in insisting that “schools can make a difference,” early school effectiveness research (SER) did not have much concern with local contexts. It was not until the late 1980s that “sensitivity to context” research in the USA began to highlight the

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limitations of a comprehensive “recipe” approach to effectiveness in schools with different intake characteristics. Hallinger and Murphy (1986, p. 347) for instance, found that for the most part, schools of different SES have quite different effectiveness correlates. “High and low SES effective schools [are] characterised by different patterns of curricular breadth, time allocation, goal emphasis, instructional leadership, opportunities for student reward, expectations for student achievement and home-school relations.” Similar conclusions were reached by Teddlie, Stringfield, Wimpleberg, and Kirby (1989) and Teddlie and Stringfield (1993). Scheerens (1991, p. 385) suggested that “including contextual variables like student body composition … can be seen as a relatively new and very interesting development in school effectiveness research” while Reynolds (1992, p. 16) described “sensitivity to context” findings as “cutting edge.” Unfortunately SER has not advanced this “cutting edge” much over the last two decades. One of the difficulties is that prior attainment has often been used as a proxy for context. This approach, although perhaps driven by data difficulties, reflects a certain disregard for detail and lack of concern with explanatory theory. Low prior attainment is no doubt well correlated with social disadvantage, but its frequent use as the only contextual indicator prevents us from understanding which aspects of a disadvantaged context make a difference, and from understanding the extent to which low attainment per se makes a difference to school effectiveness and to student outcomes, as well as the extent to which other specific contextual factors make an additional contribution. Moreover, although Teddlie (Teddlie & Reynolds, 2001) pointed out that the impact of context variables on SER had been a major focus of his work for the previous 15 years, the reality is that where context was mentioned by SER proponents over the 1990s, it was usually the repeated and rather token use of Teddlie’s early work (especially Teddlie et al., 1989) and that of Hallinger and Murphy (1986). By 2000 a chapter on “context issues within SER” in the International Handbook of School Effectiveness Research (Teddlie, Stringfield, & Reynolds, 2000) was summarising and highlighting SESI research in this area, for instance it recognised that “the SES makeup of a school has a substantial effect upon student outcomes beyond the effects associated with students individual ability and social class” (Teddlie et al., 2000, p. 184). At the same time it demonstrated that SER was dealing with context in a rather constrained way. First, it sought to restrict the definition of context variables to four: those concerned with the SES of the student body, the “community type” of a school, the grade phases of schooling and the governance structure of schools. This was explained (pp. 163–164) as; an attempt to avoid further ‘Balkanisation’ of the field, which might lead to the study of a proliferation of context variables, many of which are highly intercorrelated and theoretically entangled with one another. Such a ‘Balkanization’ of SER would make it increasingly difficult to discuss the generalizability of results beyond the immediate context of the study being conducted. There was also little attempt in this chapter to properly theorise the impact of contexts. Reference was made at the end of the chapter to contingency theory which argues that


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organizational effectiveness results from a fit between situation and structure (see Creemers, Scheerens, & Reynolds, 2000, pp. 292–297). However rather than offering a genuine explanation, contingency theory is mostly an acknowledgement that a wide range of conditions or factors might influence organizational effectiveness. Moreover contextual findings in SER have actually been developed more from a mixture of correlations and common sense than contingency theory: Creemers et al. (2000, pp. 295–296) point out that “[m]aking a lot of sense as they do, the outcomes of contextual effectiveness studies are only vaguely related to contingency hypotheses from the general organizational science literature.” A wider problem is that despite the apparent interest in context represented by this chapter, it could still hardly be said that a concern with it was at the heart of SER. Most SER studies have proved unwilling to delve into variations in context so that differences in school practice have too quickly come to be seen as the most powerful explanations for differential performance. A good example is provided by a Welsh case study published in 2002 concerning a “more effective” low SES school called “Trelent” where the students achieved higher mean scores in comprehension, maths, computation and applied maths than at “Hillcrest,” a less effective high SES school (Reynolds, Creemers, Stringfield, Teddlie, & Schaffer, 2002). Stringfield (2002, p. 19) has drawn on this study to argue that schooling can overcome the effects of social inequality: In the British component of the International School Effectiveness Research Program …, students at a very high poverty school repeatedly out achieved students in middle class British schools in the same district … . Similarly well documented examples of high poverty schools producing achievements that are tested and retested and found to be above the national average abound from Weber (1971) to today. Whole schools of children in high poverty situations have repeatedly demonstrated the ability to achieve at levels above those of their more-affluent peers. Nevertheless this claim is unconvincing because the nature of the pupil intake of the schools in Reynolds and colleagues study is not clear, moreover there is insufficient concern with the likely longitudinal effects of context. First, the pupils “come from a mainly ethnic Asian background or are from low SES white families” (p. 230). The “mainly ethnic Asian background” of the students raises the distinct possibility that these are immigrant families from middle class backgrounds in their countries of origin, even if they are not well-off in UK terms. Second, we are told that the annual Free School Meals (FSM) entitlement for Trelent school is consistently at, or above, the 30% level. This is not really a “very high poverty” school as argued by Stringfield, certainly there are schools with much higher FSM levels (as well as the problem, discussed shortly, of how much FSM really measures SES anyway). A better test of what is possible would be if the students at Trelent were nearly all from clearly working class backgrounds over several generations as was the case for “Ford Junction,” a “less effective” low SES school in the study which had pupils from “an almost universally white low SES background, mainly from the surrounding state-built housing estates” and with FSM consistently above 50% (Reynolds et al., 2002, p. 231). Third,

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these are primary schools and the value-added was only measured at the end of Year 1 at age 6 or 7. Because context can be expected to have a cumulative impact throughout school careers, it is a very much different thing to argue for powerful school effects on student achievement at age seven compared to at secondary school level, by which time students have had many years experiencing more or less favourable school contexts. Despite these problems, there are signs of recent shifts in SER thinking. A review by Luyten and colleagues (2005) is sympathetic to SER but also recognises the concerns of its critics and argues for more attention to context: In addition to explaining the relationship between features of school processes and school performance, studies should place more emphasis on the influence of non-educational factors in the school context (e.g., neighbourhood, family, peer group) on schooling processes and on student achievement. More insight is needed … into why and how the school context interacts with school performance and with processes at both the classroom and the school level. (p. 259) and In our opinion, SER should also pay much closer attention to factors outside the educational system that influence learning (such as the family and peer group). Even though almost every SER study confirms the limited influence of school factors and the substantial impact of family background on learning, the latter relation is hardly ever investigated thoroughly … . In practice such insight could facilitate the exploration of a great number of complex issues, including how to determine the extent to which the demands that are placed on schools are realistic. (pp. 269–270) Here and other areas they discuss, Luyten and colleagues seem to be genuinely trying to move the SER literature on and their arguments signal the potential for a significant shift in the literature.

The Approach to Context in Existing School Improvement Research School improvement research (SIR) has also been undertaking contextual self-examination in recent years. Noting that some researchers have argued that it is more difficult for schools serving disadvantaged areas to make progress on many of the traditional indicators, Gray (2001, p. 19) concluded that “more evidence on this issue is needed.” The most widely published UK SIR to take up this contextual challenge has been that of Alma Harris and colleagues (Harris, 2002; Harris & Chapman, 2002, 2004; Harris, Clarke, James, Harris, & Gunraj, 2005; Harris, Muijs, Chapman, Stoll, & Russ, 2003) which was about how to improve what New Labour has euphemistically called “Schools Facing Challenging Circumstances.” At first this research appeared not to represent a


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significant advance. For instance it stressed the importance of a number of general findings not far removed from the kinds of “factors” approach traditionally used in school effectiveness studies: vision and values, distributed leadership, investing in staff development, relationships, and community building (Harris, 2002). The same study also suffered from the problem that the specific contexts of the ten schools involved were not adequately identified. They were all DfES categorised as SFCC but it is important to note that schools can be thus identified either on socio-economic grounds (35% or more of students receiving free school meals) or on performance grounds (school achieving 25% or less 5 A*–C GCSEs). Furthermore the selection was intended “to ensure the schools represented a wide range of contexts and were geographically spread.” Nevertheless the more recent work of Harris and colleagues has been stressing the significance of context-specificity much more. For instance Harris and Chapman (2004, p. 429) argue that: As the long term patterning of educational inequality looks set to remain, to rely on standard or standardised approaches to school improvement that combine accountability, pressure and blame to force improved performance would seem unwise. In schools in difficult contexts, this is more likely to exacerbate the problem rather than solve it. Instead the evidence would suggest that more locally owned and developed improvement strategies are needed that appreciate school context, best match prevailing conditions and build the internal capacity for development within the school. If the goal of raising performance in schools in difficulty is to be achieved, school improvement approaches that neglect to address the inherent diversity and variability across and within schools in the same broad category will be destined to fail. Harris and Chapman note other recent calls for context-specificity and it does seem to be featuring on the SIR agenda now. Yet Harris and Chapman’s own approach in their 2004 article does not actually further this agenda. Rather they provide a typology of different kinds of schools in difficulty along continuums from individualised to collaborative teacher culture and from internal to external accountability. Schools with collaborative cultures and internal accountability are seen to have high capacity for improvement, those with individualised teaching cultures and strong external accountability measures are seen to be immobile. In other words, Harris and Chapman (2004) are more concerned with the internal culture and organisation of schools in a conventional SIR sense than with exploring the extent to which schools can reasonably build internal “capacity” in the face of particular kinds and combinations of wider contextual factors. Two lessons might be drawn from this. The first is that like SER, contextualisation in terms of external factors remains largely an aspiration for SIR. It is not yet clear how and to what extent it will become a reality. The second is that the notion of context and contextualised research could be taken to mean different things to different constituencies and like many other educational terms be subject to having their depth and critical intent stripped out in less than searching analyses.

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School Composition Research If SESI researchers want to develop their concern with local contexts, a good starting point would be qualitative work which specifically explores the impact of school composition and other local contextual issues on school processes. The authors of this chapter have completed two such studies, and more qualitative research is in progress as part of HARPs, a large mixed method study into school composition, discussed in the next section of this chapter. Thrupp’s (1999) research explored the impact of the socio-economic status (SES) composition of school intakes on school processes in four New Zealand secondary schools. It illustrated how higher SES schools had less pressured guidance and discipline systems, with higher levels of student compliance and fewer very difficult guidance or discipline cases. Their senior management teams had fewer student, staff, marketing and fund-raising problems, and more time to devote to planning and to monitoring performance. Day-to-day routines were more efficient and more easily accomplished. When it came to classroom instruction, the students in the higher SES schools were taught in teaching classes that were generally more compliant and more able to cope with difficult work. They used more demanding texts and other teaching resources and their teachers were more qualified and more motivated. Higher SES schools were also able to support more academic school programs and a wider range of extracurricular activities. Thrupp (1999) concluded that SES composition impacts on school processes in numerous ways which would cumulatively boost the academic performance of schools in middle-class settings and drag it down in low socio-economic settings. Lupton (2004, 2005) has extended Thrupp’s analysis by illustrating that even amongst ostensibly similar SES schools there are other contextual differences which may cumulatively make a considerable difference to school processes and student achievement. Her study of four high poverty schools in England demonstrates the nuances of local context. It considers pupil characteristics (e.g., ethnicity, refugee status, looked after children, and special educational needs), area characteristics (e.g., urban/rural, labour market structure and history, housing market) and school characteristics (e.g., market position compared to surrounding schools, LEA admissions policies, school type and history). The analysis shows how one low SES school cannot be assumed to face the same contextual challenges as another. For example, one poor inner urban school with a rapidly growing, predominantly Pakistani population and operating within a weakly differentiated and collaborative school market, reported few behavioural challenges, high levels of parental support and pupil aspiration, and little need to divert management time into marketing activities or management of falling rolls. Another school, in a declined seaside town with a selective and highly differentiated school system, reported low pupil esteem and aspirations, difficulties in securing parental support, high levels of pupil turbulence arising from temporary housing and a large children’s home population, as well as extreme difficulties in teacher recruitment and retention because the school was regarded as being the “bottom of the pile” in the local area. Arguing that “organizational impacts on schools in different kinds of disadvantaged areas can be significantly different” (Lupton, 2004, p. 22), the study raises questions about the adequacy of socio-economic indicators used


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to describe school context, and about the suggestion that differences in student achievement between schools in similarly poor settings can be wholly ascribed to internal school characteristics. These studies together suggest that many of the factors identified by school effectiveness and improvement research as contributing to student achievement will be hard to replicate because while they may be school-based, they may nevertheless not be school-caused. This argument builds on previous quantitative and qualitative research (Anyon, 1981; Brown, Riddell, & Duffield, 1996; Gewirtz, 1998; Ho & Willms, 1996; Lauder et al., 1999; Metz, 1990; Pong, 1998; Robertson & Symons, 1996; Thomson, 2002). But while the findings of such research are plausible, they will be more influential if supported by evidence from large scale quantitative studies of compositional (school intake) and neighbourhood effects. These studies address the issue of school context directly and have the greatest potential for influence at a policy level. However quantitative studies to date offer a conflicting picture, with some indicating strong effects and others not (Thrupp, Lauder, & Robinson, 2002), and with some offering competing explanations for compositional effects (i.e., other that school effects, e.g., Nash, 2003).1 This has recently led Gorard (2006) to argue that compositional effects are so much at the limits of our detectability, likely to be small relative to the amount of “noise” in the system, and require such sophisticated statistical modelling, as to (be possibly not worth exploring. However, the problem with Gorard’s argument is that while he starts by making some well-founded points, it quickly degenerates into a quite untenable attack on statistics. In particular, Gorard blames statistics rather than the failure of social sciences in producing testable theories of importance. We believe the way forward is not to abandon the search for compositional effects but to carry out better statistical research. A review of quantitative research in this area undertaken by the first author and colleagues has illustrated important conceptual and methodological inadequacies in the way compositional effects have been previously modelled (Thrupp et al., 2002). Although there is no space to rehearse the issues here, this review strongly suggests that better large scale studies of compositional effects could provide more conclusive findings. In particular school composition research needs to: ●

● ●

● ●

Be multi-disciplinary in nature and incorporate qualitative study of school process as well as large scale quantitative analysis, thus enabling it to capture school organisation and curriculum effects and to shed light on the direction of causal relationships; Incorporate multiple measures of school composition; Enable analysis of group and class composition as well as composition at the school level; Take a longitudinal approach; Incorporate broader contextual variables such as neighbourhood characteristics and school market position; and Include and analyse different types of school and different models of composition, for example, schools with larger numbers of moderately poor pupils compared with schools with smaller numbers of moderately poor pupils (based on Thrupp et al., 2002, p. 488).

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The HARPS Project The authors are currently involved in a study that incorporates the above characteristics in exploring the impacts of various sorts of school composition upon the peer group, instructional and organization processes of schooling. The HARPS project,2 has been studying children passing through Years 3 and 4 (ages 7 and 8) in Hampshire primary schools. Research has been undertaken at three levels. One is quantitative analysis using pupil and school-level composition data for the children at all 306 full primary and junior schools in Hampshire (n  11,793). This analysis uses standard UK measures of school composition (% free school meals and attainment) but data also include age, gender, ethnicity, special educational and neighbourhood characteristics, and permit identification and analysis of pupils who move schools. A second element of the project moves beyond the limitations of existing social class indicators by analysing data on student backgrounds (parental education, employment, ethnicity and class-related family practices), which we painstakingly collected from the parents of 84% of children in 46 schools in the Basingstoke and Deane area of the county (n  2,014, Brown et al., 2005). A third element incorporates ethnographic research in 12 of these sub-sample schools, examining composition and processes in relation to teaching groups and classes as well as schools. Although focused only on primary schools, and located in a relatively affluent and racially homogenous (white) area of the UK, the research design of the HARPS project is intended to address the requirements of the contextualization agenda both through better quantitative research on compositional effects as listed above, and by exploring substantial qualitative evidence which has not been available up to now. Below we use some interview data from headteachers to provide a flavour of the school data we are exploring in order to build up a picture of the local advantages and disadvantages faced by schools. Issues which are inportant to particular schools but rarely discussed in SESI include: ●

Changing local economies and related housing patterns: There’s 5000 people working there now, but 20 years ago it was something like 15,000, a huge workforce and a lot of that workforce were young people because it newly being developed and established and a lot of young people came with young families and there was a high level of children, and subsequently new schools were being built or developed or we certainly had a high level of children. Now over the last, over the years several things have happened. One of those is that people are choosing not to have as many children, in this area particularly, a lot of people who bought their houses maybe 20 years ago, and these are quite big houses, instead of moving on, they’ve stayed and put extensions on them, and so you’re not getting any five year olds or ten year olds so those people who’ve had their children through the school but they’re staying put in our immediate catchment area. And … there has been new housing developments which we’ve picked up, but the majority of smaller housing is down in the south of the town so that means that generally if you could equate that if you have a small house you have a


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smaller family because they’re younger and smaller, and then they move on. So that has made some impact. (Headteacher, Hollybush School, 13% FSM) ●

students being “creamed off ” by the independent (private) sector schools: And the intention had always been to send them to [a private school], and that’s when – they went slightly early, they went in the summer of year eight because they got sports scholarships and [the private school wanted them for their cricket in the summer … I mean, that … it is annoying because although it didn’t matter number-wise and budget-wise … it tends to be the more able children, obviously the more articulate children, yeah, the role models as well, and the good role models. I mean, not always good, we’ve got a lot of good role models, you know, who remain. But these are more of the role models. And they’re the ones that take that balance that everything, you know, most things are good. And that the heavy side is the good … the good achievement, good behaviour, you know, and it’s a shame that those children go away. (Headteacher, Austin School, 1% FSM)

the particular social geographies of school catchments: Yes and sometimes people move [here] who’ve had a marriage break up in Basingstoke or in Reading and they move [here] for a fresh start, its far enough but its near enough. Like the Jones, Mum left the family home to pursue a relationship with another woman and that had a huge impact but they moved, Dad couldn’t bear it so he moved, he needs to be near Reading cos that’s his base but [this town] was near enough to be far enough away from it and families – [this town] does seem to be that kind of place. Susan who’s just moved to us – Mum couldn’t cope with her behaviour so Dad took her and moved here for a new start. It’s that. (Headteacher, Ivy School, 6% FSM)

student mobility associated with Traveller families: He joined us in September and he didn’t have a clue, no initial sounds, he didn’t know how to write letters, didn’t know how to, he could do mentally numbers in his head but he had no idea that the symbol three was whatever, so you had to put in an individual program for him that you gleaned here there and everywhere and had to differentiate right down for him. Now he left weeks ago, about a month ago, he’s gone off back to Wales, he has not been transferred to another school yet, he’s still on my class register, so when he comes back to us, probably in September or whatever, goodness only knows what sort of schooling he will have had, so he’ll come back in Year Four, he may have had a smattering where-ever he’s gone and he’ll be back … (Headteacher, Ivy School, 6% FSM)

and ●

staffing problems related to school composition and reputation: And at that time in 2003, so just before the summer of 2003, the only people we had applying for any positions that we had in the school were Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs), no experienced staff came forward for any of

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the posts that we had available. So in the end we had to appoint NQTs, which then put us in a very difficult position because we had no real, there was only myself and the deputy … as experienced staff and 4 NQTs. So that was very difficult and actually that whole year was horrendous because as you can imagine 2 of the NQTs especially up at key stage 2 who already, bear in mind that the children were under achieving anyway, and obviously my desire is to improve the standards in the school, [the NQTs] couldn’t cope with the children’s behaviour let alone cope with the children’s learning. (headteacher of Beech School, 52% FSM) All of the schools cited here are facing pressures to raise standards and yet as these brief forays into their circumstances reveal, each faces challenges arising from particular local circumstances outside the school. Our point about these examples is not, of course, that these are the only factors, or even the main ones, which make a difference. Rather they just illustrate some of the delicate nuances which may be invisible on cursory inspection but which the contextualisation agenda requires explored. It will be apparent that concern with data at this level of detail is directly at odds with the idea of restricting the definition of context variables because of worries about generalisability (Teddlie et al., 2000). Rather we would suggest that a broader range of contextual variables is needed and that it would be fruitful for SESI researchers to engage with the increasingly sophisticated socio-demographic data that is now becoming available at small area level, at least in the UK, to develop typologies of school context that can bring a more contextualised approach whilst also allowing some generalisability. However, not all of these nuances can be captured by quantitative data, and nor should they be. Although quantitative SESI studies could try harder to capture local complexities through context variables, successful school improvement also needs an understanding of schools and their neighbourhoods that is informed by social science, in this case by the disciplines of geography, social anthropology and sociology.

Conclusion In this chapter we have argued for the contextualisation agenda as a means of improving SESI findings and the political use made of them. We have noted shifts in previous SESI research, although we have also argued that there is still a considerable way to go. Meanwhile school composition research should be capable of generating particular insights in this area because of its direct concern with context, but it will only achieve this if greater conceptual and methodological sophistication is applied. The challenge is to give up the false security of generic or too-simple models and approaches and develop a sound evidence base for a more socially just schooling system.

Notes 1. Nash (2003) poses the existence of within-SES group school selection effects as a competing explanation for compositional effects. This is an interesting hypothesis but not one which precludes compositional effects: it is presumably possible that both kinds of effects are present to a greater or lesser degree. 2. “Hampshire Research with Primary Schools.” This is the ESRC project “Primary school composition and student progress,” RES-000-23-0784. The project started in October 2004 and runs to March 2007.


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References Angus, L. (1993). The sociology of school effectiveness. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 14, 333–345. Anyon, J. (1981). Social class and school knowledge. Curriculum Inquiry, 11, 3–42. Bell, L. (1999). Review of R. Slee, S. Tomlinson, with G. Weiner (Eds.). School effectiveness for whom? Australian Journal of Education, 43(2), 218–222. Brown, C., Thrupp, M., Kounali, D., Lauder, H., Robinson, T., Goldstein, H., et al. (2005). Pulling out all the stops: Achieving a “miraculous” response rate. Unpublished HARPS project paper. Brown, S., Riddell, S., & Duffield, J. (1996). Possibilities and problems of small scale studies to unpack the findings of large scale studies of school effectiveness. In J. Gray, D. Reynolds, C. Fitz-Gibbon, & D. Jesson (Eds.), Merging traditions (pp. 93–120). London and New York: Cassell. Creemers, B., Scheerens, J., & Reynolds, D. (2000). Theory development in school effectiveness research. In C. Teddlie, & D. Reynolds (Eds.), International handbook of school effectiveness research (pp. 283–298). London and New York: Falmer. Gewirtz, S. (1998). Can all schools be successful? An exploration of the determinants of school “success,” Oxford Review of Education, 24(4), 439–457. Gillborn, D., & Youdell, D. (2000). Rationing education: Policy, practice, reform, and equity. Buckingham: Open University Press. Goldstein, H., & Woodhouse, G. (2000). School effectiveness research and educational policy. Oxford Review of Education, 26(3/4), 353–363. Gorard, S. (2006). Is there a school mix effect? Educational Review, 58(1), 87–94. Gray, J. (2001). Introduction: Building for improvement and sustaining change in schools serving disadvantaged communities. In M. Maden (Ed.), Success against the odds – five years on. London: Routledge Falmer. Hallinger, P., & Murphy, J. F. (1986). The social context of effective schools. American Journal of Education, 94, 328–355. Harris, A. (2002). Effective leadership in schools facing challenging contexts. School Leadership and Management, 22(1), 15–26. Harris, A., & Chapman, C. (2002). Leadership in schools facing challenging circumstances. London: National College for School Leadership. Harris, A., & Chapman, C. (2004). Towards differentiated improvement for schools in challenging circumstances. British Journal of Educational Studies, 52(4), 417–431. Harris, A., Clarke, P., James, S., Harris, B., & Gunraj, J. (2005). Improving schools in difficulty. London: Continuum Press. Harris, A., Muijs, D., Chapman, C., Stoll, L., & Russ, J. (2003). Raising attainment in former coalfield areas. Sheffield: DfES. Ho, E., & Willms, J. D. (1996). Effects of parental involvement on eighth-grade achievement. Sociology of Education, 69, 126–141. Lauder, H., Hughes, D., Watson, D., Waslander, S., Thrupp, M., Strathdee, R., et al. (1999). Trading in futures: Why markets in education don’t work. Buckingham, Philadelphia: Open University Press. Lupton, R. (2004). Schools in disadvantaged areas: Recognising context and raising performance (CASE paper 76). London: Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion London School of Economics and Political Science. Lupton, R. (2005). Social justice and school improvement: Improving the quality of schooling in the poorest neighbourhoods. British Educational Research Journal, 31(5), 539–604. Luytens, H., Visscher, A., & Witziers, B. (2005). School effectiveness research: From a review of the criticism to recommendations for further development. School effectiveness and school improvement, 16(3), 249–279. Metz, M. H. (1990). How social class differences shape teachers work. In M. W. McLaughlin, J. E. Talbert, & N. Bascia (Eds.), The contexts of teaching in secondary schools (pp. 40–107). New York: Teachers College Press. Morley, L., & Rassool, N. (1999). School effectiveness: Fracturing the discourse. London: Falmer.

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Nash, R. (2003). Is the school composition effect real? A discussion with evidence from the UK PISA data. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 14(4), 441–457. Pong, S. (1998). The school compositional effect of single parenthood on 10th grade achievement. Sociology of Education, 71, 24–43. Reynolds, D., & Teddlie, C. (2001). Reflections on the critics, and beyond them. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 12(1), 99–113. Reynolds, D. (1992). School effectiveness and school improvement: An updated review of the British literature. In D. Reynolds, & P. Cuttance (Eds.), School Effectiveness: Research, Policy and Practice. London: Cassell. Reynolds, D., Creemers, B., Stringfield, S., Teddlie, C., & Schaffer, G. (2002). World class schools: International perspectives on school effectiveness. London: RoutledgeFalmer. Robertson, D., & Symons, J. (1996). Do peer groups matter? Peer group versus schooling effects on academic attainment. London: London School of Economics, Centre for Economic Performance. Scheerens, J. (1991). Process indicators of school functioning: A selection based on the research literature on school effectiveness. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 17, 371–403. Scheerens, J., Bosker, R. J., & Creemers, B. P. M. (2001). Time for self-criticism: On the viability of school effectiveness research. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 12(1), 131–157. Slee, R., Weiner, G with Tomlinson, S. (Eds.). (1998). School effectiveness for whom? London: Falmer. Stringfield, S. (2002). Science making a difference: Let’s be realistic! School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 13(1), 15–29. Teddlie, C., & Reynolds, D. (2000). International handbook of school effectiveness research. London and New York: Falmer. Teddlie, C., & Reynolds, D. (2001). Countering the critics: Responses to recent criticisms of school effectiveness research. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 12(1), 41–82. Teddlie, C., & Stringfield, S. (1993). Schools make a difference: Lessons learned from a ten year study of school effects. New York: Teachers College Press. Teddlie, C., Stringfield, S., & Reynolds, D. (2000). Context issues within School Effectiveness research. In C. Teddlie, & D. Reynolds (Eds.), International handbook of school effectiveness research (pp. 160–185). London and New York: Falmer. Teddlie, C., Stringfield, S., Wimpleberg, R., & Kirby, P. (1989). Contextual differences in models for effective schooling in the USA. In B. Creemers, T. Peters, & D. Reynolds (Eds.), School effectiveness and school improvement. Amsterdam: Swets and Zeittlinger. Thomson, P. (2002). Schooling the rust-belt kids: Making the difference in changing times. Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham Books. Thrupp, M. (1999). Schools making a difference: Let’s be realistic! School mix, school effectiveness and the social limits of reform. Buckingham: Open University Press. Thrupp, M. (2001a). Sociological and political concerns about school effectiveness research: Time for a new research agenda. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 12(1), 7–40. Thrupp, M. (2001b). Recent school effectiveness counter-critiques: Problems and possibilities. British Educational Research Journal, 27(4), 443–457. Thrupp, M. (2002). Why “meddling” is necessary: A response to Teddlie, Reynolds, Townsend, Scheerens, Bosker and Creemers. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 13(1), 1–14. Thrupp, M., Lauder, H., & Robinson, T. (2002). School composition and peer effects. International Journal of Educational Research, 37(5), 483–504. Townsend, T. (2001). Satan or saviour? An analysis of two decades of school effectiveness research. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 12(1), 115–129. Weber, G. (1971). Inner city children can be taught to read: Four successful schools (Occasional Paper no. 18). Washington, DC: Council for Basic Education. Wrigley, T. (2003). Schools of hope: A new agenda for school improvement. Stoke on Trent:Trentham Books.




Charles Teddlie and Sam Stringfield

Introduction This chapter will review the School Effectiveness Research (SER) and School Improvement Research (SIR) literatures in the United States over the past 25 years. Although we are focusing primarily on this period, several significant studies were conducted in the United States before 1980. These we will briefly summarize in the first two sections of the chapter because it is impossible to understand the events of the past 25 years without some awareness of the foundations of both SER and SIR. Although SER literature reached its zenith of influence and popularity in the United States in the 1980s and early 1990s, it has continued to serve as the largest and most consistent knowledge base for the varieties of SIR literatures that have evolved over the past two decades. U.S. SIR literature has passed through a series of stages, with the last two – restructuring and Comprehensive School Reform (CSR) – achieving national impact. In this chapter, we will address five somewhat overlapping stages in the development of SER and SIR; in order, they are: ● ● ● ● ●

School Improvement Research in the United States before the 1980s School Effectiveness Research in the United States before the 1980s A Period of High Influence: School Effectiveness Research, 1980–1995 Trends in School Improvement Research in the United States since 1990 Contemporary and Future Trends in SER in the United States

This review synthesizes three earlier reviews (Datnow, Lasky, Stringfield, & Teddlie, 2006; Reynolds, Teddlie, Creemers, Scheerens, & Townsend, 2000; Teddlie & Stringfield, 2006) and cross-references other chapters in this volume. Points of commonality and differentiation between SER and SIR will be discussed throughout this chapter, including brief explorations of the similarities, variations, and intersections of U.S. and international forms of school effects and school improvement research. 131 T. Townsend (Ed.), International Handbook of School Effectiveness and Improvement, 131–166. © 2007 Springer.


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Researchers and reformers have engaged in significant dialogue regarding the merger of the two orientations (SER, SIR) in other countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, and the Netherlands (e.g., Creemers & Reezigt, 2005, Reynolds, Hopkins, & Stoll, 1993; Sackney, in this volume; Stoll & Sammons, in this volume). Much less discussed has been the merger of SER and SIR in the United States, where a historical division between these two fields has existed except during the 1980s and early 1990s, when SER had a large impact on SIR. These historical trends are discussed throughout the chapter. Future directions for both SER and SIR in the United States will be described in the last two sections.

School Improvement Research in the United States Before the 1980s Phases in School Improvement Research in the United States For the purposes of this chapter, we define school improvement research in the United States as the examination of the processes and outcomes associated with interventions designed to improve schools. Various international authors have characterized SIR as having gone through a number of distinct phases since the 1980s, evolving from efforts oriented toward individual school change into coordinated systemic efforts aimed at whole communities of schools (e.g., Chrispeels & Harris, 2006; Hopkins & Reynolds, 2001). A similar trend has occurred in the United States during this time period, but we have chosen to start our analysis with a brief description of two earlier phases of SIR in the United States that occurred during the 1930s and 1960s. A prefatory note is in order regarding early school improvement research. Why, one might ask, would a field engage in relatively scientific improvement research decades before determining relatively scientifically “what works?” Our answer would be that this appears to be the human condition. Thomas (1979), for example, noted that from the 1830s through the 1930s, medical researchers were aware that they did not understand the human body adequately enough to create drugs to treat various maladies, yet “miracle cures” proliferated. Armed with 20/20 hindsight, there is something rather heartwarming about the simple – and rigorously data-free – confidence that early reformers had in their proposed school improvement interventions. If nothing else, an awareness of the failures of those who came before should make us more cautious of making science-free claims in the future. The first phase of SIR consisted of a singular, noteworthy study from the 1930s: the Eight-Year Study. The second phase consisted of curriculum reform efforts conducted during the 1960s in response to the Russian Sputnik program. These two earlier phases presaged several of the important trends in SIR that have occurred in the United States since the 1980s. Their inclusion in this review highlights the recurrent nature of school reform in the United States, which Cuban (1990) has famously referred to as “reforming again, again and again.” We argue that the recurring lack of success is a function of an imbalance in the ratio of reformers’ confident zeal on the one hand to the quantity of available scientific data on the other.

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A History of School Research in the USA


The Eight-Year Study: School Improvement Research From the 1930s The first large-scale, cross-state effort at school reform in the United States was begun in 1930 by a commission of the Progressive Education Association (Aiken, 1942). This group declared that their goal was to fundamentally reform American high schools by allowing selected schools the freedom to reconstruct their curriculum on the basis of individual need, rather than college entrance requirements. The group provided “curriculum associates” who worked with a range of schools and persuaded over 100 colleges and universities to accept graduates from these potentially quite nontraditional schools. The declared outcome of primary interest was students’ eventual success in college. A group of college professors and other progressive educators conducted a national search and settled on 30 promising schools for intervention. They located a control school for each experimental site. The 30 schools did away with much of their previously existing curricula (which used the college preparatory model) and replaced it, as much as possible, with more “relevant” topics based on democratic ideals and the needs of individual students (Giles, McCutchen, & Zechiel, 1942). DeVries (2002) summarized the curricula as follows: Classroom practices included providing students with many opportunities to deal with problems they consider significant, utilizing wide sources of information, sharing responsibility for defining the problem … and seeking meaningful, real situations in which students may engage in reflective thinking. (p. 34) Detailed qualitative and quasi-experimental quantitative data revealed, in general, that the students from the 30 pilot schools performed slightly better in college than students from the control schools. The research team then conducted a separate, followup analysis of the results from the six (of 30, or 20%) schools that in retrospect appeared to have produced higher percentages of students who were relatively successful in college. Strong implementation was defined as creating the “most marked departures from conventional college preparatory courses” (Aiken, 1942, p. 112). This analysis focused on the strong implementers’ larger long-term effects, thereby presaging similar post hoc analyses of educational reforms in the United States. The methodological problems in such a post hoc analysis were so considerable that the clearest conclusions that can be gleaned today from this very ambitious effort are that (1) school change is harder than enthusiasts initially believe, (2) both short- and long-term implementation of any whole school reform requires greater investments in human resource development than national or local educators generally anticipate, and (3) schools that have the capacity for major change may (or may not) have had that capacity prior to the change effort, making interpretation of post hoc-only data virtually impossible and pointing to the importance of a wide range of “pre” measures. However, the group’s failures to anticipate these challenges clearly presaged


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subsequent analyses of enthusiastic – if poorly prepared – educational reformers in the United States. An unintended effect of the Eight-Year Study seems to have been a dampening of interest in studies of large-scale change. It was nearly 30 years before large-scale school reform studies were attempted again in the United States, and those efforts, like most today, appear to have learned very little from the Eight-Year Study.

Curriculum Reform Studies of the 1960s The next effort at large-scale school reform in the United States was inspired by the Soviet space program of the 1950s. This so-called “Sputnik-inspired reform” was based on large-scale curriculum change, as were similar contemporary efforts in the United Kingdom. These emphasized the production, dissemination, and adoption of science curriculum materials. These materials were often exemplary, based on concepts from the leading scholars and educators of the period (e.g., Bruner, 1960). Dow (1997, p. 2) summarized the commitment of leading scholars to the process as follows: Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the Sputnik-driven reforms was the extensive participation of the university research scholars in the reform effort. For a brief period between the mid-1950s to the early 1970s some of the nation’s most distinguished academics left their libraries and laboratories to spend time in pre-college classrooms. Nobel laureates sought ways to teach the very young how scientists and mathematicians think, and men who had worked on the Manhattan Project created “kitchen physics” courses for the elementary schools. Although there were efforts to involve teachers in the reform process, curriculum reform was primarily top–down, focusing on the adoption of curriculum materials. Such reforms ultimately produced little impact on classroom teaching, however: Although the materials were often of high quality, being produced by teams of academics and psychologists, in the main they failed to have an impact on teaching. The reason in hindsight is obvious; teachers were not included in the production process and the in-service that accompanied the new curricula was often perfunctory and rudimentary. Teachers simply took what they thought was of use from the new materials and integrated it into their own teaching. The curriculum innovation, however, was consequently subverted. (Reynolds, Teddlie, Hopkins, & Stringfield, 2000, p. 208) The curriculum reform efforts of the early 1960s uncovered again a finding that was available from the Eight-Year Study and that has been regularly repeated in SIR: Local implementation of any educational reform is extremely important, perhaps more important than the reform itself. As with medical and engineering innovations, educational reforms are finally evaluated not for their theoretical elegance but for their ability to produce predictable, observable results in actual settings.

A History of School Research in the USA


Large-Scale School Change Studies of the 1970s and Early 1980s Several large-scale, multi-site school change studies were conducted in the 1970s and early 1980s. These examined the factors that facilitate or inhibit interventions in educational settings, including leadership roles and local contexts. The following section briefly summarizes results from three of the most influential studies of that time. These exemplary studies had long-term effects on U.S. research conducted in both SIR and SER over the next 30 years, both substantively and methodologically.

Rand Change Agent Study One well-known, large-scale study of the period was the Rand Change Agent Study (e.g., Berman & McLaughlin, 1976), which was conducted from 1973 to 1978 and focused on three stages of the change process: initiation, implementation, and incorporation. The study revealed the importance of local contexts in the implementation process. McLaughlin (1990) concluded that the study “demonstrated that the nature, amount, and pace of change at the local level was a product of local factors that were largely beyond the control of higher-level policymakers” (p. 12). Berman and McLaughlin (1976) stated that there were four implications of this general observation: (1) policy cannot mandate what matters, (2) the level of implementation dominates outcomes, (3) local variability is the rule, and (4) uniformity is the exception. Although policies may set directions and provide a framework for change, they cannot determine outcomes. Implementation tends to predict gains in student achievement. Successful implementation of projects in the Rand Change Agent Study required mutual adaptation of the reform and the local context (Berman & McLaughlin, 1976), a finding repeated in both SIR and SER over the next 30 years. Principal support was crucial. When teachers perceived that the principal liked a project and actively supported it, the project fared well. Although the role of the external change agents was important, the involvement of the principal was even more important to the project’s success.

Follow-Through Classroom Observation Evaluation (FTCOE) Stallings and Kaskowitz (1974) conducted the FTCOE, the first effort to rigorously gather detailed classroom observational data in a large number of schools attempting to implement diverse reforms. The authors made repeated observations in a range of classes and schools attempting six very diverse, federally funded reform designs. Unfortunately, funding for the development and dissemination of the designs was being cut even as the study began, and hence observations were conducted at sites that were attempting implementation even as the reforms were being designed. In most instances, the result was a far from ideal implementation of the designs. However, the study did demonstrate that classroom-level comparisons among diverse designs were possible, and that the more fully developed and structured designs tended to produce both more consistent implementation and somewhat greater


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student achievement. Additionally, variations of the Stallings’ time-on-task instruments developed for the FTCOE have been used in numerous SER studies that also include teacher-level measurements (e.g., Teddlie & Stringfield, 1993).

Dissemination Efforts Supporting School Improvement (DESSI) The DESSI study was one of the largest, most ambitious studies of educational change ever attempted in the United States (Crandall & Loucks, 1983). Data for DESSI were gathered in 146 local sites spread over 10 states. The study was so methodologically diverse and produced so many reports that it is difficult to summarize. However, two particular additions to the SIR field came from DESSI: ●

Local accommodations (in conjunction with design teams) of externally developed school improvement designs are more likely to result in (1) classroom-level implementation and (2) increases in achievement than are locally developed school improvement efforts. Teacher ownership of reforms is not an all-or-nothing concept in the early stages of reform. Rather, ownership of the reform develops through months and years of engagement as teachers work to implement it. Both in DESSI and the Rand study previously described, the authors concluded that belief and commitment tended to follow successful practice, rather than the other way around (for an insightful discussion of this, see Nunnery, 1998).

The educational research community interpreted the results of these large-scale intervention efforts as indicating that local conditions and actions were more important than the characteristics of specific reform designs. When stated in the extreme, this conclusion risks being an overstatement; however, it paved the way for interest in the newly emerging field of SER.

School Effectiveness Research in the United States Before the 1980s The Coleman Report and its Effect on SER in the United States The Coleman Report (Coleman et al., 1966) has been cited as providing the impetus for the development of several areas of educational research, such as school performance monitoring research (Kochan, in this volume) and teacher effectiveness research (TER) (Brophy & Good, 1986; Schaffer, Delvin-Scherer, & Stringfield, in this volume). Using a large, single-time panel of data, Coleman et al. (1966) concluded that differences in children’s achievement were more strongly associated with family socioeconomic status (SES) factors than with potentially malleable school-based resource variables. The Coleman Report generated a great deal of public and professional interest, in part because such a large study posed such a dramatic antithesis to the common wisdom of the United States, and indeed, all modern democracies. Clearly, virtually all parents believe that schools matter. After all, they not only send their children to school, but they often go to

A History of School Research in the USA


great lengths to get their children into “the right schools.” Politicians and policymakers believe that schooling matters – they often take the unpopular stance of increasing taxes to pay for “better schools.” Coleman et al.’s dramatic conclusion flew in the face of widely held public opinion and the self-assured thesis of U.S. educators. It was not surprising that Coleman’s highly publicized finding led educational researchers to actively engage in developing two closely linked branches of SER in the United States: ●

Effective schools research. This research is concerned with the processes of effective schooling and, in its initial phases, involved the generation of case studies of positive outlier schools that produced high achievement scores for students living in poverty. Cumulative results from effective schools research have resulted in detailed descriptions of effective school characteristics across a variety of contexts. The bestknown findings from SER come from these studies. School effects research. This research involves the study of the scientific properties of school effects (e.g., the existence and magnitude of school effects, the consistency and stability of school effects). The initial studies involved the estimation of the impact of schooling on achievement through the regression-based input–output studies in economics and sociology. This branch of SER has always placed an emphasis on methodological issues, which has become a hallmark of the tradition (e.g., Teddlie, Reynolds, & Sammons, 2000).

Effective schools research focuses on educational processes, while school effects research focuses on educational products. The following two sections briefly discuss developments before the 1980s in these two areas.

Effective Schools Studies: A Focus on Educational Processes Effective schools research was initially conducted to dispute the results of the Coleman Report by focusing on educational processes associated with unusually positive outcomes in high-poverty contexts. Researchers conducted case studies of schools that were doing exceptional jobs of educating students from very poor SES backgrounds and described the ongoing processes in those schools. These studies also expanded the definition of the outputs of schools to include other products, such as were measured by attitudinal and behavioral indicators. Studies conducted during the 1970s in the effective schools tradition included Brookover, Beady, Flood, Schweitzer, and Wisenbaker (1979), Brookover and Lezotte (1979), Edmonds (1979), Klitgaard and Hall (1974), Venezky and Winfield (1979), and the first of the group, Weber (1971). There were numerous others. Initial studies conducted during this period were focused in urban, low-SES elementary schools because researchers believed that success stories in these environments would dispel the belief that schools made little or no difference. Weber (1971) conducted the first reasonably rigorous, extensive case studies from the period. After a rigorous, national search for sites that included re-testing of students (to verify local claims of effectiveness), Weber identified and studied four low-SES inner-city schools characterized by high achievement at the third-grade level. His research emphasized the importance of ongoing processes at schools, while Coleman et al. (1966) had focused on static, archival, and/or self-reported school resource variables.


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The research of Edmonds and Brookover was especially instrumental in developing a five-factor (or correlate) model that included the following: ● ● ● ● ●

strong instructional leadership from the principal, a pervasive and broadly understood instructional focus, a safe and orderly school learning environment (or “climate”), high expectations for achievement from all students, and the use of student achievement test data for evaluating program and school success.

School Effects Research: A Focus on Educational Products School effects research (e.g., Coleman et al., 1966; Jencks et al., 1972) involved economically driven input–output studies. These studies focused on inputs such as school resource variables (e.g., per-pupil expenditures) and student background characteristics (e.g., student SES) to predict school “products” or outcomes, which were limited to student achievement on standardized tests. The Coleman Report (1966) study concluded that “schools bring little influence to bear on a child’s achievement that is independent of his background and general social context” (p. 325). Despite this general conclusion, a small percentage of the variance in individual student achievement was uniquely accounted for by school factors. Daly (1991) concluded that “The Coleman et al. (1966) survey estimate of a figure of 9% of variance in an achievement measure attributable to American schools has been something of a bench mark” (p. 306). Although there were efforts to refute the Coleman results and methodological flaws were found in the report, the major findings are now widely accepted by the educational research community, so long as data analyses are limited to single moment-in-time analyses. In addition to the Coleman and Jencks studies, there were several other studies conducted during this time within a sociological framework known as the “statusattainment literature” (e.g., Hauser, Sewell, & Alwin, 1976). For the most part, these studies were consistent with those reported by Coleman. For careful reanalyses of the Coleman et al. (1966) data sets using modern, multi-level analyses, see Borman and Dowling (2003). The authors confirmed most of Coleman’s earlier conclusions, with the major addition being that the negative effects of concentration of poverty were more severe than Coleman had been able to detect using the statistical tools of the 1960s. Several scholars began criticizing extant SER for having methodological flaws that prevented it from actually measuring the existence and magnitude of school effects properly. Such criticisms of the Coleman Report (e.g., Mosteller & Moynihan, 1972) initiated a 40-year trend toward greater methodological sophistication as researchers have attempted to better and more accurately model and measure school effects. During this period of scrutiny and critique, three important issues and methodological advances were introduced and the emergence of a fourth and fifth were presaged. These were: (1) inclusion of more sensitive measures of classroom input (e.g., Murnane, 1975; Summers & Wolfe, 1977), (2) the development of social psychological scales to measure school processes (e.g., Brookover et al., 1979),

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(3) the utilization of more sensitive outcome measures (e.g., Madaus, Kellaghan, Rakow, & King, 1979), (4) the issue of the unit of analysis in educational research (e.g., Burstein, 1980), and (5) the ability to model multiple points of time and hence more accurately measure change in achievement (and other variables) over time (Bryk & Raudenbush, 1992; Cronbach & Furby, 1970). The inclusion of more sensitive measures of classroom input in SER involved the association of student-level data with the specific teachers who taught the students. This methodological advance was important for two reasons: (1) it emphasized input from the classroom (teacher) level in addition to the school level; and (2) it associated student-level output variables with student-level input variables, rather than school-level input variables. Results from Murnane’s (1981) research led him to conclude that: The primary resources that are consistently related to student achievement are teachers and other students. Other resources affect student achievement primarily through their impact on the attitudes and behaviors of teachers and students. (p. 33) The second methodological advance concerned the development of social psychological scales that could better measure ongoing educational processes. Several reviewers (e.g., Averch, Carroll, Donaldson, Kiesling, & Pincus, 1971; Brookover et al., 1979) concluded that these early studies of school effects did not include adequate measures of school social psychological climate and other classroom/school process variables, and that their exclusion contributed to the underestimation of school effects. In their study of elementary schools in Michigan, Brookover et al. (1979) addressed this criticism by using surveys designed to measure student, teacher, and principal perceptions of school climate. Brookover’s surveys included measures of: ●

● ●

student sense of academic futility or internal/external locus of control (e.g., Rotter, 1966); academic self-concept or self-esteem (e.g., Rosenberg, 1965); teacher expectations, which evolved from the concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy in the classroom (e.g., Rosenthal & Jacobsen, 1968); and school or organizational climate (e.g., McDill & Rigsby, 1973).

The third methodological advance concerned the utilization of more sensitive outcome measures. Madaus et al. (1979) believed that the characteristics of standardized tests make them less sensitive than curriculum-specific tests to the detection of differences due to the quality of schools. These standardized tests “cover material that the school teaches more incidentally” (Coleman et al., 1966, p. 294). Madaus et al. (1979) believed that “Conclusions about the direct instructional effects of schools should not have to rely on evidence relating to skills taught incidentally” (p. 209). Madaus and his colleagues demonstrated that curriculum-specific tests were better measures of school and classroom effects than were standardized tests. Fourth, Burstein (1980) presaged the development of multilevel models in SER by discussing the unit of analysis issue in educational research. These methodological


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advances were later incorporated into the more sophisticated SER of both the United States and of other countries in the 1990s. Finally, and related to the fourth item, the use of multi-level modeling to incorporate the dimension of time allowed for much more accurate analysis of achievement gains. As one example of the power potentially added to studies, Bryk and Raudenbush (1992) reported a reanalysis of math achievement data from project Follow-Through. This data set included fall and spring testing on a cohort of students over three consecutive years (e.g., six longitudinal data points). The authors reported that 80% of the variance in student-level slopes was attributable to differences between schools. This contrasts dramatically with the 5–15% reported in point-in-time analyses. Under No Child Left Behind, all schools and school districts are required to test all children annually in Grades 3–8, and many districts test in additional grades. This is creating an unprecedented, largely untapped series of large-scale opportunities to more accurately estimate the effects of schools on students in various areas.

