Recent trends in school evaluation and education policy evaluations are reviewed, and the following points are noted by way of introduction to the special issue. 1. Within the framework of administrative reform under New Public Management, education has been placed in a complex position, being both an object of the market mechanism and an object of evaluation. 2. It is not a simple matter to evaluate how far the ultimate objectives of education have been attained, and it is particularly difficult to measure the outcome (impact on society) of an educational system. It is also difficult to isolate the outcome of the policy. On the other hand, though it is easy toevaluate education according to readily available numerical data, to do so would be biased. 3. Applying the ideas of the framework of Japanese industrial policy on the future course of competition in higher education, educational diversity is desirable for the vitalization of the higher education market. This is expected to give rise to innovations in the field of education, but these results would become proprietary knowledge, belonging to their developers. The challenges to be addressed from now on are noted below. 1. Evaluations and the market mechanism are means, which presuppose a grand design for Japan's educational system as a whole. Education is a public good, some areas of which are better not left to the market mechanism. At the same time, evaluation and the market are expected to help vitalize Japanese education and make it more efficient. 2. Evaluations and operation of the market require cost and labor, without which appropriate management cannot be expected. It also is a specialized activity, and requires the training of specialists. What is particularly needed is an arrangement under which school evaluations at the elementary and secondary level are supported by specialized evaluators. 3. School evaluations and the evaluation of educational policy are still at a developing stage in the rest of the world as well. There is a need for researchand development initiatives to improve evaluation methods.
The recent educational reform in developed countries is not an isolated phenomenon. Education reform is pursued as a part of a broader reform, which attempts to transform the welfare state into a post welfare state. The term, New Public Management (NPM), seems to be a keyword here and is used by the OECD, IMF, WB, etc., as if it is a universal standard. However we should not overlook the fact that NPM was developed as a part of the strategies of the Quality Assurance State (QAS) that emerged from Thatcherism in the UK. The strategies of the QAS in the UK are hybrid. There are old-fashioned regulations, direct state interventions and funding system as well as NPM. It is dangerous to understand a whole reform in terms of NPM alone. It is also dangerous to ignore the historical and cultural as well as political and social contexts of the English situation from which the QAS was born. Under the QAS, the main features of reforms are the use of market mechanisms, standards and evaluations (especially evaluations of performance), and the State has the power to set them at the first place. However, if we look back at the facts in 1860s in England, we note that there are two useful examples of a quasi-market in education. One is so-called “Payment by results” in the Revised Code of 1862, at the level of compulsory education. The market mechanism there has two effects: maintaining educational standards and giving incentives for schools and teachers. Another example is the strategies adopted by the Headmaster Conference (HMC). In order to prevent state intervention, it introduced its own quality assurance mechanisms: external examinations held by universities, along with its own inspection system. Under the QAS, civil society also has opportunities to challenge the dominant discourses of standards and evaluation, because they are “open.” In other words, the QAS is a state that questions the power of civil society.
This paper discusses the features of the Japanese and US educational assessment systems, analyzing the systems of university entrance exams and national educational surveys. 1. Educational Assessment as a Linkage of High Schools and Universities. As a result of the expansion of higher education, both Japan and the U. S. have faced the same articulation issue: the need for systems that are suitable for the phase of mass education. In the United States, for example, a guidance-type admission test (ACT) was introduced four decades ago to complement the conventional selection-type admission test (SAT). The new test has contributed to the efficiency of selection and placement processes, but has not enhanced students' motivation. Improving their academic abilities in their preparations for colleges still remains as an important issue. Japan, on the other hand, has introduced the policy of “the diversification of an entrance examination” as a specific remedy in recent years, in order to cool off exam hell, a major complication of the “diploma society.” However, this new trial was not successful, in that it not only expanded the mismatch between admissions requirements and university education, but has also had ramifications for the high school curricula. 2. National Survey of Educational Achievement as a Tool for Educational Support National educational surveys basically provide us with materials for considering the current reality of educational achievements and future prospects. With technological progress, however, we can combine various kinds of achievement test data in different settings, through the data scale of the national educational survey. This makes it possible to measure and compare achievement scores among different areas within one country, as well as among two or more countries. Furthermore, this plan may contribute to the development of new articulation systems between high schools and universities in the U.S. in the near future. The proposal to restart a national education survey was also recently proposed in Japan, but the purpose is restricted to data collection concerning educational achievement and school assessment. The result shows that Japan and the U. S. have different traditions of the educational assessment research and different social environments. In particular, there is a clear difference in the independence of evaluation organizations and in the autonomy of an evaluation system. It also tells us of the importance of separating schools and administration/evaluation agencies, in order to maintain the objectivity and freedom of choices of evaluation systems. For this reason, the U.S. has been able to continue to hold educational assessments.
