Outcomes approaches to assessment: comparing non-government and government case-study schools in Western Australia

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Abstract

A key feature of recent curriculum reform in post-industrialised liberal economies hasbeen the ascendancy of outcomes-based education policies. A 1995 review conducted inWestern Australia (WA) recommended an outcomes-based approach, and in response,the Curriculum Framework (CF) was released in 1998. The same year, the WA Stategovernment mandated that all schools, both non-government and government,demonstrate compliance with the outcomes-based CF for Years K–10 by 2004. Thisarticle compares case-studies of non-government and government schools in analysingassessment and reporting issues in relation to the enactment of outcomes-basedcurriculum policy in the mid-2000s. With significantly different localised contexts,including different degrees of institutional autonomy and different approaches tocurriculum, assessment and reporting, interesting contrasts and commonalities arose aseach school engaged with the new policy. The research draws on a hybrid approach topolicy analysis, incorporating both critical theory and post-structuralism with theirdifferent conceptualisations of power relationships. In-depth semi-structured interviewswere conducted to examine and analyse the views of participants at each site. Althoughthere is no intention to generalise from individual case-studies, cross-case analysisreveals the emergence of meta-level themes – such as market choice, accountability andteacher professionalism – which are associated with ‘bigger picture’ issues of power andwhich may well provide insights for explorations of curriculum reform in other contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-175
JournalThe Curriculum Journal
Volume19
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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