Joint Paper Session NW 01, NW 11 and NW 26
The literature on school leadership and management emphasizes the importance of good relations between school leaders, teachers, parents and students (Harris, 2008, 2014; Hoy & Hoy, 2009; Kaplan & Owings, 2015; Sergiovanni, 2006, 2009). Sergiovanni (2006) states that relationships that stand out in schools are different from other types of organizations. He claims that they “are more special, meaningful and personalized” and that the “quality of relationships determines the quality of the school” (p. 109).
Sergiovanni (2006) says that the major difference between old and new management theories can be manifested in the emphasis on “power over” and “power to.” He states the major emphasis of traditional theories was to seek “reliability and predictability by increasing control over events and over people” while new theories seek predictability by “controlling probabilities” through shared goals and purposes (p. 96-97). His thesis is that schools need to be developed as moral communities with cultures that are proactive and reflective concerning teaching and learning.
Hargreaves and Fullan (2012) indicate that the McKinsey report from 2010, “How the World’s Most Improved School Systems Keep Getting Better,” demonstrates the importance of relations in schools: “How teachers work together,” “…[W]hat they do is transparent to each other and to the system as a whole,” “How the profession is collectively responsible as well as externally accountable,” and “How professional knowledge is continually being developed and consolidated” (p. 87).
The implication for policy and practice for Hargreaves and Fullan (2012) is the reinforcement of capacity building in schools. They use the term “professional capital” in this context, i.e., the capital that “teachers need to develop if they are to be at the peak of their effectiveness” (p. 80). The term “capital” is borrowed from the economic sector referring to something that adds value to net worth. Striving for high-performing schools accordingly requires strategic investment in various professional development activities that enhance collectivity and capacity concerning teaching and learning.
According to Hargreaves and Fullan (2012), the term “professional capital” is composed of three sub-elements: human, social, and decisional. In this circumstance, human capital refers to knowledge and skills in teaching and learning; social capital, to the quality of interactions and relationships in schools; and decisional capital, to discretionary judgments and decisions in practice. The level of social capital can accordingly be seen as demonstrating different relationship settings in schools and “powers to” collaborate and achieve desired ends.
Social capital and academic achievement have been researched quite extensively since the Coleman study in 1966. Most of these studies have focused on social background of students and achievement while others have focused on school characteristics and achievement. Generally, these studies show a positive relationship between good relations and academic attainment of students (Acar, 2011; Klem & Connell, 2004; Rivkin, Hanushek & Kain, 2005).
In Iceland as well as many European countries student achievement is an issue of concern (Sahlberg, 2011; Sahlberg, & Hargreaves 2015). It is, therefore, of interest to explore in an Icelandic context the relationship between social capital and attainment on standardized tests in compulsory schools by asking:
- What is the level of social capital in compulsory schools in Iceland and is it different among schools?
- What is the relationship between social capital and academic attainment on standardized tests?
- What is the relationship between social capital and teaching practices?
Acar, E. (2011). Effects of social capital on academic success: A narrative synthesis. Educational Research and Reviews, 6(6), 456-461. Klem, A. M. and Conell, J. P. (2004). Relationships Matter: Linking Teacher Support to Student Engagement and Achievement. Journal of School Health, 74(7), 264-270. Hargreaves, A. og Fullan, M. (2012). Professional capital. Transforming teaching in every school. New York: Teachers College Press. Harris, A. (2008). Distributed leadership: According to the evidence. Journal of Educational Administration, 46(2), 172-188. Harris, A. (2014). Distributed leadership matters. Perspectives, practicalities, and potential. Thousand Oaks: Corwin. Hargreaves, A. and Fullan, M. (2012). Professional capital. Transforming teaching in every school. New York: Teachers College Press. Hoy, A.W. and Hoy, W.K. (2009). Instructional leadership. A research-based guide to learning in schools (3rd. ed.). Boston: Pearson. Kaplan, L.S. and Owings, W.A. (2015). Introduction to the principalship. Theory and practice. New York: Routhledge. Karlsson, Þ. 2003. Spurningakannanir: uppbygging, orðalag og hættur. In Halldórsdóttir, S. & Kristjánsson, K. (eds.) Handbók í aðferðafræði og rannsóknum í heilbrigðisvísindum. Akureyri: Háskólinn á Akureyri. Óskarsdóttir, G. G. (2014). Starfshættir í grunnskólum við upphaf 21. aldar. Reykjavík: Háskólaútgáfan. Rivkin, S. G., Hanushek, E. A. & Kain, J. F. (2005). Teachers, schools, and academic achievement. Econometrica, 73(2), 417–458. Sahlberg, P. (2011). Finnish lessons: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland? New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Sahlberg, P., & Hargreaves, A. (2015, March 24). The tower of PISA is badly leaning. An argument for why it should be saved. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/03/24/the-tower- of-pisa-is-badly-leaning-an-argument-for-why-it-should-be-saved Saunders, N. K. 2012. The influence of survey distribution mode on employees’ response. Field Methods, 24, 56-73. Segiovanni, T.J. (2006). The principalship. A reflective practice perspective (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson. Segiovanni, T.J. (2009). The principalship. A reflective pratice perspective (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson. Þórsdóttir, F. and Jónsson, F., H. (2007). Gildun á mælistikum. In Jóhannesson, G. Ó. (ed.) Rannsóknir í félagsvísindum VIII. Reykjavík: Félagsvísindastofnun Háskóla Íslands.
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