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1 SCHOOL REFORM IN A HIGH POVERTY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL : A GROUNDED THEORY CASE STUDY OF CAPACITY BUILDING By STEPHANIE L YNN DODMAN A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2011
2 2011 Stephanie L Dodman
3 To my family
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This dissertation represents more than just the culmination of a doctoral program. It represents a beginning. During the past five years, I have experienced the ups and downs of being a student again, the pitfalls of wanting to change the world quickly, the exhaustion of enormous personal loss, and the amazing light of personal happines s I have been humbled and battered, praised and exalted I have felt the sting of rejection and the comfort of acceptance. After these five years, m y life will never be the same Something new is beginning. I thank Joe for never giving up on me during th e dark times of this process, no matter how snarky I was Thank you for always being there to reassure me when I doubted that I was on the right path. I am so lucky to have you in my corner and my heart for the rest of my life. I thank my mom, Fran, and my dad, Bob, who have supported me at every twist without question and without judgment Thank you for having so much faith in me It has mad e all the difference in my life; it has enabled me to be sitting here writing this today. I t hank my sister, Jennifer who unknowingly has been inspiration to me You were the reason I became a special education teacher so in a sense, y ou set me on this journey. I thank Jacob and Jeremy not because you helped me get through this dissertation, but just because you are a wesome I thank Edna and Tiny and Frances and W.L. Without you as my grandparents, I would have been a completely a different person. I carry you with me each day. I thank Mount Vernon Elementary School that gave me my foundation to do the work I do. I tha nk every student that I ever had. Thank you for challenging me and forcing me to question the opportunities we provided you I thank Dorene Ross. I do not think anyone has ever had a more supportive advisor. Your mentorship has been astounding. You continu ally
5 raised the bar for me and I am a tremendously better researcher and teacher because of it. I thank my committee members who are the most amazing group of scholars and people. Alyson Adams, Buffy Bondy, and James McLeskey, y our guidance has been witho ut parallel and your work has inspired me. The opportunities that I have had because of you have prepared me so well for this new beginning. Finally, I thank Gateway Elementary. Without your acceptance, candor, and strength this study would never have been done. You are the reason that I have hope and the reason that I will continue on tomorrow in this field.
6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 9 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 10 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 11 CHAPTER 1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM ................................ ................................ ......... 13 Purpose of the Study ................................ ................................ .............................. 17 Significance of the Study ................................ ................................ ........................ 18 Definition Of Terms ................................ ................................ ................................ 20 Organization of the Study ................................ ................................ ....................... 21 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ................................ ................................ ............ 23 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 23 A Brief History of S chool Change ................................ ................................ ........... 24 Capacity Building ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 28 The Challenge of Change and the Need for Capacity ................................ ...... 29 Dynamics of Internal Capacity ................................ ................................ ................ 32 Teacher Instructional Practice ................................ ................................ .......... 33 Teacher Learning and Leadership ................................ ................................ .... 37 School Climate and Professional Community ................................ ................... 44 School Structures ................................ ................................ ............................. 47 Principal Leadership ................................ ................................ ......................... 54 Studies of Whole School Capacity Building and Change ................................ ........ 57 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 70 3 METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 74 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 74 Theoretical Perspective ................................ ................................ .......................... 75 Research Design ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 77 Case Study Ratio nale ................................ ................................ ....................... 77 Site Selection ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 78 Site Description ................................ ................................ ................................ 79 Participants and Data Collection ................................ ................................ ...... 82 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 86 Researcher Role an d Credibility ................................ ................................ ....... 90 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 92
7 4 THEN AND NOW ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 94 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 94 The Cultural Context: A History ................................ ................................ .............. 96 An Administration Absent: A Latchkey Faculty ................................ ................. 96 A Faculty with Untapped Potential ................................ ................................ .... 99 The Catalyst for Transformation ................................ ................................ ........... 100 Now ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 101 Continuous Innovation ................................ ................................ .................... 101 Reliance on and Belief in the Use of Data ................................ ...................... 103 Collective Responsibility ................................ ................................ ................. 104 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 106 5 THE PROCESSES OF CHANGE ................................ ................................ ......... 108 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 108 Taking Immediate A ction ................................ ................................ ...................... 110 Mobilizing Leaders ................................ ................................ ......................... 110 Becoming Instructionally Embedded ................................ .............................. 111 Immediately Attending to Teachers to Build Trust ................................ .......... 112 Pulling Back the Curtain to Reveal Urgency and Extend Invitation ................ 114 ................................ .................... 116 Soliciting Input ................................ ................................ ................................ 117 Invoking Elements of Team Strength (Leader vs. Ruler) ................................ 120 Encouraging Independent Problem Solving ................................ ................... 121 Changing Pedagogy ................................ ................................ ............................. 123 Aligning School Practices with District Expectations ................................ ...... 124 Holding High Expectations and Acting Accordingly ................................ ........ 124 Becoming Data Centered ................................ ................................ ............... 127 Targeting Essential Areas with Resources School wide ................................ 129 Creating Structures to Systematize Processes ................................ ..................... 130 Immediate and Strategic Action (Ready, Fire, Aim) ................................ ........ 130 Strategically Using Resources ................................ ................................ ........ 133 Fo rmalizing Processes ................................ ................................ ................... 136 Negotiating External Initiatives ................................ ................................ .............. 139 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 145 6 DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 147 Review of the Stud y ................................ ................................ .............................. 147 Discussion of Findings ................................ ................................ .......................... 150 Theoretical Assertion 1: Building Capacity in a School is a Complex Interplay of Actions that Are Influenced by Contextual Conditions. ............. 151 Actions; Because those Actions are a Necessary but Not Sufficient Condition for Change, Change Should Be Informed by Collective Professional Deve lopment in Capacity Building. ................................ ......... 153
8 Theoretical Assertion 3: The Potential Effects of External Policies and Intended Supports Are Medi 154 Implications ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 156 For Future Research ................................ ................................ ...................... 156 For Teacher Education And Professional Development ................................ 158 For Education Policy ................................ ................................ ...................... 160 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 161 APPENDIX A GATEWAY AND PARTICIPANT DEMOGRAHICS ................................ ............... 162 B INTERVIEW PROTOCOL ................................ ................................ ..................... 166 C REFLEXIV ITY STATEMENT AND LOG ................................ ............................... 168 REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 171 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 185
9 LIST OF TABLES Table page 3 1 demographic history ................................ ................................ ........................... 81 6 1 Summary of findings ................................ ................................ ......................... 151 A 1 Achievement data by entire school ................................ ................................ ... 1 62 A 2 Student demographic and attendance data ................................ ...................... 163 A 3 Teacher education and experience ................................ ................................ .. 164 A 4 Staff movement by year ................................ ................................ .................... 165 C 1 ................................ ................................ ............................... 170
10 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 2 1 Dynamics of school capacity ................................ ................................ .............. 73 3 1 The e mployed grounded theory process ................................ ............................ 90 5 1 The processes of change in Gateway ................................ .............................. 109
11 Abstract of Diss ertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy SCHOOL REFORM IN A HIGH POVERTY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: A GROUNDED THEORY CASE STUDY OF CAPACITY BUILDING By Stephanie L Dodman August 2011 Chair: Dorene Ross Cochair: Alyson Adams Major: Curriculum and Instruction There is a persistent and significant gap in the achievement of students who attend high poverty schools and those who attend low poverty schools. Students in high poverty schools, the majority of whom are African American and Hispanic, are not achieving the same levels of academic success as their low poverty or White counterparts. Retention rates, graduation rates, and standardized test scores demonstrate a vicious cycle of reproduction by race and economics. Despite decades of reform efforts purporting to address this issue, little has changed for the better in the e quitable education of students. Internal conditions often hinder the success of many high poverty schools including high teacher and administrative turnover, an excuse driven culture, and ineffective operations. In our current policy context, schools are held improve when such internal obstacles are present. As a result, failing schools remain failing and almost all of them are high poverty schools. School reform relies on the internal ability of schools to respond to changing students and changing demands but s tudy of how whole school capacity is
12 strengthened for demonstrated student achievement is still only limitedly available This study examines this issue and addresses this gap through a case study of successful internal reform in one high poverty elementary school Grounded theory methods of over time. Research questions focused on the what, how, and why of the changes to develop an explanatory theory of internal school reform Findings indicated that the previous context of the school was hostile, instructionally complacent, and stagnant. With the entrance of a new principal, the school engaged in five processes of change that strengthened their internal capacity: taking imme creating structures to systematize processes, and negotiating external initiatives. These processes together resulted in a transformed culture of collective responsibility, pervasive use of data, and continuous innovation, as well as school wide achievement. The five processes are described and paired with several theoretical assertions regarding internal school change.
13 CHAPTER 1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM P ublic schools in the United States are failing their students. When the Coleman Report was released in 1966, this was a contentious argument (Rivkin, Hanushek, & Kain 2005). Today, this is a fact that few would credibly dispute. Publications such as A Nation at Risk (1983), Savage Inequalities (Kozol, 1992), and Class and Schools (Rothstein, 2004), highlight the disparity existing in the educational opportunities for different groups of students. The story that school works very well for those who fit a certain class type and not as well for others is realized in National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores that consistently demonstrate inequitable achieve ment by race and income. It is also realized in schools where the least qualified teachers are teaching the most educationally fragile students. Groups of students are being consistently failed by their schools, particularly when educationally fragile stud ents comprise the majority of the student population (Haycock, 2001). When students are failed in elementary school, their later educational success and their social and economic attainment in life is compromised. This is evident when examining educationa l statistics such as grade retention and later high school graduation rates. Nationally, the percentage of Black students retained in kinderg arten through eighth grade is 16% as compared to 11 % of Hispanic students, and 8 % of White students ( Planty, et al ., 2009 ). Pair this with a national dropout rate that for Hispanic students is four times higher than that of White students and three times higher than that of Black students ( Planty, et al., 2009 ). Studies have consistently demonstrated that dropping out
14 (Alexander, Entwisle, & Kabbani, 2001, p. 763), experiences that include consistent academic difficulties and depressed in structional engagement levels (Finn, 1989; Finn & Rock, 1997; Christle, Jolivette, & Nelson, 2007). Additionally, when poverty levels increase in an elementary school by twenty five percent, reading and math achievement scores decrease by approximately thi rteen points ( Planty, et al., 2009 ). Nationally, approximately 20% of all elementary students attend h igh poverty schools, with Black, Hispanic American Indi an, and English Language students enrolled in disproportionate numbers (Aud, et al., 2010) It can not be forgotten that there are many social and economic factors influencing achievement and educational attainment phenomena and schools are just one institution (Rothstein, 2004), but they are a highly influential one one that can either serve to furthe r perpetuate social and educational stratification or promote educational equity (Erickson, 1987). We know that individual teachers are vital to student success (see Darling Hammond, 1999; Rivkin, Hanushek, & Kain, 2005; Wright, Horn, & Sanders, 1997), an d this importance is not to be underestimated. When there is pervasive underachievement in an entire school, however, the issue moves beyond individual classroom walls. Pockets of effective teaching in a school are not enough. Students, especially educatio nally fragile students, need a quality education every year they cannot afford the consequences of sporadic quality in teaching and learning (Sanders and Rivers, 1996). The simple answer to this would be to only staff the school with teachers who are docu mented as being highly effective. But as is common, the simple answer is far more complex than it seems. Schools that are struggling in student achievement are typically
15 not the most attractive to well established teachers (Boyd, Grossman, Lankford, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2008; Guarino, Santibaez, & Daley, 2006) and a cycle of staff instability and poor student achievement is a difficult one to break. This leaves large percentages of students being repeatedly failed by their school each year, and thus a cycle of social reproduction is perpetuated that maintains academic stratification by race, income, and perceived disability. This cycle can only end when the current context of schools begins to be questioned and subsequently changed. Changing the context of sch ools for the improved achievement of all students is not an easy task. High teacher and administrator turnover, low faculty and student morale, ineffective and inefficient systems of operation, and a culture of excuses often characterize schools that are c onsistently challenged by student achievement ( Battistich, Solomon, Kim, Watson, & Schaps, 1995; Clotfelter, Ladd, Vigdor, & Wheeler, 2006; Fullan, 2007 ; Ingersoll, 2004) Transforming such a passive context into an active center of hope and motivation mea ns engaging an entire school in contextual cultural change (Payne, 2008) The school change process, like any organizational change process, is complicated and deceptively multidimensional (Fullan, 2007). In fact, this process is so complex that school (Sarason, 1990). In addition to the issues plaguing struggling schools as noted above, change within the current contexts of teaching is hampered by an intensification of responsibilitie s, lack of administrative leaders who are prepared for change, lack of knowledge and skills regarding how to change, and lack of firm commitment to reform
16 initiatives by those involved (Nolan & Meister, 2000). As posited by reform leaders such as Fullan, t he current conditions for reform ne ed to change. T he answer to large scale reform is not to try to emulate the characteristics of the minority who are getting somewhere under present conditions; if the conditions stay the same, we will always have only a m inority who can persist (for short periods of time) against many odds. Rather, we must change existing conditions so that it is normal and possible for a majority of people to move forward. (Fullan, 2007, p. 301) This transformation of conditions necessar y for real change means that school capacity must be cultivated so that those within the school can withstand, adapt to, and own meaningful improvement. If a school has indeed engaged in successful reform resulting in higher student achievement for all stu dents, the administration and teachers within the school will have changed not just their structures, but their very school culture (Fullan, 2007; Hargreaves, 1994), and doing so will have interrupted the status quo by redefining the existing conditions. collegiality] is viewed as essential to the effective delivery of reforms that are mandated e 189). Har greaves made a key distinction between contrived collegiality founded on mandates and rigid procedures in order to implement the there must be movement beyond just structural solutions (restructuring) to school reculturing (Hargreaves, 1994; Wilhelm, 2009) where administrators are no longer framed as
17 This transformation of school culture deemed necessary for meaningful school change relies on the de velopment of capacity within a school. Much school reform research has long called for schools to reconsider externally imposed reform initiatives that are implemented without work on the ground to facilitate effective change. Rather, it is argued that thr developing the capacity of schools and teachers to be responsible for student learning and responsive to student and community needs, Hammond, 1993) that the potential can be developed for school improvement. If we accept that the potential for this improvement lies not in mere structural solutions but in cultural transformation, then capacity for change is intrinsically tied to a needs schools successfully build their capacity for change by engaging in reculturing, which breaks a cycle of student and teacher failure, has become vital. The current study is, in fact, designed to do just that study a high needs school reported to have successfully engaged in school reform that transf ormed their culture and improved their student achievement. Doing so will help to deepen our understanding of how a high needs school can engage in meaningful school based reform that offers all students equitable opportunities for achievement. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this grounded theory case study was to analyze the internal school change process in a high poverty school that experienced marked improvement in student achievement. By describing how and why the school changed from the perspecti ves of the stakeholders, a story of change is told and a theory of reform constructed To examine how this school engaged in transformation, the following broad research questions were explored: 1) What are the changes th at this school has
18 experienced? 2) How did this school experience the changes? and 3) Why did this school engage in the changes that it did? These research questions were addressed in an instrumental case study (Stake, 2005) of a Title I elementary school that successfully improved. As an i nstrumental case study, which uses a case to provide insight into an external interest, this research was designed to investigate the larger issue of successful school reform. This topic was explored through the in depth study of one particular school in o ne particular context utilizing constructionist grounded theory methods. The hope was that this school would be instrumental to understanding the particulars of how a high needs school can transform, what elements interrelate to effect substantial changes, and how the stakeholders themselves effect these changes. Significance of the Study School reform approaches are being reconceptualized from foundational orientations of deficit fixing to renewal orientations of capacity creating (Giles, 2008). The devel opment of internal school capacity, not for compliance, but for sustaining self renewal, is being argued as the key means of transforming schools into improved vehicles for student success (Giles, 2008). Comprehensive S chool R eform (CSR) models, as externa lly designed reform programs, are losing steam. CSR models are also losing federal dollars due to a costly and heavy reliance on implementation fidelity, without which improved achievement outcomes are uncertain (Gross, Booker, & Goldhaber, 2009). Rather, as Lambert (1998) argues, recreating schools as learning maintain momentum for self a
19 means that is essential to develop ing the capacity necessary to foster resiliency for sustained school changes and student achievement. As schools seek to improve their capacity for change, many are looking toward collaboration and communities of practice, and many researchers support the se structures as essential. Collaboration and critical practices that truly challenge the has shown us anything about change it is that capacity does not develop due to t he culture (Copland, 2003). What research has not done though is provide enough attention to how to actually succeed in reculturing as a part of capacity building (Har ris, capacity necessary for change. Reform efforts designed to increase student achievement i n low performing schools must negotiate the interplay of many concomitant factors, both school level and beyond. Factors such as staff commitment and skill, school leadership, district and state structures and policies, and complexity of the reform have al l been noted to affect the capacity of schools to effectively and consistently implement a whole school reform model (Fullan, 2007). This research will contribute to the school reform literature by examining how one high needs school successfully developed their capacity for change and engaged in a transformation of teaching and learning. The school in this study was selected due to its potential to offer a key case of successful high needs school reform. It was identified by stakeholders as experiencing
20 a transformation, led by teachers and administration, rather than resulting from externally imposed programs. Stakeholders preliminarily indicated that a series of interrelated factors influenced not only strong positive change in professionalization and sc hool health, but substantially affected student achievement. During the 2008 2009 school year, the school achieved a grade of an A with all student subgroups meeting Adequate Yearly Progress criteria in both reading and math for the first time 1 Because sc hool change is a socially complex process, which no two schools experience the same way, more in depth study is needed in order to understand how the broad array of confounding factors can contribute to success in challenging school contexts As this schoo l is studied, the grounded theory approach to data collection and analysis will enable a theory of change to be constructed for this context which will deepen our understanding of what is possible and how it can be attained. Definition Of Terms C APACITY BUILDING experiences for C ULTURE The taken for granted beliefs and assumptions that give meaning to n, 1990). H IGH NEEDS SCHOOL Public school where 75% or more of students live in poverty and where a large percentage of students are documented as struggling in achievement. The student population may also consist majorly of Black, Hispanic, E nglish Langu age Learners or students with disabilities. H IGH POVERTY SCHOOL P ublic school where more than 75% of the students are eligible for free or reduced priced lunch. This definition aligns with that of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). 1 The school met AYP for all student subgroups in reading and math in the 2003 2004 school year. However, in 2005, the D epartment of E ducation amended its criteria for AYP by increasing the indicators from 30 to 39. Using the new AYP criteria, the school has only met AYP for all student subgroups once, which was for the 2008 2009 school year. Therefore, the school is referred to as havin g never met AYP before 2008 2009.
21 R EC ULTURING When a school undergoes massive internal changes by transforming the beliefs and assumptions of its members to affect how they think by acting on and supporting the culture itself so that teachers are more able to (Hargreaves, 1994). R ESTRUCTURING When current school structures undergo changes with the intent of improving operational aspects of a school with an ultimate goal of improving student achievement. This may include changes to policies, procedures, schedules, curriculum, etc. (Fullan, 2007; Hargreaves, 1994). T ITLE I SCHOOLS designating schoo ls that enroll large percentages of students from low income families. Title I of the Education and Secondary Education Act of 1965 is targeted at improving the academic achievement of disadvantaged students. Schools that enroll at least 40% of students fr om low income families are eligible to use Title I funds for school wide programs. Organization of the Study T he study is divided into six chapters. This chapter, Chapter 1, described the current situation of educational reform in the United States and e stablished the need for the current study. The second chapter details the relevant research related to capacity building for school improvement, a broad area of the literature that was revealed as er 2 is to situate the study in chapter explains the research methodology that led to my findings. Chapters 4 and 5 describe those findings. Chapter 4 details the c ontext of the case study school before and after transformation, while Chapter 5 addresses the processes of change that affected that transformation. Finally, Chapter 6 is a discussion of the explanatory theory of school capacity building and its implicati ons for research and practice This study is the story of what happened within this particular school why it happened, and how it happened, but examination of individual changes is not the sole purpose of
22 theory of change in high poverty, low performing schools. That theory depends on the intricacies of context and how people make sense of their world. For this reason, the changes were critically analyzed from the perspectives of participants but then reconstructed into a broader theory of reform
23 CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE Introduction The purpose of this study is to analyze the internal school ch ange process in a high poverty school that experienced marked improvement in student achievement. To build a foundation for understanding the importance of the study, this chapter s ynthesizes the literature related to school change, with a specific focus o n organizational capacity. The intent is to situate the study within the relevant literature on school change while also highlighting gaps in the current research. This is a grounded theory single school case study. As in many grounded theory studies, revi ew of the literature was delayed in order to identify the salient focus from the data analysis process (Charmaz, 200 6 ). Data analy sis indicated the importance of organizational capacity for school change. This literature review contextualizes the findings by providing an overview of prior research in school change and the development of organizational capacity. The literature was reviewed using the following criteria for inclusion: 1) empirical studies were published in a peer reviewed journal or agency rep ort, or if published in a book provided a strong description of methodology, 2) empirical studies and literature reviews were published within the past 10 years, and 3) empirical studies directly examined some aspect of school based change. Additionally, f oundational work, both empirical and theoretical, was included if it helped to establish the historical context for the recent work or if the work was cited repeatedly in the literature. All of the literature synthesized here concerns school based change. It is divided into three sections. The first section provides a brief history of school change that tracks
24 the various movements of education reform over time. It highlights a disconnection that exists between public reform policy and school change resear ch. The second section details what we know about school level organizational capacity, provides a rationale for why it is important to school change, and identifies a model for capacity building th at was built from the literature. Because the literature w as reviewed after data analysis, the findings from this study also influenced the model. Finally, the third section focuses more intensely on recent qualitative case study research in school change. This section highlights the lack of rigorous research ava ilable regarding the internal changes of high poverty, low achieving schools. A Brief History of School Change In her edited volume of the International Handbook of Educational Change, Lieberman (2004) traced the history of educational change throughout t he decades beginning with the end of World War II. It is at this time, she and her fellow authors argue d that educational change became a true field of study. The effects of the GI Bill meant many more students needing preparation for a post secondary edu cation, which in turn meant a greater need for schools able to effectively prepare students for such a future. From this point on, the field of school change, or school reform, can be characterized by widespread trends that are perhaps best illustrated as literature and in public policy (Desimone, 200 2 ). The first wave moved from the GI Bill to the Cold War. During this time, the pressure for change focused around preparing students for post secondary education and for competition in a math a nd science dominated race to space. These changing emphases resulted in large scale efforts to
25 schools and increased reliance on the imposition of external curricular pro grams and mandates. schools; research during this time, however, made it clear that student success could not be programmed. The Coleman Report ( Coleman, et al., 1966) made t he assertion that schools mattered little in the academic achievement of students, and that families and society determined success. It became apparent that improving education for all students would require more than simply changing the curriculum. The ev ents that time, school change efforts shifted to focus on the creation of family, school, and community partnerships that could affect student educational success. There wer e also efforts to professionalize teaching and to strengthen teacher education (Desimone, 200 2 ). This second wave also produced limited change in student achievement. The next major reform wave involved looking more intensely at the teaching and learning that was occurring in schools. The third wave of reform (during the 1990s and first half of the 2000 s) relied heavily on the development and implementation of Comprehensive School Reform (CSR) models that targeted the curriculum and the instructional prac this time, the federal government invested a great deal of money in CSR model implementation for Tit le I schools. Comprehensive School Reform models had to meet eleven criteria to receive federal funding for implementation at the school level. These
26 and school management based in scientifically based research and effective practices, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education 2002). During this wave, the reform was not just focused on the 2 ; Fullan, 2000). CSR models offered top theory, [through] tangible and a ccessible support for school change rooted in research Hewes, Overman, & Brown, 2003 p. 126). large As with each prior wave, the third wave did not consistently result in widespread effects for student achievement nor in school level change over time (Datnow, 2005) S ome programs did result in academic improvemen ts for students ( Datnow, Borman, Stringfield, Ov erman, & Castellano, 2003 ) however, t hese gains were uneven and dependent on a host of contextual factors (Rowan, Camburn & Barnes 2004) Among these factors were high site fidelity to implementation guidelines, number of years using the program, progra m match to the local policy context, and relationships between the CSR program developers and the sch ools and districts ( Borman, et al., 2003 ; Correnti & Rowan, 2007; Datnow, 2005; Epstein, 2005 ). There were also concerns about the limited attention that C SR models paid to cultural and linguistic diversity ( Cooper & Jordan, 2003; Datnow, et al., 2003 ) Wave three did not result in the consistent and pervasive effects on student achievement that were anticipated and a s of this review,
27 the third wave of refor m has arguably come to close However, ripples from this wave are still impacting current education reform policy. We are now in a time that might be characterized as Wave 3.5. The field has not transformed to wholly new emphases, as there is still explicit focus on measurable outcomes and research based instruction but the field is in a place seemingly different from the third wave of reform. Educational reform policy is now less dominated by the Comprehensive School Reform models seen at t he core of the third wave and is now more focused on external accountability through an increased emphasis on competition and rewar ds. Teacher merit pay and the promotion of charter schools has turned the predicated on the curricula; develop assessments that measure student performance against the standards; give schools flexibility to change curriculum, instruction, and organization; and hold schools strict (p. 169). Notable is that while scholars have also engaged in a parallel line of research since the 1970s This body of research looks beyond the surface application of external reforms to focus on how those reforms are implemented in schools. As external efforts in curriculum, family school partnership, and Comprehensive School Reform each faltered in their intended effects, the school c hange research examines what is happening inside of schools. Examining the complex reality of teaching (Lortie, 1975), considering the school as an organization
28 (Sarason, 1971), and analyzing the characteristics of effective schools (Levine and Lezotte 19 95; Sammons Hillman, & Mortimore 1995; Zigarelli, 1996) moved the discourse of reform in academia from one focused on implementation to one heralding the need for building the capacity for change. This research documented that despite reform efforts, lit tle change occurred at the classroom level (Fullan, 2000) and subsequently little change on any grander scale. Experiences in each wave made it clear that implementation of a reform was more than an event, it was a process (Miles, 2005); and more than that it was a process dependent on its smallest unit (McLaughlin, 2005). This demonstrates that the operations of individual schools and classrooms are critical to reforming education. The next section focuses on the research in building internal school capac ity. Capacity Building Capacity building is about strengthening schools to meet the demands of our changing world. Capacity is considered the ability to utilize and create resources and structures that will enable students to achieve socially and academi cally at high levels sake, as innovation just to innovate has been found to be negatively associated with achievement (Berends, Goldring, Stein, & Cravens, 2010); nor is it about having the facility to increase the basic skills of students for better test scores, although improved achievement is certainly the goal. Rather, capacity to adapt to the ebb and flow of educational needs means knowing at the school level how Hammond, 1995 ) and knowing how to distinguish the constructive from the destructive (Fullan, 2007).
29 The capacity of a school is dependent on how well equip ped its faculty is to recognize and adapt to their needs. The history of federal, state, and district level educational policy has been to mandate change on schools rather than focusing on how to affect what is happening in schools. The response of schools has been to treat such policy as an imposition. History has demonstrated how little changes in the actual work inside school walls, particularly through externally derived means The waves of policy reform in public education to date are characterized by an assumption that if you build it, they will come; if you make it policy, it will happen (Fullan, 2007; Lieberman, 200 5 ). Such an assumption discounts the already existing system into which changes must fit (Senge, 199 4 ). It also discounts the actors who must do the fitting (Ball, 1997). The Challenge of Change and the Need for Capacity forces for change, schools appear remarkably untouched, and exhibit many structures, practices in place, mandating change does little to actually affect change (McLaughlin, 20 05). In 1983, Baldridge asserted: The response [to secure a desired change by those outside of schools] is often to require new procedures. In turn, the response of the schools frequently is to accept these new procedures without altering the procedures which already exist. The result is t he proliferation of procedures and the appearance of change. But because the existing procedures are not altered, progress has not occurred. (p. 109) Fink and Stoll discussed this phenomenon in terms of preserving the continuity of a system. For systems t o sustain, they need some level of continuity. As schools are
30 continue working in ways that make sense to them and maintain the continuity of their reality. Therefore, new procedures or programs may be implemented but not integrated Richardson (1990) offer ed a complementary theory about why there is lack of change in schoo ls. She explained it as an issue with lack of understanding, both on the part of schools as organizations and on the part of teachers. She described school practices, specifically teaching, to be activities embedded in theory. When those within the organiz ation are asked to change their activity without being asked to examine their theoretical frameworks, it results in a type of deadlock where a change might be implemented but then immediately dropped because it does not fit into established ways of thinkin g. Richardson argued that change requires both a solid pairing between beliefs and activity and increased time to reflect on the theoretical frameworks of the organization and individuals. Without that opportunity, the status quo will prevail. However, it is important to note that the status quo might be exactly what some schools need. Some schools already possess the ability to positively affect students academically and socially. Some schools may not need to integrate new ways of working into their schoo l at a given time. Holmes (2005), for example, has criticize d change literature as being contradictory and assumption driven. He argue d that face of the critical awarenes s that capacity reformers espouse as essential. Richardson (1990) and Rowan and Miller (2007) echo ed this caveat. Therefore, an outcome of capacity building must be the ability to evaluate current work in terms of a specific
31 proposed change; integrate wher e it is necessary, and hold off where it is not (Mulford, 2010). process that requi res many changes in the context of the school as an organization. Lieberman and Miller (2004) have characterize d the social ) by moving from individualism to professional community; from placing teach ing at the center of schools to placing learning at the center of schools; from technical work to inquiry based work; from control to accountability; from managed teacher work to teacher leadership; and from a classroom focus to a whole school focus (Liebe learning organizations is regarded as the goal of internal capacity building, with high student achie vement being the desired outcome (Darling Hammond, 2006; Katzenmeyer and Moller, 2009). Summarizing the literature presented here on the goals of capacity building, schools with strong capacities for effective teaching and learning are schools that: Can c ontinually evaluate their status and needs in terms of a shared theoretical framework Can integrate policy into their work based on that continuous evaluation Focus on student learning outcomes and demonstrate high achievement for all student groups Recog nize that students change, the world changes, and they as teachers and schools must change
32 Developing schools to be learning organizations that can engage in these activities requires understanding how schools are internally constructed as systems. Schools as systems inherently have a complex interplay of components. These components depend on and affect one another for the system to operate (Senge, 1994 ). The next also presents a model of the dynamics of school capacity. Dynamics of Internal Capacity The literature is replete with support for strong internal school capacity. In the field of reform, capacity is cited as essential for effectively respond ing to the demand s of external policy and intervention (Cohen & Ball, 1999; Lieberman, 2005), for engag ing in continuous professional learning that affects practice (Stoll, Bolam, McMahon, Wallace, & Thomas, 2006), and for positively affect ing student outcomes on a collect ive rather than individual level (Fullan, 2007; Hargreaves, 2001). The terms capacity for improvement and capacity for change are used interchangeably in the literature to student learning. Capacity is how schools adapt to the chaos that is society and define themselves as living organizations engaged in relentless evaluation of th eir work (Hannay, Erb, & Ross, 2001). n and what change is needed? From a review of the literature in school change and from the findings presented in C hapters 4 and 5 of this study five internal elements of school organization seem to contribute to
33 uctional practice, teacher learning and leadership, school structures, school climate and professional community, and principal leadership. The dynamic interplay of these elements is shown i n Figure 2 1 located at the end of this chapter Principal leadership is positioned as the foundation or guiding force for all other elements. The other four elements affect one another reciprocally, and these f The following six sections present a synthesis o f reviewed literature related to teacher instructional practice, teacher learning and leadership, school structures, school climate and professional community, and principal leadership. Each section begins with an overview of its theoretical underpinnings, and then synthesizes the empirical research supporting its place in school capacity. A final section summarizing the literature is presented at the end of the chapter. Although this model of school capacity is drawn from both the literature and this study only the literature is presented here. Chapter 6 offers a discussion that synthesizes the findings with the literature. Teacher Instructional Practice rect, sustained contact with students as well as considerable Presented in this section is literature related to instructional practice. This literature demonstrates t hat instructional practice is both an element of capacity and a goal of capacity building efforts.
34 Historically, school reform efforts seek to address classroom instruction by ctions in some way. These efforts tend to treat instruction as insular, affected only by the teacher doing the teaching, and removed from the larger system of which it is a part practice theory exemplifies this treatment. Drawing from the literature, Guskey posit ed that change in practice is a more or less linear and independent process between an t changes in practice and subsequent student learning outcomes have to come before new and see a difference before their belief about it will change; individual attitude s and beliefs then are positioned as the foundation for sustained change. Although Guskey admit ted 385), as is demonstrated below, it moreover discounts a larger social world that affects teacher actions and beliefs We know attitudes and beliefs play an important and complicated role in and behavior in educational research presented sixteen conclu sions regarding the nature of our beliefs. Each conclusion was supported by both research and theory. Among them were the findings that beliefs strongly affect behavior, that beliefs are part of a system that is inextricably intertwined with knowledge, tha t the belief system helps individuals to define and understand their world, that beliefs are culturally transmitted, and that the longer a belief is held the harder it is to change (p. 324 325). The
35 ontinues to support his conclusions. Scholars are consistent on this point: beliefs and attitudes about self, students, and instruction are connected to practice and change (see for example, Aguirre & Speer, 1999 ; Richardson, Anders, Tidwell, & Lloyd, 1991 ; Smylie, 1988; Stipek, Givvin, Salmon, MacGyvers, 2001; Wilkins, 2008). The literature also provides beliefs and attitudes. Geijsel, Sleegers, van den Berg, and Kelchterma ns (2001), for example found that teachers participating in a Dutch reform initiative agreed with the principles of the reform much more than they enacted them. Geijsel, et al. used survey data from two studies of a large scale education innovation in 14 agricultural training centers for a total of 1,249 teacher participants. Using structural equation modeling, they analyzed for the conditions that fostered implementation of an initiative from the However, Geijesel, et al. also found school based elements to affect that uncertainty, namely shared vision and opportunities for intellectu al stimulation. Therefore, even when participants believed in the principles of the reform, elements of their context either constrained or encouraged their enactment in practice. into their findings from three separate studies of teacher professional learning and prac tice in mathematics and science. Across studies, 79 teachers from at least seven schools in