A Period of High Influence: School Effectiveness Research, 1980–1995 The Emergence of School Effectiveness Research SER emerged in the late 1970s and 1980s as a major area of research in education in the United States. Coleman and Jencks’ analyses had been widely interpreted as indicating that “schools make no difference.” This stark statement was replaced by the reassertion of a widespread American belief that schools affect children’s development and that there are observable regularities in the ways in which some schools do that more effectively than others. Much of the evidence for these conclusions came from the work of Edmonds (1979) and Brookover et al. (1979). Cawelti (2003) recently declared Edmonds’ research to be one of the 11 studies that has had the greatest impact on education over the past 50 years. The influence of Edmonds’ effective schools research was due in a large degree to its replicability: “Several investigators replicated the research by using these findings, and the study influenced thousands of educators working in schools in which students from low-income families tended to achieve less well than others” (Cawelti, 2003, p. 19). Edmonds’ writings emphasized the equity ideal (see Sackney, in this volume) in that he and his colleagues advocated for better schools for students from disadvantaged groups. Edmonds and his colleagues were no longer interested in just describing effective schools: They also wished to create effective schools, especially for the urban poor.

Merged Traditions: The Impact of Effective Schools Research on SIR SER had a large impact on SIR during the 1980s as the first school change studies based on effective schools research began to emerge.1 For the most part, these early studies were based on models that utilized the effective schools “correlates” generated from the correlational and positive outlier studies described above.

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School change agents took Edmonds’ five correlates and translated them into improvement models in large urban districts such as New York (Clark & McCarthy, 1983) and Milwaukee (McCormack-Larkin, 1985). Edmonds was instrumental in developing the New York City School Improvement Project, which had three components: school-based planning, a school liaison role, and a focus on the school effectiveness correlates. Similarly, Milwaukee’s Project RISE utilized six factors that the researchers considered to be crucial components of effective schooling. Brookover et al. (1982) developed an in-service program for school improvement based on effective schools research and other related research. His model brought in research from multiple areas, including TER and cooperative learning, including such specific strategies as: ● ● ● ● ● ●

grouping students for instruction, effective teaching, classroom management, cooperative learning, principles of reinforcement, and parental involvement.

This 11-module program (and variants thereof) became the foundation for many research-based school improvement projects throughout the United States in the 1980s and CSR programs today. Taylor (1990) presented a dozen case studies of local schools and school districts that had implemented improvement programs based on effective schools research, including projects in Maryland (Murphy & Wyant, 1990), California (Chrispeels & Beall, 1990), and New York (Sudlow, 1990). Lezotte (1990) summarized several lessons learned from these case studies, including the following: (1) planning and implementing programs of school improvement does not follow a simple, linear recipe or formula; (2) school improvement is a complex and ongoing process that requires patience and persistence; and (3) teacher improvement can work if the mission is clear and if time and other resources are available to support school-based planning and training processes. The impact of the effective schools research model for school improvement during the 1980s and early 1990s was demonstrated with the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in 1988. This legislation specifically mandated the use of the effective schools correlates in improvement programs funded with ESEA Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 funds (General Accounting Office, 1989). This was the highwater mark for the influence of SER in the United States.

Major Findings from SER Conducted in the United States, 1980–1995 SER in the United States enjoyed great popularity and generated substantial research (if of uneven quality) from 1980 to 1995, so it is difficult to narrow our review to a few major themes that characterize the era. For additional analysis, we refer the reader to


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other valuable reviews of this period, including Good and Brophy (1986), Levine and Lezotte (1990), and Stringfield and Herman (1996). We have selected five major themes to present in this section based on (1) their inclusion in almost every review of American SER over the past two decades, and (2) our belief that they continue to be fruitful areas for further research.

From Correlates to Characteristics to Processes The original five correlates of effective schooling were very influential in the history of SER, but as more research began to accumulate, it became apparent that some expansion and generalization of the correlates was required. For example, the original correlates did not include parental participation or refer to any of the best teaching practices that had emerged from TER. Levine and Lezotte (1990) presented an extensive review of the effective schools literature in the United States from the 1970s and 1980s; this work generated nine characteristics of effective schooling. Sammons, Hillman, and Mortimore (1995) reviewed the SER literature in the United Kingdom 5 years later and derived 11 factors that overlapped considerably with Levine and Lezotte’s list. Reynolds and Teddlie (2000b) then compared the two lists and derived nine overall processes of effective schooling that encapsulated all of the characteristics generated by the previous lists. The similarity between the Sammons et al. (1995) and Levine and Lezotte lists is striking, especially given that there was only a 4% overlap between the two in terms of source materials. The Reynolds and Teddlie (2000b) list of processes is presented in Table 1. We believe that reproducing this list – despite the fact that several similar lists have been presented over the past 15 years – serves four key purposes: (1) It graphically represents how the five original correlates have expanded into nine processes of effective schooling. (2) It shows how the nine processes are much more complex than the original correlates (e.g., refer to the column with the subcomponents of the processes). This is partially a function of expansion from 1980 to 1995 of the SER research base to include schools from different contexts with different effective school characteristics. (3) It shows how relevant research from other areas has been incorporated in updated lists of effective schooling characteristics like ongoing professional development (e.g., Pink, 1990). For example, Schaffer and his colleagues (in this volume) concluded that five of the nine processes in Table 1 directly involve processes that emerged from TER. (4) Because all of these processes of effective schools are based on SER or research in related fields, the table demonstrates the magnitude of the knowledge base associated with the field (e.g., Teddlie & Reynolds, 2000, who made use of over 1,400 references). Results from the effective schools research summarized in Table 1 have been used, both implicitly and explicitly, in the formulation of nationally and locally developed

A History of School Research in the USA Table 1.


The processes of effective schools

Original correlate

Effective schools process

Sub-components of the process

1. Strong principal leadership

1. The processes of effective leadership

2. Pervasive and broadly understood instructional focus 3. Safe and orderly school climate

2. Developing and maintaining a pervasive focus on learning

a. Being firm and purposeful b. Involving others in the process c. Exhibiting instructional leadership d. Frequent, personal monitoring e. Selecting and replacing staff a. Focusing on academics b. Maximizing school learning time a. Creating a shared vision b. Creating an orderly environment c. Emphasizing positive reinforcement a. For students b. For staff a. At the school level b. At the classroom level c. At the student level a. Maximizing classtime b. Successful grouping and organization c. Exhibiting best teaching practices d. Adapting practice to particulars of classroom a. Buffering negative influences b. Encouraging productive interactions with parents a. Site based b. Integrated with ongoing professional development a. Responsibilities b. Rights

4. High expectations for student achievement 5. Student achievement data used for evaluating program success

3. Producing a positive school culture

4. Creating high (and appropriate) expectations for all 5. Monitoring progress at all levels 6. The processes of effective teaching

7. Involving parents in productive and appropriate ways 8. Developing staff skills at the school site 9. Emphasizing student responsibilities and rights

Note. These processes of effective schooling were adapted from Reynolds and Teddlie (2000b, p. 144). This list was developed by extracting the common elements from two other reviews: (a) Levine and Lezotte (1990), and (b) Sammons et al. (1995). The five original correlates were taken from a publication of the General Accounting Office (1989).

CSR programs. Many locally developed programs – which are mandated to be researchtested, research-based, and comprehensive, but often are not – use the well-publicized effective schools model.

Magnitude of School Effects and Other Scientific Properties Several investigators in the United States conducted studies concerning the magnitude of school effects, as well as other scientific properties of those effects, during this time


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period. Following the lead of Aitkin and Longford (1986) from the United Kingdom, statisticians and researchers in the United States began developing multilevel mathematical models and computer programs that could more accurately assess the effects of all the units of analysis associated with schooling. Scholars from the United States (e.g., Burstein, 1980) were among the first to identify the issue of levels of aggregation/analysis as critical for educational research. One of the first multilevel modeling computer programs was also developed in the United States (Bryk, Raudenbush, & Congdon, 1986) at about the same time as similar programs were developed in the United Kingdom. U.S. researchers continued to contribute to the further refinement of multilevel modeling and its application to SER (e.g., Bryk & Raudenbush, 1987, 1992; Lee & Bryk, 1989; Mandeville & Kennedy, 1991; Raudenbush, 1989; Witte & Walsh, 1990). Several reviews of the literature associated with the size of school effects were in basic agreement by the end of the 1990s on four points (e.g., Bosker & Witziers, 1996; Scheerens & Bosker, 1997; Teddlie et al., 2000): ●

The size of school effects was estimated at between 8 and 16% of the variance in student achievement, depending on a number of factors such as grade level of schooling and the country in which the study occurred. The magnitude of school effects appears to be somewhat higher in studies conducted in the United States than in Europe (e.g., Bosker & Witziers, 1996). Importantly, the magnitude of school effects appears to be larger in longitudinal studies as opposed to cross-sectional studies (e.g., Raudenbush, 1989). The magnitude of teacher effects is larger than that of school effects when both are entered into multilevel models (e.g., Scheerens & Bosker, 1997; Teddlie et al., 2000).

An understudied but occasionally reported area concerns the subject specificity of school effects. The above-referenced Bryk and Raudenbush (1992) report showed that, given six data points, 80% of differences in student slopes on mathematics achievement was attributable to school-level differences. The teacher-effects field has made much more conscious use of the issue of subject specificity. Brophy and Good (1986), for example, observed that content areas widely discussed or informally taught at home and in the community (e.g., vocabulary, grammar) are much less likely to have strong, school-specific effects than subjects rarely discussed (e.g., foreign languages, geometric proofs). Logically, a U.S. elementary school that allocates funds to hiring a Japanese language teacher will produce at least 90–100% more gain in Japanese fluency than one that does not. This is a school-level policy issue that returns directly to issues of what is measured, how, and why. Other scientific properties or foundational issues2 were also identified, including seven listed in Table 2. US researchers made contributions to the study of all these properties of school effects throughout the 1980s and 1990s, especially in the area of context effects and the consistency and stability of school effects (e.g., Crone, Lang, Franklin, & Halbrook, 1994; Crone, Lang, Teddlie, & Franklin, 1995). Although further discussion of these scientific properties is beyond the scope of this chapter, we will address here the relevance of context effects to the effective schools research base.

A History of School Research in the USA Table 2.


Scientific properties (foundational issues) of school effects

Scientific property of school effects Existence of school effects

Magnitude of school effects Context effects (between schools)

Consistency of school effectiveness indices at one point in time Stability of school effectiveness indices Across time (school as unit of analysis) Differential effects (within schools)

Continuity of school effects (student as unit of analysis)

Questions posed by the SER issue What are school effects (i.e., are we measuring what we intended to measure)? Did something actually occur as a result of schooling? How large are school effects? (With student or school as unit of analysis.) Are effect sizes consistent across schools that vary by SES of students, governance structures, phases of schooling, or country? Do we have consistent multiple measures of school effectiveness (e.g., across achievement, behaviors, attitudes)? 1. Are our measures reliable across time? 2. Do schools stay consistently effective (or ineffective) across time? Are schools differentially effective for groups of students within schools? Are school effects generalizable within schools? Are schools differentially effective across subject areas? Do school effects at earlier phases of schooling for students persist into later phases?

Note. SES  socioeconomic status. This table was adapted from Teddlie et al. (2000, p. 56).

The Importance of Context Effects School context effects were, in general, ignored during the first years of effective schools research in the United States, partly because school improvers and researchers like Edmonds were more driven by issues of equity. This orientation toward equity generated samples of schools that only came from low-SES areas, not from a wider, more diverse array of SES contexts. Further, the schools in these early studies were much more likely to be elementary schools located in urban areas. This sampling bias attracted much of the criticism of SER in the mid-to-late 1980s.3 As Wimpelberg, Teddlie, and Stringfield (1989) noted: Context was elevated as a critical issue because the conclusions about the nature, behavior, and internal characteristics of the effective (urban elementary) schools either did not fit the intuitive understanding that people had about other schools or were not replicated in the findings of research on secondary and higher SES schools. (p. 85) A more methodologically sophisticated era of SER began with the first context studies (e.g., Evans & Teddlie, 1995; Hallinger & Murphy, 1986; Teddlie & Stringfield, 1985, 1993; Teddlie, Virgilio, & Oescher, 1990), which explored the factors that were producing greater effectiveness in middle-class schools, suburban schools, and secondary schools. These studies explicitly explored the differences in school effects that occur across different school contexts, instead of focusing upon one particular context.


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Context factors in this SER included (1) SES of students attending the schools, (2) the community type being served by the schools (e.g., urban, rural, suburban), (3) the grade phases of schooling, and (4) the governance structure of the schools. For example, studies examined the differences in effective schooling practices at sites serving students with very different SES backgrounds (e.g., Hallinger & Murphy, 1986; Teddlie & Stringfield, 1985, 1993). They found differences between the lower SES and higher SES schools in terms of curriculum, student expectations, principal leadership style, and parental involvement. Differentiated recommendations for school improvement models based on this context-sensitive SER appeared in the literature in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Interestingly, this emphasis on local school context factors from the SER literature of this period echoed results from the school change studies conducted during the 1970s, although the researchers were asking very different questions and using very different methodologies.

The Importance of Leadership A hallmark of American SER concerns its attention to leadership issues, typically in terms of the role of the principal. There are five sub-components of the processes of effective leadership listed in Table 1: (1) being firm and purposeful, (2) involving others in the process, (3) exhibiting instructional leadership, (4) frequent, personal monitoring, and (5) selecting and replacing staff. Each of these sub-components is based on a voluminous literature that has been reviewed comprehensively elsewhere (Levine & Lezotte, 1990; Murphy, 1990; Reynolds & Teddlie, 2000b). We will briefly focus on one sub-component of the processes of effective leadership noted in Table 1: involving others in the process. This sub-component provides a good example of how the processes of effective schools continue to generate researchable topics that are continually relevant. One such area of ongoing research addresses the role of the teacher in the leadership of schools. Murphy (in this volume) identified numerous sources in the literature related to the role of teachers in school leadership, including several from the 1985 to 1995 period (e.g., Chrispeels, 1992; Darling-Hammond, 1988; Little, 1995; Smylie & BrownleeConyers, 1992). Several of these sources emerged from writings on shared decisionmaking within the school restructuring literature, which detailed barriers to teacher leadership. These barriers include several norms commonly existing in school cultures that work against teacher leadership, including the norms of autonomy, equality, cordiality, privacy, and the divide between teaching and administration. An area for further research includes the study of schools in which these barriers have been surmounted.

The Addition of Teacher Effectiveness Variables to SER Research described earlier in this chapter pointed to the importance of the teacher or classroom as a unit of analysis in properly executed studies of schooling (e.g., Murnane, 1975; Stallings & Kaskowitz, 1974; Summers &Wolfe, 1977). Starting in the 1980s,

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SER-oriented researchers in the United States began explicitly including classroom observations in their research (e.g., Stringfield, Teddlie, & Suarez, 1985; Teddlie, Kirby, & Stringfield, 1989). School effectiveness researchers borrowed these variables and the instruments to measure them from TER. For example, Teddlie, Stringfield, and their colleagues used the Stallings Observation System (Stallings & Kaskowitz, 1974) and an instrument composed of variables gleaned from the Rosenshine (1983) review of TER in their research. These studies of TER variables within the context of SER revealed consistent mean and standard deviation differences in classroom teaching between schools classified as effective or ineffective in several studies (e.g., Crone & Teddlie, 1995; Teddlie & Stringfield, 1993; Virgilio, Teddlie, & Oescher, 1991). For example, results from Teddlie et al. (1989) indicated that teachers in effective schools were more successful in keeping students on task, spent more time presenting new material, provided more independent practice, demonstrated higher expectations for students, and so forth, than did their peers in matched ineffective schools. In addition to these mean differences in teaching behaviors between effective/ ineffective schools, differences in patterns of variation were also found: The standard deviations reported for teaching behavior were smaller in more effective schools. This result indicates that there are processes occurring at more effective schools (e.g., informed selection of new teachers, effective socialization processes) that result in more homogeneous behavior among teachers and the elimination of less effective teacher behaviors. In particular, more effective schools included fewer classes that featured highly ineffective teaching. The addition of classroom observation variables from TER contributed to the growing sophistication of case study research in SER. Prior SER studies already included detailed measures of the social psychological climates of schools at multiple levels, as derived from the Brookover et al. (1979) research and other sources (e.g., Rosenholtz, 1989). By the end of the 1980s, school effectiveness researchers had a wide battery of scales and instruments that could generate increasingly complex mixed-methods studies of schools and their classrooms based on data collected during school site visits. As noted by Kochan (in this volume), these mixed-methods site visit SER protocols were later adapted for use in technical assistance programs associated with state accountability systems.

The Decline of the SER Activity in the United States SER activity has declined in the United States since the mid-1990s. One of the reasons for the decline in activity was SER’s apparent success. By the mid-1990s, the basic questions that initially drove the movement had been answered. These included: Do school effects exist? If they do, what is their magnitude? What are the characteristics of unusually effective schools? Do these characteristics of effective schools differ for different types of schools? As these fundamental questions were addressed, the area of study then evolved into subsets of those questions, several of which simply were not as engaging to many researchers.


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Scathing criticisms of effective schools research also led educational researchers to steer away from SER; fewer students chose the area for dissertation research after the mid-1980s (e.g., Cuban, 1993). It should be noted that, despite criticisms, some academic institutions have continued to generate extensive SER. Several researchers who had been interested in studying SER during the 1980s moved in the 1990s toward more applied areas such as school restructuring and school accountability. Indeed, much of the energy previously associated with the SER movement was re-channeled into the school restructuring movement. Another factor that may have contributed to the marginalization of SER in the United States was the increasing internationalization of the field. Although the field was dominated by researchers from the United States and the United Kingdom through the 1980s, numerous countries in Europe and throughout the world got more involved in the 1990s (e.g., Creemers & Scheerens, 1989; Sackney, 1991; Scheerens & Bosker, 1997; Townsend, Clarke, & Ainscow, 1999). The internationalization of SER diverted attention away from the United States toward other countries in which the field was still new and dynamic.

The Relationship between SER and SIR in the United States After the late 1980s, U.S. SER and SIR increasingly diverged, although some researchers continued to work in both areas. Out of these divergent fields, two classes of researchers eventually emerged: (1) a small number of SER researchers who were interested in the scientific merit of their work and in designing more rigorous studies within the various subfields that were emerging in SER; and (2) a much larger number of SIR researchers who were interested in actually changing schools through progressive waves of school reform. This split occurred in other countries, including the United Kingdom, where an intellectually stimulating debate among those advocating for SER or SIR or the linking of the two has been ongoing since the 1990s (e.g., Reynolds et al., 1993; Sackney, in this volume; Stoll and Sammons, in this volume). Such an intense dialog never developed in the United States, perhaps because the ideological lines between SER and SIR were never as well-delineated as they were abroad.

Trends in School Improvement Research in the United States since 1990 The school restructuring era in the United States began in the late 1980s and early 1990s with the publication of several important articles and books (e.g., Chrispeels, 1992; Elmore, 1991; Lewis, 1989; Murphy, 1991). The school restructuring era eventually gave way to CSR, which swept the United States following the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Title I amendments of the late 1990s. The era of school improvement associated with school restructuring is thus restricted primarily to the 1990s.

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The Restructuring Movement The primary messages associated with the school restructuring era were (1) that previous school improvement efforts had been too limited in nature, and (2) that true educational reform required the restructuring of the basic organization of schools. The restructuring movement also marked a change in orientation from equity to efficiency regardless of equity concerns and a focus on the importance of the nation’s economy in school improvement research. That is, reformers’ emphasis was no longer aimed at schools serving the disadvantaged, but instead was oriented toward creating schools that would generate a competent workforce for a competitive global economy (e.g., Bickel, 1998). The publication of A Nation at Risk (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983) and A Nation Prepared (Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy, 1986) provided much of the impetus for this growing economic orientation in school improvement. School restructuring refers to school improvement efforts that are based on a wide range of changes in the organizational structure of schools, including the empowering of teachers and parents. Numerous interventions have been associated with restructuring, (e.g., Chrispeels, 1992; Louis & Smith, 1991; Murphy & Beck, 1995; Newmann & Wehlage, 1995), including: ●

● ● ● ● ●

site-based management (SBM; i.e., basic changes in the organization of school systems and schools, such that control is decentralized to the local school), changes in the structure of teaching (e.g., interdisciplinary team teaching), greater parental involvement in schools, transformational leadership (e.g., Leithwood, 1992), more flexible scheduling, and more sensitive measures of accountability (e.g., portfolio assessment).

This school change movement enjoyed great popularity in the United States, especially in the early and mid-1990s, when most large school districts declared themselves to be involved in some form of restructuring (e.g., Dade County, Florida; Chicago; San Diego; New York City). The popularity of the movement and the multiple operational definitions of the interventions, however, caused difficulties in measuring the actual impact of school restructuring. Although there was some evidence of successful school restructuring in individual schools (e.g., Newmann & Wehlage, 1995), many reviewers have been disappointed with the overall research evidence for a variety of reasons: ●

The interventions were often too scattershot in nature, making it difficult for researchers to determine which intervention (e.g., SBM) caused which effect in restructured schools (e.g., Murphy & Beck, 1995). There was evidence that the interventions implemented in restructuring projects often did not actually deliver the key components of the proposed reform (e.g., Fullan, 1993). Fullan (1993) concluded that the reforms from restructuring efforts often did not penetrate the “learning core” of the schools and classrooms (e.g., Taylor & Teddlie, 1992; Weiss, 1992).


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Although the research evidence for restructuring schools may be inconclusive, there is no doubt that the theoretical and political work associated with restructuring has had an enduring impact in the United States. For instance school improvement teams (e.g., school councils) are now nearly omnipresent throughout the United States; such teams possess the requisite teacher and parent representation and are theoretically empowered to run the schools.

Comprehensive School Reform The 1990s also witnessed the emergence of whole school reform (WSR), special strategies for school reform, and CSR, which is now the most commonly used term for improvement efforts that engage the entire school. The federally funded Title I program, which is earmarked for schools that serve the economically disadvantaged, has played a major role in the evolution of CSR as the primary vehicle for SIR in the United States today. CSR’s rise occurred as follows: ●

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 created the initial Title I program, which for the first time used federal funds to decrease funding disparities between schools serving affluent and economically disadvantaged communities (e.g., Borman & D’Agostino, 1996). Following several well-documented cases of local misuse of Title I funds, Congress mandated that these funds be used to supplement, not supplant, state and local funding. In efforts to keep federal monies clearly separate from local funds, districts adopted policies of removing students from class for part of the day to receive special Title I services in small groups. These “pull-out” programs, as they came to be called, were subsequently criticized for stigmatizing low-achieving students and being ineffective. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, ESEA rules were changed to allow districts to implement schoolwide programs, which permitted federal funds to be used for all the students in schools that served large percentages of economically disadvantaged students (e.g., Wong & Meyer, 1998). Several CSR designs (e.g., Accelerated Schools, Success for All, New American Schools) were developed during the late 1980s and early 1990s (e.g., Slavin, Madden, Karweit, Livermon, & Dolan, 1990; Stringfield, Ross, & Smith, 1996). The passage of the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration (CSRD) amendments to the federal Title I legislation (also known as the Obey-Porter Amendments) provided additional federal funding to districts, particularly those with Title I schools, to implement CSR models.

The 1998 Obey-Porter Amendments were an example of legislation and funding at least partly following research. Stringfield, Millsap, and Herman (1997) had recently completed a study of 10 promising programs. Their Special Strategies Studies owed much methodologically to the large-scale school change studies of the 1970s (e.g., Crandall & Loucks, 1983; Stallings & Kaskowitz, 1974), in that they followed a variety of schools attempting to implement reforms. However, two major differences represented in the Special Strategies studies were that (1) the reforms were relatively well-developed prior

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to data gathering, and (2) the sites chosen for the study were nominated as being relatively strong implementations of their respective reforms. Findings from Special Strategies replicated prior research in highlighting the importance of site-level leadership and high-quality professional development. The authors further concluded that: ●

Whole-school change efforts were more likely to be effective than “pull-out” or otherwise targeted programs. Early elementary reforms tended to produce greater measured change than reforms focused on later grades. Externally developed designs were both more likely to obtain coherent implementation and to produce measurable positive results, thereby replicating the results from DESSI (Stringfield et al., 1997).

Building on the various studies of promising reforms of the past 20 years, Borman, Hewes, Overman, and Brown (2003) conducted a large-scale meta-analysis of the effects of specific CSR designs. The authors identified three CSRs that could be described as having reasonably solid supporting evidence of effects on student outcomes. We believe that further studies will make similarly strong cases for other, research-based reform designs.

Major Themes Regarding SIR in the United States Several themes run through the cumulative history of school improvement research in the United States. These may be summarized as follows: (1) Although stability in both processes and outcomes tend to be the rule, meaningful improvement is possible. Long-term National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) analyses clearly demonstrate the national-level stability of educational outcomes in the United States (e.g., Campbell, Hombo, & Mazzeo, 2000), yet every major study of educational change that we have examined in this chapter found positive – if often limited – examples of improvement. Clearly, individual schools can and do improve measurably. Equally clearly, however, the national norm has tended to preserve the status quo, and a reasonable assumption would be that roughly as many schools have been declining as improving. (2) The importance of a clearly defined intervention or set of interventions. Consistently, researchers have found that vague philosophical goals, however laudable in the abstract, tend to vanish in the crucible of the classroom. One advantage of some externally developed reform designs is that the developers often have had decades of experience honing the particulars of their intervention. (3) The importance of the local context. Teachers, schools, school districts, and states in the United States vary tremendously. Just as there is no one “right” engine for all trucks, buses, cars, and motorcycles, there is no single “right” reform for all schools. Material resources, human capacities, prior experiences with change, and belief systems all vary across schools, and within schools, over time. In study after study, context matters. (This theme is similar to the importance of context in SER.)


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(4) The co-constructed nature of the reality of the interventions (by school staff and school improvement teams). Datnow, Hubbard, and Mehan (2002) examined a range of school improvement efforts and found that the most successful involved local teachers and administrators in adapting external research and development efforts so that they would work well in the local context. (5) The importance of strong, focused leadership at the school site. Whether the studies have been of school effects, promising programs, or school restructuring, a nearly universal finding in change efforts in the United States has been the need for strong, academically focused principal leadership. (This theme is similar to the SER process named the Processes of Effective Leadership.) (6) The importance of ongoing teacher support. Students don’t learn at the knee of the principal or the reform designer but in classrooms under the direct tutelage of teachers. If teachers are provided with ongoing professional development on topics relevant to the intersection of the reform’s goals and teachers’ areas of needed growth, teachers are likely to grow. (7) The need to focus on processes as well as outcomes when assessing the success of the program.

Future Directions for SIR in the United States There are a number of interesting directions in SIR in the United States at this time, including: ●

CSRs continue to be popular mechanisms for school reform in the United States. The research literatures and databases associated with some of these reforms (e.g., Success for All, Slavin & Madden, 2006) are extensive. New research-based strategies continue to develop, including the High Reliability Schools project (Reynolds, Stringfield, & Schaffer, 2006), which was developed in the United States and implemented in the United Kingdom. Standards-based reform (e.g., Fuhrman, 2001; McLaughlin & Shepard, 1995) will continue to be a major force in school improvement in the United States in the foreseeable future. Reforms generated to meet the dictates of state or district accountability systems have been around for some time, but many of these programs are now aligned with what Kochan (in this volume) has described as the United States’ over-arching accountability program: No Child Left Behind (NCLB). NCLB’s impact on local school improvers to meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) goals will likely intensify over the next several years. As noted in two chapters in this volume, there is an increasing emphasis on systemic change in SIR in the United States. Chrispeels, Andrews, and Gonzalez focused on case study research conducted in California that examined systemic supports (including university and district) for teacher learning and school improvement. Lasky, Datnow, Stringfield, and Sundell analyzed the research base on school reform and diverse populations within a framework that emphasizes key linkages across several domains of the educational system. This emphasis on school reform across multiple levels of schooling reflects recent theoretical work

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(e.g., Chrispeels & Gonzales, 2006; Senge et al., 2000) as well as the pressures of NCLB at the federal level and standards-based reform at the state and district levels. Beyond this volume, Stringfield and Yakimowski-Srebnick (2005) provided clear evidence of the ability of a large, high-poverty urban system to make five- to seven-year gains on such important measures as student achievement and high school graduation rates. Interest is ongoing in the appropriate balance between standardized school improvement practices on the one hand and local diversity or context on the other. This issue emerged from the educational change studies of the 1970s (e.g., the Rand School Change Study, DESSI) and has continued through the most recent literature (e.g., Chrispeels & Harris, 2006). For example, Gallucci, Knapp, Markholt, and Ort (2006) recently examined the interplay of two reform theories (one associated with standards-based reform and the other with small schools of choice) in three New York City schools and found that the two theories coexisted well in that setting. Murphy’s (in this volume) presentation of the teacher leadership research in the United States indicated that this should continue to be a promising area of SIR, especially with regard to examining the conditions that lead to the breakdown of barriers to shared leadership. Lasky et al. (in this volume) presented a strong case for more research into the impact of school reform efforts in racially and linguistically diverse settings. This type of reform is complex, requiring a coordinated effort across multiple levels of levels of the system. (There is a corollary line of research in SER known as “differential effects.”) A growing body of contemporary SIR is explicitly based on the processes of effective schools from SER, thereby demonstrating the continued relevance of that literature. Many locally developed CSR programs utilize the effective schools model. Additionally, Marzano (2003, and in this volume) developed an 11-component program for school improvement based to a large degree on the SER (and TER) that has been presented throughout this chapter. Similarly, Chrispeels and Gonzales (2006) recently developed an Effective Schools district reform model based on the processes of school effectiveness presented in Table 1. It appears that the effective schools literature will have an ongoing effect on SIR for the foreseeable future.

Contemporary and Future Trends in SER in the United States Several authors have speculated recently about the future of SER as an international field of study (e.g., Mortimore, 2001; Reynolds & Teddlie, 2000a; Rutter & Maughan, 2002). The last section of this chapter looks at contemporary and future trends in SER in the United States. A few contextual differences make SER in the United States somewhat different from international SER, but the overall similarity between the two is quite high. This is in part due to the numerous interactions and joint projects among researchers from many countries over the past 15–20 years, and in part due to


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the internationalization of the SE/SI conversation through the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement and the journal School Effectiveness and School Improvement. On the one hand, SER is a very successful area of research both in the United States and internationally. In fact, the processes or correlates of effective schooling have become so widely accepted that school reformers rarely cite the studies whose findings shape many of their projects’ components. SER has become part of the furniture of school reform. The major legacy of this field of study in the United States has been the generation of a “knowledge base derived from a long and very substantial literature in school effectiveness research” (Wetherill & Applefield, 2005, p. 198). The uniqueness of this knowledge base was described by Bickel (1998) in the third edition of the Handbook of School Psychology, in which he commented on the continued relevance of effective schools research to school restructuring and school reform in general: As observed, the effective schools work rests on an explicit empirical base … . The school restructuring reformers have little evidence and few working models of what the future portends. Perhaps the answer lies in the words of Tyack and Cuban (1995): “Rather than starting from scratch in reinventing schools, it makes most sense to graft thoughtful reforms onto what is healthy in the present system” (p. 133). If this is so, one of the healthy elements in the current system is the knowledge base provided by the research on effective schools. (Bickel, 1998, pp. 980–981) On the other hand, SER activity has declined in the United States4 over the past decade for a variety of reasons. Although some researchers may have left SER due to their attraction to school reform efforts or the continued criticism of the field,5 others have persevered by following up on lines of research associated with sub-fields within the area. In order for the field to become revitalized in the United States, school effectiveness researchers need to generate more activity in three general areas associated with the two branches of SER described earlier in this chapter: ●

Using longitudinal modeling of increasingly rich databases to better estimate the sizes of teacher and school effects in diverse contexts. Continued exploration of the processes associated with effectiveness in schooling (effective schools research). Continued exploration of the scientific or foundational properties of school effects (school effects research).

The remainder of this section examines recent research and future trends in these general areas and their various sub-areas. (1) Using longitudinal modeling of increasingly rich databases to better estimate the sizes of teacher and school effects in diverse contexts. As noted earlier in this chapter, one positive effect of the federal NCLB legislation has been the requirement of near-universal testing of students in Grades 3–8, with many

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districts testing in earlier and later grades. Combined with progress in multi-level modeling and the continued decline in the cost of computing, this is resulting in significantly underused opportunities to estimate teacher-, school-, and districtlevel effects in as many wide-ranging topic areas as diverse states choose to measure. (2) Continued exploration of the processes associated with effectiveness in schooling (effective schools research). There are nine processes and 25 subcomponents of effective schooling listed in Table 1, each of which has a research base that could be further described and delineated. In order to more fully understand the direction for further research into these processes, the traditional distinction between effective schools research and school improvement research in the United States should be more fully examined: ●

Effective schools research is concerned with identifying the ongoing processes of effective schooling at sites located in the natural environment, whose outcomes are exemplary compared to similar schools. School improvement research is concerned with the processes and outcomes associated with deliberate efforts to improve one or more processes and outcomes in specific schools.

This distinction was sharper 30 years ago. Various school reforms in the United States since then have resulted in a situation in which almost all schools in the country serving at-risk students are undergoing some kind of school improvement program; over time, these schools typically undertake multiple reforms. Effective schools research as it was conducted in the United States 25–30 years ago would be very hard to conduct now because a similar sample of schools (low-SES schools with exemplary performance in a “natural” environment with no external reform) simply may not exist. There are, however, at least three ways to continue research into the processes of effective schooling in the United States. First, we could consider the distinction between effective schools and school improvement research to be outdated and search for evidence of “effective and improving” schools, regardless of the existence of school improvement programs. This type of research could be renamed effective and improving school processes. Rich (2004) recently performed this type of research in a case study of a school that was improving after being labeled the lowest performing school in a region. Rich’s research involved looking for evidence of Edmonds’ correlates of effective schooling plus Glickman, Gordon, and Ross-Gordon’s (2001) characteristics of improving schools. Rich found evidence for several of the effective and improving practices at the school, and his research provided evidence for positive school practices that can evolve out of a “shame and blame” process. The Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk (JESPAR) regularly publishes similar studies. A second way to continue research into effective schools practices is to look for academically high-performing outliers among schools serving middle-SES students, which are less likely to have mandated school improvement programs


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(SIPs). There are differences in effective schools processes ongoing at these more effective and less effective middle-SES schools, as demonstrated in previous research (e.g., Teddlie & Stringfield, 1985, 1993). Less effective middle-SES schools are less likely to be labeled “ineffective” by state-mandated highstakes testing, because the performance of the students at these schools is above the state minimum requirements. For instance, we studied a less effective middleSES school over three points in time (1984–1985, 1989–1990, 1995–1996) and observed no serious effort to improve the school (Stringfield, Kemper, & Teddlie, 2000). We need more research on how to identify these underperforming middleSES schools and how to make them more effective, a process that is probably distinct from that found in lower SES schools. A third way to continue research into effective schools processes is to introduce reform based on those processes into some schools and then compare those schools with similar schools without such programs. Of course, studies of this nature would need to control for other ongoing school improvement programs in the two sets of schools. Lasky et al. (2005) recently introduced such a research program through a foundation-funded randomized field trial of effective schools principles.6 (3) Continued exploration of the scientific properties or foundational properties of school effects (school effects research). Table 2 lists seven scientific properties of school effects and presents the questions that they address. Although the question of the size of the school effect launched SER in the United States, the number of research studies concerned with that issue has declined over the past decade. One such study was conducted by D’Agostino (2000) and used a multilevel analysis of a longitudinal national database. D’Agostino (2000) concluded that “findings may indicate that schooling began to equalize the educational opportunities available to students across various SES strata. The schools that served lower-SES students may have provided these students the proper learning experiences necessary to keep pace academically with higher-SES students” (p. 229). Although American researchers conducted numerous studies into the stability and consistency of school effects through the mid-1990s (for a review, see Teddlie et al., 2000), there has been little new research in the United States in these areas since then. The potential impact of high-stakes testing on the stability of school effects over time has made these areas of research particularly timely and compelling. (4) The effect of principal behavior on school effectiveness and student achievement. An area of utmost importance in U.S. SER is the impact of principal behavior on school effectiveness. Principal behavior has been studied both as a process of school effectiveness and as a scientific property under the magnitude of the school effect. Hallinger and Heck (1996) made significant contributions to SER literature by examining the conceptual and methodological issues related to this issue. Hallinger and Heck presented a conceptual scheme for classifying nonexperimental studies of principal effects by presenting three competing

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models: Model A (direct effects with or without antecedents), Model B (mediated effects with or without antecedents), and Model C (reciprocal effects). The researchers then reviewed a group of studies that had examined the effect of educational leadership on student achievement and concluded that the relationship might best be modeled by examining the mediated or indirect effect of principal behavior through other individual and organizational factors (e.g., teacher behaviors, school climate) and then onto student achievement. This is an under-researched area of study within SER in which the conceptual and methodological (e.g., structural equation modeling, multilevel modeling) underpinnings are apparently in place. It would be logical to hypothesize that there must be a match between specific principal behaviors and specific types of schools. For example, principals in secondary schools have very different jobs than principals in elementary schools, and although it would seem sensible that some more effective behaviors would be held in common across school levels, others would likely differ. Similarly, one would expect both similarities and differences in more- vs. less-effective principal behaviors in schools serving high-poverty vs. highly affluent communities or from principals attempting to “turn around” low-performing schools vs. attempting to fine tune high-performing schools. (5) The interface between the school and classroom. The addition of teacher effectiveness variables to SER revealed consistent mean and standard deviation differences in classroom teaching between schools classified as differentially effective in several studies summarized by Teddlie and Meza (1999). These quantitative findings led to some qualitatively oriented questions regarding the classroom/school interface, including: ● ●

How are decisions made at the school level to select specific teachers to hire? Similarly, how do schools differentially evaluate teachers? Twenty years ago, Bridges (1986) conducted ground-breaking research on managing incompetent teachers, and the field has been seriously understudied since. What mechanisms does the school leadership use to ensure homogeneity of the teachers’ goal orientation? How do more- vs. less-effective principals and others at the school level monitor teachers’ performance at the classroom level? How is performance data used to detect unusual or outlier teacher performance, and when/how are steps taken to increase positive outlier performance?

Exploration of these qualitatively oriented questions regarding the interface between the school and the classroom is a promising area for future research. (6) What are the relationship patterns among teachers at more effective as opposed to less effective schools? A new area for development in contemporary SER is the study of relationship patterns in schools through Social Network Analysis. This third dimension of schooling (joining the organizational and cultural dimensions) can be explored among faculty members within a school, among students within a class, and across the school and class levels with multiple actors.


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For example, Durland and Teddlie (1996) explored the relationships among teachers in both more effective and less effective schools. They concluded that the sociograms of more effective schools were “well-webbed” (many reciprocal relationships centering on the principal and teacher leaders in the school), while sociograms of less effective schools were “stringy” (not many reciprocal relationships and several isolates). Kochan and Teddlie (2005) recently presented sociograms of the interpersonal relationships among the members of a highly ineffective high school that also exhibited a “stringy” relationship pattern among those faculty members. A related series of studies in secondary schools are needed in the United States examining the behaviors and relationships among teachers in more- vs. less-effective departments within schools. Further research into context effects in SER. The importance of context effects in SER was described in a previous section of this chapter. More empirical work is needed in this area in the future, especially in areas such as the SES of students attending schools and the grade phases of schooling. The social psychological study of long-term ineffectiveness of schooling. We need to better understand why some schools appear to be stuck in a long-term cycle of ineffectiveness that has not been broken, often after multiple reform efforts. Reynolds and Teddlie (2000a) discussed these schools in terms of their “dysfunctionality” and suggested conducting intensive longitudinal case studies of samples of these low-performing schools. Similarly, Griffin (2004) examined ineffective schools as organizational reactions to stress in a large-scale survey study. The study of barriers to teacher leadership and how to overcome them. The study of the processes of school leadership could be enhanced through a more focused examination of how the barriers to teacher leadership have been or can be surmounted (Murphy, in this volume). Both naturalistic and quasi-experimental approaches could be used in this SER, either through identifying sites with diminished barriers or creating such sites using currently popular reforms such as learning communities (e.g., Dufour & Eaker, 1998; Sackney, in this volume). The uses of data for improved educational effectiveness. We have repeatedly noted that federal NCLB legislation has mandated greatly expanded gathering and reporting of standardized test data in American education. Organizations ranging from individual scholars, university-based research centers, and venture capital-funded for-profit corporations have spent the last several years developing data warehousing and presentation software intended to direct information back to parents, teachers, principals, central administrators, and state departments of education. Research on how to get the greatest impact from such efforts is just beginning. Jeffrey C. Wayman recently edited special issues of the Journal of Education for Students Placed At Risk (Wayman, 2005) and the American Journal of Education (Wayman & Stringfield, 2006) that have made very early efforts to examine uses of these new, potentially powerful tools. Given that greater use of achievement data was one of Edmonds’

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(1979) original five factors of more effective schooling, it is possible that the next decade will be known as a period in which efficient data use drove school reform. (11) Finally, there is very limited research in the United States that links school effects with system effects. Much of the pressure for increased school performance from NCLB is placed by the federal government on state departments of education. State departments then put pressure on local education authorities, which pressure (presumably with varying methods and effects) individual schools. In a longitudinal study of schools’ efforts to reform, Datnow et al. (2006) found clear examples of district- and state-level actions that enhanced or gutted various school reform efforts. This area is greatly understudied. In this chapter, we have attempted to summarize major historic trends in school effectiveness and school improvement research in the United States. We have discussed common and divergent themes between the two, suggested multiple potentially fruitful directions for future research, and noted many under-researched areas in which well-meaning practitioners are attempting reforms as if they already knew “what works.” We have noted that such optimism-based efforts have failed in the past. We choose to end by calling on our colleagues to focus at least part of their improvement efforts on gathering rigorous evidence on what does and does not work, and disseminating their findings as widely as possible.

Notes 1. There has been little intellectual overlap between phases of SIR in the United States. For example, the school reformers who used the effective schools correlates in their research in the 1980s seldom referenced research from the earlier phases of SIR in the United States. This trend persists to the present day as scholars associated with CSR seldom reference the effective schools literature. 2. Scholars in Europe call these “foundational issues” and have also reported research from these areas (e.g., Scheerens & Bosker, 1997; Scheerens, Bosker, & Creemers, 2000). 3. The equity orientation of Edmonds and others, with its emphasis on school improvement and sampling biases, led to predictable responses from the educational research community throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s. The hailstorm of criticism (e.g., Cuban, 1983; Good & Brophy, 1986; Purkey & Smith, 1983; Rowan, 1984) aimed at those pursuing the equity ideal in SER had the effect of paving the way for more sophisticated SER that used more defensible sampling and analysis strategies. 4. For example, there has been a drop in the percentage of articles written by U.S. authors during the past seven years published in the premier journal in the field, School Effectiveness and School Improvement (SESI). There were 159 articles (not including editorials and book reviews) published in the years 1990 (Volume 1) through 1998 (Volume 9), of which 49 were written by authors from the United States. Thus, 31% of the articles in SESI from 1990–1998 were written by American authors. That percentage dropped to 17% in the 1999–2005 period (Volumes 10–16), in which only 23 out of 135 articles were written by American authors. 5. Thrupp (2001), Slee, Weiner, and Tomlinson (1998), and others have presented criticisms of contemporary SER based on what they perceive to be its political ideology, theoretical limitations, and other issues. These criticisms have been rebutted by several authors (e.g., Reynolds & Teddlie, 2001). Luyten, Visscher, and Witziers (2005) recently presented a more balanced and constructive criticism of the contemporary field including suggestions for how to improve it.


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6. The publication of a new American journal, the Journal for Effective Schools (now in its sixth volume), is a positive sign that interest continues in research into the processes associated with effectiveness and improvement in schooling. The journal lists seven processes of effective schooling (very similar to those listed in Table 1) in the front of each issue and indicates that it publishes original contributions related to the “Effective School Process.”

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Larry Sackney

This chapter reviews the School Effectiveness Research (SER) and School Improvement Research (SIR) in Canada from the 1960s to today, noting their commonality and differentiation. The SER literature reached its zenith during the 1980s but continues to impact SIR literatures to date. Considerable attention is paid to the neo-SER literature, particularly the learning community research that is influencing government policy and school practices from the late 1990s to today. This chapter will also examine how provincial governments are applying the SER and SIR literature to policy. Finally, an attempt is made to assess the future directions for the movement within the Canadian context. Examining Canadian history in the areas of school effectiveness and improvement is important for a number of reasons: (1) Canada has a decentralized system of schooling that has little, if any, federal involvement; (2) the social, political, and economic contexts are different from those of the United States; (3) Canada does not have a history of extensive involvement of alternative forms of schooling – it has remained for the most part a publicly funded school system; and (4) Canada does not have legislation such as No Child Left Behind (2001) in the United States, nor has there been an extensive push for accountability as has been the case in the United States.

Conventional Views of Schooling in the 1970s In the early 1970s, the conventional view in Canada, as elsewhere, was that it was impossible to identify important school-based characteristics that were clearly beneficial to student learning outcomes. The belief was that the primary determinant of achievement outcomes was family background as measured by socioeconomic status (SES) and ethnicity. High-SES students did well in school while socioeconomically disadvantaged students, especially minorities, did poorly. The consensus was that school characteristics made little, if any, difference in student achievement outcomes (Sackney, 1991). 167 T. Townsend (Ed.), International Handbook of School Effectiveness and Improvement, 167–182. © 2007 Springer.



The late 1960s and early 1970s were times of rapid social and political upheaval. In the United States, the Vietnam War had a tremendous impact on society and education. Canada was considerably less impacted by the developments in the United States. It was, however, a period of rapid change in education and society and the timing was ripe for the effective schools movement. International competition and economic decline resulted in the government looking to education to improve performance and to enhance social stability and cohesion.

The Effective Schools Research While the previous research was perhaps more “down beat,” the research on effective schools was basically hopeful. Using different research paradigms (quantitative, qualitative, and interpretive), researchers began to isolate characteristics that differentiated more effective schools from less effective schools. The conclusion from this research was that schools and school characteristics can make a difference in student achievement. Some of the initial studies tended to focus on atypically successful schools (e.g., Weber, 1971). Other studies, such as Brookover, Beady, Flood, Schweitzer, and Wisenhaber (1979) and Brookover and Lezotte (1979), found that social psychological factors affecting learning varied widely from school to school and that much of the variation was independent of SES and ethnicity. An analysis of the factors revealed that teacher expectations and evaluations were related to achievement. About the same time, Rutter, Maugham, Mortimore, and Ouston’s (1979) study of 12 inner-city London high schools appeared in the United Kingdom. Rutter et al. found that staff attitudes, behaviors, and academic focus produced an overall ethos that was conducive to achievement. Other factors included classroom management that kept students actively engaged in learning, firm discipline, use of rewards and praise, a physical environment that was conducive to learning, and effective monitoring practices that improved student learning outcomes. A second strand of research used the “outlier” approach. These studies (e.g., Austin, 1979) employed regression analyses of school mean achievement scores, controlling for socioeconomic factors. Based on the residual scores, schools that were highly effective (positive outliers) and highly ineffective (negative outliers) were identified and then assessed by survey or case studies to determine the reasons for their outcomes. Perhaps the best-known list of correlates was that suggested by Edmonds (1979), who is generally credited with being the father of the effective schools movement. Based on his own research and extensive review of other studies, Edmonds suggested five effectiveness characteristics: (1) strong instructional leadership; (2) high expectations for all students; (3) an orderly, work-oriented climate; (4) priority focus on instruction; and (5) frequent monitoring. These five characteristics became the generic set for many school improvement efforts. A third strand of school effectiveness research, exemplified by Armor et al. (1976), was program evaluation. These studies attempted to identify school and classroom policies that were successful in raising reading scores for minorities. The results from these studies concluded that effective programs were characterized by high staff

History of the School Improvement in Canada


expectations and morale, a considerable amount of control by staff over instructional decisions, strong leadership, clear school goals, and a sense of order in the school (Purkey & Smith, 1983). Wimpelberg, Teddlie, and Stringfield (1989) characterized the first era as being explicitly concerned with equity. First-generation effective schools research represented a search for achievement gains that were unusually high, mostly in urban elementary schools, and produced five main correlates: goal/mission, safe and orderly climate, strong instructional leadership, high expectations, and close monitoring of instructional programs. The second era, according to Wimpelberg et al. (1989), focused on efficiency. They contended that context became important because there were differences between urban elementary and secondary schools. Typical of this type of research was that of Hallinger and Murphy (1985), who showed that context was a determinant of school effectiveness. A third phase of effective schools research identified by Wimpelberg et al. (1989) focused attention on context factors and “a dual interest in the improvement of schooling for poor children (equity) and the improvement of everyone’s schooling, constrained by limitations on fiscal resources (efficiency)” (p. 88). Studies of the type conducted by Mortimore, Sammons, Stoll, Lewis, and Ecob (1988), Teddlie and Stringfield (1993), Rosenholtz (1989), and others contributed to an expanded understanding of school effectiveness variables. Silver (1994), in analyzing the effective schools research movement, concluded that, by the late 1980s, the movement had become relatively marginalized in Britain and North America. The exception was a Mortimore et al. (1988) study entitled School Matters, a study of junior schools in London. The study focused on pupil intakes, school environment, and educational outcomes. The conclusion was that an effective school raises the performance of all pupils. This research, like the American studies, was directed at making schools more successful with all children. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, the research meshed with “both an emerging literature of ‘school improvement’ and international activity of various kinds” (Silver, 1994, p. 95). In many cases, governments under economic pressure became more interventionist, planning and implementing measures of restructuring or reform. In Britain, Canada, and the United States, the movement established links between the “pure” effective schools research and research and analysis coming from educational change and school improvement strategies (Fullan, 1982, 1991, 1992, 2003). The “ecology of schooling” and the concept of “school culture” as a way of understanding school effects also received attention (Fullan & Hargreaves, 1996). Others (e.g., Scheerens & Creemers, 1989; Teddlie & Reynolds, 2000) continued to develop more sophisticated models. Gradually, there has been a melding of research areas to include school improvement; this shift embraced curriculum development, strengthening school organization, and changes in teaching and learning process and teaching styles. In Canada, as elsewhere, the shift to school reviews became common (Sackney, 1992). An international journal, School Effectiveness and School Improvement, was launched in 1990. I recall numerous debates at various International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI) conferences about the difference between school effectiveness and school improvement research; gradually there was a recognition that the two lines of inquiry overlapped.



