14 SES 12 A, Networked Systems, Schools & Communities to Improve Education of Disadvantaged Students
The study focuses on schools that have low socio-economic status and show high academic results. An attempt is made to understand what is happening inside these schools and what distinguishes them from each other. The study is based on data collected using a contextualization questionnaire to define the socio-economic status of schools and academic results — average values for the school and the results of state exams. The qualitative part of the research is represented by interviews with all participants of school educational process and lesson observations.
Schools working in difficult conditions — having a low socio-economic status of the contingent and lacking human and financial resources — are able to achieve high educational results. The degree to which they succeed in this depends to a great extent on the educational policy that allows the school to be effective in adverse circumstances [Pinskaya et al., 2011; Lupton, 2004; Reynolds et al., 2011; Siraj, Taggart, 2014]. Also such educational organizations are called “a school that functions well in a context of adversity” (Masten et al., 2008) and “schools performing beyond expectations” (Hargreaves & Harris, 2011).
12 schools of different context were investigated in 5 regions of Russia: Republic of Karelia, Moscow Oblast, Tomsk Oblast, the Sakha Republic, and Yaroslavl Oblast. The schools are regarded as of high poverty though showing high performance. Lesson observations, interviews and focus groups were conducted. The field study explored: • resource shortages the school faces, how it succeeds in overcoming them and creating a rich learning environment; • academic expectations of all participants; • organization of work with groups of students differing in their level of academic achievement; • strategies applied by schools to involve parents in the educational process; • attitudes of all participants to the socialization of students. The research on such schools in Russian regions helped to identify factors of school success as compared to low performing schools.
Schools that can be deemed resilient and offer high-quality education create robust and friendly learning environment, help their students choose occupations and prepare them for future successful socialization. Overall, their learning impact can be described as “enhancing life chances” for children. We note that schools make significant efforts to engage parents in learning and thus make them participants of school life. Schools organize students’ leisure time, arrange museum visits and educational trips. Highly capable staff continues to actively master innovative classroom formats. Despite high academic performance requirements, schools create student-friendly environment of psychological comfort and mutual trust. Of special note is the fact that the key figure that propels school development is an outstanding leader, school principal.
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