Improving Junior Secondary learning outcomes via a separate Year 9 campus

Seward-Linger, Rebecca and Dowden, Tony (2017) Improving Junior Secondary learning outcomes via a separate Year 9 campus. In: Annual International Australian Association for Research in Education Conference 2017 (AARE 2017), 26-30 Nov 2017, Canberra, Australia.

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Abstract

In Australia, Year 9 generally represents the third year of compulsory secondary schooling and caters for students aged 14-15 years. Year 9 has emerged as a distinct sub-group within the broader sphere of middle years’ education, with research on Year 9 identifying worrying levels of student disengagement, absenteeism and teacher stress (Dinham & Rowe, 2007; Middle Years of Schooling Association, 2008). As a means to improving Year 9 education, some schools in Australia have instigated Year 9 reform involving a separate campus with segregated learning spaces for Year 9 students; dedicated Year 9 teaching teams; and alternative curricula.

This qualitative case study explored a Tasmanian school’s efforts to improve junior secondary schooling outcomes via a separate Year 9 campus. An emphasis was placed on the teachers’ perspectives in this study because teachers are key agents in enacting school change. The study examined the case school’s rationale and vision for Year 9 reform; the professional learning needs of teachers engaged in reform; and importantly, factors that could assist schools in building capacity for meaningful change. The study was conducted over a 2½-year period with the primary researcher gaining full access and participation in the reform as a teacher employed at the case school. The study was underpinned by constructivist inquiry and used multiple data collection tools including: full participant observations recorded in a reflective journal; semi-structured interviews with teachers and leaders; school document analysis; and Email dialogues with teachers and leaders.

From the teachers’ perspectives, this study identified Year 9 as a critical group of learners influenced by perceptions that Year 9 is insignificant; high levels of student disengagement; and difficulties associated with the life stage of adolescence. The study found that teachers’ difficulties and stress associated with Year 9 correlated with their poor knowledge and understanding of adolescent development (Caskey & Anfara, 2014) and the principles of middle schooling (Pendergast, Main, & Bahr, 2017). In addition, the on-going professional learning and development [PLD] of teachers was not explicitly linked to the case school’s reform process. A key recommendation from this study, therefore, is that in order for meaningful and holistic change in Year 9 to occur, it is vital that PLD for all junior secondary teachers includes a thorough grounding in middle schooling principles and forms an intrinsic part of the junior secondary reform agenda.


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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Speech)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Abstract only published.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Teacher Education and Early Childhood (1 July 2013 - 30 June 2019)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Teacher Education and Early Childhood (1 July 2013 - 30 June 2019)
Date Deposited: 07 Apr 2019 23:51
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2019 03:16
Uncontrolled Keywords: Year 9
Fields of Research : 13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130202 Curriculum and Pedagogy Theory and Development
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/34722

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