14 SES 02 A, Dimensions of Rural/Urban Context-Oriented/Place-Based Education
Historically, knowledge about school improvement is based on findings of school effectiveness research whereby aggregated student achievement scores serve to generate lists of characteristics of highly effective schools (Reynolds et al. 2001, 10f). The underlying assumption is that in order to improve, strategies for making schools maintain and develop such characteristics need to be found and applied, which in turn would raise achievement scores.
But research shows that the reliance on student achievement scores as an indicator for effective schools is highly questionable (see Deretchin&Craig 2007; Amrein-Beardsley 2009) and that every school`s functioning or malfunctioning, as well as the success of improvement strategies, very much depend on specific contextual circumstances and therefore differ from school to school (see Thrupp&Lupton 2006).
Moreover research (see Lipowsky 2006) shows that despite obvious limitations for schools (e.g. the dependence of pupils` school success on factors beyond a school`s reach like SES, cognitive ability, prior knowledge, etc.) a decisive factor for quality schools are social relations amongst teachers and pupils (see Fend 1977; Marcoulides et al. 2005), as well as social relations between actors within a school and actors of the school’s environment (see Henderson&Mapp 2002).
Besides the above findings our research is built on the following basic principles of democracy :
- more numerous and more varied points of shared common interest;
- recognition of mutual interests as a factor in social control;
- freer interaction between social groups;
- continuous readjustment of social habit through meeting the new situations produced by varied intercourse (Dewey 1997)
and on the according claim of Dewey that "the dynamic interplay of diverse interests leads to a permanent readjustment of social habit and is essential in the education process so that people thus educated can embrace it (Dewey 1997).
Accordingly, the project "School Settings" which is part of an ongoing four-year research project (NOESIS) undertaken by the University of Vienna in cooperation with the federal state of Lower Austria, aims at (1) finding the context-specific needs of individual schools and (2) developing context-specific strategies for the concrete improvement of the schools. This is to be achieved by providing a possibility for parents, pupils, teachers and the school community to readjust social habit through the dynamic interplay of their diverse interests in the interest of school improvement.
Through a five-phase research process involving the principal, teachers, parents, pupils and community representatives (politicians, associations, police/security, health care, companies, etc.) we want to investigate:
1) in how far schools operating in different socioeconomic settings and communities differ in their needs.
2) in how far schools operating in different socioeconomic settings and communities develop different improvement strategies.
3) if there are any likely correlations between specific school conditions, specific community conditions and specific needs of schools.
- Amrein-Beardsley, A. (2009): The Unintended, Pernicious Consequences of “Staying the Course” on the United States` No Child Left Behind Policy. In: International Journal of Education Policy and Leadership, Vol.4, No.6, pp.1-13 - Deretchin, L.F. & Craig C. J. (ed.) (2007): International Research on the Impact of Accountability Systems. Teacher Education Yearbook XV. Lanham, Toronto, Plymouth: Rowman & Littlefield - Dewey, J. (1997) (1916): Democracy and Education. Seattle: The World Wide School. Online-Publication [http://www.worldwideschool.org/library/books/socl/education/DemocracyandEducation/chap7.html] download 120111 - Fend, H. (1977): Schulklima: Soziale Einflussprozesse in der Schule. Weinheim und Basel: Beltz - Fung, A. (2004): Empowered Participation. Reinventing Urban Democracy. New Jersey, Woodstock: Princeton University Press. - Henderson, A. T. & Mapp, K. L. (2002): A New Wave of Evidence. The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement. Austin: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. Online-publication [http://www.sedl.org/connections/resources/evidence.pdf] download 060609 - Linstone, H., A. & Turoff, M. (ed.) (1975): The Delphi Method. Techniques and Applications. London, Amsterdam, Don Mills, Ontario, Sydney, Tokyo: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company - Lipowsky, Frank (2006): Auf den Lehrer kommt es an. Empirische Evidenzen für Zusammenhänge zwischen Lehrerkompetenzen, Lehrerhandeln und dem Lernen der Schüler. In: Zeitschrift für Pädagogik, 52.Jg., Beiheft 51, S47-70 - Marcoulides, G. A., Heck, R.H., Papanastasiou, C. (2005): Student perceptions of school culture and achievement: testing the invariance of a model. In: The International Journal of Educational Management , Vol.19, No.2, pp.140-152 - Reynolds, D., Teddlie, C., Hopkins, D., Stringfield, S. (2001): Linking School Effectiveness and School Improvement. In: Teddlie, Ch., Reynolds, D. (ed.): The International Handbook of School Effectiveness Research. London: Routledge Falmer. pp.206-231 - Thrupp, M. & Lupton, R. (2006): Taking School Contexts More Seriously: The Social Justice Challenge. In: British Journal of Educational Studies, Vol.54, No.3, pp.308-328
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