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Common and Un-common cores: Global citizenship education in U.S. and Australian K-12 standards

Thier, M. and Ledger, S.ORCID: 0000-0001-7050-1001 (2016) Common and Un-common cores: Global citizenship education in U.S. and Australian K-12 standards. In: Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) Conference 2016: Transforming Education Research, 27 November - 1 December 2016, MCG, Melbourne, VIC


Education standards and global citizenship are contested and inextricably linked concepts. Debate surrounds each, particularly about what constitutes ‘official knowledges’ within schools (Bernstein, 2000). This paper unpacks those debates, identifying three factors: the growing importance of global citizenship education (Marshall, 2009), the rise of national standards in high-income nations (Hursch, 2000), and the myriad societal traits the United States share with Australia. We examine the extent to which education standards of each country emphasize global citizenship. Two researchers, one American and one Australian, employed a comparative case study design to analyze two standard sets: the U.S. Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Australia’s General Capabilities (AGC). We used a common coding process to examine how each standard set accounted for 10 definitional components of global citizenship that Author (in press) identified from research literature in the past decade:• Ability to communicate cross-culturally• Awareness of cultural processes• Awareness of global issues• Commitment to social justice• Demonstrating empathy toward others• Feeling responsibility to act• Recognition of global interdependence• Respecting others• Taking multiple perspectives• Valuing a diversity of people and/or beliefsOur analyses agreed on 84.2% of comparisons, and we detected patterns of inclusion/exclusion for definitional components of global citizenship in the U.S. and Australian documents. We reported patterns for comparisons (a) overall between the CCSS and the AGC, (b) zeroing in on the sections of each standard set that focus on English language arts, and (c) of each standard sets’ mathematics sections.Using a variety of metrics to compare standard sets overall and juxtapositions of their respective English language arts and mathematics sections, the AGC pay nearly double (1.75 times as much) the attention to global citizenship components when compared to the CCSS. Additionally, exemplar support for implementing educators provided a clear divide between national documents. Examples in the U.S. document were overwhelmingly domestic in their scope; the Australian document featured local, national, and global examples in nearly equal proportions. Though our findings also highlight missed opportunities, most commonly in the CCSS, we conclude by suggesting how policymakers and practitioners in each context can learn from and work within the boundaries of their respective nation’s standard sets. We make recommendations to empower K-12 educators as facilitators of national goals for all students to receive preparation to live, learn, and work in an internationally connected, so-called global century.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
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