This action research study carefully reviewed and critiqued the strategies employed by systems leaders of a school district in bringing about strategic change as well as to learn from the experience of negotiating and implementing change. To address the research question and objectives, an integrated theoretical framework was developed that included concepts from leadership, systems thinking, capacity building, and change theory within the context of the principles of action research. This inquiry examined the relevant theories of leadership to determine how leadership becomes the connective tissue between the public, corporate, citizen, professional, and school board subcomponents of a system in need of change. Selected archival documents from the Sylvania Schools were analyzed as source data to examine the content and framing of key policy and systems issues raised by the study question and objectives. The mode of analysis relied substantially on the hermeneutical and phenomenological process of Lindseth and Norberg 2004) which focused on the generation of future-oriented sub themes, themes, and messages. Findings from the combined documents in the archives resulted in 15 themes that necessitated attention from leaders in negotiating strategic change. These included a) maximizing teaching and learning strategies, b) defining leadership responsibilities, c) determining budgetary/fiscal accountability, d) increasing school and community partnerships, e) engaging in long-range technology planning, f) concentrating on facilities/operations, g) providing comprehensive long-range strategic planning, h) improving internal and external communication, i) reviewing district operations, j) enhancing curriculum, k) managing changing demographics, l) incorporating data-management systems, m) providing safe and supportive learning environments, n) increasing professional development opportunities, and o) implementing policy revision. The study results had both professional and conceptual implications. Among the professional implications is the need for educational leaders to effectively use systems theory to negotiate and implement educational policy and administrative change. Change within a school system needs to be addressed in whole systems terms, not as a series of uncoordinated individual initiatives. Consequently, strategic planning must be embraced as the roadmap for change with buy-in from all stakeholders. Increasing leadership capacities and focusing on student assessment data to drive curricular and instructional practices are essential components employed by systems leaders to bring about strategic change. Theoretically, the study results support the literature on systems thinking and change, particularly with regard to the need for effectively led self-organizing initiatives. These initiatives derive from and eventually impact on the entire educational system as reflected in the roles of the federal and state government, corporate and community sectors, the Sylvania School Board, and parents.
Tag Archive: Administration
Negotiating strategic change in a small suburban school district: The concept of a systems leader (Education Papers posted on March 26th, 2013 )
Education reform implementing the Baldrige in Education continuous improvement process. “Lessons learned” from schools who implemented Baldrige in Education (BiE): Including the first three K–12 BiE award winners (Education Papers posted on March 26th, 2013 )
Purpose. The purpose of this study was to learn why schools adopted the Baldrige in Education BiE) model, how the BiE continuous improvement process was successfully established in schools, and to describe the common approaches used by these schools. Methodology. This qualitative research design used a descriptive-comparative multi-case study approach. Sixty-five administrators, teachers, parents, board members, and community leaders were identified and interviewed in the five study school districts. Most questions were open-ended and related to specific research questions. Findings. Four of the five school districts started quality management systems before there was a BiE. A critical success factor in these schools was leadership. Leadership took a strong hand in managing the budget, cutting overhead costs, and understood what was necessary to develop a shared vision to improve education in their districts and schools. They improved organizational and process efficiency and involved stakeholders in their strategic planning process aligning operations to support their mission and vision. Schools shared a common vision that grew out of a belief that “all children can and will learn.” All the districts used the “PDSA Cycle” as part of their implementation and continuous improvement process and ensured stakeholders concerns or recommendations were recognized. Teachers developed goals and worked in collaborative teams adjusting instructional strategies based on formative assessment feedback. Significant organizational improvement occurred because the schools focused on management by fact, sharing data analysis. Schools in the study used “Data Binders” that defined student performance and what was needed to close the achievement gap. The Baldrige winners believed in benchmarking comparing world-class performance to their performance. Conclusions. All of these successful schools had strong leaders who identified and involved all stakeholders in the education process to develop a “shared vision” and ensure good continuing communications with these groups. Schools must teach students to develop learning plans that align with their individual goals and action plans including coaching, feedback, teamwork, while continuously checking student progress in their “Student Data Portfolios.” Teachers must work in collaborative teams and support learning at the students individual and developmentally appropriate level versus age-graded classrooms. All the schools in this research took advantage of technology using data management systems to administer formative tests and to simplify data disaggregation at the grade or department level. Recommendations. Conduct a study that evaluates the longitudinal academic performance of students as they progress from elementary to middle and then to high school in BiE education systems compared with students and schools with similar demographics but who have not used BiE processes.
