EDUCATIONAL REFORM AND MENTOR-TEACHER PROGRAMMES IN THE UNITED STATES
John R Curley
A steady increase in the number of school age children, many of them from disadvantaged backgrounds coupled with a decline in the number of new teacher graduates and considerable loss from the teaching profession will pose major problems through the 1990s for education in the United States. Many of the educational reforms which have been initialed by the states in recent years are intended to address these changing conditions and perceived problems. Among the more promising reforms in terms of attracting and retaining teachers are mentor teacher programmes. These programmes which have been instituted in many states offer the opportunity to increase the professional status of teachers, to differentiate teaching staff, to reward outstanding teachers, to assist beginning teachers and to improve teaching performance and student learning.
This paper provides an introduction to the concept of graded assessment a recently developed and influential area relating to assessment and certification. The notions of graded assessment are described. Pertinent features of the examination system in Ireland are reviewed to highlight graded or graduated aspects of current assessment provision and to provide a context for understanding the attractions potential and problems of graded assessment. The policy options opened up by graded assessment are examined and as far as can be ascertained from the scope of pilot projects in Great Britain the directions in which policy seems to be headed are noted. The paper concludes with an outline of a number of evaluation issues relating to graded assessment drawing on material on graded assessment and on more general material in the fields of educational psychology and assessment.
GENDER DIFFERENCES IN THE SCHOLASTIC SELF-CONCEPTS OF IRISH PUPILS
Thomas Kellaghan and Patricia J Fontes
Self concept questionnaires were completed by 1,779 boys and 1,844 girls towards the end of their primary schooling. The pupils were asked to compare themselves to other members of their class on a 5 point scale on 14 characteristics, mathematics, spoken Insh, Irish reading, written Irish, English reading, English composition, interest in reading, interest in school, intelligence, memory, originality, exam results, sport and keenness to do well in school. Large numbers of pupils (both boys and girls) rated themselves as average or above average in relation to all the characteristics. A series of analyses of variance (following a multivariate analysis of variance) revealed that boys and girls rated themselves differently on 11 of the 14 characteristics. Boys rated themselves more favourably than did girls on eight characteristics and less favourably on three characteristics. The characteristics on which girls rated themselves more highly compared to boys related to attitudinal and motivational factors while boys rated themselves higher than did girls in curriculum areas as well as for intelligence, memory and sport.
RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN SCHOOL-ORGANIZATION FACTORS AND READING INSTRUCTION AMONG TEACHERS OF FOUR- TO SEVEN-YEAR-OLDS
Peter Archer and Bernard O’Rourke
Findings of a national survey of teachers in the early primary school grades in the Republic of Ireland suggest that such teachers pursue an approach to the teaching of reading which is not only more formal than that required by the prescribed curriculum but more formal than they themselves would like. Using the same survey dataset an attempt is made in the present study to explain the apparent discrepancy between teachers preferred and actual teaching practices by examining the relationship between school organization factors and various aspects of the teaching of reading. The rationale for the approach is based on the premise that school organization factors may act to constrain directly or indirectly the instructional options available to teachers (eg how many and what kind of books to cover in a year or how much freedom to give pupils to move around the classroom). The specific aspects of school organization considered are type of school (ie a school with all grades or one with junior grades only) size of school (as indicated by number of teachers) class size and class mix (i e single grade or mixed grade). The results of a series of stepwise regression analyses indicate that the school organization variables account for statistically significant but relatively small proportions of variance in eight out of ten of the aspects of teaching of reading which were examined.
TEACHING AND THE LIMITS OF TECHNIQUE: AN ANALYSIS OF THE BEHAVIOURAL-OBJECTIVES MODEL
This paper analyses the operative assumptions of the behavioural objectives model and questions its claims to provide effective direction for the practice of teaching. The model’s attempt to create a technical language as a context free interpretation proof medium for analysing designing and replicating teaching activity is outlined. It is argued that despite its apparent sophistication the model offers little that can inform the judgments and decisions of teachers. The poverty of its implicit conception of the texture of the teaching engagement and particularly of the teacher pupil relationship is demonstrated. Its weakness is connected with its adherence to instrumentalism a form of rationality which is analysed and shown to be uncongenial to a domain of practice such as teaching. Claims that the model is value neutral are contested and some of its latent value commitments are exposed. Finally the context for a fuller philosophical interpretation and critique of the behavioural objectives approach is summarily indicated.