The concept of ‘Standards’ has been featuring more and more in recent education policy in Japan. Many kinds of ‘standards’ are being set to control educational processes and reframe teachers’ professional expertise.
‘Standards’ in Japan usually comprise lists, matrixes, and rubrics as official documents that are prescribed by governments and/or schools. They, for instance, tell teachers how to structure every lesson, dictate how to discipline students’ behaviour, or define the teachers’ standard competences required for each age group. As they tend to cover the relationships between teachers, students, and parents, it seems to be the case that they even regulate accordingly how students and families should be.
This trend has to do with the growing effect of a PDCA cycle that has prevailed throughout the country. Under the New Public Management regime, the central government is supposed to be legitimated to set national objectives for education, to delegate their implementation to local governments, schools and teachers, and to hold them accountable for producing appropriate outcomes. The celebrated technology in this regime is the PDCA cycle. It requires each local government and school to create their ‘Plans’ reflecting on the higher-level government / institution, and to make their educational processes more effective. Because the ‘Plan’ is unquestionable in this regime, PDCA allows local governments and schools only to ask students and teachers to perform in a ‘Planned’ i.e. a predicted and predetermined way. We can understand the rapid rise of ‘standards’ as a representation of the desire for more predictability, shaped by the threat of PDCA.
Meanwhile, standardisation has also had a considerable effect on the Anglo American education systems. This trend covers a range of education reforms such as the following -- i) more emphasis on the learning outcomes assessed by testing ; ii) endogenous privatisation that is forcing schools to act more like businesses with discrete dichotomy of failing or successful schools and/or teachers ; iii) exogenous privatisation from outsourcing teaching materials, selling/buying school improvement strategies, through to inviting private bodies to operate schools ; and iv) de-professionalisation that remakes the teaching expertise as a production process of appropriate data.
As we can see, there are divergences and parallels between Japan and Anglo-American countries. I characterised the Japanese version of standardisation as ‘governing by templates’, compared with the Anglo-American version of standardisation as ‘governing by data’ with more emphasis on evidence and corporatisation. At the same time, mutual undermining of professionalism and democracy has been replicated, placing far more importance on external standards. I also added a caveat that ‘governing by templates’ and ‘governing by data’ are not mutually exclusive. With more emphasis being put upon ‘evidence-based policy making’ in Japan, I asserted that we need rather to focus on the complicated nature of the interactive effect of them.
The purpose of this paper is to : ⑴ identify the “Standards” at the national level in the Basic Plan for Promoting Education ; ⑵ clarifying changes of the “Standards” at the national level from the 1st term to 3rd terms of the Basic Plan for Promoting Education ; and ⑶ comparing the standards between elementary / secondary education levels and post-secondary education level, to identify the advantages and disadvantages of the “Standards” at the national level in the Basic Plan for Promoting Education.
The Basic Plan for Promoting Education (2008-2012, 2013-2017, 2018-2022) are used as text data, applying the text mining approach. The research results are summarized as follows. ⑴ Section 3 clarifies that there are three types of the “Standards” at the national level in the Basic Plan for Promoting Education (“Law” type, “Guide line” type, and “Index type”) Next identified are the “Index” type of “Standards” at the national level, which represents the national goals of education in a numerical manner, as research objects for section 5 & 6. ⑵ There were huge changes in “Index” type of “Standards” at the national level in both quantitative and qualitative ways from 2008-2012 to 2013-2017, and also 2013-2017 to 2018-2022. ⑶ The “Index” type of “Standards” at the national level were introduced to the Basic Plan for Promoting Education a bit further into elementary / secondary education levels than the post-secondary education level.
The “Index” type of “Standards” at the national level may have advantages for promoting some national goals of education, for example the student test scores. At the same time, they have numerous problems : ⑴ inadequate definition of the index problem, ⑵ unstable index problem, ⑶ vague responsible actor problem for index, ⑷ legal compatibility of index, ⑸ integrity among indices, ⑹ validity and reliability of the index, and ⑺ data and statistics for the index.
Even though there are many problems in terms of “Standards” at the national level, educational administration research must face and overcome these problems in order to improve the quality of education.
In recent years, the concept of “classroom standards” has been in widespread use in school education. However, there has been criticism that the standards are likely to undermine the professional autonomy and to impede the professional development of teachers. The purpose of this article is to clarify the actual conditions of the process of making these standards and the way of using them, and to consider the meaning and future issues related to standardization.
In this article, first, I describe the characteristics of implementing standards and review some arguments about the standards. Second, I take up two cases. One is the case in which a prefectural board of education collaborated with a university in teacher training in addition to creating and unfurling the standards. The other is a teacher organization which set the standards at both the city level and the school level. Finally, I discuss the meaning and future issues related to the standards from the perspective of the theory of street-level bureaucrats and the concept of local knowledge.
Findings from the two cases reveal that the classroom standards can be utilized effectively instead of merely applying the standard to a class without consideration of the educational problems specific to each school, children’s different needs and learning conditions. In the former case, the teacher training in which a team composed of young teachers and senior teachers “think through” a lesson design contributed to enhancing the ability to plan and develop lessons autonomously and to carry out organizational lesson improvement. In the latter case, representative teachers from each public primary and secondary school in the city engaged in the process of setting the standards at city level, and each schools made supplementary standards based on the city level standards. This shows that they can use the standards in the context of the actual situation at their schools under the teaching profession.
The adoption of the standards presents issues concerning discretion and control over professionalism. On a relevant note, I discuss the meaning and issues related to the standards from the perspective of street-level bureaucrats and local knowledge. First, the standards can reduce an environmental factors trigger “client domination” by street-level bureaucrats. Secondly, in applying the standard, teachers as street-level bureaucrats can have a function in policy making. At that time, thirdly, in the context of expecting “evidence-based policy and practice in education”, it is important that teachers’ local knowledge is verbalized and translated into explicit knowledge, and furthermore is accumulated as academic knowledge.
In Japan, the textbooks used in compulsory education are selected regionally, which means that the same textbooks are used in all the compulsory education schools in the same area. This rule was established in the Act on Free Distribution of Textbooks for Compulsory Education Schools (Act No. 182 of 1963) in order to reduce the price of the textbooks and to reduce the strain on public finance, but when this Act was enacted, the regional selection had been a fait accompli. Before then, it is clear that the regional selection in compulsory education became a policy of the Ministry of Education by a report from the Central Council for Education (the CCE) on December 5, 1955,“Kyokasho-seido-no-kaizen-ni-kansuru-tosin (Report on reforming the textbook system)”. However, the report does not clarify why the regional selection became a policy or a means to reduce the strain on public finance at a later time. Based on the above, we need to assess the policy-making process of the regional selection in 1955, taking into account the relationship between textbook selection and public finance, especially the free distribution of textbooks. Therefore, this paper clarifies the decision-making process of trying to enact the regional selection in compulsory education, through analyzing the background of submitting questions to the CCE, deliberations at the CCE in 1955, and the adoption or rejection of the bills at the 24th session of the National Diet in 1956, in terms of the relationships between the regional selection and a financial problem.
The conclusion of this paper is as follows. There were some reasons for adopting the regional selection in 1955, and two of them were important. From the educational point of view, in addition to the pretext to promote studying textbooks jointly, it was a fact that schools in the countryside did not have enough teachers to select textbooks separately. On the other hand, from the economic and financial point of view, there was an intention to reduce the educational expense of parents through lowering the cost of textbooks by means of selecting them regionally. Especially in this regard, the Ministry of Education had to take action on higher textbook price by some means. However, the Ministry of Finance opposed completely free distribution of textbooks for compulsory education, but approved free distribution to those in financial difficulties. Then, at the CCE, the administrators of the local board of education also required the free distribution to those in financial difficulties, and this suggestion appeared to be critical for the decision making. Consequently, the Ministry of Education had no choice but to adopt the limited free distribution and the regional selection in order to cope with the problem of textbook prices. In this way, following the report, the bill on textbooks, which included the regional selection, and the bill on the free distribution of textbooks for needy students in elementary school, which became the current act on the financial assistance for the encouragement of the attendance at school of the needy students in compulsory education (Act No.40 of 1956), were made and presented to the 24th session of the National Diet. Paying attention to this fact, adopting the regional selection system in compulsory education in the policy package at this point was more significant for reducing parents’ burdens than controlling educational contents. In that sense, the CCE’s decision in 1955 was a critical juncture in defining the free distribution policy of textbooks as the policy of making parents’ burden less. Namely, it could be regarded as not only the beginning of the free distribution of textbooks up to the present but also the point of fixing the course of the policy on the encouragement of attendance at school.
The purpose of this paper is to clarify the characteristics of the Experimental Schools System (ESS) by analyzing the process of establishing it. In particular, this paper focuses on the period from 1971 to 1976. In 1971, the Central Council for Education (Chuo Kyoiku Shingikai) proposed the ‘pilot projects’ (Sendoteki Shiko) in the 1971 report (46 Toshin) . According to previous studies, the ‘pilot projects’ were not implemented. On the other hand, the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture (MESSC/Mombusho) showed that the ESS was based on the ‘pilot projects’. In this paper, I aimed to explain why and how the ESS was realized.
