Global education in Massachusetts: A case study of two high schools
This study aimed to find out what the process to implementing global education at two Massachusetts high schools was like. Interviews with teachers, students, administrators, and community members at a suburban high school indicated that the process focused on a self-selecting, student-centered Global Competence Program (GCP). The GCP encouraged students to engage in service-based travel, foreign language study, and other components in order to earn a certificate of global competence.
In the urban high school, the process consisted of informal networks of teachers working together to innovate curricula, the growth of a Chinese language program, and the introduction of International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, all under the direction of a visionary superintendent.
At both schools, the implementation processes included efforts by teachers to understand, define, and operationalize the concept of "global education." Findings indicate that interviewees were actually seeking more specifically to educate for "global competence" by attempting to define exactly which knowledge, skills, and values are global competencies. Competencies included the ability to communicate and navigate in foreign situations and speak a foreign language, as well as attitudes such as tolerance, cross-cultural understanding and interest in other cultures. The support of school leaders, particularly those at the district level, facilitated the implementation process.
School leaders struggled to prioritize global education amid competing initiatives, including mandated testing. Interviewees cited a lack of both professional development and time to collaborate as challenges to implementation. When teachers were given time and encouragement to engage in cross-disciplinary discussion, they moved the process forward. The findings also suggest that disadvantaged students may be less likely to have the opportunity to attain the knowledge and skills for global competence.
In addition to the interview data (n=20), these findings are based on a review of district and school documents and a 2007 Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) survey to superintendents. The study concludes with policy recommendations for federal, state, and local levels, including regular review of frameworks for relevancy, support for school leaders and teachers who seek to infuse existing curriculum with a global perspective, and the provision of professional development to support schools' efforts to prioritize global education.
0455: Multicultural Education
0458: Education Policy