26 SES 16 B, International Perspectives on Educational Leadership
National education policies worldwide have been subject to massive reform initiatives the last decades, often signifying a shift in governance in order to correspond with a market-based logic in the public sector (Apple, 2006; Olssen, 2004). Those reforms are largely influenced by new managerialist ideas, emphasizing increased competition, as well as increased accountability of school results and student outcomes (Møller & Skedsmo, 2013).
Internationally, there is a large body of research on policy expectations of school leaders (Apple, 2006; English, 2011). Often the focus is on raising standards and closing the achievement gap, but expectations also include leadership of citizenship education. There is, however, less research on how the expectations of leading citizenship education is presented and legitimized in key education policy documents guiding recent education reforms in the Norwegian context. Research has indicated that leading schools based on democratic values in Norway may pose numerous challenges when faced with accountability-based policies (Møller, 2002). As such, the purpose with this paper is to provide insight into how expectations of school leaders and teachers in leading citizenship education are framed and legitimized in key education policy documents in a Norwegian context, and to identify possible discursive struggles. The purpose is also to discuss possible implications in a wider policy context.
The following research questions guided our analysis: What characterizes the discourses about expectations of leading citizenship education in key education policy documents? How are such expectations framed and legitimized? If and to what degree does the discourse reflect discursive struggles?
The conceptual framework draws from research on accountability, educational leadership and citizenship education. As the policy documents formulate different expectations to leadership practices, we choose a distributed perspective of leadership focusing on leadership as a practice (Spillane, Halverson, & Diamond, 2004). Educational leadership is constituted in the interaction of school leaders, followers, and the situation, which demands attention to not only the expectations to school leaders, but also to the teachers in the policy documents.
Drawing from the body of literature on accountability, we distinguish between external accountability based on external performance pressures, and internal accountability pertaining to the level of agreement amongst responsibilities, expectations to the organization, and internal norms and processes (Elmore, 2005). When there’s a strong internal accountability, the organization is more capable of handling external performance pressures (ibid., 2005).
We assume that citizenship education is a prerequisite for democracy (Solhaug, 2003), perceiving it as a practice relevant for teachers and leaders. Although citizenship education has been studied from different perspectives, we choose a perspective inspired by Stray (2014) and Kerr (1999). In accordance with this perspective, we examine three forms of citizenship education: Education about citizenship implies an intellectual competence; education for citizenship involves a value and attitude competence, while education through citizenship involves an action-oriented competence.
The three White Papers of Mld. St. 21, 28 and 31 (Kunnskapsdepartementet [Ministry of Education], 2007-2008, 2015-2016, 2016-2017) are analyzed (hereafter abbreviated as WP 21, 28 and 31) in accordance with the above outlined conceptual framework. These documents are selected as they set standards for leadership, teaching and learning in recent education reforms. In order to examine what characterizes the expectations and how these are framed and legitimized in key policy documents, we have conducted a discourse analysis (Fairclough, 1995; Gee, 2005). In addition, we have also drawn from a perspective within the tradition of critical policy analysis, wherein the aim is identifying possible discursive struggles between i.e. expectations based on democratic values and expectations based on managerialist ideas (Taylor, 1997). The procedure was inspired by Søreide (2007) and constituted three phases of reading. The first phase aimed at obtaining a general overview of the discourse relating to leadership of citizenship education; in the second phase a search for selected key concepts and the surrounding text (framing and legitimization) was performed (RQ 1 and 2); in a third phase we examined connections in the text and relationships between actors with the aim of identifying possible discursive struggles between different expectations to leadership of citizenship education (RQ3).
When examining what characterizes the discourses about expectations of leading citizenship education, findings suggest the discourse is characterized by ensuring a healthy learning environment for all; implicitly stating expectations for leading citizenship education in WP 31. A main preliminary finding shows that citizenship education isn’t mentioned in WP 31. Rather, an expectation is put on teachers and leaders within a school community ensuring a healthy learning environment. In contrast with WP 31, the discourse in WP 28 largely emphasizes citizenship education; stressing it as an explicit expectation for both leaders and teachers through professional work and co-operation. Similarly, the discourse in WP 21 is characterized by expectations to school leaders in securing healthy learning environments through professional communities including teachers and leaders, while highlighting the importance of educating school leaders in this work. When examining how expectations are framed and legitimized, the discourse in WP 31 suggests that teachers and leaders interact within a school community to promote a healthy learning environment. Still, the document puts heavy emphasis on pupils’ and students’ test results as a legitimization for leadership. In WP 28, the framing and legitimization is based on citizens’ rights, education for democratic citizenship and the interdisciplinary theme ‘democracy and citizenship’; stressing all aspects of citizenship. In WP 21, leading citizenship education is framed through professional co-operation between leaders and teachers in ensuring a healthy learning environment. The findings indicate a possible discursive struggle within WP 31, as the discourse on leadership is closely connected to governing by expectations and results, but simultaneously there is a strong focus on ensuring a healthy learning environment. This indicates an external form and internal form of accountability, respectively. This raises concerns about how leaders and teachers work with interdisciplinary themes ensuring healthy learning environments under different accountability demands in wider international contexts.
Apple, M.-W. (2006). Producing Inequalities: Neo-Liberalism, Neo-Conservatism, and the Politics of Educational Reform. In H. Lauder et al. (Eds.), Education, Globalization and Social Change. (pp. 468-489). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Elmore, R. (2005). Agency, reciprocity and accountability in democratic education. (S. Fuhrman & M. Lazerson, Eds.)The institutions of American democracy: The public schools (pp. 277–301). Oxford University Press. English, F. W. (Ed.). (2011). The SAGE Handbook of Educational Leadership. Sage Publications. Fairclough, N. (1995). Critical Discourse Analysis: The critical study of language. London and New York: Longman Group Limited. Gee, J. P. (2005). An introduction to discourse analysis: theory and method. Routledge. Kerr, D. (1999). Citizenship education: An international comparison (pp. 200-227). London: Qualifications and Curriculum Authority Kunnskapsdepartementet. (2007-2008). Kvalitet i skolen. St. meld. nr. 31. [White Paper No. 31]. Retrieved from https://www.regjeringen.no/no/dokumenter/stmeld-nr-31-2007-2008-/id516853/ Kunnskapsdepartementet. (2015-2016). Fag-Fordypning-Forståelse –En fornyelse av Kunnskapsløftet. St. meld. nr. 28. [White Paper No. 28]. Retrieved from https://www.regjeringen.no/no/dokumenter/nou-2015-8/id2417001/ Kunnskapsdepartementet. (2016-2017). Lærelyst - tidlig innsats og kvalitet i skolen. St. meld. nr. 21. [White Paper No. 21]. Retrieved from https://www.regjeringen.no/no/dokumenter/meld.-st.-21-20162017/id2544344/ Møller, J. (2002). Democratic leadership in an age of managerial accountability. Improving Schools, 5(1), 11–20. Møller, J., & Skedsmo, G. (2013). Modernising education: New public management reform in the Norwegian education system. Journal of educational administration and history, 45(4), 336–353. Olssen, M. (2004). Neoliberalism, globalisation, democracy: challenges for education. Globalisation, societies and education, 2, 231–275. Solhaug, T. (2003). Utdanning til demokratisk medborgerskap (Doctor dissertation). University of Oslo. Retrieved from http://www.uv.uio.no/ils/forskning/publikasjoner/rapporter-og-avhandlingen/trond_solhaug_120.dpi%5B1%5D.pdf Spillane, J. P., Halverson, R., & Diamond, J. B. (2004). Towards a theory of leadership practice: A distributed perspective. Journal of curriculum studies, 36(1), 3–34. Stray, J.-H. (2014). Skolens demokratimandat. In J.-H. Stray & L. Wittek (Eds.), Pedagogikk -en grunnbok, (pp. 651–664). Cappelen Damm Akademisk. Søreide, G. E. (2007). The public face of teacher identity—narrative construction of teacher identity in public policy documents. Journal of education policy, 22(2), 129–146. Taylor, S. (1997). Critical policy analysis: Exploring contexts, texts and consequences. Discourse: Studies in the cultural politics of education, 18(1), 23–35.
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