What are the Characteristics of Effective Schools? The school effectiveness research has been concerned with identifying factors related to greater effectiveness in terms of student progress and achievement. Sammons, Hillman, and Mortimore (1995), in summarizing British and North American research literature, provided a list of 11 key factors. They argued that the factors were neither exhaustive nor independent of each other. They contended, however, that the list was a useful synopsis of the most common factors associated with effective schools. The 11 factors were: professional leadership, shared vision and goals, a learning environment, concentration on teaching and learning, high expectations, positive reinforcement, monitoring progress, pupil rights and responsibilities, purposeful teaching, a learning organization, and home-school partnership. School effectiveness researchers’ aim was to ascertain whether differences in processes, organizational arrangement, and resources impact pupil outcomes; and, if so, in what ways. Although the initial forays were concerned with issues of equity, the more recent research was concerned with whether the school adds value (e.g., Stoll & Fink, 1996). Stoll and Fink (1996) viewed an effective school as being one that promotes progress for all of its pupils beyond what one would expect given its intake; one that ensures every pupil achieves at his/her highest standard possible; one that enhances all aspects of pupil achievement and development; and one that continues to improve from year to year (p. 28).

School Improvement Evolution School improvement has been around since the 1960s. Its ultimate aim is to “enhance pupil progress, achievement, and development” (Stoll & Fink, 1996, p. 43). More recently, improvement has also emphasized pupil outcomes and change management capacity. In this regard, the research of a number of Canadians such as Fullan (1982, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1999, 2001), Hargreaves (1994, 2003), and Hargreaves, Earl, Moore, and Manning (2001) shows the delicate relationship between change and school improvement and the importance of school culture. Another Canadian, Leithwood (1992) and his colleagues (Leithwood, Jantzi, & Steinbach, 1999), did extensive research on leadership and, in particular, on transformational leadership as the basis of school improvement. Earl (2003) has done extensive work on assessment for learning. It is beyond the capacity of this chapter to review their work, but it is important to note their great influence on the school improvement literature. An improving school increases its effectiveness over time. As such, it entails that the school must therefore change its aims, expectations, organization, way of learning, methods of teaching, and organizational culture (Hopkins, 2001, p. 12) in order to improve. Hopkins defined school improvement as “an approach to educational change that aims to enhance student outcomes as well as strengthening the school’s capacity for managing change. It is concerned with raising student achievement through focusing on the teaching-learning process and conditions that support it” (p. 13). Barth (1990), on the other hand, argued for basing school reform on improving schools from

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within. He contended that a “community of learners” approach to school improvement will lead to greater student learning. This approach has led to the more recent research and practice of building capacity for viewing schools as learning communities, which will be described in a later section. School improvement has been influenced by the recent history of research in the areas of school effectiveness and educational change (Harris, 2002; Hopkins, 2001; Reynolds, Hopkins, & Stoll, 1993; Silver, 1994; Stoll & Fink, 1996). Lack of teacher commitment to “top-down” government reforms led to shifting the paradigm to a “bottom-up” approach, such as school-based reviews. Stoll and Fink concluded that the process approach did not always lead to actual improvement. As a result, by the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was a shift “towards a focus on the evaluation of processes and outcomes” (Stoll & Fink, 1996, p. 43) and the merging of the two fields. “By combining the outcomes of the two fields … we have joined an outcomes orientation with a process to achieve change in our schools” (p. 44). Similarly, Hopkins (2001) stated, “The research tradition of school effectiveness is complementary to that of school improvement and of late the two traditions have learned much from each other. As a result, the best of current practice reflects transcendence or merging of the two paradigms” (pp. 13–14). The new paradigm represents: ● ● ●

● ● ●

An enhanced focus upon the importance of pupil outcomes. Teachers being increasingly targeted for attention. Creation of an infrastructure to enable the knowledge base, with both best practice and research findings to be utilized. Stressing the importance of capacity building. The importance of fidelity to program implementation. An appreciation of cultural change to school improvement. (Hopkins, 2001, p. 70)

The school improvement literature increasingly recognizes that schools at different stages of development require different strategies, not only to enhance their capacity for development, but also to provide better education for their students. The next section provides a brief background to the learning community research that is driving many current provincial policy initiatives.

Building Capacity for Learning Communities During the past decade, the impact of globalization, new technologies, and the demands for a well-educated society have put pressures on schools to improve student learning. Previous restructuring attempts were not able to transform the culture of schools to align with or attune to both internal and external demands. These demands required that learning be sustainable and continuous (Stoll, Fink, & Earl, 2003). Since the mid-1990s, considerable attention has focused on transforming schools into learning communities (Barth, 1990; DuFour & Eaker, 1998; Huffman & Hipp, 2003;



Louis, Kruse, & Associates, 1995; Mitchell & Sackney, 2000; Stoll et al., 2003). To build a learning community is to build capacity for learning. Mitchell and Sackney (2000) defined a learning community as a “group of people who take an active, reflective, collaborative, learning-oriented and growth-promoting approach toward the mysteries, problems and perplexities of teaching and learning” (p. 5). The learning community model sees knowledge gaps as opportunities and challenges to be explored and investigated. Prior knowledge serves as the foundation upon which future learning can be grounded and around which learning goals are organized. Learning is viewed as being intellectual, social, and emotional. The basic elements of learning communities are as follows: ● ●

● ●

Shared mission, vision, values, and goals. Collaborative teams: Staff who engage in collaborative team learning are able to learn from one another. Action orientation and experimentation: Staff know that learning occurs in the context of taking action. Action research is common in such schools. Shared and supportive leadership: A tendency toward a “community of leaders.” Data-sensitive decision making: Improvement and learning are premised upon data collection, analysis, and planning for improvement. Shared responsibility for learning outcomes: Improving student learning is a joint responsibility based upon trusting relationships and involves students, parents, and the community. Learning arises through the development of “communities of practice” and diversity of learning networks. Sustainable leadership is necessary (DuFour & Eaker, 1998; Hargreaves & Fink, 2005; Huffman & Hipp, 2003; 2005; Mitchell & Sackney, 2000; Mitchell & Sackney, 2006).

Sackney, Mitchell, and Walker (2005), in an analysis of 2,832 staff surveys from 120 schools, identified six factors as describing effective learning communities: shared understanding, reflective practice, high quality of work life, adequacy of organizational resources, learning currency, and inclusive culture. In a subsequent analysis of 15 high-capacity learning communities, four additional factors were found: use of interactive instruction, use of authentic pedagogy, high learner engagement, and development of a “community of leaders.” In summary, learning communities are places where learning is a continuous process that includes all stakeholder groups. Capacity building in such schools results in synergy for new skills and knowledge, enhanced and focused resources, and focused commitment.

Educational Policy and Provincial and District Involvement The first portion of this section briefly provides an overview of the policy context in Canada. This is followed by an analysis of effective school research policy implementation by school jurisdictions and provincial governments.

History of the School Improvement in Canada


Educational Governance Canada is a federation of ten provinces and two territories. Under the Constitution, legislative, executive, and judicial powers are shared or distributed between the federal government and the provinces. Section 93 of The Constitution Act grants to the provinces exclusive control over education; in Canada there is no ministry or office of education at the federal level. Through the Council of Ministers of Education (CMEC), however, the federal government does provide indirect support to postsecondary education and, on occasion, to K-12 education. It is also responsible for the education of First Nations children on reserves and the children of armed forces (Council of Ministers of Education [CMEC], 1996). Provincial and territorial control over education brings with it the power to delegate authority to local school boards. The power and duties of provinces and territories are, in general, consistent throughout Canada. Their responsibility for education is usually exercised through departments or region-specific ministries of education. Although the federal government does not have responsibility for education, the CMEC does provide national educational linkages. The CMEC provides a forum for education ministers to come together to discuss matters of common concern, explore ways to cooperate, share information, and represent Canadian education internationally.

Effective Schools Policy Initiatives The effective schools research had serious policy implications for school jurisdictions and provincial governments. In the early to mid-1980s, the effective schools correlates became the recipe for school improvement. As an example, in the Province of Saskatchewan, as elsewhere in Canada, the Ministry set up the Saskatchewan School Improvement Program (SSIP), that was devoted to implementing the effective schools research. Ministry personnel provided materials and professional development to schools and/or school jurisdictions. The recipe approach drew criticism from researchers such as Holmes, Leithwood, and Musella (1989), who argued that “it seems unlikely that the simple application of a recipe will make schools more effective” (p. viii). By the late 1980s, the “recipe” approach to school effectiveness had run its course. The central, practical problem facing the movement in the 1980s was one of implementation. The translation of school effectiveness correlates into school improvement meant the bringing together of two very different bodies of research. The school effectiveness research had as its primary aim student academic achievement. The improvement literature, on the other hand, was more concerned with implementation and institutionalization of change (Fullan, 1982). The task of bringing together ideas from school effectiveness, implementation of change, and school improvement was a difficult task. In many instances, the emphasis on strong leadership was badly sustained. Other shortcomings included difficulties in implementing the effectiveness factors, knowing which changes were important, and deciding whether all factors had to be implemented simultaneously. The late 1980s and early 1990s were a period of economic recession in Canada, as elsewhere. Educational outcomes were being challenged. Reform initiatives tended to



focus on curriculum centralization, accountability, increased decentralized decision making, and an attempt at market-driven schools. The latter led to the institution of a few charter schools in the Province of Alberta. Although Canada has not placed the same emphasis on testing and accountability as the United States, it does engage in provincial and national testing at various times. The CMEC provides a periodic assessment of achievement of randomly selected 13- and 16-year-old students’ skills in mathematics, science, reading, and writing. Further, Canada has participated in international testing. Results of the 1999 Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), which measured the performance of 13- and 14-year-old students in 38 countries, showed Canada placing third. In 2000, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) conducted the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) of 15-year-old students’ skills in reading, science, and mathematics. This time, Canada placed fifth out of 32 countries. Provincial differences were evident, with no country or province outperforming Alberta students. This study also showed that achievement scores were more equivalent among Canadian students with different socioeconomic backgrounds than they were in most other countries (British Columbia Ministry of Education, 2003). Needless to say, every province has started to place a greater emphasis on accountability measures. There were limits to many of the initial reforms, many of which focused on the wrong variables. Any strategy to improve student learning needs to give attention to involving students and parents and to expanding the teaching and learning repertoires of teachers and students (Elmore, 1995; Hopkins, 2001). Elmore (1995) argued that principles of practice usually fall short for two reasons: “(1) they require content knowledge and pedagogical skill few teachers presently have, and (2) they challenge certain basic patterns in the organization of schooling” (p. 366). He claimed that neither problem can be solved independently of the other. Another limitation of early reforms was that many did not adopt a systemic perspective. Hopkins (2001) contended that policies need to be both “systemwide” and “system deep.” Policy must be coherent at all levels of the system. In many Canadian provinces in the 1990s, this was not the case. As a result, this created a disconnect between the goals of the reformers and the thoughts of the practitioners expected to implement the reform. I vividly recall doing numerous workshops with teachers in many provinces of Canada, many of whom expressed the sentiment, “This too shall pass.” The gap between policy and practice “is a recurring problem that reveals a deep incapacity of schools to engage in cumulative learning over time … that produces tangible results for students” (Elmore, 1995, p. 375). Canada’s experience was no exception. Another reason that policy generally does not take hold is because it does not impact instruction. Instruction includes several related systems – teachers’ knowledge, their professional values and commitments, and the social resources of practice (Hopkins, 2001). Hopkins contended that no matter how good government policy may be, unless it is implemented, there will be little impact on outcomes. In order to drive effective reform implementation, change must be focused at the classroom and school levels “within a principled strategic and systemic policy context” (p. 7).

History of the School Improvement in Canada


More recent provincial policy initiatives appear to recognize the new paradigm of improvement. The policy initiatives reflect the need to have an impact on teaching and learning at the school and classroom levels. In the following section, I briefly describe how some of the provinces are applying the new learning.

The Practice of School Improvement In gathering information for this chapter, I found that a majority of provinces have built their school improvement strategies around the concepts associated with learning community theory. It was evident that the ministries of education are cognizant of the school effectiveness, school improvement, and change research literature; in most cases, their improvement policies attempt to reflect best practice. I will describe the Province of Alberta’s Initiative for School Improvement (AISI), since it is the most elaborate, and briefly outline developments in other provinces.

Alberta Initiative for School Improvement (AISI) In December 1999, the Alberta government, together with its partners, released the framework and administrative requirements for AISI. “The goal of AISI was to improve student learning and performance” by fostering “initiatives that reflected the unique needs and circumstances” within school districts (Alberta Learning, 1999, p. v). The first cycle ran from 2000 to 2003 and was an extension of the accountability framework that had been in place since the early 1990s. School improvement focused on improving student learning by using enhanced strategies at the school, district, and government levels. The essential school improvement elements included leadership, instructional practice, school climate, assessment and accountability, building capacity through professional development, student and parent engagement, and integration of effective practices. The following attributes/characteristics were fundamental to AISI: (1) Partnership: AISI is a partnership among teachers, superintendents, trustees, business officials, universities, parents, and government. (2) Catalyst: AISI is a catalyst for change in teaching and learning. (3) Student-focused: The focus of the program is on student learning and the accommodation of the diverse learning needs of individual students and special populations. (4) Flexibility: School authorities, in consultation with various stakeholders, choose strategies that enhance learning at the local context. (5) Collaboration: Collaboration is a key element for improving schools. (6) Culture of continuous improvement: Professional Learning Communities actively engage both teachers and students in learning. (7) Evidence-based practice: Collection, analysis, and interpretation of data are foundational to AISI.



(8) Research-based interventions: AISI provides opportunities for testing research in the Alberta context. (9) Inquiry and reflection: Inquiry and reflection are important components, as they lead to improved understanding and thoughtful changes to instructional practices. (10) Building capacity and integrating effective practices – effective professional development is planned, systemic, and sustained (Alberta Learning, AISI, 1999, pp. 1–2). Since the inception of the AISI in 2000, 828 Cycle 1 projects were approved. All projects required baseline data and improvement targets for each measure. All projects that were approved had to identify their targets and how these targets were to be met. For example, one school indicated that its reading scores would improve by 5% over the period of the project. Approximately two-thirds of all projects met targets on the majority of measures. Almost half of the projects met targets on all qualitative measures (e.g., satisfaction, attitudes, behavior) and about 30% met their targets on all quantitative measures on student learning. From an examination of the projects, it was obvious that most schools set realistic targets but some school targets were unrealistic. Alberta Learning (AISI, 2004a, 2004b) concluded that teacher capacity had been enhanced by AISI. The Report stated, “Teachers now view themselves as learners and engage in inquiry related to the impact of their practices on student learning. They talk about gathering evidence of effective practices and use it to determine what works and what doesn’t work for students” (p. 48). AISI has been renewed for an additional 3 years at a cost of $80 million (Canadian dollars).

Developments in Other Provinces There is considerable similarity in the improvement efforts among the provinces in Canada. All provinces require the community to work together with the school. They require educational systems to collect, analyze, and interpret data for the purpose of improvement. In most provinces, considerable emphasis is placed on improving the reading and mathematics scores of students. School boards are developing a variety of programs to target these goals. In 1996, Ontario established the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) as an “arm’s-length” agency of the provincial government to assist in improving the quality and accountability of Ontario’s public education. The role of the EQAO is to design and implement a comprehensive program of student assessment, measure the quality of education in the province, report the results to various stakeholder groups, lead the province in national and international assessments, promote research on best practices in assessment and accountability, and conduct quality reviews in consultation with school boards (Education Quality and Accountability office [EQAO], 2005). The EQAO has provided a 5-step model to improvement planning: Step 1: Ownership: seeking engagement of education partners and developing a culture of continuous improvement. Step 2: Understanding and focusing on gathering, evaluating, and interpreting data.

History of the School Improvement in Canada


Step 3: Accountability: sharing results with the community. Step 4: Planning for improvement: creating and updating the improvement plan. Step 5: Ongoing impact: monitoring implementation of plan. In 1999, Saskatchewan established the Task Force on the Role of the School; this task force resulted in the creation of the SchoolPLUS framework. It calls for a new vision of schools as centers of learning, support, and community for the children, youth, and families they serve. This conceptualization stressed learning excellence for all students, active involvement with families, and support from human service providers and community members (Mitchell & Sackney, in press; Saskatchewan Education, 2002). The reform called for all schools to adopt the philosophy and practices of the learning community. In order to implement the SchoolPLUS philosophy, an Effective Practices Framework was developed to provide schools, school divisions, and communities with key practices and resources to support local initiatives. The framework identified six effective practices: caring and respectful school environment, responsive curriculum and instructions, assessment for learning, comprehensive prevention and early intervention, authentic partnerships, and adaptive leadership (Saskatchewan Education, 2002). At each school, a Needs Assessment Committee is to be formed that is composed of various stakeholder groups responsible for assessing the extent to which needs exist at each dimension on the Effective Practices Framework. After the needs have been identified, the team develops action plans to rectify the problems. The Nova Scotia improvement program asks the entire community to work together. It addresses issues such as literacy and retention rates, physical activity, and graduation success rates. In consultation with school staff and Home and School Associations, School Advisory Councils (SACs) play a central role. Once an improvement plan has been developed, an external committee made up of administrators, teachers, and a parent from another school evaluates the plan. Plans are put in place during Years 2 and 3 and the external committee monitors progress and recommends further action (Nova Scotia Department of Education, 2003). The province of Newfoundland and Labrador (2004) has recently released A Framework for School Development. The Framework’s goals are increasing student achievement and continuously improving the quality of educational experiences offered to students. The plan is focused on achievement, a planned and structured approach to school reflection and action, and the importance of data collection and interpretation. The challenge is to “build systematic school-level planning processes, to develop a school’s capacity to manage change, and to create a community of learners” (p. 3). School development incorporates the building of learning communities with the concept of planned change (p. 4). The provincial accountability framework sets an expectation that school boards will be accountable to the public through a strategic process that involves planning, monitoring, reporting, and feedback. The framework is a cyclical process that involves collective reflection, problem-solving, actions, and continual renewal and improvement (p. 9). The Department of Education of the Province of Prince Edward Island (PEI) has also recently released the Provincial School Improvement Planning Model (2004). Its goal is



to improve student learning and increase student success while satisfying demands for public accountability. The improvement planning model includes: a standard three-year cycle for each school, a commitment to a set of provincial indicators, a school selfassessment and peer assessment process, and a formal reporting process. As part of the planning model, the Department of Education will prepare a summary school improvement planning report for each school, based on peer and self-assessment. The Department of Education will have access to all data and each school and the school board will have to prepare an annual report on the progress of its planning efforts. The British Columbia (BC) Ministry of Education released its report on Enhancing Learning in 2003. School Planning Councils are responsible for developing, monitoring, and reviewing school plans for student achievement in consultation with the school community (British Columbia [BC] Ministry of Education, 2004). The school planning council must consult with the parents’ advisory council during the preparation of the school plan. As in other provinces, the government reports to the public on the extent to which student achievement has improved. The model also makes extensive reference to the learning community literature. In summary, the school improvement models used by Canadian provinces are based on the school effectiveness, school improvement, change, and learning community literature. Accountability and the use of data constitute major components of the various frameworks. The final section of this chapter analyzes the school improvement trends in Canada and outlines some possible future directions in this area.

Trends and Future Directions Resulting from my analysis of the various provincial models and the literature on school effectiveness and school improvement, a number of Canadian trends are evident. First, research and practice are focused on student learning and the need to accommodate the diverse learning needs of individual students and those with special needs. Second, there is an emphasis on a culture of continuous improvement. More recently, the emphasis has shifted to developing capacity for learning communities. Such a shift assumes that all stakeholders are learners – students, teachers, administrators, parents, and community members. Third, inquiry and reflection are key activities that can be accommodated through planning, action research, and collaboration. Evidence-based practice has also been prioritized. Through the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, it is assumed learning will improve. Fourth, there is a strong emphasis on building capacity throughout the system. This can be achieved through effective, practice-based professional development that is planned, systemic, and sustained (Fullan, 2005). Fifth, knowledge management through networking and other avenues of knowledge acquisition are emphasized. Many school jurisdictions are developing different varieties of learning networks with other schools and systems. Sixth, school self- and peer assessment are being utilized. The implications of these trends are that school improvement is best determined at the school level rather than at the provincial level. Hargreaves and Fink (2005), in Sustainable Leadership, advocated this approach.

History of the School Improvement in Canada


On the improvement front, Canadians are recognizing that systemic reform and a focus on sustainability are needed. Fullan is at the forefront of this shift. In his recent book, Leadership and Sustainability: System Thinkers in Action (2005), he called for a commitment to deep learning, intelligent accountability, and vertical relationships; lateral capacity-building through networks; commitment to changing contexts at all levels; public service with a moral conviction; cyclical energizing; and the promotion of leaders as systems thinkers. Fullan (2005) defined sustainability as “the capacity to engage in the complexities of continuous improvement consistent with deep values of human purpose” (p. ix). My view is somewhat similar. The problem I see with much of the school effectiveness and school improvement literature is the need for a paradigm shift in how schools work. We are living in a knowledge society where learning is paramount. This means we have to get better at learning. Knowledge management is imperative in a knowledge society. It is primarily a cultural and social process that leverages knowledge, relationships, conversations, stories, processes, and tools to enable knowledge fusion. Knowledge fusion is a cyclical process that includes knowledge acquisition phases (creation or idea generation), a knowledge transformative phase (tacit/explicit), and a knowledge-sharing phase (oral, written, or electronic) and a creative destructive phase (Newton & Sackney, 2005). Unfortunately, I have found that in most schools, knowledge management is lacking. Many staff have great difficulty with the knowledge creation and destruction phase. We need to foster a climate for improved research-based practices in classrooms and schoolwide. We also need to ensure that there is coherence throughout systems (Fullan, 2005). In essence, there is need for a systemic approach to reform. By this I mean that school improvement efforts need to focus on improving learning throughout the system – classroom, school, district, and government. In Canada, a greater emphasis on better integration and coherence of strategies at all levels of the system is increasingly likely. One of the trends I see developing at various levels of the educational system is the need for better data for improving instruction. A number of Canadian school districts are jointly working on developing data information systems that will allow teachers to have access to data on every student, schools to have a data profile that can be compared to other schools, and governments to have data that provides comparisons both provincially and beyond. We also have to improve leadership in schools. From our data on the learning community study (Sackney et al., 2005; Sackney, Mitchell, Walker, & Duncan, 2005), we found that leadership is crucial in providing a sense of vision and purpose, moral integrity, coherence, and a culture necessary for improved teaching and learning to occur. We need what Hargreaves and Fink (2005) called “sustainable leadership.” Increasingly, parents and the community are being urged to get more involved in the schooling process. This is a positive move that needs to be encouraged and fostered. We especially need to help parents from impoverished and minority environments get more involved in their children’s schooling. As the African proverb states, “It takes a whole village to educate a child.” Parental engagement in their children’s lives and schooling is essential for successful learning. Another trend we see developing in Canada is a move to pre-school, full-day kindergarten, and early intervention programs. I see this trend continuing in the future. Such



strategies cohere with what we know about children’s growth and development. The earlier we can deal with children who come from socially disadvantaged backgrounds, the greater are their life’s chances for future success. Researchers and practitioners have taken a more holistic, ecological view of the school and how to improve it as a social organism (Capra, 1996; Mitchell & Sackney, 2000; Sergiovanni, 1994, 1996, 2005). By a holistic, ecological perspective, I mean the totality of patterns, connections, relationships, interactions, and mutual influences that emerge among people and the forces that impinge on them. A better understanding exists of the ecology of school improvement and the structure and patterns of relationships among the various components of schooling. We recognize that a holistic, ecological approach as advocated by learning community researchers leads to improved teaching and learning practices in schools. Such a paradigm shift requires that the various education agencies work together in more collaborative and integrated ways. Unless school improvement strategies and policies are driven down to the learning level, not much will change in student learning. As Hopkins (2001) stated, “unless school improvement strategies impact directly on learning and achievement then we are surely wasting our time” (p. xii). Future reforms need to focus their attention at the classroom level if we are to have any chance at reforming education. Only the future will tell whether this shift will come to fruition.

References Alberta Learning. (1999). Framework for the Alberta initiative for school improvement. Edmonton, AB: Alberta Learning. Alberta Learning. (2004a). Alberta initiative for school improvement: Improving student learning. Edmonton, AB: Alberta Learning. Alberta Learning. (2004b). Alberta initiative for school improvement: AISI administrative handbook for cycle 2. Edmonton, AB: Alberta Learning. Armor, D., Conry-Osequera, P., Cox, M., King, N., McDonnell, L., Pascal, A., et al. (1976). Analysis of the school preferred reading program in selected Los Angeles minority schools. Santa Monica, CA: Rand. Austin, G. R. (1979). Exemplary schools and the search for effectiveness. Educational Leadership, 37(1), 10–14. Barth, R. S. (1990). Improving schools from within. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. British Columbia Ministry of Education. (2003). Enhancing learning: Report of the Student Achievement Task Force. Victoria, BC: British Columbia Ministry of Education. British Columbia Ministry of Education. (2004). School planning councils: Guidelines. Victoria, BC: British Columbia Ministry of Education. Brookover, W., Beady, D., Flood, P., Schweitzer, J., & Wisenhaber, J. (1979). School social systems and student achievement: Schools can make a difference. New York: Praeger. Brookover, W., & Lezotte, L. (1979). Changes in school characteristics coincident with changes in student achievement. East Lansing: The Institute for Research on Teaching, Michigan State University. Capra, F. (1996). The web of life. New York: Anchor Books. Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC). (1996). Enhancing the role of teachers in a changing world. Available: (Accessed: 19 April 2006). DuFour, R., & Eaker, R. (1998). Professional learning communities at work. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). Earl, L. M. (2003). Assessment as learning: Using classroom assessment to maximize student learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

History of the School Improvement in Canada


Edmonds, R. (1979). Effective schools for the urban poor. Educational Leadership, 37(1), 15–24. Education Quality and Accountability Office. (2005). EQAO guide to school and board improvement planning. Toronto: Education Quality and Accountability Office. Elmore, R. F. (1995). Teaching, learning, and school organization: Principles of practice and the regularities of schooling. Educational Administration Quarterly, 31, 355–374. Fullan, M. G. (1982). The meaning of educational change. New York: Teachers College Press. Fullan, M. G. (1991). The new meaning of educational change. London: Cassell. Fullan, M. G. (1992). Successful school improvement. Buckingham, England: Open University Press. Fullan, M. G. (1993). Change forces: Probing the depths of educational reform. London: Falmer Press. Fullan, M. G. (1999). Change forces: He sequel. London: Falmer Press. Fullan, M. G. (2001). Leading in a culture of change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Fullan, M. G. (2003). The moral imperative of school leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Fullan, M. G. (2005). Leadership & sustainability. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Fullan, M. G., & Hargreaves, A. (1996). What’s worth fighting for in your school? New York: Teachers College Press. Hallinger, P., & Murphy, J. (1985, April). Instructional effectiveness and school socio-economic status: Is what’s good for the goose, good for the gander. Paper presented at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL. Hargreaves, A. (1994). Changing teachers, changing times. Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) Press. Hargreaves, A. (2003). Teaching in the knowledge society. New York: Teachers College Press. Hargreaves, A., Earl, L., Moore, S., & Manning, S. (2001). Learning to change: Teaching beyond subjects and standards. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Hargreaves, A., & Fink, D. (2005). Sustainable leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Harris, A. (2002). School improvement: What’s in it for schools? London: RoutledgeFalmer. Holmes, M., Leithwood, K., & Musella, D. (Eds.). (1989). Educational policy for effective schools. Toronto: OISE Press. Hopkins, D. (2001). School improvement for real. London: RoutledgeFalmer. Huffman, J. B., & Hipp, K. K. (2003). Reculturing schools as professional learning communities. Lanham, ML: Scarecrow. Leithwood, K. (1992). The move toward transformational leadership. Educational Leadership, 49(5), 8–12. Leithwood, K., Jantzi, D., & Steinbach, R. (1999). Changing leadership for changing times. Buckingham: Open University Press. Louis, K. S., Kruse, S. D., & Associates. (1995). Professionalism and community: Perspectives on reforming urban schools. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Mitchell, C., & Sackney, L. (2000). Profound improvement: Building capacity for a learning community. Lisse, The Netherlands: Swets & Zeitlinger. Mitchell, C., & Sackney, L. (2006). Building schools, building people: The school principal’s role in leading a learning community. Journal of School Leadership, 16(5), 627–640. Mitchell, C., & Sackney, L. (in press). Extending the learning community: A broader perspective. In L. Stoll, & K. S. Louis (Eds.), Professional learning communities: Divergence, detail and difficulties. Buckingham, England: Open University Press. Mortimore, P., Sammons, P., Stoll, L., Lewis, D., & Ecob, R. (1988). School matters. Berkeley: University of California Press. Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Education. (2004). A framework for school development. Saint Johns, NL: Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Education. Newton, P., & Sackney, L. (2005). Group knowledge and group knowledge processes in school board decision making. Canadian Journal of Education, 28(3), 434–457. Nova Scotia Department of Education. (2003). Learning for life: Planning for success. Halifax, NS: Nova Scotia Department of Education. Prince Edward Island Department of Education. (2004). Provincial school improvement planning model. Charlottetown, PEI: Prince Edward Island Department of Education. Purkey, S., & Smith, M. (1983). Effective schools: A review. Elementary School Journal, 83, 427–452.



Reynolds, D., Hopkins, D., & Stoll, L. (1993). Linking school effectiveness knowledge and school improvement practice: Towards a synergy. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 4(1), 37–58. Rosenholtz, S. (1989). Teachers’ workplace: The social organization of schools. New York: Longman. Rutter, M., Maugham, B., Mortimore, P., & Ouston, J. (1979). Fifteen thousand hours: Secondary schools and their effects on children. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Sackney, L. (1991). Effective schools: An international perspective. In W. Walker, R. Farquhar, & M. Hughes (Eds.), Advancing education: School leadership in action (pp. 51–63). London: Falmer Press. Sackney, L. (1992). School renewal and the school audit. In J. Bashi, & Z. Sass (Eds.), School effectiveness & improvement (pp. 236–250). Jerusalem: The Magnes Press. Sackney, L., Mitchell, C., & Walker, K. (2005, April). Building capacity for learning communities: A case study of fifteen successful schools. Paper presented at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association, Montreal, Quebec. Sackney, L., Mitchell, C., Walker, K., & Duncan, R. (2005, January). Dimensions of school learning communities. Paper presented at the annual conference of the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, Barcelona, Spain. Sammons, P., Hillman, J., & Mortimore, P. (1995). Key characteristics of effective schools: A review of school effectiveness research. London: OFSTED. Saskatchewan Education (2002). Working together toward SchoolPLUS: Parent and community partnerships in education. Regina, SK: Saskatchewan Education. Scheerens, J., & Creemers, B. (1989). Towards a more comprehensive conceptualization of school effectiveness. In B. Creemers, T. Peters, & D. Reynolds (Eds.), School effectiveness and school improvement (pp. 265–279). Lisse, The Netherlands: Swets & Zeitlinger. Sergiovanni, T. (1994). Building community in schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Sergiovanni, T. (1996). Leadership for the schoolhouse. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Sergiovanni, T. (2005). Strengthening the heartbeat: Leading and learning together in schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Silver, H. (1994). Good schools, effective schools: Judgments and their histories. London: Cassell. Stoll, L., & Fink, D. (1996). Changing our schools. Buckingham: Open University Press. Stoll, L., Fink, D., & Earl, L. (2003). It’s about learning (and it’s about time). London: RoutledgeFalmer. Teddlie, C., & Reynolds, D. (Eds.). (2000). The international handbook of school effectiveness research. London: Falmer Press. Teddlie, C., & Stringfield, S. (1993). Schools do make a difference: Lessons learned from a ten-year study of school effects. New York: Teachers College Press. Weber, G. (1971). Inner-city children can be taught to read: Four successful schools. Washington, DC: Council for Basic Education. Wimpleberg, R., Teddlie, C., & Stringfield, S. (1989). Sensitivity to context: The past and future of effective school research. Educational Administration Quarterly, 25(1), 82–107.


Beatrice Avalos

Introduction Schools are the scenario of the education play complete with scripts, actors, directors and choreographers; all charged with the task of inducing changes in an audience of children and young people who are also actors in the play. At the end of the day, educational policies, reform proposals, particular curricular configurations, management structures and diverse types of materials are all enacted and put to test in classrooms, school corridors, teachers’ rooms, and playgrounds. What and how all this is done will mark to an extent the success or failure of educational policies and reforms. Neither are schools independent executors of state policies nor are state policies the guarantee of success of educational purposes and decrees. In this chapter, I look at the interplay of policies and school processes in the context of Latin American reforms and school improvement efforts over some 25 years. To do so, I begin with contextual information about this big geographical region of very diverse countries and situations and about the key educational issues that have marked the period under study. I then consider the purposes and main forms taken by national educational reforms over the period and how these have reached schools. In examining reforms, I consider school improvement projects that have had importance beyond national boundaries with lessons from which other school improvement initiatives have profited. Finally, in a concluding section, I refer to what can be said about the effectiveness of reforms and school improvement in producing better learning conditions for children and young people in Latin America. I also note the unfinished tasks of educational reform, the remaining uncertainties, unresolved issues and struggles to move ahead, and suggest pointers that might guide policies and school improvement in their future efforts. In all this, consideration will be given to the different chapters on Latin America in this handbook and how the issues those authors address refer to what is said in this chapter.

183 T. Townsend (Ed.), International Handbook of School Effectiveness and Improvement, 183–204. © 2007 Springer.



The Latin American Educational Context Use of the word Latin America suggests the exclusion of a group of countries that are geographically in the same Region but with Anglophone origins,1 or where Dutch is spoken such as Suriname. Thus, in this chapter I will focus on countries in the Americas with Spanish as a main language, Portuguese as the case of Brazil and French as in Haiti. Although these countries are generally characterised as “less developed,” they are countries with very big differences among them. For example, Brazil has one of the biggest populations in the world (187 million people) with a very diverse racial composition (African, European, Indigenous, and Japanese origins). Country income differences range from US$ 5,920 GNP per capita in Mexico to US$ 440 in Haiti. Several countries harbour diverse ethnic groups whose identity is defined by the language they speak. Thus while 42% of people in Bolivia declared in the 1992 census to speak only Spanish, 46% declared themselves as speaking both Spanish and an indigenous language and another 12% only spoke an indigenous language (Albó, 1999). A similar situation is found in Guatemala, México, Peru and Paraguay among other countries. México, in fact, in absolute numbers has the largest population of people who speak indigenous languages (11 million). While some countries have a large urban population (Uruguay, Chile and Argentina around 90%), in others more than half of the people live in rural areas (El Salvador and Guatemala with close to 60% rural population), despite the strong urbanization trend all over the Region. Income and economic development differences among countries are reflected in the operation of the education systems, in the differences between what private and public schooling2 can provide, in the qualifications of teachers and the resources and school infrastructures available. The Latin American Region generally continues to show unsatisfactory educational indicators compared to developed economies. Using UNESCO’s Educational Development Index3 we note that among 122 countries around the world 19 in Latin America and the Caribbean are ranked as “medium educational development” (EDI), and only three appear among the high EDI group with Cuba on the top position (21st, in the group), followed closely by Argentina and at some distance by Chile. The recent United Nations’ report on progress towards the Millennium Goals (CEPAL, 2005) in its chapter on education notes insufficient progress towards the goal of completion of primary education for the population aged 15–19 years old by 2015. High enrolment rates in primary schools in Latin America and the Caribbean are marred by also high rates of repetition meaning that schools are lacking in internal efficiency. Repetition has high costs as shown in the case of Brazil (US$ 8,000 million). A key problem that is faced by all Latin American countries is the unsatisfactory level of learning results despite efforts, as we shall see, to improve the education systems. All countries now have school evaluation systems (see di Gropello in this volume) and a certain number have taken part in international assessments. These provide information on achievement in at least the four major school learning areas: language, mathematics, science and social studies. The Figure 1 shows the gap between Latin American countries participating in the PISA studies (2002) and the OECD countries in reading levels (CEPAL, 2005). Thirteen Latin American countries that participated in the UNESCO regional study on achievement (UNESCO-OREALC, 1998), with the exception of Cuba, performed at less

School Improvement in Latin America

2 9 20




26 21

1 6

1 5 17

1 3 13











Level 1






Below Level 1

0 1 5

Level 2

Level 3


29 53

22 12 6

Peru Level 4

OECD Level 5

Figure 1. Reading ability among population aged 15 in PISA test 2000 per Level of Performance (%) Source: UNESCO/OECD.

than satisfactory levels. Countries, such as Chile, that have taken part in the TIMSS studies also perform well below the international mean (Ministerio de Educación, 2004a). While the above descriptions refer to the average situation of Latin American countries, similarly to many other parts of the world, within-country learning results and educational attainment differ among the socio-economic groups, the rural–urban divide and the indigenous populations vis-`a-vis the dominant linguistic groups. A recent report on educational progress in Latin America (PREAL, 2005) notes that while the number of poor, rural and indigenous children that attend school is increasing, they learn less and leave school earlier than children from families with higher socio-economic levels. It is in this context of variations in development levels, and persisting problems in moving towards satisfactory education and learning results, that we need to consider how both the education systems and non-government initiatives in Latin America have generated a number of school reforms and improvement projects that are helping to bridge the educational divide within countries and with the rest of the more developed world. I shall consider these in the next two sections of this chapter.

Regional and Government-Initiated Educational Reforms and Improvement Programs Over 20 years, starting with the meeting of Ministers of Education in 1979 in Mexico convened by the UNESCO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, there has been a steady set of education policies and reforms directed towards improved coverage, better learning results, eradication of illiteracy, more efficiency in the management of the systems, better teachers and better schools. UNESCO’s analysis of what came to be known as the Major Project of Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNESCO, 2001) notes the greater concentration on improvement of access in the eighties, and from the nineties onward, an emphasis on the quality of education services.



Reform directions in the eighties were encapsulated in the goals set at the Mexico meeting in terms of combating poverty through eradication of illiteracy and achievement of universal access to education. This meant investing more in education (7 or 8% of GDP) and lengthening the compulsory primary education cycle from 5 or 6 years to 8 or 9 years of Basic School education. Policies and changes in the eighties therefore concentrated on expanding facilities for increased access of excluded populations to schooling: buildings, double-shifts and triple-shifts, incomplete schools, use of untrained teachers, all of which made it possible to bring Latin America in general to Gross Enrolment Ratios close around 90% in primary school (with the exception of Guatemala and Haiti). However, this expansion was inefficient as high repetition and dropout rates persisted. Also the economic crisis of the eighties in fact lowered spending in education per person from US$ 88 to 60 between 1980 and 1986 and delayed structural reforms to the extent that this period in Latin America is known as the “lost decade” (Rivero, 1999). Towards the end of the eighties and beginning of the nineties it seemed important to put an end to what was considered an “exhausted” style of education development: Short-term views in decision-making, isolation of education in respect to other sectors of society; a homogenized content for heterogeneous populations; education processes concentrating more on teaching than on learning; and a greater emphasis on curricular materials and designs than on the professional role of educators. (UNESCO, 2001, p. 29) The need for a real turnaround was expressed in a landmark publication (ECLACUNESCO, 1992, p. 149) that highlighted the purpose of providing all children and young people with “universal access to the codes of modern society.” This meant focussing on the conditions that make for learning relevant to the needs of development and participation in the global and knowledge society. Governments around the Region formulated policies aimed at improving the quality of education opportunities for the all the population, especially disadvantaged groups. Reforms of different magnitudes began to take place, financed with increased resources from the countries, with loans from multilateral agencies (World Bank and Interamerican Development Bank) and with bilateral aid from different organisations.

Characteristics of the Educational Reforms in the Nineties The breadth of changes occurring in education varied according to the different country situations. Some were large-scale reforms, which involved establishing or modifying legal frameworks in order to proceed with the changes envisioned (e.g., the Reform Law in Bolivia); others concentrated on specific areas such as curriculum, teacher education or management. Table 1 outlines the main change areas that were referred to improvement of schools and learning opportunities in different countries of the Region. The change areas shown in the table were all directly related to the quality of schooling. However, equity was equally central to these reforms. Governments that introduced reforms in these areas in the nineties did so with the purpose of broadening

School Improvement in Latin America Table 1.


Education and school improvement actions in the 1990s

Change areas


Education Reform Laws Curriculum reform and improvement

Argentina, Bolivia, Panama Argentina, Aruba, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guyana, Haiti, Nicaragua, Panama, Perú, Dominican Republic, Venezuela Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Cuba, Suriname, Uruguay Argentina, Bahamas, Bolivia, Chile, Cuba, El Salvador, Guyana, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Perú Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, México, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, Uruguay Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guyana, Jamaica, México, Panama, Dominican Republic, Suriname Aruba, Brazil (Minas Geraes), Cuba. El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Uruguay

Teacher Initial Education Teacher professional development School quality for excluded populations: indigenous, poor, rural Free textbooks and teaching resources

School management: greater autonomy for schools Incentives for school improvement and innovation projects Lengthening of school day ICT in schools Evaluation of learning systems

Chile, Dominican Republic, Uruguay Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Jamaica Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Perú,Venezuela

Source: UNESCO (2002), World Bank (n/d).

opportunities for disadvantaged populations to receive better education. In order to get some feeling for what these reforms entailed, I will refer briefly to examples that have been subject to international scrutiny and research.

Education Reform (Laws and Implementation) The Education Reform Law of 1994 in Bolivia announced a major transformation of the education system that has been in process of implementation since then. Its main areas of change include restructuring the system into an eight-year compulsory Basic school and four years of secondary education4; changes in the curriculum to meet demands of the new structure and of progress in knowledge; changes in classroom teaching moving from the “dictate-copy” approach to a constructivist one; modernisation and professional strengthening of the administration of the school system; reform of initial teacher training and school-focused professional development by preparing a new cadre of teacher educators (Asesores Pedagógicos); decentralisation and new institutional forms to allow for greater citizen participation (parents especially) and



policies addressing “intercultural bilingual education.” This last component is in fact a central and crosscutting element of the reform, especially as 37.6% of indigenous children do not complete 5 years of schooling compared to 11.1% of non-indigenous groups (CEPAL, 2005). Given the diversity of languages and cultures in Bolivia the Reform proposed to offer all children the opportunity to begin schooling with teachers who speak their language and to learn with materials in that language. Textbooks in the four main languages have been provided to schools (Guaraní, Quechua, Aymara and Spanish), and teachers who speak the native language have been also prepared to teach in this language. The implementation of this linguistic approach has been complex, not always accepted by parents of non-Spanish speaking children for fear of exclusion from the main society, and not sufficient has been done to bring the intercultural schools to the cities, and provide equal opportunities for indigenous and Spanish speakers to understand each others’ culture (Albó, 2002 in Contreras & Talavera, 2005). Nonetheless, over 2,000 schools and 115,000 indigenous children are being educated in bilingual contexts (Albó & Anaya, 2003). In their case study on the Education Reform, Contreras and Talavera (2005) cite research evidence that children in intercultural bilingual schools are better than control students in language and mathematics after second grade, and marginally better in science results.

Curriculum Reform Most of the countries in the Region to a larger or lesser extent have made curriculum changes. Among them a rather radical structural reform was carried out in Argentina in the 1990s linked to the passing of the Federal Law of Education in 1993. The administration of the system was changed from national to federal control (by the provinces). The education system was reorganised in three levels: initial education (ages 4–5), General Basic Education (9 years in cycles of 3 years each) and the three-year “polimodal”5 school (equivalent to upper secondary in other contexts). Education was made compulsory from age 5 (pre-school) to the end of General Basic Education (10 years altogether). To serve this structure the curriculum was “radically” reformed (Dussel, 2004, p. 390) from a discipline-based system to a framework of Common Basic Contents for all the country. It is expressed in curricular areas that allow for flexible interpretation and is geared to the achievement of a wide range of competencies (cognitive, procedural and attitudinal). Its organisation in “chapters, blocks and contents” is aimed at supporting greater interconnectedness amongst topics (Dussel, 2004). The curriculum for the “polimodal” school, besides the Common Basic Contents, includes specialisations that provide “concentration and contextualisation in different knowledge areas and socio-productive activities” (Decibe, 2001, p. 151). The key curriculum areas at this level are the natural sciences; economics and organisational management; humanities and social sciences; production of goods and services; and communication, arts and design. Parallel to this “polimodal” school, the technical-professional schools provide specific vocational training. Students who attend technical schools may require an extra year of study to get a technical qualification not only for industry, building or agrarian activities, but also for services such as health, environment, tourism, administration and similar areas (Decibe, 2001).

School Improvement in Latin America


Chile also underwent a complete curriculum renewal though not based on changes to the school structure, as these had already occurred in the late sixties (eight-year Basic Education and four-year Secondary Education). A common framework of Key Objectives and Minimal Contents was sanctioned for Basic Education in 1996 and for secondary education in 1998. Initially, for secondary education, some consideration was given to following the Argentine path, but eventually it was decided to use a more conventional approach similar to that used in other countries (e.g., England and Wales).6 Schools would be allowed to write and implement their own syllabuses, based on the framework (subject to approval).7 Like Argentina, the Chilean curriculum also adopted an “area” structure that included: Language, Sciences, Social Studies, Mathematics, Arts, Foreign Language, Physical Education and Religion. As in Argentina, it also introduced “technology” at Basic and Secondary Education levels and both frameworks include cross-curricular areas on values, citizenship and development of cognitive capacities (i.e., thinking skills). In both the Argentine and the Chilean situation the curriculum has only recently been implemented throughout the whole system so its effects are not yet noticeable as far as learning results are concerned. Within the context of an assessment of reforms in three countries (Argentina, Chile and Uruguay), Dussel (2004, p. 408) synthesises the innovation aspects of their curricular changes as follows: Generally speaking what is endorsed is the new concept of a basic curriculum to prepare for competency and citizenship, centred on managing different languages and codes (mother tongue, mathematics) technology and English, and with a somewhat still moderate degree of openness and choice. The [the curricula] tend to be organised in more comprehensive and interdisciplinary structures (areas, sectors, curricular spaces), and to include more up-to-date knowledge linked to advances in the areas to which they refer. In general, they declare their support for psychological criteria (meaningfulness for students) and social criteria (contribution to building competencies and preparing citizens). They tend to be more open and flexible curricula that embody in their design the notion of curriculum development for the different levels of the education system.8 The process of implementation of these new curricula continues, however, to be problematic in both countries, as teachers delay in taking in the new concepts (despite efforts to communicate the changes to them) and because, as in the case of Chile, the curriculum is more prescriptive in its content areas, than what is desirable. The chapter by Jacinto and Freytes Frey in this volume illustrates how teachers in school receive well-planned reforms in different ways and with different reactions to them.

Initial Teacher Education While several countries introduced improvements in their teacher education system, most of these consisted in raising it to tertiary level (in the case of secondary level Normal Schools) or to University status. At present, practically all Latin American countries, with the exception of Guatemala, prepare their teachers at Higher Normal Schools or Institutes and at universities.



Two countries stand out for carrying out substantial teacher education changes: Chile and Uruguay. Chile supported in 1997–2002 the development of improvement projects in 17 universities that covered about 80% of the student teacher population at the time. With an investment of around US$ 25 million the universities improved the curriculum, provided opportunity for post-graduate study to a large number of teacher educators, stimulated international academic exchanges, improved libraries and ICT resources, and most important, installed a system of field experiences from the first years of training that replaced the limited practicum held at the end of a four or five-year course of study.9 Besides this fund, the government also established a scholarship for high performing secondary leavers to pursue teacher education studies at a university of their choice, subject to acceptance. These policies and reforms allowed for a gradual improvement of the quality of teacher education and especially for a substantial increase in the number of more qualified applicants to teacher education (Avalos, 2002). The reform in Uruguay was unusual in that it consisted in the setting up of new teacher education institutions to prepare secondary teachers. Up until 1997 when the first two were established, there had only been one highly prestigious secondary teacher education institution in the capital city of Montevideo. The new centres (five altogether) were established gradually, under the management of the Ministry of Education, in different geographical locations of the country. Known as the Centros Regionales de Profesores (CERP),10 these institutions accept secondary school leavers wishing to prepare as teachers in five areas of study: language and literature, natural sciences, social sciences and English. A careful period of planning preceded the opening of the first centre. This included setting the curriculum for a three-year program (it is highly intense as far as teaching activities are concerned) with field experience occurring over the 3 years of study. The teacher educators for these Centres were carefully selected from a cadre of university graduates in the different subject areas and prepared in a special pedagogy course during the summer preceding their appointment. They are contracted on a full time basis of which half is used in teaching activities and the other half in student attention, administration, professional development for in-service teachers, coordination of field experiences in schools, etc. Students also attend on a full-time basis (40 hours per week) and receive scholarships from the government. The low dropout level suggests that there will be a regular flow of wellprepared teachers willing to work in the different regions of Uruguay.

