The Role of Quality Assurance Standards and Best Practices in Improving School Performance in the Pursuit of International Educational Ranking in the UAE
This is the continuation of the Thesis written by another writer, ( PhD Thesis for the attached proposal)
What needs to be done: extended first 3 chapters, and writing from scratch chapter 4 and 5.
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THE ROLE OF QUALITY ASSURANCE STANDARDS AND BEST PRACTICES IN IMPROVING K-12 SCHOOL PERFORMANCE IN THE PURSUIT OF
INTERNATIONAL EDUCATIONAL RANKING IN THE UAE
Doctoral Thesis presented to The Faculty of the College of Education
Doctor of Education
Under the advisory and supervision of
“Educating the Individual is this country’s most valuable investment. It represents the foundation for progress and development.”
H.H. Sheikh Khalita bin Zayed Al Nahyan,
The President of the United Arab Emirates
(Scholarship Office, 2014)
“إن تعليم الفرد هو الاستثمار الأكثر قيمة لهذا البلد. إنه يمثل أساس التقدم والتنمية.”
“‘iin taelim alfard hu alaistithmar al’akthar qimat lhdha albld. ‘iinah yumathil ‘asas altaqadum waltanmiat.”
صاحب السمو الشيخ خليفة بن زايد آل نهيان ،
رئيس دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة
(مكتب المنح الدراسية ، 2014)
sahib alsumui alshaykh khalifat bin zayid al nahyan,
rayiys dawlat al’iimarat alearabiat almutahida
(mkitib almunh aldirasiat, 2014)
Table of Contents
CHAPTER 1: INTROUDUCTION 1
1.1 Background of the Study Error! Bookmark not defined.
1.2 Statement of the Problem 4
1.3 General Conceptual Framework of the Study 5
1.4 Objectives of the Study 6
1.5 Research Questions 7
1.6 Significance of the Study 16
1.7 Delimitations of the Study 12
1.8 Definitions of Operational Terms 17
CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW 16
2.1 Introduction 16
2.1.1 Defining quality assurance standards in K-12 education¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬-__________________16
126.96.36.199 The Design Provider _______________________¬¬¬¬¬______________ 16
188.8.131.52 Organizational History____________________________________ 17
184.108.40.206 Network Size and Diversity________________________________ 18
220.127.116.11 Delivery Strategy and Organizational Complexity_______________19
18.104.22.168 Sector Status____________________________________________ 20
22.214.171.124 Approach to Design Adjustments____________________________20
2.1.2 Current quality assurance standards in UAE K-12 education______________23
2.1.3 UAE national agenda and UAE Vision 2021__________________________ 27
2.2 Importance of Attaining Quality Assurance Standards in UAE Education___________29
2.2.1 Investment in the future of UAE____________________________________29
2.2.2 National pride, the solidarity of 7 Emirates___________________________ 30
2.2.3 International status and stability_____________________________________31
2.2.4 Business attraction beyond petroleum companies_______________________ 33
2.3 Benefits of Improving School Performance in UAE____________________________ 34
2.3.1 International expansion of UAE learning institutions____________________34
2.3.2 Increasing UAE educational system efficiency_________________________35
2.3.3 Partnering with business sector for employment opportunities after graduation__________________________________________________________35
2.3.4 Student Satisfaction in Attending High-Performance Schools_____________37
2.3.5 Teacher Satisfaction in Employment________________________________ 37
2.4 Strategies for Improving School Performance_________________________________ 38
2.4.1 International educational reforms___________________________________ 38
2.4.2 Current weaknesses in UAE educational system_______________________ 39
2.4.3 Current strengths in UAE educational system_________________________ 40
2.4.4 Determinates for implementation___________________________________ 41
126.96.36.199 Top-to-down (Ministry-federation-administration-teachers-students) ___ 41
188.8.131.52 Bottom-to top (teachers/students-administration-federation-Ministry) ___42
2.5 Quality Commitment Relationships – Administration-Teachers-Students____________45
2.5.1 Principals – Leadership development and standards_____________________46
2.5.2 Teachers – Teaching standards and curriculum_________________________49
2.5.3 Students – Commitment to succeed__________________________________49
2.5.4 Parents – Commitment to children___________________________________50
2.6 Factors Impeding Quality Education in UAE__________________________________50
2.6.1 Nationality and Socioeconomic Class.________________________________50
2.6.2 International perception of UAE____________________________________ 51
2.6.3 Parental Perceptions____________________________________________________52
2.6.4 Business relationships__________________________________________________ 53
2.7 Educational Practices Utilized in High-Performing Countries_____________________54
2.7.1 Japan Education System__________________________________________ 54
184.108.40.206 The Japanese Educational Reforms________________________________55
220.127.116.11 Japan Educational Quality_______________________________________57
18.104.22.168 Development of the Japanese institutional accreditation system and
Overview of the three accreditation agencies______________________________ 58
2.7.2 Finland_______________________________________________________ 59
22.214.171.124 The Finnish Public School System________________________________ 59
126.96.36.199 National Education Standards in Finland_____________________________
188.8.131.52 World Class Educational System in Finland_________________________63
2.8 Theoretical Background for Education Systems________________________________56
2.8.1 Systems theory________________________________________________________56
2.8.2 Causal and linear theory_________________________________________________57
2.8.3 Nonlinear theory_______________________________________________________57
2.8.4 Complex systems theory________________________________________________57
2.8.5 Chaos theory__________________________________________________________58
2.8.6 Experiential Learning theory_______________________¬¬¬______________________ 59
2.9 Systems Leadership Theory and Leadership Styles________¬_____________________ 61
2.9.3 Passive-Avoidant or Laissez-faire Leadership_______________________________ 70
2.10 Chapter Summary______________________________________________________71
CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY________________________________72
3.2 Research Design________________________________________________________73
3.2.1 Mixed Methods Methodological Design______________________________73
3.2.2 Triangulation Mixed Methods Design________________________________74
3.3 Population, sample, and Sampling technique__________________________________75
3.3.1 Population_____________________________________________________ 75
184.108.40.206 Sampling Frame_________________________________________75
3.3.3 Sample Size and Procedures________________________________________76
3.3.4 Sample size_____________________________________________________76
3.4 Instrumentation_________________________________________________________ 76
3.4.1 Validity and reliability of the Instrument______________________________77
3.4.2 Pilot testing for reliability and validity of research instrument_____________ 79
220.127.116.11 Reliability and Validity of the research instrument________¬______ 79
18.104.22.168 Checking for missing data_________________________________ 80
22.214.171.124 Checking for normality and outliers_________________________ 80
126.96.36.199 Checking for outliers______________________________________81
3.4.3 Statistical methods on reliability and validity testing____________________81
188.8.131.52 Internal consistency and correlation test on QAI________________80
184.108.40.206 Internal consistency and correlation test on LSPI_______________ 80
220.127.116.11 Internal consistency and correlation test on BSCI_______________80
18.104.22.168 Internal consistency and correlation test on OC________________ 80
22.214.171.124 Internal consistency and correlation test on SMHEI_____________80
3.4.4 Summary of the result`s validity and reliability on the pilot study__________ 81
3.5 Data Collection Procedures________________________________________________82
3.5.1 Data collection procedure__________________________________________82
3.5.2 Handling and safekeeping of the data collected_________________________83
3.6 Data Analysis and statistical techniques______________________________________82
3.6.1 Data Screening__________________________________________________82
3.6.2 Data Analysis techniques__________________________________________83
3.6.3 Descriptive statistics______________________________________________83
3.7 Model fit evaluation _____________________________________________________83
3.8 Chapter Summary_______________________________________________________83
CHAPTER 4: DATA ANALYSIS AND PRESENTATION OF RESULTS 4.1 Introduction
CHAPTER 5: DISCUSSION
CHAPTER 6: CONCLUSION
6.1 Implications and Conclusion
List of Tables
Table 1: Ministry of Education 2021 Targets 3
List of Figures
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is seen as the star of the Middle East due to its stable political situation and rapidly growing economy over the past 20 years, which has placed it within the top 20 most competitive economies in the world (Schwab et. al, 2013). The UAE has a booming economy and boasts a GDP per capita approximately higher than that of other Middle East countries (World Bank, 2013). These developments have been driven by its natural resource wealth in the form of large reserves of oil and gas, located mainly in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the country (Dobbs et. al, 2013). Despite its economic success, the country has overall seen less improvement in its education sector, where significant investments have been made to import leading global reforms aimed at developing a thriving knowledge economy (Burden-Leahy, 2009).
The Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) rates school education in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the highest among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations but only forty-fifth in an international ranking of seventy-six countries (Nagraj, 2015). Although the students in the UAE are currently the best performers across the region in international assessments, their test scores remain significantly below the international averages in both TIMSS and PISA and they have seen little change in recent years with students in public schools falling behind their peers in private schools (Mullis et. al, 2011; OECD, 2013; KHDA, 2012). The disparity between the region and world-wide ratings heightens the necessity of the UAE government and Ministry of Education to reform and restructure its K-12 educational system in line with top performing countries in international ranking like Japan and Finland.
In 2010, the UAE announced an education initiative called Vision 2021 with the goal of achieving top twenty status among all countries across the globe. This the latest education reform in the UAE, which calls for a collective effort to build a knowledge economy by promoting well-rounded citizens and “develop[ing] a first rate education system” (MOCA, 2011, p.13, 15). Both of these reforms feed into the global discourse regarding the importance of developing knowledge economy skills and competitiveness among the next generation (MOE, 2012; MOCA, 2011).
In early 2012, the UAE launched the Mohammed bin Rashid Smart Learning Programme (SLP) with a similar, albeit more ambitious, vision. SLP’s goal was to provide public school students with tablets, teachers with laptops, equip classrooms with interactive smart boards in order to enhance their skills and competencies and as a result improve student learning (Pennington, 2014). The program, worth approximately $272,000, is a joint venture between the Ministry of Education, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) (a federal authority for Information and Communications Technology), and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in partnership with leading technology companies, educational organizations, educational and strategic consultants, and more (ICT Fund, 2013). The success or failure of these endeavors rest in the implementation and execution of a realignment and restructuring of an educational system that currently is as fractured and diverse as the inhabitants of the UAE.
The UAE government recognizes the importance of education for the growth and
future of the country and international acceptance as an innovative and forward-thinking nation. Currently, the UAE educational system ranks forty-fifth out of seventy-six nations in a global list assembled by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (Nagraj, 2015). The Ministry of Education has set an aggressive goal of achieving top 20 ranking for K-12 schools both public and private, a 95% enrollment rate, and a 98% graduation rate by 2021 (UAE Vision 2021, 2016). Table 1 outlines the Ministry’s main 2021 targets.
Table 1: Ministry of Education 2021 Targets (Ministry of Education, 2016).
A demographic assessment of the UAE is required to gain an understanding of the people and society. These statistics will prove insightful in deciding which educational models and practices to employ for the best outcome of increased performance and standards in the school system. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (2018) estimates the total population of the UAE as 6,072,475 with 11.6% being native Emiratis and the remaining 88.4% consisting of Southeast Asian (59.4%), Egyptian (10.2%), Philippine (6.9%), and other (12.8%). Arabic is the official language with Persian, English, Hindu, and Urdu also being used by the inhabitants. The country was founded in 1971 when seven emirates – Abu Dubai (the capital), Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, Dubai, and Umm al-Quwain joined together to form the federal absolute monarchy sovereign state of the United Arab Emirates (CIA, 2018). Muslim is the official religion of the country and practiced by 76% of the residents. Over 61% of the populous are between the ages of 25 – 54 and with a growth rate of 2.54% (CIA, 2018). The ration of male to female population is 2.18 with a fertility rate average of 2.32 infants per female. The average life expectancy is 75 years for men with a current median age of 34.5 years. For women, the life expectancy is 80.4 years with 25.6 years being the current median age (CIA, 2018). The infant mortality rate is 10.1 per 1,000 live births, maternal mortality is 6 per 100,000 live births, and nationwide the death rate is 1.9 per 1,000 inhabitants. Over 86% of the population live in urban areas with more than 4.839 million people concentrated in the cities of Dubai, Sharjah, and Abu Dhabi. Approximately 93.5% of the populous over the age of 15 can read and write while unemployment for 15 – 24 years old averages 12.1% (7.9% male and 21.8% female) (CIA, 2018).
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The UAE Ministry of Education is trying to achieve top 20 ranking for K-12 schools
both public and private by 2021 (UAE Vision 2021, 2016). In addition, the target of the country is to become one of the top ranking countries on standardized PISA and TIMMS exams by the year 2021 (UAE Ministry of Education, 2016). Higher ranking can come from thoughtful use of quality assurance standards and best practices in UAE K-12 schools but a lot of problems encountered by UAE schools may hamper the realization of UAE`s Vision 2021.
First and foremost, the diversity of curriculums provided in the UAE that might include but are not limited to the MOE, American, British, Filipino, Iranian, Australian, Indian and many others makes it very challenging to ensure all school are providing the same levels of educational standards. There is no one horizontal standard framework that ensures all schools are providing the same educational standards across grade level nor at the time of graduation.
One other challenge is the varied requirements of each curriculum or school scope that allows for schools to choose different subjects of focus for different grade levels, hence having students graduate with different backgrounds. For instance, in some schools Physics, Biology or Chemistry is an elective whereas in others it is compulsory. This results in schools having these subjects as compulsory subjects to have higher achievement rates than the counter schools although they all sit for the same international and national standardized test.
One other challenge to be highlighted is the need for schools and in particular in private schools, to have standardized tests that measure the outcomes of each grade level and each phase including the graduation stages. Also, the passing and failing systems should also be revised to make sure students and parent understand that effort is required to pass starting from grade 1 and not take passing for grant regardless of level.
Another aspect of the quality assurance in the region is the intention of schools in achieving a ranking to keep registration open instead of the real intention of improving the teaching and learning process. The current framework, looks at many areas in which one of them is teaching and learning and where a school may focus on the other aspects and still achieve a good ranking. Teaching and learning should have a devoted framework in which all other aspects will be an impact of good teaching and learning in a school and not equal factors. Teaching and learning should be measured by the impact of the process on the ability of the student to use any current experiences to create answers and solutions to identical analogies or being able to merge experiences to resolve complicated complex problems sensing the learning acquired.
The teaching field should be more attractive and promising for teachers. This should really encourage professional graduates to approach the education field and retain for years in it. Due to the challenges faced, teachers’ turnover rate is high. Many foreigners do not stay in the field for more than 2 years, whereas many other teachers prefer to go for administrative jobs after some time. More so, teacher`s professional development should take a different era, which should be more practical and should allow for more sharing of best practices. This can only be gained via more trusted relationships built among school where the purpose should exceed being a business to being a national agenda aim. These PDs include providing teachers with the tools that really prove to be effective in the context of the students and challenges existing.
To resolve these problems encountered and before bringing in external experts in the field, the MOE should gather the expertise of the current principals and senior leaders in understanding the challenges and barriers to education. Rigorous policies and discipline procedures should be unified throughout the country and across all schools in the UAE. Clear rewarding and sanction systems should be put in place to ensure parents know that it is an overall country reform and not tied to a particular school.
Consistency across the Emirates is also another challenge, as different frameworks, quality assurance standards and requirements occur. In 2017, ADEK and KHDA decided to have one standard school inspection framework to unify the standards of education implemented in schools. With inconsistent and inadequate quality assurance standards mechanisms to assure the quality of their K-12 educational programs, the Emirates` chance to get into the top 20 is slim and its international educational ranking status could worsen if they ignore or avoid these quality assurance standards and best practices. To be competitive and assure their own customers a quality education domestically and internationally, a quality assurance standards and best practices model for the K-12 institutions has to be examined and developed as needed. To date, different quality assurance standards and best practices have been implemented by some of the public and private K-12 schools.
There is a lack of information about what quality assurance standards and best practices should be used to guide UAEs K-12 schools towards educational effectiveness and achieve its top 20 goals. To find out what quality assurance standards and best practices and procedures can be recommended for the improved performance of UAE`s to achieve its 2021 ranking goal is necessary for this endeavor. Higher levels of effectiveness can come from examining the role of quality assurance standards and best practices in improving K-12 school performance in UAE.
Therefore, as a starting point, this research seeks to generate preliminary evidence about the soundness of the Emirates quality assurance standards and best practices and the international success factors that will help in achieving international ranking in K-12 education. First, a comparative analysis will be conducted between the UAE standards for K-12 schools, and what the research literature recommends. Second, these quality assurance standards will be compared to the quality assurance standards of the 5 outstanding schools in Abu Dhabi to understand what quality assurance methods and best practices were implemented to get a higher rank among other schools with peer emirates. Third, the quality indicators of the standards and best practices will be validated from experts in K-12 education in UAE. Experts will rate each indicator in terms of its relevance to the standard it is grouped in. Then, they will rate indicators in terms of their importance to quality K-12 learning in UAE.
The current K-12 education system in the Emirates; consisting of teachers, administration, leadership, and governance, cannot achieve the main 2021 targets set forth by the Ministry of Education as the necessary tools are not in place. These tools may consist of all teachers and administrations staff meeting all qualification and certification credentials for quality assurance standards and best practices. All levels of educational personnel working seamlessly as one team with the goal of achieving a high-performance educational environment. Leadership from the national level down that exudes the social, cultural, and ethical responsibilities to bring about effective and efficient change in the educational system.
1.3 GENERAL CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK OF THE STUDY
This section has two perspectives: a conceptual framework and a theoretical
Framework that will help examine the quality assurance standards and best practices for attaining a high-level performance in education from different K-12 schools in Abu Dhabi to support UAEs Vision 2021, of ranking within the top 20 of all countries worldwide.
1.3.1 Theoretical Framework
This research study will follow a structure based on a theoretical framework utilizing a reductionist viewpoint guided by the theory of education program evaluation. According to ACGME, as referenced by Frye and Hemmer (2012) “educational program evaluation is the ‘systematic collection and analysis of information related to the design, implementation, and outcomes of a program, for monitoring and improving the quality and effectiveness of the program.” Connecting an educational system’s components with a reductionist perspective and assumes linearity in their relationships as a cause-effect denouement (Frye & Hemmer, 2012). Thereby, a phenomenology paradigm is necessary for data collection and interpretation.
As stated earlier in Chapter 1, this research adopts effective schools theory proposed by Lezotte (2001). According to this theory, the best measurement of effective school is by student achievement and their ability to demonstrate evidence of quality as well as equity. The theory was proposed by Lezotte (2001) following a series of studies at the end of which he proposed seven measures of effective schools which include clear and focused mission, strong instructional leadership, safe and orderly schools, frequent evaluation of student progress, a climate for high expectations for success, a positive relationship between home and school, and the opportunity to learn or sufficient time on task.
Lezotte (2001) argues that strong instructional leaders tend to be proactive and are always on the look for help to build team leadership and culture that is conducive and essential for learning and professional growth. This leads to greater students’ performance in schools. According to the theory of effective school, the responsibility of quality assurance standards officers is to make principals and other teaching staffs work as instructional leaders and being persistent and effective in communicating and modelling the mission of the school to both students and parents. The essence of having a focus and concise mission is to ensure that everyone is on the same page and heading towards the same direction. In addition, the theory also postulates that in order to have a specific focus, a school management and leadership as well as stakeholders must engage in a collaborative process in an attempt to decide on a number of school goals upon which consensus is built.
As for a safe and orderly school, Lezotte (2001) define it as a school climate and culture with reasonable expectations for certain forms of behaviour, and rules are made consistent and applied fairly, with care, as well as responsive relationships among students and adults. In such schools, classrooms are friendly and warm, attractive places for purposeful learning activities that engage the students in significant learning process. In addition, in such schools learning environments are made personalised in order to create and bolster positive relationships among students on the one hand and between students and teachers on the other. The schools create a community like environment where the students feel they belong, and are honoured and valued. Moreover, students’ heritage and background are considered in such schools as assets rather than deficiencies. Putting in place these features of effective school lead automatically to the implementation of quality standards assurance.
In relation to the climate of high expectations, Lezotte (2001) opines that the rhetoric of “all students can learn” must be demonstrated practically by teachers in their instructional practices, behaviours and attitudes showing students that they believe in their abilities and efficacy to teach the students at a high standard, also displaying their beliefs in the students and their determination to continue teaching them. With regard to frequent monitoring of teaching and learning, there is need to pay attention to both students’ learning outcomes as well as effectiveness of school and classroom procedures. To do so, students’ learning is monitored via a number of tracking processes using variety of assessment and evaluation procedures such as test scores, performances, students’ developed products, and several other forms of assessment and evaluation practices. Teachers and the quality assurance standards officers should be responsible for the monitoring of teachers and the program and teacher evaluation. The results of assessments and evaluations are used for the planning of instruction, for individual students, and for the entire school planning and decision making. With the results of the assessments and evaluation, school and classroom practices are therefore modified based on the data collected.
The next measure of effective schools model postulates that students are given opportunities to learn and sufficient time on a task as evidences show that students tend to learn activities they spend time on. This point also underlines the importance of each of the teachers in a given school to understand the essential learner objectives in all grades and in all subjects. The moment it is made clear what students should be learning it is essential to give them sufficient time to learn it (Lezotte, 2001). It is the duty and responsibility of the quality assurance standard officer to guide schools towards meeting these goals and objectives (Lezotte, 2001).
The theory of effective school is adopted by this research as its framework because the seven measures of effective school encompasses virtually all aspects of any quality assurance standard framework. Under this theory, any quality assurance standards implementation requires supportive and conducive environment that boost a manageable teacher-student ratios and sufficient material and physical resources. Since this study examined factors that influence the implementation of quality assurance standards in K-12 schools in the United Arab Emirates, this theory will be helpful in solving the problem of this study, answering its research questions and eventually attaining the research objectives. The theory is significant in defining and conceptualising the relationship among the major variables of this research. For instance, the theory will help in understanding material and physical resources afforded to the UAE K-12 schools under investigation, qualification and quality of teachers, the frequency of inspection the schools are subjected to, the social-cultural backgrounds of the students, student-teacher ratio and many more that are likely to influence the implementation of quality assurance standards in the K-12 schools in the UAE.
1.3.2 Conceptual Framework
The concepts of quality assurance standards implementation, schools` best practices, accreditation, high performance, and internationalization, dominate this study. It is focused on the quality assurance standards that UAE set to ensure the quality of K-12 education towards internationalization and thus higher international ranking. These quality assurance standards are implemented to either obtain official recognition from UAE educational authorities or gain a desirable accreditation. It mainly uses the UAE quality assurance standards for K-12 public and private K-12 schools as a framework for this study. It also uses this framework to design the survey for the principals of outstanding schools to validate the quality of these standards. The concept map below (see Figure 1) illustrates the conceptual framework that governs this study.
Figure 1. Concept map created for the Role of QAS and BPs for School Performance
ranking in the pursuit of higher International ranking of UAE K-12 schools
The purpose of this study is to find out the relationship between the quality assurance standards and best practices mediating factors (IF, TF, EF, and UAE Quality Framework) on the K-12 School performance pursuit of higher International Educational Ranking. This is in line with the UAE Ministry of Education`s goal to achieve an international ranking of top 20 for its K-12 schools both public and private by 2021 (UAE Vision 2021, 2016). Hence, the major concern of this study is to explore the role of quality assurance standards and best practices in improving the K-12 school performance in order to identify the Institutional, Technical, and Environmental factors that are found to be crucial determinants for higher international ranking. Thus, the schools` structure, curriculum, teachers, administration, leadership, and governance will be dissected and examined using the mediating factors (IF, TF, EF) for quality education policies and approaches. The results will then be weighed against the current UAE Quality Assurance Standards & Best Practices (QAS&BPs) to determine its strengths and weaknesses, or its school performance, so a constructive outline and process will be developed to facilitate the achievement of the Vision 2021 educational initiative: top 20 international ranking in K-12 education.
1.4 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The following research objectives are based on the conceptual framework of the study
presented in Figure 1 above:
RO1: To examine if all indicators of Institutional factors (IF) represent the Quality
Framework & best practices of UAE Outstanding Schools
RO2: To examine if all indicators of Technical factors (TF) represent the Quality
Framework & best practices of UAE Outstanding Schools
RO3: To examine if all indicators of Environmental (EF) represent the Quality
Framework & best practices of UAE Outstanding Schools
RO4: To examine the mediation role for training in the relationship between the
exogenous variable (institutional factors, technical factors and environmental
factors) and the implementation of quality assurance standards and best
practices by the K-12 schools in the UAE.
RO5: To examine the moderation role for work experience in the relationship between
the exogenous variable (institutional factors, technical factors and environmental
factors) and the implementation of quality assurance by the K-12 schools in the
RO6: To investigate if there is a significant direct effect of Institutional Factors (IF) on
the school performance of outstanding schools in UAE.
RO7: To investigate if there is a significant direct effect of Technical Factors (TF) on
the school performance of outstanding schools in UAE.
RO8: To investigate if there is a significant direct effect of Environmental Factors (EF)
on the school performance of outstanding schools in UAE.
RO9: To investigate if there is a significant indirect effect of the mediation role for
training (Principals, VPs, and HODs) in the relationship between the exogenous variable (institutional factors, technical factors and environmental factors) and the implementation of quality assurance standards and best practices by the K-12 schools in the UAE.
RO10: To investigate if there is a significant indirect effect of the moderation role for
work experience ((Principals, VPs, and HODs) in the relationship between the exogenous variable (institutional factors, technical factors and environmental factors) and the implementation of quality assurance by the K-12 schools in the UAE.
RO11: To examine the problems and challenges faced by educational leaders
in implementing the quality standards in the K-12 educational system in the UAE.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following questions guide the focus of this research study:
RQ1: Do all indicators of Institutional factors (IF) represent the Quality
Framework & best practices of UAE Outstanding Schools?
RQ2: Do all indicators of Technical factors (TF) represent the Quality
Framework & best practices of UAE Outstanding Schools?
RQ3: Do all indicators of Environmental (EF) represent in the Quality
Framework & best practices of UAE Outstanding Schools?
RQ4: What is the mediation role for training in the relationship between the
exogenous variable (institutional factors, technical factors and environmental
factors) and the implementation of quality assurance standards and best
practices by the K-12 schools in the UAE?
RQ5: What is the moderation role for work experience in the relationship between
the exogenous variable (institutional factors, technical factors and environmental
factors) and the implementation of quality assurance by the K-12 schools in the
RQ6: Is there a significant direct effect of Institutional Factors (IF) on the school
performance of outstanding schools in UAE?
RQ7: Is there a significant direct effect of Technical Factors (TF) on the school
performance of outstanding schools in UAE?
RQ8: Is there a significant direct effect of Environmental Factors (EF) on the school
performance of outstanding schools in UAE?
RQ9: Is there a significant indirect effect of the mediation role for
training (Principals, VPs, and HODs) in the relationship between the exogenous variable (institutional factors, technical factors and environmental factors) and the implementation of quality assurance standards and best practices by the K-12 schools in the UAE?
RQ10: Is there a significant indirect effect of the moderation role for
work experience (Principals, VPs, and HODs) in the relationship between the exogenous variable (institutional factors, technical factors and environmental factors) and the implementation of quality assurance by the K-12 schools in the UAE?
RQ11: What are the problems and challenges faced by educational leaders in
implementing the quality standards in the K-12 educational system in the UAE?
A research matrix table is included to illuminate the relationship between the
Research Objectives, Research Questions, and Methods:
Table 1: Research Matrix
Research Objectives (ROs) Research Questions (RQ) Info Source Method
To examine if all indicators of Institutional factors (IF) represent the Quality Framework & best practices of UAE Outstanding Schools Do all indicators of Institutional factors (IF) represent the Quality Framework & best practices of UAE Outstanding Schools? Principals, VPs, HODs and
Principals of outstanding school Surveys
To examine if all indicators of Technical factors (TF) represent the Quality Framework & best practices of UAE Outstanding Schools Do all indicators of Technical factors (TF) represent the Quality Framework & best practices of UAE Outstanding Schools? Principals, VPs, HODs and Principals of outstanding school Surveys
To examine if all indicators of Environmental (EF) represent the Quality Framework & best practices of UAE Outstanding Schools Do all indicators of Environmental (EF) represent in the Quality Framework & best practices of UAE Outstanding Schools? Principals, VPs, HODs and Principals of outstanding school Surveys
To examine the mediation role for training in the relationship between the exogenous variable (institutional factors, technical factors and environmental factors) and the implementation of quality assurance standards and best practices by the K-12 schools in the UAE. What is the mediation role for training in the relationship between the exogenous variable (institutional factors, technical factors and environmental factors) and the implementation of quality assurance standards and best practices by the K-12 schools in the UAE? Four quality commitment domains: Principals, VPs, HODs Surveys
To examine the moderation role for work experience in the relationship between the exogenous variable (institutional factors, technical factors and environmental factors) and the implementation of quality assurance by the K-12 schools in the UAE. What is the moderation role for work experience in the relationship between the exogenous variable (institutional factors, technical factors and environmental factors) and the implementation of quality assurance by the K-12 schools in the UAE. Four quality commitment domains: Principals, VPs, HODs Surveys
To investigate if there is a significant direct effect of Institutional Factors (IF) on the school performance of outstanding schools in UAE. Is there a significant direct effect of Institutional Factors (IF) on the school performance of outstanding schools in UAE? Outstanding schools Surveys
To investigate if there is a significant direct effect of Technical Factors (TF) on the school performance of outstanding schools in UAE. Is there a significant direct effect of Technical Factors (TF) on the school performance of outstanding schools in UAE? Outstanding schools Surveys
To investigate if there is a significant direct effect of Environmental Factors (EF) on the school performance of outstanding schools in UAE. Is there a significant direct effect of Environmental Factors (EF) on the school performance of outstanding schools in UAE? Outstanding schools Surveys
To investigate if there is a significant indirect effect of the mediation role for training (Principals, VPs, and HODs) in the relationship between the exogenous variable (institutional factors, technical factors and environmental factors) and the implementation of quality assurance standards and best practices by the K-12 schools in the UAE. Is there a significant indirect effect of the mediation role for training (Principals, VPs, and HODs) in the relationship between the exogenous variable (institutional factors, technical factors and environmental factors) and the implementation of quality assurance standards and best practices by the K-12 schools in the UAE? Four quality commitment domains: Principals, VPs, HODs Interviews
To investigate if there is a significant indirect effect of the moderation role for work experience ((Principals, VPs, and HODs) in the relationship between the exogenous variable (institutional factors, technical factors and environmental factors) and the implementation of quality assurance by the K-12 schools in the UAE. Is there a significant indirect effect of the moderation role for work experience (Principals, VPs, and HODs) in the relationship between the exogenous variable (institutional factors, technical factors and environmental factors) and the implementation of quality assurance by the K-12 schools in the UAE? Four quality commitment domains: Principals, VPs, HODs Interviews
To examine the problems and challenges faced by educational leaders in implementing the quality standards in the K-12 educational system in the UAE. What are the problems and challenges faced by educational leaders in implementing the quality standards in the K-12 educational system in the UAE? Principals, VPs, HODs and Principals of outstanding school Interviews
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Given the critical significance of education to the human life and development, research in the field of education should also be equally significant. Nevertheless, this research is significant for a few reasons. Firstly, quite a number of scholars have studied various aspects of the UAE education at various levels and in relations to numerous issues. However, in spite of the bulk of literature on this, the issue of quality assurance standards, particularly factors influencing their implementation is an issue that has been overlooked. Therefore, this makes this research immensely significant given the existing lacuna within the extant body of literature.
Secondly, the recent UAE’s impressive economic booming pushed the country towards joining the elite OECD countries. This means that the UAE has to up the performance of its various sectors including its education to compete with the OECD member countries. As of 2017, the UAE ranked 48th in PISA, a ranking that is not good enough by any measure, particularly when a country is aiming to compete with the best in the sector. In addition, improving education is one of the UAE’s outlined priorities in its vision 2021. Thus, this research is likely to be significant to the policy makers of the UAE by proving them with empirical study on the factors influencing K-12 schools’ implementation of quality assurance standards.
Finally, among the major objectives of this research is to develop a model of factors influencing the implementation of quality assurance standards. Doing so is likely to offer future research a tool with which similar problems could be studied in other social and educational contexts. This is very important for the fact that knowledge ought to be incremental and progressive. The current research is established on the basis of the findings of various other studies that were conducted previously. Hence, this study should play the same role for future researches, particularly in relation to quality assurance standards in the field of education.
The findings of this study will elucidate a pathway for the UAE Ministry of Education to guide their reformation of the educational system and thereby achieving the targets outlined in the Vision 2021 initiative. These research results will also forge a gateway into the future benefiting all UAE residents, the society, and the nation by placing it on par with other countries whose educational systems have an elite international status. This international recognition permeates into all business and government entities creating a significant ripple effect of global prominence.
1.7 DELIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
A limitation causing concern is the current mandate offers only UAE citizens attend K-12 public schools at no charge. The native Emirates make up only 12% of the total population while the remaining 88% are expatriates with 59% being from Southeast Asia) CIA, 2016). Thus, almost 90% of the population must pay for their children’s education, public or private. Currently, the number of children attending private schools is six times greater than those in public institutions with 57% of native Emirates enrolled in private education (Ghosh & Najm, 2018).
Another potential limitation arises with Arabic as the main language of the UAE with English taught as a second language but is not promoted aggressively (Baker, 2017). To compete internationally, the UAE Ministry of Education must develop a curriculum where both Arabic and English are emphasized, compulsory throughout all grade levels, and require the students to be fluent in both languages. International businesses utilize the English language as their primary source of communication. Therefore UAE must conform to this policy, showing their readiness to engage in a global economy (2017).
The inconsistency of the curriculum between public and private schools. This is notable in the American Private Schools as only 30% follow the U.S. official state standards thus, most of the schools only offer a certificate of completion rather than a diploma making it difficult for the graduates to attend college (Overall All Performance of Private Schools, 2012). At a minimum, all private schools must follow their nation’s curriculum performance standards in addition to the UAE Ministry of Education.
The current need for proper assessment and measurement tools. This will be addressed within this research study, and a solution will be proposed. The lack of high-quality teachers, educators, and administrators. Hiring practices must be assessed and redeveloped to ensure the highest quality of staff is in place. Continuing education must also be developed for each employee level. There is a definitive cultural gap between the expatriates and the UAE. Teachers must be nurtured by and within the social structure and then impart this to their students and parents.
1. 8 DEFINITIONS OF OPERATIONAL TERMS
The following terms are defined operationally in this study:
Environmental Factors- This refers to those factors that make/unmake learning conditions safe, protective and making the atmosphere conducive for learning with adequate facilities and resources. For instance, the physical condition of classrooms, libraries, other parts of schools and its surrounding environment all go under the environmental factors which in one way or another might influence quality assurance standards.
Emirates – The shortened name for the UAE
GCD – Gulf Cooperation Council
Institutional Factors – institutional factors, it means factors that embedded in school settings. This includes size of the school, form of leadership, type of school, number of students in the school, its performance in national examinations and so on.
Internationalization- Describes the “specific policies and programs undertaken by governments, academic systems and institutions, and even individual departments to deal with globalization” (Altbach, 2006, p. 123). Also, describes “the process of integrating an international perspective into a university system as an ongoing, future-oriented, multidimensional, interdisciplinary, leadership-driven vision that involves many stakeholders working to change the internal dynamics of an institution to respond and adapt appropriately to an increasingly diverse, globally focused, ever changing external environment (Ellingboe, 1999).
NCEE – National Center on Education and the Economy
OECD – Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The mission
of the OECD is to initiate policies to improve both economic and social well-being of
people around the world. Enacted in the 1960s, the organization has grown to include 34 countries, including economies such as China, Japan, the United States, Canada.
Switzerland, and Finland. The OECD is committed to supporting sustainable economic growth, boosting employment, maintaining financial stability, assisting countries in economic development, and growing world trade. Because education is a driving force in a globalized economy, the OECD focuses on current challenges within the educational system. Specifically, the organization focuses on effective teaching and learning 21st century skills. The OECD assesses and compares the educational systems around the globe through PISA (OECD, Work on Education, 2011).
Private Education – Schools and Learning Institutions funded and supported by donations, tuition fees, and non-public entities.
PISA – Program for International Student Assessment. PISA is an internationally
standardized assessment administered every three years to 15-year olds in participating countries. Students are assessed on mastery and application of knowledge and skills in the areas of reading, mathematical literacy, and scientific literacy (OECD, Programme for International Student Assessment, 2011).
Public Education – Schools and Learning Institutions funded and supported by the UAE government.
Quality Assurance Standards –Quality assurance standards QA are a set of guidelines that have been selected and implemented by education institutions all around the world to display commitment towards delivering quality knowledge and education to students. The main purpose of quality assurance standards in education is to deliver quality education and knowledge to the students which can be done through various quality assurance standards issues by various institutions (Allais, 2009). According to Cheng and Tam (1997), there are seven models for quality assurance in education which include the goals and specifications model; the resources input model; the process model; the satisfaction model; the legitimacy model; the absence of problems model; and the organizational learning model.
Technical Factors__ These are factors that are related to issues such as the level of academic staff training, provision of quality assurance standards officers, innovativeness of the officers, area of jurisdiction, the workloads of the quality assurance standards officers, availability of financial resources, the methods employed by quality assurance standards officers in carrying out their duties.
UAE – United Arab Emirates
UAE Education System In the context of this study, UAE education system refers to the school years classified by the UAE Ministry of Education as compulsory. This includes five years of primary education (grade 1-5) which is referred to Cycle 1/Phase 1, and three years of preparatory education (grade 6-9), referred to as Cycle 2/Phase 2. The two cycles (Cycle 1 and 2) were formally known as formal/compulsory education. However, since July 2012 a new law was passed that included three years of secondary education (grade 10-12) as Cycle 3/Phase 3 making the system what is known widely as K-12 educational system (Mita, 2018).
UNESCO – United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization
UNICEF – United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund
1.9 CHAPTER OUTLINE
This research will be organized in five chapters:
Chapter One, entitled Introduction, focuses on the introductory aspect of the entire research. The chapter entails introduction to the topic of the research, background of the problem, problem statement, research objectives, research questions, research scope, significance of the study, a brief on the theoretical framework of the research and then, definitions of major terms and then summary of the chapter.
Chapter Two, entitled Literature Review, discusses the major concepts of the research, previous research on related and relevant topics of this research, previous research on quality assurance standards in education in the United Arab Emirates and in other countries. Theoretical framework of the research is also another aspect that the Chapter Two discusses. Finally, the chapter presents the conceptual framework of the research before eventually providing a chapter summary.
Chapter Three, titled Research Method, presents the entire methodology to be followed in carrying out the research. The chapter entails aspects such as the research approach, method of data collection, population, sampling, sampling method and technique, sampling procedures, data instrument employed by the research, questionnaire design, questionnaire pre-test, pilot study procedures, method of data analysis, and the tools employed in analysing the data.
Chapter Four, titled Data Analysis and Presentation of Results , will present the data of the research and analyze its findings in reference to the research questions and in line with the hypotheses made by the research.
Chapter Five, entitled Discussion, Recommendation and Research conclusion, will discuss the findings of the study in relation to the research questions and objectives, in relation to the extant literature in the field, and in relation to the theories employed as framework by the study as well as the methodology employed in arriving at the findings. It will also summarize the entire research, discuss implications of its findings, discuss contributions of the research, offer recommendations for future research and finally conclude the entire research.
1.10 CHAPTER SUMMARY
Educational system enhancement requires vigilance, a high-performance learning environment, and productive teamwork that utilizes the functional role quality assurance standards and best practices facilitate improvement. The understanding and deployment of these factors are necessary for fulfilling the UAE K-12 educational goals outlined in Vision 2021. Considerations for societal, cultural, and religious characteristics are paramount to the success of these educational initiatives. The approach must be an acceptable manner that embraces and builds on these UAE sociological ideologies and identities rather than eliminating them as this will be met with resistance.
Hence, this chapter has laid the foundation upon which the rest of the research will be rested on. The chapter introduces the problem of the research, discusses its background, points out the gap within the extant literature that prompt this study, sets objectives to be achieved, and raises questions will help achieve the objectives. The chapter also sets the scope within which this study will be carried out, what limitations applied to the research as well as why the topic of this research is significant to be studied. Moreover, the chapter also provided a brief of the theory employed by the research as its framework. Finally, the chapter defines some basic terms which are believed to be in need of definition within the context of this research. Likewise, the chapter lays the outline of the entire research.
CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
The literature review for this research study will encompass a complete dossier of information outlining the quality assurance standards and the factors influencing its implementation among the UAE K-12 schools. The literature review focuses on reviewing what previous studies did in relations to quality standards assurance. The review carried out in this chapter will form the basis for the methodology chapter to follow. This current chapter is divided into four major sections. The first section focuses on the conceptual discussion of the major concepts of the study. This includes a conceptual discussion on quality standards assurance, a review on the existing quality standards assurance in the UAE K-12 schools, the importance of quality standards assurance in the UAE education system, the UAE internal education reforms, and quality standards commitment relationships. The second section of the chapter reviews studies on factors influencing and affecting quality standard assurance. This chapter will include aspects such as factors influencing the implementation of quality standards assurance in a general sense, and factors influencing quality assurance standards implementation in the UAE schools. The third section of the chapter presents theories that form the basis for the framework of the study. The final section of the chapter presents the conceptual framework of the research which is a combination of the major concepts of the research, the models and the theories adopted. What are to follow are the details of all the main sections and subsections just mentioned.
2.1.1 Defining quality assurance standards in K-12 education.
Nearly every country across the globe has developed a set of quality assurance standards for their educational system. In trying to build a high-performance curriculum and school structure that will achieve international recognition, research of several influential and esteemed organizations that regulate and guide nations on education development, management, and cultivation. Although there are some national and international education assessment agencies, this study will focus on the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) since it is a recognized leader in the development of academic performance standards benchmarked to the best school systems in the world.
