School-Based Management and Accountability

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Introduction

School-based management can be described as a mode of running schools whereby school principals have been given authority to make decisions on all aspects about the running of the school. Most school management systems are based on the tri-level view, which is a government system that trickles down to the district level and then down to the school level.

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Under this system, the school is virtually run by the government, which makes all decisions about it through different policies that are in place. The government as the major stakeholder would run most of the affairs from staff management through infrastructural supervision to social welfare of the students’ management.

The school-based management is a paradigm shift when compared to the tri-level management model because it tends to devolve accountability to the school principals in all aspects about the management of the specific school. Although the running of the school would be based on government policies that would guide the school principals along the lines of work, the school heads would have a major say in decision making concerning issues that affect the school. This case would be a departure from the tri-level view where almost all directions on school management come from the government.

In such a system, the management of the school is a blanket affair with all schools being under the same policy, having the same infrastructure, having the same deployment of personnel, and having the same budget format. School-based management therefore comes out as a management style that enables the individual schools to be run according to their needs and resources.

A Version of School-based Management

The study’s version of a school-based management model will be an all-inclusive model that will attract input from different stakeholders of the school. The model will take the following shape:

The School Principal as the accountable Main Authority

At the top of the school’s leadership will be the school principal. In the school-based leadership model, the school principal is the main authority with almost all the decision-making powers on the day-to-day running of the school. In this case, the school principal will be answerable to the education office concerning school matters.

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Therefore, he or she will be required to be in touch with all aspects of the school and to be fully informed about the entire happenings of the school. The school principal will have a deputy to assist him or her in the running of the school and teachers who will be in charge of certain departments within the school. While writing the article, Exhilarating Leadership, Caldwell reveals how the work of the school principal is intense, complex, and stressful (2006, p. 1). The school principal under this arrangement will be in charge of making pronouncements concerning academic as well as co-curricular activities.

The purpose of having teachers heading certain departments is to devolve the authority further so that the management of the school does not overwhelm the school head. Teachers heading the different departments will be responsible for activities that happen in the departments, which are sanctioned by the school administration that will be sitting every week to make reviews (Muijis & Alma, 2007, p. 113). The school principal should be responsible for preparing a budget that will be used for the running of the school.

Being on the ground, the principal will be answerable to the needs of the school and come up with a priority list that will be used in the allocation of resources. Upon comparing this model with the tri-level model, budgets of the schools using the tri-level model usually come from authorities, which fund the schools.

Although the principal, according to Muijis and Alma (2007, p. 113), usually has an input as per the requirements of the school, the authorities have the final decisions on the allocation of funds to different projects. This responsibility sometimes negates the true needs of the schools because the funding authorities will sponsor them according to their own programs (Muijis & Alma, 2007, p. 113). Therefore, by having the school principal developing a budget, the school will be in a better position to meet some of its needs.

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Depending on the mode used to employ and post teachers, the school head should be accountable in the management of teachers’ affairs though the task has been found to be challenging. The school principal should be given powers to recommend the employment of teachers in certain areas in the case where the employing authority is not the school itself, or should be given authority to employ teachers concerning the needs of the school (Fullan & Watson, 1999).

This case should always happen when there are sufficient funds to pay teachers. According to Caldwell (2006), it is referred to as intellectual capital. He further explains that it should lead in the pursuit of knowledge and skills (Caldwell, 2006). The school principal should evaluate the intellectual needs of the school and thereafter take the necessary actions of either hiring a new teacher or dismissing any non-performing other as Fullan and Watson (1999) advise.

This strategy would also require him or her to make an evaluation that would be sound enough to come up with the decisions that is worth taking in the teaching fraternity. According to Schwartz and Sharpe (2006), the head would require having a positive psychology of strengths and virtues (p. 378).

The school head should be accountable of all infrastructural developments and maintenance of the school (Fullan & Watson, 1999) as a strategy to take immediate and decisive actions whenever there are infrastructural needs that the school needs to implement. Under the tri-level system, such decisions would come from the financing authority, which would take time because it might not be a priority to it as it may be to the school.

Teacher-Parent Partnership

Although the school-based management system advocates for the school principal to have maximum authority, the school remains a community to all the stakeholders who have an interest in it. The school community comprises teachers, students, and parents as shown below. Therefore, the school principal will be better positioned to allow parents to have an input in the management of the school because, without them and their children, the school may cease to exist.

Teacher-Parent Partnership

In the model that the writer proposes, there should be a bigger relationship between the school management and parents through the Parents Teachers Association (PTA). This association would offer collaboration between teachers and parents in the management especially of the students’ academic work (Ng, 1999, p. 552).

Teachers give students homework to do while parents are supposed to make sure the students have the homework done when they come back home from school. This link will therefore require input from parents in matters to do with the way the school is being run. Although Caldwell (2006, p.6) found that most school principals do not find collaborating with other stakeholders exhilarating, it remains important for them under the school-based management to work closely with parents in the running of the school.

One aspect of school-based management that can push this strategy is the need to raise revenues for running the school (Noone, 2012). In the case where the school is independent, it will need to raise money to run its affairs. The bulk of this money will come from parents. Therefore, the model that the writer proposes is one that will involve parents in the running of the school affairs to the extent that they should have a representative on the board that manages the school (Noone, 2012).

This strategy will also enable both the school and the parents to have a synchronised purpose for the sake of the students. In most situations, the relationship between teacher and parents is sour because they are not coordinated in their work. However, going with the situation on the ground, they are better off working together than being apart.

Therefore, the model is one that will create a constructive forum for parent-teacher relationships so that, whatever resolutions are made, the stakeholders will be in a position accept them. According to an article by Ng (1999), “…schools should practice the spirit of SMI to take initiatives to involve teachers and parents in school management” (p. 552).

This model is described as a home-school cooperation, which is meant to enhance a better relationship between teachers and parents as a way of managing a student’s academic work. Ng (1999) further states that parents and teachers’ roles should be complementary rather than antagonistic and that teachers should not view parents as a disruptive lot. (p.552). Parents will play a dual role in the managing of the school as well as managing of the student’s education.

They will participate as external monitors to the schools’ affairs besides being answerable to issues that they feel are not in order. Parents will tell whether the education that their children are being offered is up to the set standards due to the monitoring role they will be playing by going through their children’s work (Chitpin & Evers, 2005, p. 421). This act will be a complementary role they will be playing because they will stand a chance to notify the school principal on matters that he or she cannot easily notice. The school principal in this case will have so much in his or her hands. It may not be easy for him or her to notice everything happening on the ground.

Internal accountability in school-based management can be achieved through cooperation between the school head, the teachers, as well as the student (Petty, 1984, p.4). This role can lead to better performance from students whenever there is such collaboration. According to the writer, the school principal should constitute an academic committee that will be a form of standard body, which will ensure that high academic standards are achieved.

Fullan and Watson (1999) report Newman’s findings, which indicate how some schools did well in effecting the performance of students by following a certain procedure. Teachers and the school administration came up with a professional learning community, with the schools focusing on students’ work assessment. Thirdly, the school changed its pedagogy to attain better results (Fullan & Watson, 1999). These steps are some of the approaches the writer would adopt for the school model that he wishes to develop. Performance accountability requires the stakeholders to be ingenious in their work by thinking outside the box.

This strategy is the only way that can break monotony and set new grounds for competitiveness. Parents too should be available to put teachers to task on the performance of the students. Without the parents’ concern, the education standards can easily deteriorate due to lack of checks and balances in the students’ performance (Robinson, 2007, p. 12). The school model under school-based management should have its performance evaluated by independent groups (Fullan & Watson, 1999).

According to Evers (2005), the school needs external sources of evaluation, which should include external testing regimes and inspection by external reviewers. This way is the best to kill collaborative complacency between the school administration and the parents running the school. An external evaluation will be based on benchmarks set by the relevant authorities like the government under the ministry of education.

This procedure will enable the school to be up to standard concerning government regulations that govern education standards (Chitpin & Evers, 2005, p. 422). The school can also have a collaborative partnership with schools in other regions as a way of measuring its capabilities and ensuring that they are universal. This goal can be achieved through exchange programs that can be developed between the schools.

How the School-based Management can Be Used to Promote Improvement in Students Learning Outcomes

School-based management can be used in promoting improvement in students’ learning outcomes in many ways. The advantages that the system offers are that it comes with a certain level of independence in the way the school can run its affairs. This advantage therefore offers the individual schools and the principals a break away from the norm to come up with new ideas that can make a big change (Frost and Alma, 2003, p. 488).

The tri-level system of school management takes the form of a rigid system that is applied in a blanket manner over a group of schools with different needs. This advantage according to Frost and Alma (2003, p. 488) will therefore disenfranchise students in these schools who might have done better with a different system. Therefore, the school-based administration can serve to boost students’ performance in the following strategies:

Allocation of Resources

The school principal in this case will be the main authority in deciding how the resources of the school will be used. According to Schmidt and Keil (2013, p. 208), the school principal under the school-based management program is in a position to skew resources in favour of any field that he or she wishes to improve. He or she can use this excellent opportunity to channel resources in areas that would see students’ performance getting better.

The dedication of a school towards an improved performance can happen in the stocking of learning resources for students and teachers to use for their work (Schmidt & Keil, 2013, p. 208). Sometimes, most schools suffering from independence of using resources can be found stuck with outdated resources that cannot improve students’ performance just because the allocating authorities have decided that certain resources are not needed.

The school-based management therefore will empower the school principal to make all decisions on what resources to acquire when it comes to the need to improve performance (Schimidt & Keil, 2013, p. 208). The system will also allow teachers to put in their suggestions on what resources they need in their work to make improvements on students’ presentation. When compared to the tri-level system, the tri-level system according to Schimidt and Keil (2013) is more guided by a hand in the glove in that instructions come from other quarters, which will have long ago decided on where the funds will go.

Schimidt and Keil (2013) argue that different schools have different needs and that serving each schools’ specific needs in terms of resources can be expensive and hence the use of the standardised resource allocation mode, which is usually rigid. (p. 210). In most cases, the school administration usually knows best where resources should be placed based on the goals they have set therefore a school based management system can best cater for such needs.

Authority to Test New Programs

The school-based management program comes with advantages that empower the school principal to test programs that they feel would be best for the school’s performance. Under the normal management model, Frost and Alma (2003) confirm that schools are required to use specific teaching and learning programs that have been recommended by governing authorities, which do a regular inspection to make sure there is compliance from the side of the schools’ administration.

The school principal and teachers can therefore engage in a trial system to test the best way performance can be achieved from students. One method they can apply is the effect size method (Brand & Bradley, 2011, p. 285). This method can be used to understand how a particular approach towards teaching and education in general is faring, or what impact it could have on students (Brand & Bradley, 2011). The advantages of having such tests in a school are that the process becomes a school-owned one hence making everybody involved own it. It is never an imposed program.

Thus, teachers will make sure that it is executed to the latter and that the outcomes are honest. Many programs imposed on schools are usually outdated or might look new though they were researched on very long time ago and that only time made them outdated (Brand & Bradley, 2011). Therefore, a school-based management program can allow the school fraternity to come up with an in-house model that works for the school, which can be tested on other schools too (Brand & Bradley, 2011, p. 284).

The advantages of an in-house model is that it is flexible to adjust and that it can be discarded as fast as possible if it fails to work as thought out while at the same time it can be implemented immediately if it are a success as Brand and Bradley (2011) confirm. This flexibility allows the school administration to escape the red tape.

Staffing Changes can be Effected Easily

The school-based management system allows the principal to make changes within the staffing fraternity of the school where he or she feels there is a need for a change (Brand & Bradley, 2011). Under this model, the school principal can recruit teachers whenever more of them are needed to cover the curriculum (Jason, Park & Kim, 2013, p. 579).

Under the tri-level system, the authorities that the school principal is answerable to must sanction such a move because can easily be affected by other factors such as delays. Therefore, when a school head makes changes to the academic staff concerning improving performance, the school will be at a better place in terms of its management.

The school principal will be able to recruit teachers that he or she believes can bring such a change to the performance of students especially in areas where they are weak (Jason, Park & Kim, 2013, p. 574). The head can hunt the best teachers for these areas and even offer them the best salary as a way of pulling up the performance of that particular area. In the case of the tri-level system, a school’s principal may not ask for a teacher for improving an academic area.

