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IJER Vol 11-N2

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The mission of the International Journal of Educational Reform (IJER) is to keep readers up-to-date with worldwide developments in education reform by providing scholarly information and practical analysis from recognized international authorities. As the only peer-reviewed scholarly publication that combines authors’ voices without regard for the political affiliations perspectives, or research methodologies, IJER provides readers with a balanced view of all sides of the political and educational mainstream. To this end, IJER includes, but is not limited to, inquiry based and opinion pieces on developments in such areas as policy, administration, curriculum, instruction, law, and research.
IJER should thus be of interest to professional educators with decision-making roles and policymakers at all levels turn since it provides a broad-based conversation between and among policymakers, practitioners, and academicians about reform goals, objectives, and methods for success throughout the world.
Readers can call on IJER to learn from an international group of reform implementers by discovering what they can do that has actually worked. IJER can also help readers to understand the pitfalls of current reforms in order to avoid making similar mistakes. Finally, it is the mission of IJER to help readers to learn about key issues in school reform from movers and shakers who help to study and shape the power base directing educational reform in the U.S. and the world.

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4 Articles

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An Analysis of Free Primary Education Reform Policy in Malawi

ePub

Samson MacJessie-Mbewe

This article assesses the impact of free primary education reform on educational access, equity, and quality in Malawi. To bring the impact into perspective, the socioeconomic and political contexts, the players, and the related policies, which have a bearing on the reform policy, have also been analyzed. Though the introduction of the reform has increased access to education for children of different socioeconomic backgrounds, it faces challenges such as a shortage of trained teachers, classrooms, and teaching/learning materials, which in turn affect quality of education. Furthermore, the problems of long distance to school as well as rural/urban and gender inequalities are still a concern. The article concludes with policy recommendations.

The government of Malawi had been under one party system for a period of 30 years, that is, since it attained independence in 1964 to 1994. During this period, primary education had not been free except in 1991–92 academic year, when the government introduced a school fee waiver scheme beginning from standard 1 and reaching standard 4, out of the eight grades in primary school, by 1994 (Malawi Ministry of Education & UNICEF, 1998). Because of the problem of lack of school fees, coupled with demand for school uniforms, many children either dropped out of school or completely failed to participate in primary education (Davison & Kanyuka, 1990). When a new multiparty system of government was introduced in Malawi in 1994, poverty alleviation was one of the main issues on the government’s agenda. The government identified high illiteracy as a major cause of poverty in Malawi. For instance, by 1994 more than 70% of the females (females constitute 52% of the total population) and 50% of males were illiterate (Malawi Ministry of Education & UNICEF, 1998). Consequently, the government saw eradication of illiteracy as one way of reducing poverty. As such, the state president, in his inaugural address to the nation on May 21, 1994, declared the introduction of free primary education (FPE) in Malawi. The major goals of this initiative were: to increase access to primary education, to eliminate inequalities in enrollment and build a strong socioeconomic base within society, and enhance civic education on the social and economic benefits of education at the community level (Malawi Ministry of Education & UNICEF, 1998). Therefore, the purpose of this article is to analyze the policy of FPE in Malawi by examining its impact on educational access, equity, and quality. The analysis will follow Haddad’s (1995) framework of desirability, affordability, and feasibility in order to assess how desirable FPE has been for children of different socioeconomic backgrounds, how affordable has it been on the part of the government and parents, and how feasible its implementation has been. I begin by discussing the socioeconomic context of the policy reform; its formation and political context; the major players involved; its significance to Malawi, examining its impact on access, equity, and quality; reviewing and critiquing FPE-related policies; and concluding by offering policy recommendations and future policy research.

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How Principals Level the Playing Field of Accountability in Florida’s High-Poverty/Low-Performing Schools—Part I: The Intersection of High-Stakes Testing and Effects of Poverty on Teaching and Learning

ePub

Michele Acker-Hocevar and Debra Touchton

In response to the pressures of accountability, an emerging field of study analyzes schools that defy the odds by exceeding state expectations of performance with low socioeconomic students and students of color. The most recent literature builds upon the body of research begun in the 1970s that examines the characteristics and practices of effective schools (Edmonds, 1979; Lezotte et al., 1980; Purkey & Smith, 1993). Most recently, the Heritage Foundation published a report titled “No Excuses: Lessons from 21 High-Performing, High Poverty Schools” (Carter, 2000). Another study made available through the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin (1999), describes “Hope for Urban Education: A Study of Nine High-Performing, High-Poverty, Urban Elementary Schools.” Both of these multisite, multicase studies report the stories of educators in schools making significant reversals in the achievement patterns of students from high-poverty, minority environments.

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Summer Clubhouse Programs: A Report of the Effects on Student Motivation and Self-Esteem

ePub

Joe D. Nichols

The present study involved an examination of an alternative summer learning program and its effect on student motivation and self-esteem. Seven Summer Clubhouse school sites were involved with more than 500 student participants completing instruments at the conclusion of each summer session. In addition, 214 of these participants were identified as first-time participants and their responses were gathered over their two-summer involvement. Responses from parents and staff members were also gathered throughout the project. The positive effects of the program on several constructs of student motivation, including learning goals, self-efficacy, and self-esteem, were also observed from student participant responses. Interview responses from students, parents, and staff are included in support of the analysis of the quantitative data. Results indicated that parents and staff were in agreement in their positive support of the summer program. The implications for summer enrichment programs are also discussed.

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Capacities for School Leadership: Emerging Trends in the Literature

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Carol A. Mullen, Stephen P. Gordon, Bobbie J. Greenlee, and Robert H. Anderson

Much of value can be learned from the current educational leadership literature. A literature task force that reviewed the contemporary research in leadership from the last 20 years, with special emphasis on the 1990–2001 time frame, developed this report. Inasmuch as the educational leadership field has already been thoroughly reviewed by Joseph Murphy and colleagues (1999; see also Beck & Murphy, 1997) from 1983–1998, we have elected to offer a more recent and hence more contemporary review of the literature. Since the educational administration profession is relatively young, our review is emergent, not summative or definitive (Murphy, 1999a).

The purpose of this review was to provide fresh insights into the educational leadership field and to learn about other university administrator preparation programs in the United States. Regarding the content of this paper, the research findings from the literature have been shared and corroborated with relevant stakeholders, which involves an advisory board. This board consists of a representative group of school practitioners (principals, superintendents, assistant principals, and district-level curriculum coordinators) from seven different counties served by our program as well as the entire faculty within the educational leadership program. The practitioners who validated the important leadership capacities or performance standards, discussed in this review, have collaborated on redesigning our administrator preparation program offered at a research university in Florida. The specific goal for this ongoing work is to address the values and needs of our students (prospective administrators and teacher-leaders) and those of the school districts. With this group, the leadership capacities of the literature task force (a subcommittee of the advisory board) were shared and tested for authentication.

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