126.96.36.199 The Design Provider
The design provider in this study is the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE). NCEE is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit policy organization focused on issues of education quality and workforce development. During the 1990s, NCEE emerged as a prominent voice in the national debate about school reform and is also recognized for promoting its brand of standards-based systemic reform, which included a rethinking of school, district, state and federal roles in pursuit of a coherent instructional system, one driven by performance standards and aligned assessments. Since its founding, NCEE has shaped a variety of reform issues related to technology in schools, the development of national exams, portfolio assessments of student learning, and the strengthening the high school diploma through the Certificate of Initial Mastery (CIM).
NCEE was developed to assess the impact of the evolving international economy on American education (Our Mission, NCEE, n.d.). This information is analyzed and assimilated to formulate an educational agenda based on the findings and use this information to implement policy change through resources educators specifically trained to carry out and fulfill this agenda (Our Mission, NCEE, n.d.). The entire organization is dedicated to the betterment of the American educational system through analysis, research, and training by dissecting the high-performance education systems across the globe. NCEE (n.d.) researches and analyzes three specific areas of education: 1) benchmarking the entire educational system; 2) Leadership development and training, and 3) Teacher/Educator support and training. This information is evaluated and interpreted to determine the best components and strategies of highly successful educational systems that provide superior performance for students (Our Mission, NCEE, n.d.).
188.8.131.52 Organizational History
NCEE is one o f a handful of prominent design providers offering school designs for implementation. Influential in NCEE’s move towards whole school design was a succession of partnerships with education officials and intellectual and advocacy roles that culminated in a series of popular policy reports examining the characteristics of high performing educational systems and close connections between the public school effectiveness and workforce quality. Like many providers, in the 1990s NCEE expanded its current portfolio of school improvement work to include the development and delivery of whole school designs under the sponsorship of the NASDC (Robinson, 2002). In 1992, NCEE joined NASDC to develop and test prototype designs for elementary, middle, and high schools. Design-driven reform presented a new strategy for promoting the organizational conditions supportive of NCEE’s new aligned instructional system. At the close of NASDC grant in 1998, NCEE released “America’s Choice Design” as a new improved version of its earlier “break the mold” blueprint for K-12 schools.
NCEE’s aligned in the instructional system formed a cornerstone of the design and a distinguishing feature within the growing market for whole school reform designs. By 1998 as state accountability systems moved into place, NCEE was achieving some success in persuading a handful of states (Rhode Island, Vermont, the District of Columbia, and Department of Defense schools) and large urban school districts to adopt as their the New Standards and Reference Exam. Most state officials reported consulting NCEE staff or using NCEE’s standards and assessments as prototypes in developing their systems, particularly Massachusetts and New York (Hoff, 2001).
184.108.40.206 Network Size and Diversity.
Spurred by newly available federal program monies and performance pressures emanating from state accountability systems, increasing numbers of schools adopted America’s Choice Designs during the project period, 1999-2005. Since 1998, NCEE’s school network experienced rapid growth, almost doubling in size until 2002.
NCEE reported a preference for geographically clustered schools to reach some economies of scale. In practice, NCEE staff reported a willingness to work with any school that would sign a contract with them, with some officials acknowledging that they took on deeply troubled schools that required considerable help and schools for which they had little practical experience. NCEE officials reported working with three types of schools: single schools, clusters of schools in a single district, and clusters of schools in a given state. Compared to other providers, NCEE’s “reform network” was moderate in size, rising to a high of 550 schools in 2003. Although elementary schools and Title 1 schools dominated the network, schools represented a wide range of social-economic status, geographic location, and grade levels. NCEE was aggressive in its marketing campaign and pursuit of large-scale contracts. Network composition shifted as NCEE attracted sizable contracts with Georgia in 2001 and New York City in 2002, which brought in large cohorts of elementary schools.
220.127.116.11 Delivery Strategy and Organizational Complexity.
Faced with growing network, NCEE opted for a new service delivery strategy, shifting from a central to a regional delivery model in 2000 to expand direct services to schools. Six new regionally placed offices were strategically placed across the country, an expanded staff was hired to work directly with schools, and new managerial layers were established to coordinate roles and responsibilities between central and regional offices. High schools services shifted to regional control in 2001. Other providers pursued different delivery models, such as contacting with independent consultants to service schools as needed or contracting with independent organizations geographically positioned to reach new schools.
During this expansion, NCEE maintained a diverse portfolio of reform-oriented initiatives, interacting with key actors at all levels of the school system. While working in high schools, not only was NCEE supporting the implementation of America’s Choice in elementary and middle schools, it was also leading policy forums on key national reform issues, developing new product lines related to standards, and providing consulting services through workforce development initiatives. For NCEE, whole school designs were one of many “improvement strategies” for inducing systemic change in public education. In contrast, other providers developed strong research and evaluation capacities before moving into the whole school design market. Still, other providers pursued a narrow, specialized mission that focused exclusively on a single level of schooling, such as elementary school or secondary education.
Compared to NCEE and other providers advocating K-12 designs, these providers were not managing a diverse portfolio of schools, and by extension, reform supports. Finally, some providers developed new school improvement strategies by separating or “unbundling” components from the larger design for wider consumption by schools not interested in whole school change. NCEE marketed its literacy curriculum component of America’s Choice Design as a free-standing program, attracting large multi-school contracts with Mississippi and New York City.
18.104.22.168 Sector Status.
Among nonprofit design providers, NCEE was unique in that its design materials, marketing strategy, and assistance package followed a business model, were standardized with restrictive use copyrights, and employed a corporate language that framed schools as “clients.” To disseminate its standards-related materials, NCEE utilized commercial distribution channels, such as Harcourt Brace, and throughout the project explored other commercial partnerships to gain discounted merchandise for schools or to standardize practices across schools for monitoring purposes. Perhaps the most public embrace of commercialism comes with the conversion from nonprofit to for-profit status. So NCEE converted its school-support services related to America’s Choice into a for-profit subsidiary, jointly managed with a venture capital firm (Trotter, 2004). Other nonprofit providers, such as Success for All, considered for-profit status when redesigning their assistance delivery strategy to schools; however, teachers’ negative views of the profit motive were considered prohibitive, potentially undermining provider credibility with schools.
22.214.171.124 Approach to Design Adjustments.
During its earlier affiliation with the New American Schools Development Corporation (NASDC), RAND described NCEE’s approach to design change as that of an “evolutionary leap,” such that NCEE strategically withheld all learnings during its NASDC affiliation, choosing to release a brand new version of the design in 1998 (Bodilly, 1998). However, under federal sponsorship between 1998 and 2004, NCEE’s stance towards design change appeared more “incremental” in nature. Specifically, America’s Choice Design reflected annual adjustments and refinements each year, typically to the design’s implementation strategy, assistance package (e.g., staff and material support) and key design components.
In 2016, the NCEE published a study that was a culmination of 25 years of research on educational systems titled “9 Building Blocks for a World-Class Education System” (2016). The purpose was to give the United States Congress the information and tools necessary to examine, rebuild, and implement strategies throughout the nation. The basic elements of this study are as follows:
1) “Provide strong supports for children and their families before students arrive at school” – the emphasis should be on helping mothers and babies with prenatal care, nutritional support, free universal healthcare, excellent daycare and preschool facilities, and family allowances (9 Building Blocks, 2016).
2) “Provide more resources for at-risk students that for others” – offering all students high-quality education regardless of economic status as the less fortunate need more support, so they have more resources available as compared with privileged students (2016).
3) “Develop world-class, highly coherent instructional systems” – benchmarking student performance, curriculum, and assessments to other countries in a form that allows all parties to understand the expectations set forth for them (2016).
4) “Create clear gateways for students through the system, set to global standards, with no dead ends” – issue students qualifications sheet listing the courses taken along with their grades and develop an opened system whereby the student can continue their education beyond the normal range (2016).
5) “Assure an abundant supply of highly qualified teachers” – the thought process correlates that to have high-caliber students their teachers must be highly qualified with a teacher to student ratio of 10 to 1 in the classroom (2016).
6) “Redesign schools to be places in which teachers will be treated as professionals, with incentives and support to continuously improve their professional practice and the performance of their students” – this must be initiated with the existing teachers to garner the quickest results including career ladders, professional development, and observation (2016).
7) “Create an effective system of career and technical education and training” – develop a vocational education system that enhances the student’s abilities once in the work place (2106).
8) “Create a leadership developments system that develops leaders at all levels to manage such systems effectively” – develop a leadership program that identifies leaders through nurturing and support to raise them to their potential (2016).
9) And, “Institute a governance system that has the authority and legitimacy to develop coherent, powerful policies and is capable of implementing them at scale” – develop, monitor, and challenge the education system where high-performance students flourish while controlling costs, taking responsibility for all aspects of policy-making and deployment with the cooperation of elected officials (2106).
The 9 Building Blocks for a world-class education (2016) creates a foundation for a high-performance educational system by using is a philosophical approach that is broad-based, so it will easily mesh with any system in any country. The competencies are definitive but flexible, creating an interwoven complex of parameters for achieving a high-quality educational system that can grow, expand, and diversify depending upon the current and future changes in learning.
2.1.2 Current quality assurance standards in UAE K-12 education.
On the matter of quality assurance, the UAE is adopting reforms that were promoted by the OECD, the World Bank, and UNESCO, reforms that are by now part of the amorphous body of reforms known as “international best practices.” The global focus on educational quality has been fueled by the rise of international assessments such as PISA and TIMMS, which subjected education systems across the world to closer scrutiny than ever before (Carnoy, 2007). In the development field, the focus on quality followed the emphasis on the expansion of education, in particular relating to girls and minorities, which was not proving to be the recipe for success that it was hoped to be. It became clear that expanding the quantity of education was not enough to ensure that increases in enrolment levels were sustainable (Akkari, 2005). If school buildings were poorly constructed, did not have any toilets, or had too few textbooks or poorly trained teachers, then there was a negative impact on enrolment as well as retention and school life expectancy. Glewwe and Jacoby (2004) demonstrated how in Ghana improvements in material resources, such as repairing leaky roofs or the provision of more textbooks, has had a positive effect on test scores directly through their effects on the learning environment and indirectly through their effects on retention. In response to concerns about the effect of poor quality schoolings on access to schooling, the international development community began to shift its focus to this area. The EFA Mid-Decade Assessment for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCO, 2007) states that:
It is … important to acknowledge the false divide that often exists between
quality and access that the role that low quality has in turning children and
their families away from schooling, and the incredible drawing power that
quality schools have in the community, (p. 157)
Fifteen years after the launch of EFA in Jomtien, the EFA Global Monitoring Report: The Quality Imperative (UNESCO, 2005) focused solely on quality and identified some possible indicators of quality, which included: completion rates to year 5, the number of resources available for education, and class size. However, the report was careful to say that quality is highly dependent on context and will vary in its definition from place to place. While the report states that quality is essential for education, it stops short of stating what quality means exactly and how to determine if a school or school system is of good quality or not. In a more recent EFA report (UNESCO, 2007) on quality of education in Latin America, a “human rights approach” to quality is utilized, defining quality as having three core aspects: the respect for rights, equity, and pertinence. Therefore, even within the one body, there have been different understandings of what is meant by quality in the field of education, and this has been the singular challenge—to come up with a working, practical, and widely applicable definition and measure of quality in education.
O’Sullivan (2006) categorizes the approaches to defining quality into six broad areas:
(1) The deficit notion, which relies mainly on saying what good quality is not. It refers to factors such as overcrowding, a lack of resources, and other non-school factors, such as the health of the child.
(2) The competency approach: quality in this approach is the “effectiveness of the
degree to which stated objectives are met or described” (p. 248).
(3) The value-added and fitness for purpose view: the value-added approach uses national assessment data to determine how much above the average a teacher or school has managed to “add” to a student. It compares students within and across schools.
(4) O’Sullivan also includes Bergman’s (1996) four types of quality approach: based on value, input, process and output. Bergman argues that, depending upon the stakeholder who is being asked, there will be different conceptions of quality. Some will be more interested in test results, others in the use of resources, and others in how enjoyable school was for the student.
(5) Quality as teaching and learning processes: this looks at what is happening within classrooms and schools as a measure of quality.
(6) Contextual understanding of quality: quality is grounded in cultural traditions, social relations, and economic and political life. It is therefore unique to a nation or region (O’Sullivan, 2006, p. 248).
Regarding measuring quality historically, there has been a tendency to rely on an
Outputs approach that typically focuses on the achievement of students as a measure of quality (Lavy & Hanushek, 1994) or on the inputs approach, which looks at the resources expended on education, class size, and teacher credentials; however, this has been criticized as inadequate (Harbison & Hanushek, 1992; O’Sullivan, 2006). However, each of these approaches relies on a quantitative approach, which privileges items that can be measured, such as test scores, teacher education, mother’s education, over those that cannot, such as leadership and teacher practice. In contrast to this and more recently, there have been other attempts to measure quality using an indicators approach, which combines quantitative and qualitative indicators to measure quality.
Indicators range from those that can be easily captured quantitatively, such as outcomes, teacher education, and resources, to those that are more nebulous, like leadership quality and school ethos. Broadly speaking, the indicators utilized by development organizations are either output or input indicators that are, according to O’Sullivan(2006), the result of the “the economic aspects of globalization which lead to an emphasis on efficiency in education, on proper resource allocation, on competencies, on measurable inputs and outputs and drives education into a closer relationship with markets” (p. 250). The development organizations prefer to examine quality regarding inputs and outputs rather than through examining processes, as these are considered economically effective as well as easy to access and to publicize. In Table , it can be seen that the two domestic organizations utilize indicators that are more process-oriented and therefore much less easy to measure, requiring a more in-depth examination of what goes on in schools. This broader conception of an indicators approach holds greater appeal to the education community on the ground than the more narrow indicators preferred by the development organizations.
Chapman and Adams (2002) examined research conducted by the World Bank on teacher characteristics and found that proxies or indicators used for teacher quality, such as the type of certification, pre-service education, or salary, are typically not related to student learning. Similarly, Heyneman (1997) found that expenditure per student did not have a positive correlation with student achievement in math and science in the Middle East. Therefore, there are questions relating to the continued reliance on input and output indicators in measuring education quality.
O’Sullivan (2006) believes that the inputs approach fails to improve quality in education, as most of the input indicators contain an underlying economic rationale that leads them to be more quantitative than qualitative. As such, they do not indicate the use of the inputs, which is key to realizing an improvement in quality. For example, O’Sullivan states that it is not so much the presence of textbooks in a classroom that indicates quality but rather how those textbooks are used in the teaching process that determines the quality of the lesson. In the same way, O’Sullivan states that output indicators also fall short. A reliance on exam results can indicate merely that students have memorized answers well rather than acquired concepts they can utilize outside of the exam setting. Thus, she believes there is a need to begin using indicators that are more qualitative and show us how, rather than what.
2.1.3 UAE Vision 2021
The UAE Vision 2021 was launched in January 2010 by HH Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Prime Minister, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai. It identifies aspirations for development of nationals and strengthening of education systems to support broad development goals. The document is highly aspirational and directed at UAE Emiratis in its ‘national’ rhetoric. Emiratis should ‘make a valuable contribution to their nation’s growth by building their knowledge and applying their talent with innovation and drive’ in addition to becoming ‘captains of industry and dynamic entrepreneurs, marshaling the country’s resources to bring innovative products to the marketplace’ (UAE Government, 2010). A business-friendly environment, with clear legal frameworks and regulations, will attract investment, with public-private partnerships in all sectors. The intent is one of economic growth with home-grown talent (Emiratis) nurtured to take leadership roles in the public and private sectors to stimulate diversification for the country’s future. The desire to diversify the economy is clearly stated with a willingness to move beyond traditional economic models and to stimulate entrepreneurship and international investment, including an aspiration for productivity and competitiveness to; ‘rival the best in the world as a result of investment in science, technology, research and development throughout the fabric of the UAE economy’ (UAE Government, 2010, p. 18).
The UAE Vision focuses on generic aims of building wealth, prosperity and social growth for Emiratis. Released in 2014, ‘Highlights of the UAE Government Strategy 2011-2013’, reviews performance against the Vision and introduces specific language about a Competitive Knowledge Economy: ‘Developing and integrating labor market planning’; ‘increasing participation of Emiratis’; ‘developing vocational training’; and ‘enforcing Emiritization programs’ are highlighted (Prime Minister, 2014). ‘Support SME development’; ‘diversification of trading partners’; ‘high value-add’ industrial sectors and ‘Emiratis (…) aligned with national priorities’ add specificity to the UAE direction (Prime Minister, 2014, p. 13). The oil ‘crunch’ described by some respondents may provide a socio-political overhaul of Emirati expectations for a changed future. UAE media discourse identifies the importance of non-reliance on oil as headlines illustrate; ‘Thanks to an aggressive diversification strategy envisioned by the leadership, oil that constituted 70% of the UAE’s economy in 1971, currently accounts for just 29% of GDP’ (John, 2012, November 26).
The Vision 2021 document identifies a knowledge-based and highly productive economy, ‘driven by knowledge and innovation’ with ‘investment in science, technology, research and development’ (UAE Government, 2011, p. 18). The Highlight document targets a competitive knowledge economy articulating encouragement of ‘science, technology, research and development’ p.18 with ‘high value-add industrial sectors’, enhancing research and developing talent – especially Emiratis’ (Government of Dubai, 2007, p. 13). This requires ‘cooperation with the private sector, international institutions in innovation and applied research, exploring new channels of funding for research and building and disseminating a database of research conducted in the UAE’ p. 13.
Emirati social issues are rarely discussed in the public forum, however documents now cite development of a strong work ethic, motivation, meritocracy and parental engagement as ways to foster stronger outcomes for national youth (UAE Government, 2014). Significant social change is required for the country to develop further, where citizens can stimulate economic growth through personal effort. This requires a change-strategy that will loosen historical expectations of benefits bestowed through the benevolent social contract. The UAE is challenged by the potential for a social outcome ‘as experienced by low-income countries – that of exclusion, although the nature of exclusion may be significantly different‘(Burden-Leahy, 2009, p. 526; Hertog, 2010).
2.2 Importance of Attaining Quality Assurance Standards in UAE Education
The World Bank identifies the critical importance of the K-12 system as a platform to develop employment literate students, to stimulate economic growth in developing countries and prepare students for further learning and roles as knowledge workers. WEF discourse addresses the role of K-12 preparation, with scholars focusing the debate on globalization, global public goods, the potential for economic growth and complex interdependencies (De Weert, 1999; Marginson, 2010a; Schwab, 2011; World Bank, 2002).
Recent World Bank reports stress more contemporary approaches to teaching and learning are required, with press commentary outlining UAE challenges to suggest that ‘putting the country on a more stable development path will require further investment to boost health and educational outcomes’…and that ’raising the bar with respect to education will require not only measures to improve the quality of teaching and the relevance of curricula but also measures to provide incentives for the population to attend schools at the primary and secondary levels’ (Kane, 2013 September 4). These headlines highlight UAE alignment with the principles and recommendations of World Bank philosophy, remodeling education in the K-12 space to make it more effective.
2.2.1 Investment in the future of UAE
‘Being swept into a whirl of strategic, political, economic, social and cultural change which might … amount to complete reorientation’ appears to be UAE’s reality (Heard-Bey, 2004; Heard-Bey, 2010, p. Epilogue xxviii). Globalization and internationalization are pressuring the UAE to determine its strategy for K-12 education and economic growth. The focus on western education and economic models and quality assessment tools appears disconnected from historical obligations to nurture citizens both socially and financially, resulting in a difficult dichotomy.
Historically, knowledge generation has focused on harnessing educational and thus economic potential and stimulating growth. However, concepts such as ‘societal good’ from knowledge generation, a ‘socially just foundation’ with ‘more prudent use of natural resources’ have entered discourse of some development agencies (UNDP, 2011). Economic growth alone does not improve social cohesion and tolerance for other societies, religions, and beliefs and may result in societal divides (UNDP, 2009). This reveals the competing priorities of globalization and economic diversity, juxtaposed with historically sponsored social contracts and obligations between tribal leaders and their peoples. UAE rentier wealth is defined as the ownership of natural resources rented to external clients to derive income, particularly from carbon natural resources (Echague, 2006). This wealth is starkly contrasted with countries that develop through increased productivity and technological innovations in industrialized societies, such as Singapore and South Korea (Kane, 2013, November 16).
2.2.2 National pride, the solidarity of 7 Emirates
The UAE Federation comprises seven Emirates, similar to states in many countries; Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah, each having a ruler (Sheikh) who action issues of tribal importance within a geographical area (Fig. 1).
Figure 1. Regional map of United Arab Emirates
In 1971, Sheikh Zayed brought the seven Emirates to Federation, although the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah took a last minute decision to withdraw from signing the agreement (Davidson, 2005; Heard-Bey, 2004; 2010). Sheikh Zayed strove to leverage the negotiating position with international companies for oil rights in the Emirates. His over-riding aim was to strengthen the position of all tribal peoples in the newly formed UAE, regardless of tribal allegiance and to improve collective opportunities and the quality of life. The federal government, funded by Abu Dhabi’s wealth, took responsibility for the provision of nation-wide services such as education, health and infrastructure. Abu Dhabi funds its Emirate development needs but also contributes 80% of the national budget from its oil wealth.
