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Ten schools, two quality standards. A research on ten public high schools in the state of Ceará, Brazil

André Haguette Márcio Kleber Morais Pessoa Eloísa Maia Vidal About the authors


This paper having as a background the 2011 Enem exams and based on field research conducted in 2013 and 2014 in the state of Ceará, compare five of the ten best scoring public high schools with five of the ten worst performers. Of the ten researched public high schools, four were located in the countryside while six were in the capital. Data collection relied on instruments such as schools visits; interviews with a member of the executive division, teachers, students and staff; and the application of a questionnaire with students and teachers. The objective was to reveal the motives that led to good and poor performance. The collected data sketched a prototype of each school, indicating its main characteristics. Gradually, two mutually exclusive and irreconcilable types, a kind of two ideal types of public high schools, emerged from the research that could help provide insights for future educational policy recommendations. Due to size limits, the article refrained from providing a prototype for each school. Instead, it placed its priority on building the two typologies as a mean to explicit and explain the dualities found between good and poor performers within the same public school system. In the conclusion it contended with issues and debates provoked by the findings.

High school education Students` incentives; School milieu; Educational policies; Inequalities between schools

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