An exploration of school improvement theory and practice in secondary schools in Trinidad and Tobago
This paper explores school improvement (SI) in the secondary school sector in Trinidad and Tobago (TandT), and poses the following questions: 1) What SI initiatives have emerged in the secondary school sector in TandT? 2) What relations can be established between the SI initiatives in the secondary school sector in TandT and international perspectives on theory and practice of SI? 3) What do these relations indicate for improvement in: (a) student outcomes and (b) organizational conditions of school? Data were collected through questionnaires, interviews, and document analysis from a sample of public secondary schools in Trinidad and Tobago. The findings indicate that there is need for change and improvement within the secondary school sector in Trinidad and Tobago. They also indicate that the policies are sound, but implementation is problematic. Stakeholders are overwhelmed with the plethora of initiatives being implemented at the same time. The implementation process is problematic for a number of reasons. The externally driven initiatives are working against rather than with the existing culture in Trinidad and Tobago and in schools. The policy makers are not providing the requisite resources, and support to implement policies effectively. Often teachers are not trained to implement the new curricula and this is affecting teaching and learning in the classrooms. Teachers, principals, and school supervisors are not satisfied that the initiatives are realizing improvement in student outcomes. The findings also indicate that the top-down approach to school improvement in Trinidad and Tobago is not working. Schools would like greater autonomy to formulate and implement their own improvement initiatives with the support of the Ministry of Education. School principals also feel they need more autonomy, especially to recruit their own staff. The reform definitely needs to be revisited and to involve stakeholder participation in decision making from the initiation stage of the improvement effort. Also, contextual and cultural factors need to be given more consideration in the design of policies.
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Educational improvement, Secondary schools, Conference papers, Trinidad and Tobago
James, F. (2008). An exploration of school improvement theory and practice in secondary schools in Trinidad and Tobago. Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, 3-6 September 2008