Summer break

Here at IEN we are taking a short break at the end of summer so that we can gear up for the new school year. Please check back with us in September when we will share new posts on topics ranging from academy schools in England to the improvement effort in Ontario and the push for creativity in Singapore. As always, we will continue to share links to international news articles from around the world on Twitter.

 

 

Following up on test results in Vietnam

Photo: Dao Ngoc Thach

Photo: Dao Ngoc Thach

In this brief post we follow up with Duy Pham on the issue of testing in Vietnam. When we last spoke with Pham, who is a former Deputy Director of the Center of Educational Measurement, of the Institute for Education Quality Assurance, at Vietnam National University, and curent doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts Amhersthe explained that this year Vietnam introduced a new assessment that combined two purposes: high school graduation and university entrance.

The Ministry of Education and Training has released the results of the new assessment. The results show that the high school graduation rate dropped by 8% (from 99% in 2014 to 91% in 2015). According to Vietnam.net, “Of the 816,830 students who sat the high school examinations in July 68,700 failed, for a pass rate of 91.58 per cent, a 7.44 per cent decline compared to 2014 and some 6 per cent less than in 2012 and 2013. Students in high schools passed at a rate of 93.42 per cent while the pass rate for those in continuing education was 70.08 per cent.” Ministry officials attributed this drop in the pass rate to the increased quality of the new assessments.

For more information:

High school graduation ratio reached 91.58% nationwide (link in Vietnamese)

Educators lament as Vietnamese students score poorly in national English test

Educators say national-exam failure rate shows better discipline, less cheating

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The legitimation crisis of educational change

10833The Journal of Educational Change publishes important ideas and evidence of educational change. Contributions represent a range of disciplines, including history, psychology, political science, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, and administrative and organizational theory. The journal also draws attention to a broad spectrum of methodologies, including quantitative and qualitative approaches, documentary study, action research, and conceptual development.

As the journal’s editor-in-chief, Dennis Shirley, explains in his introduction to the August issue, the five articles published this month point us in “promising directions for improving our schools and enhancing the legitimacy of our public educational systems.”

Shirely argues, “The quest for legitimacy has driven many governments to turn to data and a more scientific approach to educational change. On the one hand this is a felicitous development, especially for researchers. On the other hand, the pursuit of certainty through the quantification of education has itself proved nettlesome. It seems that the mathematization of teaching and learning can conceal a number of blind spots that can create new problems for teachers and students. How this occurs and can be overcome is represented vividly in this new issue of The Journal of Educational Change.”

To read Shirley’s complete introduction, click here: The legitimation crisis of educational change.

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The uncertain future of school funding in Australia

3843968-3x2-340x227In order to keep up with the education news in Australia, I check in periodically with Glenn Savage, Researcher and Lecturer in Education Policy, Melbourne Graduate School of Education at University of Melbourne.

“The past few weeks have seen some wild twists and turns in the politics of Australian school funding,” Savage stated in a recent post on The Conversation. Discussions in Australia have focused particularly a confidential paper developed by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet that was leaked to the press earlier this month. As Prime Minister Tony Abbott has indicated, the reforms suggested by the 2011 Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling may be abandoned. As these reforms aimed to address inequities in school funding, and had yet to be fully implemented, many are concerned that an alternative model would not adequately address the needs of disadvantaged students. The leaked “green paper” presented four funding reform options for consideration:

  1. States and territories becoming fully responsible for funding all schools;
  2. States and territories becoming fully responsible for funding all schools, with the federal government funding non-government schools;
  3. Commonwealth involvement in schools reduced, without “significant structural change”; or
  4. Federal government becoming “dominant funder of all schools.”

According to a recent article in The Sydney Morning Herald, under the fourth option the federal government would “adjust for student need and the ability of families to make a contribution.” Therefore, high-income families might end up paying fees to send their children to public schools. The has proved to be the most controversial of the four suggested models, as it purports to target disadvantaged schools while promoting parental choice, yet the fear is that it would result in “separate responsibility for service delivery and funding.” This new model contrasts with the Gonski Review, which stated: “It is important for the future of Australian schooling that the government sector continues to perform the role of a universal provider of high-quality education which is potentially open to all.”

The Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling, which was chaired by businessman David Gonski, built upon a watershed 1973 report known as the Karmel Report. The Karmel Report was produced by the Whitlam government and introduced the ongoing federal funding of schools, which was a departure at the time from the prior model in which state governments funded schools with only supplemental support from the federal government. The report was the first significant intervention in primary and secondary education on the basis of what Savage called a “comprehensive plan of goals and priorities rather than an ad hoc response to particular demands.” As Savage explained, it was a highly influential “moment in school funding because for the first time ever the government started funding schools.”

The Gonski Review, conducted in 2011, came about in response to concerns over increasingly inequitable school funding—despite the attention called to such inequities in the Karmel Report.

The Gonski Review called for what Savage called “a major overhaul in school funding, promoting a needs-based sector-blind model.” As Savage went on to explain, “there is a base amount, for students in primary and secondary schools, and there are ‘loadings’ on top for different groups – such as indigenous students and English Language Learners.”

Savage argues that there is a “common belief that the Gonski Report was just put into practice. That’s somewhat true….but they promised independent schools and Catholic schools that they wouldn’t lose any money under Gonski formula. To get it through parliament, they had to come up with a compromise to say no school would lose a dollar.” Due to political influence, the reforms were never implemented as intended.

Despite public outcry in favor of the Gonski reforms, the current Abbott administration has promised not to continue to fund the reforms suggested by the Gonski Review. “Everyone’s worried because it doesn’t look like Gonski will ever happen in the way it was supposed to,” said Savage, going on to point out the even larger concern that there is a “a complete lack of clarity about how schools will be funded in the future.”

Deirdre Faughey

For more information:

School funding again up for debate http://buff.ly/1MMKApN

Give a Gonski? Funding myths and politicking derail schools debate http://buff.ly/1MMKDlq

School funding report makes flawed case for full Gonski reforms | The Australian http://buff.ly/1KpoXyc

In wake of stalled Gonski Review is there a way forward on school funding? http://buff.ly/1MMKmyK

New data shows slump in public school funding http://buff.ly/1KppdNF

‘Gonksi is not dead’: NSW calls on Federal Government to commit to education reforms – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) http://buff.ly/1MMKrme

 

Scanning the education news from the UK and Canada

stream_imgOur latest scan of education news in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Wales, and Canada, shows considerable attention to teachers: shortages of teachers in Scotland and England; “redundancies” and elimination of teaching positions in Northern Ireland and Wales; contract negotiations with the teacher unions in Ontario; and efforts to improve teacher training in Wales and address teacher turnover in Alberta.

The blog from the Institute of Education at the University of London has also had a series of post over the past month addressing key issues in England including income inequality, a new plan to penalize schools that are “coasting” (failing to increase student outcomes), a recent report on the (possible) effects of “free schools”; and the latest reforms related to initial teacher training.

“Local authorities reveal 470 teaching posts are vacant in Scotland,” stv

“Teacher supply agencies searching as far as Canada and Singapore to plug staffing gaps,” The Independent (UK)

“800 school staff redundancies after funding cuts” ITV News (Wales) 

“Ontario teacher unions agree to resume negotiations with Liberals in bid to agree to contracts,” National Post 

“University of Calgary program boosts training for rural teachers,” CBC News

“Education Minister endorses ‘radical plan’ to transform teacher training,” Penarth Times (Wales)

IOE Blog: 

Income distribution in times of austerity: why the cuts are likely to widen the gap, Nicola Pensiero

‘Coasting schools’: learning from international ‘best practice’,

Paul Morris & Christine Han

Free school effects: an impartial review, Francis Green

Teacher training and teacher supply, Chris Husbands

Vietnam: Can one assessment meet the needs of all stakeholders?

20150707071925-edu-exam-questionVietnamese students surprised the world recently when it was revealed that they outperformed many other advanced countries on the PISA exam. According to a recent BBC article, “the country’s 15-year-olds scored higher in reading, maths and science than many developed countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom.”

News of this achievement has received a great deal of media attention, however in an effort to learn more about recent developments in the Vietnamese education system today we reached out to Duy Pham, former Deputy Director of the Center of Educational Measurement, of the Institute for Education Quality Assurance, at Vietnam National University, and curent doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Pham explained that while the PISA exam has caught the attention of an international audience, the people of Vietnam have been wrapped up in a dynamic debate around high school graduation exams and university entrance exams.