Continuous Professional Development for Teachers Besides the traditional forms of in-service teacher education, practically all countries in the Region that engaged in educational reforms or improvement projects organised activities to help teachers learn about the reforms and develop the skills needed to implement them. These took many forms: regular up-dating courses, school-based teacher groups or preparation to teach the new curricula (Avalos, 2004a). The Chilean rural microcenters (see Avalos, 2004b), linked to a project to improve rural multigrade schools, are an example of such activities. The rural microcenters are one-day monthly gatherings of teachers from multigrade schools at one of the local schools in order to review their work, learn about reforms in the system, and assist each other in the

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improvement of teaching and school management. The meetings are supported by a school supervisor who acts as a facilitator. Evaluations of learning results of these rural schools consistently show good results of their pupils in national assessments.11 Despite the level of interest and commitment that continuous professional development activities have awakened in teachers, the fact of not being linked to national systems of teacher education has caused them to fade away with government changes. This is why, the recent trend of some governments to establish coordinated systems of teacher education (initial and continuing) that include diverse types of delivery forms, is a promising step. For example, Paraguay and Peru are involved in the generation of such coordinated systems in response to policy agreements by the Ministers of Education of the Region. What is at stake in most of these efforts, however, is the extent to which the capacity of teacher educators can be improved (Vaillant, 2005).

Disadvantaged and Excluded Populations Much has been written and reported on the diverse programs of “affirmative action” to provide better schooling opportunities for the poor (Reimers, 2000). Throughout Latin America there have been a number of such programs that have as common characteristics that they target disadvantaged groups, that they offer special preparation for teachers, that they have special materials, they may have a special curriculum and provide children with extra support in relation to their learning difficulties as well as food and other material resources. Among these are those directed to rural populations such as PAREIB in México, the Accelerated Classes in Brazil, and in Chile the 900 Schools Program as well as the Liceo para Todos scheme (referred to in this volume in the chapter by Jacinto and Freites Frey). A series of programs known as PARE, PAREB and PAREIB have been in place in México since the early nineties with the purpose of improving the quality of pre-school, basic and secondary education for the rural poor. These projects encourage and fund improvement projects developed by the states with social participation. Its activities include textbooks and materials, infrastructure, teacher professional development and supervision. The program in its PAREB version has been externally evaluated and shows good results in learning improvement although with problems in the quality of implementation, especially the teacher development component (see de Andraca, 2003 & Tatto, 2004). The Acceleration Programs address one of the greatest problems of Brazilian education which are the high rates of repetition and therefore of students being overage in schools and classrooms. Most of these programs that have been in place since the mid 1990s in various states of Brazil allow students to skip grades through separating the over-aged ones in special classes. Students who are in 1–4 grades are taught in 1 year so they may continue on to fifth grade in regular classrooms; students in 5–8 grades are provided 2 years of accelerated teaching to achieve the 8th grade level. Araújo Oliveira (2004) notes among their common characteristics that they use specially designed materials for the students, teachers are directly supervised during the school year, programs are closely monitored and externally evaluated and students are promoted by their own teachers. Many of these programs have been evaluated, but as



Araújo Oliveira (2004, p. 63) states, while the well-designed and implemented ones contribute quality, efficiency and equity gains, they do not of themselves, “redress the student flow problem.” This assessment is true for other programs directed to disadvantaged populations, as was mentioned before in the case of the “rural microcenters” in Chile. The well-known 900 Schools program in Chile (directed to urban schools with poor results) was one of the first programs to provide special attention to the 900 schools that in 1990 had the worst learning results.12 With all its merits and the fact that it has increased learning results of the poor populations on which it focuses compared to similar populations without the program the achievement of the 900 Schools’ students in national examinations is generally below national averages (Ministerio de Educación, 2002, 2003). These situations increasingly lead to conclude that while affirmative action programs are an important contribution to learning results for the most disadvantaged populations, that is equity, they are not the solution if the broader causes of differential results amongst the poor (i.e., insufficient investment in social programs) are not dealt with (Araújo e Oliveira, 2004 & Reimers, 2000).

Learning Resources and ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) and Incentives for School Improvement Besides the special programs referred to above and those actions related to the improvement of teacher education, countries have introduced teaching and learning resources at school level, including the development of ICT programs, and incentives for school improvement.

Learning Resources and ICT Learning resources in the form of classroom libraries/reading corners for basic education children have been part of reforms in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and México among other countries. In these countries the interventions have been particularly effective in improving language and mathematics scores, and in increasing the probability of promotion of pupils to the next class (Anderson, 2002). Distribution of free textbooks also have had an effect on learning and on decreasing the gap between high-ability and low-ability poor children (Anderson, 2002). In Chile one of the important innovations at secondary level was the distribution of free texts in publicly funded schools and the provision of some degree of choice to teachers in their selection. ICT in schools were first introduced in Latin America by the governments of Costa Rica and Chile (Alvarez et al., 1998) in the early nineties, and in both countries the use of computers has been extended to the whole of the education system. Cuba recently has also provided all its schools with some form of computer technology. In other countries there are specific programs to develop computer skills and its use in teaching and learning (UNESCO, 2001). The Chilean program ENLACES has been subject to wide international exposure, and an indication of this was the country’s participation in the IEA SITES M2

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International Study (Kozma, 2003) on technology, innovation and education change. Below is a quote from the results of the case studies on innovation that were part of the Chilean study and that point to the effects of technology on school processes (Hinostroza, Guzmán, & Isaacs, 2002, pp. 1–13). International collaborative project ‘My Homeland.’ This project started in 1999 and was part of the international project World Links ( The aim was to share with other schools in the world some characteristics of the province in which this secondary school is located. Students participating in the project had to research about local traditions; historical events, artistic and cultural manifestations of their communities and then share the results with other schools participating in the international project. In order to produce the material, students used productivity tools (word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tools and colleagues). The products were shared using email and presented in a web site specially created for the project (for results see: milugar/index.html). The main innovative characteristics of this project: ●

It was interdisciplinary, involving subject areas such as arts, language, history and earth science (it included 11 of the 14 different subject areas considered in the curriculum). Teachers and students changed their traditional role, engaging in research type activities and working collaboratively. Students developed their activities outside the classroom, collecting relevant data from the community members and several historical places. Also, they were responsible for implementing the activities planned in the international project.

School Improvement Projects Some of the country reforms also introduced incentives towards innovation at school level. In Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, México, Paraguay and Uruguay they are known as “school improvement projects” and consist of funding or other support to implement innovations designed by the schools. In those cases where teachers have time and are well organised and managed, these projects are effective in generating motivation and interest in learning on the part of pupils. But this has not always been the case (UNESCO, 2001). Another form, but at a more structural level, are the Institutional Education Projects (PEI) which are plans for school development that schools present to their local authorities, a sort of blueprint of where they want to go and how they expect to do it. The framing and institutionalization of these school projects in Colombia involves the whole educational community (parents, teachers, students, head-teachers and alumnae), and its contents which may affect the organisation of teaching and curriculum implementation, within the scope of the ministry of education guidelines (Rivero, 1999). More recently, countries are realizing that the key to an effective school is its leadership. Chile has recently passed a law, which defines the conditions under which head teachers will be appointed to schools and the length of their tenure (formerly they were appointed until retirement). Together with this, it is



supporting initiatives to provide specific training for head-teachers in the publicly funded system.

School-Based Management: The Case of EDUCO Another interesting change affecting management at school level in the eighties and nineties were the different forms of decentralisation that occurred in the education systems. (see chapter by di Gropello in this volume). Closer to schools were the cases of school-based management implemented in El Salvador, Nicaragua and the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil. EDUCO (Community Managed Schools Program) in El Salvador is one of the most researched and well known of these innovations. On the basis of community initiatives that developed during the civil war in that country to provide schooling for rural children, the government of El Salvador with assistance from the World Bank and the Interamerican Development Bank in 1991 gave formal status to the establishment and management of rural schools by their local communities. With training and supervision assistance from the Ministry of Education parents elected for 3 years by their communities constituted managing bodies for the schools (ACEs). These bodies in turn established councils charged with hiring teachers on a renewable basis for 1 year and with supervising their performance, overseeing the use and maintenance of schools and equipment and conducting fundraising activities to supplement subsidies from the Ministry of Education. The EDUCO experience stimulated the government in 1997 to establish school governing councils in other schools. These are known as the CDEs (Consejos Educativos Escolares). These councils have a wider composition than the ACEs as they include not only parents but also the head-teacher, teachers and students. The CDEs are entrusted with identifying and prioritising school needs, managing resources, setting up and approving annual plans and the school budget. They also contract teachers and decide on requests for transfers and re-hiring of teachers as well as matters relating to teaching hours and extra-payment for teachers and other school personnel. The CDE president keeps track of each teacher’s performance portfolio. Both in the case of EDUCO schools and those with CDEs these organisations have bank accounts to which the government transfers their funding allocations. The EDUCO program has been influential in increasing access of excluded children in rural areas, diminishing absenteeism, repetition and dropouts (Cuéllar-Marchelli, 2003; de Andraca, 2003).13 Over time, new classrooms have been built and relevant materials have been provided. Parents show greater involvement with the education of their children and there are signs of improvement of the educational level or parents and of the community in general. However, these schools encounter difficulties such as frequent teacher turnover and effects on the managing councils of parents’ insufficient preparation for their role as members. Students have little real participation in the councils while parents do not always have sufficient time, or the time demanded from them is more than they can offer. Teachers also tend to feel that they are being deprived of power as they have to respond to the CDEs and could be sanctioned by them if found incompetent.

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Non-Government or Private Initiatives Directed to School Improvement While for-profit private schooling in Latin America makes up a small proportion of the educational offering, in most countries there are school systems and schools run by private organisations that are non-profit and receive public subsidies. This has meant the emergence of private school systems run by specific organisations that have produced their own schemes for improvement. Also, all over Latin America there are nongovernment projects to assist in the improvement of schools or deal with specific areas (such as prevention of violence in schools). Finally, as can be seen in the chapter on the British School system by Bamford in this volume, there are regional systems of private education that in turn are concerned with improving the quality of the education they offer. To illustrate these contributions of the non-governmental sector, I will refer to the case of Fe y Alegría, a network of schools that operates in several countries, and to some of the prevention of school violence programs that are particularly active in conflict areas such as Colombia and Brazil.

Fe y Alegría Fe y Alegría14 set up its first schools in Venezuela in 1975 with the purpose of reaching out-of-school children and since has extended to 12 countries in Latin America, of which Bolivia has the greatest number of schools. Its main targets are the establishment and running of primary schools for rural and marginal urban populations (56%). But it also covers secondary education (30%) and a smaller number of children in preschool education. For its operation, Fe y Alegría receives funding for teacher salaries from the respective governments of the countries in which it operates, while local communities assist in providing buildings and infrastructure. In each country where Fe y Alegría has schools there is a National Office that supervises the school system and provides professional development to teachers and head teachers. A study of Fe y Alegría in eight15 of the twelve countries in which it operates (Swope, 2002, p. 92) notes as characteristics of these schools the following traits. ●

● ●

Establishment of strategic alliances between national and local government as well as with international donor agencies Strong involvement of local community participation Relevant and diverse educational strategies related to the needs of populations in the different locations where the program operates Careful selection of head teachers and teachers with a good offer of professional development activities for them Public credibility on account of the quality of leadership and management of both the private and public resources that are allocated to the schools.

While all Fe y Alegría schools have a strong community participation component, there is variation from country to country in the use of other strategies. For example in Bolivia which has the greatest number of schools, the system combines the use of



preventive strategies (health and nutrition), monetary incentives for parents to keep their children in school and preschool programs. All these seem to concur in producing good results in terms of higher retention rates and completion of schooling in the prescribed years. Also according to the study referred to above (Swope, 2002) Fe y Alegría schools in a number of countries tend to retain students within a cohort to a greater degree than their counterparts in the public system. Equally, Fe y Alegría students tend to complete their primary school within the year-span that the system determines and the schools also show a lower rate of repetition and a higher retention rate compared to public schools. Finally, dropout rates are clearly lower than those of students in the public school system.16

Prevention of Violence Programs Increasingly, children and young people that live in conflict-ridden situations (i.e., warfare, drugs, domestic violence) may have their schooling disrupted or may take violence as a way of solving problems, of dealing with frustration or simply as a natural form of behaviour. This has led a number of both governments and non-government institutions to work on prevention of violence policies and projects to help students and teachers deal with the problem. Of interest, are the number of initiatives from grassroots organisations that are focused on working with schools and communities in order to develop peaceful school environments and help young people to cope with conflict amongst themselves and in their surrounding communities. Among these projects are six that were identified and evaluated under a special grant from the Interamerican Development Bank (see Avalos, 2005b). They were located in schools of the cities of Sao Paulo (Brazil), Medellín (Colombia), a rural community in Ecuador, and the city of Santiago (Chile).17 Besides sharing a location in difficult and very poor contexts these projects have common features in their overall designs. All of them have a holistic focus in the sense of addressing teachers, students, and parents and in some cases the larger community, although they differ in the degree to which they focus more closely on one group rather than another. The projects’ activities are directed to bringing out conflict issues and providing tools for protection and management of such problems. In doing this, the projects may have as their aim directly to reduce violence, especially overt violence, or to work preferably towards the generation of a peaceful environment, or both of these aims. The projects differ in the extent to which they have greater or lesser reliance on an existing model used in previous projects. At the start of the interventions that were part of the study (Avalos, 2005b), two of the implementing institutions had developed and tried out their own model for violence prevention and for the establishment of a peaceful environment in schools. One was based on detecting risk factors and providing protective stimulus to face conflict when it occurs. Risk factors may be individual conditions such as low selfesteem or lack of affection, as well as family factors such as economic problems, conflicts, and lack of role models, insufficient or excessive care, and others. The other project used a modified form of the conflict mediation model stimulating the entire school community (as well as parents) to work towards setting up conditions in schools for peaceful resolution of conflicts and development of a harmonious environment.

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Effects on improvement of the school environment are different, but some of the projects especially one located in Sao Paulo and the other in a semi-rural location in Ecuador showed positive results in the commitment of teachers and the community to involvement in prevention of violence in schools and the development of a good environment.

Educational Reforms and School Improvement: How Much of an Effect on Educational Progress in Latin America? The preceding sketch of reforms and specific projects in the last 20 years directed to furthering a better education for all is obviously not sufficient to establish how effective or not these have been, especially for those groups previously excluded from its benefits. From a purely quantitative perspective, there is no doubt that efforts in the eighties to widen the coverage of the educational systems meant that most of the Latin American countries were able to achieve almost universal enrolment of students in primary schools with net enrolment rates today around 80% (UNESCO, 2005). At secondary level, some countries are also advancing towards net enrolment rates close to 80%. However, as presented in the first section of this paper, learning results as measured by national and international assessments remain low (with the exception of Cuba18). Each one of the countries that undertook extensive education reforms in the nineties expected that these would reach the schools and would in turn transform their teaching and learning contexts. Has this happened and to what extent? There is enough evidence from publications and meetings occurring at different times that there has been a certain amount of change in the schools affected by reforms. Thus, for example, Hunt (2004, pp. 41–42) composes two scenarios on the basis of visits to schools in 1993 and 1995 before educational reforms in Peru, and then in 1999 and 2001 to illustrate its effects; Since 1993 Peru has significantly tried to improve public primary schooling with visible results in many schools. There is a better infrastructure (walls exhibit work of students) and teacher–pupil relationships are significantly warmer and more open than before. There is a national revised curriculum for each school year and many classrooms have books, learning resources and libraries. Many teachers seem aware of the importance and benefits of encouraging active participation of children in their own learning, and are anxious to learn more. The school system has started a national evaluation system and provided the public with information about results. The initial teacher training is being reformed, and in general one can say that Peru has taken a valuable first step in the long struggle for an education of quality.19 Despite this assessment, Hunt concludes that reforms are still not sufficient. Teachers need more opportunity for professional development to improve their knowledge base and widen their teaching repertoire, schools still do not have enough autonomy, and



there practically is no system of supervision or support for head teachers and teachers. And educational spending is still woefully inadequate. This reference to reforms in Peru is applicable to most other countries that have engaged in broad or systemic reforms: They have moved the system ahead, schools appear better, but the road to satisfactory results is still in the making. To an extent, there has been a criticism of the reforms in the nineties in the sense of not having paid sufficient attention to school factors such as support for better teaching nor recognised the nature of the constraints affecting teachers such as inadequate preparation or large classes (Reimers, 2003). Certainly, initially this was the case of Chile, where the focus was placed on improving buildings and facilities, providing textbooks and learning resources, introducing ICT into schools, reforming the curriculum, but all with insufficient attention and understanding of how teachers would and could receive these reforms (Bellei, 2001). More recent studies of the implementation of the new curriculum in primary schools illustrate how teachers teach selectively the new curriculum topics and dilute the messages and emphasis suggested in the curricular materials, especially for children who belong to lower socio-economic groups (Ministerio de Educación, 2004b). While the above considerations have to do with the effect of large-scale reform initiatives in the Latin American region, we can also ask about the effects of specific programs or projects on schools and classrooms. Seen from this angle, in almost every country of the Region it is possible to find successful experiences of change, some of which are well established. Among these are the schools of the Fe y Alegría system described in an earlier section of this paper, and the well-known experience of Escuela Nueva in Colombia.20 In this volume the paper by Deves and López illustrates an on-going experience of improving science teaching at primary level, which is a project that joins academic initiative and support of the Ministry of Education. More recently, in Latin America, and perhaps as an indication that all the answers about how schools and teaching can be improved are not provided by large-scale reforms, there has been a growing interest in learning about successful projects and about schools that work, schools that achieve results and why this is so (i.e., García-Huidobro, 2004; UNICEF, 2005; U. Cayetano Heredia, 2002).21 These publications include accounts from experiences in different countries that outline how and why it is thought that the schools considered are successful. A recent study using a framework from international literature on school effectiveness was jointly sponsored by UNICEF and the Ministry of Education in Chile (UNICEF, 2005). The purpose of the study was to identify a group of good-performing schools that catered for the lower and middle low socio-economic groups in order to examine what in the school environment and processes contributed to these results. To a certain extent the search for effective schools indicated the sense of frustration of the policy-makers regarding measurable improvement as a result of reform efforts in schools attended by the poor. The difficulty of finding a large enough sample for the study that met the criteria illustrates also to what extent this frustration is justified.22 Many of the 14 schools eventually selected had moved from a very critical situation at the beginning of the nineties (before educational reforms were started) to improvement in many of the school processes: management, climate, teaching and learning. The

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study documents how this happened and concludes that the reforms stimulus and contributions worked through certain existing characteristics of the schools’ leadership, teachers and parent involvement. The appropriate trigger points in the schools studied were described as follows (UNICEF, 2005): ●

An adequate initial diagnosis of the problems of the school and a will to search for solutions (why are children not learning and what can the school do to improve the situation?). Decisions on priorities and clarity about what needs are greater than others, and from thereon to take few, small steps towards improvement. In situ professional development and teacher collaborative work linked to good supervision. A renewed understanding of the importance of discipline, from authoritarianism to shared understanding and decisions on how to establish rules, as well as a focus on responsibility, respect, solidarity and self control. School identity, an explicit image of the kind of school everybody wants to promote (parents, students, teachers). Judicious use of resources allocated by the reforms selecting and appropriating these in accordance with needs and goals. External recognition of the schools’ progress in learning results (by the community, the Ministry of Education or others).

The results of the study not only help to see what are the factors that make for improvement (none of which are given but require working on). These results also explain that the scarcity of effects of the reforms (as evidenced by the low number of effective schools found for the sample) may be due to the lack of appropriate encounter points between reforms and schools or perhaps, even more to the point, to the need for conditions that generate initiative within schools such as contextual (teacher morale and teacher time) as much as leadership and the will to work hard for change. These conditions require continued support and interest from educational authorities. The teachers in this study of effective schools despite their satisfaction about their schools’ progress missed a greater interest and involvement on the part of ministerial authorities. The authors’ of the study noted that in fact the achievements of these schools were fragile and might succumb if faced with unforeseen or greater difficulties than those they could manage. Maintaining effective schools in difficult environments and conditions requires constant vigilance and support until the schools are effectively able to stand strongly on their feet. To an extent these reflections are also those of Harris and Chrispeels (2006) in their analysis of schools in challenging conditions in the developed world, as they criticise the narrow focus of school improvement that is directed only to raising standards, without adequate understanding of the interplay between contexts and possibilities.

A Final Word Latin America through the educational reforms that have been in place in the last 20 or so years, and through the initiative of non-government groups and single schools, has



many examples to offer about how and in what way teaching and learning can be improved. It also offers many lessons on the constraining factors for reform and improvement and how important it is to face them, especially, with regard to the large populations that continue to be undereducated. The chapters on Latin American experiences in this book give us pointers on how improvement may take place and what can be achieved. Knowledge derived from research on school efficacy in Latin America should be considered by policy-makers and educators (see chapter by J. Murillo), as should also the evidence from small-scale improvement. Deves and Lopez’ chapter on how a subject such as science can be taught so that children in poor environments experience the joy of scientific discovery, also illustrates how such experiences can be widened as in concentric circles beyond the sites were they originate. How reforms are received and the importance of recognising audiences, the experiences of others and voice are highlighted in the chapters on decentralisation by di Gropello and on reform effects by Jacinto and Freites Frey. These chapters also stress the complexities of structural reforms and processes at local and school level. From the other side, which is the school itself, we have the chapter by Bamford on how a school faces evaluation and how it learns and moves ahead as a consequence of the process. School evaluation is far from being a reality in most of the Latin American education systems, but there are promising experiences occurring. Many of these are linked to the framing by school communities of a school project, but also there are guidelines on how to conduct these processes emerging from policy-makers around the Region. As in other less-developed regions of the world, Latin America has still enormous challenges in being able to fulfil the Millennium Goals and provide a good education for all, especially for the poorest groups, but it is on its way and will move faster as it learns from research and experience.

Notes 1. These include the United States, Canada, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Belize, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and Grenada. 2. One of the countries with the largest private school enrolment in the Region is Chile (48% of total enrolment), while most of the others fluctuate between 23% (Argentina) and 8% (Uruguay) (UNESCO, 2005). 3. A composite of the following indicators: net enrolment ratio, adult literacy rate, gender related index, and survival rate to grade 5 (see UNESCO, 2005). 4. From a 5-3-4 structure. 5. Literally means a multifaceted curriculum. 6. This scheme was also used for pre-school and the Basic Education levels. 7. This has not happened in reality, because schools and teachers do not feel competent to write their own syllabuses, and so the Ministry of Education provides their own version for these schools which are about 90%. 8. Author’s translation. 9. For a description of the project and its results see Avalos (2002) and Avalos (2005a). 10. Vaillant and Wettstein’s (1999) book on the CERP’s not only describes what they are and do but also includes chapters by other educators on the strengths and possible weaknesses of the project as they saw it through visits or through their involvement in their establishment. 11. For example, the analysis of the 2002 SIMCE results (national measurement of learning system) show an increase in language and maths scores of 6 and 5 points as compared to similar schools that do not

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13. 14. 15. 16. 17.

18. 19. 20. 21. 22.


take part in the program (Ministerio de Educación, 2003). Also an earlier evaluation of the program found not only learning but other effects of the program such as teacher motivation and skills (see Avalos, 2004b). The name, linked to the number of original schools participating has remained because though some schools improve and “exit” the program, new underachieving ones join in and keep the number relatively stable. While EDUCO schools still operate in the country, its major growth period was between 1991 and 1997 when the number of children benefited by the program increased from 8,416 to 193,984. Supported by the Jesuit Order though managed mostly by lay contracted staff. Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Perú and Venezuela. These results are not observed in all the countries where Fe y Alegría operates but in all of them some of these are present. The projects in Sao Paulo were run by the State Secretariat of Education and by a private NGO; those in Colombia by the Red Cross Youth (with lengthy experience in this area) and by the social department of a private organization, the project in Ecuador by DNI (International Defence of Children) and the one in Chile, by a private NGO. As measured by the UNESCO–OREALC (1998) assessment of learning results in Latin America. My translation. For a description of this longstanding program see See also the article of Murillo in this Handbook on research production in the field of school efficacy and improvement. The requirement that the schools selected enrol students in the low and middle-low socio-economic groups and perform in the top 25% schools (according to national assessment tests) had to be lowered as initially only eight schools out of a total of around 2,600 basic level schools met the achievement criteria. Eventually, 14 schools were selected for the study.

References Albó, X. (1999). Iguales Aunque Diferentes. La Paz, Bolivia: Ministerio de Educación, UNICEF & CIPCA. Albó, X., & Anaya, A. (2003). Niños Alegres, Libres y Expresivos. La Audacia de la Educación Bilingüe en Bolivia. La Paz, Bolivia: CIPCA. Álvarez, M. I., Roman, F., Dobles, M. C., Umaña, J., Zúñiga, M., García, J., et al. (1998). Computers in schools: A qualitative study of Chile and Costa Rica. Education and Technology Series. Washington, DC: The World Bank. Anderson, J. B. (2002). The effectiveness of special interventions in Latin American public primary schools. Working Paper No. 5. Coral Gables, Miami: The Dante B. Fascell North-South Center Working Paper Series. Araújo e Oliveira, J. B. (2004). Expansion and inequality in Brazilian education. In C. Brock, & S. Schwartzman (Eds.), The challenges of education in Brazil. Oxford: Symposium Books. Avalos, B. (2002). Profesores para Chile. Historia de un Proyecto. Santiago, Chile: Ministerio de Educación. Avalos, B. (2004a). CPD policies and practices in the Latin American region. In C. Day, & J. Sachs (Eds.), International handbook on the continuing professional development of teachers. Maidenhead: Open University Press. Avalos, B. (2004b). Desarrollo docente en el contexto de la institución escolar. Los microcentros rurales y los grupos profesionales de trabajo en Chile. In Maestros en América Latina: Nuevas Perspectivas sobre su Formación y Desempeño. Santiago: PREAL & BID. Avalos, B. (2005a). How to affect the quality of teacher education: A four-year policy-driven project implemented at university level. In P. Denicolo, & M. Kompf (Eds.), Connecting policy and practice. Challenges for teaching and learning in schools and universities. London: Routledge. Avalos, B. (2005b). Preventing school violence in six South American locations. Paper presented at the CIES Meeting, Stanford, USA, March. Bellei, C. (2001). El talon de Aquiles de la reforma: análisis sociológico de la política de los 90 hacia los docentes en Chile. In S. Martinic, & M. Pardo (Eds.), Economía Política de las Reformas Educativas en América Latina. Santiago, Chile: CIDE and PREAL.



CEPAL. (2005). Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio: Una Mirada desde América Latina. Santiago: CEPAL. Contreras, M. E., & Talavera, M. L. (2005). Examen Parcial: La Reforma Educativa Boliviana 1992–2002. La Paz, Bolivia: PIEB. (In English. The Bolivian educational reform 1992–2005: Case studies in large educational reform, Country Studies. Education Reform and Management Publication Series, Vol II, November 2003. Washington, DC: The World Bank). Cuéllar-Marchelli. (2003). Decentralization and privatization of education in El Salvador: Assessing the experience. International Journal of Educational Development, 23(2), 145–166. de Andraca, A. M. (2003). Buenas Prácticas para Mejorar la Educación en América Latina. Santiago, Chile: PREAL. Decibe, S. (2001). Argentina: Una década sólo alcanzó para comenzar una reforma estructural de la educación. In S. Martinic, & M. Pardo (Eds.), Economía Política de las Reformas Educativas en América Latina. Santiago, Chile: CIDE & PREAL. Dussel, I. (2004). Las reformas curriculares en la Argentina, Chile y Uruguay. Informe comparativo. In Las Reformas Educativas en la Década de 1990. Un Estudio Comparado de Argentina, Chile y Uruguay. Buenos Aires, Argentina: BID, Ministerios de Educación de Argentina, Chile y Uruguay, & Grupo Asesor Stanford University. ECLAC–UNESCO. (1992). Education and knowledge: Basic pillars of changing production patterns with social equity. Santiago, Chile: United Nations. García-Huidobro, J. E. (Ed.). (2004). Escuelas de Calidad en Condiciones de Pobreza. Santiago, Chile: U. Alberto Hurtado & BID. Harris, A., & Chrispeels, J. H. (2006). Introduction. In A. Harris, & J. H. Chrispeels (Eds.), Improving schools and educational systems. International perspectives. London: Routledge. Hinostroza, J. E., Guzmán, A., & Isaacs, S. (2002). Innovative uses of ICT in Chilean schools. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 18, 1–23. Hunt, B. (2004). La educación primaria peruana: aún necesita mejorarse. In ¿Es Posible Mejorar la Educacion Peruana? Evidencia y Posibilidades. Lima, Perú: GRADE. Kozma, R. B. (Ed.). (2003). Technology, innovation and educational change. A global perspective. A report on the second information technology in education study. Module 2. Eugene, Or: International Society for Technology in Education. Ministerio de Educación. (2002). Trayectoria de una Década: El Programa de las 900 Escuelas. Santiago, Chile: Mineduc. Ministerio de Educación. (2003). Prueba SIMCE 40 Básico: 2002: Factores que inciden en el rendimiento de los alumnos. Santiago, Chile: Depto de Estudios y Estadística, Mineduc. Ministerio de Educación. (2004a). Chile y el Aprendizaje de Matemáticas y Ciencias Según TIMSS. Santiago, Chile: Unidad de Currículum y Evaluación. Ministerio de Educación. (2004b). Implementación curricular en el aula. Matemáticas y Lenguaje y Comunicación Primer Ciclo Básico. Santiago, Chile: Unidad de Currículum y Evaluación. PREAL. (2005). 2006 Cantidad sin Calidad. Un Informe del Progreso Educativo de América Latina. Santiago, Chile: PREAL. Reimers, F. (2003). La Buena enseñanza y el éxito escolar de los estudiantes en América Latina. Revista Iberoamericana de Educación, 31, 17–48. Reimers, X. F. (2000). Unequal schools, Unequal Chances. Cambridge, Mass.: David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University. Rivero, J. (1999). Educación y Exclusión en América Latina. Reformas en Tiempos de Globalización. Madrid: Miño y Dávila. Swope, J. (2002). Un sistema autónomo y eficiente de educación primaria en América Latina. In Creando Autonomía en las Escuelas. Santiago, Chile: LOM & PREAL. Tatto, M. T. (2004). La Educación Magisterial Su Alcance en la Era de la Globalización. México: Santillana, Siglo XXI. UNESCO–OREALAC. (1998). Primer Estudio Internacional Comparativo sobre Lenguaje, Matemática y Factores Asociados en Tercero y Cuarto Grado. Santiago, Chile: UNESCO. UNESCO. (2001). Overview of the 20 years of the major project of education in Latin America and the Caribbean. Santiago, Chile: UNESCO.

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UNESCO. (2005). EFA Global Monitoring Report 2006: Literacy for Life. Paris: UNESCO. UNICEF. (2005). ¿Quién Dijo Que No Se Puede? Escuelas Efectivas en Sectores de Pobreza. Santiago, Chile: UNICEF. Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia. (2002). Escuelas Que Aprenden y Se Desarrollan. Lima, Peru: Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia. Vaillant, D. (2005). Formación de formadores. Estado de la Práctica. PREAL Documents No 25. Santiago, Chile: PREAL. Vaillant, D., & Wettstein, G. (1999). Centros Regionales de Profesores. Una Apuesta al Uruguay del Siglo XXI. Montevideo: Editorial Fin de Siglo. World Bank (n.d), Educational Change in Latin America and the Caribbean. Washington, DC: The World Bank.



Louise Stoll and Pam Sammons

Introduction The last 30 years have seen the emergence, development and increased maturity of school effectiveness and school improvement in the UK. Most significantly, what started as two separate fields of endeavour have merged together as researchers, policy makers and practitioners explore the questions “how, for whom and in what ways do schools make a difference to children and young people’s life chances and continue to improve over time?” In this chapter, we examine this evolution. We start by outlining the changing policy context. Next, we look at the early days of school effectiveness and school improvement (SESI) when they were still separate fields. After discussing influences that prompted their drawing together, we analyse how they have aligned and grown closer over time, examining changing methodologies and evolving areas of focus. Finally, we describe tensions and emerging areas of enquiry and focus as the SESI field moves forward in the UK.

Policy Context Major educational reforms have taken place in England during the last quarter century. The Scottish and Northern Irish systems developed separately during this period while the Welsh education system has recently adopted a somewhat different trajectory following devolution. Conservative governments from 1979 to 1997 sought to reduce the power of professional interests (teacher unions and Local Education Authorities) and increase the role of “consumers” (parents and pupils) by emphasizing market-based reforms. The intention was to increase the efficiency of educational institutions and raise educational standards via financial devolution and local management of schools and increased parental choice. Successive reforms led to the introduction of a national curriculum 207 T. Townsend (Ed.), International Handbook of School Effectiveness and Improvement, 207–222. © 2007 Springer.


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and assessments linked to four Key Stages of education (at ages 7, 11, 14 and examinations at age 16). These set expectations for the level of attainment in the core subjects of English, mathematics and science. Accountability was increased by publishing annual national performance tables of schools’ results from 1992. These were ranked into high profile “league tables” by the media, with low performing schools receiving adverse publicity. Parents were informed about school quality when regular inspection of all schools and publication of inspection reports by the new Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) was established in 1993. “Failing” (later termed “special measures”) schools were identified, and required to improve or, as a last resort, closed if they made insufficient progress. The inspection system has recently been amended, with a greater emphasis on validated self-evaluation. The school effectiveness and improvement research base started to influence policy directions across the UK during the 1990s, and research and improvement studies have been commissioned in all countries. An Ofsted-commissioned review of school effectiveness research (Sammons, Hillman, & Mortimore, 1995) identified “key characteristics of effective schools,” informing its published inspection framework. Ofsted also commissioned research on Assessing School Effectiveness (Sammons et al., 1994) to provide fairer “like with like” comparisons adjusted for differences in pupil intakes. From 1997, under three terms of New Labour, government education policies have continued to emphasise the prime aim of raising standards, although there has been greater recognition of the role of social disadvantage and need to combine pressure with support for schools in challenging circumstances. A range of area-based measures were adopted to try to raise standards and combat disadvantage, and a significant expansion of pre-school provision recognized the importance of the early years. Significant yearon-year increases in education spending also took place from 1998 onwards and “education, education, education” was identified as the Government’s priority. The emphasis on “improvement through inspection” was retained, and an influential Standards and Effectiveness Unit was established, drawing on SESI approaches, and headed first by Prof Michael Barber then Prof David Hopkins, both of whom took up their role from improvement research positions. Daily literacy and numeracy lessons were introduced for primary schools in 1998 and 1999, based on reviews of research evidence and inspection evidence on effective teaching of reading and mathematics. These later developed into a national primary strategy. Ambitious targets for the percentage of children achieving the expected level (level 4) in English and mathematics at the end of Key Stage 2 (age 11) were introduced. Significant improvements in primary pupils’ attainment levels have been recorded in national tests and international comparisons (e.g., Mullis, Martin, Gonzalez, & Kennedy, 2003; OECD, 2001). A Key Stage 3 strategy for the 11–14 age group was also introduced in 2001. Use of performance data to inform school self evaluation was also promoted. The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) drew explicitly on school effectiveness research when developing national value added approaches to provide indicators of pupil progress across Key Stages. Over time, these have become more sophisticated, using multilevel approaches. In addition, the social inclusion agenda has received more emphasis with greater attention paid to raising attainment levels of ethnic minority and disadvantaged groups.

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A controversial feature has been the emphasis on greater choice and diversity in the school system. Specialist and faith schools have been promoted, and the creation of City Academies, involving sponsorship by private investors, is a more recent innovation to turn around schools in disadvantaged areas that have failed to improve. In 2002, the importance of school leadership at all levels was given greater recognition when the National College of School Leadership (NCSL) was created. See Sammons, Elliot, Welcomme, Taggart, & Levacic (2004) for further analysis of policy developments.

Early Work: School Effectiveness and School Improvement as Separate Fields In the first 15 years of UK school effectiveness research, the focus was on the quality and equity of schooling trying to find out why some schools were more effective than others in promoting positive outcomes, whether schools performed consistently over time, across outcomes and areas, and the characteristics associated with better outcomes. Seminal early work demonstrated that schools, indeed, made a difference (Reynolds & Murgatroyd, 1977; Rutter, Maughan, Mortimore, & Ouston, 1979). For example, in the Fifteen Thousand Hours study of 12 secondary schools in inner London, investigating the reasons for differences between schools in terms of various measures of pupils’ behaviour and attainments (Rutter et al., 1979), the researchers concluded that differences between the schools’ outcomes were systematically related, at least in part, to their characteristics as social institutions, and that associations between school processes and outcomes reflected in part a causal process. While not denying that external social influences have a profound impact on young people’s subsequent life chances and individual school performance, it emphasized that those in schools can take vitally important actions to enhance the progress, achievement and social development of children and young people. In addition, studies began benefiting from using new methodologies to help identify progress made by pupils, after controlling for prior attainment and background factors (Mortimore, Sammons, Stoll, Lewis, & Ecob, 1988; Smith & Tomlinson, 1989; Tizard, Blatchford, Burke, Farquhar, & Plewis, 1988). Work by Desmond Nuttall and Harvey Goldstein on examination results pointed to the need for increased sophistication in studying school effects (Mortimore, Sammons, & Thomas, 1994). Meanwhile, during the 1980s, school improvement was practitioner-oriented, evidenced in the work of those involved in the “teacher as researcher” (Elliott, 1980) and school self evaluation and review movements (Clift & Nuttall, 1987; McMahon, Bolam, Abbott, & Holly, 1984). This holistic, organizational approach to change in schools was also seen in the work of English participants in the International School Improvement Project (Hopkins, 1987).

Coming Together Closer alignment of school effectiveness and school improvement has been promoted through increased collaboration between those working in the different research traditions, and by greater involvement of stakeholders other than researchers.


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Bridging Research Traditions The merger of school effectiveness and school improvement in England, whereby school improvement efforts drew on the findings of school effectiveness and school effectiveness studies took account of understandings about school improvement, took several years, entailing some difficulties (Harris & Bennett, 2001; Reynolds, Hopkins, & Stoll, 1993; Stoll, 1996). In particular, much school effectiveness research had a quantitative emphasis, with measurement of pupil outcomes involving large numbers of pupils and schools, while improvement research often focused on processes but not outcomes and involved case studies, action research and other qualitative development activity. The growing together of SESI was facilitated by a greater emphasis on mixed methods research involving quantitative studies of effectiveness and detailed qualitative case studies of more and, in some cases, of less effective schools. Also more recently, developmental work with schools in difficulty has drawn on the growing knowledge base of both fields.

Involving More Stakeholders While in the early years, most of the UK’s SESI energy came from researchers, it was notable that a number of these were affiliated to local education authorities (LEA – school districts); for example, the School Matters research (Mortimore et al., 1988) was sponsored by the country’s largest LEA, whose researchers collaborated with seconded teacher researchers to carry out the study. For more than a decade, those working in SESI in the UK have believed that the field’s further development and impact necessitates positive working relationships between researchers, policymakers and practitioners. There are many examples of LEAs sponsoring school improvement, drawing on the SESI research base (e.g., Myers, 1996), of higher education (HE) institutions working collaboratively with schools (e.g., Frost, Durrant, Head, & Holden, 2000; Hopkins, Ainscow, & West, 1994) and HE institutions and LEAs working together with schools (e.g., Halsall, 1998; Sammons & Smees, 1998; Southworth & Lincoln, 1999; Stoll & Thomson, 1996) on school improvement efforts. One example of an attempt to bridge research, policy and practice was the establishment of the International School Effectiveness and Improvement Centre (ISEIC) in 1994 at the Institute of Education, University of London, where school effectiveness and improvement researchers worked together on projects (e.g., MacBeath & Mortimore, 2001; Taggart & Sammons, 1999), as well as collaborating with practitioner associates (largely those in support roles in LEAs and educational consultants) to promote research and development projects, and dissemination strategies, including a National School Improvement Network (NSIN) and research summaries. The advisory board for this centre included practitioners, local and national policy makers and school effectiveness and improvement academics from other HE institutions. Increasingly, researchers involved in improvement-related studies have included a specific mandate to disseminate findings accessibly to increase their value to teachers and other educational professionals (e.g., Stoll & Harris, 2006). To further this,

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a number of research teams have built in roles for seconded teacher researchers. There is also an increasing effort to bring together research teams, encouraging them to share ongoing findings with each other, policy makers and practitioners through joint presentations at conferences or in specially arranged seminars. The emerging interface between policy and, initially, school effectiveness research could be seen as national policy agencies began to develop external strategies for improvement (Reynolds, Sammons, Stoll, Barber, & Hillman, 1996). For example, the literacy and numeracy strategies similarly drew on teacher and school effectiveness research in their development. Increasingly school effectiveness and improvers have been involved in the evaluation of policy developments such as the Making Belfast Work initiative in Northern Ireland (Taggart & Sammons, 1999), New Community Schools in Scotland (Sammons, Fink, & Earl, 2003) and the Key Stage 3 Strategy in England (Stoll, Fink, & Earl, 2003).

Growing and Developing Together A significant amount of SESI activity has now taken place in the UK, including a number of projects using mixed methodological approaches. Increased sophistication can also be seen in efforts to explore specific aspects of effectiveness and improvement and how effectiveness and improvement play themselves out differently in diverse situations, requiring differentiated strategies.

Developing Methodologies Major methodological advances in the school effectiveness tradition in the 1980s involved developing better statistical approaches to study effectiveness, commonly referred to as value added measures. Recognition of the hierarchical structures of education systems (pupils nested within classes, classes nested within schools, schools nested within LEAs) led to adopting multilevel approaches that better enabled the estimation of school effects. The need was recognized to take account of the statistical significance of the residual estimates of differences between the predicted and actual outcomes of schools (via the use of confidence limits) (Goldstein, 1995). Further developments drew attention to issues of the stability of effects over time, and consistency in effects across different outcomes, for example, between subject areas and between cognitive and affective or social/behavioural outcomes. Studies of differential effectiveness found that schools can vary in their effectiveness for different pupil groups. Mixed methods approaches also developed often involving quantitative analyses of effectiveness and case studies of processes in more effective or more improved schools. The Forging Links research on effective schools and departments in inner London (Sammons, Thomas, & Mortimore, 1997) and the Improving School Effectiveness Research study in Scotland (MacBeath & Mortimore, 2001) provide examples in different contexts. The Improving Schools research (Gray et al., 1999) in England focused explicitly on the nature and extent of improvement in secondary schools’ academic effectiveness and case studies of the correlates of school improvement. The longitudinal Effective Provision of Preschool Education Project (Sylva, Melhuish, Sammons, Siraj-Blatchford, & Taggart,


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2004) exemplifies how educational effectiveness approaches have been adapted to study pre-school influences, including those of pre-school type, duration and quality on young children’s progress and development.

Focusing on Different Elements While there have been a number of generic studies of effectiveness and improvement (e.g., English case studies as part of the seven-country European Improving School Effectiveness project, Wikeley, Stoll, & Lodge, 2003), much research and development activity has focused on specific aspects of improvement. Here we describe six: leadership; teaching and learning; pupil involvement; self evaluation and use of data; external involvement; and capacity building. More recent work in all of these areas shows increasing sophistication in probing differences within and between schools in their effectiveness and in considering the need for different improvement strategies in different situations (Hopkins, 2001; Stoll & Fink, 1996).

Leadership School effectiveness research has consistently drawn attention to the head teacher’s leadership in promoting and maintaining school effectiveness, and as a key characteristic of effective schools (see Sammons et al., 1995). Attention has also been drawn to the head teacher’s role in primary school improvement (Southworth & Lincoln, 1999), and the importance of instructional (Hopkins, 2003), and learning-centred leadership (Southworth, 2005; Stoll et al., 2003) while research on improving schools in challenging circumstances also emphasizes the importance of leadership as a catalyst for change, in setting the direction and goals for change, and in focusing on teaching and learning (Cutler, 1998; Fox & Ainscow, 2006; Stoll & MacBeath, 2005). The role of other leadership groups such as the senior leadership team and heads of department have received increasing recognition since the 1990s (Harris, Jamieson, & Russ, 1995; Sammons et al., 1997), while, more recently, different approaches to teacher leadership have also been explored (Durrant & Holden, 2006; Harris, 2003). Teaching and learning Muijs and Reynolds (2001) have argued that insufficient attention has been paid to teaching and learning, concluding that the wide variation in teacher behaviours, competence and consequent outcomes identified by external inspectors results from this. While the role of the classroom in school effectiveness has clearly been established (Sammons, 1999), until recently exploring teaching and learning within school effectiveness research has been limited, with notable exceptions (e.g., Mortimore et al., 1988). Sustained school improvement, however, appears more likely where there is a focus on learning rather than just employing tactical and strategic approaches (Gray et al., 1999). A recent major Teaching and Learning Research Program funded by the Economic and Social Research Council ( now aims to enhance researchbased practice in teaching and learning. Several of its projects specifically focus on learning and teaching in schools, and the program fosters partnership between practitioners and researchers in undertaking

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research and ensuring its impact. A longitudinal Associate TLRP project funded by DfES on variations in teachers’ lives and work and their effects on pupils (Vitae), explored contributions to variations in teachers’ perceived and relative effectiveness as well as how teachers become more effective over time (Day et al., 2006). The research explores the impact of training and development, conditions of service, and professional and situated (school, department) and personal factors. A follow on study will conduct observations of classroom practice in classes taught by teachers identified as relatively more effective.

Pupil involvement For more than a decade, Rudduck and colleagues have explored pupils’ responses to schooling, providing evidence that young people’s involvement in discussing and designing improvement interventions can contribute to school improvement (Rudduck, 2001; Rudduck and Flutter, 2000, 2004). A growing English evidence base reveals that pupils have much to say about their experiences of learning and their voices are generally constructive and informative (e.g., Fielding, 2001). Rudduck and Flutter (2004) propose four levels of engaging pupils in the improvement process: listening to pupils, as a data source; students as participants, where they play a role in decision-making although teachers initiate inquiry and interpret the data; students as researchers, where pupils are involved in enquiry and actively participate in decision making; and pupils as fully active researchers and co-researchers jointly initiating enquiry with teachers, planning action in the light of data and reviewing the intervention’s impact. Lodge (2005, p. 125) cautions, however, that pupil involvement can be “problematic.” Through several teacher-led enquiry projects into learning Lodge (2005) has found that young people develop better understanding of their learning through dialogue which develops a community approach to enquiries into learning between them and their teachers. From research and development experiences around re-engaging disaffected pupils in learning, Riley also concludes that teachers need to gain greater insights into pupils’ lives, involve them in their learning and create new learning opportunities inside and outside the school (Riley, Ellis, Weinstock, Tarrant, & Hallmond, 2006). Self-evaluation and use of data School improvement researchers increasingly conclude that enquiry and reflection is central to success (e.g., MacBeath, 1999; Southworth & Conner, 1999). The often differing accounts of teachers, pupils and parents provide practical school self-evaluation opportunities and can lead to strategies for school improvement (MacBeath 1999; McCall et al., 2001). A number of LEA projects have developed in collaboration with HE institutions providing feedback to schools of performance data in accessible formats assisting in the process of institutional self-evaluation and review. Most were developed before the DfES started to produce national value added indicators. The ALIS, YELLIS and PIPS projects led by FitzGibbon and Tymms from the CEM at the University of Durham provide examples of such collaboration (e.g., Tymms, 2001), while members of the ISEIC at London University’s Institute of Education were also involved in several projects. Since 1998, schools have received considerable guidance


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on using performance data and target setting by the DfES, through the Autumn Package which later evolved into a web-based program, the Pupil Achievement Tracker. The Fischer Family Trust also provides a nationwide analysis of schools’ performance data For LEAs and schools. The data revolution over the last few years means that schools in England have far more information available to assist them in target setting, self evaluation and to evaluate improvement projects. There are concerns, however, that overemphasizing measurement and outcomes particularly in literacy and numeracy may distract attention from other important curriculum areas. Furthermore, revising the Ofsted inspection schedule to emphasize school-self evaluation means that, inevitably, some selfgenerated enthusiasm for self-evaluation has dissipated. Despite this, there is still a considerable amount of voluntary research-based improvement activity (e.g., Halsall, 1998; Sharp, Handscomb, & Webster, 2006).

