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Balancing external and internal demands: School principals as evaluation agents
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
Umeå University. Umeå universitet.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science.
2015 (English)In: Abstract Book, NERA 4-6 March 2015: Marketisation and Differentiation in Education, 2015, -174 p.Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

School principals have increasingly become key-actors in the school systems, their responsibilities are extended and ‘effective school leadership’ is demanded. Educational management in Sweden has been professionalized, promoted by state policies, underpinned by NPM and inspired by managerial moods, which has led to an institutional separation between teachers and school principals (Jarl, et al. 2012). The responsibility for evaluation is a core component in this development, which in official statements often is expressed in discourses of school development and/or systematic quality work (Lundström 2014).

The aim of this paper is to describe and analyse school principals’ responses to and use of internal and external evaluations. Their experiences of being governed and of governing teachers will be highlighted as well as their work as evaluation agents in terms of pedagogical and/or administrative leadership.

Broadly drawing on a governance perspective changes from more traditional government to governance, involving a wider number of actors and institutions (Pierre and Peters 2000) is taken into consideration. These changes comprise the rescaling and reconstruction of a “competition state”(Lingard 2011) including new NPM influenced mechanisms. In short, Swedish school principals work in a quasi-market where evaluations are considered central for improving results, which might influence their responses to and use of different evaluations.

Based on Evetts’ (2011) concepts occupational and organizational professionalism in depth interviews with school principals at eight schools in four municipalities are analysed. The interviews are complemented with results from a questionnaire to all principals in the four municipalities.

Preliminary results indicate a variation among school principals in their responses to external evaluations ­– from trying hard to live up to external demands to a more autonomous stance seeking to unburden the teachers of at least some of these demands. There is also variation as to what degree the school principals emphasise the use of evaluations for developing pedagogy and broad goals of schooling vis-a-vis for control and managerial purposes.  Many of the external evaluations, other than the ones from the governing bodies (municipalities/ independent school owners), often seems to be of less importance for principal work.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. -174 p.
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-110161OAI: diva2:861204
the 43rd Annual Congress of the Nordic Educational Research Association
Available from: 2015-10-15 Created: 2015-10-15 Last updated: 2016-01-14Bibliographically approved

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Hult, AgnetaEdström, CharlottaLundström, Ulf
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Department of EducationUmeå UniversityDepartment of applied educational science

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