Matching Items (3)

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Arizona's mature education market: how school and community stakeholders make meaning of school choice policies

Description

School choice reforms such as charter schools, vouchers, open enrollment, and private and public school tax credit donation programs have expanded throughout the United States over the past twenty years.

School choice reforms such as charter schools, vouchers, open enrollment, and private and public school tax credit donation programs have expanded throughout the United States over the past twenty years. Arizona’s long-standing public school choice system enrolls a higher percentage of public school students in charter schools than any state besides Washington D.C. A growing number of Arizona’s charter schools are managed by for-profit and nonprofit Education Management Organizations (EMOs). Advocates of school choice argue that free-market education approaches will make public schools competitive and nimble as parents’ choices place pressures on schools to improve or close. This, then, improves all schools: public, private, and charter. Critics are concerned that education markets produce segregation along racial and social class lines and inequalities in educational opportunities, because competition favors advantaged parents and children who can access resources. Private and for-profit schools may see it in their interest to exclude students who require more support. School choice programs, then, may further marginalize students who live in poverty, who receive special education services, and English language learners.

We do not fully understand how Arizona’s mature school choice system affects parents and other stakeholders in communities “on the ground.” That is, how are school policies understood and acted out? I used ethnographic methods to document and analyze the social, cultural, and political contexts and perspectives of stakeholders at one district public school and in its surrounding community, including its charter schools. I examined: (a) how stakeholders perceived and engaged with schools; (b) how stakeholders understood school policies, including school choice policies; and (c) what influenced families’ choices.

Findings highlight how most stakeholders supported district public schools. At the same time, some “walked the line” between choices that were good for their individual families and those they believed were good for public schools and society. Stakeholders imagined “community” and “accountability” in a range of ways, and they did not all have equal access to policy knowledge. Pressures related to parental accountability in the education market were apparent as stakeholders struggled to make, and sometimes revisit, their choices, creating a tenuous schooling environment for their families.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2017

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Ready or not: student perceptions of the college readiness binary and Arizona Move on When Ready

Description

In 2010, the Arizona Legislature established a performance-based diploma initiative known as Move On When Ready (MOWR). The policy relies on an education model designed to evaluate students' college and

In 2010, the Arizona Legislature established a performance-based diploma initiative known as Move On When Ready (MOWR). The policy relies on an education model designed to evaluate students' college and career readiness by measuring their academic ability to succeed in the first credit-bearing course in community college. Move On When Ready is a structurally oriented, qualification system that attempts to attain a relatively narrow goal: increase the number of students able to successfully perform at a college-level academic standard. By relying on a set of benchmarked assessments to measure success and failure, MOWR propagates a categorical binary. The binary establishes explicit performance criteria on a set of examinations students are required to meet in order to earn a high school qualification that, by design, certifies whether students are ready or not ready for college.

This study sought to reveal how students’ perceptions of the policy and schooling in general affect their understanding of the concept of college readiness and the college readiness binary and to identify factors that help formulate those perceptions. This interpretivist, qualitative study relied on analysis of multiple face-to-face interviews with students to better understand how they think and act within the context of Move On When Ready, paying particular attention to students from historically vulnerable minority subgroups (e.g., the Latina (a)/Hispanic sub-population) enrolled in two schools deploying the MOWR strategy.

Findings suggest that interviewed students understand little about MOWR's design, intent or implications for their future educational trajectories. Moreover, what they believe is generally misinformed, regardless of aspiration, socio-cultural background, or academic standing. School-based sources of messaging (e.g., teachers and administrators) supply the bulk of information to students about MOWR. However, in these two schools, the flow of information is constricted. In addition, the information conveyed is either distorted by message mediators or misinterpreted by the students. The data reveal that formal and informal mediators of policy messages influence students’ engagement with the policy and affect students’ capacity to play an active role in determining the policy’s effect on their educational outcomes.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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Native American history instruction in an urban context: an exploration of policy, practice, and Native American experience

Description

This study examines the genesis, practice, and Native experiences of stakeholders with two Arizona kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) statute that mandate instruction of Native American history. The research questions

This study examines the genesis, practice, and Native experiences of stakeholders with two Arizona kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) statute that mandate instruction of Native American history. The research questions relate to the original intent of the policies, implementation in urban school districts, how Native American parents experienced Native American history in their own education and their aspirations for this type of instruction in their children's education. Lomawaima and McCarty's (2006) safety zone theory was utilized to structure and analyze data. Critical Indigenous Research Methodologies (CIRM) (Brayboy, Gough, Leonard, Roehl, & Solym, 2012; Smith, 2012) was used in this interpretive policy analysis and phenomenological research study. Interviews were conducted with policymakers, a department of education official, urban school district personnel, and Native American parents with children in the pertinent school districts. Data included in-depth interview and legislative committee meeting transcripts, artifacts including bill versions, summaries and fact sheets, school board manuals, and the state social studies standards. The findings indicate that the intent of the statutes was to foster a better understanding among students (and hence, the state's citizenry) leading toward reciprocal government-to-government relationships between tribal nations and non-tribal governments. Teaching sovereignty and self-determination were fundamental. Although the school-based participants had limited knowledge of the policies, the district personnel believed they implemented the mandates because the state social studies standards were utilized to frame instruction. However, the 45 social studies standards related to Native Americans focus on extinct (referred to as historic in the standards) Native societies. The social studies standards ignore contemporary tribal nations and are thus inefficacious in supporting the goal of a better understanding of sovereignty, or in supporting Native American self-determination. The Native parent participants defied stereotypical images; they were involved in their children's educational attainment and were reintroducing cultural and tribal capital. Recommendations include allocating funds to support implementation of the policies at the local school and state levels, establishing culturally responsive curriculum that recognizes and promotes tribal nations and tribal sovereignty, and strengthening relationships between tribal nations, school districts, and the state department of education.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014