External involvement and critical friendship Research and experience working in and with schools suggests that most require a support infrastructure. While the LEA role has been changing, studies have shown that it can play a key role (e.g., Riley, Docking, & Rowles, 2000; Southworth & Lincoln, 1999), especially when schools are in difficult circumstances (Ainscow et al., 2006; Whatford, 1998), although LEAs, themselves, sometimes struggle to provide support for improvement (Watling, Hopkins, Harris, & Beresford, 1998). Critical friendship has also been the theme for attention, particularly in research and development projects (Doherty, MacBeath, Jardine, Smith, & McCall, 2001; Swaffield, 2004), with particular acknowledgement that when dealing with schools in difficulties, there are extra sensitivities whereby the “gift” of support is balanced by a subversive intent (MacBeath, 1998). In recent years schools have also become an increasing source of support and stimulus for development of other schools (see section on Networking). Capacity building in different schools Bringing about significant improvement requires much more than superficial tinkering with school structures and practices. To succeed in a rapidly changing and increasingly complex world, schools need to grow, develop, adapt creatively to change and take charge of change. Taking charge of externally driven change, rather than being controlled by it, has been shown to define schools that are more effective and more rapidly improving from those that are not (Gray et al., 1999; Hopkins, 2001; Stoll & Fink, 1996) and, at any one time, schools may be at a different stage of development, or “growth state” (Hopkins, Harris, & Jackson, 1997). Evaluation of the implementation of the pilot of England’s national Key Stage 3 (middle years) strategy demonstrated that capacity at the school, department and individual teacher level influenced schools’ ability to implement the Strategy. In that project, capacity was defined as: … a complex blend of motivation, skill, positive learning, organizational conditions and culture, and infrastructure of support. Put together, it gives individuals, groups and, ultimately whole school communities the power to get involved in and sustain learning. (Stoll et al., 2003, p. 22)

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Individual, school and external contextual influences affect school capacity (Stoll, 1999). Capacity building involves: creating and maintaining the necessary conditions, culture and structures; facilitating learning and skill-oriented experiences and opportunities; and ensuring interrelationships and synergy between all the component parts (Stoll & Bolam, 2005). Recent English research highlights potential for capacity building by creating and developing professional learning communities (PLCs) (Bolam et al., 2005). Effective PLCs in all school phases exhibited eight key characteristics: shared values and vision; collective responsibility for pupils’ learning; collaboration focused on learning; individual and collective professional learning; reflective professional enquiry; openness, networks and partnerships; inclusive membership; and mutual trust, respect and support. The PLCs were created and developed through four key processes: optimising resources and structures; promoting individual and collective professional learning; explicitly promoting, evaluating and sustaining an effective PLC; and leadership and management supporting PLC development. The more developed a PLC appeared to be, the more positive was the association with two other measures of effectiveness; pupil achievement and staff professional learning. Further work continues to explore how schools at different stages of the journey developed their PLCs. In writing on differentiated school improvement, Hopkins (1996) highlights the need for a “fit” between specific improvement programs and the school’s developmental needs. In this framework, school improvement strategies fall into three different types: ●

Type I strategies, assisting failing schools to become moderately effective. They involve a high level of external support, and strategies involve a clear and direct focus on a limited number of basic curriculum and organizational issues to build the confidence and competence to continue. Type II strategies, assisting moderately effective schools to become effective. These strategies do not rely as heavily on external support but tend to be more school initiated. Type III strategies, assisting effective schools to remain so. In these instances external support, although often welcomed, is unnecessary as the school searches out and creates its own support networks. Exposure to new ideas and practices, collaboration through consortia, networking or “pairing” type arrangements seem to be common in these situations.

Recent English research has been carried out in areas of extreme economic and social challenge, whether urban schools (e.g., Ainscow and West, 2006; Clarke, Reynolds, & Harris, 2005) or former coalfield areas (Harris, Chapman, Muijs, Russ, & Stoll, 2006). This suggests that schools in challenging areas have to work harder and be more committed than their peers working in more favourable socioeconomic circumstances. They also have to maintain the effort to sustain improvement as success can be fragile in difficult circumstances. Cox (2000) describes aspects of their communities – including poverty – which seriously constrain what they are able to achieve, while elsewhere, schools in much more advantaged areas have been found to be equally resistant to improvement efforts (Stoll & Fink, 1998). Only in relatively recent years, for example, have researchers focused their attention upon improving “failing” or “ineffective” schools (e.g., Gray, 2000; Harris & Chapman, 2001; Reynolds & Teddlie, 2001; Stoll &


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Myers, 1998). A literature review (Muijs, Harris, Chapman, Stoll, & Russ, 2004) revealed a number of common elements to improving and effective schools in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas. Effective leadership and collaboration has also been endorsed by the findings of studies exploring improvement of urban schools (Ainscow & West, 2006), and inspection has also been found to be a catalyst for improvement of schools in special measures (Matthews & Sammons, 2005).

Networks and Community Partnerships Increasingly in England, as in several other countries, top-down approaches to improvement are giving way to more lateral forms, through learning networks and school collaboratives; recently described by Chrispeels and Harris (2006) as “a fifth phase” of improvement of schools and systems. Partly intended to help transfer good practice, in many cases teachers become more involved where there is a commitment to reciprocity and practice creation (Fielding et al., 2005). The Network Learning Communities (NLC) program, established by the NCSL, has been a large-scale “development and enquiry” initiative involving 137 networks (1,500 schools) in England between 2002 and 2006. Specifically designed to provide national policy and system learning (as well as practice evidence), it was charged with generating evidence about how and under what conditions networks can make a contribution to raising pupil achievement, about the leadership practices that prove to hold most potential for school-to-school learning and about the new relationships emerging between networks as a “unit of engagement” and their local authority partners. In contrast to the national strategies, NLC schools were given much autonomy to adopt flexible forms of engagement with each other in networks. Evaluation evidence indicates that the extent of engagement by participating schools varies much both within and between individual NLCs. Earl et al. (2006) draw attention to the importance of network attachment, which is correlated with an intermediate outcome of changes in thinking and practice in schools. While the evaluators describe the associations as “fairly erratic,” they believe there may be connections between network participation and improvements in pupil attainment. However, as yet evidence of significant improvements in pupils’ attainment outcomes across NLC is weak, improvements being in line with national trends. Improvement in attainment outcomes also varies considerably at the school level, though there is some evidence that where staff perceive greater impact and engagement of their school in networking, improvement in pupils’ attainment levels is more likely (Earl et al., 2006; Sammons & Mujtaba, 2006). The evidence on NLC’s contribution to raising standards of attainment appears much weaker than that concerning the impact of specific curriculum-based initiatives such as the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategies, and this is in line with findings on the impact of other “loose” improvement strategies giving participants freedom to develop their own strategies such as New Community schools in Scotland (Sammons et al., 2003). Lawton (1997, pp. 17–18) cautions that research evidence that schools make a difference: “should not … be used as an excuse for societies being complacent about such

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social problems as gross poverty and inadequate levels of housing,” and Mortimore and Whitty (1997) also emphasize the role of social disadvantage as well as of schools. Increasingly, schools are working more closely with their local communities and other agencies, through initiatives such as Extended Schools (in England) and New Community Schools (in Scotland). Evaluations of early efforts show a willingness to engage, but difficulties with developing partnerships.

Critiques and Tensions Even in its early days school effectiveness research was criticized on a range of grounds methodological, theoretical and political and there was a vitriolic reaction to the Fifteen Thousand Hours study when first published in 1979. Tensions and critiques of SESI research have been particularly evident in the UK academic community during the last decade. In some instances this reflects a lack of knowledge of the research studies and approaches and an aversion to the use of quantitative approaches and focus on pupil outcomes. In other instances, there is concern that an emphasis on the role of schools may lead to a neglect of the importance of social disadvantage. Elliot (1996, p. 200) accused the field of a “mechanistic methodology and an instrumentalist view of educational processes.” Responses to such criticisms (Sammons & Reynolds, 1997; Sammons, Mortimore, & Hillman, 1996) have emphasized the roots of the effectiveness field in a concern with the promotion of equity and strong links with practitioners in the improvement tradition. Thrupp (2001) concluded that SESI researchers do not share the epistemological commitments of their critics and drew attention to under-theorization of the field, while Slee and Weiner (2001) have focused on supposed tensions between an emphasis on effectiveness and one on inclusive education. Teddlie and Reynolds (2001) have responded to the various criticisms, emphasizing that the field has indeed reported the influence of social class and role of context, but has also drawn attention to the importance of the school’s contribution and ways of improving practice to benefit the outcomes of disadvantaged groups. As we moved forward, there are also a number of tensions (Stoll & Harris, 2006). The burgeoning of research and development activity described in this chapter and elsewhere – space allows only a brief discussion of illustrative examples – highlights the range and diversity of the field which does not attempt a unified approach or focus. Also, with frequent policy changes, the difficulties of embedding and sustaining improvement may be a challenge, especially for schools in difficult circumstances. Furthermore, the informed professionalism that has been suggested is necessary for continuing improvement (Barber, 2001) may be threatened by a dependency culture in at least some schools (Earl et al., 2003; Stoll et al., 2003).

Conclusion In many ways, SESI could be described as “thriving” in the UK. The enormous amount of research, development and policy activity could not have been imagined 25 years ago, and


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there is increased collaboration between members of the different stakeholder groups, but the policy environment moves fast, and the pace of global change also means that what is required to improve schools may not be what was needed even 5 years ago. The potential of technology and a growing knowledge base, with a policy drive towards personalization of learning means that the role of schools will continue to change through developments such as school federations, consultant leaders and the role of other organizations and networks of schools. While schools and teaching will continue to evolve it seems likely that the methodological and theoretical insights of SESI approaches to enquiry will continue to develop and the need for research and development work to support the improvement of teaching and learning will remain urgent.

References Ainscow, M., Howes, A., & Tweddle, D. (2006). Moving practice forward at the district level. In M. Ainscow, & M. West (Eds.), Improving urban schools: Leadership and collaboration (pp. 70–80). Maidenhead: Open University Press. Ainscow, M., & West, M. (2006). Improving urban schools: Leadership and collaboration. Maidenhead: Open University Press. Barber, M. (2001). Large-scale Education Reform in England. Paper presented at the British Council’s School Development Conference, Tartu University, Tartu, Estonia, November 2001. Bolam, R., McMahon, A., Stoll, L., Thomas, S., Wallace, M., Hawkey, K., et al. (2005). Creating and sustaining effective professional learning communities. DfES Research Report RR637. Nottingham: DfES Publications. Chrispeels, J. H., & Harris, A. (2006). Conclusion: Future directions for the field. In A. Harris, & J. H. Chrispeels (Eds.), Improving schools and educational systems: International perspectives (pp. 295–307). London: Routledge. Clarke, P., Reynolds, D., & Harris, A. (2005). Challenging the challenged: Developing an impovement program for schools facing extremely challenging circumstances. In P. Clarke (Ed.), Improving schools in difficulty (pp. 7–21). London: Continuum. Clift, P., & Nuttall, D. (1987). Studies in school self-evaluation. Lewes: Falmer Press. Cox, T. (2000) (Ed.). Combating educational disadvantage meeting the needs of vulnerable children. London: Falmer Press. Cutler, V. (1998). Highbury Grove – from deconstruction to reconstruction. In L. Stoll, & K. Myers (Eds.), No quick fixes: Perspectives on schools in difficulty (pp. 86–95). London: Falmer Press. Day, C., Stobart, G., Sammons, P., Kington, A., Gu, Q., Smees, R., et al. (2006). Variations in teachers’work, lives and effectiveness. DfES Research Report RR743. Nottingham: DfES Publications. Doherty, J., MacBeath, J., Jardine, S., Smith, I., & McCall, J. (2001). Do schools need critical friends? In J. MacBeath, & P. Mortimore (Eds.), Improving school effectiveness (pp. 138–151). Buckingham: Open University Press. Durrant, J., & Holden, G. (2006). Teachers leading change: Doing research for school improvement. London: Paul Chapman. Earl, L., Katz, S., Elgie, S., Ben Jaafar, S., Foster, L., Sammons, P., et al. (2006). How networked learning communities work. Third phase evaluation report on the networked learning communities program. Toronto, Aporia Consulting Ltd. Earl, L., Watson, N., Levin, B., Leithwood, K., Fullan, M., & Torrance, N. with Jantzi, D., Mascall, B., & Volante, L. (2003). Watching & learning 3: Final report of the external evaluation of England’s national literacy and numeracy strategies. Toronto: OISE/UT and Nottingham: DfES. Elliott, J. (1980). Implications of classroom research for professional development. In E. Hoyle, & J. Megarry (Eds.), World yearbook of education 1980. London: Kogan Page. Elliot, J. (1996). School effectiveness research and its critics: Alternative visions of schooling. Cambridge Journal of Education, 26(2), 199–223.

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Mortimore, P., Sammons, P., Stoll, L., Lewis, D., & Ecob, R. (1988). School matters: The junior years. Somerset: Open Books. (Reprinted in 1996, Paul Chapman: London). Mortimore, P., Sammons, P., & Thomas, S. (1994). School effectiveness and value added measures. Assessment in Education, 1(3), 315–332. Mortimore, P., & Whitty, G. (1997). Can school improvement overcome the effects of disadvantage? Institute of Education Occasional Paper. London, Institute of Education. Muijs, D., Harris, A., Chapman, C., Stoll, L., & Russ, J. (2004). Improving schools in socially disadvantaged areas – a review of research evidence. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 15(2), 149–176. Muijs, D., & Reynolds, D. (2001). Effective teaching: Evidence and practice. London: Paul Chapman. Mullis, I. V. S., Martin, M. O., Gonzalez, E. J., & Kennedy, A. M. (2003). PIRLS 2001 international report: IEA’s study of reading literacy achievement in primary schools. Chestnut Hill, MA: Boston College. Myers, K. (1996). School improvement in practice: Schools make a difference project. London: Falmer Press. OECD. (2001). Knowledge and skills for life: First results from PISA 2000. Paris: OECD. Reynolds, D., Hopkins, D., Potter, D., & Chapman, C. (2001). School improvement for schools facing challenging circumstances: A review of research and practice. London: Department for Education and Skills. Reynolds, D., Hopkins, D., & Stoll, L. (1993). Linking school effectiveness knowledge and school improvement practice: Towards a synergy. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 4(1), 37–58. Reynolds, D., & Murgatroyd, S. (1977). The sociology of schooling and the absent pupil: The school as a factor in the generation of truancy. In H. M. C. Carroll (Ed.), Absenteeism in South Wales: Studies of pupils, their homes and their secondary schools. Swansea: Faculty of Education University of Swansea. Reynolds, D., Sammons, P., Stoll, L., Barber, M., & Hillman, J. (1996). School effectiveness and school improvement in the United Kingdom. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 7(2), 133–158. Reynolds, D., & Teddlie, C. (2001). Reflections on the critics, and beyond them. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 12(1), 99–113. Riley, K., Docking, J., & Rowles, D. (2000). Caught between local education authorities: Making a difference through their leadership? In K. A. Riley, & K. S. Louis (Eds.), Leadership for change and school reform: International perspectives (pp. 107–128). London: RoutledgeFalmer. Riley, K., Ellis, S., Weinstock, W., Tarrant, J., & Hallmond, S. (2006). Re-engaging disaffected pupils in learning: Insights for policy and practice. Improving Schools, 9(1), 17–32. Rudduck, J. (2001). Pupils and school improvement: Transcending the cramped conditions of the time. Improving Schools, 4(2), 7–16. Rudduck, J., & Flutter, J. (2000). Pupil participation and pupil perspective: Carving a new order of experience. Cambridge Journal of Education, 30(1), 75–89. Rudduck, J., & Flutter, J. (2004). How to improve your school: Giving pupils a voice. London: Continuum. Rutter, M., Maughan, B., Mortimore, P., & Ouston, J. (1979). Fifteen thousand hours: Secondary schools and their effects on children. London: Open Books. Sammons, P. (1999). School effectiveness: Coming of age in the twenty-first century. Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger. Sammons, P., Elliot, K., Welcomme, W., Taggart, B., & Levacic, R. (2004). England a country report. In H. Dobert, E. Klieme, & W. Sroka (2004), Conditions of school performance in seven countries: A quest for understanding the international variation of PISA results (pp. 65–149). Berlin: Waxmann. Sammons, P., Hillman, J., & Mortimore, P. (1995). Key characteristics of effective schools. London: Institute of Education University of London/Ofsted. Sammons, P., Mortimore, P., & Hillman, J. (1996). A response to David Hamilton’s reflections. Forum, 38(3), 88–90. Sammons, P., & Reynolds, D. (1997). A partisan evaluation – John Elliot on school effectiveness. Cambridge Journal of Education, 27(1), 123–136. Sammons, P., & Mujtaba, T. (2006). Understanding networked learning communities: A survey for schools. Report prepared for NCSL. Nottingham School of Education, Nottingham. (mimeo) Sammons, P., Power, S., Elliot, K., Campbell, C., Robertson, P., & Whitty, G. (2003). New Community Schools in Scotland: Final report – national evaluation of the pilot phase. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive Education Department.

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Sammons, P., & Smees, R. (1998) Measuring pupil progress at Key Stage 1: Using baseline assessment to investigate value added. School Leadership and Management, 18(3), 389–407. Sammons, P., Thomas, S., & Mortimore, P. (1997). Forging links: Effective schools and effective departments. London: Paul Chapman. Sammons, P., Thomas, S., Mortimore, P., Owen, C., & Pennell, H. (1994). Assessing school effectiveness: Developing measures to put school performance in context. London: Office for Standards in Education. Sharp, C., Handscomb, G., & Webster, M. (2006). Broadening horizons: Research-engaged schools. Slough: NFER and LGA. Paper presented at the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement. Fort Lauderdale, Florida, January. Slee, R., & Weiner, G. (2001). Educational reform and reconstructions as a challenge to research genres: Reconsidering school effectiveness research and inclusive schooling. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 12(1), 83–98. Smith, D., & Tomlinson, S. (1989). The school effect: A study of multi-racial comprehensives. London: Policy Studies Institute. Southworth, G. (2005). Learning-centred leadership. In B. Davies (Ed.), The essentials of school leadership. London: Paul Chapman and Corwin Press. Southworth, G., & Conner, C. (1999). Managing improving primary schools: Using evidence-based management and leadership. London: Falmer Press. Southworth, G., & Lincoln, P. (1999). Supporting improving primary schools: The role of heads and LEAs in raising standards. London: Falmer Press. Stoll, L. (1996). Linking school effectiveness and school improvement: Issues and possibilities. In J. Gray, D. Reynolds, C. Fitz-Gibbon, & D. Jesson (1996) Merging traditions: The future of research on school effectiveness and school improvement (pp. 51–73). London: Cassell. Stoll, L. (1999). Realising our potential: Understanding and developing capacity for lasting improvement. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 10(1), 1–30. Stoll, L., & Bolam, R. (2005). Developing leadership for learning communities. In M. Coles, & G. Southworth (Eds.), Developing leadership: Creating the schools of tomorrow (pp. 50–64). Maidenhead: Open University Press. Stoll, L., & Fink, D. (1996). Changing our schools: Linking school effectiveness and school improvement. Buckingham: Open University Press. Stoll, L., & Fink, D. (1998). The cruising school: The unidentified ineffective school. In L. Stoll, & K. Myers (Eds.), No quick fixes. Perspectives on schools in difficulty (pp. 189–206). London: Falmer Press. Stoll, L., Fink, D., & Earl, L. (2003). It’s about learning (and It’s about time). London: RoutledgeFalmer. Stoll, L., & Harris, A. (2006). Coming of age? Recent developments in school improvement in England. In J. C. Lee, & M. Williams (Eds.), School improvement: International perspectives (pp. 297–312). New York: Nova Science Publishers Inc. Stoll, L., & MacBeath, J. (2005). Promoting high expectations in challenging circumstances: Meanings, evidence and challenges for school leaders. In P. Clarke (Ed.), Improving schools in difficulty (pp. 137–155). London: Continuum. Stoll, L., McMahon, A., Bolam, R., Thomas, S., Wallace, M., Greenwood, A., et al. (2006). Professional learning communities: Source materials for school leaders and other leaders of professional learning. London: Innovation Unit, DfES, NCSL and GTCe. Stoll, L., & Myers, K. (1998). No quick fixes. Perspectives on schools in difficulty. London: Falmer Press. Stoll, L., & Thomson, M. (1996). Moving together: A partnership approach to improvement. In P. Earley, B. Fidler, & J. Ouston (Eds.), Improvement through inspection: Complementary approaches to school development. London: David Fulton. Swaffield, S. (2004). Critical friendship: Supporting leadership, improving learning. Improving Schools, 7(13), 267–278. Sylva, K., Melhuish, E., Sammons, P., Siraj-Blatchford, I., & Taggart, B. (2004). The effective provision of pre-school education (EPPE) project final report. London: Sure Start DfES. Taggart, B., & Sammons, P. (1999). Evaluating the impact of a raising school standards initiative. In R. Bosker, B. Creemers, & S. Stringfield (Eds.), Enhancing educational excellence, equity and efficiency: Evidence from evaluations of systems and schools in change. Dordrecht: Kluwer.


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Teddlie, C., & Reynolds, D. (2001). Countering the critics: Responses to recent criticisms of school effectiveness research. School effectiveness and school improvement, 12(1), 41–82. Thrupp, M. (2001). Sociological and political concerns about school effectiveness research: Time for a new research agenda. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 12(1), 7–40. Tizard, B., Blatchford, P., Burke, J., Farquhar, C., & Plewis, I. (1988). Young children at school in the inner city. Hove: Lawrence Erlbaum. Tymms, P. (2001). A test of the big fish in the little pond hypothesis: An investigation into the feelings of seven-year old pupils at school. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 12(2), 161–182. Watling, R., Hopkins, D., Harris, A., & Beresford, J. (1998). Between the devil and the deep blue sea? Implications for school and LEA development following an accelerated inspection program. In L. Stoll, & K. Myers (Eds.), No quick fixes: Perspectives on schools in difficulty (pp. 47–63). London: Falmer Press. Whatford, C. (1998). Rising from the ashes. In L. Stoll, & K. Myers (Eds.), No quick fixes: Perspectives on schools in difficulty (pp. 64–84). London: Falmer Press. Wikeley, F., Stoll, L., & Lodge, C. (2003). Effective school improvement: The English case studies. Educational Research and Evaluation, 8(4), 363–385.


Bert P. M. Creemers

Introduction Stringfield (1994) defines educational effectiveness research (EER) as the process of differentiating existing ideas and methods along dimensions deemed to be of value. EER does not attempt to invent new ideas or programs but to concentrate on understanding the lessons to be drawn from existing practices. In this way, EER attempts to establish and test theories which explain why and how some schools and teachers are more effective than others. The origins of educational effectiveness stem from reactions to the work on equality of opportunity undertaken by James Coleman and his collaborators (Coleman et al., 1966) and Christopher Jencks (Jencks et al., 1972). These two studies coming from two different disciplinary backgrounds (i.e., sociological and psychological) came almost to a similar conclusion in relation to the amount of variance that can be explained by educational factors. After taking into consideration student background characteristics, such as ability and family background not much variance in student achievement was left. This pessimistic feeling was also fed by the failure of large-scale educational compensatory programs such as the “Headstart” in the U.S.A. and comparable programs in other countries (MacDonald, 1991; Schon, 1971). In addition to methodological critiques of the Coleman report, studies were published that tried to prove that some schools did much better than could be expected on student achievement tests than others did (using a research design of positive versus negative outliers). At almost the same point in time research was published in both the United States and the United Kingdom that got much attention in both the scholarly and popular press. Edmonds (1979), a school-board superintendent, particularly addressed educational practitioners and Brookover, Beady, Flood, and Schweitzer (1979) the educational community. These studies led to a movement in school effectiveness research and in school improvement projects based on the findings of school effectiveness 223 T. Townsend (Ed.), International Handbook of School Effectiveness and Improvement, 223–242. © 2007 Springer.



research in the United States. Quite a lot of research took place into the correlates of school effectiveness, involving correlational studies focussing on the relationships between the effects of education, that is, the outcomes of schooling, and the characteristics of schools and classrooms. School change projects were based on these correlates discovered in the effective school research. The most famous set of correlates formed the so-called five factor model propagated by Edmonds. Most of the correlational studies and outlier studies were heavily criticised (Ralph & Fennessey, 1983) and this led to a reorientation in research and theory development after 1985. In the United Kingdom school effectiveness research started with the Rutter study. This study found that certain factors were not associated with overall effectiveness, among them class size, school size, the age and the size of school buildings. The important within-school factors determining high levels of effectiveness were the balance of the intellectually able and less able children in school, the reward system, the school environment, the opportunities for children to take responsibility, the use of homework, the possession of academic goals, the teacher as a positive role model, good management of the classroom and strong leadership combined with democratic decision-making. In British school effectiveness research, in addition to academic outcomes other measures like levels of rates of attendance, rates of delinquency, and levels of behaviour problems were incorporated. The suggestion was that effective schools were consistently effective across a wide range of types of student outcomes (Reynolds, 1976; Rutter, Maughan, Mortimore, & Ouston, 1979). The Reynolds studies that were ongoing in the 1970s and 1980s utilised detailed observations of schools in the collection of a large range of material upon pupil attitudes to school, teachers’ perceptions of pupils, within-school organisational factors and school resource levels, and revealed a number of factors within the school that were associated with more effective regimes. These included a high proportion of pupils in authority positions, low levels of institutional control, positive academic expectations, low levels of coercive management, high levels of pupil involvement, small overall size, more favourable teacher/pupil ratios and more tolerant attitudes to the enforcing of certain rules regarding “dress, manners and morals.” The publications by Brookover et al. (1979) and Rutter et al. (1979) were followed by numerous studies in different countries into school effectiveness and school improvement efforts, which were aimed at putting the results of research into practice (see for an overview: Teddlie & Reynolds, 2000; Townsend, Clarke, & Ainscow, 1999).

The Early Stages of SESI in Europe The start of the school effectiveness research and school improvement took place initially in the United States and the United Kingdom. In other countries by the early eighties preliminary studies and summaries of research were being carried out. In the Netherlands for example the research was summarised in relation to an outline for the structure of the secondary education (Creemers, 1983; Creemers & Schaveling, 1985). In fact in these countries school effectiveness research was rooted in research on teacher effectiveness, teacher behaviour, and other classroom studies (Veenman et al.,

The Development of the Field in Mainland Europe


1992). These studies too were strongly influenced by American studies (e.g., Brophy & Good, 1986; Doyle, 1986; Emmer, 1987; Evertson & Green, 1986; Flanders, 1970; Gage, 1972; Rosenshine, 1971) and replicated and expanded in other countries like the United Kingdom (Bennett, 1988), Sweden (Lundgren, 1972), Germany (Bromme, 1981) and Australia (Biddle, 1967; Fraser, 1986). The country report submitted to the First International Congress of School Effectiveness and Improvement provided an overview of school improvement work done previously in the Netherlands which could be connected, afterwards, to the tradition of school effectiveness and school improvement. The projects took as the effectiveness criterion student results in different school subjects and were especially addressing conditions at class- and school-level to improve educational outcomes. From 1980 onwards there has been a growing number of studies in which the relation between school characteristics and the results at student level has been explored. The research deals in a cross-sectional research or a longitudinal research with the relationship between individual and educational characteristics on the one hand and educational outcomes or individual school careers of students on the other. A first attempt to replicate the American research into effective schools is the study by Vermeulen (1987). Vermeulen investigated the relation between five school characteristics and the effectiveness of schools among school leaders and teachers of 22 educational priorities schools in Rotterdam. By means of translating instruments used in American research that measured school characteristics (Schweizer, 1984) and the CITO primary school final achievement test he tried to verify the five effective school characteristics model for the Dutch situation. Of the five, only the characteristic of an orderly atmosphere aimed at the stimulation of learning could by reliably measured and proved to have a relation with the average learning achievement. Because of the unreliable measurements the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the questionnaires are not suited for the Dutch situation. The country report also refers to the first studies of Van de Grift (1987) into the relationship of educational leadership of primary school leaders and average pupil achievement. The instrument developed for measuring self-perceptions of educational leadership proved to contain reasonably reliable scales for various aspects of this educational leadership. The relations between these various aspects of educational leadership and average pupil achievement were on the whole negative, non-existent or at any rate non-linear. Van de Grift interprets these outcomes as an indication that school leaders react to pupil achievements instead of being able to influence these achievements. However, the lack of control for aptitude and socio-economic status of pupils renders these conclusions debatable. Further the first studies using new statistical programs like VAR-CL and HLM (Brandsma & Knuver, 1988) might be seen as an indication of the interest in the Netherlands for quantitative research using multilevel modelling. The first country report concludes: Most important in our view, however, is the research on what causes effectiveness. In previous and current research we obtained many factors and variables which could be important for explaining school effectiveness. But the results until now



have been very ambiguous, not stable, and sometimes even conflicting with those from other programs. The use of the statistical techniques mentioned above in one method to get more decisive conclusions might be one way to improve the research. The other, more necessary, way is to improve theories and operationalisations of variables. The five factor model and the variables used in the research programs lack a firm basis. Specifically, we cannot explain why variables at school level cause the differences in achievement which are the result of the teachinglearning situation. In this respect, a distinction should be made between instructional effectiveness and school effectiveness. (In fact, some factors of school effectiveness are more related to instruction than others, for example, evaluation, feedback and time distribution). This makes it possible to bring about a relationship between school effectiveness research and educational research in teacher and curriculum effectiveness and even to link with learning models developed by Caroll, Bloom, Harnisfeger, Wiley and others. (Creemers & Lugthart, 1989, p. 98) The report pointed at two important issues which guided research and improvement in The Netherlands after 1990: the methodological and theoretical interest. The growing interest in research and the improvement of educational effectiveness was demonstrated by the large number of Dutch participants in the second Congress of ICSEI, one year later. About 20 academics working in school effectiveness and research improvement presented their work at this conference. Germany was presented by Aurin (1989) who came to the conclusion that: … in Germany, “effective school” research does not exist as a distinct field, although education research groups, administrations and governments of the eleven Länder are of course interested in knowing the causes of good school effectiveness and the possibilities of improving the effectiveness of poorer schools. Thus, “effective schools” research is indeed an important aspect of our work and of course also an important political goal. Consideration must however also be given to other problems in the field of education which are currently in the focus of public attention, for example unemployment among young people and the corresponding lack of motivation in schools; further the questions of instruction in ethics and religion, the tasks of social learning and of multi-cultural education and – last but not least – the problem of the contents and standards of general education. This is then the reality of German schools. On the other hand, the solution to these problems depends to a large extent on the pedagogical effectiveness of schools and on the necessary research in this area. (Aurin, 1989) The proceedings published after the second international congress (Creemers, Peters, & Reynolds, 1989) confirm the growing interest in the Netherlands for research on educational effectiveness. The section on school effectiveness research reports contained 15 studies. Eleven of them are written by Dutch researchers. However, in the section on school improvement there is no Dutch study at all. In the country report on the Netherlands Creemers & Knuver (1989, pp. 79–82) mention that there are some

The Development of the Field in Mainland Europe


indications that educational policy and practice make use of the results of EER such as the design for the evaluation of Educational Priorities Program makes use of the available knowledge base on educational effectiveness and interest in educational journals for practitioners which pay attention to educational effectiveness issues. However, the majority of progress can be found in the research area. In the study of Brandsma and Knuver (1988) 8% of the variance in language and more than 12% of the variance in arithmetic could be connected to differences between schools, part of which could be explained by school and classroom organisational factors. Van der Hoeven – van Doornum, Voeten and Jungbluth (1989) studied in 53 schools the effect of aspiration levels set by teachers for their pupils learning achievement. The effects of school and teaching factors on learning achievement appeared to be small. Higher aspiration levels, however, tended to lead to higher test scores for children. Some 7% of the variance in test scores could be explained by the aspiration level of the teacher as a “direct or interaction effect.” It is interesting to see that from early days on there is an interest in Dutch research for methodological issues and the development of theoretical models for educational effectiveness. With respect to the methodological issues the country report refers to the study of Blok and Eiting (1988) about the size of school effects in primary schools. The results show that real differences between schools (after correction for differences which occurred by chance) as far as pupil achievement in language is concerned are very small. In this research the intra class correlation coefficient rho has been used to estimate school differences as compared to individual differences. Although rho was small for most schools, some school factors could influence this measure. Especially the effect of being a “stimulated” school appeared to be present. Another methodological issue is the stability of school effectiveness. In former studies the effectiveness of schools over the years or between forms did not seem to be very stable. Research conducted by Bosker, Guldemond, Hofman, and Hofman (1988) shows that, for the data they analysed, school effects seemed to be quite stable between school years and cohorts. Another study by Hofman and Oorburg (1988) shows the same trend. The correlation between residual scores of two successive school years was 0.73. It was also shown that this correlation drops when these school years are more distant from each other, which was also the case in the Bosker et al. research. Van den Eeden and Koopman (1988) studied the problem of outliers in random coefficient models for multilevel analysis. Their conclusion is that in interpreting the outcomes of analyses when using a random coefficient model, outliers have to be considered because they can influence the estimated parameters. For the theoretical orientation the country report refers to an early study of Scheerens and Creemers which contains the framework of a comprehensive model for school effectiveness taking into account the contingency approach with respect to organisational factors at the school level and the instruction-learning approach with respect to factors the classroom level (Scheerens & Creemers, 1989). In the country report two other countries appear: Sweden and Hungary. The section on Hungary contains largely a description of the educational system of Hungary in transition from centralised to more autonomy in individual schools. (Halasz & Horvath, 1989, pp. 73–74). The section on Sweden presents an ongoing research and improvement project into school ethos and social climate (Klintestam, Grosin, & Holmberg, 1989, pp. 90–92).



After the proceedings of the first two international conferences on school effectiveness and school improvement, it was decided not to publish a country report every single year. The start of the Journal for School Effectiveness and School Improvement provided the opportunity to publish the papers presented at the international conferences. Incidentally, country reports about the development of educational effectiveness and improvement in specific countries were published (Creemers & Osinga, 1995; Teddlie & Reynolds, 2000; Townsend et al., 1999). These country reports show that there is a stable interest in educational effectiveness and improvement in the Netherlands. Also some other countries start with research into school effectiveness and school improvement, such as Belarus (Zagoumennov, 1995). The emphasis in Belarus is on educational reform such as the development of a new educational system, putting emphasis more on site-based than management and in relation to that the transformation of a program for school-leaders (Zagoumennov, 1995) and later on changes in the curriculum such as civics education program (Zagoumennov, 1999). In the 1999 overview (Townsend et al., 1999) three new countries provide a report, namely Norway (Hauge, 1999), France (Meuret, 1999) and Cyprus (Kyriakides, 1999). In Norway and Cyprus, educational reforms are in progress. These changes deal with the management of schools (from more centralised to decentralised) and the curriculum of the schools. EER and improvement – especially the evaluation of improvement efforts – are related to these reforms. Hauge comes to the conclusion that his review reveals that it is difficult to differentiate between studies into school effectiveness (research) and studies of school improvement. He addresses the point that compared to other countries Norway likes to keep its own educational policy. Compared to what happens in other countries in the Western world Norway has for many years been very cautious in implementing extensive external school evaluation systems. So far major efforts have been directed to school based evaluation programs focusing on empowerment and professionalisation of teachers and school leaders. Major control functions have been taken care of by other means of governing, for example, budgeting en through national school curricula. However, the national policy of school evaluation is gradually changing, influenced by societal demands on accountability, which are becoming more visible than ever before at the end of the twentieth century. This movement is challenging deep-rooted traditions in the Norwegian society, particularly those concerned with equality and equity in education. Meuret recognises that there is a growing interest in France for educational effectiveness but the main institutions in the field are more interested in the teacher or the policy level than in the school level. Results of school effectiveness research have been interpreted as showing that school effects are rather weak. Moreover, a culture gap remains between institutions mainly in charge of evaluation (Inspection Générale) and the culture of teachers on the one hand and school effectiveness on the other. Studies done in France show that at least for France the school process is highly dependent on the student body (Grisay, 1995) which could be an argument for designing effectiveness studies looking in more detail at effectiveness in schools and classrooms using standardised tests. A country that does not appear in the country reports is Belgium – Flanders, where in 1989 a project on educational effectiveness was started, the so-called cohort study LOSO

The Development of the Field in Mainland Europe


in which students for followed during their secondary education. From 1996 on there is a growing number of publications, first in Dutch but later also in English, about the analysis of this cohort (Van Damme, De Fraine, Landeghem, Opdenakker, & Onghena, 2002). In mainland Europe countries are rather different with respect to educational effectiveness and improvement. In The Netherlands effectiveness and improvement research started in the eighties and caught up quite easily with international (US and UK) research in this area. In some other countries, for example, Cyprus it started rather late, and individual researchers picked up ideas from educational effectiveness and improvement. Even at the start there were some differences in interest between countries. In some countries the emphasis was originally on research into educational effectiveness and the methodology which is used in studies, like in The Netherlands. In other countries the emphasis or the starting point is educational reform and the emphasis is on the research and evaluation of educational innovations. Sometimes this turns into research on the effectiveness issues. This is not necessarily the case in all countries. In The Netherlands the emphasis is on research and it is used more or less in reforms. Belgium – Flanders is another example where originally it started as a research exercise and gradually it was used for reform efforts as well. In other countries however the prime interest is on the reforms in education and especially curriculum reform and decentralisation of education. In relation to the improvement interests there is also more emphasis on issues like educational leadership, management organisation and curriculum issues. Examples are Belarus and Hungary and to a lesser extent Norway, Sweden and Germany. In some countries interest in educational effectiveness and improvement comes up and gradually declines. This is reflected in country reports. Countries only appear once and others are quite stable over time. When we also take into consideration publications in international journals like the Journal for School Effectiveness and School Improvement, we see quite a constant interest in EER in Belgium – Flanders, The Netherlands and Cyprus.

(Some) Results of SESI in Europe It is difficult to give a description of European research on educational effectiveness and improvement. As mentioned in the previous section, the research and improvement processes in European countries are not related to each other. Countries have their own program and might participate in international research projects like the International School Effectiveness Research Project or the Effective School Improvement Project (Reynolds, Creemers, Stringfield, & Teddlie, 2000; Creemers, Stoll, Reezigt, & ESI team, 2007 in this volume). Similar topics in research and improvement receive attention in countries at different points in time. In the following we more or less disregard these differences and describe the results independent of the period of time and the country. In the specific format we make a difference between the effectiveness studies and improvement studies, especially the evaluation of improvement efforts. Within effectiveness studies we look in more detail in methodological studies which address issues like the stability of school effects and the way to measure the effects, studies that address different aspects of effectiveness and finally related to the European interest in



development of theory and testing of theory, the development of theoretical models of theories about educational effectiveness and the testing of these models. With regard to the school improvement, we pay particular attention to the input and studies related to effectiveness and evaluation of educational improvement efforts.

Methodology of Educational Effectiveness Research Several studies address the issue of consistency of effectiveness across organisational sub-units and across time (stability). Luyten (1994) found inconsistency across grades: the difference between subjects within schools appeared to be larger than the general differences between schools. Moreover, the school effects for each subject also varied. Doolaard (1999) investigated stability over time by replicating the school effectiveness study carried out by Brandsma and Knuver (1989). Bosker (1990) found evidence for differential effects of school characteristics on the secondary school careers of low and high SES pupils. High and low SES pupils similarly profit from the type of school that appeared to be most effective: the cohesive, goal-oriented and transparently organised school. The variance explained by school types, however, was only 1%. With respect to the departmental level, some support for the theory of differential effects was found. Low SES pupils did better in departments characterised by consistency and openness, whereas high SES pupils were better off in other department types (explained variance 1%). Campbell, Kyriakides, Muijs, and Robinson (2003) found next to typical characteristics of effective teaching also differential teacher effects which can be combined with school characteristics. In a Flemish study into effective schools, De Maeyer and Rymenans (2004) found also a differential school effect. Some school teachers do not equally enhance the achievement level of different types of pupils. A strong educational policy has an effect on boys’ reading scores but not on girls’. Furthermore, some school features only seem to work in a certain grade or discipline. De Maeyer and Rymenans’ study focuses on a couple of methodological issues such as the design of the study. They show in simulation studies that the multi-cohort design produces results of equal value as longitudinal design. When the selection is not being taken into account, multi-cohort design leads to conservative statements of school effects. The inadequate modelling of selection leads to an over-estimation of the standard errors of parameter estimations for the effect of a school characteristic. Therefore it is more difficult to detect a significant effect. Further they compare different models by means of multi-level Structural Equation Modelling. Apart from direct effects also indirect effects (through an achievement oriented climate) and antecedent effects (characteristics of the school population) have been modelled. The last one shows the best fit in the research project. Luyten (2006) and Kyriakides and Luyten (2006) propose different ways of measuring school and schooling effects. The amount of variation between schools always looks small in comparison to differences in student achievement within schools. This is not a good indication for the effects of schooling. The effect of schooling might be substantial even though the differences between schools are limited. Kyriakides and Creemers (2006) suggest another way of measuring long-term effects of schools and teachers which might provide a better estimation of the effects of schooling.

The Development of the Field in Mainland Europe


The methodological development in the past mainly concerned multi-level causal modelling but we need more complex modelling in effectiveness studies. It seems useful for instance to look at threshold levels of effectiveness characteristics, levels where effectiveness of a characteristic might turn into its opposite. The development of curvilinear model and system dynamic models to study the relationship between the effectiveness school factors and outcomes in a process of educational change is one of the major tasks in the near future of EER (see the section Modelling educational effectiveness).

Correlates of Educational Effectiveness Between 1985 and 1995 a number of studies were published in The Netherlands to find out which factors mentioned in the literature show positive and negative correlations with educational achievement. In their review Scheerens and Creemers (1995) table says Creemers and Osinga make an analysis of these studies (see Table 1). In the columns the total number of significant positive and negative correlations between these conditions and educational attainment are shown. The main organisational and instructional effectiveness enhancing conditions, as known from the international literature, are shown in the left-hand column. The total number of effectiveness studies presented in Table 1 in primary education is 29, while the total of studies in secondary education is 13, thus indicating that primary education is the main educational sector for effectiveness studies in The Netherlands. Primary and secondary education schools with a majority of lower

Table 1. Dutch school effectiveness studies: Total number of positive and negative correlations between selected factors and educational achievement Primary level Positive association Structured teaching/feedback Teacher experience Instructional leadership Orderly climate Student evaluation Differentiation Whole class teaching Achievement orientation Team stability/cooperation Time/homework Other variables Average between school variance Number of studies

Secondary level

Negative association

5 3

Positive association

Negative association

1 1 2

2 5 2 3 4

1 1 3 0 0 0 4


3 4 16

3 4 8

9 29

Note: Not all variables mentioned in the columns were measured in each and every study. Source: Creemers and Osinga (1995).

13.5 13



SES-pupils and pupils from minority groups comprise the research sample of about 25% of the studies. The line near the bottom of the table that shows the percentage of variance that is between schools gives an indication of the importance of the factor “school” in Dutch education. The average percentage in primary schools is nine, and in secondary schools 13.5. It should be noted that this is an average not only over studies, but also over output measures. Generally schools have a greater effect on mathematics than on language/reading, as suggested in Fitz-Gibbon (1992). Since at the time the studies included in the review were conducted most primary schools had just one class per grade level, the school and classroom levels usually coincide. It is difficult to draw a firm conclusion about the contribution of factors at classroom and school level separately although there are indications that in The Netherlands the classroom level factors explain more variance in student outcomes than factors at other levels. A study related to both the instructional and school level carried out by the universities of Twente and Groningen was an experimental study aimed at comparing school-level and classroom-level determinants of mathematics achievement in secondary education. It was one of the rare examples of an effectiveness study in which treatments are actively controlled by researchers. The experimental treatments consisted of training courses that teachers received and feedback to teachers and pupils. Four conditions were compared: a condition where teachers received special training in the structuring of learning tasks and providing feedback on achievement to students; a similar condition to which consultation sessions with school leaders was added; a condition where principals received feedback about student achievement; and a no-treatment condition. Stated in very general terms, the results seemed to support the predominance of the instructional level and of the teacher behaviour (Brandsma, Edelenbos, Boskers, Akkermans, & Bos, 1995). Scheerens and Bosker (1997) confirm in a later review and an analysis of findings of international studies on school organisational or structural characteristics of educational effectiveness the limited evidence of school and structural characteristics. Qualitative reviews are more optimistic than the international analysis and research synthesis. On the school level monitoring and evaluation might have small effects as well as parental involvement and climate. Positive classroom conditions are related to aspects of structured teaching such as cognitive learning feedback, re-enforcement and adaptive instruction (Scheerens & Bosker, 1997, p. 305). Later studies in The Netherlands and elsewhere confirmed the importance of the factors mentioned (Reynolds, Teddlie, Creemers, Scheerens, & Townsend, 2000; Scheerens, 1999). Maslowski (2001) could identify five types of school cultures such as schools that were primarily oriented towards internal processes, achievement-oriented schools, changeoriented schools, control-oriented schools and “strong comprehensive” schools. The problem however was that none of these schools show a significant connection with student performance. In most studies, instructional factors dealing with structuring and evaluation could explain small parts of the variance in student outcomes. Even at the university level the quality of instruction and evaluation still have a (small) effect on student outcomes (Bruinsma, 2003).

The Development of the Field in Mainland Europe


In Belgium – Flanders, the LOSO cohort study confirms largely the findings with regard to student background characteristics like ability and home environment, classroom characteristics like teacher and instructional characteristics and school organisational characteristics (Opdenakker, 2003). It is interesting to note that this study could explain variance in student behaviour based on the joint effects of schools and classrooms but also differential effects that are somewhat different than in other countries. When the strength was defined operationally in terms of family characteristics, indicators for intelligence and mathematics achievements or efforts for mathematics during the school year, it was found that students with a strong background have a strong sensitivity to the educational environment. However, when the strength of the student was defined in terms of motivation and general effort variables or in terms of the indicator for economic capital, it was found that students scoring low on prior achievement motivation or general effort or belonging to economically disadvantaged families are more sensitive to the educational environment than students scoring high on these characteristics (Opdenakker, 2003). Opdenakker found also evidence for configurations (combinations of characteristics at school- and classroom-level) which could explain variance in student outcomes. The other study in Belgium – Flanders (De Maeyer & Rymenans, 2004) could provide evidence for a relationship between effective education characteristics on the one hand and student outcomes on the other. As well as in the LOSO study (Van Damme et al., 2002) the study shows that the overall picture of an effective school differs for the cognitive and the non-cognitive criteria. Pupils perform relatively well on the cognitive level in a school with an orderly and positive climate, a high degree of achievement orientation, a powerful educational leadership, a smooth integration of the school leader and the middle management, and extensive co-operation within the team of teachers. Moreover, the school communicates extensively with the business community, and representatives from trade and industry from the non-profit sector participate in advisory committees. The school is prepared to adjust its curriculum and the contents and didactics of its subjects to suggestions from the business community. On the other hand pupils achieve worse for mathematics and/or reading comprehension in a school where general and practical subjects are integrated, where pupil counselling and tutoring are highly developed, and where an active policy is pursued on “learning to learn.” The school receives a substantial contribution of the business community on the technological and material level, training for pupils is being organised and the business community provides educational support for it. In a school where pupils feel well, an active policy is pursued on “learning to learn,” and tutoring is highly developed. And in a school where pupils feel bad, performance interviews are held, self-evaluation is carried out and the educational policy is evaluated regularly. Trying to explain why certain school features influence pupils’ achievement level or their well-being, is not always obvious. From our observations we have derived three tendencies of plausible explanations. It can be assumed that some school characteristics, such as educational leadership or an orderly and positive climate, influence pupils’ performance or well-being positively in a direct or indirect way. The observed negative effects we have tried to explain in two ways. It is plausible that school features



such as pupil counselling or tutoring, are organised as a reaction on a negative situation (a low level of performance or well-being). Another possible explanation is that organising pupil counselling or tutoring is not sufficient to achieve good results; more important is that these school features are implemented in the most effective way (De Maeyer & Rymenans, 2004, pp. 361–362).

Modelling Educational Effectiveness and the Empirical Evidence As mentioned already in the first section there was from the beginning a strong interest in the development of models and/or theories that could explain differences in student outcomes in different schools. In the 1990s attention was given to studies that are strongly related to more or less explicit models of educational effectiveness as developed by Scheerens (1992) and Creemers (1994). The Scheerens model emphasises organisational factors such as the evaluation policy of the school in relation to what happens at the instructional level. In the comprehensive model of Creemers ideas about instructional effectiveness provide the main perspective. The emphasis is more on the classroom instructional level, grouping procedures and mediums for instruction like the teacher and instructional materials and the classroom-school interface. Larger educational effectiveness studies like the LOSO study in Belgium – Flanders (Van Damme et al., 2002) departed from the international theory and research and developed their own theoretical frameworks (see e.g., Opdenakker, 2003). These models all have a multi-level structure where schools are embedded in a context, classrooms are embedded in schools and students are embedded in classrooms or teachers. Most of the time, these models reflect the researcher’s own view on effectiveness, just a few models are based on further empirical evidence. In general, Deijnum can confirm in his study the importance of the classroom level in the comprehensive model, but he was not very successful in tracing the influence of policy- and school-level (Deinum, 2000). This might be caused by the general perspective (not precise enough) of his study. Later on more studies have been conducted in order to test the validity of the comprehensive model in more detail (De Jong, Westerhof, & Kruiter, 2004) and in Cyprus (Kyriakides, 2005; Kyriakides, Campbell, & Gagatsis, 2000; Kyriakides & Tsangaridou, 2004). All studies reveal that the influences on student achievement are multi-level. This finding is in line with the findings of most studies into educational effectiveness conducted in various other countries (Teddlie & Reynolds, 2000) and provide support for the argument that models of EER should be multi-level in nature. The analysis of the studies reveals that next to the multi-level nature of effectiveness the relationship between factors at different levels might be more complex than assumed in the comprehensive model. This is especially true for interaction effects among factors operating at the classroom- and student-level which reveals the importance of investigating differentiated effectiveness (Muijs, Campbell, Kyriakides, & Robinson, 2005). Further, the theories/models might include more student background factors (also suggested by Opdenakker, 2003). Finally, “new” learning and teaching processes related to a broader set of educational outcomes (like meta-cognition, see also De Jager, Jansen, & Reezigt, 2005).

