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Quality Management in the English Curriculum

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by Nicholas Klar


Like a few of my other works this paper is based on experiences gleaned from my two year tenure as an English teacher at Omi chugakko (junior high school), Japan. Being set in Japan the construction of curriculum is not bound by the Australian statements and profiles - which specify learning outcomes and provide a basis for monitoring educational performance. However I will attempt to use similar logic, especially in terms of outcomes and monitoring.

Change affects different people in different ways, even though the circumstances may be different. Nonetheless, all educational systems appear to be changing in similar ways, with trends towards lifelong learning, competency based education, and introduction of QM in curriculum and management. Hence the aims of curriculum can be considered somewhat 'portable'. One advantage in assessing my former school is the high relevance of TQM practiced in Japanese organisations (both learning and otherwise), that will help the introduction of planned change.

I will introduce the school and the factors which may be pertinent to, or a major influence on, curriculum planning. In addition I will discuss what preparatory steps must be taken. In the latter section of the paper I will construct an 'performance objective' based operational curriculum plan using a QA/QM methodology. I will also discuss various methodologies and decision making processes, and attempt to critically review both the plan and planning processes.

A short profile of the educational system

Japan and it's current fiscal problems have been well noted in all media this year. The nation faces a crisis of confidence as lifetime employment is no longer assured and unemployment reaches a post war high. The west has always found this land it's people somewhat of an enigma (Clegg's long tome being just one example). Japan is an ancient country with deeply rooted mores. Change is something that does not come easily or quickly, especially in a conservative rural area such as Omi. Unfortunately this is due to change over the next few years as a huge transformation (due to socio-economic factors, technology, and unresolved fiscal problems) is forced upon this 'post-Confucianist' society. In many ways, "Today's problems come from yesterday's solutions". The community will become one in transition. This will necessarily see need for changes in curriculum as schools are forced to deal with the new societal conditions.

Like times past in Australia, Japan has maintained a huge rate of expenditure per student, seeing it as a quality benchmark. This will change as economic rationalism and the need for lower expenditure per student begin to take hold. Quality will have to be measured in different ways. Parents, general community, and business will begin to press for change (either backward or forward). Also a more school-based curriculum (though still strongly influenced by Monbusho - The National Board of Education) will encourage the school to develop it's own unique solution within their own educational context. Therefore, in this essay and the next I will use my former school as a micro example, focusing particularly on the English (EFL) curriculum of the first year (Seventh Grade).

A short profile of the town

Omi is a rural machi (town) located on the Japan Sea coast in Niigata Prefecture, about four hundred kilometres north-west of Tokyo. The town is a classic case of rural decline. In the last 30 years the population has decreased from around 17,000 to today's level of around 10,000. After graduating from high school most young people are forced to move to major population centres for university or in search of work. Concurrently the number of students attending Omi chugakko has fallen about 40% in the last 10 years. Hence, an influence on curriculum may be the need for newer, less traditional skills (such as communicative English). The classic 'nuclear' family is the norm, with few single parent families. As a rule of thumb there would be only one or two children in each classroom who come from a single parent household. This conservatism may result in pressure to not make changes. Although it must be said that in Japan (contrary to Lewin's Change Model) changes do not necessarily come from, "...some form of dissatisfaction...".

A profile of the school and stakeholders

Students come to the school from the four local shogakko (elementary schools) - Omi, Tazawa, Utatonami, and Ichiburi. The school caters for Years Seven, Eight, and Nine. In the 1997/98 school year the school had around 330 enrolled students. At the end of Year Nine 50% of students graduate to the kokko (senior high school) and 40% to the shokko (commercial and industrial college) in neighbouring Itoigawa City. The remaining 10% drop out to find employment, or move further afield to more specialised schools.

Second-Order Change, where the organisation's 'core' processes are transformed is required. This may involve changes to the organisational paradigm and mission, but most certainly to it's culture. If this is to be undertaken there are a few obvious major 'stakeholders' that interact in the setting of the school and affect these core processes. Many of these could be against any, "...disruption of social and political structures in the organisation." Pressure groups, special interest groups, plus ethnic and/or disadvantaged minorities are almost non-existent in Omi and therefore would have little influence as stakeholders. All educational institutions in the area are run by the local Board of Education, and this is ultimately where all decisions are made. Hence the board and their 'advisers' on the council exercise ultimate power over any changes which may at times exclude "...the legitimate interests of other stakeholders".

Time for planning is an important factor. All chugakko students are required to be a member of a school club which meets out of school hours (basketball, kendo, English, baseball, tennis, brass band, etc.). Responsibilities for teachers involved with these may affect the time that can be allocated to curriculum planning. The student population is very stable with only a few students (three or four) lost each year, generally due to the work transfer of a parent. Hence, 'transferability' is not a major concern at this time. The PTA is a strong organisation, but not vocal in the planning of budgets, setting of curriculum, and the like. Most parents are passive, restricting their participation to receiving reports, or being involved in special events/PTA activities.

The school is of modern design, being built in 1987. The teaching staff is well experienced with an average age in the mid-thirties. The Japanese are well known for their quality management, and Omi is no exception to this. Quality doesn't happen by accident, it is designed into, and permeates, the fabric of the school or institution. As a form of team learning, Kaizen (the Japanese ethos of personal and collective improvement) is well practiced and time is set aside regularly for teacher learning and meetings. The staffroom is considered, "...a community in which they would not exploit each other, but rather help each other..."

The English faculty consists of two Japanese teachers and one native English speaker. I filled the latter role from August 1995 until July 1997. Both of the Japanese teachers fit the general profile as described above. One Japanese teacher is responsible for five classes (15 periods per week), while the other is responsible for four classes (12 periods per week). In addition to other responsibilities (such as 'visit' schools and adult classes) the native speaker has one period with each of the nine classes each week. The Japanese teachers have a strong control on the direction of English curriculum. However, the native speaking teacher, because of their 'temporary' tenure, is not allowed similar influence.

The school philosophy is to encourage and build the good character of each student. Omi JHS strives to instil in its students, 1) a desire for self study, and to further themselves, viz, 'a thirst for knowledge', 2) a strong will, and 3) a kindness toward other people . These goals are not very different from most other chugakko in Japan, with an emphasis supposedly on character building, rather than academic results. Over recent years the Board of Education has become more focused on academic results (or outcomes), thereby causing a fissure between ideals/goals and reality. However, as a summary it could be said that the school is well funded and well run, with excellent teaching staff. This may mean that to many stakeholders there appears little need for any drastic change in the present curriculum.

The need for a new curriculum

With the above in mind I contend that there is a need for a new first year English (EFL) curriculum (and subsequent years) to be introduced into Omi JHS, and I will attempt to suggest a possible model. I would propose, if this curriculum was successfully implemented, that second and third year curriculum be reviewed and upgraded progressively over the next two years. I will attempt to relate the plan to local significant site factors, such as the more inbuilt 'group' mentality that is so symbolic of Japanese culture with it's set of governing ideas. Clegg stated that, "...resistance is grounded in the cultural resources which people have available to them...". This means that it is not my model, but our model - one of shared vision, joint ownership, and a commitment to the whole. The starting point for TQM in the learning organisation must be vision, ownership, and commitment.

An example of this group drive is apparent in Japanese junior high schools where the role of an educator is seen as one of,

"cultivating the qualities that young people will need to play useful roles in the nation and society, [plus teaching]...fundamental knowledge and skills necessary for socially useful occupations."

Therefore at this time of their life the Japanese student is not being intellectually or academically challenged, rather they are being trained for the long term to take his or her 'place' in the larger community. The primary client of any Japanese school may be the student, but ultimately it is also regarded as society itself.

A definition?

"School-based curriculum development is an activity carried out by teacher(s) in the course of their work at school, in response to a perceived need to change the learning environment within a particular classroom, within the school in general, or within the school and local community"

"...involving the use of statements of policy to guide the planning of collective programs that, in turn, lead to specific lessons."

What prototype to use?

There are several kinds of prototypes (or models) that could be followed. All must incorporate the five components of TQM,

€ Alignment and commitment to a shared vision

€ An extended understanding of customer-driven process and strategy

€ Teams as a focus for organisational design

€ Challenging goals

€ Tools for systematic daily management

Along with core learning organisation disciplines, I believe all of these are already in place at the school.

One prototype that could be used is the 'process' model which is based more on guiding principals. Brady claimed that this model has an approach to planning that,

€ Has no initial statements of objectives

€ Has a smaller emphasis on content than method

€ Supports the view that some content and method are of intrinsic value

€ Doesn't endorse the notion that evaluation is of pre-specified objectives

The 'Interaction' model shows a different relationship to curriculum elements. With this prototype curriculum development is,

"...seen to be a dynamic process which can begin with any curriculum element, and these elements can be followed in any sequence...they are regarded as interactive and progressively modifiable."

In this context it is easier to make modifications as each element interacts with, and forces change upon, each other.

Yet another is the 'rational' or 'performance objective' model which is sequential, analytical and focuses on outcomes. Although more important amongst bureaucrats and politicians than teachers this model seems to be increasingly being used right around the world. Even though I agree more with the process prototype (which may provide more 'authentic' learning) I tend to think that the performance objective model would best fit the school aims and 'lifeworld' Japanese style of education which is used as a strong tool in maintaining the mores of society.

The Japanese, " a great deal of attention to factors directly related to particular performance measures." Hence, it would also be difficult to explain or 'sell' the process prototype. Routines of schooling "...encourage teachers to develop and maintain teaching practices that are predominantly traditional...". And is it not logical to begin the curriculum process by defining some objectives? Schools should,

"...devote considerable attention to defining educationally meaningful standards of practice, creating reasonable means for upholding these standards, and establishing vehicles for redress or corrections of problems that arise."

From an accountability viewpoint this model is very suitable because it can also include aspects of behavioural objectives, measurable objectives, and operational objectives. I will critique the model as part of my conclusion.

Where to next?

Education at Omi JHS falls into the cognitive domain of education - the acquisition of knowledge or information is " almost the sole kind of educational objective...". Although the school aims are vague and based on a long term outcome, there is (as stated) an unwritten expectation of outcomes. Hence, performance objectives are well suited because they are specific and to be achieved in the short term. These objectives give clear purpose. If objectives are made the first step in the process, "...the model provides...a clear direction and guide for the remainder of the process." Taking this into account the curriculum plan as below will have "...statements of terms of student performance".

Objectives also provide a blueprint for curriculum development and a fixed 'guide' (or steps) to simplify the process. As quoted in Brady, "It is an eminently reasonable frame work for developing a curriculum." Even with this logical approach there be a proviso. Rational curriculum planning must take into account the realities of the classroom situation. Logic by itself is not enough. Curriculum development in practice may be "...eclectic, tentative and individual...", taking different models into account and allowing new directions and ideas to be explored. Any model is "...simply a convenient way of showing the relationship between the essential curriculum elements in the process of curriculum development."

Whilst Campbell contends that, "entrenched cultures tend not to survive major change...", the Japanese have an innate ability for metamorphosis - changing an action or object until it is remade in a Japanese image. Likewise they have a flexibility in producing variants of the same object. Therefore I think that this model can be used and owned by the school as they tackle their own particular part of a rapidly changing Japan. This are all some streams of thought that will be further considered in the next section where I will construct and critique an operational Year One English curriculum using QA and QM.

Using Quality in the school

In 1863 'Tokugawa' Japan was subjected to the gun boat diplomacy of U.S. Navy Commodore Matthew Perry and his fleet of 'black ships'. This action was a pre-cursor to the modernising 'Meiji' era that brought about rapid change. Since I wrote my last paper Japan has suffered from the modern equivalent of Cmdr. Perry as the U.S. and Europe demand wide ranging financial reform and an opening up of the Japanese economy. As has happened in S-E Asia, Japan is now having economic rationalism forced upon it. In some ways it's perceived (and heavily praised) strengths of the 1980's have now become its liabilities.