This year, the Vietnam Ministry of Education combined the high school graduation exam and the university entrance exam into one 4-day-long exam. This move came in response to concerns about student well-being and assessment validity. Many felt that students and families were suffering under the pressure of two separate exams. Also, private universities, which admit students who do not get selected for prestigious spots in public universities, felt that the old exam system was too challenging and resulted in the exclusion of too many students. These universities wanted to be able to admit a greater number of students but found that these students were not able to meet the high bar set by the old entrance exams. As Pham explained, “This year the pressure comes from many stakeholders, saying the university system blames the previous entrance exam of not being able to classify students in a way that allows them to select the right students.”

As the new exam was administered in the first week of July, there is no consensus on the new process. While the Ministry of Education has expressed satisfaction with the new system, educators, policymakers, and researchers are concerned that the new exams might be too difficult for the purposes of high school graduation, yet too easy for the purposes of university entrance. The question is how to find one assessment that meets the needs of all students and institutions.

Also, the question of pressure and fairness remains. Students can only take the new exam in one of the approximately 30 testing centers. These testing centers are located in big cities, which means that students from mountainous and rural areas need to travel with a parent or guardian and find accommodations for the duration of the exam. Under the old system, students could at least take the high school graduation exam in their own school settings.

Deirdre Faughey

For more information on this issue:

National exam for university, high school satisfies students – News VietNamNet http://buff.ly/1fQRVdu

One million students sit for national exams – News VietNamNet http://buff.ly/1fQRY9k

Volunteers swing into action for season of exams – News VietNamNet http://buff.ly/1fQS6FI

Vietnam school students and the exam of life in pictures http://buff.ly/1fQS8xe

Flashback: Volunteers devote themselves to helping Vietnam’s national exam contestants http://buff.ly/1OkqFiO

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Opposition to the Carrera Docente (Teacher Career) Bill in Chile

profe-pulpo-descargarTeachers working in municipal schools in Chile have been in a strike for over a month now. The strike called by the Colegio de Profesores (CP), the Chilean National Teachers Association, began on June 1, 2015 as a way of expressing their opposition to the Carrera Docente Bill (the Teacher’s Career Bill). The bill is part of a national reform proposal in education that encompasses several areas of education, including:

  • regulating profit and student selection in schools subsidized by the state,
  • creation of the Subsecretariat for Early Childhood Education,
  • legislating a national teacher policy,
  • defining the structure for the de-municipalization of education, and
  • legislating a national policy for funding free higher education.

After approving the law that regulates the admission of students and profit in schools that receive state funding (Law #20.845), the government led by President Michelle Bachelet decided to continue the reform agenda with the legislation of a national teacher policy. The bill intended to define among other elements new teachers certification requirements, a teacher evaluation processes, a salary scale, and teacher workload. Teachers, as well as other members of society, have expressed their opposition to this bill through social demonstrations. Teachers are insisting that the bill be withdrawn, arguing that the legislative proposal maintains the individualistic, competitive, and market-driven logic that has prevailed in education, and generates no substantive positive changes. The Education Commission of the Chamber of Deputies formed a dialogue table and teachers acceded to talk to legislators in this tripartite table in mid-June. On June 27, the President named a new Minister of Education, Adriana Delpiano, who declared her willingness to dialogue with teachers but stressed that the government will not withdraw the bill. On June 30, the tripartite table at the Education Commission resumed its work. Teachers are expected to reevaluate the continuity of the strike.

Victoria Parra

For more information on this issue:

Carrera Docente Bill Does Not Meet Chilean Teacher’s Expectations | I Love Chile News http://buff.ly/1IU63Om

El Mostrador – El primer diario digital de Chile – Noticias, reportajes, multimedia y último minuto. http://buff.ly/1IU6bNS

Las críticas del Colegio de Profesores al Plan Nacional Docente « Diario y Radio Uchile http://buff.ly/1TuMRts

Chilean striking teachers take to the streets; million students with no classes — MercoPress http://buff.ly/1TuMT4C

Change of Chile Education Minister Could End University Strike | News | teleSUR English http://buff.ly/1TuMTSk

 

 
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