The Development of the Field in Mainland Europe


School Improvement and Evaluation Studies The International Congress for School Effectiveness and School Improvement (ICSEI) was established with the purpose to make a combination between educational effectiveness and school improvement. School improvement was particularly interesting for educational policy and practice and got attention in different European countries. This was mostly related to educational reforms within the countries and differed over time. In The Netherlands for example this was the case in the early nineties. Later on it became more important in other European countries as the process of decentralisation and school autonomy took place (e.g., in Spain in the mid-nineties and in Cyprus in the late-nineties). In educational practice the interest in educational effectiveness and the link with school improvement was may be like in educational policy triggered and stimulated by the fact that a knowledge base was available and usable to implement in education. In fact this was not the case and resulted in a distinction, and sometimes tension, between school effectiveness and school improvement. This is described in several studies (see e.g., Creemers & Reezigt, 1997; Reynolds, Teddlie, Hopkins, & Stringfield, 2000). All these descriptions result in a plea to (re)-establish a relationship between the two in order to make use of the mutual benefits of educational effectiveness on the one hand and educational improvement on the other. Empirically validated knowledge should be used in educational practice for educational improvement and the results of the evaluation of improvement efforts create the basis for theories about educational effectiveness. However, in general educational improvement concentrates on changes in schools through specific improvement projects. These projects emphasise the role and co-operation of different participants such as school-leaders, teachers, parents, students together and the support by internal and external advisors. Further educational improvement takes place through specific projects like for example Improving Educational Leadership (Huber, 2004) and specific strategies like school improvement through performance feedback (Visscher & Coe, 2002). Educational effectiveness was more successful in the evaluation of school reforms and improvement programs. The design of the studies reflected the conceptual frameworks of educational effectiveness for example, in the evaluation of the educational priority program in The Netherlands and the design of the Dutch cohort studies in primary and secondary education and for the evaluation frameworks used by inspectorates in different countries like, for example, in Belgium–Flanders and The Netherlands. Mostly smaller school improvement projects make a link between the educational effectiveness knowledge base and the implementation of knowledge in the strategy for school improvement and finally evaluation in terms of student outcomes. In The Netherlands, Houtveen carried out different projects in which the school effectiveness knowledge base was combined with ideas about adaptive instruction and was implemented in schools. The results are successful as can be seen in the evaluation of the mathematics program (Houtveen, van de Grift, & Creemers, 2004). In an international program in which several European countries have taken part an attempt is made to combine the effective educational knowledge base with school improvement programs and to look for successful combinations of the two in European



countries. The project resulted in a framework that can be used to design and implement an effective school improvement project (see for more details Creemers, Stoll, & Reezigt, in this volume).

Conclusion It is clear from this section that educational effectiveness and improvement is an important topic. It combines different separated early research strands like teacher effectiveness, learning and instruction and school organisation. From the start between 1985 and 1990 in The Netherlands and afterwards in other countries, educational effectiveness has been an important program. Especially after 1990 different theoretical positions were developed and research has taken place to test specific arguments. In different areas progress has been made. The research in different countries and the elaboration of specific theoretical positions with respect to instructional and school organisational issues has been investigated. Progress has been made in the methodology and the scientific properties of EER (such as multi-level and structural equation modelling). Specific components such as opportunity to learn and stability issues have been studied intensively and successfully. The development of theories, models and frameworks for educational effectiveness turned out to be beneficial for educational effectiveness. Theoretical orientations have taken place in various areas of learning and instruction and school organisation. These theoretical orientations have guided research in mainland Europe in specific areas such as student background, instruction and school organisation as well as in the testing of the model as a whole. The merging between educational effectiveness on the one hand and educational improvement on the other is still an important (and so far unsolved) problem. Together it might be that their influence on educational practice and policy-making can be increased. At present the influence of educational effectiveness on practice and policy is modest and sometimes criticised (Thrupp, 2001 and the debate around it). The results of improvement projects in which effectiveness and improvement knowledge is combined points at the possibility to increase the contribution of effectiveness and improvement on educational practice. This issue points also to the fact that international comparative research and collaboration in the area of school effectiveness and school improvement is needed (Creemers, 2005; Reynolds, 2000, in press).

Future In the review of educational effectiveness and improvement in mainland Europe studies have been used that were done in different European countries and in different periods of time. In these studies recommendations have been made for the future. Some of them still hold. ●

Specific studies with respect to characteristics which can explain variance in educational effectiveness and improvement are still needed. These studies can be

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directed to specific factors and characteristics such as opportunity to learn, teaching, learning etc. It is still needed to clarify specific important scientific properties of educational effectiveness such as the size of the effects, stability, long-term effects of teachers, schools and schooling, and the differential effects. Operationalisation and instrumentation of variables needs improvement, preferably embedded in longitudinal, experimental and international studies. It is advocated to develop further theoretical models for studying educational effectiveness. In this respect it is important to note that new models should take notice of the research results from the past, for example, look for differential effects, relations between factors and between levels and the relationships between the factors and student outcomes (Creemers & Kyriakides, 2005). This also holds for the ongoing discussion in educational effectiveness in the relationship between the stability of effectiveness on the one hand and educational change, that is, the improvement of education on the other (see also Luyten, Visscher, & Witziers, 2005). International studies are needed. They can increase the variation and also emphasise the context in which the education takes place (Creemers, 2005; Reynolds, 2000). The foregoing review is based on national studies mainly, but the international studies such as the Effective School Improvement Project (Creemers et al., in this issue) and the International School Effectiveness Research Project (Reynolds, Creemers, Stringfield, Teddlie, & Schaffer, 2002) are examples of international studies which show that international studies might, more than national studies, increase our knowledge base. The same holds for the re-analysis of international comparative studies like the data-sets provided by the TIMSS and PISA with research questions derived from educational effectiveness theory (Kyriakides, 2005).

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Yin-Cheong Cheng and Wai-ming Tam

In the past three decades, there have been numerous initiatives for school effectiveness and improvement in many countries and areas of Asia. These initiatives were in response to the influences and needs of social, economic, and political developments in fast-changing regional and global environments. Given the increasing interactions between Asia and its counterparts such as North America, Australia, and Europe in the past decades, the review and analysis of the development and effect of these efforts at the country and the regional levels in Asia may be in a larger international context of educational reforms in different parts of the world. This chapter aims to provide an overview of the development of initiatives for school effectiveness and improvement in Asia. It also aims to show how the development has experienced three waves of educational reforms with contrastingly different paradigms in policy formulation and practical implementation. Furthermore, this chapter reviews the nine trends and related challenges of initiatives for changing school education and draws implications for research, policy, and practice in school effectiveness and improvement.

Three Waves of School Effectiveness and Improvement As part of worldwide educational reforms, the initiatives of school effectiveness and improvement in various areas of Asia have experienced three waves of movement in the past decades (Cheng, 2001c, 2001d, 2005) (see Figure 1). The first wave focuses on internal school effectiveness, and the second wave on interface school effectiveness. The third wave emphasizes future school effectiveness. Each wave has a focus and a paradigm in conceptualizing the theory of school effectiveness, initiatives for school improvement, and methods of implementation and practice at the system, site, and operational levels. These three waves of school initiatives, when considered together, are themselves a general typology for capturing and understanding the key paradigms 245 T. Townsend (Ed.), International Handbook of School Effectiveness and Improvement, 245–268. © 2007 Springer.


Cheng and Tam 3 Waves & Paradigm Shifts

Effective school movements

E Effectiveness

1980s–1990s Internal effectiveness Figure 1.

Quality/competitive school movements

Q Quality

1990s Interface effectiveness

World class school movements

R Relevance

2000s Future effectiveness

Three waves of school effectiveness and improvement

and characteristics of various educational reforms for school effectiveness and improvement in Asia in these three decades.

First Wave: Effective School Movements Since the 1980s, following the successful expansion of basic education systems to meet the needs of national economic developments, many policy-makers and educators in Asia began to pay attention to the improvement of internal school process, including teaching and learning. The aim was to enhance internal school effectiveness in achieving planned educational aims and curriculum targets. In Hong Kong, India, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, and mainland China, numerous initiatives were evident to target improving some factors of internal school process. Examples are school management, teacher quality, curriculum design, teaching methods, evaluation approaches, facilities, and environment for teaching and learning (Abdullah, 2001; Cheng, 2001a; Gopinathan & Ho, 2000; Kim, 2000; Rajput, 2001; Tang & Wu, 2000). There is a strong emphasis on using the benchmarking concept (Bogan & English, 1994) to ensure that the effectiveness or performance of some internal factors is at a certain standard. For example, in Hong Kong, English language teachers were asked to take a benchmark examination in order to show their English language proficiency reached a given benchmark (Coniam, Falvey, Bodycott, Crew, & Sze, 2000). Consistent with the effective school movements in the UK, the US, and Australia, the efforts for school improvement in the above areas of Asia often assumed that goals and objectives of school education were clear and had the consensus of all involved parties – parents, students, teachers, employers, policy-makers, and social leaders. Therefore, the first wave of school initiatives in Asia focused mainly on internal effectiveness

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assurance. Efforts were made to improve and ensure the internal performance of schools generally, and the methods and processes of teaching and learning in particular, to achieve the planned school goals. Then, higher achievement represented higher school effectiveness. As indicated in the latter part of this chapter on trends of educational reforms, many of the initiatives and changes made were government-directed and top-down. The aim was to rationalize institutional arrangements and improve educational practices for enhancing their effectiveness in achieving the goals planned at either the site level or the system level. Improvement of teacher performance and then student learning outcomes to identified standards, particularly in public examinations or international academic assessments, was obviously a popular and important target for school improvement in this first wave. Over the past decades, numerous initiatives of the first wave have been introduced in Asia and other parts of the world (Cheng & Townsend, 2000; Dimmock, 2003). Some focused on improvement of school management and classroom environment (Cheng, 1996b); some on curriculum development and change (Baker & Begg, 2003; Cheng, Chow, & Tsui, 2000); some on teacher qualifications and competencies (Cheng, Chow, & Mok, 2004; Fidler & Atton, 1999; Gopinathan & Ho, 2003; Lee, 2004; Walia, 2004; Wang, 2004); some on improvement of teaching and learning processes (Bubb, 2001; Morgan & Morris, 1999; Renshaw & Power, 2003); and some on evaluation and assessment (Headington, 2000; Leithwood, Aitken, & Jantzi, 2001; MacBeath, 1999, 2000; Mohandas, Meng, & Keeves, 2003; Sunstein & Lovell, 2000). Unfortunately, the results of these efforts were often very limited and could not satisfy the increasing needs and expectations of the public. People began to doubt the effectiveness of the improvement initiatives in meeting the diverse needs and expectations of parents, students, employers, policy-makers, and those concerned in the community. How can education be held accountable to the public? How relevant to the changing demands of the local community are education practices and outcomes? All these questions are concerned with the interface between education institutions and the community. This means that assurance of school effectiveness is not only a question of internal process improvement but is also an interface issue of meeting the stakeholders’ satisfaction and ensuring accountability to the community.

Second Wave: Quality School Movements In the 1990s, in response to concerns about school accountability to the public and the quality of education satisfying stakeholders’ expectations, the second wave of international educational reforms for school effectiveness and improvement emerged. This wave emphasized interface school effectiveness, typically defined by education quality, stakeholders’ satisfaction, and market competitiveness. Most policy efforts were directed at ensuring the quality and accountability of schools to the internal and external stakeholders (see, e.g., Coulson, 1999; Evans, 1999; Goertz & Duffy, 2001; Headington, 2000; Heller, 2001; Mahony & Hextall, 2000). In some areas of Asia, such as Hong Kong, South Korea, India, mainland China, Singapore, and Taiwan, there was a growing trend of quality school movements


Cheng and Tam

emphasizing quality assurance, school monitoring and review, parental choice, student coupons, parental and community involvement in governance, school charters, and performance-based funding. These are some typical examples of the measures taken to pursue and enhance effectiveness at the interface between schools and the community (Cheng & Townsend, 2000; Mohandas et al., 2003; Mok et al., 2003; Mukhopadhyay, 2001; Pang et al., 2003). In the second wave, school effectiveness (or more commonly, school quality) mainly refers to the satisfaction of stakeholders (parents, students, policy-makers, etc.) with the education services of a school. The accountability of a school to the public is often perceived as an important indicator for satisfying the needs of key stakeholders. Therefore, assurance of school effectiveness in this wave often means the efforts to ensure education services provided by schools are satisfying the needs of stakeholders and are accountable to the public. In the past decade, there have been numerous initiatives of the second wave introduced in Asia and other parts of the world. The use of school monitoring, school self-evaluation, quality inspection, indicators and benchmarks, survey of the satisfaction of key stakeholders, accountability reporting to the community, and school development planning has become more and more popular in ensuring interface school effectiveness and improvement (Cheng, 1997b; Glickman, 2001; Headington, 2000; Jackson & Lund, 2000; Leithwood et al., 2001; MacBeath, 1999, 2000; Smith, Armstrong, & Brown, 1999; Sunstein & Lovell, 2000). For example, in South Korea, Hong Kong, mainland China, and Thailand, school-based management is being promoted as the major school reform that includes most of these initiatives for ensuring interface effectiveness between the school and the community (Caldwell, 2003; Cheng, 1996a, 2003a). At the turn of the millennium, rapid globalization, the long-lasting effects of information technology (IT), the drastic shock of the economic downturn, and strong demands for economic and social developments in international competition stimulated deep reflection on educational reforms in Asia (Keeves, Njora, & Darmawan, 2003; Ramirez & Chan-Tiberghein, 2003). Policy-makers and educators had to think of ways to reform curriculum and pedagogy and to prepare young people to more effectively cope with the fast-changing environment of the future. In such a context, most policy-makers and educators began to doubt whether the second wave of educational reforms could meet the challenges in a new era of globalization, IT, and the knowledge-based economy. They were concerned about the relevance of interface school effectiveness to the future development of students. It is not surprising that, even though school performance is accountable to the community and stakeholders are satisfied, education may be “useless” or ineffective in the new millennium, if it has nothing to do with the future needs of students and the society.

Third Wave: World-Class School Movements To ensure that the younger generation can meet the challenges and needs of rapid transformations in an era of globalization and IT, many educators, policy-makers, and stakeholders in Asia and other regions urge a paradigm shift in learning and teaching. They demand a reform of the aims, content, practice, and management of school education, to ensure relevance to the future (see, e.g., Burbules & Torres, 2000; Cheng,

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2000a, 2000b, 2003a; Daun, 2001; Ramirez & Chan-Tiberghein, 2003; Stromquist & Monkman, 2000). In such a global context in the new century, there is an emerging third wave of school reforms and initiatives in Asia, with strong emphasis on future school effectiveness, often defined by the relevance of school education to the future developments of individuals and their society. In particular, this relevance is in relation to new education functions in the new century, and a new paradigm of education concerning contextualized multiple intelligences, globalization, localization, and individualization (Baker & Begg, 2003; Cheng, 2005; Maclean, 2003). As a result of strong implications from globalization and international competition, this third wave of school reforms is often driven by the notion of world-class school movements. School effectiveness and improvement should be defined by world-class standards and global comparability to ensure that the future developments of students and societies are sustainable in such a challenging era of globalization. Therefore, the pursuit of new vision and aims of school education, lifelong learning, global networking, international outlook, and use of IT are just some evidence of the emerging third wave in many advanced and developing areas of Asia (Cheng, 2001a; Pefianco, Curtis, & Keeves, 2003; Peterson, 2003). The above three waves of school reforms provide us with an overview to show how educators and policy-makers in Asia have employed different paradigms and focuses in conceptualizing initiatives and making efforts for school effectiveness and improvement in the last decades.

Nine Trends for School Effectiveness and Improvement Asia is one of the fastest developing areas in the world. Since the 1990s, huge national resources have been invested in education and related initiatives in nearly every country in the region, in order to bring about substantial improvement and development in various aspects of society (Cheng, 2003a). Unfortunately, many countries are still very disappointed with their school education, in view of the challenges of the new century. In order to redress the problems in the school system, they are proposing more and more reforms to improve the practice and effectiveness of education at different levels. Therefore, we would like to know the following: What lessons can be learned and shared from these ongoing educational reforms in Asia, so that we can avoid repeating failure, thus preparing for policy formulation and implementation of educational changes in our own countries? Particularly for policy-makers, educators, and researchers, the following questions should receive due attention in considering educational reforms for school effectiveness: ●

What are the major trends and characteristics of the ongoing educational reforms for school effectiveness in Asia? What are the major challenges that policy-makers and educators are facing in the current educational reforms, particularly in such a new era of globalization, IT, competition, and the knowledge-driven economy? What implications can be drawn from these trends and challenges for research and policy development in the areas of school effectiveness and improvement?

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Based on the comprehensive reviews of Cheng (1999, 2003a, 2003b) and Cheng and Townsend (2000), and with reference to Keeves and Watanabe (2003), nine major trends of ongoing educational reforms for school effectiveness and improvement in Asia can be observed. These trends are mainly in the second and third waves (see Figure 2). The discussion that follows is guided by a conceptual framework for a four-level analysis that reflects the scope, focus, and general nature of the trends.

Trends of Reforms at Four Levels in the Second and Third Waves At the macro level, the main trends include: (1) re-establishing a new national vision and new educational aims for schools; (2) restructuring school systems at different levels for new educational aims; and (3) market-driving, privatizing, and diversifying school education. The first two are in the domain of the third wave and the last one in the second wave. To a great extent, these trends address the important issues at the societal level, particularly the following: ●

How can the national vision and aims in school education be redefined and, correspondingly, the school systems be restructured to cope effectively with the challenges in an era of globalization, IT, and a knowledge-based economy? How can the consumption of limited resources be maximized in planning and managing school education provision for meeting new educational aims and satisfying the diverse and increasing demands from the society, the community, and individuals? How can the various educational services by schools be financed to achieve national aims in a more equitable, efficient, and effective way?

Macro level • Towards re-establishing new national vision and education aims for schools • Towards restructuring school system at different levels • Towards market-driving, privatizing, and diversifying school education

School operational level • Towards using it and new technologies in education • Towards paradigm shifts in learning, teaching, and assessment

Figure 2.

Nine trends for school effectiveness and improvement

3rd wave

School site level • Towards ensuring education quality, standards, and accountability • Towards decentralization and school-based management • Towards enhancing teacher quality and lifelong professional development

2nd wave

Meso level • Towards parental and community involvement in school education

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At the meso level, increasing parental and community involvement in school education and management is a salient trend. The educational reforms in this trend often encourage and promote wide participation and partnership in school education. The purpose is to broaden support from the community and family for the provision of quality educational services and to ensure the accountability of schools to the public. This is especially important when the educational services provided are funded with public money. This trend is in the domain of the second wave. At the site level, the major trends are: (1) ensuring education quality, standards, and accountability in schools; (2) increasing decentralization and school-based management; and (3) enhancing teacher quality and lifelong professional development. In general, these trends address the issues at the school level, the first two in the domain of the second wave and the last one in both the second and third waves. The trends address the following questions: ●

How can the quality, effectiveness, and accountability of education be provided in schools to meet diverse expectations and demands? How can an authority be decentralized to maximize the flexibility and efficiency in consuming resources to solve problems and meet diverse needs at the school site level? How can teacher quality and educational leadership in schools be enhanced to provide better educational services in such a fast-changing and challenging environment?

At the operational level of schools, the main trends include (1) using information technology in learning and teaching and applying new technologies in management, and (2) making a paradigm shift in learning, teaching, and assessment. The reforms aim to facilitate change and development of educational practices in schools, particularly at the classroom or the operational level, in order to meet the future development needs of individuals and society. These two trends are in the domain of the third wave.

Towards Re-Establishing New National Visions and Educational Aims for Schools In facing the rapid changes and global challenges from economic, cultural, and political transformations, national leaders in Asia have become dissatisfied with the short-term achievements of their school systems. Political leaders increasingly draw connections between the role of school education and the achievement of their national visions for growth and prosperity in the new era. They propose new educational visions and long-term aims for schools to prepare the new generation for the future in a globally competitive environment. This trend is consistent with the third wave of initiatives, which aims at future school effectiveness. Malaysia is a typical example of this connection between national visions and educational goals. Under Dr. Mahathir Mohammed’s leadership, the Malaysian government put forward Vision 2020. This plan, developed during the 1980s, proposed that Malaysia would transform itself from a commodity-export country to an industrialized and developed country by the year 2020. Education in general and schools in


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particular played a central role in Vision 2020 as an instrument for promoting national unity, social equality, and economic development (Lee, 2000). By way of further example, Singapore’s national leaders took a similarly strategic view of school education in their plans for nation building. Indeed, they accepted the challenge of making learning part of the national culture. Accordingly, they proposed the slogan “Thinking schools, a learning nation” as a vision for directing national educational changes. This is illustrated in Gopinathan and Ho (2000, p. 161): … While the national economy (Singaporean) is adjusting through structural shifts, such as liberalisation, deregulation, and privatization, which help integrate a national economy with the larger world economy …, the education system must also adjust structurally to a changing national economy. Many similar examples can be found in Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, and Singapore. Leaders in these countries and areas have reviewed their educational aims and established new goals that reflect new national and global visions (see, e.g., Castillo, 2001; Cheng, 2001a, 2001b; Rajput, 2001; Rung, 2001; Sereyrath, 2001; Shan & Chang, 2000; Sharpe & Gopinathan, 2001; Suzuki, 2000; Tang, 2001; Yu, 2001). Nonetheless, the changing role of school education in national development has created serious challenges for educators, leaders, and practitioners in Asia. They have to echo these new national visions and goals and consider changes in the aims, content, process, and practice of school education. They are facing important challenges, such as: (1) How can they conduct effectively these necessary changes in the school systems? (2) How should they lead their teachers, students, and other stakeholders to face to the changes and pursue a new school education that is relevant to the future? (3) How can they ensure school changes that are relevant to the national growth and development in a competitive global environment? (4) How can the knowledge base of educational aims and school functions be broadened to support more relevant policy-making and educational planning? (5) Given that there are new functions of schools in the new century, including technical, economic, human, social, political, cultural, and educational functions (Cheng, 1996a), it is necessary to ask to what extent the ongoing school reforms take all these functions into consideration. Unfortunately, there seems to be lack of a comprehensive knowledge framework for policy-makers and country leaders in Asia to have a broader perspective for review and development of the new school aims. There is an urgent need for educational research to understand and tackle these issues in the process of redefining and re-establishing school aims in the light of new national visions in the new century.

Towards Restructuring the School System at Different Levels The development of the school system often has to meet the needs of the development of the economy in the country (Chabbott & Ramirez, 2000). In the past two or three decades, most developing countries or areas in Asia have made great efforts to expand

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compulsory education to nine years, when they were establishing their industries. Now, some of them are making efforts to expand their senior secondary school sectors and improve enrolment to higher education. Hong Kong, South Korea, Malaysia, and Taiwan are representative cases (Cheng, 2001a, 2001b; Kim, 2000; Lee, 2000; Shan & Chang, 2000). Comparatively, some countries like Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos put more effort into further expanding compulsory education (Pok, 2001; Sereyrath, 2001; Sisavanh, 2001). Singapore and Taiwan provide more vocational and technical training opportunities at the secondary and post-secondary levels (Gopinathan & Ho, 2000; Shan, & Chang, 2000). All these efforts directly or indirectly contribute to school effectiveness and improvement at the system level. In facing the challenges of globalization, the knowledge-based economy, and international competition, some areas in Asia – such as South Korea, mainland China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Singapore – are very concerned with the effectiveness and relevance of the school system to their national development in a highly competitive global context. They have started to review and change the school system from early childhood education to citizenship and lifelong education. For example, they put more emphasis on early childhood education, enhancing the provision of vocational education in quantity, quality, variety, and relevance, and to reviewing the interface between levels of school education. The reform of the examination system is also an important area of review in education systems. For example, in mainland China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Malaysia, many different types of policy efforts are being made, to review and change the examination system. The purposes of these changes are to reflect the changes towards new aims of school education, to improve the process of selection and allocation of students, to promote multiple intelligences of students, to enhance educational equality, to redirect educational practice, and to redress serious drawbacks in the examination-oriented culture, particularly in some Asian countries. This trend of efforts is in the line of the third wave of reforms for school effectiveness and improvement. In the process of reviewing and restructuring the school system, policy-makers, educators, and researchers in the region have to face some challenges in such a fundamental structural change. For example: (1) Given changes in educational aims and national vision, how can the restructuring of the school system serve the needs of these changes and be relevant to the future? (2) There may be a number of options for school systems that can serve new educational aims and national visions. How can policy-makers identify those options and understand which one is most appropriate for the country within the existing cultural, political, and economic constraints (Cheng, Ng, & Mok, 2002)? (3) Reform of the school system is in fact a fundamental structural change, involving complicated and extensive political interests and concerns of nearly all key parties and actors in education and the larger community. As such, how can policy-makers and stakeholders overcome all existing structural and political difficulties and conflicts involved in review and reform, and then reach a rational, feasible, and commonly acceptable plan for action (Cheng, & Cheung, 1995)?


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(4) The reform of the school system is a very complex and large-scale social endeavor and should be founded on a very comprehensive knowledge base for review, planning, and implementation at different levels of the school system. How can policy-makers, educators and other key actors be provided with such a knowledge base for their actions? Clearly, all these challenges and issues would inevitably become a core agenda for policy debate that needs to be examined and investigated extensively by research. Unfortunately, there would seem to be a gap between the ongoing reform and the research being undertaken in many countries in Asia.

Towards Market-Driving, Privatizing, and Diversifying School Education There are tight financial constraints on meeting the rapidly increasing needs of diverse developments in nearly all countries in Asia. Policy-makers in some countries are trying to shift the exclusive public funding model to privatization as an important approach to expanding, diversifying, and improving school education. For example, China is caught in the stream of development, and its market economy playing an increasingly important role. It is confronting more complicated and tighter financial constraints in developing its school system to satisfy the huge and diverse needs for education (Tang & Wu, 2000). In South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, China, and the Philippines, it is generally believed that privatization will allow schools to increase the flexibility of use of physical and human resources. How to create a market or semi-market environment for promoting competition between schools has become a salient issue in reform at the turn of the century. Some areas in Asia (e.g., Kong Hong) are experimenting with funding methods designed to encourage self-improvement as well as competition among schools. Some (e.g., Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong) are trying out different types of parental choice schemes. As this trend is in the domain of the second wave of initiatives for interface school effectiveness, some critical issues are emerging to challenge policy-makers, social leaders, and educators. Salient examples are listed below: (1) How can equity and quality in school education be ensured for students in disadvantaged circumstances? This is often a crucial issue in policy debate in many developing countries in the region (Cheng et al., 2002). (2) There are diverse and conflicting expectations of stakeholders about school education in Asia. For example, teachers or educators emphasize the citizenship quality of their graduates. Parents are more concerned about whether their children can pass the examinations and get the necessary qualifications for employment. Employers often doubt whether the graduates have the necessary knowledge and skills to perform in the workplace. In view of the above, how should the expectations of these key stakeholders be identified and given priority, if schools have to survive in a competitive market environment? How should schools deal

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with the diverse and even conflicting expectations of different stakeholders on the aims, content, practice, and outcomes of school education? (3) The market forces may or may not aim at achieving and realizing the national aims and visions through school education. As such, how can policy-makers and educators ensure that the market forces at the local or the community level are in operation in the direction of development at the national or international level? (4) Specifically, how consistent are the parental or individual choices in school education with the national visions and goals? How should these choices be supported by the state? (5) To what extent should a national framework of school education be set according to the market system and privatization, without hindering initiatives from the marketplace but maintaining the national direction and forces within global competitiveness? The above are just some of the dilemmas and issues that policy-makers and educators face in formulating changes in school education towards marketization and privatization. Unfortunately, the knowledge for understanding and handling these challenges in Asia is slight. Research in this important area to address and inform the management of the above challenges is inevitably necessary, if the trend towards marketization and privatization in education is to be maintained.

Towards Parental and Community Involvement in Education During the past several decades, parents and the community have increased the expectations of education and are becoming more demanding of better school performance for their children. Also, there is an increasing demand for school accountability to the public and to demonstrate value for money, because school education is mainly financed with public funds (Adams, & Kirst, 1999). Inevitably, educational leaders at the school, district, and national levels have to provide more direct avenues for parents and the community to participate in developing the schools. In many Asian areas like Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Thailand, a tradition of parental participation and community partnership in school education has been largely absent. Recently, people in these areas have become more aware of the importance of involving parents and local communities in school education (Pang et al., 2003; Wang, 2000). Although there is seldom legislation in some areas to guarantee parental involvement in school education, sentiment is growing that parents should be given this right (Tik, 1996). In addition to parents, the local community and the business sector are direct stakeholders in school education. Their experiences, resources, social networks, and knowledge are often very useful to the development and delivery of school education. From a positive perspective, community involvement can benefit schools by providing more local resources, support, and intellectual input, particularly when schools are facing the increasing but diverse demands for quality education. This growing trend of parental and community involvement in education in Asia is in the domain of the


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second wave for pursuing interface school effectiveness. The major concerns in this trend may include the following: (1) How to promote and implement parental and community participation in schools effectively is still difficult. Most Asian countries lack a culture of accepting and supporting the practice of parental and community involvement. This type of involvement is often perceived as an act of distrust of teachers and principals. How can policy-makers and educators change this culture? (2) Parental and community involvement in school management and leadership will inevitably increase the complexity, ambiguities, and uncertainties in the political domain of schools. Would the induced political problems and difficulties from external involvement in fact dilute the scarce time and energy of teachers and leaders from educational work with students? How can they be well prepared to handle these problems? Unfortunately, research in this area is still underdeveloped, particularly in the context of the Asian tradition.

Towards Ensuring Education Quality, Standards and Accountability Along the second wave of educational reforms, since the 1990s, there have been a lot of school initiatives in many areas of Asia with a strong emphasis on school quality assurance, and accountability to the public (Mok et al., 2003). Particularly following quality movements in the business and industry sectors over the last two decades, concepts and measures such as quality control, quality assurance, total quality management, and benchmarking have been included in efforts for school effectiveness and improvement (Mukhopadhyay, 2001). In Asia, some areas such as China, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, and Thailand have introduced different types of quality assurance initiatives to monitor and promote education quality and accountability as a major approach to school effectiveness and improvement (Abdullah, 2001; Lloyd, 2001; Mok et al., 2003; Mukhopadhyay, 2001; Townsend, 2000). In planning and implementing these initiatives, some issues are challenging policy-makers, educators, and researchers (Cheng 1997a, 1997b): (1) How can they know the satisfaction and expectations of existing stakeholders are relevant to the future development of the new generation and the society? (2) How can they ensure a balance between a school’s internal development and accountability to the public? A very strong emphasis on accountability to the public is often accompanied by close supervision and control that restricts initiatives for internal development and creates stronger defensive mechanisms that limit effective organizational learning of schools. (3) How can different stakeholders with diverse and even conflicting interests handle the potential contradictory purposes between school self-evaluation and external evaluation for quality assurance?

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(4) Educational processes are complicated, involving many factors. How can they know what indicators are valid and reliable to reflect quality and effectiveness in education, and what combinations of indicators of input, performance, and outcomes are appropriate to schools in specific contexts or a specific time frame? (5) Monitoring education quality at the school site level should be different from that at the system level. How could this difference be managed in a more efficient and effective way, so that schools are not overburdened?

Towards Decentralization and School-Based Management As discussed, school-based management is a major school reform of the second wave in many areas of Asia and other parts of the world. Since the 1990s, it has aimed at enhancing school autonomy and then interface effectiveness to meet the changing expectations of the local community and stakeholders. For example, in Hong Kong, the School Management Initiative was implemented in 1991 with the goal of enhancing education quality through school-based management. Hong Kong’s Education Commission further reinforced school-based management as one facet of its quality assurance process for all schools in 1997 (Education Commission, 1997). In South Korea, hundreds of public primary and secondary schools experimentally organized a School Governing Board involving teachers, parents, principals, alumni, and community leaders, to promote school self-management and to enable schools to provide diverse educational services to meet the needs of their local communities (Kim, 2000). In Malaysia, the administrative system is being decentralized, to encourage school-based management and teacher empowerment (Lee, 2000). In Singapore, the government set up autonomous schools as early as 1991, as a mechanism for improving quality in education (Gopinathan & Ho, 2000). In China, decentralization of power from the central government to local communities and to the school level is becoming evident. School autonomy and the participation of local communities are now being encouraged, to facilitate school development and effectiveness (Tang & Wu, 2000). According to Cheng and Townsend (2000), in the change from traditional external control management to school-based management (SBM), Asian countries may confront a number of issues that have to be tackled in the process of school reform. These are: (1) After decentralizing authority and power to the school site level, there is a need to keep self-managing schools and teachers accountable with respect to the quality of education provided and the use of public money. Even though a concept of “tight-loose coupling” (Cheng, 1996a) has been proposed to tackle this issue, it is still a long way from being put into practice. It remains a key area in ongoing policy discussion about decentralization in education (Cheng & Ng, 1994). (2) Often, people believe that better schools may take advantage of having greater autonomy to recruit better students and teachers, and procure more resources so that educational inequality will not only be maintained but enlarged, particularly for disadvantaged students.


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(3) The shift to SBM represents a type of change in management technology. Yet, whether or not it can be effectively implemented at both the system and school site levels depends heavily on the cultural change for those concerned (Levy, 1986; Ng & Cheng, 1995). Numerous studies have reported that various barriers and conflicts exist in implementing SBM, because both educational officers at the system level and school practitioners at the school level still have the attitude of external control management when implementing management change to the SBM model (Cheng & Chan, 2000). (4) Many contemporary SBM studies address self-management only at the school level and often assume that increased autonomy and responsibility given to schools will result in increased school effectiveness in producing quality. Yet, this assumption is questionable, and past empirical studies do not yield a consistent view (Sackney & Dibski, 1994). From the perspective of Cheung and Cheng (1996), the linkage of SBM to educational outcomes should be strengthened through multi-level self-management at the individual, group, and school levels. Even though multi-level self-management may be a theoretical effort to bridge the gap between management change and student performance, the debate on this issue is still strong and will continue until there is sufficient empirical evidence to show a clear linkage. The above issues together present a wide spectrum of research areas that need a great deal of intellectual effort in order to understand the complexity of school transformation and to inform policy-making and implementation of school-based management for school effectiveness and improvement.

Towards Enhancing Teacher Quality and Lifelong Professional Development In response to the fast-changing educational environment and the increasing and demanding challenges from the local and global communities, there is a trend for educational reforms in many areas of Asia to emphasize teacher quality and continuous lifelong professional development of both teachers and principals (Cheng, Chow, & Mok, 2004; Chen, Lim, & Gopinathan, 2003; Hallinger, 2003; Kennedy, 2003). Many policymakers understand that teacher quality is the key to school effectiveness and improvement. For example, China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam have made major policy efforts in recent years to enhance the quality of teachers and principals. More and more professional training is provided to teachers through in-service professional development programs. The required professional qualifications for entering the teaching profession also tend to be gradually enhanced, even though the extent of progress may be different in different countries. Nowadays, educational environments in the region are changing very quickly, and goals are not so clear and unchanging anymore. This is evident in the context of the second and third waves of educational reforms in Asia. In the past decade, numerous changes of the second wave have been imposed on schools and teachers in different

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parts of Asia, and the changes of the third wave seem to be accelerated in the new century. If teachers, principals, and the schools are not enabled and prepared to deal with these changes, all the efforts for enhancing education quality and effectiveness will result in failure. Because educational change and development are ongoing in such a changing environment, there is inevitably a strong need for continuous lifelong professional development of school practitioners. Most areas in Asia, like China, Hong Kong and South Korea, have already reviewed their teacher education programs and put lifelong professional development of teachers and principals onto their agenda for educational reform (Gopinathan & Ho, 2003; Hallinger, 2003). This trend of enhancing teacher quality and professional development is in the domains of both the second and third waves for interface and future school effectiveness. In such a trend, educators, leaders, and researchers are facing some new challenges (Cheng, 2002). (1) How can school leaders build up a new culture of continuous lifelong staff development among their colleagues and related school stakeholders (Cheng, 2001e)? In other words, how can they develop their schools as learning organizations that can support all types of continuous learning and development of students, teachers, and the school organization itself (Senge et al., 2000)? (2) How can we ensure that professional development or formal teacher education is relevant to ongoing educational reforms and major shifts in education (Elliot, & Morris, 2001)? (3) How can a knowledge management system be built in schools to encourage active learning, accumulate experience and knowledge from daily practices, and inform further development of staff? (4) How can the diverse needs of ongoing school improvement and staff development be identified and satisfied within a limited resource framework? (5) Given the challenges from the second and third waves of educational reforms, there is a strong local and international demand for a major shift in approach to educational leadership (Walker, 2003). What kind of new leadership should be developed in such a context? How should the necessary shift be conceptualized, organized, and implemented successfully among educational leaders? When compared with the magnificent scale of ongoing school reforms, the existing advances in understanding the nature of staff development, teacher education, and leadership development are still insufficient. Clearly, a broad spectrum of research effort is needed in these areas in coming years.

Towards Using Information Technology and New Technologies in School Education The increasing and tremendous effects of IT on every aspect of society are evident to most national leaders and educational leaders in Asia. Many policy-makers take IT in education as one of the most strategic initiatives for school effectiveness in ongoing educational reforms in Asia (Birch & Maclean, 2001). Countries like Japan and Singapore


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implemented strategies to promote IT in education a few years ago; other countries have developed their IT plans during the last three years (Gopinathan & Ho, 2000; Suzuki, 2000). In Hong Kong, schools are getting more and more computers and other IT facilities, and they are helped to network both locally and internationally through the intranet and Internet. More and more training is provided for teachers in the use of IT in teaching. Teachers and students are often expected to become IT competent in a very short time (Education and Manpower Bureau, 1998). In addition to IT in education, there has been a clear shift of emphasis from using simplistic techniques towards applying sophisticated technology in educational management in the past decade. Traditionally, all schools or educational institutions were under external control and dependent on management by central authorities. Educational leaders or managers did not see a need to use sophisticated management technologies. Today, however, the environment is changing much more rapidly. Consequently, such management technologies as strategic management, development planning, participative management, and quality assurance are increasingly emphasized for school improvement. Policy-makers in Asia and in other parts of the world are promoting the use of these methods (see, e.g., Bush & Coleman, 2000). The trend of initiatives for promoting information and communications technology (ICT) in school education in Asia is confronting some basic concerns (Cheng & Townsend, 2000). Although ICT is very powerful for creating opportunities for learning and facilitating learning and teaching in a very efficient way, its functions should not be over-emphasized. ICT is a means rather than the end of education. Therefore, when formulating strategies for ICT in education, both policy-makers and educators have to consider its relevance for the achievement of educational aims. Some basic questions have to be answered. How and what types of ICT are related to existing or new aims? To what extent and in what aspects can the use of ICT help to achieve school aims? What are the potential limitations for ICT within education? From the experiences in some countries, it seems easier to purchase hardware, such as computers and other ICT facilities for schools, than to provide appropriate software and training for teachers and students. Many school practitioners spend a lot of time and energy developing so-called “homemade” software, due to a lack of a more comprehensive and sophisticated software system to support teaching and learning in ICT. Unfortunately, the quality of the homemade software is often questionable, and the development is time-consuming. How to provide a comprehensive package including the necessary hardware, software, and training, as well as an ICT platform to support and maintain the effective and efficient use of ICT in teaching and learning, is an important question, particularly in some developing sub-regions and countries where resources for development are limited. Stakeholders wonder whether the aims, subject content, instructional process, or assessment of the existing school curriculum should be changed to adapt to the new ICT learning environment. Moreover, teachers do not know how to do this. There is often a lack of new framework for integrating the strengths and benefits of ICT into curriculum development. The advances in ICT happen very fast. There is a clear gap between the rapidly changing ICT environment and curriculum development in most countries in Asia.

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In the past few years, the efforts by many policy-makers in Asia to implement ICT in schools have met with strong resistance from school practitioners. There have been not only technological difficulties but also cultural problems. Implementation of ICT in school education is an extensive technological transformation and inevitably involves cultural change for teachers, principals, education officers, other change agents, and even students, if successful change is expected (Cheng, 1996a; Levy, 1986). Therefore, how to change the existing attitudes and beliefs into a new ICT culture is clearly a serious challenge for the reform program, whether in developing countries or developed sub-regions in Asia. How to lead the implementation of ICT and other new technology for school effectiveness and improvement is a completely new issue for most policy-makers, educators, and leaders in Asia. The effective strategies for handling the issues and challenges raised above depend heavily on a thorough understanding of them and a knowledge base of implementation of cultural and technological changes in different contexts. All this are in need of support from educational research.

Towards Paradigm Shifts in Learning, Teaching, and Assessment In response to the challenges of globalization, IT, and a knowledge-based economy in the new millennium, there is a growing trend for educational reforms to emphasize paradigm shifts in learning, teaching, and assessment in many areas of Asia. As discussed above, this is the rise of the third wave of school reforms. For example, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan have started new initiatives with the support of IT and networking, to promote major changes in curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment. The hope is to bring about a paradigm shift in learning and teaching in the classroom. As pointed out in Cheng (2000a), the whole world is moving towards multiple globalizations and is becoming a global village with boundless interaction among countries and areas. Many societies in Asia are diverse and moving towards becoming learning societies. In such a fast-changing environment, the aim of educational reform tends to develop students as lifelong learning citizens who will contribute creatively to the formation of a learning society and a learning global village with numerous developments in technological, economic, social, political, cultural, and learning aspects. There should be a paradigm shift in school education from the traditional site-bounded paradigm to a new paradigm with an emphasis on the development of contextualized multiple intelligence (CMI) for the new generation. This can be accomplished through the processes of globalization, localization, and individualization in school education (Cheng, 2000a, 2005). The ongoing educational reforms in some parts of Asia, like Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, and Japan, have already provided evidence of moving to a new trend with various types of initiative in globalization, localization, and individualization in education, for future school effectiveness. The learning and teaching will tend to be globalized, localized, and individualized in the coming years, with the help of IT and boundless multiple networking. Unlimited opportunities and various global and local sources will be created for lifelong learning and development of both students and teachers.


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These shifts in education inevitably induce a completely different set of concerns and challenges for educational reform. The following are just some of them: (1) A major paradigm shift is not only a kind of technological and theoretical change but also a kind of deep cultural change including changes in the attitudes of all concerned stakeholders and in their whole line of thinking about the future of the global world, the vision, aims, content, methods, processes, practices, management, and funding of education. How can such a comprehensive paradigm shift be achieved at different levels in ongoing educational reforms? (2) Clearly, teachers will play a crucial role in the whole process of globalization, localization, and individualization in education and in the development of students’ CMI (see Cheng, 2001e). Without them, such a major shift in learning and teaching is impossible. How, then, can teachers be prepared to develop themselves as globalized, localized, and individualized CMI teachers, and facilitate their students becoming CMI leaders and citizens? Also, how can they help transform curriculum and pedagogy into something that meets world-class standards? (3) As explained by Cheng (2001a), there should be a new conception of quality assurance responding to the paradigm shift in learning, teaching, and assessment. How can students’ learning and teachers’ teaching be well placed in a globalized, localized, and individualized context? How well can students’ learning opportunities be maximized through ICT application, and networking of teachers in educational reforms? How well can students’ self-learning be facilitated and sustained as potentially lifelong? How well can students’ CMI and ability of self-learning be developed?

Conclusion The three waves of educational reforms provide an overview for educators, policymakers, and scholars to understand the paradigm shifts in conceptualizing and implementing initiatives and efforts for school effectiveness and improvement in Asia in the past decades. Different countries or areas in Asia may have different historical and contextual constraints. Therefore, up to now the progress and characteristics of their school reforms for school effectiveness and improvement may be different and moving forward in different waves. Some areas may still be in the first wave, struggling to enhance internal school effectiveness and focusing mainly on the improvement of internal process. Some areas may be moving forward in the second wave or a mix of the first and the second waves, pursuing both internal and interface effectiveness. Responding to the challenges of globalization and influences of IT, some areas may have already started the third wave of educational reform to pursue future school effectiveness. To deepen the understanding of the dynamics and complexity of school reforms, further studies should be conducted to observe the progress of national or regional cases in pursuing school effectiveness and improvement in these three waves. In addition to the three waves, we would understand and investigate the initiatives and efforts for school effectiveness and improvement in Asia from the nine major

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trends of educational reforms. The nine trends at the macro, meso, site, and operational levels in association with the three waves present a comprehensive framework to discuss and analyze numerous reforms and changes conducted for educational development and school effectiveness in Asia. There may be mutual influence of initiatives across levels on the pursuit of internal, interface, and future school effectiveness in each area or country of Asia. It is hardly surprising that the educational environment shaped by the educational reforms at the macro and the meso levels will often influence the management, functioning, process, and output of school education at the site and the operational levels. Clearly, the effectiveness and quality of school outputs from the operational and site levels may also influence the development of policies and initiatives at the macro and meso levels. Even though the congruence or mutual support between educational reforms of different trends or different levels is strongly expected in policy-making and implementation, unfortunately it is often not the case in the reality of educational reforms in some areas in Asia, for example, Hong Kong (Cheng, 2005, Ch. 8). In the past decade, policy gaps between initiatives inevitably became a major problem and challenge accounting for reform failure in education (Cheng & Cheung, 1995). Clearly, the implications from the issues and challenges of educational initiatives for studying school effectiveness and improvement in Asia are significant and fruitful. A great deal of inter-disciplinary and long-term research effort is needed to study major shifts in learning, teaching, curriculum, and assessment; to investigate and understand the above issues in policy-making, school management, and practice; and to develop appropriate strategies and methods for implementing major shifts and reforms at different levels of school system in each area or the whole region of Asia. Some challenges arising from the ongoing trends of educational reforms in different parts of Asia are crucial and greatly influence the policy formulation and reform implementation in school education in many countries. It is therefore of great concern to consider how those challenges can become priorities on the urgent agenda of educational research, if reforms for school effectiveness and improvement are to be fully informed and finally successful in implementation. All in all, given the complexity of research on such comprehensive reforms of school education in many countries in Asia, there is an urgent need to develop a critical mass of research intelligence through different types of networking in the region. This work is a necessity not only for individual countries but also for the whole Asia region to meet the numerous challenges in educational reforms in the new millennium. It is hoped that this chapter will open a wide range of issues and implications for policy development as well as educational research on initiatives for school effectiveness and improvement in Asia and other parts of the world.

Authors’ Note Part of this material is adapted from Cheng (2003a, 2003b), Cheng (2005, Ch. 2, & Ch. 7), and Cheng & Townsend (2000).


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Hui-Ling Pan

Introduction A number of international research studies indicate that students in Asian countries receive higher scores of achievement than do their Western counterparts (e.g., Stevenson & Stigler, 1992). This has prompted researchers to investigate the causes of the phenomenon. In the past, school effectiveness research was criticized for a lack of contextual perspective. Then, studies investigating the characteristics of school effectiveness across different SES, areas, and even nations were generated. But even so, educational systems and policies in many regions of the world, ironically, seem to be homogeneous, as supported by the Western English-speaking literature (Walker & Dimmock, 2002). This symbolizes the trend of globalization. Situated in this global village, one cannot escape the influence of globalization. However, globalization reflects the fact that the Western-based values transmitted through various media, including economy, politics, technology, and culture, have become the norm to regulate people’s life. How to avoid the disappearance of indigenous cultures has become a great concern for some, especially those in disadvantaged positions. Localization is a response to the strong force of globalization. Although indigenous cultures face global convergence, it is believed that some parts of these cultures are resistant to such homogenization. In many ways, globalization of policy and practice in education is a response to common problems faced by many of the world’s societies and education systems (Walker & Dimmock, 2002). How to think globally and act locally is an unavoidable path for developing countries. As Porter (2000) pointed out, “cultural differences can contribute to specialized advantages so important in improving the prosperity of nations” (p. 27). The accumulation of globalized narrations from different countries is conducive to enriching the academic field of school effectiveness and educational change. Thus, it becomes significant for researchers from various nations to propose conceptions and practices of school improvement, based on the context they are located in. 269 T. Townsend (Ed.), International Handbook of School Effectiveness and Improvement, 269–286. © 2007 Springer.


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Taking a cultural perspective at the societal level, this chapter first aims to help readers understand the context of school changes in Taiwan. After the abolition of Martial Law in 1987, an open and democratic atmosphere has freely circulated through the political system, but other elements of the society are exposed as well. Education is no exception. Maladies in education over the past decades finally have the opportunity to be cured, and a campaign for a more liberal, pluralist education system has heated up the debate between the trends of localization and of globalization. The blueprint of education reform is sketched by civil organizations and the government responding to the new concerns in Taiwan. Deregulation is used as the basic tone of this recent wave of education reform. Second, practices of school improvement are analyzed. Over the past decade, deregulation of power and curriculum, two main initiatives taken, generated the school improvement experiences of success and failure. But, what are the factors influencing school practices? This is the discussion in the third part of the chapter. Finally, some directions for future efforts are proposed.

Contexts for School Effectiveness and Improvement In order to counter the belief that “education cannot compensate for society” (Berstein, 1970), and to establish that “schools make a difference,” school effectiveness research has been booming since the 1970s. Especially over the last ten years, school effectiveness has become one of the most important educational movements and discourses in the West (Weiner, 2002). The findings of school effectiveness research have been used by policy-makers to enhance the quality of education.

