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IJER Vol 14-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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Curriculum Reform, Challenges, and Coping Strategies in the Ethiopian Educational System

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Belete Mebratu and James Hoot

Ethiopia is a nation of more than 70 million people characterized by diverse ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups. The agrarian subsistence economy falls short of food self-sufficiency and this remains a major problem for the country. Following decades of monarchical rule and a 17-year military regime, since the early 1990s Ethiopia has entered into the process of transformation towards a more civil society. This transformational process has led to numerous socioeconomic and political policy reforms. Central to reforms in the education sector are changes in the school curriculum, the decentralization of education, the use of regional languages for instruction (as opposed to the former use of the national language, Amharic), emphasis upon democratic values, and multiple perspectives in addressing diversity issues in education. These changes constitute a significant turning point in the history of education of this country.

Recent reforms in education began with the Ministry of Education (MOE) document Education and Training Policy (Transnational Government of Ethiopia, 1994). This document begins by describing major problems of the educational system. These include problems of relevance, quality, accessibility, equity, mode of delivery, inadequate facilities, insufficiently trained teachers, and shortages of books and other teaching materials. In response to these challenges, this document recommends changes in the school curriculum, language of instruction, teacher education programs, and the examination system. These reforms were deemed necessary strategies for making education more responsive to educational reform objectives, which included a greater emphasis upon problem solving at all levels, increasing the numbers of teachers needed for greatly increasing demands, wiser use of resources, increasing a democratic culture, more efficient dissemination of science and technology, and making education more responsive to societal needs.

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Reforms of Basic English-Language Education in China: An Overview

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Guangwei Hu

Since the Chinese leadership headed by Deng Xiaoping initiated the twin policies of opening up and reform in the late 1970s, English-language education has had a prominent place in the prevalent discourse of development (Hu, 2002c; Ross, 1992). The Chinese leadership has been convinced that national proficiency in the English language is of paramount importance to China’s modernization and participation in international activities (Jin & Cortazzi, 2003; Nunan, 2003). English proficiency has been regarded as capable of providing access to the scientific knowledge base needed for national development, fostering China’s relationships with other parts of the world, facilitating its integration into the global economy, and enhancing its international competitiveness (Cortazzi & Jin, 1996b; Maley, 1995; Niu & Wolff, 2003a). As a result, successive policy efforts have been directed at expanding English provision in the formal education system and improving the quality of English-language education (Hu, 2002a, 2005). This commitment to English-language education, as Hertling (1996) notes, has constituted “the most ambitious language-learning campaign in history.”

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Are Dewey’s Educational Ideas Involved in China’s Education Once Again?

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Shujie Liu and Spencer J. Maxey

John Dewey was a one of the most significant figures in the history of the Chinese people. When he and his first wife visited China from May 1, 1919 to July 11, 1921, delivering lectures on the philosophy of education, social and political philosophy, ethics, experimental logic, art, and other topics, John Dewey was met by the people of China with open arms and open minds. China in the 1920s was in the midst of massive social change, no small part of which was the reform of its schools (Tsuin-Chen, 1970). And Dewey became a student of Chinese social and political reforms during his 2-year stay in China (Bergin, 1983; Westbrook, 1991). And the longer he stayed, the more enamored of China and her people he became. His daughter Jane later remarked, “China remains the country nearest to his heart after his own” (Rockefeller, 1991, p. 356).

The Chinese intellectual community voiced little dissent during Dewey’s visit, or for many years thereafter. Rather, Dewey became the highest educational authority at that time in China. It is possible to say that even until today, of all the Western educators who have visited China or with whom Chinese scholars had studied, only John Dewey seems to have any influence on the course of Chinese education (Tsuin-Chen, 1970). His sayings—such as “education is life,” “school is society,” and “learn by doing”—were known at all levels of the Chinese educational world (Bergin, 1893; Tsuin-Chen, 1970; Westbrook, 1991).

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Adaptation of the Patterns of Adaptive Learning Scales (PALS) to Turkish Students: Factorial Validity and Reliability

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R. Nukhet Cikrikci-Demirtash

Years ago, David McClelland asked in his book Succeeding Society why some societies were poor and in need whereas some others were more productive and wealthier, when compared to the rest. He emphasized the overwhelming importance of motivation in his reply (as cited in Maehr & Midgley, 1991). Today, the importance of motivation in every field, particularly in education, is acknowledged as a critical need to lead a society’s future.

The study of the effects of motivation on schooling and learning is not new. Why does one learn? What is the purpose of fulfilling a task or action? What purposes are functional for the learning individual? Previous studies showed that students’ perceptions and beliefs in themselves and their academic competency influenced their academic achievement (Greene & Miller, 1996; Leondari & Gialamas, 2002). In recent years, studies of the cognitive and motivational factors affecting students’ attitudes towards learning and their beliefs in academic achievement suggested two motivational factors in the first place: implicit theories of intelligence and achievement goals (Ames, 1992; Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Leondari & Gialamas, 2002; Maehr & Midgley, 1991). Implicit theories of intelligence describe a person’s beliefs and perceptions concerning the nature of intelligence—whether it is a constant or a changable entity. Previous studies showed that the way students perceived intelligence—as a constant, unchangable entity or a changable and improvable entity—influenced their cognitive and affective behavior in an academic environment (Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Faria, 1996). The second motivational factor examined in terms of students’ beliefs and perceptions concerning achievement is achievement goals. Studies of motivation and achievement in the late 1980s and early 1990s focused particulary on the role of aims/goals included in learning activities (Ames & Ames, 1988; Maehr & Midgley, 1991). In the last 15 years in particular, the goal orientation theory (GOT) appeared to be a new and leading trend in motivation studies (Jagacinski & Duda, 2001; Midgley et al., 1998). Weiner (1990) defines the goal-orientation theory as “a major new direction, one pulling together different aspects of achievement research” (p. 629). The theory emphasises a qualitative conceptualization of motivation rather than a quantitative pecularity (hard efforts, low interests) (Middleton & Midgley, 1997). The GOT was developed by educational and developmental psychologists to explain the relationships between children’s learning behavior in a school environment and academic tasks and their academic achievement (Pintrich & Schunk, 1996). The theory focused on students’ perceptions of their own academic tasks and achievement and related personal opinions rather than a lack of motivation or the factor lacking in order to participate in such activities, and was in search of defining academic achievement and its meaning attributed to that behavior, depending on students’ perceptions (Ames, 1987; Patrick, Anderman, Ryan, Edelin, & Midgley, 2001). Achievement-goal orientations (AGO) result in different cognitive, affective, and behavioral patterns in individuals. With such pecularity, AGO provides us with a useful framework to understand the motivation process of students in order to take part in school activities and their reasons for participation or nonparticipation (Dweck & Leggett, 1988).

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Seeking Alternatives to Alternative Certification: The Challenge and Opportunity of Preparing Second-Career Elementary School Teachers

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Mary Lou Morton

Nancy L. Williams

Roger Brindley

The familiar adage “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . .” (Dickens, 1859/1980) exemplifies the dilemmas, challenges, and opportunities consuming colleges of education today. Although opinions may differ as to the extent to which these really are the worst of times, teacher educators would probably agree that these are far from the best of times. Teacher shortages in many states are regularly reported in the media, and university programs in those states have simply not had the capacity to keep up with the increasing demand. As a result, many states and school districts have responded by setting up alternative routes to train and certify teachers who can be placed in classrooms, particularly in “high need” areas such as math education, science education, special education, and foreign language. This daunting task of preparing teachers is further complicated by outside forces. While facing state budget cuts, public and political attacks, and pressure from standards-driven functionalist-oriented governmental demands (Helsby, 1999), teacher education in the university setting also faces competition from the quick-fix teacher certification outlets that dominate cyberspace and strip malls (Finn & Madigan, 2001).

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Brown and School Choice: The Ultimate Dilemma of School Reform

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Elizabeth K. Davenport

Lenford Sutton

Marian W. Smith

The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize him and prepare him for additional obligations.