In most cases, teacher placement in schools under the tri-level management is based on quotas that are decided by the education office. Therefore, Kaufman (2012) argues, posting of teachers for other reasons may not be tolerated (p. 32). The principals in the same breath may dismiss non-performing teachers because most of the time they are in charge of hiring as well as firing under the school-based management system (Susela, 2011, p. 1488). The principal and the school will therefore not be tied with a non-performing teacher who cannot deliver according to standards.

The Principal can develop a Reward System

The school-based management system gives the principal a wide array of authority to implement programs that he or she feels will improve the performance of students (Robinson, 2001). One of these programs can be a reward program that allows the school to recompense members of its community for exemplary performance.

Reward programs for schools concerning performance can come in two ways. The first one would be to reward best performing students while the second one will be to reward the best performing teachers (Desai, 2012, p. 126). With such rewards in place, performance benchmarks can be set for teachers as a way of evaluating their performance (Desai, 2012, p. 126). Each teacher would be required to hit a certain target, which would earn him or her a reward for the work he or she has done.

This strategy according to Desai (2012, p. 127) will spur the teachers’ performance since it acts as a drive to make them work harder for the sake of getting the best results thus improving performance at the end of the day. At the same time, there should also be a reward system for students who perform exemplarily. When students are promised certain rewards, they tend to work extra hard as a way of improving their grades to earn the set rewards.

The reward system therefore acts like a target for the school community to work towards achieving (Desai, 2012, p. 127). In this way, students’ learning outcomes will be improved because both the teachers and students would be working towards the same goal as a concerted effort.

The advantage that the school-based system enjoys in this case is that the decision and the act to reward will be entirely a schools’ program and that it would not require seeking permission to do it (Steven, 2013, p. 32). The school principals enjoy this strapping while working under the school-based management program.

Allows for Strategic Planning

The achievement of improved outcomes is never a one-off thing. Otherwise, it needs a lot of planning and forecasting before it can be achieved. The school-based management program will therefore allow the school’s principal to plan strategically for the results he or she wishes to achieve (Steven, 2013, p. 32). Strategic planning involves setting of the goals to be achieved within a certain period as well as setting up of structures to achieve the goals.

Planning requires authority to do the same. However, as Steven (2013, p. 33) argues, it can be limited in terms of resources if the planner expects resources to come from another authority. Therefore, it is an advantage for the school-based management system because the school principal has the power to allocate resources according to the plan and within a timeframe set in the plan. Planning for results takes time because it will start with a few start-up problems before the whole system starts to work smoothly (Steven, 2013, p. 33).

Therefore, the school fraternity will be able to plan strategically so that, by the time it gets to a certain period, it will have gained ground that would see it post good results (Steven, 2013, p. 36). At the same time, planning would require a situation where the resources are assured, with all structures put in place. This outcome can best be realised when the school is in control of the resources for the execution of the program.

In instances where the school or organisation is not in control of the resources, the plan is usually distorted because the provision of resources is usually inadequate and sometimes late as Jason, Park, and Kim (2013, p. 575) reveal. In such instances, the school may not be able to post its improved results as it wishes because it would have to operate with a makeshift strategic plan. Therefore, the school-based program allows the school principal to plan and execute the plans on time to achieve the desired outcomes.

Conclusion

Although the writer has cited the school-based management program in a successful picture, it has been found to be difficult to manage in most parts of the world. In fact, any form of autonomy comes with its baggage, which at the end of the day negates the achievements made through the autonomy. The school-based management offers principals a free hand to manage resources while at the same time offering them a chance to mobilise those resources that they are going to manage.

This role is difficult because most principals are administrators and that adding the burden of resource mobilisation to the work they are doing makes the work more difficult. The relationship between teachers and parents has been seen for a long time to be very frosty. In most instances, parents tend not to understand the platform from which teachers work.

They feel that teachers burden their children with homework. At the same time, teachers view parents as rubble rousers because they feel they do not respect nor understand their profession. This matter has made the implementation of the school-based management program difficult because it needs high levels of collaboration between the two groups.

Reference List

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