Educational Studies in Japan
Online ISSN : 2187-5286
Print ISSN : 1881-4832
ISSN-L : 1881-4832
Volume 3
Showing 1-8 articles out of 8 articles from the selected issue
Editorial
Special Issue: International Perspectives and Policies on Academic Achievement
  • Kanae NISHIOKA
    Type: Article
    2008 Volume 3 Pages 5-16
    Published: 2008
    Released: June 27, 2018
    JOURNAL FREE ACCESS
    This paper will shed some light on the current state of discussion of academic achievement in Japan and the issues associated with it. It will summarize the controversy regarding the significance of reading, writing, and arithmetic (3Rs); the relationship between mastery and inquiry; and the importance assigned to desire and attitude, while at the same time examining the image of academic achievement in the March 2008 reform of the National Courses of Study (NCS). Two camps have emerged regarding the 3Rs: the first sees the 3Rs as simple tools, while the second believes in establishing a conceptual understanding of the 3Rs as a foundation. The 2008 Revision of the NCS was influenced by both camps; however, effectively fostering literacy will require an approach that emphasizes the ideas of the latter. The controversy over the relationship between mastery and inquiry centers on the Period for Integrated Study (PFIS). The 2008 Revision of the NCS calls for the mastery and application of knowledge in subject classes, with inquiry during the PFIS. It calls for the development and use of performance tasks in the curriculum, with a view to achieving this framework. There are two conflicting views of desire and attitude: one claims that these support cognitive development, and the other claims that these develop along with cognitive development. The 2008 Revision of the NCS favors the former view, and threatens to pass on the responsibility for failure in academic achievement to children and their families. It is probably more appropriate to view desire and attitude as long-term goals that are nurtured through the overall curriculum. In order to realize these visions, it will be meaningful to learn the theory of Understanding by Design, advocated by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe.
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  • Hyun-Jeong PARK
    Type: Article
    2008 Volume 3 Pages 17-25
    Published: 2008
    Released: June 27, 2018
    JOURNAL FREE ACCESS
    In this paper, two nationwide assessments for elementary and secondary students' educational achievement in Korea were reviewed for their assessment frameworks and the overall results; the Diagnostic Test for Basic Skills (DTBS) of Grade 3 elementary students and the National Assessment of Educational Achievement (NAEA) for Grade 6, 9 and 10 students. Also, the results for Korea in two large-scale international comparison studies were reviewed; the Trends in International Mathematics & Science Study (TIMSS) and the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Finally, the author makes some suggestions for future research and policies on the student achievement from the Korean perspective.
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  • Kenichiro MIYAMOTO
    Type: Article
    2008 Volume 3 Pages 27-40
    Published: 2008
    Released: June 27, 2018
    JOURNAL FREE ACCESS
    Every state in the United States, under the NCLB act, has set state standards and is testing all students in grades 3-8. Students are given printed questions to which they write answers with a pencil on an answer sheet. These written tests are usually given to determine the academic achievements of students. This paper traces the early history of the written examination and the change in the meaning of "standards" from the middle of the 19th century to the early 20th century. Although the meaning of standards was ambiguous a century ago, by focusing on the written examination for promotion, we can investigate the meaning of standards at different points in time, i.e. what educators expected pupils to achieve at primary school. It has been stated that (1) the written examination for promotion has forced teachers to accept external standards given by educational administrators; (2) it has also widened the distance between examinations and regular class work, and (3) "standard" had approximately the same meaning as "norm" in the educational measurement movement in the early 20th century. However, we need to examine the works of educators such as Emerson E. White and Joseph Baldwin, who, in the late 19th and early 20th century, were opposed to written examinations for promotion, and tried connecting written examinations and regular class work. Frank McMurry insisted at the time that standards should be the means for improving the curriculum and instruction at schools. Educational measurement did not continue for a long time afterward, and was criticized by many educators, especially progressives. The standards movement arose in the 1980s, in the midst of heated controversy surrounding exambased testing that has lasted from the middle of the 20th century. Yet supporters of the standards movement are still struggling to solve the same problems that White, Baldwin, and McMurry tackled a century ago, most notably, how best to connect instruction and examination. The answer to this problem lies in unification of the two. Educators now possess various methods and media for connecting examination and instruction. However the early history of the standards movement implies that educators do not necessarily re-establish interaction and co-operation in class between themselves and pupils as long as academic achievements of children are compared with standards external to teachers. Instruction does not occur without participation of teachers in setting standards and aims of instruction.
