14 SES 12 B, Schooling in Rural/Urban Settings
In today’s world, the field of school literacy education seems to be dominated by concern with a very narrow range of literacy attributes and often by high stakes testing regimes (Klenowski & Wyatt-Smith, 2012). Assessment programs like the Programme for International Student Assessment, which is conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and a range of tests across schools highlight measures that compare and rank at various levels – nations, states, schools. On the home page of the OECD’s website (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, n.d.), it is announced that ‘any country can improve its performance and equity in education – and relatively quickly’.
As many other countries have done, Australia has taken up an improvement agenda with a focus on improving literacy results evident at federal and state levels. National literacy testing data is available to the public on the My School website and schools are compared with ‘like’ schools. According to Cormack and Comber (2013), ‘discourses of data’ dominate school literacy learning agendas. Such discourses can result in narratives of blame, whereby teachers are blamed for low standards, and students are ‘labelled, grouped and taught;in relation to the deficits the tests reveal’ (Cormack & Cdsomber, 2013, p 87).
The nation-wide focus on literacy levels has impacted on the operations of state education systems. The Queensland state education system, for example, has built policy around a ‘great teachers = great results’ platform (The State of Queensland Department of Education Training and Employment, 2014), creating 300 master teacher positions and offering performance bonuses to principals. These actions put emphasis on students’ results and teacher performativity.
Other systems in Queensland, such as the Queensland Catholic Education Commission, have supported the ‘great teachers = great results’ initiative and , as a result, have been given state funding to support their involvement in the initiative. The objectives of their plan, however, argue for a broad set of outcomes, including improving teaching and learning, recognising and promoting the development of high performing teachers, promoting partnerships, developing excellence in mentoring and coaching and developing aspiring leaders. The research reported here occurred as a result of the Queensland Catholic Educaiton Commission joining the state initiative and it investigates one school’s responses to making sure that ‘great teachers = great results.’
The research is a single case study and presents rich data about the actions of the principal and teachers in a small rural/remote school to attempt to raise literacy achievement levels. Through the case study appraoch, the study examines the approach taken by the school to implement a whole school literacy policy and how the staff transitioned to a new way of working. As with many isolated schools, the cost of travel to teacher professional development is prohibitive because of the distances to be travelled. As a result of this, the school’s principal decided that providing opportunities for the staff to meet. work together and share their ideas might overcome some of those disadvantages that they experienced as a result of the school’s isolation.
The research project investigated the following research questions?
- What did the school do in their efforts to enhance students’ literacy achievement?
- What discourses were evident in the teachers’ talk about literacy learning within the school?
- What are the effects of the school’s strategy on students’ literacy learning?
- How did teachers cope with the transition to the new way of working?
Cormack, P., & Comber, B. (2013). High-stakes literacy tests and local effects in a rural school. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 36(2), 78-89. Fairclough, N. (2001). Language and power. London: Longman. Fairclough, N. (2000). Discourse, social theory, and social research: The discourse of welfare reform. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 4(2), 163-195. Klenowski, V., & Wyatt-Smith, C. (2012). The impact of high stakes testing: The Australian story. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice, 19(1), 65-79. doi: 10.1080/0969594X.2011.592972Lingard, B., Mills, M., & Hayes, D. (2000). Teachers, school reform and social justice: Challenging research and practice. Australian Educational Researcher, 27(3), 101-115. Luke, A. (2013). Generalizing across borders: Policy and the limits of educational science. In A. Luke, A. Woods & K. Weir (Eds.), Curriculum, syllabus design and equity: A primer and model (pp. 144-161). New York: Routledge. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (n.d.). Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) [Website], from http://www.oecd.org/pisa/ The State of Queensland Department of Education Training and Employment. (2014). Great teachers = great results [Webpage], from http://deta.qld.gov.au/great-teachers/excellence/index.html
Search the ECER Programme
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.