New Possibilities for Critical Education Research

Uses for GeographicalInformation Systems (GIS)

Authored by: Daniel S. Choi

The Routledge International Handbook of Critical Education

Print publication date:  February  2009
Online publication date:  February  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415958615
eBook ISBN: 9780203882993
Adobe ISBN: 9781135903091


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Throughout the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) era of this decade, the national preoccupation with accountability has resulted, naturally, in an emphasis on research focused on high-stakes tests and achievement outcomes. Some would argue that the high-stakes environment is what drives demand for such studies. Educational leaders and the general public want “the cold, hard facts” or their quantitative equivalents in an accountability context: i.e., an analysis of results or outcomes, which some refer to as “outputs.” In comparison, there has been considerably less interest in studying inputs. From a critical perspective, inputs represent the finite material and human resources that exist in unequal amounts across schools according to varying social characteristics and levels of wealth. Typically, it has meant monetary resources. More recently, however, resources have been directly linked to the actual educational resources for which the monies usually are spent. These educational resources refer to needs such as high-quality teachers, current and proven instructional materials, and safe and clean learning environments. Also by extension, there has been growing interest in the equitable access to, and distribution of, these educational resources. Therefore, equal access and distribution have gained more attention as studies have begun to show the relationship between levels of educational resources and school-level student achievement under the current accountability system. Related studies have also shown a similar relationship between student achievement and the proportion of poor and/or minority students in schools. Nevertheless, accountability systems largely have ignored these findings, as they continue to hold underresourced schools to the same standards of academic achievement as their more highly resourced school counterparts. In response, some accountability systems have begun to rank schools according to school inputs (similar school characteristics). However, the vast majority of accountability systems still issue sanctions based solely on outputs.

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