The meaning of school effectiveness

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School effectiveness is defined in the way it is used in school effectiveness research. Basically this means that between school differences in students’ performance are attributed to malleable school variables, after adjustments have been made for student background conditions. Research is guided by conceptual models in which school conditions are often defined at the level of the school context, the school as an organization, and the classroom. A brief summary will be given of the most important results from empirical school effectiveness research. Next the paper will look at conceptual and theory related interpretations that can be given to these results. The ambition of school effectiveness research is to establish malleable factors that are robust and generalizable across different contexts. Examples are: time, opportunity to learn and a structured approach to teaching that includes frequent monitoring of students’ progress as classroom level conditions, and supportive "educational" leadership at school level. The theoretical basis for these factors will be analyzed by looking at more general theories as well as a few "middle range" theories and models. The balance on the appropriateness and usefulness of the school effectiveness research approach will be made up by addressing a few critical issues, such as: the alleged narrowness of the most frequently used effectiveness criteria and the usefulness for educational practice and policy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMelhorar os Processos e os Resultados Escolares
Place of PublicationOporto, Portugal
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2004
EventCurso de Verão 2004, Como Melhorar os Processos e os Resultados Escolares - Oporto, Portugal
Duration: 8 Jul 200410 Jul 2004


ConferenceCurso de Verão 2004, Como Melhorar os Processos e os Resultados Escolares
Other8-10 July 2004


  • METIS-306506
  • IR-92613


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