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Local authorities – independent players in education reforms?
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education. (Studies in Curriculum, Teaching and Evaluation (SITE))ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5554-6041
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education. (Studies in Curriculum, Teaching and Evaluation (SITE))
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Introduction

In the last decade, there has been considerable focus on transnational policy discourse on how major national curriculum reforms can change the conditions of learning and knowledge in schools. As Yates (2013) notes, curriculum documents at the policy level do not determine pedagogy, but they set up directions and constraints that are interpreted in different ways by the local authorities and schools. In Sweden, the new curriculum for the compulsory school 2011 (Lgr 11) has moved away from an earlier version of curriculum emphasising the professional freedom and pedagogical competence of teachers towards a more prescriptive curriculum, where teachers are made accountable for the achieved knowledge results (Sundberg & Wahlström 2012). From a curriculum theory perspective (Lundgren 1989), this ‘upper local level’ of education is often overlooked.

Aim

The aim of this evaluation study is to explore if, and if so, how local authorities as mandators of the provision of schooling, contribute to form discourses on the role of objectives in teaching and assessment. The research questions is: What versions of the curriculum interpretation, teachers’ professional agency and assessment practices, related to the Lgr 11 curriculum, are expressed by various municipal representatives?

 

Theoretical framework

Theory-oriented evaluation is characterised by an explicit theory basis for the understanding of the reform that takes account of the normative values embedded in the reform, its socio-political and historical context, the processes and results of the reform and critical analyses of the social forces served by the reform (Schwandt 2003). Theory-based evaluation has provided an important basis for curriculum evaluation, both in Scandinavia and internationally (Haug & Schwandt 2003; Franke-Wikberg 1992). The idea is that each evaluation should be based on a theoretically informed assumption about the phenomenon to be evaluated with a view to explaining the findings of the evaluation rather than merely reporting results. The theory-based evaluation has been developed by Wahlström and Sundberg (2015) by integrating a transnational aspect of curriculum discourse formation to the intended curriculum level, establishing the theoretical concept of recontextualisation (Bernstein 2000) to understand the flow of curriculum ideas between different arenas, and, finally, introducing the theory of discursive institutionalism (Schmidt 2012) in order to conceptualise the agency and processes of institutional enactment.

 

Methodologically, the design follows an explanatory three-step sequential procedure (Teddlie & Tashakkori (2009)  i) formulation of four hypotheses on the curriculum reform Lgr 11 ii) a survey including all the 290 municipalities in Sweden and c) qualitative interviews with 36 local municipal representatives in 25 municipalities.

Expected conclusions

The results will be analysed in terms of the degree of congruence, magnitude and intensity of change, impact and perceived volunteerism. The results will highlight regulative aspects of the curriculum reform (’rule setting’, ’monitoring’, ’sanctioning’) as well as perceived normative pressures on expectations on how the schools should work according to the new curriculum. Conclusions of the results will be drawn in terms of different versions of curriculum enactment in the interface between local policy actors the professional actors in school.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
Keyword [en]
curriculum theory, curriculum reform, education policy, evaluation
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Pedagogics and Educational Sciences, Pedagogics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-67114OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-67114DiVA: diva2:1128810
Conference
Nordic Education Research Conference (NERA)
Available from: 2017-07-28 Created: 2017-07-28 Last updated: 2017-07-28

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Citation style
  • apa
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Output format
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