An examination of corporate charitable contributions: Evidence from firm, managerial, and community factors (Education Papers posted on March 26th, 2013 )
In this dissertation, I examine the determinants of corporate giving with special attention to three areas – firm characteristics, local factors, and managerial concerns. In doing so I attempt to determine whether the level of corporate giving is driven exclusively by firm-level characteristics, or alternatively, if factors such as community characteristics or managerial utility also play a role. The empirical analysis central to the study of these three areas is in part motivated by the discussion of two models of corporate giving. In the first, giving serves only to maximize profits, while in the second, giving is chosen to maximize a managerial utility function that depends on profits, community welfare, and the level of giving itself. Results suggest that firm characteristics are the primary determinant of corporate giving levels. Local factors overall are found to have only a modest effect on firm giving. In general, firms do not appear to take the characteristics of their local community into account when deciding how much to give to charity. Giving by single-location firms, however, is found to exhibit a closer relationship with community characteristics than is giving by multiple-location firms. In a result of specific interest, firm giving does not appear to be crowded out by government spending or individual giving by residents of the community. Managerial compensation is found to affect giving behavior. Specifically, managerial salary and the share of the firm owned by the CEO are found to be related to firm giving levels. However, the fact that giving does not appear to react to changes in top management suggests that while compensation structure may affect giving, the managers themselves may not have a large say in the giving practices of a firm. Overall, results concerning the impact of taxes, the role of local factors, and the role of managerial stock ownership provide modest evidence against the hypothesis that firms give with the sole purpose of maximizing profits.
Five reforms in the transition of the university from the late Middle Ages to the early modern era, 1502–1825: A historical study (Education Papers posted on March 26th, 2013 )
Purpose, scope, and method of study. The purpose of the study was to derive a descriptive examination of historical reforms of the university. Specifically, in terms of the transition of the university from the University of Wittenberg in the late Middle Ages to the founding of the University of Virginia in the early modern era. The scope of the study included the reform of the University of Wittenberg, and the Anglican reforms of Oxford and Cambridge universities. The study also included an investigation into the colonial origins of the College of William and Mary in Virginia, and the post-American Revolution founding of the University of Virginia. The method of study consisted of a comprehensive review of literature and historical documents, evaluation of materials, and data synthesis, which resulted in a determination of the causes and outcomes of five reforms of the university in the transition of the European, medieval university from the late Middle Ages to the founding of the American university of the early Modern Era. Findings and conclusions. As a result of the reform of scholasticism and scholastic tradition of the late Middle Ages, the 16th century university was separated from the Roman Catholic Church in the German principalities and Protestant Reformation nations of central and western Europe. With the spread of the Protestant Reformation new learning became the primary resource and an instrument of university reform. The Anglican Reformation of England was a continuation of the reform of scholasticism and the university by both the Church and the State in conjunction with the Protestant Reformation. The College of William and Mary in Virginia was a colonial outreach of the Anglican Church with its curriculum and university practices patterned after Oxford and Cambridge universities. Beginning with the reform of the University of Wittenberg, and culminating with the post-American Revolution founding of the University of Virginia, the medieval university of the late Middle Ages was reformed to serve the educational purposes of the newly emergent Protestant nation-state of the early Modern Era. The reforms of the University of Wittenberg, 1502-1560, Oxford and Cambridge universities, 1529-1559, the College of William and Mary, 1693-1780, and the founding of the University of Virginia, 1820-1825, were reflections of the changes in the religious, political, social and economic ideologies of each period in the transition of the university from late Middle Ages to the early Modern Era.
