The literature on standards has highlighted several definitions. For example, according to Rose (2009) standards are criteria which aim at judging competence, and we are dependent on them regularly in variety aspects of life. This include sports, cooking, bringing children up, schooling, etc. Rose also mentions about the arguing feature of standards (p. 93), which means people tend to argue about them. Likewise, Burnham’s (2004) dissertation defines standards as “concrete examples and explicit definitions of what students have to know and be able to do to in order to demonstrate that they are proficient in the skills and knowledge framed by content standards (2009, p. 2 as cited in U.S. Department of Education, 2001). This means, standards contain examples, definitions of certain skills that are required and fixed and students need to acquire those required ones. Another definition for standards is as follows: “an official document designed by experts in various fields that describes what kids should know and be able to do at given grade levels in different subjects …” (Meier, 2000, p. 5 as cited in Perry, 2004, p. 60). That is to say, standards is a document designed my professionals in certain subjects, which state skills and knowledge schoolchildren should acquire at a particular level. Together these studies indicate that standards contain criteria, skills, competence set up by professionals for certain audience.
However, there are different views on the understanding of standards. For example, (Hatch, 2002) states that standards as it is argued “narrow experiences and learning opportunities for the students” (cited in Burnham, 2004). This means standards have not always conjured positive meanings. Similarly, other researchers state that standards are not realistic and only the content to be taught is mostly important rather than the discussion and examination of ideas (Burnham, 2004, p. 2; as cited in Kohn, 2001). Ericsson argued that standards should be carefully designed, defined and if not all projects related to standards will encounter a lot of problems. Inattentive approach to standards can bring other issues such as confusion, failure of standards, and the education system will suffer (p. 224). The participation of different stakeholders in the process of developing standards is necessary as it is in this study. Once the standards are developed, they are given to different stakeholders for their opinions and then reviewed by National Board’s Board of Directors prior to being adopted (p 6). Son (2004) in his study mentioned about the standards developed for early childhood teaching professions by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the organization approved the new standards in 2003 and revised advanced standards in 2003 (p.5). The following standards were created for the purpose of high quality teaching in P-12 schools by “national and state-level organizations and institutions”
The study by Wichterle Ort (1999) operationalized three types of standards: content and performance standards, professional standards for practice and standards of equity. The first standard describes what students will be taught and learnt and the level of success they achieve is described. The second type “describes the schooling and teaching conditions that pervade the school and the norms that appear to shape these practices” (p. 21-22). That is to say, this standard will specifically concern the education process, the physical environment of the teaching and the rules that have an impact in school life. The last kind of standard relates to all stakeholders of the school community such as teachers, learners that have to use resources (library, social activities, extra-curricular activities, etc) in school and other learning opportunities (p.22). Another type of standards was mentioned in LaRock’s study, ‘academic standards’ which means “clear learning outcomes” that need to be learnt by means of educating schoolchildren. They are the “content knowledge” and skills that pupils ought to acquire and be good at by the end of the school academic year. And the people who are involved in the schooling such as schools, districts, states are responsible for the targeted learning outcomes in the standards (Powell, 2000,as cited in LaRock, 2018, p. 6). The results of the study by LaRock on applying the CCSS (the Common Core State Standards) to the instruction of disabled students demonstrate that students benefit from it only if teachers use the standards during lessons. According the results, districts and schools ought to support teachers with professional development trainings on how to apply the standards with the activities taught in classroom (p. 137).
In Perry’s study, the terms of children and standards were defined and he highlighted the role of the committee members. First they defined the children they wanted to create standards for and then they worked on the criteria for the standards. In the meeting, there participated different stakeholders such as committee members, the standards specialist. They offered a list of Ten Commandments that needs to be in the standards they create (Perry, 2004, p. 127). In this study, Perry demonstrates an example of meetings discussions where different stakeholders discuss about standards setting. Some participants offer different commandments, criteria.
Quality standards are:
|Rooted in academics|
|Contain a balance of skills and knowledge|
|Intelligible to a wide audience|
|Useful to teachers and parents|
|Comprehensive, yet manageable|
Rose further notes the important part standards play in quality teaching and he supported the view that standards to be employed in the classroom to promote active learning and through which students are able to meet course expectations (p. 96). Ericsson (2005) in the article “Raising the Standards for Standards: A Call for Definitions” emphasizes the term standards as a powerful concept in education and it is praised for ensuring quality education. He refers to the term “high standards” in his article to mean standards and he believes that little attention has been paid to understand what it really means (p. 223). Stakeholders such as educators, parents, journalists, administrators, and legislators use the term often, but as Ericsson claims they have different perceptions, definitions about it (224). Commenting on standards, Ericsson (2005) argues: ‘careful attention to definitions is a step toward reforming the standards from one that has handcuffed teachers and hobbled students, to a movement that can work to actually improve the quality of education for all stakeholders’(p.225). In other words, standards need to be understood similarly and delivered with the same content to teachers and students, so that both equally benefited.