The changes in Japan will escalate quickly and become increasingly discontinuous (second-order change), whilst societal trends should continue along their current path (first-order change). More and more, improved business English skills, and the restructuring of the free spending education sector, has become essential in Japan.

Therefore, I will attempt for my hypothetical curriculum project to be relevant to these considerations - especially in the area of moving away from a grammar based curriculum to a communicative skills based one. In this my second paper I will construct a 'performance objective' (outcomes) based operational curriculum plan (see appendice) using QA/QM criteria and strategic planning. I will also discuss considerations, evaluation, decision making processes, and attempt to critically review both the plan and planning strategies.


In the first section of this paper I discussed the need for a revamped English curriculum at Omi chugakko. At present the curriculum, based on behaviourist theory, presents no identifiable outcomes in practical usages. Rather it is heavily grammar based and concerned, "...the most effective methods of internalising knowledge and skills in those being taught" . The majority of students, whilst having a reasonable grasp of the language, are unable to use it in a communicative manner. The need for a new English curriculum therefore has two bases.

Relating to first-order change is the great probability that most students will move from Omi to pursue their careers. This will most likely take them into large population centres and/or vocations that require communicative English skills in a globalising economy.

The second basis (as mentioned before) is the rapid second-order change that is being imposed upon Japan with one end result likely to be both an influx of western expatriates and an outflow of Japanese to the West. In addition business via the internet will continue to grow dramatically. Good language skills, particularly English, will be vital to ensure a competitive edge and an ability to forge and maintain strategic partnerships.


The school will need consider first what it already has in place, its current reality - goals, values, and importantly, any threats. Then it must decide on a vision (hoshin goals) of where it wants to be. The practice of kaizen within the school means it could adopt easily hoshin goals, although more in the context of "excelling" rather than "outrageous". These expectations should be built into the plans.

For assessing the criteria for best practice it must analyse what policies and/or actions are working well and why they are working well. The school already has in place core competencies and participative management so these would certainly be part of this.

From this point it would be good to adapt a meta-strategy where it deepens the sense of pride in the school, raises expectations (which are built into planning) and give a fresh sense of organisational identity.

Undertaking the project

Taking into account all the above considerations we must contemplate what kind of decisions would need to be made.

First, we must ensure that QM will be established as the modus operandi, including proper design and production, quality processes, evaluation, policy and procedures, "corporate" strategy, organisational structure, policy and procedures, training, employee involvement, the appointment of a Quality team / co-ordinator, and continuous improvement.

Next, after undertaking a SWOT analysis, there must be concrete criteria in the form of specific, measurable, and achievable outcomes to ultimately achieve zero defects. This is because,

"In terms of efficiency and effectiveness, or in the current use of the term 'quality', there is little doubt that best practice in education is defined in terms of educational arrangements - structures, processes and skills - which maximise defined educational (in terms of measurable/ identifiable knowledge, skills and attitudes) outcomes....[There are] trends towards political and fiscal accountability, and to the identification of the rights of the clients of education as paramount."

To ensure QM/QA the project must take into account the objective realities, such as programs, support materials, and in-service, AND the subjective realities, such as personality traits, cultural norms, past experiences, unexpected happenings, and interpersonal relationships. An, "...excellent written curriculum will have little impact if it is not taught well and supported with appropriate materials."

It must also build in forms of accountability and quality assurance that will support the schools professional and community standing plus build on its corporate identity. It must be authentic pedagogy, including (as well as those listed previously) the integral concepts of - TQM, strategic intelligence, value adding, quality indicators, benchmarking, continuous improvement, and stakeholder approaches.

Finally, the plan must be clearly laid out in a linear process of stages that contain self-modification loops to ensure that any problems that arise can be solved, or modified, without 'crashing' the plan. To ensure a quality outcome the implementation strategy should include consideration of:

€ Evaluation (consequences, effects and improvement)

€ Decision making

€ Resources

€ Planning

€ Climate ( in 'mood' of school)

€ Supervision

€ School organisation

€ Time management

€ Change and its effect on the staff

€ Assumptions

€ Policy and documentation

A suggested plan

I suggest that it should be undertaken in the following stages:

Stage One: Conception, Consultation, and Planning

€ identify all issues

€ review the existing situation, use image-ing to describe current practice

€ determine the rationale of the project

€ analysis of factors which constitute the situation, including a review of both internal and external factors (some as discussed in Essay One)

€ seek commitments from the English staff, the principal (or deputy), the board of education, and other interested parties (e.g. other staff, parents)

€ establish a coordinating group (as per previous point - balanced with people from outside the discipline and possibly an external facilitator)

€ find out what areas need approval and seek support/suggestions from nearby schools. (note: this may serve to cut costs through shared resources)

€ seek out useful publications (note: selectively! Don't gather merely for the sake of it.)

€ review all of the previous and draw up a preliminary timeline/plan (say three months)

€ draw up a statement of beliefs

€ quality review - move to next stage

Stage Two: Priorities and Specifications

€ start to be systematic, refining the general into the more specific

€ discuss and formulate objectives (hoshin goals)

€ establish the project, reviewing the present curriculum

€ determine a priority of needs (e.g. staff knowledge, availability of teachers, plus physical and material resources, etc.)

€ decide on areas of emphasis - 'streaming', vocational, social, special ed., etc.

€ attempt to predetermine the expectations (and any possible resistance) from involved stakeholders

€ attempt to predetermine problems of installing the curriculum change

€ decide on objectives and how they will fit in with the school philosophy

€ build in allowances based on all these priorities

€ ensure funding

€ quality review, move onto the next stage.

Stage Three: Development

€ confirm the project brief/course prospectus, including both in-school expertise, and useful external sources (as gained in the last stage, e.g. advisers, external facilitator, other curriculum documents, recent research, or community opinion)

€ develop a firm schedule and some detailed estimates based on the same, including building in allowances for any unforseen changes

€ undertake programme building

€ make sure that all tasks have been allocated, accepted, and understood

€ examine the objectives and decide on the best kind of teaching methodology and learning situations

€ draw up the plan in terms of underlying principles, the general school program, and any organisational rules

€ preparation of assessment materials and schedules relevant to the objectives and outcomes

€ quality review once again before moving onto Stage Four.

Stage Four: Implementation

€ ensure dissemination of information

€ ensure all staff are aware of and well versed in all requirements of the new plan

€ study reference materials

€ design/follow up monitoring and communications systems

€ observe and give advice as required

€ report to principal and coordinating group

€ quality review

Stage Five: Evaluation and Maintenance

€ evaluate outcomes and objectives

€ conduct planned evaluation of policy and implementation process

€ plan feedback sessions

€ continue guidance by senior staff

€ ensure maintenance of morale

€ undertake demonstration classes

€ archive documentation.

Central to this tactical plan must be several principals or ideas:

€ That the process starts with a school based vision (hoshin goals), there are strategic processes used to create that vision, and that the vision includes overall improved outcomes

€ Responsibilities must be carefully delineated. In this case, the English supervisor, in conjunction with the principal (or deputy), must be QM co-ordinator(s) responsible for curriculum development

€ The whole English staff must be involved in decision making

€ Teachers must work within the TQM guidelines presented

€ That the staff develop skills in curriculum management, such as decision making, time management, planning (both short and long term), evaluation, and supervision of required tasks

€ That timelines and year plans are closely adhered to.

Also, under QM this plan must be considered as a pilot project. If it reaches a satisfactory conclusion it could be used as a generic model (or 'standing plan') for the restructure of curriculum in other disciplines that will not only follow Quality principles, but will also enhance the notion of staff accountability and school identity.

The school may also consider the establishment of an ongoing QM curriculum committee "...which can initiate or examine proposals for curriculum development in the light of the school's curriculum values, goals and objectives, monitor progress, and make recommendations as to possible implementation".

Decision making practices

A good Quality team / co-ordinator possesses skills in planning, communicating, organising, and motivating. They also encourage a collaborative style of decision making and this style fits Japanese culture well. Hence, it's important that,

"All members of the school community should be entitled and encouraged to make a contribution to the process of identifying, justifying, and promulgating the values, goals and objectives of the curriculum for the school...parents, staff, and the wider community...should be adequately involved in a consultative process..."

Following QM/QA will also ensure good outcomes and achieve these through the use of strategic operational planning. Assured outcomes will not only encourage stakeholders to participate actively in the process, but will also ensure acceptance of responsibility and accountability.

It's important to note that the schools philosophy and goals are based on a subjective lifeworld form that nurtures a reproduction or sustaining of cultural traditions, socialisation of the young, group solidarity, and a personal identity that is enmeshed in that group. These are abstract criteria that relate to value adding. The core values we wish to achieve (or sustain) must be appropriate to these group beliefs, values, rituals, symbols and norms. Being an outsider I must be cautious not to undermine the culture by being aware of any hidden values implicit in my model.

A final comment

With Japanese education in flux the junior high school (or middle school) should be a well-utilised strategic point for introducing new resources and concepts. Its paramount goal should be moving away from its institutional mission, and remembering that these pupils are no longer quite children (and only just adolescents), ask how their educational needs can be best served. Irrespective of who pays the bills, the student is the primary client of the school/education system.

A critique of the model

What benefits are there to the above plan basing itself on outcomes? What criticisms could be raised on it? I will address the possible criticisms first (in no particular order) because there has long been a fear that an emphasis on explicit goals would be damaging to education. Hence, these could be some main disadvantages:

€ Outcomes can be simply too many and too complex to be categorised.

€ Trivial learning behaviours are the easiest to define or operationalise, therefore more important outcomes may be under emphasised

€ Teachers can be judged with an emphasis on results rather than indices of competence.

€ Many objectives cannot simply be written in performance terms, e.g. confidence, pronunciation, etc. These must be addressed in abstract criteria.

€ There are peripheral outcomes that may not be able to be measured, such as parental attitudes, community values, professionalism of staff, etc.

€ Specification can often lead to mechanical route teaching.

€ Such a plan may alienate or exclude other sections of staff.

€ A teacher may find it difficult to take advantage of unexpected instructional opportunities.

€ When evaluating the worth of instructional schemes it must be considered that unanticipated results can be important too.

Alternatively, what are some of the advantages of the model?

€ If there is to be accountability the focus must be on outcomes, ensuring that it's been 'got right'. Curriculum profiles such as SACE can provide benchmarks that are useful for accountability.

€ Like the recent advent of curriculum statements in Australia which focus on outcomes my model should enhance the quality of the school's accountability to it's stakeholders.

€ Planning objectives focuses one's attention in and on the planning, making it difficult to get sidetracked as one might with a process model. Objectives also form a foundational structure upon which to build curriculum.

€ It must be remembered that an objective is only meaningful in and through activity.

€ This plan would be easily monitored and accountable. As put by Beare, "...if educators want recognition of effective and excellent schools, they must define more precisely what their objectives are [and] clearly demonstrate whether progress is being made towards those objectives."

€ "The benefit that a focus on outcomes can provide is some clarity about the goals of the curriculum for the teacher and, preferably, for the learner as well".

The need for formal evaluation

Formal evaluation must take place as an integral part of quality management, or benchmarking. This can be defined as,

"...identifying the world's best outcomes, practices and processes; and embarking on a systematic and on-going attempt not only to reach those standards, but to exceed them to become, in turn, an example of best practice against which others may benchmark"

Socrates once said, "A life unexamined is not worth living." To echo his quote from an educational viewpoint it could be said, "A curriculum not evaluated is not worth teaching." Evaluation cannot be seen as the inevitable end of the curriculum development process but a continuing process. Curriculum evaluation is critical to the maintenance of quality management within any educational establishment. It causes the reflection upon the teachings of the past and the casting of an eye to the future.

If a teacher, a faculty (in this case English), or a school is to improve they must keep open the channels of communication and constantly collect data on outcomes, plus the teaching and learning processes that lead to those outcomes. In turn this provides a basis for informed decision-making concerning curriculum. Evaluation must answer the questions about adoption, selection, and support, plus the worth of educational materials and activities.

