Academic journal article Journal for Educational Research Online

Governing the Transition to Higher Levels of Education and Differences between Achievement and School Grades by Gender

Academic journal article Journal for Educational Research Online

Governing the Transition to Higher Levels of Education and Differences between Achievement and School Grades by Gender

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Modern educational systems should employ evidence-based approaches in order to create informed decisions about any important topic. To work in the best interest of its citizens, the government must provide rationale and supporting evidence for any measures that have vast impact on individuals. Lack to do so could be seen as sub-optimal governance (Slavin, 2002).

1.1 Equity

In Slovenia research about equity in education is still rare. There was some improvement when PISA 2006 results showed problematic proportion of between schools variance in student performance (OECD, 2007, Table 4.1a) where Slovenia was one of three countries with greatest between-school variance. Large portion of between-school variance was also explained by PISA index of economic, social, and cultural status of students and schools - schools varied greatly in their intake of students by performance and by socio-economic characteristics. Although secondary analyses (Gaber, Cankar, Marjanovic Umek, & Tasner, 2012) showed that PISA results might be misleading if context is not taken into account, the results still had a sobering effect that things we always took for granted (in this case equity of educational opportunities) might not be true.

Questions regarding equity and fairness of educational system for all its participants are important since they remind us what we neglected, forgot, or were simply unaware of. Procedures that are in a Slovenian educational system well established and are in some cases (i.e. General Matura) already parts of our educational tradition are being questioned with new rigor in search of supporting evidence for equity or lack thereof. In this article we will explore the governance of transitions to higher levels of education and try to search for evidence of (un)fairness in educational system. We will explore differences between boys and girls in their school grades and achievement scores but we will not focus on the differences per se but in the question of whether the selection procedures that use those data can still be declared fair with regard to any differences found. This research is more focused on the differences in bias, shown by different types of criteria, used in selection procedures, than with differences between results for boys and girls. In this research equity (or fairness) in the selection procedures could be operationalized in a question: Is selection procedure still fair if some measures of student's achievement show significantly greater differences between boys and girls than other while all measures should provide information on (same) student achievement?

1.2 Educational Governance

As Coward (2010) points out Educational Governance is about "exercising authority, control and direction" (p. 711) and the term describes "diverse approaches to designing, funding and managing education to benefit learners, organizations and wider society" (p. 710).

Educational Governance should rely on the feedback from the educational system which should evaluate effects of high stakes decisions. To ensure valid and systematic approach to educational improvement those decisions should be based on evidence and driven by appropriate data (Slavin, 2002). De Coster, Forsthuber, Oberheidt, Parveva, & Glass (2008) note that profound changes in European educational systems have led to reviews of established governance struc- tures. Those are often supported through international integrations either within European Union or globally within Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which are providing platforms where countries can compare and reflect on differences in educational systems. Calls for greater efficiency and equity in educational systems can be often traced to documents and books, published by OECD (2003; Fazekas & Burns, 2012). High standards of achievement for all students and equity in admission procedures are seen as important aspects of modern higher education (Hénard & Mitterle, 2010). …

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