The Recent Education Reforms Different from what is shown in the Western history of school effectiveness research, the belief that “school matters” is deeply embedded in the Confucian-heritage culture of Taiwan. Practices of school improvement are not based on the results of school effectiveness research. Rather, they are responses to long-standing educational malfunction. Pupils suffer from the pressure of entering higher-level schools after the nine-year compulsory education requirement. Education has become a tool for preparation of the school entrance examination. Centralization of educational administration constrains diversity and results in lack of flexibility. The individual learning needs of students are hard to meet in schools. The dissatisfaction with problems in education consequently culminated in the April 10th parade in 1994 (Pan & Yu, 1999). Since that time, Taiwan has had over a decade of the most recent wave of education reforms. Responding to people’s eagerness for educational change, the Ministry of Education held the 7th National Education Conference in June 1994 and declared two main aims: (1) to lessen pressure on students to enter higher-level schools, and (2) to liberalize education. The Council on Education Reform affiliated with the Executive Yuan was established at the end of the same year. The concluding report issued in December 1996 outlined the master plan of education reform for the coming ten years. Five reform directions were proposed: deregulating education, helping every student to learn, broadening the channels for student recruitment, promoting educational quality, and establishing a

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lifelong learning society (Council on Education Reform, 1996). Here, deregulation was used as the main thread linking all the initiatives of improvement.

Changing Conception of School Effectiveness and Improvement Increasing levels of achievement in the “basics” has been the focus for school effectiveness researchers (e.g., Reynolds & Teddlie, 2000). But, is this the only goal of education? This question has stimulated educators’ thinking for decades. Taiwan is a society that deeply believes that education is a significant means for social mobility. Parents expect that the main tasks of schools are to have students thoroughly learn the content of each subject and to have a high rate of students passing the school entrance exam. These expectations result in the instrumental use of education. How to transfer schooling from helping students master subject knowledge to helping students develop competence has been a new concern in education reform during these years. In other words, the new policy emphasizes competence-based curriculum instead of contentoriented curriculum. This indicates that the conception of school effectiveness nowadays is changing in Taiwan. Although one may still observe that the newspapers use headlines to celebrate students’ outstanding performance in the entrance examination (e.g., China Daily News, 2006), the definition of an effective school is broadened, at least in education circles. A policy is not simply a document that mandates action. The past failure of largescale innovations shows that the top-down approach has limitations. The school as a center of change and teachers as agents of change are new claims for this wave of educational changes. The new Grade 1 to Grade 9 Curriculum delegates some decisionmaking to the schools: twenty percent of the curriculum is left for the school to design. This is a substantial measure of school-based management. The schools are expected to assume the role of developing the curriculum. As a result, teachers are not subjects to be reformed; rather, they play a leading role in curriculum development. In the implementation process of the new curriculum, frustration unavoidably exists in schools. There are schools that still think that curriculum development is an event that relies on quickly produced paperwork rather than as a long process of curriculum activity. Also, the visions drafted by schools look similar across campuses, and the products of a fragmented “integrated curriculum” are shared and celebrated among schools. All of this reflects that schools do not really realize how to take advantage of their autonomy and use the school as a base for innovation. Nevertheless, after several years of trial and error, there are schools that have broken out of the “cage” and have created admirable experiences of innovation.

Practices of School Improvement Under the influence of globalization and localization, Taiwan’s education, driven by the ideology of educational deregulation, has made great changes. Market orientation, accountability, democratic participation accompanied with professionalism


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and educators’ autonomy all led to the delegation of some power from the central level to the local government and schools. In the Education Basic Law, educational affairs that need to be undertaken are clearly stipulated. And the new system of principal recruitment, the establishment of a Teachers’ Review Committee and Teachers’ Association in schools, and parents’ participation in the school meetings have indeed altered the power balance in schools. Such innovation broadens the dimensions of teacher decision-making. It also permits the school consumers – the parents – to have a say in school affairs. Viewed as a subject, the school has a right and a responsibility to select competent teachers, and some schools have even chosen the principal they want. Empowering schools is an important feature of this wave of educational reform. It is hoped that decentralization may help schools move toward self-renewal, in which teachers act as agents of change. In addition to the restructuring of school management, the new Grade 1 to Grade 9 Curriculum emphasizes the development of school-based curriculum so that teachers may embody their professional role. A number of initiatives were launched by the government to advance teachers’ capacity, such as a teaching portfolio, action research, and the system of mentor teachers. Facing external policies initiated by the government, schools are managed in their own way. According to Fink and Stoll (1998), restructuring and reculturing were two approaches adopted by schools in addition to the school effectiveness movement and school improvement processes, to boost change in schools. Restructuring describes mandated change through top-down directives from the government, and usually the agenda included some version of site-based management. Reculturing emphasizes the process of developing new values, beliefs, and norms; it involves building new conceptions about instruction and new forms of professionalism for teachers (Fullan, 1996). It is observed that the restructuring approach has been adopted in a large number of schools in Taiwan, but some schools take advantage of the autonomy granted by the government and walk away from the route to school innovation. Involving teachers in school decision-making and curriculum development have been the two main initiatives in Taiwan over the past decade. Therefore, the following paragraphs focus on the analysis of how schools face the two large-scale reforms and create their own ways of changing their schools.

Decentralization of Decision-Making Over the past ten years, several breakthroughs have been seen in the primary and secondary school systems, after a number of laws were passed. The promulgation of the Teachers Act in 1994 created two bodies: the Teacher Review Committee and the Teachers’ Association. In addition, the amendment of the Compulsory Education Law and its Enforcement Rules altered the process of selecting a principal and the function of staff-faculty meetings. These policies are attempts to, first, offer autonomy to schools so the administration group of a school is able to build up the environment most suitable for its students and teachers; and second, offer teachers more freedom in developing teaching materials and methods and involving them more in administrative affairs beyond their classroom concerns.

School Effectiveness and Improvement in Taiwan


The voices of parents is another major issue. The Education Basic Law and the Compulsory Education Law guarantee the right of parents to be involved in school affairs. The Teachers Act allows parents to participate in teacher recruitment. The numerous directional interactions among school administration, teachers, and parents reveal a new era of power ecology in schools. Thus, the principal as the sole pilot steering a school has become history. Following the Teachers Act in 1994, the Teacher Review Committee (responsible for teacher recruitment and appraisal) must be established in the school. As well, the Teachers’ Association is allowed to be established voluntarily at the school level, creating a channel for teachers to get involved in the decision-making of school affairs. The two bodies signify the realization of school-based management and teacher empowerment. In the past, it was the business of the City/County Education Bureau to recruit teachers. Now, the power is delegated to the school. Teachers, and even the parent delegates, have the right to select the teachers they want. The Teachers’ Association, playing the role of another eye of administration, mainly looks after teachers’ benefits. The Teacher Review Committee and the Teachers’ Association embody the decentralization from the local level to the school level and from the principal’s control to the teachers’ control. In response to the mandated directives from the government, schools set up the Teacher Review Committee (Chang, 2002), and most schools have a Teachers’ Association. However, in an authority-oriented cultural context, it is not easy to share power. In the early stage of implementing the two policies, a great many problems occurred. The lack of legal process to elect teacher representatives in the committee, the operations of the committee dominated by the principal, teachers troubled by lobbying, and the narrowmindedness of the faculty all contributed to the ineffectiveness of the committee. This ineffectiveness caught the attention of the public and gave rise to debates. After a few years of experimentation, although there are still some obstacles restricting the function of the committee, the difficulties that schools now face are somewhat different. Teachers’ reluctance to devote time to the committee and the high cost of teacher recruitment are two of the major concerns faced by schools. The satisfaction the schools expressed about the function of the committee is around moderate to above moderate (Hong, 2003; Huang, 2000). With respect to the Teachers’ Association, Wang and Pan (2000) found that teachers in schools that did not have the association got higher scores on the empowerment scale than did teachers in schools that had the association. Many reasons might explain this finding. Probably, teachers in schools that had the association had higher expectations of the schools, making them use a stricter standard for answering survey questions. But there is a possibility that teachers used power improperly when they had the opportunity to become involved in school decisions. Confrontations between the administration and the Teachers’Association often took place. The aim of professional development of the association was not realized in most schools, although there were high expectations that this could be achieved. Teachers fighting for their own benefits caused agitation in the school. School administrators often complained that members of the association were hungry for power. However, people do learn from the past. After more than a decade, the Teachers’Association is maturing. Conflicts among staff


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are not as serious as they were previously. Several studies indicate that the development of the association usually goes through different stages, from confrontation to peaceful coexistence between the administration and teachers (e.g., Lin, 2001).

Curriculum Development The form and content of a national curriculum document may vary according to a nation’s administrative system. Following the path of deregulation, Taiwan’s Curriculum Standard was replaced in recent years by the Curriculum Framework, for example, as the Grade 1–9 Curriculum Framework issued in 2002, and the High School Curriculum Framework issued in 2004. The Curriculum Standard had been the guide for schools. The teaching content of every subject was clearly stipulated in this standard. In this wave of reform, promoting teachers’ autonomy is an important strategy. Therefore, the Curriculum Framework replaced the Curriculum Standard. In the Grade 1–9 Curriculum Framework, ten basic competences for pupils to achieve are illustrated, and competence indicators of seven learning areas for assessing students’ learning are listed. This reform has the intention of breaking the boundaries of subject-based curriculum, to promote school-based curriculum, to encourage team teaching, and to use competence indicators in place of content prescriptions. The curriculum initiative may be seen as influenced by Western curriculum reform. In the 1980s and early 1990s, defining student learning outcomes became a common educational initiative in many countries such as the United States, Australia and Canada. Since the late 1990s, standards-based reform has replaced its outcomes-driven predecessor. The more broadly defined outcomes-driven curriculum establishes the ends of education but leaves methods to the teachers themselves. Standards-based curriculum is more specific in content prescriptions and performance demands (Hargreaves, Earl, Moore, & Manning, 2001). What students should learn is what teachers should teach is the new focus on curriculum reform in these two decades, although there are different ways of defining students’ learning outcomes and the degree of teacher autonomy in teaching. Under this global trend, the new curriculum implemented in Taiwan not only changes the concept of students’ achievement but also changes the concept of the teaching profession. The concept that students should learn subject knowledge is replaced by the concept that students should be educated to have the competence that they need. And teachers have to alter their role from a curriculum implementer to a curriculum planner. This policy demands not just first-order changes, which are initiatives for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of what is currently done, without disturbing the basic organizational features and substantially altering the way that children and adults perform their roles (Cuban, 1988). It also demands second-order change, which is systemic and comprehensive, to alter the fundamental ways that affect the culture and structure of schools, to restructure roles and reorganize responsibilities of school participants (Fullan, 1982). Each school implementing the curriculum develops it own strategies. Some schools have only the structure of the Curriculum Development Committee without its effective functioning; some are engaged in second-order change when implementing the curriculum policy and experience great success in school

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improvement. Of the successful schools, two approaches, joining school networks and establishing university-school partnerships, are noteworthy.

The School Networks Approach The newly implemented curriculum leaves schools more freedom to develop their own curriculum than they previously had. As mentioned, from Grade 1 to Grade 9, 20% of the curriculum is left for schools to design. In this context, schools are encouraged to develop school-based curriculum. The Curriculum Development Committee is set up in schools, as required by the government. Curriculum reform might be viewed as the core element of school changes in Taiwan during these years. In order to implement the new curriculum policy effectively, three strategic networks in the northern, central, and southern areas of Taiwan were established at the central level by the Ministry of Education. At the local level, school networks were also established within the city or county. Responding to this large-scale reform, some schools enacted the policy passively, whereas other schools were transformed into centers of change. Taipei City is an example of a typical bottom-up model of this wave of curriculum reform. The local education authority, the Bureau of Education, left time and autonomy to schools at the pilot stage of implementation. Eight strategic networks were established by the schools, eventually resulting in nine networks. The initiation for the networks was prompted by disproving the idea that teachers thought they were doing what the principal commanded and their schools were the only ones doing the job of curriculum design. Through collaboration among schools, teachers regularly shared their curriculum products with faculties from other schools. These dynamic group interactions enabled schools to have the opportunity to improve themselves and create peer pressure for positive competition among schools. In addition to the operation of each strategic network, a common session every Monday morning was arranged for dialogue between the network schools and the members of the Curriculum Committee of the Education Bureau, for discussion on issues of common concern by the nine strategic networks. Each network developed its own features to enhance the quality of curriculum design and teacher development. Voluntary school networks might also be found in Taipei County. Northern Corner Strategic Network and Hishan Strategic Network are well-known ones. Zueifong Strategic Network, part of the Northern Corner Strategic Network, is composed of seven elementary schools. The schools are situated in rural areas and are small in scale. These characteristics make them more flexible in curriculum development. Concern of parents for pupils’ academic performance is not so strong as in cities and in families from a higher socio-economic background. In-service training courses and curriculum workshops are offered. In the monthly curriculum workshops, teachers are introduced to cases of different countries and they do exercises on curriculum mapping. Through knowledge sharing and skill training, teachers gradually construct curriculum consciousness. In the past, teachers were simply curriculum implementers. Now, teachers have the role of curriculum designers. In addition, the Bureau of Education in Taipei embarked on a program entitled “Community as Classroom,” which started in 2000.


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This program embodies the concept of using the community as a learning space. The traditional boundary of a classroom is broken. Recognizing that the community is the root of schools, integrating community resources into the curriculum is the main idea of the program. So far, approximately 100 schools have joined in the program (Yu, 2004). Because schools are given a certain degree of autonomy in curriculum decisions, experiences of site-based curriculum development have gradually accumulated in recent years. Exploring the school exemplars, we may find that enhancing teachers’ competence in curriculum design and their intrinsic motivation to change are the main strategies for principals. Principals need to identify the school goals and mission with the faculty, clarify the conception of curriculum, and then work with teachers to develop the school curriculum. Many professional development activities are arranged for teachers, and organizational learning in schools is common. A survey revealed that nearly half of the 88 sampled schools (51 elementary and 37 secondary) are engaged in some kind of organizational learning (Lam, Wei, Pan, & Chan, 2002). This offers a general picture of schools in Taiwan.

University-School Partnerships Approach As an initiator of curriculum reform, the government needs to draft relevant action plans to ensure that the policy has been carried out. After two years of implementation of the New Curriculum, the Ministry of Education recognizes that the school as a base for curriculum development is significant for the success of the policy. Consequently, the Deep Planting Project, a concept borrowed from agriculture, was initiated in 2002. One part of the project, “Collaborative Hand in Hand Project between the University and Schools,” is to establish partnerships between the university and schools. Every year, the Ministry of Education calls for proposals on the project. A number of projects have been conducted under this categorical funding. The establishment of partnerships between the university and the schools benefits both sides. The university may have an opportunity to apply theories in schools, and the reflections and feedback can benefit the university in teaching and research. At the same time, schools may receive professional support from the university. Hence, this dynamic interaction between theory and practice actually benefits both parties. In these university and school networks, three partnership models are possible. The first is the experts taking the leading role and the teachers acting as assistants. The second is the experts and teachers collaborating equally. The third is the teachers taking the leading role and the experts acting as assistants. The overwhelming majority use the first model, followed by the second one. The third one is the rarest. Enhancing the capacity of schools in developing curriculum is an intended outcome of the partnership projects. Furthermore, in rural areas, the partnership may assist schools and teachers to re-create their own local cultural values. Gu (2004) worries that the rise of the knowledge-based economy may widen the gap between the rich and the poor. People living in rural areas are more likely to be disadvantaged under the social changes that accompany globalization. Gu proposed using the school-based curriculum development model to empower marginal groups to deal with the difficult

School Effectiveness and Improvement in Taiwan


situations caused by the knowledge-based economy and by globalization. Through the model, teachers reflect the local values they possess to counteract the negative selfconcepts in students. The development of school-based curriculum is found as an empowering process for both students and teachers.

Factors Influencing School Improvement Societal and Cultural Factors After decades of martial law, there has been a thirst for democratic participation in Taiwan in the past 20 years. The claim for sharing power has sprawled from politics to education. After 1987, more involvement from educators in shaping educational laws can be seen in the revision of the University Act. The democratization of college governance has expanded to secondary and primary schools. Under the grand slogan of deregulation proposed in the 1990s, more participation in decision-making of school affairs is demanded. The result is that schools have the right to be involved in selecting their principals and teachers. In addition, parents, as consumers, have a say in school operations. In other words, the power is delegated from the local level to the school level and from the principal to other school stakeholders. The clamor for grassroots involvement resulted in the establishment of a Teacher Review Committee and a Teachers’ Association at the school level. The culture and values are like the soil for all initiatives. The nature of the soil determines what will blossom and what will grow. Importing educational initiatives too soon, without sensitivity to the local context, could cause problems. In Chinese societies, leadership is exercised in a more authoritative manner. Teachers traditionally were not encouraged to step out of the classroom. Democratic participation in school affairs is not commonly accepted as an ideal practice of teachers. So, in the initial years of implementing shared governance, some schools were in chaos. Principals were reluctant to share power and some teachers were eager for power. This situation brought about tremendous tensions in schools. Power struggles among stakeholders produced questions about the justification of power (Huang, 2002). Also, the Teachers’ Association became a “territory” for a certain group of teachers who stood in opposition to the school administration. No wonder it was found that teachers in schools with a Teachers’Association had a lower perception of empowerment than those without the association (Wang & Pan, 2002). Past experience of failure gives people wisdom to proceed. After several years of mutual adaptation, principals and teachers gradually changed their attitude. They are more willing to share power and more capable of doing so. This also removes the label of the Teachers’ Association as a barrier to school progress. Furthermore, some associations are actively engaged in promoting teachers’ professional growth. In addition to the authority-oriented culture that may limit the function of democratic participation, the concept of achievement (different from that in the West) is a variable for the recent curriculum reform in Taiwan. Intensely dominated by traditional belief, people in Taiwan take education as a path of upward mobility. In a number of


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international studies on students’ performance, it was found that, as well as schools, many societal and cultural factors affect students’ learning (Lee, Chang, Pan, & Hsu, 1998; Pan, 1999). In order to make up for children’s deficits, parents in Taiwan spend more time helping children with their homework than do parents in Western countries. This suggests that people with a Chinese cultural background still hold onto the belief in “effort,” in contrast to the “ability model” held by Western people. “More effort, more gain” is often deemed a creed. The high expectations of parents brings pressure not only to children but also to teachers and school administrators. The result is that compromise will inevitably occur among all types of reforms.

School Factors Principal leadership and teacher participation play a crucial part in school reform. In addition, school characteristics, teacher characteristics, school culture, and the school support system all affect the process and outcomes of improvement.

Leadership of principal Many studies have pointed out that the principal plays a key role in school reform (Leithwood, Jantzi, & Steinbach, 1998). The principal needs to adjust herself or himself to take new responsibilities, absorb new ideas, and demonstrate new styles of leadership. According to Huang (2002), school reform inevitably will influence the power structure of schools. Principals unable to share power will face conflicts with the Teacher Review Committee. Wang and Pan (2001) found that many principals failed to recognize that they needed to change their conception of power. In response to the establishment of a Teachers’Association, some schools ignore it, some struggle to hold onto their waning power, and some persist in using the association as an instrument for leadership to fight against new advances. Such styles of leadership only bring endless strife to schools. If every member of a school possesses a sense of belonging and is aware that her or his future relies on the school’s future, school reform will proceed more smoothly. How does the school administration cope with the transitional period, and how does the principal’s hands-on curriculum development decide the fruitfulness of school reform? After interviewing many principals who implemented the Grade 1–9 Curriculum or the school-based curriculum, Lin (2000) pointed out that principals personally involved in leading faculty in reading the Curriculum Framework and playing the role of coordinator and who provided assistance during each phase of curriculum development contributed to the success of reform to a significant degree. However, as curriculum leadership is a new role for school leaders, many principals are not familiar with it. Thus, assisting principals to re-skill with the necessary ability to relieve their sense of crisis is an important task for policy promoters. Attitudes of teachers The attitude, belief, perception, capacity, and sense of responsibility of a teacher means a lot to the realization of reforms. The teaching milieu is like an egg carton.

School Effectiveness and Improvement in Taiwan


Each teacher takes an independent section and feels isolated. This environment makes them feel agitated when asked to work on the new curriculum with their colleagues (Fullan & Hargreaves, 1992; Wagner, 2001). Cheng (2002) found that, even after setting up a curriculum development committee, teachers tended to finish their assigned job independently. Teamwork is rarely seen among teachers. Without active participation, teachers can suffer from frustration in developing school-based curriculum or show an indifferent attitude. Sometimes they even resist adopting the new curriculum (Cheng, 2002). Though most English teachers recognize the goals of the new curriculum, few feel they are capable of carrying it out (Su, 2002). These observations remind us that school reform needs to start with a thorough understanding of the teachers’ situation, their faith, and their interests in their career.

The school support system Three fundamentals or the 3Rs are to be considered when a policy is formulated: relevance, readiness, and resources (Fullan, 1982). Resources for education reform are the support systems covering administrative support and facilities as well as time and space arrangements. Su (2002) found that school reform proceeded more smoothly in schools with more support systems, because teachers got more support when they implemented the new curriculum. After visiting the pilot schools that implemented the Grade 1–9 Curriculum, Cheng (2002) discovered that schools that failed to put resources and budgets together, failed to reschedule instructional time, and failed to arrange team teaching hinder curriculum development. Researchers also pointed out that there are several approaches schools can take to create a better working environment for teachers. In the aspect of teacher workload, schools may prioritize school activities according to how educational and meaningful they are. Furthermore, improving efficiency in meetings, making better use of technology, fostering teachers’ competence in time management, giving occasions for teachers to exchange professional experience, and recruiting volunteers from outside the school are all possible approaches to consider (Gao & Shan, 2002). However, the culture of a school determines the quality of interaction among teachers. If the school fails to create a collaborative culture, teachers still work alone even though they are given time for sharing. Moreover, in the aspect of space arrangement, researchers suggest that under the framework of “human-environment,” teaching/learning is used as a basis for consideration. By providing teachers with studios and a common area where they can get together, it is possible to break down the boundaries between teachers. A home-like space, with upholstered couches, a refrigerator, a microwave oven, and a stereo system could comfort teachers, too (Tang, 2002). School Ecology Location, organizational characteristics, and the culture of a school are influential contributors to school reform. Using the operation of the Teachers’ Association as an example, it was found that elementary school staff had a higher perception of empowerment than did their secondary counterparts. And there is no significant relationship


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among location, school size, and teacher empowerment (Wang & Pan, 2000). However, some more subtle findings were obtained in qualitative interviews. Few teachers of schools in the suburbs or even more remote places are interested in participating in Teachers’ Associations, because they do not work in the school nearby. After school hours, they usually hurry home (Wang & Pan, 2001). The age and sex of teachers are also determinants of the operation of the Teachers’ Association. In schools with a large proportion of young female teachers, it is found that many are either of childbearing age or are busy taking care of their children. Female teachers who are occupied by domestic affairs are deprived of the chance to be involved in the school and to develop professionally (Wang & Pan, 2001). Reshaping school culture is the first step in building a quality learning school. In a more open and autonomous environment, teachers and students will have more interactions and will be more willing to try new ideas. Wei (2002) compared two schools. One successfully created learning organization in an open atmosphere on campus, and the other failed due to its conservative style.

Prospects Based on the experiences in efforts for school improvement over the past few years, some directions for future efforts are proposed.

Being Sensitive to Cultural Context Since the 1970s, the inapplicability of Western paradigms in the context of Taiwan has stimulated the “Sinicization” of social science, which evolved into “indigenization” in the 1990s. The marginalization and colonization of educational science has been criticized (Department of Education, NTNU & National Professorship, MOE, 1999; Wu & Chen, 1985). However, there are few reflections on the transplantation of Western theories and models associated with school reform. The overwhelming tide of globalization from developed countries justified the cultural hegemony over developing countries. Education reform will not work without the cultural sensitivity of the reformers (Dimmock & Walker, 2001). Because of very limited experience in participating in public affairs and in school-based management, the Teachers’ Association and Teacher Review Committee created chaos in schools. Dimmock and Walker (2001) pointed out that it was easier to implement school-based management in a society that has more even allocation of power. Therefore, cultural context needs to be taken into consideration when adopting the decentralized initiatives proposed by Western countries. In addition, school reform demands consideration of the locality of each school. Reformers are expected to build an environment supporting school self-renewal after a thorough understanding of the culture of the school and the community.

Creating a Healthy School Ecology The democratic movement in Taiwan has altered the power structure of schools, but principals do not seem to be ready for their new roles and the teachers are still learning

School Effectiveness and Improvement in Taiwan


how to use the power they have recently acquired. Therefore, school-based management is a goal rather than a strategy of innovation. This has resulted in teachers being given more power, but their responsibilities, competence, and passions do not increase along with the power. The design of staff-faculty meetings and the Teacher Review Committee produces an imbalance of power within schools, because principals are asked to be responsible for the decisions made by teachers in meetings. Also, the current system for recruiting principals will inevitably hamper those principals seeking longer tenure in conducting reforms. In some cases, parents manipulate principal recruitment through parents’ associations or the Teachers’ Association. Such a power struggle seriously undermines school functioning. Fullan (2001) argues that education is a highly intellectual and caring enterprise, and without caring minds, education reform is destined to fall apart. Thus, creating a healthy school environment, in which teachers may engage in rational dialogues and in which an atmosphere of respect, trust, and caring is molded, is the first step to save school reform from becoming mired in petty controversy.

Using Evaluation as School Improvement Hopkins (1989) sees school evaluation as playing three functions: “evaluation of school improvement,” “evaluation for school improvement,” and “evaluation as school improvement.” Evaluation can be a tool for examining school improvement, for facilitating school improvement, or as a path to proceed along in the course of school improvement. Hopkins suggested internalizing evaluation in schools that take the future development of the school as their core mission and respond to national and local school reform policies. Such an evaluation is used as a mechanism of feedback for school development. In Taiwan, evaluation of education reforms was rarely implemented. But in recent years, school evaluation is very commonly enforced for accountability purposes. Some schools even express fatigue from being evaluated too frequently. It is recognized that evaluation can be used to investigate the effects of school programs as well as to improve them. Therefore, internalizing evaluations in school is a good way for organizational improvement and development.

Building Learning Communities In order to enhance the learning achievement of students, teachers apply various teaching methods. Cooperative learning is one of them. However, teachers seldom realize that they are actually engaging in collective learning (O’Neil, 1995). Organizational learning has become a necessary strategy in school reform. It facilitates interaction among teachers in school and creates potential cooperation among schools. Many school networks emerge in the United States that facilitate organizational learning. Some of these networks are Accelerated Schools (McCarthy & Still, 1993), Coalition of Essential Schools (Prestine, 1993; Sizer, 1992), Success for All (Slavin, Madden, Shaw, & Donnelly, 1993) and The League for Professional Schools (Allen & Glickman, 1998; Blasé, Blasé, Anderson, & Dungan, 1995). The network of elementary and high schools can be extended to colleges (Seller & Hannay, 2000). There are several types of collaboration between schools and colleges.


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The first type is college researchers simply extracting data from schools. The second type is the building of “clinical partnerships.” And the third is a co-learning relationship. It is only in the third type of relationship that faculties of colleges and schools are equal partners and they can learn from each other (Wagner, 1997). In postmodern society, the dominant status of college researchers is challenged. It is believed that the realities are constructed and there is more than one truth. Different forms of knowledge are valued. Practical knowledge that teachers construct is significant in understanding the world of education (Clandinin, 1986; Connelly & Clandinin, 1988; Elbaz, 1983). Compared with the practical knowledge schoolteachers create on a daily basis, knowledge pursued in college is abstract, universal, and alienated from daily life. It is suggested that such a boundary should be gradually blurred (Hargreaves, 1996). When building equal partnerships between schools and colleges, educational science may further develop through the dialectics of theory and practice.

Providing Opportunities for Professional Growth Too many previous failures in education reforms tell us that teachers might have been placed in the wrong position in reform. Fullan and Hargreaves (1992) proposed the idea of total teacher, suggesting the need to motivate teachers. In Taiwan, courses of staff development have started, in order to meet teachers’ needs in reform; however, many strategies of staff development are fragmented, and top-down in imposition. The courses treat teachers as “partial” instead of “total.” In other words, the teacher’s purpose, the teacher as a person, the real world context in which teachers work, and the culture of teaching are the four aspects ignored in past school reforms. In the process of education reform, reformers have overlooked teachers’ intentions. A teacher is simply treated as a policy implementer. However, when facing changes, the teacher will question whether the change is really worthwhile, whether there are side effects caused by the reform, and whether the reform is practical. Therefore, the voices of teachers must be heard. In order to trigger teachers’ passions for action, it is necessary to let them gain ownership of the changes so that motivation of self-actualization may be aroused. Understanding teachers’ needs and offering them opportunities according to the stage of their career development may recharge teachers to improve schools. Moreover, teachers and school administrators need to adjust their roles in the ever-changing world. New roles such as organizers and mentors are what teachers should be able to take on. Personal traits that used to be necessary only for principals, such as good communicative skills, innovation, analytical ability, self-confidence, and persistence, are in fact necessary for teachers now (Fullan, 1992). Principals nowadays also need to assert diverse styles of leadership, such as transformational leadership (Fullan, 1993; Sergiovanni, 1995), cultural leadership (Caldwell, 1993), moral leadership (Sergiovanni, 1992), empowering leadership (Blasé & Anderson, 1995; Short & Greer, 1997), educational leadership (Caldwell, 1993; Marsh, 2000), strategic leadership (Marsh, 2000), and curriculum leadership (Glatthorn, 1997). Providing courses for teachers and principals to learn the new roles is the persistent driving force of professional growth.

School Effectiveness and Improvement in Taiwan


Investigating Educational Changes Failure of so many education reforms over the past made researchers investigate them cautiously. Fullan (1998) probed three phases of education reforms underlining three periods: the Implementation Decade, 1972–1982; the Meaning Decade, 1982–1992; and the Change Capacity Decade, 1992–present. The Implementation Decade revealed the innovation process that involved teaching materials, structure, roles, behaviors, knowledge, understanding, and values. The Meaning Decade addressed a question to a broad audience including teachers, principals, students, school district officers, consultants, parents, and communities: what is the meaning of education reform? The Change Capacity Decade is devoted to inspiring teachers, principals, and school administrators to enhance their capacities in a changing environment. In addition, Hargreaves and his colleagues analyzed educational change not only as intellectual effort but also as emotional work (Hargreaves et al., 2001). In order to fully grasp the nature of education reforms, to investigate how practitioners think and act in the process of change, how school improvement may be sustained, and how effective innovations are, many more indigenous studies are needed in Taiwan. Education reform is not necessarily a move triggered by university researchers. While given greater autonomy and identified as knowledge constructors, schoolteachers are able to relate reform and practice in classrooms through “action research” (Mctaggart, 1997; Oja & Smulyan, 1989). Teachers may conduct research, reflect in action, and explore problems in situations systematically, to find the solutions through critical dialogues and to be courageous in changing the status quo.

References Allen, L., & Glickman, C. D. (1998). Restructuring and renewal: Capturing the power of democracy. In A. Hargreaves, A. Lieberman, M. Fullan, & D. Hopkins (Eds.), International handbook of educational change (pp. 505–528). London, UK: Kluwer Academic. Bernstein, B. (1970). Education cannot compensate for society. New Society, 387, 344–347. Blasé, J., & Anderson, G. L. (1995). The micropolitics of educational leadership: From control to empowerment. New York: Cassell. Blasé, J., Blasé, J., Anderson, G. L., & Dungan, S. (1995). Democratic principals in action. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Caldwell, B. J. (1993). The changing role of the school principal: A review of developments in Australia and New Zealand. In C. Dimmock (Ed.), School-based management and school effectiveness (pp. 165–184). New York: Routledge. Chang, C. K. (2002). A study of the organization, operation and function of Teacher Review Committee. Unpublished master thesis, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan. Cheng, H. L. (2002). Theory and strategies of school-based curriculum development. In H. L. Pan (Ed.), School innovation: Theory and practice (pp. 141–171). Taipei, Taiwan: Xue Fu. China Daily News. (2006, February 23). A plus rank in entrance exam, p. A1. Clandinin, D. J. (1986). Classroom practice: Teacher images in action. London, UK: Falmer Press. Connelly, F. M., & Clandinin, D. J. (1988). Teachers as curriculum planners: Narratives of experience. New York: Teachers College Press. Council on Education Reform. (1996). The concluding report. Taipei, Taiwan: Council on Education Reform. Cuban, L. (1988). A fundamental puzzle of school reform. Phi Delta Kappan, 70(5), 341–344.


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Department of Education, NTNU, & National Professorship, MOE. (1999). Internationalization and localization of educational science. Taipei, Taiwan: Yang Chih. Dimmock, C., & Walker, A. (2001). Globalization, societal and effective school reform. Unpublished manuscript. Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Elbaz, F. (1983). Teacher thinking: A study of practical knowledge. London, UK: Croom Helm. Fink, D., & Stoll, L. (1998). Educational change: Easier said than done. In A. Hargreaves, A. Lieberman, M. Fullan, & D. Hopkins (Eds.), International handbook of educational change (pp. 297–321). London, UK: Kluwer Academic. Fullan, M. (1992). What’s worth fighting for in headship? Strategies for taking charge of the headship. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press. Fullan, M. (1993). Change forces: Probing the depths of educational reform. New York: Falmer Press. Fullan, M. (1996). Turning systematic thinking on its head. Phi Delta Kappan, 77(6), 420–423. Fullan, M. (2001). The new meaning of educational change (3rd ed.). New York: Teachers College Press. Fullan, M. G. (1982). The meaning of educational change. New York: Teachers College Press. Fullan, M. G. (1998). The meaning of educational change: A quarter of a century of learning. In A. Hargreaves, A. Lieberman, M. Fullan, & D. Hopkins (Eds.), International handbook of educational change (pp. 214–228). London, UK: Kluwer Academic. Fullan, M., & Hargreaves, A. (1992). What’s worth fighting for in your school?: Working together for improvement. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press. Gao, C. M., & Shan, W. J. (2002). The innovation to school time use. In H. L. Pan (Ed.), School innovation: Theory and practice (pp. 53–278). Taipei, Taiwan: Xue Fu. Glatthorn, A. A. (1997). The principal as curriculum leader: Shaping what is taught and tested. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin press. Gu, Y. C. (2004). Professional developmental model for teachers in marginal area. Educational Research & Information, 12(1), 3–28. Hargreaves, A. (1996). Transforming knowledge: Blurring the boundaries between research, policy, and practice. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 18(2), 105–122. Hargreaves, A., Earl, L., Moore, S., & Manning, S. (2001). Learning to change: Teaching beyond subjects and standards. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Hong, Y. C. (2003). The operations of teacher review committee in Taipei county elementary schools. Unpublished master thesis, Taipei City Teachers College, Taipei, Taiwan. Hopkins, D. (1989). Evaluation for school development. Philadelphia, PA: Open University Press. Huang, K. C. (2000). A study about the influence of the implementation of teacher review committee on principals’ use of power. Unpublished master thesis, National Sinchu Teachers College, Sinchu, Taiwan. Huang, N. Y. (2002). Theory and strategies of school power ecology reconstruction: The example of teachers’ council in junior high school and elementary school. In H. L. Pan (Ed.), School Innovation: Theory and practice (pp.51–100). Taipei, Taiwan: Xue Fu. Lam, Y. L. J., Wei. H. C. P., Pan, H. L. W., & Chan, C. M. M. (2002). In search of basic sources that propel organizational learning under recent Taiwanese school reforms. The International Journal of Educational Management, 16(5), 216–228. Lee, Y. Y., Chang, H. J., Pan, H. L., & Hsu, Y. H. (1998). The longitudinal study on school effectiveness of elementary school. Educational Research & Information, 6(3), 1–25. Leithwood, K., Jantzi, D., & Steinbach, R. (1998). Leadership and other conditions which foster organizational learning in schools. In K. Leithwood, & K. S. Louis (Eds.), Organizational learning in schools (pp. 67–90). Lisse, the Netherlands: Swets & Zeitlinger. Lin, J. L. (2001). A case study of micropolitics in a junior high school’s Teachers’Association. Unpublished master thesis. National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan. Lin, M. D. (2000). Curriculum leadership of school principals and school-based curriculum. From theory and policy to implementation on grade1 to grade 9 curriculum (pp. 155–186). Kaohsiung: Fuwen. Marsh, D. D. (2000). Educational leadership for the twenty-first century: Integrating three essential perspectives. In M. Fullan (Ed.), The Jossey-Bass reader on educational leadership (pp. 126–145). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. McCarthy, J., & Still, S. (1993). Hollibrook accelerated elementary school. In J. Murphy, & P. Hallinger (Eds.), Restructuring schooling: Learning from ongoing efforts (pp. 32–62). Newbury Park, CA: Corwin Press.

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McTaggart, R. (Ed.). (1997). Participatory action research: International contexts and consequences. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. O’Neil, J. (1995). On schools as learning organizations: A conversation with Peter Senge. Educational Leadership, 52(7), 20–24. Oja, S. N., & Smulyan, L. (1989). Collaborative action research: A developmental approach. New York: Falmer Press. Pan, H. L. (1999). The development of research field in school effectiveness. Bulletin of Education Research, 43, 77–102. Pan, H. L., & Yu, C. (1999). Educational reforms and their impacts on school effectiveness and improvement in Taiwan, R.O.C. School Effectiveness and Improvement, 10(1), 72–85. Porter, M. (2000). Attitudes, values beliefs, and the microeconomics of prosperity. In L. Harrison, & S. Huntington (Eds.), Culture matters: How values shape human progress (pp. 14–28). New York: Basic Books. Prestine, N. A. (1993). Feeling the ripples, riding the waves: Making an essential school. In J. Murphy, & P. Hallinger (Eds.), Restructuring schooling: Learning from ongoing efforts (pp. 63–83). Newbury Park, CA: Corwin Press. Reynolds, D., & Teddlie, C. (2000, April). Reflections on the critics and beyond them. Paper presented at American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans. Seller, W., & Hannay, L. (2000). Inside-ouside change facilitation: Structural and cultural considerations. In N. Bascia, & A. Hargreaves (Eds.), The sharp edge of educational change: Teaching, leading and the realities of reform (pp. 197–216). London: Falmer Press. Sergiovanni, T. J. (1992). Moral leadership: Getting to the heart of school improvement. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Sergiovanni, T. J. (1995). The principalship: A reflective practice perspective. Needham, MA: Allyn and Bacon. Short, P. M., & Greer, J. T. (1997). Leadership in empowered schools: Themes from innovative efforts. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Sizer, T. R. (1992). Horace’s compromise. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. Slavin, R. E., Madden, N. A., Shaw, A. H., Mainzer, K. L., & Donnelly, M. C. (1993). In J. Murphy, & P. Hallinger (Eds.), Restructuring schooling: Learning from ongoing efforts (pp. 84–113). Newbury Park, CA: Corwin Press. Stevenson, H. W., & Stigler, J. W. (1992). The learning gap: Why our schools are failing and what we can learn from Japanese and Chinese education. New York: Simon & Schuster. Su, S. F. (2002). Theory and practice of teaching renewal: An Example of English teaching in junior high school. In H. L. Pan (Ed.), School innovation: Theory and practice (pp. 201–250). Taipei, Taiwan: Xue Fu. Tang, C. M. (2002). Planning of school space renewal. In H. L. Pan (Ed.), School innovation: Theory and practice (pp. 279–330). Taipei, Taiwan: Xue Fu. Wagner, J. (1997). The unavoidable intervention of educational research: A framework for reconsidering researcher-practitioner cooperation. Educational Researcher, 26(7), 13–22. Wagner, T. (2001). Leadership for learning: An action theory of school change. Phi Delta Kappan, 82(5), 378–383. Walker, A., & Dimmock, C. (2002). Moving school leadership beyond its narrow boundaries: Developing a cross-cultural approach. In K. Leithwood, & P. Hallinger (Eds.), Second international handbook of educational leadership and administration (pp. 167–202). London, UK: Kluwer Academic. Wang, L. Y., & Pan, H. L. (2000, December). A survey study on the empowerment of school participants and the cause analysis in junior-high schools and elementary schools: Teacher Association as a focus. Paper presented at the Meeting of the Vision and Planning of Educational Development in the new Era, Taipei, Taiwan. Wang, L. Y., & Pan, H. L. (2001, June). Using empowerment perspective to examine the operation of Teacher Association. Paper presented at the Meeting of the School Innovations, Department of Education, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan. Wang, L. Y., & Pan, H. L. (2002). Seed and soil: The role and practice of school principals and teachers in school innovations. In H. L. Pan (Ed.), School innovations: Theory and practice (pp. 101–137). Taipei: Xue Fu.


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Wei, H. C. (2002). Constructing a learning school: An action research. In H. L. Pan (Ed.), School innovation: Theory and practice (pp. 363–401). Taipei: Xue Fu. Weiner, G. (2002). Auditing failure: Moral competence and school effectiveness. British Educational Journal, 28(6), 789–804. Wu, C. T., & Chen, B. C. (1985). The preliminary review of educational research for forty years in Taiwan. China Forum, 21(1), 230–243. Yu, A. B. (2004). Looking back is a kind of nostalgia … : Curriculum experiences of community as classroom in Taipei county. National Education, 44(6), 56–61.


Daming Feng

Introduction School effectiveness and improvement has long been an important educational issue for researchers and practitioners worldwide. According to Levine and Lezotte (1990), school effectiveness is “the production of a desired result or outcome.” However, “school effectiveness is still a very vague concept, even though it is often used in the literature of school management and improvement” (Cheng, 1996, p. 7). The definition of school effectiveness may vary for individuals as well as for different countries. Relatively speaking, Mortimore has given a clearer meaning when he defines an effective school as “one in which students progress further than might be expected with respect to its intake” (Mortimore, 1998, p. 258). This definition suggests that an effective school should add value to the students’ outcomes in comparison with other schools serving similar intakes (Sammons, 1999, p. 76). The author of this chapter agrees with Mortimore’s definition and believes that the most convincing fruits of school effectiveness and improvement practices should be the improvement of quality in disadvantaged schools.1 This point of view is not groundless but builds on China’s unique history in school effectiveness and improvement. Thus, this chapter begins with a brief historical review of school effectiveness and improvement practices in China and then presents the general context of China’s experiences. The second section of the chapter examines the role the Chinese government plays in promoting improvement in disadvantaged schools, by presenting and discussing the contribution of related initiatives and efforts at the system level. In the third section, the factors at the site level that contribute to improvement in disadvantaged school are identified, through studying a typical case of successful practice in improvement in disadvantaged schools. The fourth section provides researchers and practitioners in other countries with the implications and lessons drawn from China’s best practices in improvement in disadvantaged schools. Throughout this chapter, the author argues that the most valuable and convincing experiences of school effectiveness and improvement are not in traditional, high-performing 287 T. Townsend (Ed.), International Handbook of School Effectiveness and Improvement, 287–306. © 2007 Springer.



schools but in disadvantaged schools. Also, the initiatives and efforts at system level can substantially promote and enhance the effectiveness and improvement of schools, particularly in disadvantaged schools. Yet, these initiatives and efforts do not work automatically. Rather, they work better if they are matched with the appropriate strategies at the site level. Finally, to develop effective strategies at the site level, an individual school has to fully consider the “status” of the students, based on information from the results of psychological tests, questionnaires, and surveys. Also, the author makes the assertion that school effectiveness and improvement may have a negative side; that is, the excessive expectations and workload in school improvement practices might weigh teachers down. Further, school leaders adopting leadership approaches or management strategies directly from other political and cultural contexts, without considering the appropriateness for their organizations, might do more harm than good.

School Effectiveness and Improvement Efforts in China School effectiveness and improvement has been one of the priorities for China’s education since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. However, by the end of the 1980s, China’s efforts in this area were focused exclusively on a very small proportion of schools. When confronted with immediate economic and technological problems in the early years, the newly established communist government in mainland China was eager to prepare qualified scientists and technicians within a short time. Thus, the government was unable to allocate enough resources to improve all schools in the country. Also, the country experienced a civil war from 1946 to 1949, and the per capita GDP was only US$14–19 in the first five years of the 1950s (Ministry of Education [MOE], 2003a, p. 666). Under these circumstances, the Chinese government decided to develop a policy that classified some schools as key schools and others as ordinary schools, in a top-down manner. In 1953, the central government named 194 schools “key schools.” This was a very small percentage (4.4%) of the large number of schools in China (Li, 2003, p. 276). In 1962, the National Congress of Education again emphasized the importance of key schools and called for accelerating the development of the key schools program. In 1978, the Ministry of Education formulated a new policy regarding the building of a key schools system. According to this policy, key schools were given further priority in funding, human resources, school facilities, and selection of students (Liu, 2005). These particular policies and efforts giving priority to the key schools had constantly improved the quality of these schools and prepared quite a few excellent graduates by 1980s. But these same policies and efforts, which benefited only the key schools, resulted in the problem of uneven development in China’s education. The limited resources for education were allocated unevenly between the minority key schools and majority ordinary schools. Consequently, some of the ordinary schools gradually fell behind and became disadvantaged, whereas the key schools became privileged under such policies and efforts. The statistics in the mid-1980s showed that nearly 40% of China’s elementary and middle schools were identified as disadvantaged (Zhang, 2004, p. 1).

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As a result of the improvement of the national economy during the first five years of the 1980s, the nation’s legislative body, the National People’s Congress, decided to establish the system of nine years of compulsory education in China. Then, the Compulsory Education Act was passed and came into effect when the per capita GDP reached US$138 in 1986 (MOE, 2003a, p. 666). At this time, the Chinese government became aware of the problem of uneven development between key schools and ordinary schools and, in the late 1980s, began to reallocate the resources for education. In 1989, the problem of the effectiveness of ordinary schools, particularly in disadvantaged schools, was placed on the agenda of the Ministry of Education (Zhang, 2004, p. 3). This was seen as a turning point in China’s educational priority, as the policy began to shift from key schools to ordinary schools. In November 1998, the Ministry of Education issued an important document titled Reinforcing the development of disadvantaged schools and making every school work in large and medium cities. This central government document put forward the initiatives and efforts aimed at improving the disadvantaged schools, by introducing changes in funding, governance, policy of enrolment, personnel distribution, and teacher development (MOE, 1998). Since this time, improving the quality of disadvantaged schools has been a focal issue at both system and site levels, because “no school should be left behind” is the essential requirement in the implementation of the Compulsory Education Act. In the above historical account, it is evident that the government in mainland China has shifted its focus from key schools to disadvantaged schools. The purpose of the earlier focus was to breed a corp of élite students from the vast student population for the service of the country, and to make the key schools the benchmark of excellence. The purpose of the latter focus was to reverse the unfavorable conditions of schools suffering from a lack of resources and poor management. Now that the historical context for China’s development has been presented, we turn out attention to the next section, which focuses on the recent practices in disadvantaged schools.

Initiatives and Efforts at System Level Since 1998, the Chinese government has taken various initiatives and made efforts to improve disadvantaged schools. These initiatives and efforts were put into practice with special extra funding, by changing the policy of enrolment and the style of governance, approaching innovation in teacher development, and encouraging school leaders to move to disadvantaged schools.

Special Extra Funding It is a universal consensus that increasing funding is one of the critical factors in improving the quality of disadvantaged schools. In the late 1980s, it was apparent that it would be impossible for the Chinese government to allocate necessary funding to assist these schools. However, things changed in the past decade, as China’s economy has constantly and rapidly developed and improved. As mentioned, China’s per capita GDP was US$19 in 1955 and US$138 in 1986. It reached US$1023 in 2002



(MOE, 2003a, p. 666). In some coastal cities, the per capita GDP was even higher. For example, in Shanghai, it was US$5642, according to statistics in 2003 (Wen Hui Daily, 2006a, p. 12). This improvement in economy provides the precondition for an increase in funding. Both the central government and the local governments have established various special foundations for restoring the quality of disadvantaged schools in the last decade. The foundation established by the central government mainly aimed to support programs for rebuilding disadvantaged schools in less developed areas.2 For instance, the central government established a special foundation for disadvantaged schools in inland China, where the economic level was low in 1995. By the year 2000, this foundation had provided disadvantaged schools in 852 less developed counties with approximately US$1.6 billion (Li, 2003, p. 251). In another development, the governments in coastal cities tended to establish special foundations themselves for local disadvantaged schools. The most developed coastal city in China, Shanghai, put US$1.1 billion extra funding into 194 local disadvantaged schools from 2002 to 2005 (Wen Hui Daily, 2006a, p. 12). These foundations are employed for building renovations, campus reconstruction, fitting classrooms and laboratories with necessary equipment, and covering expenses in teacher development in disadvantaged schools.

Changing the Enrolment Policy Traditionally, elementary school graduates were required to take a formal entrance examination before they were promoted to middle school. The candidates that got high scores would enter key schools, but the rest had to go to ordinary or even disadvantaged schools. To emphasize equity in the nine-year compulsory education and to provide better support to disadvantaged schools, the Ministry of Education in the late 1980s established several pilot districts in four provinces, to explore the possibility of abolishing the middle school entrance examination and implementing a new policy. This policy stipulated that the key school system at the elementary level and middle education would be abolished. The elementary school graduates in these four pilot districts would be allocated to middle school close to their neighborhoods (MOE, 1993, pp. 10–11). This change of enrolment policy gradually spread to the other 26 provinces and autonomous regions of China, after receiving positive responses from those in the pilot districts. By the end of 2005, all schools in the country had adopted the new policy of enrolment; even the government of the Tibetan Autonomous Region claimed to have adopted the policy of “no entrance examination and going to a school nearby” (Dawarenci, 2005).

