The limitations and possibilities of school-level curriculum evaluation

  • Diana McConachy

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    This study emanates from a concern about social injustice. I
    believe that a number of people in our society, by virtue of their
    race, gender or class, are disadvantaged in the distribution of
    wealth and privilege. Some people have suggested that schools
    contribute to the maintenance and reproduction of this situation
    because, in various ways, they replicate inequitable social,
    political and economic arrangements. I accept this claim and argue
    that any attempt to improve schooling must focus on the social,
    economic and political outcomes of education, as well as on
    curricular, pedagogical and administrative concerns.
    In this study one recent attempt to improve Australian
    education, the move to school-level curriculum evaluation, is
    examined to ascertain if it represents a challenge to existing
    school practices and the beliefs and assumptions which underpin
    these. Dominant ideological orientations to improvement are
    examined and their key features and assumptions delineated. Because
    I believe that these exclude any consideration of the relationship
    between school knowledge and the distribution of power and privilege
    within society, an attempt is made to reconceptualize school-level
    curriculum evaluation in a way that will permit teachers to unpack
    what schools do socially, politically and economically. Theories of
    cultural and economic reproduction and the work of Freire are drawn
    on to help with this task.
    Evaluation policy statements and guidelines and examples of
    evaluation practice are then analysed in terms of dominant and
    reconceptualized notions of evaluation. What emerges is that
    although many of these are engulfed by dominant and limiting
    ideologies, school-level curriculum may be reconceptualized in a way
    that will permit the penetration and contestation of dominant
    practices and beliefs and thereby will offer educators a possible
    means of addressing problems of social injustice.
    Date of Award1983
    Original languageEnglish

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