Education Policy in Two Different Countries
These refers to the principles and policies made by the government in the field of education, collection of rules and laws that govern the operations carried out in the education system. Education is a form of learning where knowledge, habits and skills of a particular group of people are transmitted from generation to generation through training, teaching or carrying out a research. It occurs in different forms such as formal, informal and non-formal with different purposes from institutions of learning like colleges/universities, professional education and graduate, job training and adult education. When implementing education in a given country, education policies are evidently known that they can affect education that people engage in directly at all ages. They have to be critically analyzed for effective learning under different areas in the field of schools such as; the size of school to be constructed, school choice, certification and teacher education, school privatization under education policy(Ball, 2009, 89), tracking, teaching methods, graduation requirements, curricular content, investment in the school infrastructure, and the values institutions are required to uphold and model.
Analysis of education policy is a scholarly study that seeks to give answers of different questions such as; the purpose of education, personal and societal objectives that education is designed to attain, methods to be used in attaining such objectives and tools applied in measuring their failure or success. Intended research of informing educational policy is done in a wide variety of learning institutions and several academic disciplines. Beneficial researchers are affiliated with different departments such as; economics, psychology, human development and sociology, departments and schools of education/public policy. Different countries have different educational policies according to the objectives and goals that education is expected to achieve. This essay critically evaluates issues concerning education policy in England and USA.
Education policy in England
Research shows that inequalities in education (Bunar, 2010: p.10) had erupted before schools were started for the children. The data provided by OECD displayed a higher percentage of individuals finishing tertiary education in many countries if their parents reached tertiary level of education. In many countries, educational inequalities continue to increase where people who have acquired education at higher levels have high possibilities of doing jobs which are non-formal. The question that prevails is whether the existing educational policies are minimizing these gaps. Are they relevant at their level of implementation? The essay reviews the truth about policies at the school level in England; this is due to the number of years one spends in school which is compulsory and plays an important role towards government intervention and it is conducted in a way that affects potentially all students. Recently, England started a good body of evaluating research of policies at school-level. The evaluation of these policies is based on school resources efficacy, market incentives, pedagogical approaches and school autonomy for raising attainment of education in schools.
Since 1988, education system had one key character under The Education Act, which has led to the implementation and designing a number of policies in education with an aim of improving standards of education and achievement. A good number of policies have been introduced at each stage of education, and a number of these policies have been evaluated. This gives an opportunity for a critical appraisal on such evaluations and the scope of different policies that have influenced achievement of education. These evaluations aim at the different ways of enhancing performance and reducing inequalities in education.
Educational inequalities in England
These inequalities in the achievement of education can be differently identified at some points in individuals’ lives. However, these educational inequalities emerge at an early stage in the lifecycle and widen the gap as progress in education sequence is experienced. This description of the inequalities is aimed at motivating the evaluation of policies in education, which are used to alleviate inequalities in education and minimize achievement gaps, which is an important research in the field of education. Under this description, individual follows an ordered educational sequence which comprises of years in pre-school, compulsory schooling years, post-compulsory level of education and lastly to adult.
Gaps in pre-school education
Initially we focused on the educational achievement gaps being present even before students started going to school. These gaps are created by the environments they grow in, family backgrounds and different non-cognitive and cognitive levels of skills children have when entering school. Studies conducted under vocabulary skills (Lervag, 2010: p. 615) shows there is high dispersion of a number of sizeable gaps existing in gender and ethnic groups at the time of entering school.
At the stage of compulsory schooling, the gaps that were there at the school entry evolve. Where some widens while others narrow as abilities of children at school makes them move either up or down the outcomes of the educational distribution. This can be affected by policies of education with the scope of affecting achievement in education.
Education at post-compulsory level
This level of education is strongly impinged by the disadvantages of education acquired during compulsory schooling and the pre-school years. It determines whether an individual continues with education in post-compulsory level or not. This level is strongly determined by the education level of their parents.
Inequalities of education continue to increase even when a student completes full-time education. They extend to adults in their live of working as their training and education occurs and mostly to those who have acquired higher levels of education.
Under those stages of education, it is evident that inequalities in education emerge and exists at all levels in the sequence. Some gaps widen as individuals progresses more through the sequence of education especially those associated with disadvantages of schooling in urban areas are less compared to those in rural areas. This calls for a significant and a careful evaluation of the policies of education designed to affect educational inequalities. The educational policies raft introduced to the England system of education fifteen years ago provides a good setting for evaluation methods and their success and thus provides a better understanding of educational work.
Policy evaluation regarding to England school
Although these policies at all levels of lifecycle are important for improving attainment in education and inequality reduction, the policies of school-level ought to be focused on in the England system of education. This is because compulsory years of schooling give an important time for the intervention of the government. It also acts as a good body of evaluation of the research policies in England. This calls for selective areas of policy with a critical appraisal which is rigorous. The following are headings of policy discussion and their methods of evaluation.
School resources refer to perennial debates concerning educational literature of economics of whether if the expenditure of the school is increased will have an effect on improving pupil attainment (Peters, 2009: p.1). Research on whether the implantation of such policies can reduce the types of attainment gaps experienced earlier. The relevance of such implementation is to determine whether additional expenditure can lead to cost effective in developed countries at the typical levels.
International research indicated that there is no good relationship between student outcomes and resources. However, some puts more efforts on studies particularly with methodological design with positive impacts. The challenge faced in the implementation of this policy is that school resources are always allocated disproportionately to disadvantaged students. If this issue is not dealt with fully in methodological design, the way resources and attainment are related with one another will be easily obscured.
Critical evaluation shows that favorable association between educational disadvantages and school resources is counter-balanced to the unfavorable association between educational attainment and educational disadvantage. This clearly indicates that association between educational attainment and school resources is very low, and there is no true reflection of casual relationship. There is the fact that the implementation of controlled randomized experiments has been impossible, researchers have found it difficult to prove that such a problem has been solved. Being the biggest category of expenditure of the UK government, it calls for a more significant sense of getting whether if the expenditure is either increased or reduced there is the likelihood of having an impact on students’ outcomes. This aspect is very important for the future economy in the country and the future prosperity of individuals.
Recent studies have been done concerning this issue in England using national citizen database and all schools expenditure. The national curriculum of the English government is divided into four key levels/stages, then at the end of these stages teachers evaluates the students or they are given national tests that externally and marked at the school when students are the age of 11 and 16. A study done have critically evaluated the relationship between attainment and expenditure in the secondary school level at the age of 14 and 16 respectively, displayed a small positive impact of resources used and on pupil attainment. The challenge behind it is that political control is used as an instrument for expenditure in the school.
Government has initiated better flame work for examining casual effects derived from this context. In early 2000s, a flagship evaluation policy was done on the government labor and the (EiC) program for the secondary schools in England. Under this program, disadvantaged schools mainly located in urban areas were provided extra resources with an effort of improving standards.
Incentives for a period of more than thirty years a concerted effort has been done with an aim of increasing the choice of parents, competition between schools and their accountability for the children performance (Eom, 2011:p.418). If the economy develops well, children go to better schools with incentives of increasing performance. This is because their effort should be strongly linked to pupil information and numbers which is disclosed to parents under the accountability framework.
School autonomy most government schools function within a given framework based on their jurisdiction concerning terms of teacher conditions and pay, admissions, composition of the body that is governing and the curriculum (Clark,2009: p.760). Since 2000, the England government started academies which led to the emergence of new schools given more autonomy compared to typical government schools in terms of their freedom of operations. The rationale behind this greater emphasis on autonomy is to encourage schools to have more innovative policies and facilitate improvement of standards. In England, the so called academies are managed by any appointed governor or their sponsors who are responsible in recruiting all staffs, freedom over curriculum implementation, agreeing on the terms and conditions of payment and organizational aspects of the school.
Pedagogy although since the year 2000, school autonomy in England seems to have gained popularity, it has not been true to various school organizational aspects (Terenzin, 2010: p.772). The government has put into place prescriptive measures in order to improve standards in numeracy and literacy through pedagogical methods. The national numeracy and literacy strategy rolled out in 1998 and 1999 was aimed at improving teaching quality through introducing more focused effective management of the class and instructions. Both literacy and numeracy did not present an overall time increase that was allotted in teaching some subjects. Both dramatically represented a change on the teaching methods of such subjects.
The above evaluation on education policy in England clearly shows that gaps in educational attainment are evident from earlier times and have been measured along the lifecycle. Various policies have been reviewed at the school level and implemented in England which brought high standards economic evaluation, aiming to see how scope of educational inequalities can be impinged. This has been done under the evaluation of the following educational policies implemented in England such as; incentives, school resources, pedagogical approaches and school autonomy. This issue of reducing educational inequalities and gaps that exist in the sphere of education has been shaped for effective implementation. It enhances positive impacts through the use of the following contextual factors applied in secondary school classroom setting.
Structure and organization of the educational system: this helps in shaping the development of curriculum by considering the society served by the education system. It reflects the aspirations and the needs of the students, function and the nature of learning and statement formulation on the importance of learning. This enables students to know how policies of education are implemented and established, influences the operation of schools and helps them to achieve their educational goals and curricular.
Climate of learning in schools this involves many factors and values such as safety practices, cultures, and organizational structures shaping the school to react and function in a given way (Cohen,2009: p.189). Favorable and positive climate created in school by all stakeholders’ results to higher achievement by students.
