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The Recontextualisation of Curriculum Reform: Local Curriculum Innovation Under the Accountability Regime of the New Swedish Curriculum, Lgr11
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education. (Skola och Utbildning (SOU))ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0644-3489
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1157-7932
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
2013 (English)In: ECER 2013, Creativity and Innovation in Educational Research: Network: 03. Curriculum Innovation, 2013Conference paper, (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

During the last two decades, transnational organizations and agreements are increasingly important as actors, networks and shaping forces in curriculum-making, and this also applies to the formation of the Swedish curriculum. The international education policy movement towards standards-based curriculum has been characterized by top-down accountability and linear dissemination (Andersson-Levitt 2008, Sivesind & Karseth 2011). However, several research studies reveal how the translation to national cultural education traditions also implies tensions and contradictions. Differences between different levels of curriculum has been theorized in for example distinctions between intended, implemented and enacted curricula (Conelly 2008). A major issue facing externally mandated reform is the ‘implementation gap’. In this paper we will address factors in how curriculum is contextualised and reconceptualised (Bernstein 2000, Wahlström & Sundberg 2012) as it translated from transnational curriculum scripts to national and local school curriculum development and innovation. The paper draws on a “classical” theoretical framework of curriculum theory (i.e. the frame-factor theory), with its different levels of analysis – the societal/ideological level, the curriculum level; and the teaching and classroom level (cf. Lundgren 1989). With reference to Bernstein (2000), the three different discursive levels can be related to each other, by the concept of recontextualisation. The concept of recontextualisation – how meanings travel between contexts - addresses crucial assumptions of curriculum reform. First, it challenges an assumption of curriculum as a means for direct policy control and secondly, it challenges the assumption that larger global macro-social contexts have unmediated impact on the local context. From Michael Fullan’s seminal study on educational change follows that to implement educational changes, the educational process must be studied and analyzed in relation to both its external and its internal conditions (Fullan 2001). Recent debate in the field of curriculum studies suggests that centrally initiated curriculum change is unlikely to be successful unless it actively engages the practitioners who are the local change agents. In mediating curriculum reform, the intrinsic logic of the curriculum policy is significantly modified to match the institutional logics of the setting where it is enacted (Meyer 2006). This paper draws upon empirical data to explore school-based curriculum development in response to the new curriculum policy, Lgr 11, in Sweden (the National Agency for Education 2011, Government Bill 2007:28). The purpose is to explore how the curriculum reform, Lgr 11, is reconceptualised, understood and related to school development by the local authority, school management and teachers in some selected municipalities. By questionnaires and interviews with local curriculum actors, the contextual adaptations in order to manage and organise new curriculum policies are analysed. The following research questions are addressed in the paper: 1. What are stakeholders’ understandings of the room for manoeuvre in curriculum innovation in implementing the new curriculum policy, Lgr 11? 2. How, and with what arguments is the selection of content areas for curriculum development made in implementing the new curriculum Lgr 11? 3. What change and improvement strategies have been used to meet the demands of the new curriculum policy, Lgr 11? Methodology, Methods, Research Instruments or Sources Used In order to explore and analyse how the curriculum Lgr 11 specifications are translated by the local authorities/schools into a school curriculum, local documents analysis, surveys and interviews with curriculum developers, school leaders and teachers have been conducted. The mixed-method approach followed a three-step procedure. In the first step, nine local educational authorities were selected representing a broad variety of municipalities in terms of population sizes, socio-economic conditions and educational achievement levels. Empirical data were collected by in a semi-structured questionnaire to key curriculum actors. In this, qualitative and explorative survey, key issues in implementing and adapting to the curriculum policy was identified. Based on these answers four cases for further investigation were selected. In the second step, follow-up, in-depth interviews with four informants (local authority development officers) from different local education authorities were conducted. In the semi-structured interviews the strategies for curriculum innovation and change was further elaborated and conceptualised. In the third step a teacher survey was constructed and conducted in one of the selected municipalities (n= 277). In this online questionnaire teacher’s perception of the intended curriculum, the implementation process of the new curriculum and; the relation between curriculum implementation and local development work was investigated. Conclusions, Expected Outcomes or Findings The results of the empirical analysis (question 1 and 2) will be presented in terms of patterns of arguments among key curriculum actors. The case studies show how different key players in local curriculum implementation raise arguments and prioritize areas for curriculum innovation variously due to local needs, national ambitions as well as international trends and future social and cultural scenarios. The results of the case studies also highlight central features of how central curriculum actors navigate in local change processes under the enactment of the curriculum Lg11 (question 2). The case studies indicate a wide variety of strategies used in trying to adapt and merge the local development work with external pressures on accountability. The results points to some central dilemmas in steering, organizing and drive local curriculum innovation. In addition, the investigation of curriculum recontextualisation also highlights mismatches between the intrinsic logics of the curriculum policy and the institutional logics when it comes to describing, valuing and judging the outcomes of curriculum innovation (question 3). There are, the results indicate, tensions between external expectations on short-term results on the improvement of pupils’ achievements and long-term improvement outcomes acknowledging the complex relations between institutional mechanisms and emerging practices. References Andersson-Levitt, Kathryn M. (2008). Globalization and curriculum. In: Michael F. Connelly, ed.: The Sage Handbook of Curriculum and Instruction. London: Sage Publications. Bernstein, Basil (2000). Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. Connelly, Michael F. ed. (2008): The Sage Handbook of Curriculum and Instruction. London: Sage Publications. Curriculum for the Compulsory School, Preschool Class and the Leisure-time Centre (2011). Stockholm: National Agency for Education. Fullan, Michael (2001): The New Meaning of Educational Change (3rd ed.). London: Routledge Falmer Press. Government Bill 2007:28. Tydliga mål och kunskapskrav i grundskolan. Förslag till nytt mål- och uppföljningssystem [Clear Goals and Knowledge Requirements in Compulsory School Education. Proposal for a New System of Goals and Monitoring]. Stockholm: Swedish Government Official Reports. Lundgren, Ulf P. (1989) Att organisera omvärlden [Organising the World Around Us]. Stockholm: Utbildningsförlaget. Meyer, John W. (2006). World models, National Curricula, and the Centrality of the Individual. In: Benevot, Aaron & Braslavsky, Cecilia: School Knowledge in Comparative and Historical Perspective. Hong Kong: CERC Studies in Comparative Education 18. Sivesind, Kirsten & Karseth, Berit (2010): Conceptualising curriculum knowledge within and beyond the national context. European Journal of Education( 45)1 Sundberg, Daniel & Wahlström, Ninni (2012). Standards-based curricula in a denationalised conception of education – the case of Sweden. European Journal of Education Research, Volume 11, Number 3, 2012.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013.
Keyword [en]
curriculum, reform, school development, innovation
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Pedagogics and Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-24988OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-24988DiVA: diva2:614277
Conference
ECER 2013, The European Conference on Educational Research, Istanbul 10-13 sept
Available from: 2013-04-04 Created: 2013-04-04 Last updated: 2017-02-16Bibliographically approved

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