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ERIC Number: EJ823908
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1362-1688
Reconciling Accountability and Development Needs in Heritage Language Education: A Communication Challenge for the Evaluation Consultant
Elder, Catherine
Language Teaching Research, v13 n1 p15-33 2009
The paper offers a retrospective evaluation of recent evaluative studies of bilingual programs in the Australian state of Victoria, in an attempt to determine how successfully the evaluation process met the dual criteria of external accountability and development. The programs in question were located in primary or secondary government schools and involved partial immersion in a heritage language. Data for the paper are drawn from the following: (a) the consultant's recollections of the evaluation context and process, and (b) the evaluative reports relating to three different programs (Vietnamese-English, Chinese-English and Arabic-English respectively). In hindsight it appears that the effectiveness of each evaluation may have depended in part on the degree of fit between the school and the consultant's views about the function of the evaluation initiative, as well as on her ability to communicate findings in terms which were both academically defensible and meaningful for teachers and program administrators. While the task of bridging the gap between the accountability and ameliorative functions of each evaluation was challenging for all parties (and possibly exacerbated by linguistic and cultural divides), it is argued that the former is not necessarily at the expense of the latter. The requirement that outcomes be reported objectively to an external stakeholder can, if appropriately handled, generate insights among program participants which can be harnessed for program improvement. The paper concludes with an account of the lessons learned from the evaluations, in the hope that these will help evaluation consultants in forging more productive relationships and better communications with program participants. (Contains 1 note.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: Researchers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia