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The problem of simplification: Think-tanks, recipes, equity and ‘Turning around low-performing schools’

Loughland, T. and Thompson, G. (2016) The problem of simplification: Think-tanks, recipes, equity and ‘Turning around low-performing schools’. The Australian Educational Researcher, 43 (1). pp. 111-129.

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Non-government actors such as think-tanks are playing an important role in Australian policy work. As governments increasingly outsource policy work previously done by education departments and academics to these new policy actors, more think-tanks have emerged that represent a wide range of political views and ideological positions. This paper looks at the emergence of the Grattan Institute as one significant player in Australian education policy with a particular emphasis on Grattan’s report ‘Turning around low-performing schools’. Grattan exemplifies many of the facets of Barber’s ‘deliverology’, as they produce reports designed to be easily digested, simply actioned and provide reassurance that there is an answer, often through focusing on ‘what works’ recipes. ‘Turning around low-performing schools’ is a perfect example of this deliverology. However, a close analysis of the Report suggests that it contains four major problems which seriously impact its usefulness for schools and policymakers: it ignores data that may be more important in explaining the turn-around of schools, the Report is overly reliant on NAPLAN data, there are reasons to be suspicious about the evidence assembled, and finally the Report falls into a classic trap of logic—the post hoc fallacy.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Publisher: Springer Verlag
United Nations SDGs: Goal 4: Quality Education
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