A government bill introducing third party evaluations of Japanese universities was enacted by the Diet in November 2002. According to the new law, all universities and colleges, national and public, and even private, have the obligation to undergo third party evaluations as well as self-studies by assessment or accreditation agents, which must be recognized by the Minister of Education and Science. The reasons why the third party evaluation was proposed include: widespread mistrust in the quality of self study and disappointments in the effectiveness to self-reform by individual institutions, the government's intention to make the evaluation more useful for the purpose of resource allocation, and the deregulation policy that emphasizes a shift from a pre-checking to a more post-assessment system. However, more fundamentally, it was based on the demands from the government, industry, and political world that universities should become more efficient and dynamic social institutions, as integrated entities of research (=creation of knowledge), teaching (=transmission of knowledge), and service (=application of knowledge), in order to introduce competition and market mechanisms. Even the Central Council for Education, an advisory body to the Minister of Education, which is expected to reflect the opinion of the educational community, also expressed the same standpoint, faithfully reflecting these outside opinions. It must be a Japanese characteristic that most of the individual universities and higher education associations have few clear statements regarding the quality assurance problem, despite the fact that this should be the prime responsibility of universities themselves. There are serious questions regarding how to tackle this challenge for higher education circles, which have been comparatively underdeveloped in theory and methods of evaluation.
Many countries including Japan have promoted radical education reforms guided by neo-liberal and quasi-market ideas. But no appropriate evidence has been provided to show their validity and effectiveness. They are promoted by ideological preferences and in the populistic political atmosphere. Given this situation, this paper first identifies some major features of the following five quasi-market models; simple school choice, education voucher, alternative schools, charter school, and school management by for-profit company. The aspects examined are the institutional idea, framework of school choice, school budget, school management system, freedom from government control, form of parent participation, and the influence of each model over the whole education system. Secondly, the paper discusses the five major problems that are neglected in their arguments and will damage the public education system.(1) Due to the fact that school is an institutional good, school choice will differentiate schools both substantially and relatively on such evaluation criteria as academic success, school safety and social attributes of students and neighborhood atmosphere of each school.(2) Due to the fact that school is a collective and unfinished (or half-finished) good at the time of choosing and entering, the school performance and its evaluation depend on the students who are recruited to each school, and accordingly, school choice differentiates schools in terms of students' and their parents' attributes.(3) Under the system of alternative school, charter school or for-profit management school, school choice and other privileged conditions applies only for those schools and their clients, and accordingly, those schools should be recognized as ones for the privileged small number of students. It should be also recognized that if these systems spread widely, then the utility of their privileges will diminish and various problems intrinsic to school choice will also spread.(4) School choice ideas put a prior value on institutional choice, while neglecting the importance of practical choices within each school as well as the fact that someone's freedom of institutional choice restricts the range of the other's.(5) Deregulation of government control and the accountability requirement will result in the rise of market control and other type of government control for quality assurance like the school inspection by quasi-public agency and testing of achievement standards. Under the system of school choice, parents are likely to behave as consumers/claimers rather than organizational members who should cooperate in the process of finishing their un-finished goods. Finally, the paper suggests that all of these will become seriously problematic in the country like Japan where the levels of equal opportunity, efficiency of schooling and parents' concerns of school ranking are high.
In Japan, municipal boards of education evaluate public school teachers, who are local public servants, under plans set by the prefectural boards of education. All of the prefectural boards of education enacted this teacher evaluation sysytem about 45 years ago, but in 2000 Tokyo abolished this system (System I) and adopted a new performance appraisal system (System II). This paper aimed to extract the characteristic and the problem by examining each policy process about System I and System II. For the categorization of the policy process, two models are adopted from the results of research by Michio Muramatsu. One is the vertical administrative management model, followed by unitary influence. The other is the horizontal political competing model, followed by multi influence. The following conclusions were obtained. It is the common feature seen in System I and System II that original motive was not from only educational matters and the prefectural board of education did not accomplish the policy making duty due to the educational bureaucrat including the superintendent. It can be confirmed that the teacher evaluation policy is shifting from the vertical administrative management model to the horizontal political competing model. It was found during the decision process of System II that an administrative staff exercised individual influence power without being buried in bureaucracy. The teacher policy of the prefectural board of education starts on a new evaluation policy though the policy assessment of a present evaluation system is not passed. It is necessary to evaluate the teacher evaluation policy from the viewpoint of offering suitable and good quality teaching to the student.
In 2002, cumulative guidance records in elementary and junior high schools were revised along with the new course of study, which was designed to develop a “zest for living” so that students can learn and think by themselves. The purpose of this paper is to clarify the implementation process of educational reform under the influence of social and political dynamics, by studying evaluation behaviors in junior high schools, which are now in a transition period, and to examine its consequences. The main data were gathered through interviews at elementary and junior high schools in Tokyo, from October to November 2002. The main point of the new records is that students are evaluated based on absolute evaluations instead of traditional relative ones. Before the revision, teachers evaluated their students with relative evaluations, based mainly on examination scores. Under the new system, however, they have to rate the abilities of their students with absolute evaluation from various viewpoints, and to submit a “comprehensive evaluation, ” aimed at “evaluating achievement of students more properly.” Before discussing whether the new system has enabled “more appropriate evaluations, ” it is necessary to understand the mechanisms preventing the idealistic realization of educational reform in schools and to study their social consequences from various aspects. By investigating the implementation process of the new evaluation system in junior high school, the following conclusions were made: (1) Students and their parents, who have been sensitive to school recommendations, demand teachers strict procedure for evaluations. In addition, local governments have tended to adopt a policy trend of “school evaluations” which asks schools for more accountability. Those have forced teachers to carry out “evaluations for accountability” to satisfy the gaze of “an unspecified number of the general public.” For this reason, teachers are spending much time scoring students' exam results and daily activities from a variety of points. (2) The above behavior by teachers holds the risk of pushing the development of action and ability of their students in the classroom in a certain direction. For example, many students tend to adopt a kind of “action standard, ” which is far from the development of understanding in each subject, such as submitting homework just to get higher evaluations, and not for the better understanding of subjects. (3) The introduction of absolute evaluation has caused differences in evaluation standard among schools, leading to an undermining of the reliability of school recommendations. As a result, “evaluations” in junior high schools have been decoupled with entrance examinations for high schools. Under this circumstance, the social function of schools is also changing. Lastly, I suggest that this attempt at reading the social and political dynamics in the process of implementing educational reform is an effective and vital measure for heightening reflectivity on the reform.
Recently, Japanese schools are increasingly employing clinical psychologists as school counselors. This increase is generally understood as reflecting a characteristic trend of present society that emphasizes psychological reasoning in everyday life. On the other hand, however, clinical psychologists have not been accepted in hospitals as successfully as in schools. The purpose of this paper is to search for the key factor behind the increase in clinical psychologists in changes of clinical psychology itself, especially its “knowledge” and “scientific principles.” Forty-five textbooks published in post-war Japan were analyzed. It was found that a remarkable change of scientific principles in clinical psychology occurred in the 1970s. Most of the textbooks published before 1970 emphasized the importance of objectivity. However, therapists could not completely exclude subjectivity from their practices because of the face-to-face relationship with their clients. This dilemma was resolved through the introduction of a new perspective in clinical psychology, which simultaneously emphasizes both subjectivity and objectivity. Clinical psychologists applying this perspective believed that therapists could reach universal objectivity through subjectivity. After the 1970s, this belief came to prevail in clinical psychology and to support the practice of therapists. Generally speaking, the change of principles has led clinical psychologists to construct more “soft facts, ” which Latour, the French anthropologist of science, defined as facts with less resources for persuasion. This transformation to “soft facts” from “hard facts” may be a contributing factor to the increase of clinical psychologists in schools. First, by constructing “soft facts” instead of “hard facts, ” clinical psychologists became able to conduct counseling at school without strictly controlling the conditions for it. Second, by emphasis “soft facts” rather than “hard facts, ” the practice of therapists becomes more easily approved by schoolteachers, who have the same orientation. From this point, some differences between schools and hospitals are considered.
C. Wright Mills once criticized Lazarsfeld's work as abstracted empiricism. I understand the current state of the sociology of education in Japan as resembling this kind of empiricism. We want the sociology of education to be policy science or applied science, and empirical data, especially numerical values, seem to be useful. However, inside of the field of sociology, sociologists are divided according to their methodologies, so there is no common language or communication method. If they insist on one methodology, especially statistics or multivariate analysis, they will lose sight of the linkage between the empirical data and sociological theory, or forget the sociological significance for using that type of method. In addition, they may make statistical errors because the packages (for example, SPSS) enable people who do not understand statistical theory or are poor at mathematics to use statistical methods, and statistical methods have improved rapidly. Incidentally, sociologists who want sociology to be a policy science take some risk. Sociological data seem to be objective and scientific. If they want sociology to be useful, sociology will be influenced by power because power decides the criterion for usefulness. Ideologies always try to take advantage of objective and scientific data and theory. Furthermore, sociological knowledge, which seems to be objective and scientific, influences social conditions, sometimes changes people's actions and causes self-fulfilling prophecies. We sociologist must always be conscious of that kind of problem.
This article describes some practical strategies in interactions to cope with problems arising in schoolgirl friendships, from the perspective of conversation analysis. When a problem occurs in interactions among friends, how do school children tackle the problem by themselves? The purpose of this study is, by showing concrete and detailed ways of dealing with problems in interactions, to point to the possibilities for clinical studies on education. The specific problem in friendships is that the members of the schoolgirl's group leave a member out of the group in conversation. From the perspective of conversation analysis, this problem in interactions can be regarded as “absence of an answer”. This is a definite phenomenon. And the way to solve this problem is simple and clear. In short, unless the speaker requests an answer, the absence of an answer cannot be generated in conversations. Based on this fact, the schoolgirl can talk in cooperation with the other members of the group, using other utterances that do not request an answer. As an example, one can use the utterance device of “collaboration of a single sentence”. With this device, the schoolgirl opens a space in hers own utterance in the way so that the other members may enter into the space voluntarily to continue the rest of that single sentence. Of course, practical strategies to cope with various problems in friendships are actually observed in fieldwork. When children are confronted with a problem, they manage to deal with it. The fact that practical ways that are not entirely explored are realized through objective descriptions is a significance of clinical study.
In modern society, children are expected to enroll in college immediately after graduation from high school, stay in the college for four years, and then find employment after graduation. However, in recent years this conventional educational career has been becoming less prevalent. An increasing proportion of youths spend extra years before entering college, or sometimes even after entering college step out of college and then later reenroll. These emerging unconventional behaviors are closely linked with the advent of the “universalization” of higher education. While this phenomenon has become salient in Japan in recent years, a precedent can be found in the United States in the past three decades. From this perspective, the changes in educational careers are analyzed based on the High School and Beyond data. The analysis finds the following:(1) An increasing number of individuals show deviant educational careers from the conventional pattern.(2) While deviant educational careers, and the underlying behavioral characteristics in choosing educational and careers alternatives, are less prevalent among children from wealthier families with higher social status, a significant numbers of children from those families follow the deviant pattern.(3) The new participants in higher education have significantly different mechanisms of choices with respect to unconventional careers. These findings indicate that the educational careers of youth in the age of universalization cannot be analyzed adequately in terms of the simple dichotomous choice between enrollment and non-enrollment. It also points to the need for a higher education system that can adapt to these changes in behavior.