03 SES 12 B, Inclusion and the Complexity of Curriculum Evaluation
Curricular decisions, such as subject choices during the senior stage of secondary education, are crucial for the outcomes of young people who make transitions from compulsory secondary education to further education and work (Iannelli et al., 2015). Yet, most of the existing research overlooked the role of curricular decisions on the creation and reproduction of educational inequalities.
Existing studies examined the subject choice and its consequences under the ‘old’ Scottish school curriculum. Under this curriculum 8 subjects were the norm for the first tier of National Qualifications The Scottish Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) introduced greater curriculum flexibility and currently schools in Scotland can decide not only on a number of subjects but also on the level of qualification and the configuration of subjects for National 4-5 qualifications. There are many schools that now offer as few as 5 or 6 subjects for these qualifications (e.g. Priestley&Shapira, 2017; Priestley&Biesta, 2013; Scott, 2015). This greater flexibility and choice offer by the CfE might have a number of unintended consequences. Thus, school practices that require young people to select some subjects too early, and/or actively divert students from taking ‘too many’ subjects can be detrimental for young people prospects of entering HE institutions and finding a good job.
There is also evidence that in Scotland, the selection of school subjects within the secondary system is socially patterned: there are differences in subject uptake by parental social background. While students from more advantaged socio-economic backgrounds rely on their family resources and receive informed advice on the choice of subjects, students from the lower socio-economic background are less likely to choose subjects that would facilitate their career options and transition to HE (Iannelli&Duta, 2017).
The aim of this paper is to examine the effect that family socio-economic background and school characteristics have on the subject choices and attainment of young people who were passing the lower and upper senior stages of secondary education before and after the CfE was introduced. This paper extends our previous research, analysing data at a district level, that suggested the existence of patterns of subject uptake and attainment linked to socio-economic background, through a more nuanced and fine-grained analysis of available data at a school level
1. The study employed quantitative research methodology and the secondary data analysis, drawing upon the Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS). The SLS dataset links data from the Scotland’s Censuses with administrative and statistical sources, including education data, such as Scottish Qualifications Authority examination results and the School Census data. As a result it provides a unique source of information on the curriculum choices and attainment of young people that can be examined in relation to student’s family background and school context, during the period when the CfE was introduced, on the level of individuals, schools and Local Authorities. 2. The study will be using statistical techniques suitable for the longitudinal data analysis that also account for the nested nature of educational system and consider students nested in schools and local authorities, such as multivariate logit regression with fixed effects. 3. The dependent variable is: individual level – subjects and number of A-C passes obtained on National SCQF level 5; Independent variables are -a) individual level characteristics: gender, age, school stage, family characteristics (parental education, social class); b) school level characteristics – size (school roll); number of full time teachers; proportion of students who are enrolled in National 4 and National 5 level qualifications; proportion of ethnic minorities; average number and proportion of students who obtained five or more A-C passes on National SCQF level 5; percentage of pupils on free school meals; c) Neighborhood level characteristics - index of multiple deprivation; d) Local authority level characteristics – index pf multiple deprivation; d) year.
The research is currently in its early stages, so there are no emergent findings yet. We know of no research that is equivalent in its scope as a systematic examination of trends in the senior phase of this type of curriculum. Nevertheless, research that is more limited in scope (e.g.: Scott, 2014; Priestley & Shapira, forthcoming) and anecdotal evidence suggest that we will find evidence of a narrowing of the curriculum in the aspects described above. The analysis of data will enable us to explore multivariate causes of this, as well as some of the impacts on student learning. We thus anticipate being able to map the scale and nature of the phenomenon, and to be able to explore causal influences and impacts.
Iannelli, C. and Duta, A. (2017). “Inequalities in school leavers’ labour market outcomes: do school subject choices matter”, Centre for Longitudinal Studies Working Paper 2017/3 Iannelli, C., Smyth, E. and Klein, M. (2015). “Curriculum differentiation and social inequality in higher education entry in Scotland and Ireland” (British Education Research Journal, available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/berj.3217/full) Priestley, M and Biesta, G.J.J. (eds.) (2013). Reinventing the curriculum: new trends in curriculum policy and practice. London: Bloomsbury. Priestly, M. and Shapira, M. (2017). “Narrowing the Curriculum? Contemporary trends in provision and attainment in the Scottish Curriculum”, Paper Presented at European Conference for Education Research, Copenhagen. Scott, J. (2014). The Governance of Curriculum for Excellence in Scottish Secondary Schools: Structural Divergence, Curricular Distortion and Reduced Attainment. Written submission to the OECD Review of Curriculum for Excellence, https://www.academia.edu/20171586/OECD_Evidence_Paper_2015
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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