07 SES 16 B, School and Teacher Practices: Challenging minority ethnic educational disadvantage and exclusion. Examples from three European countries.
In a context of increasing gaps between social groups in Europe, inequalities of educational opportunities are gaining attention from education policy. Figures show that not only in the society at large, but also in schools, gaps between social groups are widening. In the Netherlands, for example, an increase in the connection between students’ background and their academic performance has been observed by the Dutch Inspectorate of Education. The national government calls for measures to counter the growing levels of unequal educational opportunities. To combat educational inequalities, current policies are framed within contexts of differentiated, personalized and adaptive teaching. Education that takes differences between students into account is suggested to be more fitting with the educational need of students en is assumed to increase the educational opportunities of pupils from lower socio-economic and minority ethnic backgrounds. In the Netherlands, pressure is put on schools to implement higher levels of differentiation in their education practice. Quality measures include assessment of the amount of differentiation that is observed in schools and classrooms. The positive effects of such differentiated practice can be understood from a Vygotskian perspective on good education that is framed in each child’s zone of proximal development. With differentiated and adaptive teaching, teachers can indeed help to optimize students’ learning. However, differentiation may also lead to increasing levels of unequal opportunities, especially since differentiation is usually based on achievement differences between children from different backgrounds. Education research points to some risks of differentiation for equality of educational opportunities. First, differentiation may lead to divergent effects on student learning, because it enables the strongest students to learn at the highest speed and level of difficulty. second, it induces fixed mindsets in teachers and students about students’ abilities. Third, it separates students and hinders social cohesion and integration. In contrast to differentiation promotive policies, It can be claimed that equal opportunities need less differentiation and heterogeneous groups of students. School leaders and teachers struggle with the implementation of differentiation to promote equal opportunities. Especially in a tracked secondary school system like the Dutch system, differentiation is paramount and difficult to challenge. In this contribution, I will address primary and secondary school teachers’ perspectives on differentiation in the context of educational opportunities. I will review findings from Dutch research to illustrate how teachers struggle with differentiation in their schools and classrooms.
Boaler, J., Wiliam, D., & Brown, M. (2000). Students’ experiences of ability grouping – disaffection, polarisation and the construction of failure. British Educational Research Journal, 26(5), 631-648. Denessen, E. (2017). Ongelijke kansen in het onderwijs: verklaringen en voorstellen voor beleid. In K. Hoogeveen, IJ. Jepma, & F. Studulski (red.), Kansen bieden in plaats van uitsluiten. Jubileumuitgave 1992-2017 (pp. 19-38). Utrecht: Sardes. Denessen, E., & Douglas, A. S. (2015). Teacher expectations and within-classroom differentiation. In C. M. Rubie-Davies, J. M. Stephens, & P. Watson (Eds.), The Routledge International Handbook of Social Psychology of the Classroom (pp.296-303). London/New York: Psychology Press/Taylor & Francis Group. Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Ballantine books. Inspectie van het Onderwijs (2009). De staat van het onderwijs 2007/2008. Utrecht: Inspectie van het Onderwijs. Inspectie van het Onderwijs (2017). De staat van het onderwijs 2015/2016. Utrecht: Inspectie van het Onderwijs. Oakes, J. (2008). Keeping track: Structuring equality and inequality in an era of accountability. Teachers College Record, 110(3), 700-712. OECD (2016). Netherlands 2016: Foundations for the future. Reviews of National Policies for Education. Paris: OECD Publishing. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.,
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Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
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