2.2.3 International status and stability
The UAE is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) formed in 1981 to protect common security, and development interests comprises Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Yemen. The UAE is part of the Arab World and Middle East North Africa (MENA), yet different in many ways, a people who have adapted quickly to economic and social change. Challenges for Arab countries in building a knowledge-based economy and society cite the need for citizen empowerment, freedom, transparency in governance, strong HE systems and initiatives to meet the aspirations of Arab youth (Wilkens, 2011; World Bank, 2008b). This provides challenges for the UAE, although the action is more urgently required for poorer countries in the region as 63% of the population in the Arab world is under 30 years of age (National Bureau of Statistics, 2015; United States Census Bureau, 2016). The UAE population is statistically very young with over 73% under 30 years of age (Fig. 2) (National Bureau of Statistics, 2016) with 78% living in urban areas (Central Intelligence Agency US, 2015), whereas all were Bedu, a largely nomadic people, only 40 years ago.
The Emirati or ‘national’ population stands at approximately 1,200,000, 14.2% according to the latest census figures, in a rapidly increasing total residential population, of 8,500,000. Tribal allegiances are strong and recognized by dominant tribal names aligned with geographical regions or Emirates, such as Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi, Al Maktoum in Dubai, Al Qasimi in Sharjah, Al Mu’alla in Umm Al Quwain, Al Qassimi in Ras Al Khaimah, Al Sharqi in Fujairah and Al Nuaimi in Ajman.
Figure 2. Population pyramid for Emirati Nationals (2015)
Source: (National Bureau of Statistics, 2016)
2.2.4 Business attraction beyond petroleum companies
Imported labor has always fueled growth in the UAE as Emiratis constitute an estimated 12-14% of the residential population, bringing a distinctive edge to actions taken across the country (National Bureau of Statistics, 2010, 2016). The UAE is increasingly reliant on expatriate labor for its development and growth path, further reducing the percentage of the indigenous population. Higher education is indicative of this dilemma currently requiring 90% of expatriates to teach in the sector.
The conundrum of globalization and development, versus the power of the nation-state to determine direction is revealed through government and governance, power-sharing and decision-making that have different underpinnings compared to those of democratically elected nations. This is further complicated by tribal bonds, diverse Emirate aspirations, strategies and access to funding in the UAE. Sheikhs are contextually important, with relationships determining to fund on the one hand, and life-long obligation on the other (Davidson, 2005; Echague, 2006; Heard-Bey, 2004; Maitra & Al-Hajji, 2001).
2.3 Benefits of Improving School Performance in UAE
The benefits of improving school performance in UAE seems to stem from an overwhelming desire by the UAE to be regarded as “modern” by the international community. The national documents are filled with references to modernity and international standards as justification and reasons for reforms.
2.3.1 International expansion of UAE learning institutions.
UAE learning institutions priorities have been shifting over time, and each time emirates have been under pressure to change policies accordingly. It can be seen that international education priorities, many of which arose from within the World Bank, have shifted from vocational education to secondary education to basic education and girls’ education and most recently to early childhood education. As the World Bank is one of the major sources of financing for developing countries, its priorities became their priorities. The role of UNICEF and UNESCO cannot also be ignored, as they were instrumental in the creation of EFA. The series of World Conferences on EFA have become major sources of dissemination of World Bank and United Nations education policy priorities. The educational Education For All-Dakar Framework for Action (UNESCO, 2000) in Dakar focused largely on issues faced by low-income countries such as girls’ education and universal access to primary education (Heyneman, 2003).
Despite issues with their relevance (Heyneman, 2003), the Education For All-Dakar Framework for Action (UNESCO, 2000b) still insisted on all signatory countries targeting these areas. If states wished to secure loans from any of the major donors (who are all members of EFA), then they had to adopt the priorities of these donors (Jansen, 2005; Samoff, 2000). The World Conferences on EFA have in effect been the most responsible for the construction of global norms and “best practices” for education, largely through the Education for All Frameworks for Action and the yearly Education for All Global Monitoring Reports by UNESCO (Chabbott, 2003; Jansen, 2005; Tilak, 2005). They have developed a discourse that problematizes certain areas of development (those more relevant to Sub-Saharan Africa (Heyneman, 2003) and not others. By defining these priorities in scientific terms, the World Bank, UNICEF, and UNESCO constructed a “knowledge regime,” whereby only “experts” are permitted to define the problems and only “experts” have the solutions to “solve” them (Escobar, 1994; Parpart, 2000).
2.3.2 Increasing UAE educational system efficiency.
Certainly, increasing UAE educational system efficiency is the key in gaining the right skills, especially during students’ training periods, to ensure that they are job-ready and can secure jobs with high-paying salary. Therefore, schools must have well-developed and structured programs to accomplish these needs. According to Warren, “A system that does not meet the international standards of efficiency in its staffing, in its programs, in instructional technology and in its graduates; it will not serve society well” (Warren, 2007, p. 8).
2.3.3 Employment opportunities after graduation with business sector as partners.
The employers have a crucial role to play in efforts to create connections between education and work, especially in providing the education sectors with information about what is really needed in their area of business sector. The benefits of improving school performance including effectiveness, and productivity, contribute significantly to the field of workforce development and to local and state economic development, and ensure that students receive the right knowledge as they begin to plan their career. Another outcome is the partnership established with schools the ability to provide and address human resource needs to the employers. In addition, they will become aware of the costs and effectiveness of a long-term recruitment and retention program. Finally, they will have the opportunity to choose highly motivated students from the school (NCCE Practitioners Committee, 2007).
Human development is a major factor in any workforce development and obviously the education sectors are the main source of high-quality graduates for the workforce. According to Schultz (1961), speaking on the role of improving school performance in human capital development, investments in education are one strategy that promotes employers’ productivity and income. He defined this strategy by stating that an investment in education is truly an investment in human capital, which means that students gain the necessary skills through learning, experience, and training, and thereafter become valuable employees in the market place.
Investment in human resource development has led to spectacular developments in schools, decreases in illiteracy rates, and growth in higher education institutions and enrolments (Bahgat, 1999). However, the country is in desperate need of highly educated, well skilled, and job-motivated graduates. The demand from the private and public sectors, and especially the academic sectors, is extremely high for both male and female nationals. According to the UAE Ministry of Higher Education, the number of UAE postsecondary institution graduates is increasing year after year (especially the number of females)––this sort of news shows that progress is being made in fulfilling these needs.
Government expectations of UAE graduates are very high. Obviously, these students are expected to be well educated, highly motivated, and ready for jobs. However, many studies of postsecondary students and graduates’ attitudes toward their future jobs show that they are not motivated to engage in or prepared for manual labor. They prefer office jobs, especially in the government sectors, because these are the high-paying jobs and because they do not wish to work outside under high-heat conditions. Therefore, educators and policy makers must consider redesigning and reforming the education system to make the students aware of their future and careers.
2.3.4 Student Satisfaction in Attending High-Performance Schools
The growth in student numbers between 1971 and 1994 demonstrates the rapid expansion of schooling in the period following federation. In 1970, only 33,000 students were receiving education. By 1994, this had grown to 278,836 (Gardner, 1995), and currently there are closer to 500,000 students attending school in the UAE (United Arab Emirates Ministry of Economy, 2007). The UAE has, amazingly, been able to achieve universal primary education in 25 years with over 90% of students now completing primary school. In addition, the country has moved from having adult literacy rates of lower than 10% to current rates of near to 70% (UNDP, 2003). As issues of access have been largely resolved, issues of effectiveness and efficiency have now moved to the foreground and are now more closely under consideration by the UAE Ministry of Education.
2.3.5 Teacher Satisfaction in Employment
Teachers will be attracted to remain in the profession if content and satisfied, contributing to a successful school climate and a significant part of the leading role of organizational momentum. Teacher morale, efficacy, conditions of work and professional autonomy have been shown to be crucial to the emotional lives of teachers. Teachers prefer principals that are honest, communicative, participatory, collegial informal, supportive, demanding, and reasonable in professional expectations and have a clear vision for the school. Changing school culture, according to Barth (2002), from an unhealthy one to an inspiring and receptive one, is the most difficult challenge a leader must face. Characteristics such as this suggest administrators must be omnipotent; it is therefore not surprising leaders choose not to lead with the pressures and stigma that surround the position.
2.4 Strategies for Improving School Performance
The UAE has not looked at its neighbors for successful regional reforms but has imported what it has perceived to be the best experts and reforms from developed countries, in particular from the USA. International discourses on modernity, such as those found in the Arab Human Development Reports (UNDP, 2006) and MENA Development Report (World Bank, 2008), are clearly reflected in the education policy discourse in the UAE. While the UAE does not seek loans from the World Bank or other donors, it is clear that needing aid is not the only reason for speaking the same policy language as the major players in the development industry. In the case of the UAE, it has been important to signal modernity through both adhering to international commitments, such as the MDGs, referencing international best practices and hiring consultants from countries that the UAE seeks to emulate, such as the USA.
2.4.1 International educational reforms.
Currently, at the Ministry of Education (MOE), the chief advisor to the Minister of Education is an American, key expatriate staff in the MOE are American, and the (American) Association for Curriculum and Supervision Development (ASCD) was recently engaged to train 10,000 teachers across the country. The choice of the USA as the source of reforms is an interesting one, given that education reforms in the USA are, in Ohio and New York most recently, being shaped by recommendations and reports made by the management consultant company McKinsey and Co. The lead education expert at McKinsey is Michael Barber, who is British and, before taking up residence at McKinsey, was setting education policy in the UK. Thus, many of the McKinsey recommendations have a very British flavor and echo reforms that have already been enacted in the UK, Australia, or New Zealand. Therefore, the UAE, in choosing to borrow policies from the USA, is in effect borrowing second- or third-hand reforms that may or may not have been significantly altered for better or worse. It appears that the UAE believes that by using American advisors and organizations, it will somehow create a “modern” education system. However, little thought seems to have gone into what a “modern” education system is, considering the choice of the USA as policy source. The USA seems an unlikely place from which to source modernity if academic achievement is any measure, given its poor performance on the TIMMS and PISA assessments. Dubai participated in the TIMMS 2007 round, and the whole country participated in both PISA and TIMMS beginning 2011.
The UAE has taken up particular educational discourses in an attempt to tell the world that it is a modern nation-state. The shallow definition of modernity equaling decentralization or curriculum reforms indicates that it has not considered very deeply what “modernity” might look like or mean at the school, emirate, or national level. This, I believe, points to deeper problems with the underlying raison d’etre for education in the UAE. If the purpose of education in the UAE is to help the society develop, then it needs to be more than just part of a well-constructed facade to signal a modern country.
2.4.2 Current weaknesses in UAE educational system.
Fox, in his article on UAE policy choices, stated that ―a strategic goal for the UAE government is to consider increasing the funding on educational programs because of the appropriations per student has fallen below the international standards‖ (Fox, as cited in Warren, 2007, p. 2). This statement raises another potential crisis in the education system. To address these and related issues, UAE leaders and policy makers must consider investments in education and particularly in higher education that lead to high-quality programs for the UAE workforce and human resource development. Nationals should have access to a high-quality education and be able to attain the skills needed to ensure the availability of a highly skilled workforce for the region’s future economic growth. The alternative is struggle and regret, and being left behind.
2.4.3 Current strengths in UAE educational system.
Education in the UAE today has become the primary priority of nationals. The government is making tremendous investments in resources, policies, and funds to develop the education system, believing that education is a major key to future prosperity in the globalized economy. According to Shihab in his article on economic development in the UAE, the UAE government is offering a complete free public school education to all male and female citizens––kindergarten to university level. Further, a wide number of private schools in the country enrol almost 40% of the student population. In addition, the government also offers a generous scholarship for either study abroad or enrolment in local private post-secondary institutions with full coverage of expenses for citizens seeking higher education (Shihab, 1995, p. 255).
So much has been achieved in developing the education system and improving education levels for nationals since the union of the seven trucial states or emirates in 1971. In 1999, it was estimated that the adult illiteracy rate was 25%; this rate continues to decline. According to UAE Literacy, the UAE has doubled the number of adult education centers, quadrupled adult literacy classes, and quadrupled the number of teachers and learners, accounting for 72% of UAE nationals and 82% of women (UAE Literacy, 2002).
2.4.4 Determinates for implementation.
126.96.36.199 Top-to-down (Ministry-federation-administration-teachers-students).
The UAE president stated in a speech about ―Redressing the Balance‖ in the UAE population that he hopes to “gradually replace the foreign workers with nationals to remedy the demographic imbalance that makes almost 80% of UAE four million populations” (www.7days.ae, 2016). One solution is to create a ―progressive‖ nationalization program for the workforce with the help of educational sectors that leads to well-skilled workers who are able to take over work currently being performed by non-nationals. The president of the
UAE has called for a reform to the economic structure that will enable a reduction in the huge number of unqualified foreign workers, which accounts for the greatest demographic imbalance. He stated accordingly, ―We are aware of this imbalance, but are confident that addressing it is not an impossible mission, we are following a multi-faceted approach that should ultimately bring this imbalance under control by adopting well integrated, far-sighted plans, not fragmented, temporary procedure‖ (www.7days.ae, 2016).
188.8.131.52 Bottom-to top (teachers/students-administration-federation-Ministry).
The commitment of teachers in the workplace connecting to and collaborating with competent administrators to reinforce and redefine a shared communal spirit and social influence sculpts leadership architecture. UAE schools’ continual challenge is to be opened up to public scrutiny, consistently restructure, continually change governance and collaborative procedures, face accountability issues, clarify academic effort and performance, and institutionalize sound instructional practices (Leithwood, Jantzi, & Steinbeck, 1999). To this resolve, the UAE K-12 schools must advocate total school commitment of teachers and leaders in developing and responding to the pursuit of international educational ranking agenda.
2.5 Indicators of Quality Assurance Standards
Quality Commitment Relationships – Administration-Teachers-Students
The issue of quality commitment and whether school quality affects student achievement was most famously discussed in the 1966 report on the Equality of Educational Opportunity (Coleman, 1966). This report, more commonly referred to as the “Coleman Report,” concluded that school-level factors did not matter at all and that the greatest impact on student achievement came from family and socio-economic factors. This finding had many policy ramifications and suggested that if governments wanted to improve the achievement of students, then policies targeting families had the greatest chance of success.
However, the findings of the Coleman Report have been widely disputed with more recent meta-analysis studies, such as that conducted by Hedges, Laine, and Greenwald (1994), which found that schools do have a significant effect on student learning (Hanushek, Raymond, & Rivkin, 2004; Marzano, 2003). However, the effect of schools is attributed to items such as good leadership, teacher classroom management, discipline, and whether students feel safe at school. As these elements are more difficult to measure quantitatively, there is still no clear consensus on the best way in which to capture them and then use them to inform change. Through statistical analysis controlling for external variables, it has become clear that schools and what goes on in schools do make a difference to student success. However, a precise definition of what quality means and the measurement of the factors involved remain a contested area. The global focus on educational quality has been fueled by the rise of international assessments such as PISA and TIMMS, which subjected education systems across the world to closer scrutiny than ever before (Carnoy, 2007).
The use of a range of indicators to measure school quality has become popular in both domestic and international settings. In international development, the UN affiliates, in particular have stressed the importance of utilizing a broad range of both quantitative and qualitative indicators to determine school quality. However, what indicators should be included on any evaluation of quality is subject to much debate. Some academics state that any measure of school quality needs to include what a community itself values as quality in education (Lloyd et al., 2000; Muskin, 1999), as what may be accurate indicators of quality in the developed world may not suit the developing one (Muskin, 1999). To try and accommodate the ever-growing list of quality indicators, recent studies of quality have attempted to utilize both quantitative and qualitative approaches along with a design that is more fluid than fixed and that can be adjusted to suit a community’s needs. There is now widespread acceptance that test scores alone cannot reveal everything about the quality of a school or teachers. For example, some studies have found that test scores as evidence of teacher or school quality are tainted by accusations of teachers teaching to the test.
UNESCO, the World Bank, and the European Union all utilize an indicators approach to measuring education quality. Table 1 below compares the different indicators used by these organizations alongside quality indicators used by two domestic organizations in the UK (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Schools) and the USA (Center for Schools of the Future).
Indicator EFA, GMR (UNESCO, 21015) European
Union World Bank Her Majesty`s School Inspectorate (UK) Center for Schools of the Future (USA)
Literacy, numeracy and life skills
Creative and emotional skills
Values Social Benefits Attainment (in particular subjects)
Dropout rates, completion rates for secondary and primary Learning outcomes Academic attainment
Learning Learning time, teaching methods, class size
Time for homework Evaluation of school Homework Class size Instructional time Teaching and
Learning Instructional quality
Characteristics Aptitude School readiness Perseverance Prior knowledge or barriers Student commitment
(gender, age etc.)
Competitive-ness of teaching profession
Teacher education Education
training of teachers Teacher experience Teacher subject knowledge Teacher salaries Support for pupils Teacher excellence
Materials for teaching and learning, physical infrastructure and facilities, human resources Expenditure per student, number of students per computer Textbooks/ laboratories
Libraries Resources and management
Safety/Ethos School ethos Safety
Involvement Parental support Parental participation Parent support
Table 1. Quality Indicators by Organization
The indicators range from those that can be easily captured quantitatively, such as outcomes, teacher education, and resources, to those that are more nebulous, like leadership quality and school ethos. Broadly speaking, the indicators utilized by development organizations are either output or input indicators that are, according to O’Sullivan(2006), the result of the “the economic aspects of globalization which lead to an emphasis on efficiency in education, on proper resource allocation, on competencies, on measurable inputs and outputs and drives education into a closer relationship with markets” (p. 250). The development organizations prefer to examine quality in terms of inputs and outputs rather than through examining processes, as these are considered economically effective as well as easy to access and to publicize. In Table 1, it can be seen that the two domestic organizations utilize indicators that are more process-oriented and therefore much less easy to measure, requiring a more in-depth examination of what goes on in schools. This broader conception of an indicators approach holds greater appeal to the education community on the ground than the more narrow indicators preferred by the development organizations.
Factors Influencing the Implementation of Quality Assurance Standards
2.5.1 Principals – Leadership development and standards.
Over the years, there have a number of indicators that have been identified by researchers as factors influencing the implementation of quality assurance standards. Among the factors identified are the schools’ principals and their role in the implementation of quality assurance standards.
Principals are being held accountable for high-quality education leading to increased student achievement (DuFour & Marzano, 2011). In part, this accountability is a result of a traditional belief that a school’s success or failure is determined by how the school is run (Fullan & Watson, 2000). For years, researchers have attempted to find a direct connection between school leadership and student achievement. Dozens of studies have been conducted, testing the relationship between various principal functions, such as setting a vision, promoting a school climate that is conducive to learning, establishing “learning-friendly” structures within the school, and the allocation of resources, and student outcomes (Witziers, Bosker, & Kruger, 2003).
Attempts to test the direct effect of principal leadership on student outcomes were confounded by the need to isolate the tested variables from potential mediating factors. Many of these attempts found small effect sizes, highlighting the fact that it is virtually impossible to find any leadership function or action that occurs in isolation without outside mediating factors, such as staff and students, and particularly their behaviors and attitudes (Witziers et al., 2003). In their study of the impact of instructional leadership on student progress, Hill, Rowe, and Holmes-Smith (1995) concluded that leadership is mediated by teacher practices and attitudes. By contrast, studies of the indirect effect of principal leadership on student performance have found high positive correlations between principal behaviors and teacher motivation, job satisfaction and achievement orientation, school climate, and instructional focus, all of which have been proven to significantly contribute to improved teacher and student performance (DuFour & Marzano, 2011; Marzano et al., 2005).
The leadership style of the principal can have a significant impact on the establishment of a culture of continuous improvement. For fundamental change in professional practice to occur, principals must establish a safe environment where continuous improvement is expected, learning is encouraged, and collaboration is the norm (Fullan, 2001; Short & Greer, 2002; Zimmerman & May, 2003). Both transformational and transactional leaders invest in the growth of their followers, though they seek different ends. Transformational leaders promote the development of individuals within the organization to increase the global capacity of the organization, understanding that investing in the hopes and dreams of individuals has a “ripple effect” on the rest of the organization, increasing the efficacy of the entire organizational community (Bass, 1985; Burns, 1978).
In contrast, transactional leaders promote professional growth as the means to a short-term goal. While these training opportunities generally produce initial, temporary increases in achievement, they are rarely sustainable. Because transactional leaders tie professional growth to some form of extrinsic reward or recognition, the motivation to grow dissipates when the incentive disappears (Bass, 1985; Burns, 1978).
Passive-Avoidant or Laissez-faire principals depend on their employees’ own initiative to seek professional growth opportunities. Laissez-faire leadership is only truly effective when the workforce is highly skilled and highly motivated (Lewin et al., 1939). In their study of obstacles to effective professional development in schools, Zimmerman and May (2003) found that teacher resistance and attitude toward professional development was a significant barrier to school improvement. That being said, the laissez-faire style of leadership may be least effective in ensuring educators improve their practice to improve student achievement. Each leadership style will be discussed deeper in next sections.
2.5.2 Teachers – Teaching standards and curriculum.
Teaching and research activities for quality commitment are challenged at every level (Smith, 2009). The lack of quality teaching standards and curriculum (Clay & Minnet-Smith, 2012; Dunworth, 2008) contributes to subpar working conditions. Teachers’ limited ability to make decisions (Clay & Minnet-Smith, 2012) is another barrier to their success. Similarly, lack of professional development opportunities (Dunn & Wallace, 2004, 2006; Gopal, 2011) also contributes to the lack of improvement for teachers. Lastly, the heavy workload and lack of interest from home institution (Debowski, 2005) may contribute to limited success for teachers.
Some solutions to overcome barriers to success, include the following: professional development (Dunn & Wallace, 2004, 2006; Gopal, 2011), mentoring (Gribble & Ziguras, 2003), and pre-departure training for faculty members (Gopal, 2011; Gribble & Ziguras, 2003). Beyond providing more resources, Clay and Minnet-Smith (2012) found that there was a need for transparency between decision makers and faculty. Chapman and Adams (2002) examined research conducted by the World Bank on teacher characteristics and found that proxies or indicators used for teacher quality, such as type of certification, pre-service education, or salary, are typically not related to student learning.
O’Sullivan (2006) believes that the inputs approach fails to improve quality in education, as most of the input indicators contain an underlying economic rationale that leads them to be more quantitative than qualitative in nature. As such, they do not indicate the use of the inputs, which is key to realizing an improvement in quality. For example, O’Sullivan states that it is not so much the presence of textbooks in a classroom that indicates quality but rather how those textbooks are used in the teaching process that determines the quality of the lesson.
In the United Arab Emirates, there has been some research on teaching quality in the past. The most well-known papers on teachers are by Gardner (1995) and Clarke (2006), which examined teacher education, test scores, and salaries. Gardner (1995) stated that the low salaries paid to non-Emirati teachers in comparison to their Emirati counterparts and the use of short-term labor contracts for non-Emiratis would negatively impact the creation of a quality teaching force in the UAE. Over ten years later, the current study finds a similar situation facing educators in the UAE. However, as a result of training large numbers of Emirati women, teachers in the girls’ schools are now almost completely staffed by Emiratis, who receive salaries almost double their non-Emirati counterparts. Meanwhile, the boys’ schools are largely staffed by non-Emirati teachers; thus, the teacher quality issue, which was seen by Gardner as affecting all students in the UAE, has now taken on a gendered dimension due to the changes that have taking place in the past ten years.
Salaries in the UAE may have also influenced quality. In the UAE, expatriate teachers are paid significantly less than Emirati teachers. As expatriate Arab teachers make up 80% of the male teaching workforce but only 15% of the female teaching workforce, this, therefore, creates a situation in which teachers in boys’ schools are, in general, paid a lot less than teachers in girls’ schools. Also, all the male teachers surveyed for the study were the sole wage earners in their families, while only 15% of the female teachers were the sole wage earners. This additional financial pressure may result in more male teachers selecting to offer private tuition outside of school time, taking away from their preparation time and dedication and motivation at school.
According to Gardner (1995), who wrote about developing the quality of the teaching workforce in the UAE, if the country is struggling to reduce its import of foreigners, it should focus on upgrading the quality of national workers and making them competitive. Pressure should be placed on the education system to ensure that it produces capable nationals who are willing and job-ready to enter the workforce (Gardner, 1995, p. 292). Consequently, modern technology and rapid changes in the economy are compelling all educational institutions, including secondary and post-secondary, to reform their teaching and services strategies. In addition, the researcher has identified other aspects that must be considered in improving the quality of graduates.
2.5.3 Students – Commitment to succeed.
Choudaha (2013) divided students interested and committed to succeed in their education into four categories based on their academic preparedness and financial resources. Choudaha indicated the ‘Glocal’ student segment (a) those with high financial resources and low academic preparedness and (b) those students who have low financial resources and high academic preparedness, will be the students who are interested in quality. Similarly, Heinemann (1997) found that expenditure per student did not have a positive correlation with student achievement in math and science in the UAE. Therefore, there are questions relating to the continued reliance on input and output indicators in measuring education quality.
2.5.4 Parents – Commitment to children.
Rather than supporting the school or teachers, many schools stated that the parents would blindly support their child regardless of the circumstance. It appears that in the end the
teachers, take the path of least resistance to keep their jobs. They behave in a subservient manner, reinforcing the class structures found in the UAE, which may keep the students and MOE happy for a time. But the result of this is an education that demands very little and in return yield little.
2.6 Factors Impeding Quality Education in UAE
In the UAE, there has been very little research on education quality and thus the factors impeding quality education; the most well-known papers are on teachers by Gardner (1995) and Clarke (2006), which examine teacher education, test scores, and salaries, and a paper on teacher education by McNally, Harold, and McAskill (2002). Again, the general absence in the literature on education quality in the UAE leaves a lot of unanswered questions about education in the emirates. It also makes it easier for organizations (such as the World Bank and the UNDP) to generalize about school quality in the region without evidence to support or refute the generalizations.
While school quality and education quality continue to be discussed purely in quantitative terms, it is impossible to gain a full picture of the complexities that exist within schools. As a result, any changes in school systems are made without a clear direction, and countries find themselves lurching from reform to reform while those in the classroom, rarely consulted, are most affected.
2.6.1 Nationality and Socioeconomic Class.
In the UAE, the biggest issue is not gender but nationality and socioeconomic class. At the top of UAE society are the Emiratis, followed by the Europeans (English-speaking Caucasians), then the expatriate Middle Easterners, then the non-English speaking Caucasians, such as the Eastern Europeans, then the Africans, Asians, and finally those from the Indian sub-continent who perform the most menial jobs. Of course, this is not exhaustive, and social status is also determined to some extent by wealth, but a wealthy Indian businessman will often unfortunately not be treated well by the Arab community at large (Emiratis and other Arabs together). The situation for the expatriate teachers reflects the broader issues with race in the whole society, but what is unique in the schools is that it is one of the few situations where there are more Emiratis than any other nationality and as such, they have the upper hand. Expatriate teachers from poor countries have everything to lose, and the Emiratis are well aware of this. The students they teach are not encouraged to treat them well, and it was reported that teachers feel powerless if it comes down to a showdown between them and the student and his family.
2.6.2 International perception of UAE.
The strategic contribution of education is now recognized as significant for the competitive advantage of UAE, requiring quality of ‘national education and training systems as judged by international standards’ (De Weert, 1999, p. 49), a critical piece for the development plans of the UAE. Effective structures are needed to integrate long term strategic plans that foster knowledge-based worker development as sources of potential wealth, to demonstrate the contribution of intangible capital in wealth production (Abramovitz & David, 2000) Quality, vertically aligned and robust K-12 education system allow a nation to become increasingly sophisticated in the production and consumption of goods and services. The World Economic Forum (WEF) discourse emphasizes ‘economically productive knowledge’ with educated individuals able to take their place within a labor market that enables fluid uptake of efficient, effective, competitive and incentivized individuals who ‘give their best effort in their jobs’ (Schwab, 2011, p. 7). Flexible labor markets that provide strong relationships with incentives gained from personal effort should align with long-term nation-state planning and diversification.
The need to build a research culture and foster research effort as emphasized by several interlocutors is aligned with WEF and WB discourse. The WEF founder, Klaus Schwab urged ‘Government to take a long economic view at the Abu Dhabi Summit’ (Dean, 2011, October 24), and develop industries that can lead to technical break-through. WB measures Research & Innovation against the following criteria; researchers in R&D, per million population patent applications granted by the USPTO, per million population; scientific and technical journal articles, per million population, with the assumption of strong capacity in math, sciences and engineering that underpins patent applications (Chen & Dahlman, 2005). In 2014 Abu Dhabi released a new plan using WB parameters, in collaboration with INSEAD Innovation and Policy Initiative (Department of Economic Development and INSEAD Innovation and Policy Initiative, 2014). Research focused language is evident in media reporting, illustrating UAE and Abu Dhabi desire to improve ratings against indicators that define knowledge economy success. WEF discourse identifies the need for research investment to enable countries to become innovative, utilizing private company and university research expertise to shape new knowledge and commercial opportunities (World Economic Forum, 2014). This leads to findings from interviews regarding research and innovation in the UAE.
The WB identifies the critical importance of the K-12 system as a platform to develop employment literate students, to stimulate economic growth in developing countries and prepare students for further learning and roles as knowledge workers. WEF discourse addresses the role of K-12 preparation for higher education, with scholars focusing debate on globalization, global public goods, potential for economic growth and complex interdependencies. (De Weert, 1999; Marginson, 2010a; Schwab, 2011; World Bank, 2002).
Recent WB reports stress more contemporary approaches to teaching and learning are required, with press commentary outlining UAE challenges to suggest that ‘putting the country on a more stable development path will require further investment to boost health and educational outcomes’…and that ’raising the bar with respect to education will require not only measures to improve the quality of teaching and the relevance of curricula, but also measures to provide incentives for the population to attend schools at the primary and secondary levels’ (Kane, 2013 September 4). These headlines highlight UAE alignment with the principles and recommendations of WB philosophy, remodeling education in the K-12 space to make it more effective.
The expatriate teachers from Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine are no exception, and they are treated as second-class citizens in the best case and as servants in the worst. Expatriate teachers were observed being mocked by the students for their accents or spoken to rudely and dismissively. The expatriate teachers are also aware of the precarious position they occupy; they are all on one-year renewable contracts and only find out in the newspaper if they have lost or retained their job for the following academic year (this unfortunate practice applies to male and female teachers equally and does little to instill a sense of security or good feeling toward the Ministry of Education).
2.6.3 Parental Perceptions
Parental engagement during K-12 education years to grow family-based career awareness is essential. The hierarchical nature of a face-based culture identifies that many working roles are now considered socially inferior, with Emiratis preferring not to accept work, rather than take employment considered below them. Effort is needed to reorient attitudes towards educational and career success that currently do not link well enough to motivate individual accomplishment in many younger Emiratis. Thus, development of parental engagement as a way to foster stronger outcomes for national youth (UAE Government, 2014). Significant social change is required for the country to develop further, where citizens are able to stimulate economic growth through parental efforts.
2.6.4 Business relationships.
According to the UAE Government Annual Yearbook, the government’s main
objective for education in the region is to establish a strategy that will ensure the youth
are ready to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century workplace (UAE Yearbook,
2008). Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahayan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, said,
―The challenging of developing the education is a major undertaking that requires
combined efforts by the public and private sectors in pursuing the national interest‖
(Khaleej Times Online, 2006).
Consequently, UAE education officials are putting a great deal of effort into ensuring that the education curricula in secondary and post-secondary institutions are meeting labor market standards, to identify and examine the connections between UAEU curricula and labor force skills required in the current UAE labor market, the government, education sectors, and business and industry sectors.
Empirical Studies on Factors Affecting Quality Assurance Standards
There are quite a few studies on the factors affecting the implementation of quality assurance standards carried out in various social and educational contexts. The factors can be identified as internal and external factors. In a study conducted by Praraksa, Sroinam, Inthusamith and Pawarinyanon (2015) developed a model of factors influencing internal quality assurance operational effectiveness using small sized primary schools in Northeast Thailand as the case study. The factors included in their model include administrators’ instructional leadership, innovation culture of organisation, open climate of organisation and teachers’ leardership. These four factors were found to have direct effective on the internal quality assurance. The factors found with indirect effect include administrators’ instructional leadership, team work, open climate of organisation and teachers’ leadership. In addition, among the same set of factors five factors were found to have had total effect which include administrators’ instructional leadership, open climate of organisation, teachers’ leadership, innovation culture of organisation and team work.
Some scholars’ approach towards the identification of factors influencing the implementation of quality standards assurance seem narrow in their approach, others seem to be broader in their approach, and some combined between broad and narrow approach. For instance, Gideon (2014) investigated school based factors that influence quality standards assurance implementation in the public schools in Kitui county in Kenya. The study found that physical facilities affect the implementation of quality assurance standards. For example, majority of the head teachers (76.5%) claimed that their libraries were inadequate, 70.6 percent claimed that they do not have sharing facilities at all. In addition, majority of the teachers claimed that the major problems they encounter in relation to physical facilities are the lack of maintenance, the lack of fire and safety facilities. Furthermore, the study also indicated that the number of staffing also has effects on the implementation of quality standards assurance.
Some factors influencing the implementation of quality assurance standards are identified by some studies as technical and environmental. For instance, Benjamin, Kigen and Ongeti (2017) examined technical and environmental factors influencing quality assurance standards implementation in public secondary schools in Kenya. The study sampled out 38 schools and in each school there were 6 officers who participated in the study which made up 228 participants for the study. The study found that technical factors positively influence the implementation of quality assurance standards policy in public secondary schools in Kenya. These factors include level of training, staffing level of the quality assurance standards officers, innovativeness of the quality assurance standards and means of transport used by the officers. Among the environmental factors the surroundings of the school, weather conditions and the socio-economic activities of teachers all have influence on the implementation of quality assurance standards. However, location of quality assurance standards officers and accessibility of school do not influence the implementation of quality assurance standards. On the contrary, Ketkajorn, Vajarintarangoon and Sri-ngan (2017), in a study they conducted on 1,128 administrators and teachers from 33 schools of secondary educational service area, found that factors such as human resources factor, leadership and teamwork factor influence quality assurance standard implementation. Their influence ranges from high low average with human resource at the highest. In addition, the study also found that other factors such as different school sizes which also were found to have had influence on quality assurance standards implementation.
Similarly, Viola (2017) examined factors influencing quality assurance standards in secondary schools in Kenya. The study used a survey questionnaire to collect data from 38 schools, 38 head teachers and 190 heads of departments. The study identified three major factors influencing quality standards assurance implementation institutional factors, technical factors and environmental factors. Using a multiple regression procedure, the findings made by the study showed that, the factors account for 65.1% variation in implementation of quality assurance and standard policy. All the three factors were found to be positively and significantly influencing quality standards assurance implementation. While Viola (2017) examined the factors influencing quality standards assurance, Albaqami (2015) examined factors that enhance the implementation of quality standards assurance. The study used a semi-structured interview to collect data from both academic and administrative staffs. The results of the study showed that factors that enhance quality implementation were support and commitment of management and leadership, awareness and orientation, motivated faculty and quality culture. On the other hand, factors such as staff and faculty resistance, fear of change and inadequate infrastructure were found to be inhibiting the implementation of quality assurance standards.
At the higher education level, Wajanawichakon (n.d.) found that among the factors that influence quality assurance implementation in higher learning institutions are university strengths, administrators knowledge of the importance of quality standards assurance, right institutional structure and delegating appropriate duties to the right positions. It was found by the study other factors with negative influence on quality standards assurance implementation which include insufficient training of personnel, staffs and students on quality assurance standards. The study used questionnaire survey in collecting the data of the study. Different factors were examined by Kimaty (2016) in an institute of adult education at the Open University of Tanzania. The study found that factors such as quality of staff employed which is affected by poor incentives and meetings to discuss problems they face during their teaching process. Likewise, the study found that the quality of examinations is also another factor which is influenced by inadequate facilities, low payments (leading to teachers loose their morale) students’ overcrowded halls during examinations, typing errors in examinations as well as the lack of sufficient staffs. Finally, the teaching itself is affected by the shortage of teaching materials such as computers, power point projectors, poor ventilation in examination halls, the lack of connectivity, inadequate ICT facilities, poor library services and interrupted power supply.
To conclude this section, it is clear that a number of studies have made attempts to study factors influencing the implementation of quality standards assurance. These studies were carried out in various social and educational contexts different from that of this study. None of the studies reviewed was conducted in the context of the UAE K-12 education using the method to be proposed by this research.
2.7 Educational Practices Utilized in Top 2 High-Performing Countries
Case study data can come from many sources; the most common are documents, archival records, direct observation, participant-observation, interviews, and physical artifacts (Yin, 2003). This intrinsic case study will include document reviews and archival records. Although direct observation, participant-observation, and interviews will be the prime source of data from UAE, archival records and document review of Japan and Finland’s` powerful educational system will supplement the interviews.
Document Review. Education agencies has published audit reports that are made public by distributing them to various online sites. Hence, the researcher will carefully review documents and archival records from Finland and Japan Ministry of Education. In addition, recent government proclamations relevant to the delivery of education by Japan and Finland will be reviewed. The documents to be reviewed will include official statistical data, articles, and memoranda of association of each institution.
The purpose of this intrinsic case study is to examine Japan and Finland’s educational system as both are an exemplar of a successful world-class educational framework so that effective, democratic schooling practices could be identified. This study will employ the social research methods aligned with identifying and describing effective democratic practices that enable all Japanese and Finnish students to learn within a public educational setting. To this end, the researcher will also utilize case study to craft a research protocol for developing an in-depth analysis of the public school system in Japan and in Finland (Creswell. 1998).
Case study research design is increasingly becoming popular as a viable human inquiry system within the social sciences arena (Blaikie, 2000; Creswell, 2004). Case study design is a flexible approach to research design that examines a particular entity, an individual, a collective, or a phenomenon of interest. Specifically, the primary focus of this study primarily is on Japan and Finland’s educational system and quality assurance standards and best practices to be compared with UAEs educational system and practices. The historical reliability of case study as a human inquiry system provided a rich, robust framework for this study.
Case study research method, as defined by Robert Yin (2004), is “… an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context; when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident; and in which multiple sources of evidence are used” (p. 23). Merriam (2009) defines the qualitative case study as “… an intensive, holistic description and analysis of a single entity, phenomenon, or social unit. Case studies are particularistic, descriptive, and heuristic and rely heavily on inductive reading in handling multiple data sources” (Merriam, as cited in Qi. 2009, p. 23). Simply, case study methodology uses in-depth examination of single and/or multiple case studies, which provides a systematic way of approaching the problem, collecting and analyzing the data, and reporting the results.
The purpose of case study is not to represent the world, but to represent the particular case being examined. Qi (2009) explains that case study is critical for empirical inquiry. Research is empirical “… when it employs observation, description, and case study as research techniques” (Qi, 2009, p. 22). Ultimately, case study is intended to portray, analyze, and interpret the uniqueness of real individuals and situations through accessible accounts and to present and represent reality (Cohen et al., as cited in Qi, 2009, p. 22). Additionally. Wallace (1998) suggest that case study research is primarily for solving particular problems, applying theories into practices, generating hypotheses, and providing illustrations (Wallace, as cited in Qi. 2009, p. 22).
As researchers attempt to illustrate how ideas and abstract theories intertwine. case study method begins to take shape. As case study research is presented as a human inquiry system, specific features are evident. Hitchcock and Hughes (1995) identifies the following seven components of case study research:
• It is concerned with a rich and vivid description of events relevant to the case.
• It provides a chronological narrative of events relevant to the case.
• It blends a description of events with the analysis of them.
• It focuses on individual actors or groups of actors, and seeks to understand their
perceptions of events.
• It highlights specific events that are relevant to the case.
• The researcher is integrally involved in the case.
• An attempt is made to portray the richness of the case in writing up the report.
• Are set in temporal, geographical, organizational, institutional and other contexts
that enable boundaries to be drawn around the case. (Hitchcock & Hughes, as
cited in Qi, 2009, p. 23)
Ultimately, scientific research seeks to obtain knowledge to solve problems. Thus, case study methodology as a scientific research instrument is guided by the knowledge necessitating the identified problem. To facilitate a robust study, the researcher carefully coordinated the purpose of the case study with the appropriate case study methodology. Case studies are classified in various ways. Yin (2004) identifies three specific types of case studies: exploratory, descriptive, and explanatory.
Though proponents of case study research argue that it is a comprehensive method usable for a large spectrum of problems, critics argue that the study of a small number of cases can offer no support for establishing reliability or generality of findings (David. 2007; Yin, 2004). Tellis (2007) explains, “A frequent criticism of case study methodology is that its dependence on a single case renders it incapable of providing a generalizing conclusion” (p. 3). Additionally, critics believe that continuous and dense exposure to isolated cases yields the capacity to biases the findings and therefore limits the case study research to exploratory purposes (David, 2007, p. 300). Blaikie (2000) explains that the major criticism of case study research is sloppy research and biased findings. Because of time and the amount of data collected from case study research, it is critical that researchers impose specific organizational techniques and collect data that directly mirrors the research purpose and questions (Blaikie, 2000, p. 218). Failure to consider these components during the research design makes the research vulnerable to criticism.
2.7.1 Japan Education System
The Japanese national government is composed of several ministries. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, and Technology (MEXT) oversees the national education system (see Figure 3). MEXT sets curriculum and other guidelines and then delegates governance and enforcement responsibilities to each of the forty-seven prefectural governments. Each prefectural government has its own prefectural board of education that oversees all levels of public education in that prefecture. The Japanese education system consists of compulsory education through elementary and middle school (up to what would be the ninth grade in the U.S. system). Secondary education consists of a non-compulsory three years of high school. The prefectural board of education maintains full control over high schools, but delegates governance and enforcement responsibilities of elementary and middle schools to local municipal boards of education. While municipal boards of education receive curriculum direction directly from MEXT, in almost all other cases they remain under the jurisdiction of the prefectural board of education.
Figure 3. Organizational Chart of the Japanese Education System
184.108.40.206 The Japanese Educational Reforms
The modern Japanese school system follows a 6-3-3-4-year structure after the Fundamental Law of Education and the School Education Law were enacted in 1947 (Japan MEXT 2016). As of today, Japanese children are required to finish 9 years of compulsory education: 6 years in elementary school between the ages of 6 and 12, and three years in middle (lower secondary) school between the ages of 12 and 15. Students who complete middle school can choose to enter high (upper secondary) schools or colleges of technology, which offer five-year vocational programs. Admissions to these post-middle-school institutions often require students to take entrance examinations. Students completing three years of high school can advance to junior colleges or four-year universities (Japan MEXT 2016). Junior colleges offer two- or three-year programs, and most of the attendees are women (Japan MEXT 2016).
The Japanese educational system has been argued to be the basis of the strong economic growth in the post-war period (Takayama 2009). Domestically, Japanese scholars such as Hirota (in Japanese and as cited in Takayama 2009, p. 130) published a book in 1999, arguing that the Japanese system was believed to be a truly meritocratic system: one in which students who strive to achieve high test scores are promised the necessary academic credentials leading to future success and upward mobility (Kariya and Dore 2006; Tsuneyoshi 2004).
However, social problems such as youth violence, high school dropouts, and student suicides had increasingly attracted public attention in the late 1970s, and the educational system at that time was viewed as the cause of these problems (Takayama 2009; Tsuneyoshi 2013). The system during this period suffered from critiques of rote memorization, cramming knowledge, intense competition, and its emphasis on standardized test scores for student evaluation (Takayama 2009). The social momentum urging educational reform was intense, given the economic stagnation triggered by the Oil Crisis (Takayama 2009). Upward mobility through education was no longer guaranteed in times of economic crisis, and the concept of `Yutori’ education (i.e., a relaxed educational system) first appeared in the 1976 Curriculum Council report, calling for an educational system that encourages self-driven learning and individualism (Takayama 2009). The concept of Yutori has eventually taken over the whole discourse on educational development, and reform measures have been implemented incrementally toward the ideal Yutori system ever since.
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in Japan issues national curriculum guidelines for K12 education, also called the Course of Study, approximately every decade. These curriculum guidelines are legally binding and regulate the grade-level curriculum content, number of graduation credits, classroom hours for each subject, and policy objectives (Novick 2011).
Following the introduction of Yutori in 1976, MEXT issued the 1977, 1989, and 1998 revisions of the national curriculum guidelines. These revisions implemented changes that aligned with the goal of Yutori education. The 1977, 1989, and 1998 revisions were implemented in 1978, 1992/1993 (depending on the grade level), and 2002, respectively (Japan MEXT 1989; nJapan MEXT 1998). The 1998 revision (implemented in 2002, also called the 2002-Reform) was said to have made the foremost steps toward a Yutori educational system (Motani 2005; Takayama 2008; Takayama 2009). Some scholars argue that no significant changes had been made or enforced in the 1980s or 1990s; thus, the 2002-Reform marks the actual beginning of the Yutori Reform wave (Bjork 2011; Goodman 2003; Novick 2011). However, there are some who argue that the Yutori Reform wave may have begun in 1992 (when MEXT implemented the 1989 revision of the course guidelines) or a decade before that. Most of the reform measures surrounding Yutori Reform were implemented in K12 education, but official guidelines had been offered to universities in order to assure a smooth transition from high schools to universities, especially in terms of university admission policies (Japan MEXT 2010).
220.127.116.11 Japan Educational Quality
In response to concerns about Japan educational quality, the Ministry of Education gradually introduced different components of accreditation. The early policy discussion traces back to the 1980s in the provisional higher education council under then Prime Minister Tanaka. During the 1990s, scholars of higher education policy studies introduced the American accreditation system, and shortly after this the Japanese Ministry of Education implemented self-study and external evaluations. Numerous Japanese schools produced self-study reports, although they barely utilized the findings in those reports for continuous improvement.
In 2004, the Ministry of Education created two different accreditation mechanisms: institutional accreditation and programmatic accreditation. Institutional accreditation was required for all Japanese national, private, and municipal colleges and universities, while programmatic accreditations were required only for professional graduate programs such as law, business accounting, and teacher training. In addition, institutional performance budgeting was implemented at national colleges and universities as they became an agency independent from the Ministry of Education in 2004 (i.e. quasi-corporatization).
18.104.22.168 Development of the Japanese institutional accreditation system and Overview of the three accreditation agencies.
In the early 2000s, then Prime Minister Koizumi lead the downsizing of the government sector through the new public management approach (Hata 2007), which advanced deregulations and implemented policy evaluation systems to monitor the effectiveness of policy implementations and the quality of public services. In 2002, a blueprint of the Japanese accreditation system was published, emphasizing that a ―third party‖ (not the Ministry of Education) would conduct accreditation reviews (Central Education Council 2002). Under the larger national policy scheme, in 2004 the Ministry of Education created two types of quality assurance systems: the accreditation system for both national and private sectors, and the institutional performance evaluation for the national sector.
A new component for the second cycle of accreditation reviews is the internal quality assurance mechanism. The idea came from the British quality assurance system to audit the internal operation of colleges and universities for continuous quality improvement. By adding an internal quality assurance mechanism as a new accreditation standard, Japanese accreditation agencies hoped to avoid a ―compliance mentality‖ among colleges and universities, aiming to promote continuous improvement based on accreditation review comments (Japanese University Accreditation Association 2008).
Accreditation agencies insist upon the importance of the Plan-Do-Check-Action cycle for internal quality assurance mechanism on campus. Accreditation agencies plan to investigate 1) the organizational structure of an internal quality assurance mechanism, 2) the use of assessment findings for continuous improvements, and 3) the provision of necessary professional development for faculty and staff (Japanese Consortium of Accreditation Coordinators in Higher Education 2012). Although these general objectives are understandable, college administrators are still perplexed about the concrete details of the new internal quality accreditation standard. Japanese research on internal quality assurance systems is still sparse; most researchers explore models in the United Kingdom and Australia (e.g. Hata, Yonezawa, & Sugimoto 2011, Sugimoto 2009).
Finland is acknowledged by the OECD (2010) as one of the best performing school systems providing high-quality education to all students. Finnish students demonstrate educational excellence regardless of their own background or the school they attend. Variation between educational outcomes among Finnish schools is merely 8%, the smallest variance in PISA 2009. In mathematical literacy, Finnish students scored second best among the OECD countries; the percentage of students performing low was the smallest in Finland among OECD countries. In scientific literacy, Finland was only out performed by Shanghai-China (OECD, 2009).
22.214.171.124 The Finnish Public School System.
Prior to the 1970s. Finland’s educational system was ranked below its international superpowers. Finland was only recognized globally for one international education indicator; Finnish 10-year olds were ranked among the most competitive readers in the world when asked to demonstrate mastery of reading, understanding, applying, and reflecting upon written texts (Allerup & Mejding, 2003). All other indicators proved Finland to have an educational system producing citizens performing below world economic competitors. Since the 1970s. Finland has consistently gained international attention for transforming is educational system to a leading world-class education system. Both researchers and policy makers seek to identify and understand what factors have contributed to such a successful, rapid, widespread education reform.
Increasing human capital is perhaps one of the most referenced reasons for Finland’s educational success (Sahlberg, 2009). Specifically, educational policy since the 1970s in Finland has focused on increasing the level of education for its adult citizens, made equity priority, increased the level of student learning, and maintained moderate spending (Sahlberg, 2009). Prior to the 1970s, a noticeable achievement gap was observed due to varying educational orientations that were reflective of the socioeconomic divide within the country. During the mid-1980s, Finland terminated streaming in the comprehensive schools in an aggressive effort to make learning expectations equitable for all students. The policy change decreased the learning gap between low and high achievers. The PISA surveys (2000, 2003, 2006) showcase Finland as having the smallest educational performance variation among students, regardless of which school they attended. Finland has less than a five percent between-school variance, opposed to an average variance of 33 percent among other OECD nations (Sahlberg. 2009).
Students formally enter the Finnish public school system at age 7. Students acquire basic education between the ages of 7-16. This initial compulsory schooling includes grades 1-10. At the conclusion of compulsory education, students, along with their teachers, parents, and advisors, elect to attend either an upper secondary school to engage in advanced academic curricula or a vocational school to pursue interests in skilled careers. At the conclusion of three years in the secondary school of the student’s choice, female students decide to pursue personal goals outside the walls of an academic institution, or they elect to continue their studies at a university or polytechnic institution.
Male students are required to serve their country for two years at the end of their required academic schooling; however, at the conclusion of their service years, they then elect to pursue additional studies or personal career opportunities. Figure 3 below illustrates the current Finnish education system:
Figure 4. Finnish Education System.
Source: Finnish Ministry of Education http://www.minedu.fi/export/sites/default/OPM/Koulutus/koulutusjaerjestelmae/liitteet/finnish_education.pdf
126.96.36.199 National Education Standards in Finland
To increase the quality of education for all Finnish students, standardization in education was initiated in the 1980s to raise student achievement. An outcomes-based education was followed by standards-based education policies in the 1990s (Sahlberg, 2009). Thus, clear, high performance standards for schools, teachers, and students were identified and initiated. Globally, standardization policies reflected clear, top-down prescriptions for increasing both student and teacher performance. However, educational development in Finland reflected a loose system for employing standardization. Though clear learning outcomes were identified, a flexible national framework was presented that allowed for local, school-based curriculum planning. The loose system of standardization allowed local entities to identify and implement national standards that would allow for both localized and individualized approaches to creating best practices for teaching and learning (Sahlberg, 2009).
Standardization increased focus on core subjects such as reading and mathematics. Reading, mathematical, and scientific literacies currently define the effectiveness of schooling as the potential economic competiveness of its citizens. Though identifiable sets of basic knowledge and skill sets are represented in education reform across the globe, Finland has maintained a focus on broad and creative learning. The national standards in Finland give equal value to a person’s individuality, moral character, creativity, knowledge, and skills (Sahlberg, 2009). Rather than prescribed curricula that intends to standardize predetermined results, risk-taking is encouraged within the Finnish schooling system.
In Finland, curricula are created at the individual teacher and school level. This campus based approach to teaching and learning encourages teacher leadership and unique approaches to teaching and learning (Sahlberg, 2009). Finnish teachers capitalize upon their professional responsibility in deciding what is best for student learning. Ultimately, trust in teachers and trust in building administrators to design learning plans that promote student success for all while maintaining national goals is considered pivotal in the success of the Finnish education system.
188.8.131.52 World Class Educational System in Finland
Equality in education is the central objective of Finnish education. The stated mission of the Finnish school system is “… to provide all citizens with equal opportunities to receive education, irrespective of their age, domicile, financial situation, sex, or mother tongue'” (Finnish National Board of Education, 2008, ^ 1). To accomplish this goal, pre-primary education, basic education, and upper secondary education are free.
Educational services in Finland include tuition, welfare services, and school meals. The Finnish National Board of Education (2008) has put educational guidance that supports the students as a critical aspect of the Finnish education system. Educational guidance has been identified as essential for providing equality in education. The first six years of basic education provides guidance that is grounded within the basic curricula; however, curricula in the upper secondary education reflects specific lessons that students take part in crafting. The intent of this collaborative process is to ensure all students have the opportunity to perform well by making and correcting appropriate decisions pertaining to their education and individual career choices (National Board of Education. 2008).
Most education in Finland is publicly funded. Institutions offering basic and upper secondary level education are maintained by local authorities. In 2004, 98 percent of basic education, 92 percent of general education, and 52 percent of vocational upper secondary institutions were publicly funded. Responsibility for funding is shared by between the state and the local authorities. The state subsidy averages 57 percent for primary and secondary education and an average of 43 percent is funded by municipal contributions (National Board of Education, 2008).
The additive-based educational system in Finland is currently being celebrated and examined internationally. Key factors have been identified for their academic success. Specifically, flexibility and diversity, emphasis on broad knowledge, and trust through professionalism have been presented as the pillars for their success. Table 2 compares these critical elements found within the Finnish System with those within the general Western model of schooling.
General Western Model The Finnish System
Strict standards for schools, teachers, and students to guarantee the quality of outcomes.
Emphasis on Literacy and Numeracy
Basic skills in reading, writing,
mathematics, and science as prime targets
of education reform.
Evaluation by inspection.
Flexibility and Diversity
School-based curriculum development, steering by information and support,
Emphasis on Broad Knowledge
Equal value to all aspects of individual growth and learning: personality, morality, creativity, knowledge, and skills.
Trust through Professionalism
A culture of trust on teachers’ and
headmasters’ professionalism in judging
what is best for students and in reporting of
Table 2. Comparison of Key Elements within the Western Model and the Finnish System of Schooling
Source: Kupiainen, S., Hautamaki, J., & Karjalainen, T. (2009). The Finnish Education
System and PISA. Helsinki, Finland: Ministry of Education.
2.8 Theoretical Framework for Quality in Education
W. Edwards Deming devised a method for continuous improvement of organizations and worked with the Japanese for 40 years developing this approach which enabled the Japanese industry to rebuild into a system based on quality at all levels. In the early 1980s Deming directed his theories towards education because he believed that schools could be transformed into quality institutions in similar ways as corporations within industry and commerce. Deming realized that the paradigm shift that had taken place in industry could work successfully in the education process. Blankstein (1992) agreed with Deming and advocated schools use the approaches which had proven to be successful in business and industry. “The task of transforming our schools is today within our reach. We can find direction in the theories and principles that guide advanced corporations “(Blankstein, 1992, p. 71).
Deming (1986) developed fourteen principles of Quality Standards which are based on the assumptions that individuals want to do their best and that it is management’s task to ensure this happens by constantly improving the system in which they work. The principles were: 1. Create constancy of purpose for improvement of product and service. 2. Adopt the new philosophy of management. 3. Cease dependence on inspection for quality. Build in quality first. 4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price alone. 5. Improve constantly and forever every process. 6. Institute training on the job. 7. Adopt and institute leadership at all levels. 8. Drive out fear. 9. Break down barriers between staff and encourage team building. 10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the workforce. 11. Eliminate numerical quotas and substitute leadership. 12. Remove barriers to pride and workmanship. 13. Institute a vigorous program of education and retraining. 14. Take action to accomplish the transformation. Deming’s 14 principles were translated by Robinson (1995) into an Australian educational context for the purpose of demonstrating their applicability to school communities.
2.8.1 Deming’s Fourteen Points Applied to School Communities
1- Create constancy of purpose for improvement of product and service – School communities must work in partnership towards the achievement of the school’s mission. Continuous improvement of teacher and student work together will maximize learning outcomes.
2. Adopt the new philosophy – School leaders must adopt and fully support the new philosophy of continuous improvement. Empowerment of students, teachers, and parents should be the focus of the new philosophy. Strong interpersonal relationships among students, staff and parents are essential to success.
3. Cease dependence on mass inspection – Cease dependence on summative assessment of students and staff. Assessment strategies should be used as part of a continuous learning process. Learning will be optimized when students take responsibility for their own learning. Teachers can assist in this process by encouraging students to apply information and problem solving to realistic real life challenges.
4. End the practice of doing business on price tag alone – Refrain from using the easy methods of lecture and testing. Teamwork and collaboration will lead to increased student achievement and will maximize the potential of teachers, administrators, and community members. Each member of the learning community has a role as a supplier and customer.
5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service – Principals must be the leading learners and in partnership with their communities to establish and maintain a culture of support and empowerment-whereby teachers, students, and parents are active participants in continuous quality improvement in teaching and learning.
6. Institute training and development programs – Schools must institute training and development programs to ensure that all teachers, students, and parents are familiar with the culture and expectations of the school. Training programs should meet the needs of students, parents, and teachers.
7. Institute Leadership – The achievement of quality educational outcomes for all students is dependent on school leadership which nurtures the partnership between all members of the school community. The principal must work with teachers, parents, students, and community members as coach and mentor, so that all students’ growth and improvement is valued and encouraged. All members of the school community should be provided with opportunities for leadership.
8. Drive out fear – Remove all the structures that create fear in students, staff, and parents. Any organizational change must reflect shared power, responsibilities, pride and incentives.
9. Break down the barriers between departments and clientele groups Encourage teamwork in every endeavor ensuring increased opportunities for learning. The establishment of multi-level quality teams will assist in breaking down staff barriers.
10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force – Teachers, students, administrators, families, and community members may collectively arrive at slogans and exhortations to improve their work together, as long as power, responsibility, and incentives are equitably distributed. Fix the system rather than blame or patronize people.
11. Eliminate numerical quotas and substitute leadership – Quotas lead to short-term thinking. Work on the processes which bring about improved decision making at the school level – to better meet the long-term needs of the school community.
12. Remove barriers to pride of workmanship – Schools must concentrate on the removal of systematic causes of student and teacher failure. Achievement in teaching and learning programs must remain a constant focus.
13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement- Everyone in the school community has a role to play in its ongoing transformation. Learning is a life-long process and all stakeholders require continuous learning programs.
14. Take action to accomplish the transformation – All school personnel must be empowered to put the new philosophy into action. The change must become embedded in the organizational and educational framework of the school. Constant leadership and dedication will be required at all levels.
Deming’s principles could be translated into an educational context because the concept of quality addresses the connection between theory and practice – theory being the desired state and practice being the process that critically influences quality. Educators could see opportunities to put into place continuous improvement practices which would in turn lead to quality outcomes in all aspects of a school’s educational and organizational framework. Deming’s work can provide a conceptual framework for understanding any system. Enid Brown, a business and education consultant who worked with Deming for many years, believed that one of the most important areas of his work for education was the idea of intrinsic motivation and extrinsic rewards. Grading students created an environment in which losers were being constantly identified – their importance was in how they were ranked, not in who they were. If the aim of the system is to create joy in learning, then all students should win. The alternative is to focus on process – how can we improve the learning processes? In reforming a centralized system, the leaders must understand what transformation means and they must have a solid theory and vision.
Deming advocated a complete paradigm shift which would enable students to participate in a collaborative learning environment where all members of the school community (principal, school leadership team, teaching staff, students and parents) participate in an educational partnership towards the achievement of the organization’s mission. “Education must be redesigned from the ground up, based on theory and profound knowledge” (Deming, 1986, p. 29). In 1991, Deming extended the theoretical basis for quality when he developed four interactive areas of profound knowledge. He believed they were needed in order to transform a school from one state into another. The system of profound knowledge was comprised of four component parts and each is related to the other. Latta, Downey, and Frase (1994) provide a brief explanation of Deming’s areas of profound knowledge:
1. Appreciation of a system – effective management of a system requires knowledge of interrelationships between components and the people who work in the system.
2. Knowledge of Psychology – managers must understand quality and people.
3. Knowledge of Variation – an understanding of variability of processes is essential. 4. Theory of Knowledge – managers must understand the work and make predictions regarding the work, (p .13)
2.8.2 Development of quality principles applied to the school setting
In addition to the theoretical base provided by Deming, Juran (1974), Crosby (1979), Barth (1988), Joiner (1993), Scholtes (1994), and Glasser (1992) all have played a role in the development of quality principles which can be applied to the school setting. Juran worked with Deming in Japan for many years and his work was similar to Deming in that both believed that senior management must lead their organization. Juran (1974) outlined steps for implementing quality improvements: (a) build awareness of the need and opportunity for improvement, (b) set goals for improvement, (c) organize to reach the goals, (d) provide training, (e) carry out projects to solve problems, (f) report progress, and, (g) give recognition and set goals. Crosby (1980), an American quality consultant adapted Juran and Deming’s work and developed a further 14 steps which could be used to implement quality management. They were similar in design to the steps provided by Deming and Juran. Joiner (1993) and Scholtes (1994) added to the philosophical development by adding additional components of total quality: (a) an obsession with quality, (b) internal and external customers, (c) working partnerships, (d) communication system adapted to the need of the work, and, (e) search for better performance. Using systems thinking, the work of schools is to make a quantum change (the sum of a multitude of small improvements) in the manner in which we conduct our business (increased student learning). Glasser (1992) believed that the fusing of effective schools methodology and the total quality school process would lead to increased student outcomes using a systems approach.
Barth (1988) completed research on school leadership, a concept integral to the successful implementation of Quality Standards in Schools. He outlined steps toward leadership as follows: (a) articulating the goal, (b) entrusting, (c) involving teachers in decision making, (d) sharing responsibility for failure, (e) attributing success to the teacher, (f) admitting ignorance, (g) believing in teachers (high expectations), and (h) relinquishing. His steps toward leadership impact on one the fundamental principles of total quality – strong leadership. “My vision is that a school will be a community of leaders, a place where students, parents, teachers and principals all become leaders in some ways and at some times. Leadership is making what you believe happen” ( p. 640). The work of Juran, Crosby, Joiner, Scholtes, Glasser and Barth provided an extension of Deming’s philosophy and encouraged educators to take up the Quality challenge, a challenge which in a short period of four years has brought about significant innovation and change in many schools.
