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IJER Vol 15-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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7 Articles

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Doubt, Doubting, and the Principal’s Role: Exploring an Emerging Perspective for School Change

ePub

Chen Schechter

In light of current social change and uncertainty, the educational system, as a key social institution, is undergoing a turbulent period. Increased demands for teacher and administrator accountability, racial and ethnic integration, and parental and political involvement—to mention only a few—require one to cast doubt on deeply rooted school practices. Doubt has been increasingly perceived as a means of introducing education renewal. Nevertheless, the doubting process and the principal’s role that influences its effectiveness have not been explored. This lack of conceptualization is particularly serious when considering the growing number of restructuring efforts (e.g., site-based management), which have rarely demonstrated positive outcomes in student achievements (Murphy & Beck, 1995). In other words, reflecting on the important process of doubt may enhance one’s understanding of how doubt about current practices is induced in schools and how such a process might affect the implementation of restructuring efforts given the new era in educational accountability. Thus, the doubting process is clearly important at a time when there are increasing questions about efficacy of schooling, in particular, public schooling.

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The School District’s Role in Educational Change

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Stephen E. Anderson

Research on the role of the school district in educational change is not new, though there has been a resurgence of inquiry and discussion about the district role in recent years. A key difference between the early and current research relates to variation in the policy contexts and change environments in which the research was conducted. Research on the role of the district in educational change in the 1970s and the 1980s was generally undertaken in relation to what Fullan characterizes as the “innovation implementation” era of change (Fullan, 1985). Researchers considered the role that districts played in supporting the implementation of specific government- and district-sponsored programs and practices. Berman and McLaughlin (1978), for example, found that some school districts adopted programs for bureaucratic motives (i.e., compliance) or opportunistic motives (e.g., access to funds, to appear “innovative”) and were less successful in facilitating the implementation of those programs than were districts that adopted programs as a means of solving previously identified problems in student and school performance. Louis, Rosenblum, and Molitor (1981) also associate higher degree of program implementation and continuation with problem-solving orientations and actions at the district level. Conceptually and practically, this research was problematic to the extent that it was interpreted as though districts and schools treated all changes equally and with equal success (Anderson, 1991). Research on how school districts and schools manage the reality of multiple innovations and continual improvement was in its infancy at this time (Anderson, 1991; Fullan, 1985; Fullan, Anderson, & Newton, 1986; Wallace, 1991). A further gap in the research literature from this era stemmed from the focus on teacher implementation of new programs and practices as the dependent variable and the relative lack of attention to evidence of impact on student learning. The linkage of leader actions to improvement in student learning remained hypothetical.

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The Challenges of Educational Reform in Modern-Day Peru

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Jane McDonald and Jill Lammert

Leaders around the globe are confronted with the complexities of implementing educational change. What process facilitates reform and what factors block the institutionalization of change efforts are universal questions that need answers. By taking a closer look at reform in international contexts, policymakers and educational leaders can develop insights into the process of change that transcend national borders.

The purpose of this article is to examine a nationwide effort of educational reform in Peru. Specifically, we take a close look at the nation’s efforts to change secondary education through the implementation of a 2-year postsecondary learning opportunity called the bachillerato. First, we briefly present the contextual complexities in which the bachillerato was designed and piloted. Second, we explore the process of change undertaken by the Ministry of Education when introducing the bachillerato to the Peruvian citizens in 1997 and then compare the process with the change theory of Harvard researcher John Kotter. In his 1996 publication Leading Change, Kotter identifies eight critical steps that leaders must follow if major change efforts are to succeed. By juxtaposing Kotter’s popular change theory with the real-life process of implementing the bachillerato, we speculate about what actions facilitated and hindered the process of secondary educational reform in Peru. This comprehensive reflection on the change process and related challenges offers educational leaders and policymakers across the globe rare insights into the critical factors needed to support and sustain large-scale reform.

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Implementing Teaching Reforms at a New University in South Africa

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Barbara Tedrow and Reitumetse Obakeng Mabokela

This article presents the experiences of 89 members of the academic staff at a new university that emerged from a merger of two historically disadvantaged tertiary institutions located in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. We examine the responses of these participants to new pedagogical strategies that emphasize learner-centered teaching and assessment processes. Through analysis of the qualitative data, we identified three characteristic response patterns of lecturers along with a number of implementation barriers. The characteristic response patterns include the career seeker, the pseudoresister, and the creative adapter. Each pattern is discussed with respect to how the curriculum transformation using learner-centered teaching and outcomes and assessment is shaped by South Africa’s apartheid legacy, the perception of the academic staff, and current structural barriers.