Bridging the achievement gap for African Americans: An analysis of statutory and case law (Education Papers posted on March 25th, 2013 )
Since the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education 1954) schools across the country have been challenged to provide an equitable education to all students. The U.S. Supreme Court rendered the decision that “…Separate educational facilities [were] inherently unequal” Russo, 2004, p. 944). They were unequal in the areas concerning: 1) student assignments, 2) transportation, 3) physical facilities, 4) extracurricular activities, 5) faculty assignment, and 6) resource allocation, which was connected to the quality of education being offered to students. While some improvement occurred, currently separate educational facilities are again forming in districts across the United States. Since this landmark case, there have been others challenging the district-established segregation decrees in order to create a system that is equitable for all students. However, there remains an academic “achievement gap” between African-American students and their counterparts. Therefore, this study examined legal cases brought by African-American parents, students, and community organizations. Additionally, the study examined cases brought by Whites, and other minority students alleging violations of constitutional rights and, in some cases discrimination as listed above which can contribute to the “achievement gap.” The researcher designed this study in an effort to identify and explicate the legal parameters governing provision of equitable educational facilities. The researcher contends that narrowing and eventually closing the achievement gap will only result if equality in education is a fact rather than a theory. This researcher identified the constitutional rights of children and parents as they seek equal access to resources and programs offered by districts. Finally, recommendations to districts, administrators, teachers, and parents are offered.
Governance practices, teamwork, effectiveness, and curriculum responsibilities in urban and suburban school board members in the northeast region of the United States (Education Papers posted on March 25th, 2013 )
The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship among the attitudes school board members have towards six components of governance, and their sense of effectiveness when moderated by their sense of teamwork and their curriculum responsibilities of investment and evaluation. The governance practices examined were professional leadership, policy orientation, structured decision making, board responsibility, financial planning, and financial management. This study further compared the differences in these practices between urban and suburban school districts in the northeast region of the United States. The methodology employed a 73 item Likert scale survey instrument, as well as four demographic items used for correlation and comparison data. Upon completion of the study, the survey was reduced to 68 questions. Generally the respondents in this survey failed to agree that they considered themselves effective. There was no significant difference between the attitudes of urban and suburban school boards towards the components of governance. The curriculum responsibilities of investment and evaluation did, indeed however, influence a members sense of effectiveness. A model was developed outlining the core pathway to board effectiveness for board members including the curriculum responsibilities, mainly curriculum evaluation, then teamwork, and professional leadership. However, it was noted that it is also critical for board members to manage their basic skills of board financial planning, financial management, curriculum investment and focus on the dimension of policy orientation including structured decision making and board responsibility if board effectiveness is to be achieved.
A study of the challenges faced by African-American urban superintendents addressing NCLB legislation (Education Papers posted on March 25th, 2013 )
School district superintendents face a myriad of challenges in the day-today administration of their school systems. The purpose of this research was to identify how the legal mandates of the No Child Left Behind NCLB) legislation has strengthened the efforts of African-American superintendents to move an aggressive agenda for academic achievement in school systems with urban challenges. Using a multi-site case study approach, 18 African-American school district superintendents across the country were interviewed to identify some of the common challenges they face in school district leadership, how the NCLB legislation has helped and possibly hindered their efforts, the strategies they have successfully implemented to address their challenges, and finally, the preparation that they feel graduate programs could have provided to ensure greater success for them as leaders. Findings indicate that while the NCLB legislation has helped in many respects to improve their efforts for systemic academic achievement, in other areas it has also hampered their progress. Superintendents tend to concur unanimously on critical components that graduate programs could address to better prepare them for their experiences as district leaders in urban settings. This study established a clear pattern of challenges faced by most urban superintendents, similar strategies utilized to address those challenges and holds strong implications for the postgraduate preparation of urban school district leaders in America.
An examination of a Teacher Enhancement Leadership System Model for teacher retention in an urban public school system (Education Papers posted on March 24th, 2013 )
The purpose of this qualitative study is to examine a Teacher Enhancement Leadership System Model that Wake County Public Schools has designed to attract and retain talented teachers. The primary research questions were, “What influences a teachers choice to stay in the teaching profession?” and “How can Wake County Public Schools Teacher Enhancement Leadership System Model address the teacher retention issue?” Nine broad categories of concern emerge from the literature when teachers are asked why they are leaving teaching: 1) classroom management； 2) lack of preparation； 3) school reform； 4) isolation； 5) induction programs； 6) school culture； 7) principals role； 8) lack of teacher leadership and 9) money. Semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were conducted with nine teachers and one principal from six different schools in Wake County. The schools chosen were based on the six schools with the lowest teacher turnover during the 2003-2004 school year. Four elementary schools, one middle school and one high school were represented. The major findings about what influences a teacher to stay in the teaching profession were: 1) abundance of paperwork； 2) heavy workload； 3) lack of time to reflect； 4) increased demands of students； 5) amount of teacher empowerment； 6) quality of teacher education programs； 7) purposeful hiring； 8) number of new initiatives； 9) lack of communication； 10) changes in family life； 11) low salaries； 12) lack of recognition； 13) lack of resources and 14) support of administrators. All of the teachers and principal interviewed felt that the TELS Model 1) gives teachers opportunities for advancement other than moving into administration； 2) recognizes teacher leaders by providing money and time to do these jobs； 3) complements the National Board Certification； 4) embeds time into the school day to reflect； 5) recognizes teachers as professionals； 6) rewards teaching excellence； 7) encourages teachers to proceed in their profession and 8) creates a climate of professionalism.
