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Benefits of turnaround programs for disadvantaged youth: Reframing accountabilities


te Riele, K and Hendry, N and Comber, B and Sefton-Green, J and Price, D and Shelley, B, Benefits of turnaround programs for disadvantaged youth: Reframing accountabilities, Journal of Youth Studies Conference, 02-04 December 2019, University of Newcastle, pp. 53-54. (2019) [Conference Extract]

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Hundreds of programs around Australia support young people to participate in formal and nonformal learning in order to disrupt cycles of disadvantage. They include accredited alternative schools as well as out-of-school programs which, often, are organised around a shared interest such as creative arts or sport. They are diverse in terms of size, curriculum and governance. What they have in common is a central objective to help young people to ‘turn around’ their lives, away from poverty and marginalisation, through meaningful, ‘non-school’ learning experiences. These programs operate within a policy landscape that emphasises accountability and evidence-informed practice especially in relation to educational reforms aimed at improving equity. Many programs themselves are committed to ensuring and demonstrating their benefits. This presentation explores tensions between 54 the nature of these programs and the accountability agenda. Drawing on policy, scholarly literature and program case studies, we elaborate and illustrate two key concerns. First, the widespread focus on performance indicators omits critical dimensions of benefits both for young people and society. For turnaround programs, funding commonly is tied to achieving immediate, instrumental outcomes, such as academic test scores and transition into further study or work. Such indicators are indeed valuable, but on their own are too narrow: lacking alignment with the experiences of marginalised students, with social purposes of schooling, and with longer term sustainable outcomes. The second concern is that evidence-based policy too often treats programs as though they exist in isolation, as if in a laboratory situation. In contrast, there is widespread agreement among scholars and practitioners of the importance of context, which therefore should form part of the evidence to inform policy. We wrap up with implications for reframing accountabilities in practice, policy and research.

Item Details

Item Type:Conference Extract
Keywords:education, equity, disadvantage
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Social change
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Community services
Objective Field:Social class and inequalities
UTAS Author:te Riele, K (Professor Kitty te Riele)
UTAS Author:Shelley, B (Dr Becky Shelley)
ID Code:140325
Year Published:2019
Deposited By:Peter Underwood Centre for Educational Attainment
Deposited On:2020-08-07
Last Modified:2021-06-07

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