2.9 Leadership and Training and Development
Leadership will be a major factor in determining the impact of quality management on schools. Leaders will need to assess their role in this process and adopt the new paradigm of quality in every aspect of a school’s organizational and educational framework. Leaders and administrators will need to rethink their role, allowing greater managerial freedom to teachers in their work with students and welcoming parents to work in partnership with the school in the achievement of goals. To bring about a change in culture within a school, the leadership will need to provide optimum learning environments for students. The school leader is the person who will initiate the movement to promote quality teaching and learning, and staff empowerment through an atmosphere that fosters shared decision making and innovation.
The training and development programs within the school provide staff with the techniques and skills to perform their work using quality improvement processes. The school’s chief administrator is the mentor and leader in the quality/productivity movement in the school and establishes a new management style based on greater collaboration and shared leadership with all stakeholders in the school community (Spanbauer, 1992, p.15). The emerging literature of quality management frequently linked the importance of leadership to achieving the goals of total quality. However, Bass and Avolio (1995) believed the linkages between TQM models, leadership research and theory have been typically weak. Deming (1986) and Juran (1979) focused on the importance of leadership at the higher levels of an organization and how it impacts on a total quality improvement program, in their writings, less emphasis was placed on what happened at the lower organizational levels.
2.9.1 Systems Leadership Theory and Leadership Styles
Systems leadership theory is defined as both “the position and function of a leader—a person who guides or directs a group,” and “the capacity to lead” (“Leadership,” 1970, p. 743). For thousands of years, people around the world have concluded that leadership is critical to the success of any institution or organization (Marzano et al., 2005). Theories of leadership can be found in the ancient works of Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates. Gemmill and Oakley’s (1992) study of the historical context of leadership found that throughout recorded time, society has demonstrated a need for hierarchies and organizational leaders. Ancient texts are filled with myths, legends, and historical accounts of political, military, and religious heroes who led their peoples against seemingly insurmountable odds to victories of great sociopolitical, economic, and spiritual significance (Gemmill & Oakley, 1992).
A review of modern leadership theory related to leadership styles and their corresponding behaviors and competencies begins with German sociologist Max Weber’s (1922/1947) research on the types of authority within an organization and the leadership style associated with each, published in his seminal work, Wirtschaft und Gesellshaft (The Theory of Social and Economic Organization). Weber Weber’s (1922/1947) work laid the groundwork for future transactional leadership theory discussed next, exploring the bureaucratic system of incentives and disincentives as a means of subordinate motivation.
Burns characterized transactional leadership by explaining that the exchange of individual interests emphasized the motivation of followers by a reward and punishment system (Burns, 1978). Transactional leadership has as its established foundation a controlling force, the leader. Determinations for duty assignments and rewards are made and documented by this reciprocal change in the organization and by the ‘take charge’ traditional leader.
These leaders focus on the basic and dutiful needs of the personnel, school and the environmental culture, but are not particularly sensitive to instilling a high level of commitment and job satisfaction (Bass, 1985; Leithwood, Jantzi, & Steinbach, 1999). Additionally, this design does not entail encouraging and supporting the motivation of those individuals within the organization who have a multi-dimensional commitment to their profession. These stringent and often stern organizational models accomplish tasks and prompt employees toward their desired goal and objectives with established directives that are clarified early on (Robbins, 2003). The encompassing important aspect of this design modality of leading understands rewards are contingent upon accomplishing all required tasks. Hater and Bass (1988) offered a dimension of transactional leadership which includes defining the parameters of leadership that “provides rewards if followers perform in accordance with contracts or expend the necessary effort” (p. 696).
While this leadership style does not encourage and stimulate creativity and divergent thinking within the organization, there is a positive focus on academic achievement and accomplishing all assigned tasks. Students’ success is of particular importance, and adequate resources for supporting the work environment are necessitated. Goldsmith (1996) reinforced this belief by stating organizations need to eliminate barriers in the workplace which may stifle creativity. To this resolve transactional leaders are left wanting in creating an environment which generates this form of expression. Research extrapolated that employees, when given the opportunity to express themselves, have creative potential that can result in a positive influence for productivity (Bogler, 2000). Rickards (1990) argued that by replacing traditional employee models in the workplace and allowing for challenges, problems could be viewed as opportunities. The statement suggests that the transactional model of leadership does not offer the innovative presence that some employees may desire. Mumford, Scott, Gaddis, and Strange (2002) suggested the need for organizations to become more competitive thus increasing the interest for research in learning more about creativity in the workplace.
Transactional leaders deal with discipline, monitor closely for noncompliance, and take corrective action when necessary. Exemplary subordinates within the organization display positive qualities, and the literature suggested that transactional leaders are positively related to workers being satisfied and committed to their work despite limitations. Clear structure allows employees to understand the benefits of following orders and submitting to systematic protocol. Work is allocated appropriately and failure to accomplish what is expected can be fraught with undesirable results. Although transactional leadership is a popular approach in management, there must be sufficient employees possessing the required skills to accomplish tasks. Otherwise, the ability of the transactional leader to continue to operate leaves a deficiency which other approaches can fulfill.
While there are mental models who appreciate this modality of leadership, there are those employees who feel somewhat stifled in their ability to work collaboratively with and create a team effort environment. Declaring ownership to decision-making is considered by these individuals part of the rite of passage as an active participant in school culture and the academic achievement of all students. More empirical research is needed to decipher these divergent ideas and statements in determining expressive realizations of employee performance.
Attention to the concept of transformational leadership was given significance by James McGregor Burns in 1978 and later defined more specifically and encompassing meaningful extensions by Bass and other researchers (Bass, 1997). Consistent with the defined realm of leadership is a negotiation between the leader and the ability to inspire others in an elevating morally respectful level. The agenda fosters an atmosphere of shared purpose and the meeting of developmental needs.
Research has attempted to concentrate on a definitive for transformational leadership and understand that genetic disposition may play a significant part in its emergence (McCarthy, Johnson, Vernon, Molson, Harris, & Jang, 1998). Studies have indicated that leaders who had favorable experiences in the elementary and secondary school setting are cognitive predictors of transformational leaders (Avolio, 1994). The components listed on the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) lists and measure the characteristics of transformational leadership. The questionnaire lists the components of charisma, individual consideration, and intellectual stimulation, components of transformational leadership (Bass & Avolio, 2000). Enthusiasm is this leadership advent guard to formulate and articulate a vision for others to follow.
Transformational leaders influence others and perform charismatically to transcend their own interest and identify deficiencies within the organization. Leaders characterizing this leadership domain are considerate of subordinates and have a depth of moral obligation not found with other leadership styles (Bass & Avolio, 2000). It is of the utmost importance that the transformational leader transforms the organization into a school climate that displays honesty, fairness, loyalty, justice and equality for each member. This is grounded in moral foundation and obligation with a personal awareness of moral beliefs and values (Burns, 1978; Sample, 2002). Bordering the thought of empowerment is the legacy of elevating the organization to a higher moral standard and one that is shared throughout the learning community. Supporting the atmosphere of learning, raising expectations, a higher level of commitment, and focus on unity of purpose is indicative of this leadership model. Trust is of the essence and finalizes the norms and facilitation of problem solving and decision making experienced by followers, an important factor in transformational leadership (Bryk & Schneider, 2002; Fullan, 2003). According to Day (2000), the principal is values led, people centered, and achievement oriented, both inwardly and outwardly cognizant of needs, and quite capable of articulating solutions to moral dilemmas.
Leithwood (1992) stated transformational leadership is representative of consensual and collaborative efforts that empower and manifest itself through others within the organization, not an overbearing presence. Transformational leaders are charismatic leaders whose personal attributes “inspire followers to transcend their self-interests, and who are capable of having profound and extraordinary effect on followers” (Robbins, 2003, p. 343). ). Leadership is an engagement, a transformation among followers that entails the altering of traditional beliefs, norms, values, and attitudes in regard to motivational influences (Bass, 1985).
The results of the transformational leadership style have been well-documented and given a positive edge over other methods with regard to job satisfaction, teacher morale, student achievement, improving school climate, and establishing a progressive school culture (Deal, 1995; Griffith, 2004; Ross & Gray, 2004; and Leithwood & Jantzi, 1997). Given the characteristics of this leadership model, evidence of a collaborative, communal spirit thrives within the organization. Burns (1978) conceptualized the idea of transforming leadership or traditional model. Bass (1985) extended this paradigm of thinking, and today this continuity of thought and reflection still abounds. Burns stated there were two basic types of leadership: one, transformational which was “quid pro quo,” transactions between employer and employees, and the other, transformational, the mutual engagement and stimulation elevating employees to a moral sense of duty (Owens, 2004, p. 269).
According to Bass (1998), “Transformational leaders stimulate their followers’ efforts to be innovative and creative, by questioning assumptions, reframing problems, and approaching old situations in new ways” (p. 5). Establishing within the organization the ability to mobilize staff to be a collaborative coalition of independent and divergent thinkers elicits creativity, the expressive antidote for academic success. Mobilizing individuals into a communal effort in sharing the school’s vision and mission adapts to a school’s practices for instilling within students the belief that all can be successful (Donaldson, 2001). The exemplary transformational leader is admired, respected, and idealized by constituents that aspire to reach heights of being, and elevate the school’s culture to a disposition of autonomy, inspired motivation, collaborative interaction, and sense of self as a significant sum of the whole.
In responding to directives and initiatives relegated to each, there is a degree of latitude each individual within the organization has for responding to required mandates, policy, and procedures. Moral leadership is more than a veneer; it is the soul and purpose, the patina of genuineness that stems from and is inherent in this insightful and formidable design (Owens, 2004). The transformational mantra is a moral and committed progression toward a corrective school culture that is ascertaining needs, denoting difficulties, defining opportunities, and signifying the continual need for academic improvement. Given the complex and protean nature of society, leadership today must augment the relentless awareness of the economic, social, and political impact of society on education. The transformational leader that is cognizant of the needs of the school and synonymous to the attainment of goals and community perceptions, filters and facilitates management with a student-centered focus where adult learning and insightful cognition is at its epicenter.
The leader must calculate managerial needs, collectively implement policy and procedure, collaboratively seek to supplant decision-making procedures with group processes, focus on fundamentals of academic achievement, embrace diversity, empower others, and maintain a consistency of sharing (Fullan, 1997). These egalitarian processes and procedures enhance school culture and formulate a myriad of schemas to direct leadership into an intentional and inter-educational roadmap for progressive and daunting designations. It is to this modus operandi that leadership must focus for future determinations in allowing clientele to find their areas of excellence. The transforming principal of today must stimulate the initiative of others in creating an effective organization based on values, effective instructional methods, cooperation of the school community, and with synergy, emit desirable principles that are relegated to this position of stature.
Teachers involved in the creation of the school’s mission statement and a part of the organization’s reflective practice are in a continual process of self-development and growth (Owens, 2004). This developmental journey imposes a convincingly and vigorously autonomous view in the school setting, and delineates participative and collective decision-making with followers as a route for transcending the commonality of their existence to a higher level. Kouzes and Posner (1993) noted the reliability of leadership represents a moral purpose, trustworthiness, and the hopes it envelopes. Transformational leadership is innovative, allows for the exploration and empowerment of others, and provides a transitioning supportive and collaborative effort in developing workplace effort and ability.
Valuing the organization, developing an emancipatory and shared vision, inspiring communication strategies, challenging and stimulating academic excellence, enabling trusting relationships, and fostering respect are collective efforts instilled within the organization by this leader. Bennis (1993) alleged, “The single defining quality of leaders is the capacity to create and realize a vision” (p. 216). The transformational leader accentuates a facilitative vision, and urges those within the school community to become self-directed, adopt their own unique and creative ideas, apply knowledge in an autonomous manner, share a personalized and common goal, and synthesize ideas in such as way as to become a commonality of powerful force that shapes the organization and those within (Dean, 1998).
Critics who raised a number of concerns regarding the epistemological framework for transformational leadership argue that in promoting ethics within the organization, questionable aspects have arisen that include an aggrandizing of amoral ‘puffery’ since it uses impression management (Snyder, 1987); is adversative to organizational learning and development (e.g., McKendall, 1993); persuades followers to go beyond self-interests to the point of perhaps negating their own needs in the pursuit of organizational good (e.g. Stevens, D’Intino, & Victor, 1995); is manipulative, allowing followers to loose more than they gain (e.g. White & Wooten, 1986); and lacks checks and balances of countervailing interests (e.g., Keeley, 1995). However, given these sharply villainous images, the trend and future direction will continue to support the educational view that transformational leadership will not be abandoned, but will be built upon by schools of change in which society will dictate what constitutes leadership and which value of dimensions does not.
Hickman (1993) argued that rather than transformational leadership being unethical, it defines the core and commitment of the organization and unifies human potential and the plural distribution of decision-making. As Sergiovanni (1996) noted, there will be a continuing emphasis on the moral, ethical, and value components of leadership. As the workplace continues to change leadership will be symbolic of fostering self-worth, gleaning the best from people, intellectually stimulating constituents, enforcing academic and instructional awareness, and instilling the values of honesty, fairness, loyalty and justice, regardless of what descriptive annotation it is given.
The collective efficacy of transformational leadership can be neither denied nor ignored. It is an authentic leadership style created to communize partnerships by investing in the “group.” Strategic visionaries surmise what practices are needed in the educational arena, but schools and situations dictate and categorize the results. The future references the need for different leadership styles that will acknowledge a new era of thought and facilitative nature. In response for today’s organizational challenge, transformational leadership cannot stand alone. In conjunction with other methods, including instructional and participatory, an exchange of valued elements that establishes and supports school goals becomes a necessity. The hierarchical managerial aspect of transformational leadership can be used to enhance the transformational model and accordingly, a far richer depth will demonstrate a multifaceted communal effort toward excellence in instruction.
Each component of the transformational model including democratization in the workplace, empowering stakeholders, managing the organization, participating in a community effort in creating a vision and the school’s mission, and the application of efforts, not the mere semantics of representative wording, will accentuate accountability. Academic achievement funneled through a “transform-ational” leader that acknowledges the integration of all positive facets for total school improvement will utilize all employees’ abilities to facilitate productivity. The combined efforts of those within the organization offer the methodology for improvement. A hierarchical manager alone cannot emanate the needs in isolation for a collective group of individuals upon whose aptitude and capacity it is dependent. The transformational, innovative model of leadership will emerge as the most suitable model to date and, with the acquisition of new knowledge and evidenced-based research, will continue to offer new avenues of thought that will endorse or add to existing modality of positivitism for this design representative of organizational citizenship.
2.9.3 The implementation of Quality Standards and best practice in a school with Transformational Leadership
A transformational leadership style will assist in facilitating the implementation process of quality assurance standards and best practices. Bass and Avolio (1994) outlined ways in which leaders can assist in transforming organizations. They believed that leaders who want to achieve superior results need to employ one or more of the Four I’s. A brief summary of each of the four I’s follows:
The “Four Is” are :
1. Idealized Influence – Transformational leaders behave in ways that result in their being role models for their followers. The leaders are admired, respected, and trusted.
2. Inspirational Motivation – Transformational leaders behave in ways that motivate and inspire those around them by providing meaning and challenge to their followers’ work. Team spirit is aroused, enthusiasm and optimism are displayed.
3. Intellectual Stimulation – Transformational leaders stimulate their followers’ efforts to be innovative and creative by questioning assumptions, reframing problems and approaching old situations in new ways.
4. Individualized Consideration – Transformational leaders pay special attention to each individual’s needs for achievement and growth by acting as mentor or coach, (p. 3) Leaders adopt the various styles within the model to varying degrees dependent on the situation. Sagor and Barnett (1994), in their book The TOE Principal : A Transformed Leader, described the role of the transformed principal. They believed that the transformed principal generates creative tension and supports a culture of continuous progress by focusing on four areas: (a) Strategic Planning – clarifying mission, setting goals and objectives, articulating a vision and generating action plans; (b) Collegial Work Groups – conducting action research, participating in staff development and governance, and performing quality control; (c) Customers – assessing quality and providing feedback and input; and, (d) School Profile – reporting on outcomes and consolidating feedback and input. The school improvement process must be continuous, like Deming’s PDSA cycle. Each new advance produced as a result of staff training and development becomes an opportunity to open up new professional growth opportunities, and each outcome achieved can be viewed as a stepping stone from which to mount the next initiative. The leader will be listening, influencing, or facilitating in each of these four areas. In addition to emphasizing the philosophical framework needed for the task, the authors stress the importance of the need for quality instructional leadership believing it to be a management imperative. School leaders alone cannot bring about a significant change in a school’s culture. It involves a commitment to that change from the staff and a willingness to alter attitude and practices in order to move from personal needs to group needs. Sallas (1993) stated that “TQM requires a change of culture and a change of attitudes and work methods. Staff in schools need to understand and live the message if TQM is to make an impact on the organization”(p. 37). Collaborative decision making and team building are integral components of a quality philosophy in schools and many schools used these collaborative practices within their organizational and educational planning.
Work teams are the cornerstone of the quality process. The school in this process has to perform as a large team in activities that cross work units and departments. Because team formation promotes shared responsibility, a diversity of talents, perspectives and commitments occur. (Sallas, 1993, p. 28) One of the results of a team approach is empowerment. Covey (1996) listed six critical conditions necessary for true empowerment within an organization, and they are highly relevant to schools: (a) trustworthiness, (b) trust, (c) a system of win-win agreements, (d) self-directed work teams, (e) aligned strategy, structure and systems, and (e) accountability. For empowerment to occur within a school, the leader must demonstrate a collaborative and democratic leadership style and be committed to the support, encouragement, and growth of staff and parents.
Within a total quality framework the collaboration needs to extend further than just teaching staff. Steffy and Lindle (1994) reported on an innovative community project which has taken place in Owensboro, Kentucky. Businesses, community organizations and schools, have worked in partnership using a total quality approach in order to increase the educational capacity of schools and parents. The new paradigm of professional development initiated within Owensboro included all stakeholders in the wider community. The new professional development concept is that the whole community must be engaged in professional development, by creating learning communities, intellectual partnerships, and opportunities for mutual mentoring. (Steffy & Lindle, 1994, p. 29)
The concept of schools as learning communities proposed by Sergiovanni (1988), Fullan (1993), and Senge (1992) has challenged educators to think more about their assumptions and current practices and to promote the building of learning communities as a basis for enhancing professional development and student learning outcomes. Educators need to develop strategies which can be used individually or in an organizational sense in their schools to establish learning communities – these learning communities will be the core of quality teaching and learning outcomes. School leaders must focus on establishing the context in which students can best achieve their potential through the continuous improvement of teachers’ and students’ work together. Educational leaders who create Total Quality school environments know that improving test scores and assessment symbols is less important than the progress inherent in the learning processes of students, teachers, administrators, and all the school’s stakeholders (Bonstingl, 1992, p. 79). Active participation in the learning processes by all stakeholders provides a link between leadership, training and development, and quality standards and best practices. UAE educators today now have an opportunity to work with each other in partnership with communities, business and government to bring about the achievement of UAE Vision 2021.
2.10 Chapter Summary
These literature review allow us to gain a better understanding of the changing nature of quality assurance standards and best practices in improving K-12 education and the key aspects that help researcher rationalize the factors influencing this work. The researcher has done several reviews to the pursuit of international education ranking in the UAE including the traditional and contemporary theories that are relevant to the study.
Therefore, there is a need for greater analysis of quality assurance standards and best practices in improving K-12 school performance and for increased understanding of the its contemporary environment in the pursuit of international educational ranking. Based on the current structure of these frameworks and the conclusions that can be reached by utilizing them, I expect that each one will naturally be relevant to my analysis in this study.
CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
This chapter describes the research design and the methodology of this study.
The methodology provides a suitable research design that addresses the research problem to achieve its research objectives. It describes the population, sample size and sampling procedure and data collection. This chapter also highlights the technique of analysis that will be used in the current study, which is mainly structural equation modeling.
In this study, the researcher will explore the role of quality assurance standards and best practices in improving K-12 school performance in the pursuit of international educational ranking in the United Arab Emirates.
3.2 RESEARCH DESIGN
The aim for a research design is to lay out the plan for the collection of data, measurement and analysis. This current research is designed to collect data to study the factors that influence the implementation of quality assurance standards by the K-12 schools in the UAE. This study will utilize a mixed methods comparative design in order to capture not just the “what” but also the “why” and the “how” (Chatterji, 2004). Creswell (2003) notes that there has been an increase in the use of mixed methods of data collection in recent times and that it is seen as a way to “neutralize or cancel the biases of other methods” (p. 15). A mixed methods approach can include both open- and closed-ended questions in surveys or interviews, the use of both predetermined and emerging design, and the use of statistical as well as textual analysis (Creswell, 2003).
The use of both qualitative and quantitative data within a mixed methods design adds to the depth and precision of the study, and many authors are now advocating for mixed methods research to become a separate design in its own right (Creswell, 2003; Creswell & Piano Clark, 2007; Tashakkori & Teddlie, 2003). Through using a mixed methods design, it is hoped that this study will give a fuller and clearer picture of the role of quality assurance standards and best practices in improving K-12 school performance in the pursuit of international educational ranking in the United Arab Emirates.
3.2.1 Mixed Methods Methodological Design
Most large-scale education studies in the region have tended to use quantitative methods with studies on school quality and dropout rates (Lavy & Hanushek, 2004) and per pupil expenditure (Heyneman, 2007). Recent studies in the UAE, however, have tended to rely more on qualitative data gathered using interviews and questionnaires (McNally et al., 2002). This study will utilize a mixed methods design that draws on a combination of document analyses, surveys, questionnaires, interviews, and classroom observations as well as data from the Ministry of Education.
The rationale for choosing a mixed methods design is first due to the nature of the study itself, as education quality has been found to be difficult to measure using solely a quantitative or qualitative approach. Studies that have utilized a purely quantitative approach, such as the Coleman Report (Coleman, 1966) or studies by Hanushek (2003), have tended to privilege indicators that are measurable over indicators that are not (O’Sullivan, 2006).
Qualitative studies such as ethnographies have been criticized for lacking generalizability to the wider population. Carnoy (2007) also supports the use of mixed methods design in studying education quality in particular. His comparative study of Cuba, Brazil, and Chile used a combination of surveys, interviews, and observations in order to explain differences in achievement between countries. Mixed methods designs are therefore “useful to capture the best of both quantitative and qualitative approaches” (Creswell, 2003), and “the use of quantitative and qualitative approaches in combination proves a better understanding of research problems that either approach alone” (p. 22). This is because “mixed methods offers strengths that offset the weaknesses of separately applied quantitative and qualitative research methods” (Creswell, 2007, p. 18). Mixed methods are particularly suited to this study, as they give greater depth to the investigation of and quality while at the same time providing the rigor that is associated with quantitative studies.
3.2.2 Triangulation Mixed Methods Design
Of the three types of mixed methods designs identified by Creswell (2007), the triangulation mixed methods design is selected to be used in this study. This research design, also referred to as parallel/simultaneous mixed method design by Tashakkori and Teddlie (2003) and concurrent triangulation design by Creswell (2003), uses separate quantitative and qualitative methods to confirm and cross-validate the study’s findings, as illustrated in Figure 4 below.
The research was designed to include mixed methods and minimise dependence on one research method for evidence in data analysis. The research uses qualitative methods and includes a diverse range of research practices. The surveys, interviews with the four quality commitment domains, the Principals, VPs, HODs and the 5 focused outstanding schools with the principals of these schools are inter-related since they ask questions concerning similar issues. If one method’s results contradict others, the researcher knows there is a flaw in the research design or a difference in a source’s perspective. This signals a need for further examination.
Hence, the research questions will be addressed using a variety of both qualitative and quantitative instruments. Research questions 6-8, which examined the impact that quality assurance standards and best practices have on achieving an international high performing education system in the UAE will be answered using solely qualitative methods. The research questions # 1-5, 9-11, which focused on the K-12 school performance in the UAE, will be answered using a combination of qualitative and quantitative instruments that focused on the three quality commitment domains that were identified in the literature review: Principals, VPs, HODs and principals of outstanding school. All the instruments will be Bilingual, then will be piloted, and then to be revised accordingly.
In this study both quantitative and qualitative measures will be used for senior admin school leaders. These measures will then be combined to determine the role of quality assurance standards and best practices in improving K-12 school performance in the pursuit of international educational ranking in the United Arab Emirates.
Figure 4. Design of the Study
Source: Concurrent Triangulation Strategy (Creswell, 2003)
3.3 POPULATION, SAMPLE, AND SAMPLING TECHNIQUE
According to Kombo and Tromp (2006) a population is a group of individuals, objectors items from which samples are taken for measurement. In the context of this study, the target population of interest comprised the schools administration in province of Abu Dhabi, UAE which shares the same characteristics of the full population of schools in the UAE.
Public Private Total
AD province 256 196 452
Total schools 639 580 1219
Percentage 40.1 33.8 33.8
Hence the population of the study comprises both public and private schools in the UAE which provide K-12 education. The target population is from each school one principal, two deputy principals and four head of departments ((Targeting core subject HODs: Math, English, Arabic and Science). The respondents will be selected because they constitute the school management team alongside other stakeholders, and they are also implementers of all school policies. For instance, they are vested with the responsibility of ensuring Quality Assurance and Standards of their respective schools. They are also the ones that either fill the Quality Assurance and Standards forms or talk to Quality Assurance and Standards officers on behave of the rest of the stakeholders in their respective schools. It is therefore clear that by the nature of their daily administrative duties, they are the best placed to provide a clear picture of the actual situation on the ground with regard to the topic of study.
The current study will target 5 schools with outstanding results over two cycles where a purposive sampling method will be used to select them accordingly.
3.3.1 Sampling Method
Purposive sampling technique will be used in identifying and selecting the sample of top five outstanding schools in Abu Dhabi for the initial survey, this will be guided by the views of Marshal (1998) who argues that purposive sampling is strategic informant sampling which is “selecting the people whom you think can give you the most information”. Purposive sampling technique will be used to select the sample schools for the study. The criteria evolved to select the sample schools were as follows: The schools which were showing consistent high result for the UAE Quality Framework for the last five consecutive years in Abu Dhabi.
3.3.2 The Population
According to Kombo and Tromp (2006) a population is a group of individuals, objectors items from which samples are taken for measurement. In the context of this study, the target population of interest comprised the schools senior administration in province of Abu Dhabi, UAE according to ministry of education (2018). The target population is the principal, two deputy principals and four head of departments (Targeting core subject HODs: Math, English, Arabic and Science) from each school as this guarantees that all school have these head of departments in common.
The total number of private and public school in the UAE are 1219 schools according to the KHDA General Report issued in 2018. Due to the large population of the UAE schools, the study will consider only schools in AbuDhabi province which are 452 schools representing 33.7% of the total schools in the UAE. The reason for this selection is the ease to access the schools that are geographically closer to the origin of the researcher. However, it is important to mention that the 7 emirates share the same demographics variety, standards frameworks, level of education and challenges.
This combination resulted in a target population of 452 schools, where the respondents will be selected because they constitute the school senior management team as they are also implementers of all school policies. For instance, they are vested with the responsibility of ensuring Quality Assurance and Standards of their respective schools. They are also the ones that either fill the Quality Assurance and Standards forms or talk to Quality Assurance and Standards officers on behave of the rest of the stakeholders in their respective schools. It is therefore clear that by the nature of their daily administrative duties, they are the best placed to provide a clear picture of the actual situation on the ground with regard to the topic of study, for the 452 schools; 452 principles will be targeted, with 904 vice principals and 1808 head of core subjects.
Total Population 3164
Figure (): Population: Potential Subjects
For the selection of the three quality commitment domains, the Principals, VPs, HODs samples within Abu Dhabi Emirates, stratified sampling will be utilized. Leong and Austin (2006) argue that stratified sampling is suitable to be used for three reasons: (a) the strata themselves are interesting; (b) there is good prior information about the differences between strata in terms of variances or other characteristics; and (c) for cost savings reasons. The schools that will be selected will be seen in Table #; schools will not be named for reasons of confidentiality.
The stratified homogenous groups will consist of three main strata’s, Principals, VPs and HODs. Within each strata, the sample population will be randomly selected to reflect the overall population. Whereas, for the 5 outstanding schools a purposive sampling method will be used to select the sample as it will be elaborated on in the sampling frame section below.
184.108.40.206 Sampling Frame and technique
Different sampling techniques will be used for both the qualitative and quantitative methods used in the study.
For the quantitative methods of data sampling, which will be targeting school leaders who are an integral part of quality assurance policy setting and implementation, a stratified random sampling method will be used. Surveys will target school senior leaders who are in the position of making and implementing quality assurance standards in their schools. The strata will be divided into three main categories: principals, Vice Principals and Heads of Depts.
As for the qualitative methods, purposive sampling will be used as a non-probability sampling method. In purposive sampling the cases are handpicked samples with characteristics being identified to meet specific needs of the research. In many cases in education, purposive sampling is used to target “knowledgeable people” who have the in-depth knowledge of a particular field or area of a study where the concern is to acquire in-depth information rather than to generalize (Ball 1990).
This method is valid for the purpose of the study to be able to interview and question 5 principals of outstanding schools who have set implemented effective quality assurance standards that led to high performing schools. The five schools that have been selected are schools in AbuDhabi Province, which include AbuDhabi city, Al Dafra, and Alain cities. The five schools have been selected to not be newly opened and that have been running for at least 2 years. Moreover, the schools should be a medium to large scale school having over 300 students to reflect good mastery and implementation of quality while managing quantity. The school should have gained outstanding ranking for at least two inspection cycles. The school should accommodate for k-12 education. In the context of this study, the target population of interest comprised the schools Senior administration (Principals, VPs, HODs of core subjects) in province of Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Same social and Economical factors
Same demographics and population distribution among UAE.
The Same quality framework applies since 2017.
Same variety of Curriculum and general impeding factors
The following table summarizes the selected schools; names have not been mentioned due to confidentiality requirements :
School Sequence Curriculum Provided Number of Students Location
1 British 2702 AD
2 IB +2000 AD
3 British 1765 AD
4 British 1872 AD
5 British 1353 AD
• Resource: https://www.edarabia.com/adek-school-ratings-abu-dhabi/
3.3.3. 2 Sample Procedures
Raudenbush (2003) recommends the use of schools as the unit of analysis in order to avoid problems with sampling principals, VPs and HODs from a wide variety of K-12 schools in the UAE. The sampling technique employed to select the targeted participants in this study to select the participating members of the schools will be Stratified random sampling. The list of the schools in Abu Dhabi schools will be obtained from Ministry of Education databases comprised in the sampling frame. From this sampling frame, the stratified categories of principals, VPs and HODs will be generated by random selection of staff numbers in each strata.
The questionnaire will be given by the researcher to every staff whose number was selected either personally or via an official email. However, for the 5 principals that will be selected, for interviews and answering questionnaires’’, a purposive sample method was used. The selection of these schools was based on ADEK inspection results available on the official ADEK website.
The researcher will be seeking approvals for interviews and sending confidentiality forms to participants while arranging interviews and personal meetings. The interviews will be conducted by the researcher who will be personally meeting the principals or questioning them via a teleconference call. Qualitative open ended questions might also be sent via email to participant. A pilot will be considered for both instruments to see their faults and if any modifications are required.
220.127.116.11 Sample size
The sampling is concerned with the selection of a subset of individuals from within a population to estimate the characteristics of the whole population. According to Creswell (2005), the sample is the group of individuals who will be selected from the target population so that they can be generalized to the target population. Thus, to generalize from the sample to the population, the sample has to be representative of the population. The three main advantages of sampling are that the cost is lower, data collection is faster, and since the data set is smaller it is possible to ensure homogeneity and improve the accuracy and quality of the data. In other words, researchers rarely survey the entire population because the cost of a census is too high and needs longer time. Based on this, the determination of minimum sample size for this study requires a specific computation. However, literature reveals that there are many rules of thumb for identifying how small the sample should be in order to provide sufficient statistical power for data analysis. One of them is that of Comrey and Lee (1992) who suggest the following: a sample size of 50 is considered very poor, 100 as poor, 200 as fair, 300 as good, 500 as very good, and 1,000 as excellent. Given that the general basis of acceptable margins of error in educational and social science research is 5% (Krejcie and Morgan, 1970), the study set to tolerate 5% margin of error with a confidence level of 95%. Hence, based on the target population size of 3164, the minimum sample size is estimated at 341 school staff in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The guidelines are shown in Table 3.1.
Table 0.1Krejcie and Morgan’s (1970) Sample Size Guidelines
N S N S N S N S N S
10 10 100 80 280 162 800 260 2800 338
15 14 110 86 290 165 850 265 3000 341*
20 19 120 92 300 169 900 269 3500 346*
25 24 130 97 320 175 950 274 4000 351
30 28 140 103 340 181 1000 278 4500 351
35 32 150 108 360 186 1100 285 5000 357
40 36 160 113 380 181 1200 291 6000 361
45 40 180 118 400 196 1300 297 7000 364
50 44 190 123 420 201 1400 302 8000 367
55 48 200 127 440 205 1500 306 9000 368
60 52 210 132 460 210 1600 310 10000 373
65 56 220 136 480 214 1700 313 15000 375
70 59 230 140 500 217 1800 317 20000 377
75 63 240 144 550 225 1900 320 30000 379
80 66 250 148 600 234 2000 322 40000 380
85 70 260 152 650 242 2200 327 50000 381
90 73 270 155 700 248 2400 331 75000 382
95 76 270 159 750 256 2600 335 100000 384
Note:“N” is the population size. “S” is the sample size. The sample size range for the study is highlighted and asterisked
The arrival at sample size of 343 out of 3164 population frame was done based on the extrapolation for sample size which fell between 3000 and 3500 population size. As calculated below:
3164 – 3000 = x – 341
3500 – 3000 346- 341
164 = x – 341
164 x 5 = 500 (x -341)
820 = 500X -170,500
X=342.64 giving 343
This research will use a set of survey questionnaire as means of gathering data to study the factors that influence the implementation of quality assurance standards by the K-12 schools in the UAE. Cresswell (2005) is of the view that an instrument is a form used in a survey which participants in a study complete and return to the researcher. One of the advantages of using survey questionnaire is that it can assure respondents confidentiality and privacy and it helps to bring out more reliable responses than face-to-face interviews (Creswell, 2005). The use of questionnaires is suitable for obtaining relevant information for the study as stated by Mugenda, (2008). It enabled collection of information from various schools over a short period of time. According to Kothari (2008), questionnaires are usually free from the interview bias as the answers are in respondent own words. The questionnaire is the most appropriate research tool as it allows the researcher to collect information from a large sample with diverse backgrounds the finding remained confidential as respondents had adequate time to give well thought out answers.
3.4.1 Validity of the Study
To make certain the validity of this instrument, the items will be sent to lecturers from the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) and some school principals in Abu Dhabi province for expert judgment. An accompanying cover letter requesting them to examine the content and to provide suggestions as to clarify the item’s wording was also will be attached to each expert.
In order to evaluate the measurement model the issue of reliability must firstly be understood. Therefore, according to LoBiondo-Wood & Haber, (1998) reliability is understood as “the consistency of a measuring instrument”. This means the ability to measures the variables it is designed to measure. Equally, Kakavogianni, (2009) asserted that, content validity is the extent to which an instrument represents the factors under a research. Therefore the instruments used consist of various questions in to achieve the content validity. Equally the researcher ensures that, questions gathered during literature review are closely representing the variables in this research. Besides that, the questionnaires are adapted and adopted from past researches of which its validity has been proven.
More so, in order to evaluate the measurement model, all the items of the constructs will be tested and check whether they are significantly contributed to the proposed model. Hence, evaluation of measurement model should focus on determining the construct reliability and validity. Firstly, construct reliability can be measured through internal consistency and indicator reliability while construct validity can be measured through convergent and discriminant validity. According to Cronbach and Meehl (1955), “the construct validation is implicated when a test is to be inferred as a measure of some attribute or quality which is not ‘operationally defined. Construct validity is equally defined as the extent to which a set of measured variable is actually measuring what it is supposed to measure based on the grounded theoretical measure Hair et al. (2011). On this regard, construct validity is important to examine the overall validity of an analysis. The process in ensuring construct validity involves estimating the internal consistency reliability, convergent validity and discriminant validity.
18.104.22.168 Convergent Validity and Discriminant Validity
The second measurement to ensure construct validity is the estimation of convergent validity, which according to Hair Jr et al., (2013) is the extent to which a measure correlates positively with alternative measures of the same construct. It is essential to examine whether all the items are significantly loaded on a construct In order to analyse the convergent validity. The discriminant validity on the other hand is the extent to which a construct is truly distinct from the other constructs (Hair Jr et al., 2013). It is the degree to which similar constructs have distinct values, which implied that a construct is unique and captures phenomenon not represented by other constructs in the model. This kind of validity according to Cooper et al., 2006; Rasli, (2006) is violated when the correlation among exogenous constructs is more than 0.85.
3.4.2 Reliability of the Study
According to Joppe (2000), the extent to which results are consistent over time and are accurate representation of the total population under study is referred to as reliability and if the results of a study can be reproduced under a similar methodology, then the research instrument is considered to be reliable. The most frequently used statistics to assess internal consistency reliability is the Cronbach’s alpha, its measures range from 0 to 1.00, for the instruments used in basic research. It is desirable to have a reliability coefficient of .70 or higher, the close value to 1.00 indicating high consistency (Nunnally, 1978). In this study, the Cronbach’s alpha will be used to assess the internal consistency reliability of the study constructs.
Internal consistency reliability of a model is measured through the estimation of the Cronbach’s alpha estimates. The reliability based on the inter-correlations of the observed indicators variables. The composite reliability became a more suitable criterion to estimate the internal consistency reliability due to Cronbach’s alpha limitation in the population, (Hair Jr et al., 2013). In this regard the researcher will use both Cronbach’s alpha and composite reliability to measure the internal consistency reliability of the measurement model of the present study.
3.5 DATA COLLECTION PROCEDURE
To ensure that the research can be carried out smoothly, the study procedure will involve systematic steps that will be planned and followed throughout the study done. The analytical procedures will be conducted in this study, will be procedures to obtain consent, data collection procedures and data analysis procedures. According to Pang (2005) a law of admissions for government school is a bureaucratic process. He said researchers need to get approval from the Ministry of Education, the State Education Department, District Education Office, and lastly the headmaster for approval before entering into a school for the study. Thus, in order to carry out this study efficiently, the researcher will do according to the right procedures to collect the data from schools management in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The researcher will get a request letter from Kulliyyah of education, IIUM to education department in Abu Dhabi province which is under Ministry of Education, School Management Sector of province Education Department and School Management Unit of District Education Office for approval. After getting the approval, the researcher then will proceed to collect the data by distributing the survey questionnaire for schools management in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
3.6 DATA ANALYSIS PROCEDURES
Procedures for data analysis are step-by-step methods and explanation is given on the type of analysis will be used for the present study. There is only one descriptive statistics used in the study, which seeks to estimates and report the demographics information of the respondents. SPSS version 24will be used for the analysis. The descriptive analysis according to Pallant (2007) will be used to highlight and describes the participants’ characteristics, check the data and the variables in case of any violation of assumption. More so, in order to answer the research questions the researcher will use principal component analysis to reduce the items and strengthen the quality of each item. Equally, confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was used to examine the validity of the constructs used. It should be noted according Kline (2011) that, running CFA is one of the conditions for running full fledge structural equation modeling. Final measure will be employed in the present study is the full fledge structural equation modeling using (AMOS) version 24.
3.6.1 Analyzing with Structural Equation Modeling
The researcher will employ Structural equation modeling for the present research because the researcher is interested in measuring several relationships among the dimensions. Structural equation modeling could be equally used to measure unobserved variables and able to describe the entire relationships in the framework. Hair et, al. (2010) proposed the procedures will be followed by the researcher in the present study while using SEM. In evaluating SEM, Hair et. al, (2010) proposed that, the first stage is to measure the goodness of fit (GOF), such as absolute measure, incremental measure and parsimonious measure. Equally absolute measure is the assessment of the extent the data fits the model Hair et, al. (2010). Chi square (X2) is will be used to assess this quality, in which the smaller the Chi square the better the model fit. Meanwhile, the chi-square must be supported by the p value p ˃ 0.5 which reveals that the model fits with the estimated covariance. However, in the case of larger sample the normed chi square is used, which is calculated by X2/df ˂ 3 this was considered as accepted threshold. The comparative fit indices are important fit indices to be used where value of ˃.90 is considered to be good fit. Even, the root mean square error of approximation must be between ˂.05 to .08 all these thresholds are based on Hair et.al, (2010) and Kline (2011) suggestions. Table below shows the summary of the fit indices thresholds.
Table 3.1Fit indices summary
Fit Indexes Cut-off Points
X2 smaller the better or the one in the model must below the one in the table
p ˃ 0.5
CFI/TLI ˃ .90 above
RMSEA ˂. 05 to .08
X2/df ˂3 to ˂5
In this study, the researcher adopts the quantitative method of research which will be utilized while conducting the survey study in order to study the factors that influence the implementation of quality assurance standards by the K-12 schools in the UAE. The target population of this research will be the school management of in Abu Dhabi, UAE, out of this 1260 school staff among those who are in school management, 295 will be selected as sample for this research. Overall, the main aim of this chapter is to describe the type of methodology which helped to answer the four research questions. Thus, in terms of analysis of this study, the researcher utilized SPSS (version 24) tools, and AMOS (version 24) descriptive analysis and structural equation modeling so that the data can be analyzed.
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