Regulation and privatization of education systems has led to a “league standing” mentality regarding school achievements. The present study examines how school principals deal with the pressures of competition and achievements while aspiring to imbue pupils with values and a broad education. Twelve Israeli high school principals were interviewed about external demands imposed on them, their educational policy and modes of operation.
Publicly, school supervisors advocate a balance between core studies and education for values and enrichment. Informally they pressure principals to allocate maximal resources to preparing for high risk tests at the expense of other educational activities. School administrators and teachers, while dissatisfied with this approach, maintain a covert informal culture that concentrates mainly on external test achievements, which contrasts to their public value-rich educational vision, and undertake actions that raise educational, management and ethical questions.
Understanding school culture requires a grasp of informal external pressures on school staffs and their influence on the gap between a school’s declared and actual policies.
Placing the schools’ informal culture on the research agenda will increase institutional transparency and may contribute to a greater correspondence between school visions advocating knowledge and values, and the policy actually implemented.
Raising this subject for discussion may contribute to a demand for more transparency in how schools allocate their resources. It may also help to increase the correspondence between the values and vision promulgated by schools and the educational policy they actually implement.