23 SES 05 B, Policies and Practices of Evaluation of Quality in Education (Part 1)
Paper Session to be continued in 23 SES 06 B
School inspection is part of the accountability infrastructure in many European countries (see http://www.sici-inspectorates.eu/). It was introduced all German states as a procedure of external evaluation between 2004 and 2008 as one of several reforms in the field of education (Dedering and Müller 2011; see also Huber and Gördel 2006). Just over ten years after implementation began in the first German states, schools in almost all states have been externally evaluated. While some states have since abolished or suspended their inspection procedures, others – having revised their procedures – have entered a second assessment cycle.
This paper focusses on those states which have undertaken reform of their inspection procedures, we select the case of the state of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen in German) the first German state (aligning with the inspection models of the Netherlands and Scotland) to put a procedure of external evaluation of schools into place (see Dedering and Müller 2011). Therefore, in this context this state took on a pioneering role.
In adapting the theoretical perspective of institutional analysis (see Scott 2014), we assume that school inspection is an institution that represents a relatively stable social regulatory system, which at the same time is subject to transformation. The stability of institutions is supported by regulative, normative and cognitive elements, to varying degrees (see Scott 2014). Because institutions are essentially seen as relatively stable social entities whose stability contributes to their predictability, there has long been insufficient attention paid to issues around conditions of transformation in institutions (see Walgenbach and Meyer 2008). If change processes then become the central focus – as they are in this paper – then the theory behind possible institutional transformations needs to be explored (at least in basic terms).
We draw on Mahoney and Thelen’s (2010) theory of gradual institutional transformation, which proceeds from the premise that institutions do not remain stable over time. Instead, they posit that institutions are dynamic as issues of power and distribution are implied. Different actors are favoured or disadvantaged by institutions and consequently their motivation to contribute to their preservation or transformation varies too. With Mahoney and Thelen (2010), we distinguish between four types of institutional transformation: displacement, layering, drift and conversion.
We argue that institutional transformation is not determined solely by changes in the institutional environment (to which the institution adapts through transformation in order to secure its legitimacy), but that here, too, the specific actions of professionals within an institution can also exert influence (in such a way that the transformation can also be interpreted as adaptation to institution-specific processes).
Against the background of these assumptions, the paper pursues the overarching question of the extent to which a link can be made between concrete actions of school inspectors as professionals within the institution of school inspection, and the changes undertaken within that institution. In so doing, it investigates (1) which changes can be identified in the formal structure of school inspection procedures between the first and second school inspection cycles, and (2) the extent to which certain actions were carried out by inspectors in the run-up to procedural changes and which point to those changes.
Dedering, K., & Müller, S. (2011). School improvement through inspections? First empirical insights from Germany. Journal of Educational Change, 12(3), 301–322. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10833-010-9151-9 Huber, S. G., & Gördel, B. (2006). Quality assurance in the German school system. European Educational Research Journal, 5(3-4), 196–209. https://doi.org/10.2304/eerj.2006.5.3.196 Kuckartz, U. (2014). Qualitative text analysis: A guide to methods, practice and using software. London: Sage. Mahoney, J., & Thelen, K. (2010). A theory of gradual institutional change. In J. Mahoney & K. Thelen (Eds.), Explaining institutional change: Ambiguity, agency, and power (pp. 1–37). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mayring, P. (2014). Qualitative content analysis: Theoretical foundation, basic procedures and software solution. Klagenfurt. Retrieved from http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0168-ssoar-395173 Meuser, M., & Nagel, U. (2009). The expert interview and changes in knowledge production. In A. Bogner, B. Littig, & W. Menz (Eds.), Interviewing experts (pp. 17–42). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Scott, W. R. (2014). Institutions and organizations: Ideas, interests, and identities (4th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
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