Change: How the learning of teachers alters while implementing an educational mandate (Education Papers posted on March 24th, 2013 )
Scope and method of study. The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate how the learning of teachers change during the implementation of a mandated educational reform. Fullans 1993) lens of learning embedded in his paradigm of dynamic change, Banduras 1986) construct of self-efficacy from his Social Cognitive Theory, and Constructivist Theory, in conjunction with Hopes 1999) tenets of skill, motivation, beliefs, and commitment, were used as lenses to focus the study. The methods of this study used to examine teacher and administrator perspectives about what teachers learn during implementation of a reform initiative and employed to compare the reasons how individual teachers change their practice as they change their learning included long interviews, observation, and perusal of teachers artifacts. The study records the respondents reactions and reflections about changes in individual learning resulting in change in teacher practice. The change reveals those factors that impact change in teacher learning while implementing an educational mandate. Findings and conclusions. Data obtained from interviewing two groups: male and female primary school classroom teachers to include specialist teaches and two administrators, suggested that there is a need for teachers to change their learning while implementing an educational mandate. The need for change in teacher learning is expressed as a need for multifaceted staff development, covering the necessary intent of the reform through the lenses of collaboration, a shared vision of decision making, and teacher accountability for implementation in order to maintain interconnectedness between teacher self-efficacy and teacher learning. For those educators who collaborate willingly, who share and discuss policy and procedure, substantial change in individual teachers practice does occur. Teachers make their personal meaning as they construct new realities about how they are to perform during implementation. Implementation of service learning will elevate the relevance of Constructivist Theory in relationship to Change Theory because both emphasize methodology necessitating change in traditional, informative education. Reform efforts must become embedded in new institutional forms that support teachers professional growth in the development of professional learning communities administered by leaders who facilitate proactive change in teachers personal as well as collective learning.
The relationships between the practices of external evaluators working with Immediate Intervention/Underperforming Schools Program (II/USP) and evaluation practices that enhance utilization of evaluation recommendations and organizational learning (Education Papers posted on March 24th, 2013 )
The purpose of this study was to explore the relationships between the practices of external evaluators working with Immediate Intervention/Underperforming Schools Program II/USP) and evaluation practices that enhance utilization of evaluation recommendations and organizational learning. Literature on the process of program evaluation was reviewed as well as literature surrounding utilization-focused processes and organizational learning. This study used an online survey to assess the perceptions of principals working in II/USP schools. The survey assessed the practices of external evaluators and the effects of the evaluation process. A stratified random sample of 408 principals was selected from the 1,290 schools enrolled in the II/USP program. Following the removal of Out of Scope respondents, an effective response rate of 41.7% was achieved. Data collected from the 65 principals were analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences. Chi-Square and t-tests were used to determine the significance of differences between the respondents and the population； the difference between the groups was not significant. Frequency distributions and descriptive statistics were conducted to identify evaluator practices. The research questions were explored using t-tests to determine the statistical significance of the observed differences between the means of perceived evaluator practices based on various demographics. Correlational studies and regression analyses were used to explore the relationships among the various utilization-focused variables and the influence of these variables on increasing utilization of evaluation findings and enhancing organizational learning. Findings suggest that II/USP principals perceived that external evaluators consistently used utilization-enhancing strategies, with few exceptions. Results of the t-tests suggest that demographics, such as schools size and socioeconomics, can influence utilization-focused practices, but the results were sometimes mixed or the means were not significantly different. The study found that most of the utilization variables intercorrelated and that specific evaluator and evaluation practices contributed to increased use of findings and that these variables had a perceived influence on organizational learning.