Strategic Research Initiative Literature Review: The effects of school governance, ownership, organisation and management on educational outcomes Publications
This literature review offers an overview of the most current thinking and developments and will feed-into the Ministry's decisions about its research priority-setting and identify key gaps in the Ministry's knowledge and the nature of research that might address these gaps.
Author(s): John Rentoul and John Rosanowski with Neil Dempster, Darrell Fisher, Neville Hosking, Roger Hunter, Geoff Pugh and Geoffrey Walford, Christchurch College of Education. Report prepared for the Ministry of Education.
Date Published: April 2000
The focus of this review is on models of Governance, Ownership, organisation and Management (GOOM) and their effects on educational outcomes, both at the school and student level. Literature searches in New Zealand, Australia Britain, the USA and Canada have identified models of GOOM that reflect major educational reform trends as well as examples that have existed for many years.
Summaries of the major findings of research studies and research implications for each section of this report follow:
The International Contents to GOOM Reforms and the New Zealand Setting
The literature locates the origins of the school GOOM reforms in neo-liberal New Right economic theory. This theory had gained ascendancy in policy formation in many western post-industrialised countries. School GOOM reforms were informed by managerialism and the ideologies for the market, although variety of national political architectures meant various degrees of implementation. A reconceptualisation of student outcomes was observed, with new emphases falling on examination results and test scores.
The New Zealand experience of neo-liberal school GOOM reform accorded closely with an observed international policy convergence. When reforms were installed to implement SBM, choice of schools and severe accountability mechanisms, extensive debate took place in the academic literature.
The later 1999s saw issues of equity and welfare return as education policy considerations, alongside powerful central controls.
Major Reforms in Governance and Ownership: School-based Management (SBM)
Although the policy literature states that there has been an expectation of improved educational outcomes as a result of a movement to school based management (governance) (SBM), the results of this review provide little empirical evidence of a direct causal lik between school self-governance and improved student outcomes.
In Britain there is some research indicating that student achievement gains have bee4n made in schools due to a shift to site-based management. However, other studies indicate such effect decline greatly in significance once social background and other intake factors are taken into account.
In the USA, studies have found some positive effects of attending a charter school compared with a public school.However other research casts doubt on these results due to inaccurate test score data. At present the consensus seems to be that charter schools are no more effective in improving student outcomes than other types of school.
The jury is still out in regard to the relative effectiveness of other self-governed schools such as contract schools and for-profit schools in the united states and sponsored grant-maintained schools and city technology colleges in Britain.
A number of studies, including New Zealand studies, providing evidence of some positive indirect effects on educational outcomes as a result of SBM. These include increased teacher involvement and enthusiasm for the reform effort among key players, a sense of involvement and empowerment among stakeholders, the nurturing of 'capacities' such as staff selection, increased flexibility in use of resources and involvement of the community and a strong interest in professional development and development of a focus on school improvement. However, negative effects of the legislated SBM, for example on teacher workload and teachers tress, are also reported in the United States and New Zealand literature.
It has been suggested that a best SBM may be a necessary but insufficient factor in improving student learning and achievement, meaning it is unlikely to have any significant effect except in combination with other school-based improvement initiatives. Whatever effects SMB may have, they seem to be both indirect, being mediated through numerous other 'school-culture' variables and sufficient, being much less significant than variables related to the socio- economic background of a schools intake, or the quality and nature of the teaching and learning activities that take place in the individual classrooms.
Findings from Australia (Victoria and Queens land, and other studies reported here, along with the opinions of researchers and reviewers incorporated in the body of this review, strongly suggest that research must now concentrate on investigating links between school self-management or governance and classroom performance as those effects might be mediated through other school level or external social factors.
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