Educational Changes: The Adoption of Standardizing Reforms

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 11:00 AM
Room: F201
Oral Presentation
Krista LOOGMA , Tallinn University, Institute of Educational Sciences, Tallinn University, Tallinn, Estonia
Meril UMARIK , Institute of International and Social Studies, Tallinn University, Tallinn, Estonia
The paper discusses the post-Soviet reform in two educational sectors – general education (lower secondary) and vocational education – from the viewpoint of adoption of standardizing policies by teachers in Estonia.  

By being inspired by the concept of social innovation we concentrate on two questions: What has been the outcomes/social benefits (e.g empowerment of teachers) resulting from the reform process, and secondly, how the reform policies (e.g curricula changes) have been adopted by the teachers? We base our arguments on a) analysis of the documents and previous researches and b) empirical qualitative studies on adoption of curricula changes.

In the Soviet time, the education system and curricula development was highly centralised and ideologically controlled by Moscow. In 1987-1988, even before the independence, the transition period in Estonian general education begun. The quickest changes were evident in general education where powerful movement of teachers started to innovate the curricula with the aim to de-ideologize it. The general education reform in the post-re-independence time comprised of two radical transformations: from Soviet system into independent education system and neoliberal transition from the second half of 1990. The latter period have comprised both standardization and decentralization (e.g. decentralization of school network and growing principals´ autonomy) tendencies. In VET, as compared to the general education, the reform process started later and has been more inclusive.

Our analysis will show that the impact of standardization has been differentiated on two levels: firstly, the different education sectors (general and vocational education) has been affected by reforms differently; secondly, in the course of the reform, teachers have adopted different coping strategies, in other words, the reform have divided the teachers into different adopters´ categories according the meanings attributed to changes. However, to a certain extent, the patterns of adopters´ categories in both education sectors are similar.