23 SES 06 D, Inclusive Education and Parental School Choice
Paper Session continues from 23 SES 05 D
In Portugal, policy measures associated to the promotion of school success and educational improvement were implemented and justified on issues related to equal opportunities and social justice principles. Two of these measures concern schools evaluation and TEIP program (in English ETPI - Educational Territories of Priority Intervention), an educational program for institutions who face school failure and dropout situations.
The first educational policy in Portugal, related to issues of equity and equality, focused primarily on the most disadvantaged social groups, logically "giving more to those who have less" (Lemos, 2013). These educational policies become known as "compensatory education" or "priority education", as took place, for example, with the ZEP - "Zones d'education Prioritaire" (France), the "Head Start" and "Follow-Through" projects (USA) and the "Education Action Zones" (England). Under the influence of these policies, in 1996, the TEIP program was created. This program was presented as a public policy focused on solving problems related to social inequality, dropout and school failure (Leite, Fernandes & Silva, 2013). It was a political measure that recognized the importance of local intervention, representing principles of decentralization, participation and autonomy through accountability practices related to the reconfiguration of State regulatory function (Afonso & Costa, 2011).
In this same line of thought, and taking into account European guidelines in terms of evaluation policies (Wood et al, 2011; OECD, 2012), the accountability demands of each institution to improve their performance has been increasing in addition to the need to promote school success. In this regard, the schools’ evaluation is officially presented with the objective of contributing to educational improvement (Clímaco, 2005). Thus, since 2006, all Portuguese public schools are subject to the school external evaluation process (SEE) justified in order to 'promote the progress of learning and student outcomes'. In conjunction with this goal of overall school and student learning improvement, there is an external accountability process (Afonso, 2009) that cannot be ignored. To accomplish its goals, the SEE process follows a framework structured around three areas: (1) results, (2) educational service provision and (3) leadership and management.
Assuming that is a political responsibility to promote an educational improvement (Bolivar, 2003), we consider it important to analyse whether the SEE process and TEIP program follow-driven by democratic and egalitarian principles, i.e., if these political measures aim to contribute to the achievement of social and curricular justice, essential in building a democratic school (Apple & Beane, 1995).
Consequently, it is essential to understand how the objectives of these two policy measures are being implemented, in particular regarding the conditions that contribute to adherence of the needs and characteristics of the different social groups that coexist in every society. In this manner, we are concerned in understanding how schools develop processes for educational improvement based on curricular and social justice (Connell, 1995; Crahay, 2000; Dubet, 2008; Rawls, 2003; Santomé, 2013).
In this context, this study has general objective to understand the impact/effect of policy measures implementation to the promotion of school success and educational improvement, particularly in what concerns schools’ external evaluation and TEIP program. Therefore, we intend to answer the following questions: What actions are taken by schools to achieve social justice principles, taking into account these two policy measures? What influences do the SEE process and TEIP program have in the different dimensions of daily school life, and in what way do they contribute to the promotion of participatory and inclusive education?
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