Changing the Approach of Support In the past, both the Ministry of Education and the local educational authorities would govern schools in a bureaucratic manner by issuing top-down rules. Now-a-days, this approach is slowly being replaced by a client-centered one in the disadvantaged schools targeted for reform. Evidence of this approach is that the Ministry of Education has recently established a website for a consulting service to provide local

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educational authorities and schools with professional advice (MOE, 2005a). Another example is the National Teacher Networking Program (NTNP) established by the Ministry of Education and supported by eight normal universities.3 In September 2003, the ceremony to launch the NTNP was held in Beijing (MOE, 2003b). According to the news report, the NTNP runs as a supermarket of teacher development for all teachers nationwide. Teachers in any part of the country can select to learn any online course and have access to any presentation any time they wish, through the Internet. The online courses and presentations are prepared by the experts and professors in the field of teacher education in the eight most renowned normal universities. This is one of the solutions to the problem of teachers at disadvantaged schools in inland China having little chance for access to qualified and excellent teacher educators (Chen & Gong, 2004). The changing approach in the support of the Ministry of Education has influenced the administrative behavior of local educational authorities. In Anhui, one of the inland provinces, three initiatives have recently been formulated by the provincial government, to help the leaders and officers at the system level who are concerned about disadvantaged schools. The first initiative is that individual officers at local educational authorities must keep in touch with several disadvantaged schools and assist these schools in addressing difficult problems. The second is that every superintendent of the local authorities must play the role of chief coordinator to organize or coordinate local resource personnel and research institutions of education to support local disadvantaged schools. The third initiative is to build up an accountability system for local educational authorities, related to the condition and extent of improvement in local disadvantaged schools (AEN, 2005).

Innovative Approaches in Teacher Development Based on past experience, we know that teachers in disadvantaged schools are usually good at discipline in the classrooms but lack knowledge and skills in curriculum development and in giving instructions. A survey in 2000 revealed that 25% of the teachers at disadvantaged schools in less developed areas did not have rudimentary knowledge or minimum skills for classroom teaching (Xu, 2003). As a result of the development of the rebuilding program for disadvantaged schools, the matter of professional development for teachers in disadvantaged schools becomes salient. Thus, teacher development in disadvantaged schools has been repeatedly emphasized as the infrastructure for improvement in these schools. Therefore, quite a few innovative approaches beyond the traditional training institute or ordinary workshops for teacher development have emerged in recent years. In addition to the NTNP stated above, the following innovative approaches for teacher development are widely accepted and employed.

“Big Name Teacher Studio” (BNTS) Approach The BNTS is named after a local excellent and renowned teacher; for example, “Steve Teaching Studio,” “Susan Teaching Studio,” etc. The hosts of the studios are selected and named by the local educational authority. Usually, these studios cover all subjects



such as math, science, Chinese, English, etc. at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Each host signs a one- or two-year contract with the district. The local educational authority provides the studio with funds and other necessary resources, and each host delivers his or her subject knowledge by mentoring a group of promising young teachers from neighboring disadvantaged schools. It is also necessary for a host to have online presentations and online question-answer sessions for all teachers in the same district (Xinhua, 2004).

“Subject Highland” Approach It is a universal phenomenon that the level of teaching and learning in different subjects gets uneven development in different schools in a district. Usually, a highperforming school4 may get one or two strong subjects but not all. For example, high-performing school A is strong in math and science, whereas high-performing school B is strong in language and social studies. The local educational authorities have recently identified the distribution at the highest level of teaching and learning in different schools within a district and named such schools with the strongest subjects “Math Highland,” “Science Highland,” “Language Highland,” etc. The individual schools with the name of subject highland must take up the responsibility of providing teachers who teach the same subject at disadvantaged schools within the same district with opportunity to join field trips, classroom observation, professional experience sharing sessions, and problem-centered workshops. Of course, these schools will receive extra funding from the local educational authority (Feng, 2002; Wen Hui Daily, 2006b, p. 11). Essentially, it is an inter-school but has a within-district supporting approach for teacher development at disadvantaged schools.

“Inter-District Supporting” Approach Sometimes, it is impossible for a district that has few high-performing schools to employ the subject highland within-district supporting approach. Thus, the interdistrict supporting approach is advocated and promoted by the local educational authorities to be in charge of more than one district. In 2004, the Shanghai Education Commission (SEC) published its new action plan for educational development. As one of the strategic actions, SEC required its 19 districts to carry out the inter-district supporting approach for teacher development, in case the chances to improve the quality of teachers were unevenly distributed among different districts (Wang and Su, 2004). In implementing this requirement of SEC, several inter-district supporting approaches have been developed. These include interdistrict partnership, inter-district internship, inter-district mentoring, and inter-district volunteering (Wen Hui Daily, 2006b, p. 11).

Inter-district partnership An individual disadvantaged school in one district builds up a partnership with a highperforming school in another district, with the assistance of the local educational authority in charge of these two districts. Then, the two schools negotiate what and how the latter helps the former in a fixed period (e.g., one year or two years).

School Improvement in Mainland China


Inter-district internship A disadvantaged school in one district selects a few promising young teachers to learn instructional skills and acquire other knowledge in practice for a period at a highperforming school located in another district. This is accomplished through the coordination of the local educational authority in charge of these two districts. These young teachers will go back to the disadvantaged school after one semester or one school year. Inter-district mentoring An experienced teacher at a high-performing school in one district meets and talks with a group of promising young teachers teaching the same subject from several disadvantaged schools in another district. These meetings occur once a week, and the teachers give guidance and advice on their teaching and their professional development, according to the expectations and objectives set by the local educational authority in charge of these two districts. The actual needs of these young teachers are also considered. Usually, the mentor will get a little extra pay from the local educational authority. Inter-district volunteering According to the rule of teacher promotion formulated by some local educational authorities, it is necessary for a candidate who is seeking a position of Senior Teacher working in a high-performing school to work at a disadvantaged school in another district located in a less developed town or rural area, for at least one school year. Consequently, many qualified teachers who want to be promoted to senior positions from high-performing schools become inter-district volunteers.

Encouraging School Leaders to Move to Disadvantaged Schools Historically, high-performing schools pool excellent human resources in leadership, whereas disadvantaged schools lack qualified personnel in leadership. In recent years, a new system of performance-related pay for school principals has been developed in Shanghai, to encourage school leaders to move to disadvantaged schools (Wu, Feng, & Zhou, 2000, p. 193). According to this system, all serving principals in Shanghai are divided into 4 grades and 12 levels (see Table 1). The principals at Grade 1 Level 1 status will get the highest pay; the principals at Grade 4 Level 2 status will get the lowest. Every principal has the right to apply for the grade and level he or she considers appropriate. However, a special committee will evaluate the performance of each Table 1.

The system promotion ladder for school principals

Grade 1

Grade 2

Grade 3

Grade 4

Level 1-1 Level 1-2 Level 1-3 Level 1-4

Level 2-1 Level 2-2 Level 2-3 Level 2-4

Level 3-1 Level 3-2

Level 4-1 Level 4-2



applicant and decide the appropriate professional status for him or her, using a newly developed evaluation system based on a set of indicators. The evidence of the performance of each principal is gathered in four ways: field observation, data-based review, interviews of stakeholders, and evidence-based task reporting by individual principals. This evaluation process ignores the school’s historical achievements and does not care about the status of the school in which a principal is working at the moment. It mainly focuses on the current performance of the school and the evidence of school improvement after the candidate became principal. To encourage qualified leaders to move to disadvantaged schools, a principal will get extra marks in evaluation if he or she is working at a disadvantaged school. The allocation of the principals to a particular grade and level determines their income, as mentioned (Feng, 2003a; Feng & Tomlinson, 2002). This system apparently provides not only performance-related pay mechanism but also an orientation of qualified human resources in leadership toward disadvantaged schools. This system of performance-related pay for school principals developed by the Shanghai Municipal Government was encouraged in 2001 by the central government (State Council, 2001). There is a distinct possibility that this system will be implemented in the whole country.

The Case of Shanghai Zabei No. 8 Middle School Before and After Improvement of the School Shanghai Zabei No. 8 Middle School is located in Zabei District, an inner-city, working-class community in Shanghai. Most of the students come from families of lower socio-economic status. The statistics and psychological tests conducted in 1986 and 1987 show that it was a typical disadvantaged school (Chen, 2003, p. 2; Wang, 1993, pp. 283–285; Xiong & Yu, 2005, pp. 749–750): ● ●

● ● ●

● ● ● ●

The equipment and facilities for teaching and learning were out of date. The focal issue of school leadership was not the improvement of quality in learning but keeping order. Most of the teachers had little confidence in improving their students’ learning. 20% of the teachers were identified as unqualified. Out of 35 middle schools in the district, the average score of students in this school in the entrance examination for middle school was at the bottom, but the ratio of criminal behavior was at the top. One-third of the students had the experience of repeating grades in elementary school. Only 22% of the graduates of this school passed the final standardized test. Only 14.9% of the students had the habit of preparing lessons before class. Only 16.2% of the students reviewed lessons after class. Only 11.1% of the students completed their homework without plagiarizing the work of others.

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● ●


Only 10% of the students had confidence that they would succeed in passing the final standardized test. More than 60% of the students had little motivation for learning. 10% of the students completely lost heart in learning and had little hope for their adult life. Only 10% of the students expressed satisfaction with the school.

Supported by the local educational authority, this school started its project in 1987, aimed at improving the effectiveness of teaching and the quality of learning. By the end of the 1980s, the positive outcome of the project was apparent. The following facts and data show that this school is no longer disadvantaged (Chen, 2003, pp. 4, 19; Xiong & Yu, 2005, pp. 761–762): ● ●

● ● ●

● ●

● ● ●

Some of the equipment and facilities for teaching and learning have been replaced. The focal issue of school leadership has shifted from keeping school in order to the constant improvement in teaching and learning. Most of the teachers have confidence in improving their students’ learning. Most of the teachers are qualified to teach. Out of 35 middle schools in the district, the average academic achievement went from the bottom (in 1987) to the middle range. Student criminal cases dropped from the top to zero. Of all ordinary schools in the district, the average performance of the students’ conduct/behavior of this school is in first place. The students’ proficiency in English listening comprehension, speed reading and comprehension, and oral expression is significantly higher than that of students from ordinary schools in the district. Almost 100% of the graduates of this school pass the final standardized examination. Students tend to have confidence in participating in various academic events and contests and for the first time won third place in an English contest with all ordinary and high-performing schools in the district. 74.3% of the students have the habit of preparing lessons before class. 86.5% of the students review lessons after class. 91.1% of the students complete their homework without plagiarizing the work of others. More than 90% of the students have confidence that they would succeed in passing the final standardized test. More than 90% of the students believe that they will have a promising future after graduation. More than 90% of the students expressed their satisfaction with the school.

Major Strategies for Improvement in the School To restore the quality of Shanghai Zabei No. 8 Middle School, the school improvement project team was established in 1987, funded and organized by the local educational authority of Zabei District. The project team consisted of school leaders and a few professional researchers from the local research institution of education. The project



began with a series of psychological tests, questionnaires, surveys, and interviews with individual teachers and students. The results showed the following (Xiong & Yu, 2005, p. 750): ●

The prime reason for students who have difficulty in learning is not intelligence but psychological factors. The prime reason for students with little motivation for learning and little confidence in learning is that they have too often experienced failure in learning.

Based on these two findings, the project team decided to regard helping students to regain their confidence as a fundamental effort, which provides students with opportunities of success in their learning experience. Later, this project was named “Successful Education.” In implementing the “Successful Education” project, six major strategies were developed in Shanghai Zabei No. 8 Middle School (Chen, 2003, pp. 33, 135–136; Liu, 2005, pp. 9–13; Xiong & Yu, 2005, pp. 756–760):

Building Guiding Values and Beliefs The following guiding values and beliefs leading all members of the school in search of success were gradually built into the school by various data-based demonstrations and evidence-based presentations. There was also repeated two-way communication: ●

● ●

The precise value of education is to help children pass through the fog in their life to find themselves. Success is not the exclusive privilege of one person or some people. Rather, it is something that belongs to everyone. It is essential for educators to believe that every student has the potential to be successful. One of the most important responsibilities for educators is to teach children “learning to learn” and “learning to strive for success.” “Success” refers to a person’s relative progress in comparison with his or her past. The core meaning of “success” is constant development and constant improvement.

Adjusting Expectations for Students According to Liu Jing-hai (2005), head of the project team and the principal of Shanghai Zabei No. 8 Middle School, “Successful Education” is an education approach aimed at serving students with difficulties in learning. It does not try to create an élite for society. Rather, it aims to turn the “failures” into “successes” through the process of appropriate education, in order to avoid the educational tragedy of so many school graduates entering society and the labor force with the memory of failure and frustration (pp. 9–10). “Appropriate education” here refers to the education based on S  f (e. c. a), the formula of “Successful Education” developed by the project team. In this formula, “S” stands for “success in learning,” “e” stands for “appropriate expectations

School Improvement in Mainland China


for students,” “c” stands for “the chance to experience success by suitable pedagogy,” and “a” stands for “encouraged appraisal.” According to this formula, the expectations for the students at disadvantaged schools must be adjusted. In other words, the expectations for students in this school should be different from the expectations for students at high-performing or ordinary schools. Or, to be more precise, the expectation for most students at this school is just to PASS the final standardized test, not to pursue EXCELLENT achievement in that test. Thus, expectations should start from the current status of individual students rather than from the general requirements of the national curriculum standards. Keeping in mind the progress of individual students, the expectations for them will gradually approach the requirements of national curriculum standards. To accomplish this, a suitable pedagogy is needed.

LSMI Pedagogy From 1987 to 1988, the project team developed a pedagogy with four characteristics in classroom teaching, to create chances of success and increase the experience of success for students. These four characteristics of this so-called “LSMI pedagogy” are “lower starting point,” “slow pace,” “many activities,” and “instant feedback.”

Lower starting point A teacher gets to know and understand the status of individual students by interviewing them and their parents, checking students’ previous homework, conducting quizzes before class, and conducting question and answer activities during class. The teacher will set proper starting points for individual students at the beginning of a semester. Given the status of the students at Shanghai Zabei No. 8 Middle School, the starting points are usually lower than the general requirements of national curriculum standards. Slow pace To minimize the chance of frustration and maximize the chance of success in classroom experience for students, teachers set a slow pace of learning for students with difficulty, in keeping pace with normal requirements. In this way, students with difficulty in learning will get more chance to see progress and success in learning. Many varieties of activity Usually, students having difficulty with learning become easily distracted if a teacher’s presentation lasts for 15 minutes or more. Given such a fact, teachers shift the format of teaching and learning from time to time, by providing students with various interactive activities with other students. Instant feedback Teaching (by teacher), doing and practicing (by students), checking and correcting (by teacher), identifying problems and problem-solving (by teacher together with students) is a basic cycle in every lesson. Through this instant feedback, teachers or students can



identify problems in their teaching or their learning, respectively. This enables them to improve their work. Also, students can see progress day by day through instant feedback. This recognition is essential to rebuild confidence in learning over time.

Encouraged Appraisal Encouraged appraisal is central to cultivate students’ interest in learning and to provide students with positive reinforcement. In explaining the meaning of encouraged appraisal, Liu (2005, p. 13) argues that effective appraisal for students with difficulty in learning should include the following encouraging factors: Through the appraisal, (1) students will recognize the relation between their endeavors and improved learning outcomes; (2) students will learn to attribute failures in the learning process to their insufficient input, insufficient previous knowledge, or inappropriate methods rather than to their own intelligence; (3) students will learn how to identify problems, how to analyze the reasons for errors, and how to adjust the goals for further learning; and (4) students will learn to respect each other.

Innovative Approaches to Teacher Development From the very beginning, the project team recognized that the quality of teachers was the precondition and assurance for carrying out the “Successful Education” project effectively. By the end of the 1980s, the project team had developed several useful approaches to school-based teacher development. Of these, “micro study with peers” and “co-authored script” were widely acknowledged.

Micro Study with Peers The school videotapes a ten-minute portion of a teacher’s teaching period, selected by the teacher, and shows it to the teacher and other teachers in the same department. The teachers discuss and analyze the advantages and disadvantages of the teacher’s teaching mirrored by this ten-minute period and find ways for the teacher’s further improvement through peer feedback (Chen, 2003, p. 6; Xiong & Yu, 2005, p. 760).

Co-Authored Script The school encourages every teacher to show a selected lesson plan for a 45-minute class. This lesson plan will be presented to other teachers in the same department. Each teacher who receives the plan is required to revise or refine the original one based on his or her values, perspectives, and understanding for teaching and learning. The plan is revised and refined many times and then passed back to the original author weeks later. It is very helpful for the original author (particularly for a teacher at an early stage of his or her career) to read and understand the refined lesson plan in which the wisdom and experiences of other teachers are included. Later, the school will collect all of the co-authored plans as common materials to be shared (Wen Hui Daily, 2006b, p. 12).

School Improvement in Mainland China


Making Full Use of External Factors During the process of implementing “Successful Education” in the late 1980s, the school consistently employed the strategy of “making full use of external factors.” The school made full use of such government initiatives as inter-school supporting and special funding for rebuilding disadvantaged schools, which emerged in the late 1980s in Zabei District, to improve the quality of the teachers and renew the facilities and equipment for teaching and learning. Also, the school made full use of the forces from the local community and families to establish a parent council at the school level, a parent team at the grade level, and parent volunteers at the class level, to provide the school with various types of support for rebuilding a secure and supportive atmosphere within the school (Xiong & Yu, 2005, p. 760).

Contributory Factors at Site Level The author chose the case of Shanghai Zabei No. 8 Middle School to identify the internal factors contributing to school improvement, because it is one of the best-known and most influential stories in the movement of restoring the quality of disadvantaged schools in China. As one of the few successful experiences in school improvement, it was strongly recommended by the Ministry of Education in the 1990s (Liu, 2005, p. 8). It has been influencing the movement of restoring the quality of disadvantaged schools in China since then, by conferences, symposiums, and publications on “Successful Education.” Since 1995, a number of disadvantaged schools in different parts of China have used the strategies of Shanghai Zabei No. 8 Middle School to improve the quality of their schools and have achieved satisfactory results (Chen, 2003, pp. 19–21). For example, the Lanzhou No. 11 High School (in inland China where the economic level is less developed) was identified in 1996 as disadvantaged. By employing the school improvement strategies from Shanghai Zabei No. 8 Middle School, the Lanzhou school had greatly improved its quality by the year 2000 (Zhang, 2004). Through the case of Shanghai Zabei No. 8 Middle School and other successful cases elsewhere in China (Chen, 2001; Chen, 2003; Liu, 2005; Qian, 2004; Xiong & Yu, 2005; Zhang, 2004), the contributory factors for effectiveness of disadvantaged schools at site level can be identified: ●

Guiding values and beliefs is a set shared assumptions for learners and educators, learning and teaching, failure and success, and the essential purposes and functions of school and education, through which a school will be led to the vision of quality. Research-based leadership refers to the major decisions of leadership and changes of school policy, based on findings of research literature and the results of psychological tests, questionnaires, and surveys. Appropriate expectations for students means the expectations are adjusted according to the status of individual students in a certain school. Suitable pedagogy creates chances of success for students and provides students with the experience of success.

300 ●


Encouraged appraisal is central to cultivating students’ interest in learning and to providing students with positive reinforcement. School-based teacher development is problem-centered teacher development within a school. Making full use of external factors requires a school to make full use of government initiatives and policies aimed at developing school strategies to match these initiatives and policies.

No doubt the initiatives and efforts at system level have substantially contributed to the improvement of Shanghai Zabei No. 8 Middle School. Yet, the extent or degree of improvement in quality may be different in another school under the same policy in the same system. In fact, some of the disadvantaged schools have been merged with other ordinary schools or high-performing schools since 1998, in the program of school redistribution, because little change has taken place in these disadvantaged schools for years (Li, 2003, p. 255). This fact convinced us that the initiatives and efforts at system level are only external forces and preconditions for the improvement of individual schools. When these initiatives and efforts reach an individual school, they do not work automatically. Rather, they work when they are matched with internal changes in an individual school. In this sense, the final extent or degree of quality improvement for an individual school largely depends on the effective strategies at site level.

Implications and Lessons to Learn Many lessons and implications can be drawn from the school improvement experience in mainland China. Many of these lessons and implications are valid not only for disadvantaged schools but also for ordinary schools as well. First, the effectiveness of disadvantaged schools should be given necessary attention. According to the 1990 World Declaration on Education for All, all children, “shall be able to benefit from educational opportunities designed to meet their learning needs” and “an active commitment must be made to removing educational disparities” (UNESCO, 1990). The provision of quality education for poorly motivated students at disadvantaged schools is not only a focal issue in China’s education, but it is also a big challenge in many countries. The experiences gained in China suggest that the most valuable and convincing experience of school improvement is not from traditional high-performing schools but from disadvantaged schools. Second, the initiatives and efforts backed by fiscal policy at system level are indispensable for endeavors in school improvement, particularly in disadvantaged schools. Yet, these initiatives and efforts are only external factors. They will not work automatically if they are not matched with appropriate strategies at site level. In this sense, the leverage of school improvement still largely rests at site level rather than at system level. Third, to develop effective strategies for school improvement at the site level, an individual school has to consider fully the current status of its students based on information from the results of psychological tests, questionnaires, and surveys. For example, in many international studies, “high expectations for students” has been identified

School Improvement in Mainland China


as one of the key factors in school effectiveness. However, based on the experience of “Successful Education,” “high expectations for students” may not work when dealing with students who are having learning difficulties in disadvantaged schools.

Problems and Concerns As an important part of China’s educational development, improvement in China’s disadvantaged schools has made apparent progress thus far. But a cluster of explicit and implicit problems is impeding the progress of China’s effort in school improvement. The document, Reinforcing the development of disadvantaged schools and making every school work in large and medium cities, issued in 1998 by the Ministry of Education, is seen as the beginning of China’s effort in school improvement for disadvantaged schools. However, the scope of application is rather limited. Given policymakers’ preoccupation with the challenges associated with urban schooling, school improvement for disadvantaged schools in small towns or rural settings has not been given priority, though there are several central government foundations for disadvantaged schools in inland China. Also, the local educational authorities in small towns or rural areas of inland China are unable to allocate extra funding for local disadvantaged schools, because of the less developed economic conditions. Hence, in solving the problem of uneven development between key schools and ordinary schools, a new problem of uneven development between the schools in coastal cities and those in small towns or rural areas of inland China is created (CPUA, 2005; Dong Fang Prospect, 2005; Liu, 2005). This is the first major problem of school improvement for disadvantaged schools in China. The second problem is the workload of teachers. As a result of the implementation of such projects as “Successful Education,” the requirements and expectations for a teacher are increasing. In Chinese culture, the primary responsibility of a teacher is not to teach students subject knowledge but to guide them towards socialization. Therefore, the term “educator” is quite different from “instructor” in the Chinese cultural context, because an “educator” is not only an “instructor” but also a “moral guide.” If a teacher acts only as an “instructor,” he or she will be seen as an underperforming teacher. In this sense, when the question “What is a performing teacher?” is raised, the traditional answer is very simple: a performing teacher is an educator. For a teacher who is implementing a school improvement project in a disadvantaged school, the answer has recently changed to “not only an educator but also a learner.” Now, the answer is “an educator, learner, innovator, facilitator, researcher …” Consequently, the teacher’s workload has increased because of the endless requirements and expectations of the role of a teacher (Feng, 2003b). What is the maximum workload for a teacher? Perhaps it is not in the job assignment but in the conscience of a teacher. The third problem is the leadership dilemma. As the knowledge of school improvement in disadvantaged schools has been accumulated, the school leaders of these schools have begun to introduce such Western leadership and managerial approaches as Distributed Leadership and Total Quality Management (TQM) into their schools. However, these leadership and managerial approaches are based on the cultural



context of Western societies. Hence, there may be a conflict in values when Western leadership and managerial approaches are introduced into the schools. Basically, the traditional Chinese culture rooted in Confucianism is quite different from the Western Judeo-Christian culture (Walker & Quong, 1998). For example, in contrast to the “original sin” of Judeo-Christian religion, Confucianism believes that “man, by nature, is good.” Given this fundamental assumption about people, a school leader’s priority, according to the Confucian perspective of leadership, is not “supervision” but tapping the natural moral source from his or her subordinates and bringing every positive factor into being. This assumption about school leaders’ priority is apparently contradictory to the assumption of school leaders’ priority in TQM. Taking another example, to address the challenges from school improvement practices, a school principal is planning to apply the distributed leadership approach. But Confucius (1998), the founder of Confucianism, said 3,000 years ago in The Analects, “He who holds no rank in a State does not discuss its policies.” In the light of this teaching, a true gentleman, even in his thoughts, never departs from what is appropriate to his rank. That is, leadership in a school is the principal’s job and no one else’s business. Thus, a school leader sometimes finds himself or herself in a cultural dilemma: To attain school improvement goals in the school, the school leader needs to introduce distributed leadership or other Western leadership and managerial approaches. But the leader will very likely encounter resistance from subordinates and other stakeholders. To be more exact, a school leader is likely to fail to lead the school to attain the planned school improvement goals if he or she does not apply some Western leadership and managerial approaches. However, the same leader will probably meet strong resistance and fail to achieve the goals of improvement at the school if he or she decides to implement Western leadership and managerial approaches based on Western culture (Feng, 2005). Given the above problems, educators and policy-makers in other countries would draw the following conclusion: First, like any effort at change, school effectiveness and improvement has both a positive and a negative side. Fullan and Miles (1992) remind us, “Changing is a learning process that is loaded with uncertainty. No one should ever be fooled into thinking that the change process works the way it is supposed to. ‘Anxiety, difficulties, and uncertainty are intrinsic to all successful change’ ” (quoted in Hanson, 2003, p. 331). Educators and policy-makers thus should be ready to face new challenges when they enjoy the fruits of school improvement. Second, it is necessary to bear in mind that a teacher is a person, not a machine. It is possible for teachers engaging in the improvement of their schools to be weighed down by the excessive expectations and a heavy workload. How to set priorities, what should be retained, and what should be abandoned is an enduring challenge for school leaders. Last but not least, cultural conflicts inevitably exist when school leaders, in the practice of school effectiveness and improvement, employ leadership approaches or strategies rooted in other cultural contexts. How can we solve the problems resulting from cultural conflict and resulting in leadership dilemma? So far as the author knows, this is still a problem that awaits resolution in China.

School Improvement in Mainland China


Conclusion In the last 8 years, the issue of disadvantaged schools has emerged as a focal issue in the education system in China, and the education community has witnessed unprecedented initiatives and efforts aiming to improve these schools. National and local policy-makers appear to realize that the most convincing evidence of school effectiveness should be the improvement in quality in disadvantaged schools rather than in key schools. This realization has led to significant changes of policies and priority given to disadvantaged schools. The initiatives and efforts for school improvement at system level, matched with appropriate strategies at site level, have produced positive outcomes in disadvantaged schools since 1998. However, the emerging problems in China’s efforts to improve schools remain to be solved. These problems, from the perspective of the author, can be categorized as explicit and implicit. It is not very difficult for the Chinese government to recognize and to deal with the explicit problems. For example, in further promoting the even development in nine-year compulsory education, a document published by the Ministry of Education in May 2005, the government affirmed its position to give high priority to disadvantaged schools in small towns and rural areas in inland China. In this document, the Ministry of Education also called for local educational authorities in inland China to make further efforts and to develop effective strategies to combat problems in disadvantaged schools (MOE, 2005b). In another development, society has recently turned its attention to the problem of the excessive workload of teachers. The Shanghai teachers’ union, for example, has been working for about 2 years on a project of setting an appropriate workload of teachers. The problem of the excessive workload of teachers is likely to be solved in the near future (Feng, 2005). Comparatively speaking, both researchers and practitioners have not paid sufficient attention to such implicit problems as the cultural dilemma in school leadership thus far. Also, there is only a very small body of educational literature on the theme of cultural conflicts or cultural dilemma in school leadership of China. So far as the author knows, the reasons underlying the conflicts and the solution for the dilemma have not been carefully analyzed and explored (Feng, 2005). How to effectively resolve these implicit problems would be an important theme for researchers and practitioners to work on in the field of school effectiveness and improvement. School improvement experiences in China presented in this chapter suggest that there is no easy path to successful school improvement, because success is accompanied by problems. Therefore, the author would like to close this chapter with the advice from Fullan and Miles (1992): “Problems along the journey should be embraced rather than avoided. Educational change is a problem-solving process; only by seeking out problems and resolving them through ‘deep coping’ can we confidently continue the journey.” (Quoted in Hanson, 2003, p. 331)

Notes 1. In China, a disadvantaged school is the lowest performing school among ordinary schools, in which at least four major characteristics can be observed: (1) lack of sufficient funding and necessary equipment



for normal operation; (2) most students coming from working-class families and having lower motivation for learning; (3) most teachers having lower confidence in improving students’ achievement and not being skillful in instruction; and (4) the focal point of school leadership not being improvement of quality in learning but keeping order. 2. The terms “developed” and “less developed” are for domestic comparisons and not international ones. 3. A normal university is a teacher education university. 4. After abolishing the key school system at the stage of elementary and middle education, educators and parents would like to call an ex-key school a “high-performing school” to make a distinction between ex-key schools and ordinary schools.

References Anhui Education Network (AEN). (2005). Review of rebuilding disadvantaged schools in Anhui Province. Available: Chen, A. (2001). Progress at different levels and improvement for all. In P. Huang, & X. Fang (Eds.), Classroom instruction and school quality (pp. 38–47). Nanjing: Dong Nan University Press. Chen, D. (2003). Liu and successful education. Beijing: International Cultural Publishing Company. Chen, H., & Gong, P. (2004, January 5). Key words of ICT in education in 2003. China Education Daily. Available: Cheng, Y. C. (1996). School effectiveness and school-based management: A mechanism for development. London: Falmer Press. Confucius (Ed.). (1998). The analects. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Teaching & Research Press. CUPA. (2005). The problem of uneven development in education between cities and rural areas: Interview with Cai Yongxiao, Deputy Director of Chongqing Municipal Education Commission. Available: http://www.  158 Dawarenci. (2005). Carrying out the policy “no entrance exam and going to school nearby” in 2006. Available: Dong Fang Prospect News Report. (2005, June 9). The increasing unequal conditions of education between cities and rural areas: A problem to be resolved. Dong Fang Prospect. Available: Feng, D. (2002). Problem-centered approach: One of choices for China’s teacher development during Tenth Five-Year Plan period. Instruction & Management, 13(5), 21–22. Feng, D. (2003a). Principal training and development in the people’s republic of China: Retrospect and prospect. In P. Hallinger (Ed.), Reshaping the landscape of school leadership development: A global perspective (pp. 205–216). Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger Publishers. Feng, D. (2003b). “Organized abandon”: A strategy to deal with over load for teachers. Management in Elementary and Secondary Schools, 20(6), 31–32. Feng, D. (2005). Can we find a solution for the current cultural conflicts in the field of school leadership. Paper presentation at the International Seminar on Education in China: The Dialectics of the Global and the Local, Beijing, China. Feng, D., & Tomlinson, H. (2002). Lessons from China: Research based CPD. Professional Development Today, 5(2), 39–46. Fullan, M., & Miles, M. (1992). Getting reform right: What works and what doesn’t. Phi Delta Kappan, 73(10), 744–752. Hanson, E. M. (2003). Educational administration and organizational behavior. San Francisco: Allyn and Bacon. Levine, D., & Lezotte, L. (1990). Unusually effective schools: A review and analysis of research and practice. Madison, WI: National Center for Effective Schools Research and Development. Li, L. (2003). Talking about education: Interview with Li Lanqing. Beijing: People’s Education Press. Liu, J. (2005). Success from initiatives and efforts. In L. Ma (Ed.), A wise conversation with sixty principals (pp. 8–14). Shanghai: Shanghai Educational Publishing House. Liu, X. (2005). Suggestion on making the policy aiming at equality. Available:

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Ministry of Education (MOE). (1993). The on going reform of China’s education. Beijing: Higher Education Press. Ministry of Education (MOE). (1998). Reinforcing the development of disadvantaged schools and making every elementary and middle school works in large and medium cities. Available: http://www. Ministry of Education (MOE). (2003a). Educational statistics yearbook of China 2003. Beijing: People’s Education Press. Ministry of Education (MOE). (2003b). The National Teacher Networking Program: Starting operation. Available: Ministry of Education (MOE). (2005a). The MOE guidance of promoting further experimental programs in high school. Available: Ministry of Education (MOE). (2005b, May 31). Further promoting the even development in nine-year compulsory education. China Education Daily. Mortimore, P. (1998). The road to improvement: Reflections on school effectiveness. Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger Publishers. Qian, Y. (2004). Building up the platform for students’ success. In H. Lan (Ed.), Reform in school administrative system and curriculum (pp. 147–152). Beijing: Beijing Educational Publishing House. Sammons, P. (1999). School effectiveness: Coming of age in the twenty-first century. Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger Publishers. State Council. (2001). The state decision on reform and development for basic education, 2001. Available: UNESCO. (1990). World Declaration on Education For All. New York. Available: PaperDocuments/PDF/WorldDeclarationon EducationForAll.pdf Walker, A., & Quong, T. (1998). Valuing differences: Strategies for dealing with the tensions of educational leadership in a global society. Peabody Journal of Education, 73(2), 81–105. Wang, M. (1993). The well-known pilot programs of educational reform in China. Qingdao: Qingdao Ocean Press. Wang, X., & Su, J. (2004, October 22). The action plan with 10 strategic action published in Shanghai. Wen Hui Daily. Wen Hui Daily. (2006a, January 11). Achievements of the rebuilding advantaged middle schools project in Shanghai. Wen Hui Daily. Wen Hui Daily. (2006b, January 12). Achievements of the rebuilding advantaged middle schools project in Shanghai. Wen Hui Daily. Wu, Z., Feng, D., & Zhou, J. (2000). A new framework of educational administration. Shanghai: East China Normal University Press. Xinhua. (2004). The establishment of big name teacher studios in Yuzhong district. Available: http:// 2798476.htm Xiong, M., & Yu, B. (2005). A history of educational explorations and experiments in modern China. Jinan: Shandong Educational Publishing House. Xu, F. (2003, February 11). Self-learning to reflection: An approach responsive to difficulties in teacher development. China Education Daily. Available: Zhang, D. (2004). Providing good education for every student. Beijing: Education & Science Publishing House.


Brian Caldwell

Introduction Three decades of studies have resulted in a broad consensus on the characteristics of an effective school. There is now impressive evidence from empirical research and sophisticated case studies on how an ineffective school can become an effective school. The challenge at this time is to scale up the use of this knowledge to ensure that all schools are effective. The focus is shifting from creating an effective school to creating an effective school system. Achieving such an outcome is an indicator that the school effectiveness movement is reaching its maturity. The purpose of this chapter is to illustrate the extent to which such maturity has been achieved in Australia by tracking the evolution of research, policy and practice in respect to one particular factor in school effectiveness and school improvement, namely, the locus of decision-making in a shift in the balance of centralization and decentralization. More specifically, the focus is on what is variously known as school-based management or self-management or devolution, defined here as significant and systematic decentralization to the school level of authority and responsibility to make decisions within a centrally-determined framework of policies, standards and accountabilities. The time frame of the review is three decades, from the early 1970s to the early 2000s. The author has been involved in research, policy and practice on the phenomenon for much of this time, and this work is summarized, with cross-referencing to other chapters in this book which have contributed to and helped complete the “story.” It is concluded that there have been five stages in development to maturity in this particular field: Stage 1 Values – building a case on the basis of “what ought to be”; Stage 2 Reputation – identification of good practice based on early indicators of effectiveness; Stage 3 Modeling – refinement of practice in the light of a better data base and more robust analysis; Stage 4 Dependability – achieving clarity and confidence in what ought to be done at the school level; and Stage 5 Alignment – achieving coherence and certainty in moving from school effectiveness to system effectiveness. 307 T. Townsend (Ed.), International Handbook of School Effectiveness and Improvement, 307–324. © 2007 Springer.



It seems that research, policy and practice are moving from Stage 4 to Stage 5. It is proposed that these stages of maturation may be discerned in other work in school effectiveness and school improvement. There are implications for linkages of policy, practice and research.

Context In Australia, the constitutional responsibility for education lies with the six states and two territories, each of which administers its schools through a department of education responsible to a minister. Australia is one of the few nations where constitutional responsibility for education does not lie with a national government. For example, only 3 of the 21 members of the APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) consortium locate such responsibility with state or provincial governments, these being Australia, Canada and the United States. While the state and territory departments have constitutional responsibility for schooling, the Australian Government exerts a powerful influence on primary (elementary) and secondary education because it is the only level of government that can raise an income tax. It can allocate funds to the states and territories for any purpose provided state and territory governments and non-government school authorities meet certain conditions. Many of the current federal education policies aim to increase “national consistency,” for example, the starting age of students. Others require testing in literacy and numeracy for primary and secondary students. There is considerable tension on these arrangements, but a degree of “cooperative federalism” is achieved through meetings of all ministers in the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs. Across the country, about 70% of students attend schools owned and operated by government. These are referred to as government, state, or public schools. About 30% attend schools that are owned and operated by a non-government entity, and these are referred to as non-government, private or independent schools, the majority of which have an affiliation with a church. All non-government schools receive some public funding on a scale that reflects the socio-economic status of their communities. In recent decades there has been a steady drift of students from government to non-government schools to the extent that in the capital cities of most states and territories more than 40% of students at the senior secondary level now attend a non-government school. Students in Australia are among the top performers in international tests such as the Program in International Student Assessment (PISA) or the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). However, the gaps between high performing and low performing students are among the widest in participating countries, especially in differences between girls and boys, students in urban and rural settings, non-Indigenous and Indigenous students, and those in high and low socio-economic communities. There is concern to close these gaps and this underpins the intentions of governments and other authorities to ensure that all schools are effective schools. Each of the states and territories has its policy counterpart to No Child Left Behind (USA), Every Child Matters (UK) and Nurturing Every Child (Singapore).

The Maturing of a Movement


Australia has traditionally been considered to have a highly centralized system of education. Reports of distinguished scholars were highly critical of the arrangement (Butts, 1955; Kandel, 1938). In a report for the Australian Council for Educational Research, R. Freeman Butts from Columbia University wondered whether undue centralization caused Australians to “miss something of the vitality, initiative, creativeness and variety that would come if the doors and windows of discussion were kept more open all the way up and down the educational edifice” (Butts, 1955, p. 11 cited by Partridge, 1973, p. 67). Consistent with developments in most public and private sector organizations and institutions around the world in the late 1960s and early 1970s, there was a loosening of the central grip on public schools but, even in the early 2000s, Australia was still considered to have a highly centralized system of public education. There are exceptions to this pattern with some states giving schools more authority and responsibility. This is particularly the case in Victoria, where local school councils determine policies and approve the budgets of schools within centrally-determined guidelines, and more than 90% of the state budget for schools is decentralized for local decision-making.

Stage 1 Values While there were precursors at the state level, the seminal event in shifting the balance of centralization and decentralization was the release of the report of the Interim Committee of the Australian Schools Commission (1973), generally known as the Karmel Report. Decentralization, or devolution as it was referred to at the time, was elevated to the status of a value that underpinned its recommendations. The Committee agreed that “there is an obligation on it to set forth the principal values from which its recommendations have been derived” (p. 10). The seven values were devolution of responsibility, equality, diversity, public and private schooling, community involvement, special purposes of schools, and recurrent (lifelong) education. The key statements on devolution are set out below: 2.4 The Committee favours less rather than more centralized control over the operation of schools. Responsibility should be devolved as far as possible upon the people involved in the actual task of schooling, in consultation with the parents of the pupils whom they teach and, at senior levels, with the students themselves. Its belief in this grass-roots approach to the control of schools reflects a conviction that responsibility will be most effectively discharged where the people entrusted with making the decisions are also the people responsible for carrying them out, with an obligation to justify them, and in a position to profit from their experience. 2.5 Many consequences follow from this basic position. In the first place, a national bureaucracy, being further removed from the schools than are State ones, should not presume to interfere with the details of their operations. Secondly, the need for overall planning of the scale and distribution of resources becomes more necessary than ever if the devolution of authority is not to result in gross inequalities of provision between regions, whether they are States or smaller areas … . [Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission, 1973, pp. 10–11]



These excerpts show unmistakably that the Committee was concerned with “control over the operation of schools,” not limiting its view of devolution to concepts such as participation or consultation, and that a role for the center, at a state or territory rather than national level, was important in determining an equitable approach to the allocation of resources. The report led to the creation of the Australian Schools Commission, later known as the Commonwealth Schools Commission, that administered a program of grants to government and non-government schools, most of which called for local decision-making. The intention was to improve access to schooling, reduce disparities in funding, encourage diversity, address special educational needs, build capacity in the profession, and foster community involvement in decision-making. While proposals were prepared by and implemented in schools, grants for government schools were administered by state and territory departments of education. The scheme was well-received at all levels and there is little doubt that it had a major impact. It is important to note, however, that while there was substantial evidence of need for funding of the kind that flowed from the work of the Australian Schools Commission, there was little research to support the efficacy of the particular approaches that were funded. There was a strong sense of “what ought to be,” that is, there was a strong foundation in a set of values about local decision-making that was consistent with the social movements of the times. As cited above, there was “a conviction that responsibility will be most effectively discharged where the people entrusted with making the decisions are also the people responsible for carrying them out.”

Stage 2 Reputation The late 1970s and early 1980s were characterized by concern for accountability and the effective use of resources, especially in the public sector. It was also the time when the school effectiveness movement gathered momentum. The author was the chief investigator of a Project of National Significance funded by the Commonwealth Schools Commission in Australia. The Effective Resource Allocation in Schools Project (ERASP) was conducted in two states (Victoria and South Australia) in 1983. Two sets of schools were identified on the basis of their reputation among knowledgeable people in the education sector. One set consisted of schools that were deemed to be highly effective in a general sense; the other comprised schools considered to be highly effective in the manner in which they allocated their resources. Schools that were nominated in both sets were selected for detailed study (see Caldwell & Spinks, 1988 for a detailed account of the project and its methodology). A comprehensive review of literature in the effective schools movement was undertaken to provide a list of characteristics of highly effective schools. The limitations of this literature were acknowledged at the time and are reported elsewhere in this volume, for Australia and elsewhere. Table 1 contains the list. Senior officers in departments of education provided nominations of schools that had these characteristics. Nominations reflected different levels, size, location and socio-economic status of schools. Nominators were asked to include schools that had shown marked improvement in areas in which they had been deficient. A second review of literature resulted

The Maturing of a Movement


Table 1. Characteristics of highly effective schools as employed in a 1983 study of school effectiveness in Australia (Caldwell & Spinks, 1988, pp. 31–32) Domain



1. The school has clearly stated educational goals. 2. The school has a well-planned, balanced and organized program which meets the needs of students. 3. The school has a program which provides students with required skills. 4. There are high levels of parental involvement in the children’s educational activities. 1. There is a high degree of staff involvement in the development of school goals. 2. Teachers are involved in decision-making at the school. 3. There are high levels of community involvement in decision-making at the school. A principal who: 1. Enables the sharing of duties and resources to occur in an efficient manner. 2. Ensures that resources are allocated in a manner consistent with educational needs. 3. Is responsive to and supportive of the needs of teachers. 4. Is concerned with his or her own professional development. 5. Encourages staff involvement in professional development programs and makes use of skills teachers acquire in these programs. 6. Has a high level of awareness of what is happening in the school. 7. Establishes effective relationships with the Education Department, the community, teachers and students. 8. Has a flexible administrative style. 9. Is willing to take risks. 10. Provides a high level of feedback to teachers. 11. Ensures that a continual review of the school program occurs and that progress towards goals is evaluated. 1. There are adequate resources in the school to enable staff to teach effectively. 2. The staff has motivated and capable teachers. 1. There is a low student drop-out rate. 2. Scores on tests reflect high levels of achievement. 3. There is a high degree of success in the placement of students in colleges, universities and jobs. 1. The school has a set of values which are considered important. 2. The principal, teachers and students demonstrate commitment and loyalty to school goals and values. 3. The school offers a pleasant, exciting and challenging environment for students and teachers. 4. There is a climate of respect and mutual trust among teachers and students. 5. There is a climate of trust and open communication in the school. 6. There are expectations at the school that all students will do well. 7. There is a strong commitment to learning in the school. 8. The principal, teachers and students have high expectations for achievement. 9. There is high morale among students in the school. 10. Students have respect for others and the property of others. 11. There is provision for students to take on responsibility in the school. 12. There is good discipline in the school. 13. There are few occasions when senior administrators in the school need to be directly involved in the discipline of students.



Resources Outcomes





Table 1. (Continued) Domain



14. There is a low absentee rate among students. 15. There is a low student suspension rate. 16. There is a low delinquency rate among students. 17. There is high morale among teachers in the school. 18. There are high levels of cohesiveness and team spirit among teachers. 19. There is a low absentee rate among teachers. 20. There are few applications from teachers for transfer.

Table 2. Characteristics of schools that allocate their resources in a highly effective manner as employed in a 1983 study of school effectiveness in Australia (Caldwell & Spinks, 1988, p. 33) Domain



There is a systematic and identifiable process in which: 1. Educational needs are determined and placed in an order of priority. 2. Financial resources are allocated according to priorities among educational needs. 3. There is opportunity for appropriate involvement of staff, students and the community. 4. Participants are satisfied with their involvement in the process. 5. Consideration is given to evaluating the impact of resource allocation. 6. A budget document is produced for staff and others which outlines the financial plan in understandable fashion. 7. Appropriate accounting procedures are established to monitor and control expenditure. 8. Money can be transferred from one category of the budget to another as needs change or emerge during the period covered by the budget. 1. High priority educational goals are consistently satisfied through the planned allocation of resources of all kinds. 2. Actual expenditure matches intended expenditure, allowing for flexibility to meet emerging and/or changing needs. 3. There is general understanding and broad acceptance of the outcomes of budgeting.


in a list of characteristics of effectiveness in the allocation of resources. Table 2 contains the list. The same methodology was used to secure nominations of schools that were considered on the basis of their reputation to be highly effective. A model derived from experience in the school that received most nominations in both categories (Rosebery District High School in Tasmania), but reflecting practice in many schools among those nominated, became the centerpiece of a training program. The program was conducted from 1984 to 1986 for more than 5,000 principals, teachers and parents, and in some cases students, in a three-year project to build capacity for local policymaking, planning and budgeting in the state of Victoria. This followed the adoption of new policies in Victoria for the further decentralization of authority and responsibility for schools within centrally-determined guidelines. The model consisted of an orderly approach to goal-setting, policy-making, planning, budgeting, and program evaluation, with distinct but complementary roles for policy groups, such as a school

The Maturing of a Movement


council, and program teams, consisting of teachers and other staff who contributed to policy but were largely concerned with implementation. The workshop program was subsequently refined and adapted for use in different settings, including England, Hong Kong and New Zealand, from 1988 to 1992. These coincided with major policy initiatives in each setting; for example, the introduction of local management of schools in England as set out in the 1988 Education Reform Act; the School Management Initiative (SMI) in Hong Kong; and the Tomorrow’s Schools initiative in New Zealand. These developments in self-managing schools were sometimes the subject of fierce attack. Some tackled the topic from an ideological perspective, with the practice seen as an example of market-oriented reform by conservative governments (e.g., Smyth, 1993). There was often a demand for evidence that self-management led in cause-andeffect fashion to improved student outcomes. This was a reasonable demand. It was sobering to note the consistent finding in early research that there appeared to be few if any direct links between local management, self-management or school-based management and learning outcomes (Malen, Ogawa, & Kranz, 1990; Summers & Johnson, 1996). Some researchers noted that such gains are unlikely to be achieved in the absence of purposeful links between capacities associated with school reform, in this instance, self-management, and what occurs in the classroom, in learning and teaching and the support of learning and teaching (see Bullock & Thomas, 1997; Caldwell, 2002; Cheng, 1996; Hanushek, 1996, 1997; Levacˇi´c, 1995; Smith, Scoll, & Link, 1996; OECD, 1994).

Stage 3 Modeling Further reform in Victoria in the 1990s provided an opportunity to explore the links between self-management and learning outcomes because this was an explicit objective. Significantly, in the context of the chapter, school effectiveness and school improvement had moved on; there was a much sturdier data base on student achievement than had existed before and those researching in the field were employing more robust methodologies. The Victorian reform began in 1993 with a significant tilt to decentralization in the Schools of the Future program. About 90% of the state’s education budget was decentralized to schools for local decision-making, extending to staff, but within a centrallydetermined framework of curriculum, standards and accountabilities. Employment arrangements were determined within collective agreements that applied to all schools. Longitudinal research was conducted over five years in the Cooperative Research Project, steered by a committee of senior officers of the education department, principals and scholars at the University of Melbourne, including several with skills in structural equation modeling. The objectives and purposes of the Schools of the Future (SOF) program ranged over educational (“to enhance student learning outcomes,” “actively foster the attributes of good schools”); professional (“recognize teachers as true professionals,” “allow principals to be true leaders”); community (“to determine the destiny of the school, its character and ethos”) and accountability (“for the progress of the school and the achievement of its students”).



Successive surveys in the Cooperative Research Project (1994, 1995a, 1995b, 1996, 1997, 1998) consistently found that principals believed there had been moderate to high level of realization of the expected benefit in respect to improved learning outcomes for students. In the final survey in 1997, 84% gave a rating of 3 or more on a 5-point scale (1 is “low” and 5 is “high”). Such findings did not illuminate the issue of the extent to which the capacities fostered by the reform impact on learning outcomes. Structural equation modeling using LISREL 8 (Jöreskog & Sörbom, 1993) was employed in the analysis of data in the 1995, 1996 and 1997 survey. It was conducted by Ken Rowe who contributes elsewhere in this volume on the theme of teacher effectiveness. The model reported here derives from the 1997 survey (Cooperative Research Project, 1998). The first step was to create seven clusters of related survey items and to treat these as constructs. These constructs were formed from 45 survey items concer