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IJER Vol 13-N1

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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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8 Articles

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Curriculum Policy and Nongovernment Schools in Australia

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Lesley Vidovich and Tom O’Donoghue

This article builds on a previous paper published in the International Journal of Educational Reform (Vidovich & O’Donoghue, 2002). The stimulus for that article was the observation that while a large corpus of literature has emerged on the implications for government schooling arising out of various forces shaping educational policy internationally, very little attention has been paid to what has been happening in the case of nongovernment schools. Accordingly, a research agenda aimed at investigating the forces attempting to influence whole curriculum policy in nongovernment schools was proposed. In this article the background to the proposed agenda is very briefly rehearsed, recalling in particular the argument made for conducting case studies of individual schools by adopting Bowe, Ball, and Gold’s (1992) notion of a policy cycle in tandem with a qualitative research approach using group interviews. The major part of the article then goes on to illustrate the potential of such a research approach by presenting an exemplar of a case study that was developed regarding one nongovernment school in one of the countries included in the larger study. Hopefully this will further stimulate other scholars to engage in similar research and accelerate the emergence of a new field of inquiry.

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Test Anxiety and Psychopathology in Fifth-Grade Students in Turkey

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Alim KAYA

Test anxiety is one of the problems experienced by school-age children. Thirty-four to 41% of third through sixth-grade children suffer from test anxiety (Beidel, 1991; Turner, Beidel, Hughes, & Turner, 1993). In surveying large samples (Gallagher & Miller, 1996; Kyriacou & Butcher, 1993), assessments of the school subjects and exams were found to be major stressors for the children. In its most extreme form, test anxiety can even be a contributing factor to school refusal (Ollendick & Meyer, 1984). Empirical studies show that test anxiety is a major debilitating factor on all academic levels, from elementary to higher education (Sarason, 1984). Therefore, test anxiety is one of the important issues arousing interest in educators, counselors, psychologists, and researchers.

In general, test anxiety is a form of trait anxiety (McDonald, 2001; Öner, 1990; Peleg-Popko & Klingman, 2002; Sieber, 1980). Test anxiety is a multidimensional concept in terms of both development and outcome. Quite a few researchers (Hedl, 1972; Sarason, 1975; Spielberger, 1972; Trent & Maxwell, 1980) consider test anxiety as a relatively stabilized personality trait. This trait appears to be a reaction toward assessment experiences of the children. A high level of evaluation anxiety is a result of a child’s inability to reach high and unreal academic achievement and performance expectations of the parents (Dusek, 1980). Children frequently encounter exams throughout their educational period. Accomplishment at school and parents’ pressure are internalized and turn into behaviors to meet the demands of the parents. When there is no adult support and no response for the demand of parents’ high academic achievement, the child develops an avoidance reaction in such evaluative situations and feels anxious.

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The “Safe School”: A Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Model of Community Policing as an Expression of Democratic Processes

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Israel Kim and Rina Barkol

This article discusses the idea of the “safe school” juvenile delinquency prevention model as a paradigm of bringing together all of the community participants, in order to bring about ways and means through which community problems could be met and solved. It suggests that in free and democratic societies, the consent of all participant parties to a problem be reached so that they all take part in its solution.

Without this consent, there will be no legitimacy for the police to work in a community, especially in a minority community. This article suggests that community policing, through its community-policing partnership programs, does achieve this needed legitimacy.

Finally, considering all of the above, it seems that the “safe school” model is just this kind of a model and that it has a chance of succeeding in 21st-century democratic societies. This is especially so due to its achievement of a level of what could be defined as “a community school,” where all community influential parties, including the police, participate in eradicating a problematic behavior at school.

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Cultural, Political, and Social Influence in the Development of the Lithuanian Educational System

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Stephen E. Williams and Philip Gray

Perhaps one of the most remarkable events of the 20th century was the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The impact was felt throughout the world. But ground zero was positioned in what are now Russia and all of the new nation-states that formerly constituted the Soviet bloc. Few new nation-states believed the transition from a totalitarian and closed state to an independent, open, and democratic nation would be without hardship (Williams, 1998). To replace a socialist system with a democratic one is not “a simple transition” but rather “an inversion of the whole system: from a totalitarian, self-referential society to a democratic and open society providing the widest political, economic and social freedom for all individuals” (Wichmann, 1996). Few of these new nation-states possessed the financial and human resources to single-handedly initiate and complete such a transformation. For many, the history preceding Soviet rule was one of a feudal society, serfdom, and conquered nation or annexed territory. (Legters, 1992) Few could claim the political heritage of a democracy or a republic. None had an economic structure remotely akin to the market-based, capitalistic models of the West. So pervasive was the Soviet program of cultural eradication that reestablishing genuine cultural traditions would be perceived by some as the most formidable and important task. It has been pointed out that even “in Spain, Portugal, or Greece . . . right wing dictatorships never imposed the same kind of devastation that the communist imposed” (Schoplin, 1992, p. 647)

