23 SES 05.5 PS, General Poster Exhibition
General Poster Session during Lunch
Throughout the last decade we could observe an increasing political willingness to decentralize and regionalize the German education system. In this regard, management functions and tasks have been shifted from the central and provincial level to the district and community level. The reasoning of regionalization is that local level authorities are more aware of local challenges than actors at distant administrative levels and that they are more motivated and enabled to tackle these challenges if they are in charge. Especially in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, we can see that local authorities and other relevant local actors take more responsibilities in the educational sector than fifteen years ago. At the same time, the Local Education Office has emerged as a new player in almost all districts. Its role is to act as a support system for the regional educational development and to facilitate negotiations and collaborations between the different local educational actors such as schools, school administrations, school supervision boards, parents, youth welfare services, unemployment agencies and enterprises. For instance, the Local Education Office should initiate and support the development of school-to-school networks and should provide a transition management strategy that aims at a higher permeability between the different educational institutions in the district.
Bearing this political concept in mind, the project “Schulen im Team – Übergänge gemeinsam gestalten” was set in motion by the Mercator foundation, the Institute for School Development Research and the Ministry for School and Further Education. It has invited eight districts and the corresponding eight Local Education Offices in North Rhine-Westphalia to develop a transition management system between their primary and secondary schools using a network approach. The Local Education Offices are conceptualized as executing agencies of the management system and as “boundary spanners” (Honig, 2006; Aldrich & Herker, 1977) between local authorities and schools. Together with the participating schools and all other relevant actors, the Local Education Offices are obliged to frame a project plan that defines goals and measures of the transition management system. Given that all relevant actors are involved in the process, this obligation is supposed to trigger the requested establishment and implementation of a new, regionalized governance strategy.
Against this background, the question arises how exactly the Local Education Offices react to the responsibility of establishing a regionalized governance strategy regarding the transition between primary and secondary schools on the basis of the project plan. It is of particular relevance to investigate, if and how the process of regionalization is achieved and what the consequences are, especially for the school transition system.
We will conduct an explorative analysis of this question in an Education Policy Research context (Honig, 2009). The study uses a theoretical framework based on the work of Blatter & van der Heiden (2010), Weber (1985) and Habermas (1981). An adaption of their theories allows to categories the Local Eduation Offices' actions. For example, taken actions could be very norm oriented along the lines of ready to use manuals and routines of higher local authorities in the respective districts.
Aldrich, H., & Herker, D. (1977). Boundary Spanning roles and Organization Structure. Academy of Management Review, 2(2), 217–230. Bos, W. & Tarnai, Ch. (Eds.). (1999). International Journal of Educational Research: Special Issue: Content Analysis in Educational Research, 31 (8). Habermas, J. (1981). Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns. Band 1: Handlungsrationalität und gesellschaftliche Rationalisierung. Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp. Honig, M. (2006). Street-Level Bureaucracy Revisited: Frontline District Central- Office Administrators as Boundary Spanners in Education Policy Implementation. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 28(4), 357–383. Honig, M. (2009). What Works in Defining „What Works“ in Educational Improvement: Lessons from Education Policy Implementation Research. Directions for Future Research. In G. Sykes, B. L. Schneider, D. N. Plank & T. G. Ford (Eds.), Handbook of Education Policy Research (pp. 333 – 347). New York: Routledge. Rosenthal, G. (2008). Interpretative Sozialforschung: Eine Einführung. Weinheim: Juventa. Weber, M. (1985). Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft. Grundriss der verstehenden Soziologie. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.
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