The aim of the study reported in this article was to explore the field of quality and school development through one schools’ understanding of its own praxis and achievements. It draws upon the empirical data collected in one school that, by Swedish politicians as well as by the schools’ students and their parents are considered a school with high quality. It is known as a school that manages to maintain good results in national evaluations grounded on national standards and at the same time it appears to be successful in dealing with social issues such as health, violence and integration of students with different national and cultural background.
The report focuses mainly on the professionals’ understanding of their own work and schools progress expressed in interviews and in different kind of documents produced to support work and development. Above these sources of data observations of lessons and staff meetings were carried out.
The result suggests that there is a high degree of consistency in the way that the professionals understand their work. However, seen in the light of different perspectives on quality, learning and development the picture seem less consis- tent. On the one hand, the school is clearly oriented towards subject-integrated studies, co-operative and active learning and the use of teaching methods that are founded on the idea of learning as a process based on the construction of meaning. On the other hand, the school has simultaneously gone quite far in developing strategies that increases the students’ chances to succeed on tests based on national standards i.e. encouraging students to repeat small isolated pieces of knowledge and preparing and training the students for different tests. This is an approach that is grounded on a different rationality that focuses competition and performance rather than the learning process in itself.
The arguments presented for using this strategy although it is not in line with the schools’ main ideas about learning are based upon an experienced need to make sure that the students maintain their self esteem and self confidence. This is considered to be important for the students’ motivation to engage in any kind of learning process. Another reason for this strategy is to make sure the stu- dents are not excluded from further education, since this is seen as an essential condition for the realization of the schools vision of an integrated and equal society.
The authors suggest that the results shown at the studied school could be un- derstood as one way of dealing with incompatible perspectives within the Swed- ish school system.
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2007.