ERG SES D 07, Leadership and Education
Compensatory education emerged in the United States of America in the 1950’s and spread throughout Europe in the 1960’s. Programmes were developed with different approaches, but their aims were similar: a) diminishing the social and economic vulnerability of children and young people at risk of school and social exclusion; b) promoting the social mobility of the disadvantaged and the integration of minorities (Casamayor, 1999; Bernstein, 2003; Karsten, 2006; Schmidt, 2015).
During the 80’s and 90’s, the Perry Preschool Project and The Abecedarian Project, two of the most significant projects in preschool intervention, revealed important social and educational gains when the participants achieved adult age: better performances in high school, better wages, less dependency on welfare, lower rates of violent criminality and teenage pregnancy were found in the experimental groups. Three main characteristics appeared to be decisive in the success of these programmes: a) the low ratio of students/teachers; b) well trained teachers; and c) the involvement of the families in the educational process (Lazar & Darlington, 1982; Meisels, 1985; Barnett, 1998; Crane & Barg, 2003).
Unfortunately, since the 1980’s, the programmes at a national level, such as Zones d’Education Prioritaire (France), Education Action Zones (UK), Territórios Educativos de Intervenção Prioritária (Portugal) e Excellence In Cities (UK) failed to introduce important measures such as the ones above, namely the reduction in the number of students per class and the involvement of families (Karsten, 2006; Abrantes & Teixeira, 2014).
The absence of these features, combined with a deficient design of the evaluation and accountability of the programmes, makes it hard to understand their impact on social and educational variables. Nonetheless, some evaluations were developed of students’ performance in national exams, and the results showed none or very little impact in the reduction of the gap between the most vulnerable and their more advantaged peers (Machin, McNally & Meghir, 2010; Ministère de l’Éducation Nationale de l’Enseignement Supérieure et de la Recherche, 2013; Neves, Ferraz & Nata, 2016).
The Portuguese compensatory education programme, Territórios Educativos de Intervenção Prioritária (TEIP), began in 2006/07 and has four main objectives: to ensure students’ better educational performance; to reduce dropout and indiscipline; to promote a better relationship between school and work; and to promote the involvement of the community in the educational process. Our previous work, a longitudinal study that analysed the results in national exams at the end of secondary schooling between 2001/02 and 2012/13, showed that the programme wasn’t reducing the gap, between TEIP schools and non-TEIP public schools (Neves, Ferraz & Nata, 2016). Other study, developed by Abrantes & Teixeira (2014), analysed 11 educational projects of TEIP schools and found that connection to families was very frail.
A significant amount of money is involved, in fact, only in the Portuguese context alone, in 2012/13 and 2013/14, 180 million euro were invested (Neves, Ferraz & Nata, 2016). Our previous work allowed to compare different groups of schools. Now it is necessary and relevant look to each school individually searching for cases of success and others not so successful. One of the characteristics of the Portuguese programme is the flexibility (even the requirement) for the adaptation of the schools to their context. To be sure, each TEIP school has therefore a variety of context related features; therefore, one can even talk about a different programme for each school. If the overall assessment of the programme has yielded frail (or no) results, there is still the question if there are schools within the programme that were able to diminish the gap.
Abrantes, Pedro, & Teixeira, Ana R. (2014). A intervenção socioeducativa em territórios marginalizados: agentes de desenvolvimento local ou da ordem escolar?. Revista Lusófona de Educação, (27), pp. 27-41. Barnett, W. Steven. (1998). Long-term cognitive and academic effects of early childhood education on children in poverty. Prev Med, 27(2), pp. 204-207. Bernstein, Basil. (2003). Class, Codes and Control: Theoretical Studies Towards a Sociology of Language. London: Routledge. Casamayor, Fernando G. (1999). Regulación de la educación compensatoria en España. Proyecto social: Revista de relaciones laborales, (7), pp. 97-122. Crane, Jonathan, & Barg, Mallory. (2003). Do early childhood intervention programs really work. Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy. Karsten, Sjoerd. (2006). Policies for disadvantaged children under scrutiny: the Dutch policy compared with policies in France, England, Flanders and the USA. Comparative Education, 42(2), 261-282. doi:10.1080/03050060600628694. Lazar, Irving, Darlington, Richard, Murray, Harry, Royce, Jacqueline, Snipper, Ann, & Ramey, Craig T. (1982). Lasting effects of early education: A report from the Consortium for Longitudinal Studies. Monographs of the society for research in child development, i-151. Machin, Stephen, McNally, Sandra, & Meghir, Costas. (2010). Resources and standards in urban schools. Journal of human capital, 4(4), pp. 365-393. Meisels, Samuel J. (1985). The Efficacy of Early Intervention Why Are We Still Asking This Question?. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 5(2), pp. 1-11. Ministère de l’Éducation Nationale, de l’Enseignement Supérieure et the la Recherche (2013). État des lieux de l’éducation prioritaire à la rentrée 2012: Note d’information. N.º 13.07, 1-6. Neves, Tiago; Ferraz, Hélder & Nata, Gil. (2016). Social inequality in access to higher education: grade inflation in private schools and the ineffectiveness of compensatory education. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 1-21. doi:10.1080/09620214.2016.1191966. Schmidt, T. (2015). Compensatory early childhood education for educationally disadvantaged children in Germany and beyond. Early Child Development and Care, 186(1), 140-152. doi:10.1080/03004430.2015.1064913.
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