Excellence in Education: Perspectives on Policy and Practice

Excellence in Education: Perspectives on Policy and Practice

Excellence in Education: Perspectives on Policy and Practice

Excellence in Education: Perspectives on Policy and Practice

Excerpt

Between 1983 and 1985 well over a dozen reports were issued on the state of the nation's schools, from the primary grades through higher education. While the reports differ in many ways, all are critical of current educational practices. All recommend a series of changes in curricular content, testing and standards, methods of teacher training, teacher rewards, and locus of control over schools. Since A Nation at Risk was issued in 1983, school reform has been at the top of the nation's agenda. Many states have made extensive changes in requirements for graduation and those for teacher certification.

This book focuses on the current reform movement in education. We seek to understand the excellence reports: their analysis of the state of the nation's schools, prescription for reform, and the implications of their recommendations for reforms instituted in response to the struggles of the 1960s. We also seek to understand the implication of the recommendations for current educational practice and to assess the limitations of proposed reforms in light of that practice. We focus on the ideological underpinnings of the reports and what the reports mean for school practice and the shape of American society.

This volume is divided into five parts. In Part One we focus on what the reports actually say; in Part Two we inquire into the social, political, and economic context of the reports. What are they a response to, and whose interests are they likely to serve? What is the relationship between economic structures and proposed reforms? In Part Three we ask how the reform movement of the 1980s might affect the educational policies instituted in the 1960s and 1970s. How, specifically, do the recommendations made by the national commissions affect the push toward equality that characterized earlier reform efforts? What might current reforms mean for women, minorities, and the handicapped? The fourth part of this book looks at the implications of the proposed reforms for educational practice. To what extent will the reforms affect curriculum, teacher preparation and practice, and student outcomes? Are reforms likely to penetrate student and/or teacher cultures? If . . .

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