Democracy is more than a form of government; it is a philosophy that shapes public education. In a democracy, education is meant to grant all citizens the opportunity to actualize their potential within the country’s economic and social structure (Fagerlind & Saha, 1989). As well, it promotes a social connection among all people, thereby ensuring the collective well-being of the country (Cox, 1995; Taylor, Rizvi, Lingard, & Henry, 1997). In this article, we examine the transformation of two formerly disadvantaged technical tertiary institutions to a university in the new, democratic South Africa. Specifically, we examine the responses of the academic staff as they implement new pedagogical practices based on a constructivist philosophy (learner-centered) to empower students for academic access and enhanced economic opportunity. The new university, which is the focus of this article, was formed by the joining of two former historically disadvantaged technikons (HDTs) and an existing university located in a rural, poverty-stricken region of the Eastern Cape Province. The questions examined in the article are

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Teaching for Democracy in Ukraine: Activity-Based Developmental and Dialogical Education

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Tetyana Koshmanova

The article addresses the issues of how cultural historical theory of activity can help design democratic teacher education classrooms aimed at developmental learning and dialogical, humanitarian thinking of students and prospective teachers. On the basis of retrospective analysis, I begin by summarizing activity-based approaches to educating teachers in Ukraine. Then I describe efforts to implement best practices of developmental and dialogical teaching. Finally, I provide implications of analyzed approaches for democratic teacher education practices.

Democratizing postcommunist educational systems within unstable economic and social contexts became an issue of stability in the Ukraine region. Recent events connected with the 2004 presidential elections in Ukraine sent a message to the world about people’s will for a future committed to democracy, freedom, and the rule of law. Recent educational reforms included structural reorganization of secondary schools and universities. During the complex transition to sovereignty, democracy, and market economy, Ukraine has taken steps to be compatible with European education systems. New courses, programs and projects, models and techniques of teaching and learning, and information technologies were introduced to make education flexible and open to student needs and multicultural society. Both public and private secondary, vocational, and higher educational institutions—colleges, lyceums, gymnasiums, and alternative schools of different levels—have appeared.

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Not Lost in Translation: Reforming Higher Education in Russia

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Tatiana Gounko and William Smale

This article focuses on the latest developments in higher educational policy in the Russian Federation and the influence of international organizations such as the World Bank and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on these policies and education reforms. This article’s primary purpose is to explore how the newly adopted policies reflect the changes in Russia’s political discourse. The focus is on the connection between the current higher education policies and the policies of the international organizations that are providing financial and expert support in education and therefore possibly influencing political and educational discourse.

Recently, Russian and international educators, researchers, and policymakers have become increasingly interested in reforming Russian higher educational (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 1999; Romankova, 2003). During the past 2 decades, the Russian government adopted several laws involving education as well as initiatives meant to align Russian educational policies with global developments in the field. However, the content, form, and discourse of the laws for education adopted in 1992 and 1996, during Yeltsin’s administration, differ significantly from those of the recent government documents. The new policies increasingly stress the role of education in Russia’s transition to a market economy and the importance of developing human capital in the competitive global economy.

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Developing Teacher Leaders to Facilitate Hong Kong’s Curriculum Reforms: Self-Efficacy as a Measure of Teacher Growth

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Kerry J. Kennedy and Sammy K. F. Hui

This article addresses the issue of preparing teachers as curriculum leaders to support the wide-ranging curriculum reforms that characterize societies in the Asian Pacific region. It draws on social cognitive theory and, in particular, on what has come to be called teachers’ sense of efficacy. The study sought to extend that research in a Chinese context.

The results indicate a positive relationship between professional development and the growth of self-efficacy in curriculum leaders. It was recognized, however, that individual curriculum leaders also need a supportive professional community, including specific roles for the principals, if their leadership is to be effective.

Across the Asian Pacific region, the reform of the school curriculum is a major priority (Kennedy, 2005). The driving force in this reform movement is primarily economic: New approaches to understanding human capital formation have led governments to focus on the development of workers and citizens who are creative, innovative, entrepreneurial, and problem solving. Curriculum structures that promote an elitist, academic, examination-dominated, competitive curriculum are seen as an impediment to this objective. Thus, the changes required are much more significant than previous attempts to bring about curriculum reform—they require structural change to education systems and deep cultural change for schools, teachers, and parents. Add to this economic imperative the social and political dilemmas created by terrorism, wars, ethnic conflicts, and new international health issues, and the pressures on the need for a relevant and meaningful school curriculum are even more significant. Economic, social, and political issues combined to make school curriculum reform a strategic issue for the Asian Pacific region.

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