This section of the Handbook considers the impact of the school effectiveness and improvement movements on the development of teachers and schools, particularly over the past three decades. The section will consider new approaches to school improvement and will identify some of the challenges that are faced, especially in certain parts of the world, by schools and classrooms that are seeking to improve the performance and the lives of young people. School effectiveness research might be considered as a catalyst for many of the current features that are

seen in the world’s classrooms and schools. The chapters trace the history of the movement and provide a basis for future considerations for research and practice. Since the middle of the 1900s, there has been research on the impact that schools (see the chapter by

Stringfield and Teddlie), and especially teachers (see the chapter by Creemers and Kyriakides), have had on student outcomes. In more recent times it has been shown beyond doubt that, taking into account the social, policy and economic conditions of schooling (see Theme 1, chapters 2, 3 and 4), there are effects that occur at both the school level and at the classroom level that lead to improved student learning. At different times and in different ways, some countries, systems, schools and classrooms, have been identified as being more effective than others when it comes to student achievement. The measurements used to identify effectiveness and the processes that schools and people in them use to become more effective, collectively became known as School Effectiveness and School Improvement, or SESI, and this has become increasingly linked to the processes and measures of school development over the past 30 years. The four chapters together provide a comprehensive look at the past, present and possible futures

of school development. Sam Stringfield and Charles Teddlie discuss issues associated with the effective schools’ movement from the early years to the present, Bert Creemers and Leonidas Kyriakides identify strategies for schools that may wish to improve their current effectiveness, Tom Bisschoff and Chris Rhodes consider the special circumstances facing countries, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa, as they try to search for ways of improving the quality of student outcomes, and Brian Caldwell, David Loader, Jessica Harris and Yong Zhao provide an overview of school improvement strategies that perhaps give us an indication of what schools might be doing in the future. Throughout the history of education, we have moved from a time where individual teachers worked

with one or more students of wealthy families while everyone else worked in the mines or factories,

through the development of classrooms, schools and school systems, to a time where national authorities have taken an interest in local school systems and where global comparisons have directed some of the policies promoted by those systems (Townsend 2009). We have moved through what Beare (1997) called the Pre-Industrial, the Industrial and the Post-Industrial eras of education and we are currently in what seems to be a contractual accountability mode of education, where the market and choice programmes have been put in place as a means of promoting education for all (see Theme 1, chapter 4). Although many people might argue that schools and education might be seen as being at the back end

of change (for instance, Drucker purported that ‘no other institution faces challenges as radical as those that will transform the school’ (1993: 209)), the changes in teaching, school and system administration and governance, over the past 30 years (just one generation) have been greater than in the more than 100 years of formal education’s previous history. We have seen in other sections of this Handbook that responsibilities previously held by central govern-

ment have been moved to the school, but these have been accompanied by vastly increased forms of accountability and reporting. In this new accountability regime, countries are compared to other countries, states or provinces within a country, districts or local authorities and individual schools are identified as being successful or not, with different consequences for unsuccessful schools, from attracting additional funds and support in some places to being shut down in others. We have moved from a time where school leaders were identified by their seniority and were moved

into leadership positions without any form of training, to a time where leadership training for head teachers and principals has become a new industry in education. From a time where the role of head teacher or principal was to simply manage decisions being made by others more senior, to one where leadership is now seen to be such a complex task that it is too big for one person to do and must be distributed within the school to be successful (Gronn 2000, 2002; Spillane et al. 2001, 2004). We have seen technology impact on everything that schools and teachers do. It has changed the curriculum, pedagogy and assessment of student learning and makes the whole world a classroom for students who previously hardly ever left their local communities. We have seen governments around the world linking educational performance to national economic progress with a substantial focus on the development of basic skills for all students and substantial pressure on teachers to perform in a standardized way to achieve standardized results. The school effectiveness and school improvement movements have been very influential in many of

these changes, some would say, too influential. In simple terms, what SESI tries to do is rebut the argument that ‘schools bring little influence to bear on a child’s achievement that is independent of his background and general social context’ (Coleman et al. 1966: 325) which suggested that ‘education cannot compensate for society’ (Bernstein 1970). If we ignore the impact of technology in that period, it might be argued that SESI has been the most

influential area of research in this time, especially if we look at the big picture of school change and development and how it impacts on the small pictures of what teachers do in every classroom across whole countries. The School Effectiveness research has been used as justification for many changes, in governance, in the way schools are managed, the way in which school leaders and teachers go about their work and how that work is judged. For this reason, SESI has always had its critics (see Thrupp 1999, 2001; Slee and Weiner 2001; Thrupp

et al. 2007; Bogotch et al. 2007), despite there being a general agreement now (Hill 1998; Hattie 2003, 2007) that although about 50 per cent of the variation in student achievement at school can be traced back to student characteristics, the other 50 per cent can be influenced by the school, and more particularly the classroom, and what the teacher does. Yet despite the research and changes in way schools, leaders and teachers go about their business, what

we can say is that there is ample evidence that student achievement has been hard to shift, even after all the reforms that have occurred. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading test scores in the USA have been virtually unchanged despite over 40 years of education reform efforts (Rampey et al.

2009). Despite all of the resources and reform efforts that have occurred in the USA since the 1980s after the Nation at Risk report (National Commission on Excellence in Education 1983), overall achievement is much the same as it has always been. However a study by Alexander et al. (2001), subsequently updated in 2007, tracking students of

20 elementary schools in the Baltimore, USA area, suggests that the focus that is placed on schools for student achievement might not be as fair as we would hope: