Both the criteria which can be used to assess the effectiveness of schools and the means by which effectiveness can be increased have received considerable attention during the last two decades. These criteria have usually been shown to revolve around school climate, leadership, shared decision making, effective teaching, and parental and community involvement. However, identification of universal criteria has been criticised on grounds such as poor methodology, differences in context and culture, assumptions of causality, and neglect of the influence of the external environment. Primary schools have goals and styles of operation which contrast markedly with those of secondary schools. Using approaches which differed from those commonly used in effectiveness studies, two Alberta studies asked principals (headteachers) to identify items which were (a) critical for planning and (b) important for judging the overall effectiveness of primary schools. Emphasis was placed on climate, high expectations for students, leadership, the morale and satisfaction of staff and students, effective teaching and student attitudes.
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