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  • Kenneth K. WONG
    Type: Article
    2008 Volume 3 Pages 41-52
    Published: 2008
    Released: June 27, 2018
    JOURNAL FREE ACCESS
    The political landscape in school finance has undergone significant changes in the United States in recent years. It was only a generation ago that the state government assumed the primary funding responsibility in public schools, public agencies at the state and local level "monopolized" service delivery, and many reform initiatives did not consider student achievement as the key measure of accountability. In recent years, rising public demand for educational accountability has changed the political context. This paper will revisit the political underpinnings of school finance. The paper will discuss the policy tensions that are exemplified by several current issues, including the changing role of the federal government, outcome based accountability, and the emergence of adequacy in redefining funding equity in education. Discussions on these policy tensions will focus on the key actors, how decisions are made, and the issue of who gets what.
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  • Yuki AMAKI
    Type: Article
    2008 Volume 3 Pages 53-63
    Published: 2008
    Released: June 27, 2018
    JOURNAL FREE ACCESS
    Public school students in Japan must take English as a required subject for three years in junior high school and for three more years in senior high school. In spite of the amount of classroom time invested, and in spite of the available learning support services, the foreign Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) system included, the English proficiency level of Japanese students unfortunately continues to rank low in the world. The motivation for this study is to address the problem of low English performance in Japanese schools by soliciting the opinions of ALTs who have unique perspectives based on their experiences in both Japanese and foreign school situations. One of the issues that arises in consulting ALTs is that, in many cases, the level of oral English proficiency among staff English teachers in Japanese schools appears to be very low. This may contribute to what many ALTs consider a tendency among staff English teachers to rely excessively on Japanese when teaching English lessons, which can lead to a situation in which students as well neglect what should be an emphasis on developing speaking and listening skills in English. Speaking and listening skills are essential for Japanese students' social integration in a variety of international settings. This study examines the strengths and weaknesses of English education, and of staff English teachers in Japan, from the third person perspectives of ALTs. The 282 ALTs who responded to this survey came from 14 different countries. They offer valuable insight as to how the English education system might be improved in Japan. In our global age, English education should be evaluated by global standards.
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Article
  • Manabu SATO
    Type: Article
    2008 Volume 3 Pages 65-84
    Published: 2008
    Released: June 27, 2018
    JOURNAL FREE ACCESS
    Current Educational Reform in Japan is oddly captured with confused conceptions of "compulsory education." The Ministry of Education blankets such connotations of it, as a national budget system, mandated school curriculum, responsible partnership of school with community and accountabilities of local school board, in defense of vested national budget against decentralization promoted by prefectural governors. However, the extended usage of "problems of compulsory education" results in the confusion of educational policies. This is because the core issues of current reforms are not concerned about whether school education should be compulsory or not, but on the future design of the public education system. This paper displays some historical aspects of the concept of "compulsory education," in order to enlighten the reason why the issues of it are expanded and unclear. Indeed, most people have confused the concepts of "public education," "public school system," "general education," "compulsory education" and "national education." In pre-war days, the compulsory education system was not launched in the early stages of modernization, but in 1886, when the first educational minister, Arinori Mori, legally designed the public education (general education) system to be established in the nation state. His idea of the "compulsory education" was characteristic. Though it was legitimated by "national education" constructed with "general education" or "public education," its financial foundation was not based on a national budget but school fees were paid by parents. This system was reorganized just after his assassination. "Compulsory education" became a nationalistic regime through which people were educated to be loyal subjects and obedient to the nation. At this point, the national budget system obtained its legitimacy for the foundation of national education. In postwar reform, the legitimacy of "compulsory education" was placed on education as a human right under the renewed constitution, connecting it with the human right to live, while most people have not recognized its significance. Thus, the concept of "compulsory education" is a puzzle in contemporary debates of educational reform. This paper explores the complicated relationship of "compulsory education" to the national budget system, through rethinking about the historical process of the public education system in Japan.
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