An effective methodology of evaluation should be both descriptive and inductive, concerned with the reactions of and consequences to both individuals and the institution to its impact. It should lean to the use of field methodology with an emphasis on interview and observation (though not restricted to this). Ultimately it should be most concerned with learning rather than measuring. With the curriculum based on performance objectives any evaluator, "...should be familiar with the possible roles that instructional objectives can play in assessing the worth of educational phenomena."

Thus, the central purpose for evaluation is the improvement of overall education opportunities for the students we serve in our school(s) through valid decision making processes that are quality data-based. Ultimately it should be most concerned with learning rather than measuring.

Nevo asks ten strategic questions that should be answered in any evaluation. These are as follows:

€ How is evaluation defined?

€ What the functions of evaluation?

€ What are the objects of evaluation?

€ What kinds of information should be collected regarding each object?

€ Who should be served by an evaluation?

€ What is the process of doing an evaluation?

€ What methods of enquiry should be used in evaluation?

€ Who should do evaluation?

€ By what standards should evaluation be judged?

With the curriculum based on performance objectives any evaluator, "...should be familiar with the possible roles that instructional objectives can play in assessing the worth of educational phenomena."

Best Practice should be used as the terms of reference. This should direct the evaluators to different aspects, covering the educational objectives and strategies of the English curriculum, the adequacy of student work and teaching materials, and other considerations of the curriculum design.

Taking all this into account the demands of evaluation could be:

€ That the evaluation of the new curriculum continues to be in keeping with the direction, philosophy and ethos of the school.

€ That the evaluation meets the increasing demand for accountability from the community at large

€ That the evaluation contributes to a greater emphasis on quality management.

€ That the curriculum is actually attempting something worthwhile as well achieving it's goals.

In turn evaluators should aim to:

€ Objectively clarify quality and merit, plus strengths and weaknesses in the English curriculum at Omi Junior High,

€ Confirm (or deny) it as a comprehensive and useable QM plan for other future curriculum design.

€ Demonstrate to staff, board members, parents, and students that the curriculum is progressive and open to critique.

€ Provide information on the effectiveness and success of the new curriculum so as to optimise it's outcomes, efficiency, and quality.

Because, "...the 'best practice' goalposts are constantly moving", the new English curriculum must be subject to a quality review over the following years, as would the other grade levels as they are implemented. These would look closely at not just maintenance factors, but also motivational factors. All this will hopefully ensure that the school is not ultimately adopting inappropriate practices and that the end recommendations will be relevant and easily adapted (as compared to adopted).


Inevitably the most widely accepted quality indicator of a Japanese school, and it's students, are their examination results. Few parents would want to send their children to a school where the students rate consistently poorer than others. Of course the difficulty is that other important outcomes (such as critical thinking) are not considered or rated. Regardless of first and second order changes in Japan it seems one continuum will remain for some time. The end determination of a student's ability are the regular tests, and ultimately, the dreaded entrance examinations. These are an important reason for performance objectives when linked to assessment.

In line with the prevailing mood, at present there is a push within Monbusho for the entrance examination to include a substantial oral examination. Hopefully the curriculum prototype provided, in conjunction with the continued strengthening of TQM and recurring evaluation, will assist in the coming changes - both societal and educationally. Students will be better prepared for their rapidly changing world. As put by Senge, "Something new is happening. And it has to do with it all - the whole".


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Spry, V., Sultmann, W., & Ralston, F. 1992 'Image-ing: Shared meaning for curriculum renewal and school development', Issues in Education No.4, Queensland Government Ministerial Consultative Council on Curriculum

Stenhouse, L., 1975 An Introduction to Curriculum Research and Development, Heinemann, London

Study Book - Unit 88056, USQ

Wiltshire, K. 1994, Review of the Queensland School Curriculum Vol. 1, Queensland Curriculum Review Panel

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REF: Nicholas Klar, 1999, "Quality Management in the English Curriculum", + date accessed

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