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An Economist’s View of the Educational Consequences of Reform in the Reallocation of Time

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Melvin V. Borland and Roy M. Howsen

We were recently involved in a conversation in which a school administrator said that if we would look at the scores associated with the various academic areas of testing, we would see that the scores of the students at the school administrator’s school were low in mathematics. As a response to the existence of such a condition, the school administrator said that, next year, the school was going to spend more time on mathematics. Given scores referenced in the report of the conversation, can the school administrator’s suggested reform in the reallocation of time be expected to systematically increase educational utility? To the extent that the response of the school administrator is typical of the responses of school administrators to the existence of such conditions on scores, the question is important.1

To consider the question of interest in this article and to stimulate empirical work, a model of educational utility maximizing behavior with respect to reform in the reallocation of time is presented below.

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Brown v. Board of Education: A Beginning Lesson in Social Justice

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Margaret Engl, Steven B. Permuth, and Terri K. Wonder

The state can have no authoritative character . . . in expounding and applying the provisions of the Constitution.

—James Madison

Scholars would suggest that there are times when a clash of societal values and social justice come into a perspective of historic reality when, short of violence, the interceding nature of the judicial branch of America is called on to settle these conflicting issues. A number of these decisions balancing, under law, issues of social values and social justice have altered, clarified, or jolted the American dynamic. This is one of those cases.

In the fall of 1953, the Supreme Court of the United States received the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (347 U.S. 483, 1954) that raised essential questions, including whether separate but “equal” facilities in education can be provided for black students in the United States or whether the consideration of such societal construct violates, among other things, the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Further, the case is asked to address the historic tension as to the degree to which a state can establish a pattern of laws that might be construed to be inconsistent with federal legislation at a point in which both the state and federal governments cannot both have their way. Of import, central to the dialogue in what is arguably perceived as the case of the century, Justice Felix Frankfurter asks NAACP and petitioners Counsel Thurgood Marshall to “define equal.”

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The U.S. Supreme Court and the Politics of Vouchers

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Brian L. Fife

On June 27, 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris was promulgated by the justices. The case involved the constitutionality of Ohio’s Pilot Project Scholarship Program, which provides tuition aid for certain students in the Cleveland City School District to attend participating public or private (religious and nonreligious) schools of their parents’ choosing. The program also allows for tutorial aid for students who choose to remain enrolled in public schools. A divided Court (five to four) upheld the constitutionality of the program, and the decision was hailed by conservative groups in favor of vouchers as a positive measure toward education reform, particularly in urban America. Those advocates of the common school movement ideology (see Spring, 2001, pp. 105–115), however, interpreted the decision outcome quite differently.

In March 1995, the Ohio General Assembly enacted a Pilot Project Scholarship Program to provide a limited number of vouchers to permit public school students in Cleveland to attend private schools, including those operated by religious organizations. The vouchers were available for the first time in the 1996–1997 academic year, and allowed up to $2,250 per child to attend private schools (University of Arizona, 2002; Education Week on the Web, 2001). Once admitted, students could continue receiving vouchers through the eighth grade, subject to continued state funding (University of Arizona, 2002). At the time of the Court’s opinion in Zelman, voucher programs existed in four other states besides Ohio.

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Getting Good Results From Survey Research: Part II

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James F. McNamara

This article is the second contribution to a research methods series dedicated to getting good results from survey research. In this series, good results is a stenographic term used to define surveys that yield accurate and meaningful information that decision makers can use with confidence when conducting program evaluation and policy assessment studies.

From a research methods perspective, a survey earns a decision maker’s confidence when it achieves “high marks” for population validity (provides a representative sample), measurement validity (provides a well-designed questionnaire), and conclusion validity (yields an accurate data analysis and report preparation strategy). More detailed information on these validity requirements was presented in the initial article in this series (McNamara, 2004).

The specific intent of this article is to recommend a basic reference library that practitioners can use to understand all that is involved in the design, implementation, and evaluation of a survey. This survey research library has six basic reference sources. Each source addresses one of the following essential knowledge domains: (a) theory of survey research, (b) practice of survey research, (c) sampling plans, (d) questionnaire design, (e) data analysis and report preparation, and (f) the informed consumer of survey research.

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