14 SES 04 A, School Related Transitions within a Life Course Perspective I
This paper reports results of a longitudinal study (2010-2014) conducted within the framework of a government-funded research project, NOESIS, launched in 2010 to evaluate a highly political Austrian school reform program, the “New Middle School” (NMS). The overall goal of the school reform project is to limit marginalizing processes and to improve transitions and trajectories within an inclusive school setting. The reform discontinues tracking in lower secondary schools with the emphatic policy goal of alleviating the problems of transition to upper secondary and providing better educational opportunities for all. The new middle school is meant to be "a school for everybody" and therefore aims to enable all students to develop high educational goals. In Austria, this school reform is seen as a profound transformation of the participating lower secondary schools. Hence, there is a greater focus on students’ educational careers. From this perspective, it is important to note that the educational careers of students are characterized by a combination of intra- and extra-curricular factors that influence whether or not students can reach their goals.
The educational career of students is dominated by an ongoing adaptation to institutions, institutional arrangements and to everyday academic requirements – especially nowadays, where schools in Europe have to deal with the accountability movement and international assessments. The success of this adaptation is, among other things, a functioning of networks inside and outside of school, which can act as a support mechanism. Experiences within the school respond to realities outside school (Archer et al., 2012; Baker et al., 2001; Stewart, 2008; Ryan, 2000; Zimmermann & Spangler, 2001). Intra-school groups that can serve as resources, are teachers and classmates. Such groups of people respond to the institutionally embedded student learning impact. Outside of school, there are family relationships and related support mechanisms that allow students to process what they have learned. Apart from additional support measures like homework support from the family or institutionally anchored tutoring, the peer group is a relevant network that can offer help as well.
This paper deals with the question of how available intra- and extra-curricular resources for students in middle schools relate to each other and how these resources affect educational aspirations.
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