Different theories exist in the literature regarding perceptions. What perceptions are by definition? Shafritz, Koeppe, Soper (1988) give a definition for the word perception as “the way in which a person views his or her environment based on the senses, past experience, attitudes, current information, and other personal variables” (p. 347 as cited in Pepukayi,2005, p. 9). Pepukayi in his study says that perceptions are the information that is to be provided by stakeholders, which means stakeholders’ opinions are their perceptions. For example, in the “Perception of and Motivation for Foreign Language Learning in Pre-school” Brumen (2011) found out that “children perceived the need for a learning climate that offers a pleasant, safe, and supportive classroom atmosphere”. In other words, children’s perception of learning a target language was negative in sense they were not satisfied with the learning setting they were provided with (p. 717). The term perception comes from the root perceive which means “to come to an opinion about something, or have a belief about something” (dictionary.cambridge.org). Patterson gives another definition for perceive as “to apprehend by the organs of sense or by the mind; to observe, to discern” (2005, as cited in Black, 2009, p. 15). Similarly, macmillandictionary.com describes perceive as “to understand or think about something in a particular way”. The qualitative study by Power (2009) was conducted to gain information about university level students’ perceptions of plagiarism. The study explores learners’ experiences and understandings and interpretation about plagiarism (p.644). He conducted individual interviews with first and second year volunteer students to obtain data about their perceptions of plagiarism (p. 645). According to the findings, there was a significant different between students’ and professors’ understanding of plagiarism (p. 657). Power in this study refers to perception as an understanding, students’ experiences and interpretation.
Different studies were conducted to examine perceptions. For instance, Brumen’s study reveals that there is a relationship between motivation and perception in learning a foreign language. Playful and fun activities in the classroom lead to active participation and increase students’ motivation for learning a foreign language (p. 730). He lists several factors to foster the learners’ self-motivation to grow and they are: including (young) learners into the instruction; sharing the stimulating learning activities and environment with the learner; fostering self-esteem, self-confidence and cooperation with others; praising their learning efforts; providing concrete suggestions or comments for school action”. In this way, teachers can build a sense of security for learners to improve their competence in language and learning. These all factors result in positive thoughts about their learning (p. 731). To examine perceptions, different methods were used. Bailey (2012) used Likert-type surveys to obtain data about teachers’ perceptions of grading practices and student motivation. The perceptions of high school teachers showed that grading and motivation are important (p.116). The study findings resulted in the gender differences, for example, male perceptions accounted for higher perceptions in terms of grading practices. Another interesting finding about male perceptions indicate that male teachers in their responses reported about students’ effort and behavior in final examination calculations more often than females (p 117). Black (2009)in his dissertation compared the perceptions of disabled students with general and special education teachers, the perceptions of eighth grades disabled students with the same level students without disability, the perceptions of general and special education teachers about students with disabilities in terms of their self-determination skills, attitudes, and behaviors (p.77). The results indicated that the views of teachers about students’ with disabilities differed greatly as students perceived themselves more self-determined. Another finding indicated disagreement between students and teachers’ ratings. Finally, perceptions of students with and without disabilities shared similar views of self-determination. In other words, there were significant differences in the ratings, and opinions of both students and teachers (p. 91). The study conducted by Mertler (1999) examined the perceptions of teachers about usefulness, credibility of the formative feedback, comments given by students to evaluate teachers’ performance. The results reveal that teachers’ view of the evaluation of their performance benefited both parties greatly (p. 27). In other words, two stakeholders had similar purpose of providing students with good teaching and this was successfully managed and implemented although there have been few studies done on this way of evaluation.
What we know about the term stakeholders is largely based upon empirical studies that investigate how important stakeholders’ role is. By definition, the word stakeholders was defined as “anyone who is a part of a program and would be affected by or interested in the results of an evaluation of that program” (Gall, Borg, & Gall, 1996 as cited in Pepukayi, 2005, p. 9). This statement indicates that stakeholders are important part of a research and the results also affect them. The term was described differently by different researchers, but with almost the same meaning, such as Weis (1983) who categorized them as program managers, policy makers, citizen organization, clients, practitioners, and Guba and Lincoln (1981, in Gary et al.1999, p. 178) view stakeholders “as people involved in developing and the evaluand”. All these definitions demonstrate that the role of different people in the development of a program, system, etc. is vital. Pepukayi in his study used stakeholders such as parents of Public Urban Elementary School, third-year students, their teachers and staff at Shortlidge Academy (2005) because these people have common interests which is to support pupils’ learning and they are affected by the outcomes.
Hooge et al (cited in Hooge and Helderman, 2008) distinguish four different types of stakeholders: primary, internal, vertical and horizontal. The primary stakeholders are parents and students whose role is important in education, in the success of school. Internal stakeholders include teachers, non(edu)cational staff who are interested in the success and wellbeing of the school as well. With less important role, vertical stakeholders come the third and they are governments, “organizations formally operating on behalf of government (such as inspectorates or municipalities)”. The fourth category, horizontal stakeholders with much less interest in school progress are groups, persons and organizations working around the school setting (p.13). He found out that only the work of one stakeholder cannot help improve students’ reading scores alone. The collaboration of all stakeholders must be maintained to raise school superiority. All stakeholders should come together to work, share their opinions and perception, and discuss. Only through this way they can achieve their goals (Pepukayi, 2005, p. 97). Cho and Palmer (2013) in their study to know the views of stakeholders’ higher education internationalization policy in South Korea, they employed a mixed methods sampling. Interestingly, they employed 48 faculty members, students, the academic and administrative departments, two professional organizations, all of whom were actively involved in the internationalization policy (p. 296). As a result, the role of government was crucial to establish a new higher education model for internationalization and it was necessary for the government to support other stakeholders such as financial and administrative sectors and universities (p.305). Henry et al. (1999) applied the four stakeholder groups (teachers, school superintendents, school board members, and educational group representatives) in their study to develop an educational performance monitoring systems (p. 177). The findings indicated that the responses of stakeholders were very supportive in the development of the educational-performance monitoring system in Virginia (p. 187). These research findings reported here consistently point towards the inclusion of stakeholders in the research process.