The main findings of this paper are as follows :
1) The ESS was implemented by the idea of ‘pilot projects’. Immediately after 46 Toshin was released, the ‘pilot projects’ received positive feedback. In this process, a new organization (Office for the Educational Experimental Schools/Kyoiku kenkyu kaihatsu shitsu) for the ‘pilot projects’ was established, which discussed how to begin the project. However, the project was in danger of not being implemented because of conflicts inside and outside of MESSC.
In 1972, the organization added the ‘new curriculum’ to the themes for development. Then they implemented the ESS as the project that developed a new curriculum including the school system. For example, the theme of the project was cooperating with junior high schools, elementary schools or high schools. The ESS was implemented as a trial experiment with the curriculum, not for the reform of the educational system. The reason is that it permits educational experiments across schools while maintaining the established school system. It also permits the use of the existing provision (Enforcement Regulations for the School Education Law Article 26-2) as a curriculum experiment. As mentioned above, the ESS was introduced while avoiding conflict with ‘pilot projects’.
2) The ESS has characteristics inherited from the ‘pilot projects’. The idea of ‘pilot projects’, that is ‘consistent education’ and/or ‘segment’ was changed to ‘cooperation’ with each school in the ESS. Thereby, the option of school system reform remained. The purpose of the ESS is experiments with the curriculum as well as experiments with the school system.
The purpose of this paper is to clarify the concept of the School Attendee Allowance before the enactment of the Old Public Assistance Act focusing on the relation between the free compulsory education scheme and public assistance system.
The Findings of this study are as follows;
Firstly, there is continuity between the pre-war and post-war School Attendee Allowance programs in the point that the Ministry of Education discussed the items of the School Attendee Allowance under the recognition of the necessity of help for the economically distressed households. However there existed a gap in the fact that free School Attendee Allowance was considered in the post war plan. Since in the discussions in the early post-war period, the possibility of change of expenses was suggested, the Free Compulsory Education scheme and School Attendee Allowance program might not be thought to be unchangeable.
Secondly, the principle of equal opportunity in education after World War II was inseparably linked to the Social Security system. Therefore the Ministry of Education had thought that the security of children’s livelihood was indispensable to ensure the right to education, and thus it designed the School Attendee Allowance program. However, in the end the program came to a standstill because of tight national finance and the unification of various social security schemes under one Public Assistance System.
Thirdly, the integration of the School Attendee Allowance program into the Public Assistance System was one of the factors which helped to facilitate the separation of school expenses from Public Livelihood Assistance. Consequently the content of aid for school expenses was more or less improved. Therefore the School Attendee Allowance program might contribute to enriching the educational side of Livelihood Assistance. However the aid for educational expense as Public Assistance was insufficient due to a poor basis for calculating and limited target by disqualification. It can be said that the insufficiency of the Public Assistance program made the Ministry of Education aim at reinstitutionalization of the School Attendee Allowance program.
This paper aims to reveal how much expenditure could be cut through school consolidations at the city level.
Many studies on education analyze school consolidations from diverse standpoints, such as the population reduction problem, school size, local finance, the relationship between boards of education and local residents, commuting distance, and educational outcome, among others. This paper focuses specifically on the effect of school consolidation on local finance. There are two problems with previous research studies. First, they analyze financial data compiled by municipalities. From this position, it is not clear how much expenditure could be cut by reducing one school at a time. Second, the financial conditions after school consolidation were not revealed. To reveal the effect of school consolidations on local finance, it is necessary to analyze financial data before and after school consolidation.
To solve these problems, this paper conducted two analyses. First, it analyzed the change in expenditure in the schools’ financial data before and after school consolidation. Through the use of school financial data, we can determine the change in expenditure for each school that is consolidated. Second, it analyzed the decrease in tax allocations to local governments by calculating basic financial needs. It then compared expenditure reduction and revenue reduction, and determined if the former was higher than the latter. This paper concludes that school consolidation results in expenditure reduction.
To conduct this analysis, this paper focuses on Yokohama City, which publishes financial data on each school’s homepage. However, since the publishing years of each school are different, this paper focuses on two cases of school consolidation, which resulted in obtaining numerous years’ school financial data before and after consolidation. In both cases, two primary schools were consolidated into one primary school.
Through analysis, this paper pointed out the following four points. First, expenditure per school increased after school consolidation. Second, by consolidating two schools into one, the total expenditure of schools that were consolidated decreased. However, if the number of classes decreases significantly, revenue reduction becomes higher than expenditure reduction and there is no expenditure cut effect. Third, the effects of cutting expenditure continued after school consolidation. Fourth, expenditure per pupil decreases immediately after school consolidation but eventually increases. In particular, supply expenses per pupil increase. When considering the educational environment of pupils from a financial standpoint, there may be positive effects of school consolidation in terms of enrichment of material resources like teaching materials, papers, and stationery among others.