Teaching staff: their professional development plays a great important role by attempting to reform or change an education system. The general purpose behind teachers’ evaluation is to ensure that the quality of instructions students receive from teachers are safeguarded and improved. Teachers are evaluated through classrooms observation by the principals, peer review of teachers and checking on students’ performance.
Parental involvement: for a school to be successful there must have a high cooperation among teachers, school administration and parents. A research done indicated that if parents participate in the education of their children, it results to an increase in the academic achievement of the students and an overall attitude improvement towards school.
Classroom environment: instructional activities carried out in school are always influenced by environment in the classroom. This includes classroom size, class composition and instructional time. Research indicates that favorable classroom environment benefits academic development thus helping students to achieve educational goals.Education policy in USA
In USA, education is provided by both private and public schools. Education in public schools is universally available, funded and controlled by the state, federal and local government. Private schools are set free to come up with their own curriculum and policies of staffing. Educational evaluation plays a significant role in USA as it assesses and distinguishes particular characteristics of the education process. It is a professional process by which incessant review is commenced by independent educators with an aim of improving the learning process. This attempt is done to ensure smooth progress on the whole learning experience. The evaluation process in USA is conducted under the following three routes;
Personal evaluation: this comprises of a legal and an ethical process, the standards behind it are educational, significant and judicious. Personnel evaluation standards are easily implemented, apt in funds and proficient in utility.
Program evaluation: it involves ground standards that provide a guarantee of the demanded information by users. This process of evaluation is based on factors that are prudent, practical, and thrifty and save. It results to an accurate and complete evaluation to the point.
Student evaluation: it is a program carried out ethically and legally which is kept in the students mind while others are affected by it. Its standards are diligently judicious, educational and significant therefore; it is an extremely useful evaluation to students. The process is very sensible, efficient, affordable, feasible, politically and socially.
Education policy in USA has been effectively evaluated with an aim of ensuring educational effectiveness among students at different levels of education. Policy-amenable of the school characteristics are among the factors controlled under school management or national policy of education. It refers to substantive policy measures of education in areas such as governance, curriculum, accountability and development of a professional teacher and other characteristics at the school-level known to improve teaching. This discussion focuses on three main areas of policy-amenable characteristics of a school which shapes educational policy implementation. They include school climate, school resources and school policies. It is also interested in measuring the school context by mean socio-economic students’ backgrounds within the school. Relative impacts determined by school characteristics of policy-amenable and school context on the quality of education has helped policy makers to have a control.
The question under the educational policy evaluation is why some schools are performing better than others. If the policy evaluation can identify the factors causing such deviation in terms of different school performance, better strategies can be implemented to change such performance deviation; that is identifying general characteristics of schools with high performance and use such information to improve performance of a given school. The following are the three main areas according to PISA which shapes education policy implementation and has an effect towards students’ performance.
School resources comprises of physical resources and materials such as the school size and the quality of physical infrastructure in the school, human resources including number of teaching staff (Peters, 2009: p.1). They have a tertiary qualification and the number of students in the school compared to the available teachers. If the school infrastructure is well constructed and the school has enough teachers the performance of students is likely to increase. This evaluation conducted in schools ensures effective implementation of the curriculum which facilitates achievement of educational goals.
School climate entails different aspects culture of the school including how well teachers and students get along, disciplinary climate (Crul, 2009: p. 1478). In addition, it includes how committed and motivated school’s teachers are and how strongly does the students identify themselves with their school. This factor is implemented well by school principals through ensuring that students are well disciplined and that teachers-students cooperation is improved. It is also well maintained through students’ motivation that results to high performance of students.
School policies it comprises the level of autonomy enjoyed by the school when making decisions, issues concerning accountability of whether self-evaluation is conducted in the school and students’ progress monitored (Creemers, 2010: p.815). Such policies also determine whether the school gives the parents information concerning the students’ performance or not. Lastly these policies establish the degree of selectivity in the school concerning admission policies and the way low achievers are transferred to different schools. These factors shape the issue of educational inequality and the gaps created in the secondary level, and if well implemented high attainment is achieved.
Conclusively, evaluation of education policy is an important factor in different countries for educational effectiveness. The above evaluation clearly shows some of the challenges experienced in school such educational inequalities, poor performance and non-effective governance among others results to poor performance. England and USA among other nations have developed educational policy evaluation at different levels of education. From the above discussion, it is clear that these policies have improved standards of education shaped under different contextual factors. Comparably, both countries have had almost the same factors such as school resources, school policies among other discussed factors above. The recommendation is that such policies should be improved and well implemented and for who are yet to implement should do it for educational effectiveness.
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