Pierce v. Society of Sisters, (1925)

Today, school reform efforts that called for the expansion of school choice options for American families and their children are based upon the theory that the ability to select among educational alternatives was connected to rights and privileges guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution (Friedman, 1955). As a part of a national movement toward increased school accountability, President George W. Bush signed federal legislation on January 14, 2002. Over 50 years ago, the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Kansas (1954) decided the right of African American parents to choose the location of their child’s education as well as the quality of the educational experience. Today, 50 years after this landmark decision, it appears that questions of school choice and the opportunity for equality of education are in conflict. The 1954 Brown decision was the result of a suit filed by Oliver Brown on behalf of his 11-year-old daughter, Linda. Brown sued the Topeka Board of Education because Linda was not allowed to enroll in a white school in her neighborhood. The school was just 5 blocks from her home, but she was required by law to travel 22 blocks to a predominately black school. In the Brown case, the Supreme Court addressed the question of whether purposely segregated public schools were inherently unequal. The court answered with a resounding “Yes,” reasoning that the separation of black children “solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that affect their hearts in a way unlikely to be undone” (Brown at 495). The court believed that this sense of inferiority “affect[ed] the motivation of a child to learn . . . and tend[ed] to retard educational development” (Brown at 494). The court specifically overruled Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), saying that “separate facilities were inherently unequal” and had “no place” in the field of education (Brown at 494). Thus, even if African American students attended schools in new buildings filled with books, new carpets, and well-trained teachers, the schooling experiences would still not be equal to that of the Caucasian majority. According to the Brown decision, “segregation is a denial of the equal protection of the laws.” In effect, segregation, for American schoolchildren, equaled second-class citizenship. It appeared, in 1954, that the Supreme Court was saying that on a philosophical and psychological level, equal opportunity meant that each child should have equal access to the same educational experiences.

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Why Do Fewer Women Than Men Pursue the Superintendency?

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Mary J. FeKula

Laura Roberts

In education today, there is an increasing call for quality leadership. Despite this need for highly competent individuals, the candidate pool of aspiring administrators is shrinking significantly. This appears to be especially true of the top administrative position in a school district, the superintendency (McAdams, 1998). Pennsylvania is experiencing this shortage of candidates even though the number of educators receiving their superintendent’s letter of eligibility has increased dramatically in recent years. According to J. C. Rose, assistant executive director for school board and management services from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (personal communication, February 28, 2003), the number of candidates for each superintendent’s position is drastically down from 10 years ago—creating a crisis situation in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

This problem is likely to grow even larger, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 10% to 20% increase in all levels of school administrative openings through the year 2005. Most of the positions will result from retirements (Keller, 1998). Paul D. Houston, the executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, reports receiving numerous examples in the past few years of districts having no applications submitted for a superintendent opening. School boards and search firms are recognizing that the number of viable candidates is not enough to fill the need (Houston, 1998). Quite often openings for superintendents continue with no candidates.

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School Reform in the New Century: A Comparison of American and Australian School Principals’ Values and Visions

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Zhixin Su

David Gamage

Elliot Mininberg

Schools are different, but the need to restructure existing schools is felt in many different parts of the world. At present, educational policymakers and reformers in many nations are eager to propose and implement various school reform measures in order to realize their visions for ideal schools in the 21st century. One of the key measures that concerns the role of the principal as a pivotal force in urban school restructuring was given added impetus in the late 1970s with the effective schools studies (Edmonds, 1979). Theorists defined the role of the effective principal as instructional leader; guardian and communicator of a clear school mission; facilitator of frequent monitoring of student progress, positive school climate, and a safe and orderly environment; and champion of high expectations and provider of equal opportunity to learn. Since then, the role of the principal as the key decision maker, facilitator, problem solver, and agent of change at the school site has been discussed extensively by educational scholars (see, for example, Adams, 1999; Barth, 1991; Clark, Lotto, & Astuto, 1984; Ferrandino, 2001; Gamage, 1996; Gamage & Pang, 2003; Sergiovanni, 1991; Smith & Purkey, 1983; Thomson, 1993).

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Getting Good Results From Survey Research: Part IV

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James F. McNamara

This article is the fourth 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 strategic planning studies.

The initial article in this series (McNamara, 2004a) describes the four basic research design elements to be addressed in survey research. Here it is noted that a survey earns a decision maker’s confidence when it achieves “high research design marks” for coverage (provides an accurate list of all members in the survey population), sampling (selects a representative sample from this list), measurement (provides a well-designed questionnaire), and return rate (minimizes the number of nonrespondents given the ethical requirement that participation in the survey must be voluntary). The second article (McNamara, 2004b) identifies a reference library practitioners can use to design and conduct survey research on the job. The third article (McNamara, 2004c) elaborates guidelines for constructing new (custom-made) questionnaires.

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