36 Australia participated. The resulting Interconnected Model position ed an external domain, personal domain, domain of practice, and domain of consequence in non line ar arrangement. The domains were mediated by reflection and enactment and were couched within a change environment. The authors indicate d domain and the effect of every mediating process are facilitated or retarded by the affordances In other words, w hile teacher change may depend on enacting and experiencing benefit in their own classrooms, the extent of teacher actions and changes additionally depend on the school co ntext. Further supporting the role of the school in teaching practice, Hargreaves (2001) propose d a theory that deepens these conceptions of instructional practice change. He argue d that teaching itself is a system. Trying to change one piece of that syst em will not be effective at changing the embedded instructional patterns of a teacher. So while implementing the practice with his/her students (Clarke & Hollingsworth, 20 02; Guskey, said Hargreaves, is dependent on teachers collectively engaging in knowledge creation and in novation. This means surfacing beliefs and examining actions with colleagues. Hargreaves posit ed system of teaching, it provides the necessary mobilization of knowledge for affecting practice across classrooms. Studies of the effects of professional development on
37 2007; Smylie, 1988; Buczynski & Hansen, 2010; Meirink, Meijer, Verloop, & Bergen 2009). For example, a quantitative survey study of 1,027 teachers in 358 districts by Garet, Porter, Desimone, Birman, and Yoon (2001) found that two essential characteristics of teacher professional development linked to change in instructional practice were collective participation at the same school site and communication with others. Although the authors did not collect evidence related to why these elements affected change in instructional practice, they offered an explanation drawn from the literatu problems and solutions, teachers may foster a better understanding of the goals for These latter conceptio ns of instructional practice as being part of a larger teaching and schooling system represent the current paradigm of school improvement (Cohen and Ball, 1999; King and Newmann, 2001; Stoll, et al., 2006; Riehl, 2000). The argument for strong capacity wit hin a school is at its core about affecting instructional practice and creating organizational elements to support effective teaching and learning. Teacher Learning and Leadership T he most crucial mechanism to build human capital is human capital that suggested that for schools to evaluate their practices in light of them. He criticized reform policy as attempti ng to the knowledge, skills, and commitments of teachers and by creating supportive p. 10 ). Drawing on theories of adult learning and learning to teach, Smylie went on to posit:
38 oriented and grounded in inquiry, experimentation, and reflection. They should be collaborative, involving interaction with other teachers and educational professionals as sources of new ideas and feedback. These opportunities should be coherent, intensive, and ongoing. They should be instrumentally connected, at least in part, to broader goals for student learning a nd school improvement. (p. 10 ) The ideas undergirding Sm literature, particularly in theoretical work in teacher knowledge that draws heavily on the literature (Cochran Smith and Lytle, 1999; Desforges, 1995), comprehensive literature reviews of teacher learning ( Putnam & Borko, 1997) and teacher leadership (York Barr and Duke, 2004). What follows is a synthesis of the teacher learning and leadership literature as relevant to building school capacity. It is drawn from the prior cited work and additional empirical s tudies. Three conclusions that have important implications for school capacity are presented from this available literature. Teacher learning is a Cochran Smith and Lytle (1999) offer ed three well accepted conceptions of teacher knowledge: knowledge for practice, knowledge in practice, and knowledge of practice. Knowledge for practice characterizes the traditional professional development structure that imparts knowledge and then assumes classroom action. It positions teachers as something tangible and equal across people. Separating knowledge from the knower in this way is problematic. For example, as demonst rated in a small scale study by Van Van Eekelen, et al. studied 14 Dutch high school teachers who were involved in a nationwide program intended to foster active and sel f regulated learning among high school students. All participants had been teaching at least seven years. The authors
39 more process Based on their analysis of observations of teaching and two interviews with participants, the authors suggest ed that will acts as provide d evidence indicating the same f or professional development endeavors. Treating knowledge as outside of the person does not take into account the kinds of individual influences described here. Additional empirical research has demonstrated that teachers learn in relation to their past e xperiences and those past experiences and perceptions affect the opportunity to learn from new experiences (Garet, et al., 2001; Penuel, Fishman, constructivist learning theory to examine the literature on novice expert shifts in teaching and then re characterized teacher knowledge in a new model. He drew heavily on work by Chinn and Brewer (1993) that indicated four factors strongly influencing teacher learning: The effect of The credibility of data/experiences, The depth of processing of an experience, and The availability and quality of alternative cognitive structures Desforges argued that when faced with new experiences, it should be expected that these factors will work against new learning rather than for it. For example, when alternative s are absent, considering new knowledge is not even possible, or if those
40 the be liefs literature presented earlier in this chapter, the complexity in affecting teacher learning becomes apparent. ly when teachers are personally involved, Meirink, Meijer, Verloop, and Bergen (2009) examined the relationship between learning activities of teachers and changes in their beliefs in 34 secondary school teachers over one year. The authors found that engag ing in learning experiences with colleagues in the context of professional development was more greatly related to changes in beliefs than was engaging in spontaneous learning experiences with or with out colleagues. They also found that intention in learni ng mattered. That is, when participants haphazardly implemented new teaching practices without any intention to evaluate the effectiveness of those practices, their beliefs did not change; when participants intentionally implemented new practices intending to evaluate their effectiveness, the implementation of new practice was more greatly related to belief change. Their changes also relied on their individual dissatisfaction related to their current teaching methods. In sum, t self a ffect s his or her response to learning situations and influences how beliefs and practice change or remain constant Teacher learning is situative and must be considered as such. The cognitive self is not the only influence on teacher learning; the soci al world also affects that learning. Putnam and Borko (1997) reviewed research on learning in teacher
41 communities They described current conceptions of teacher learning as involving more than the learner and the discrete information to be learned ; they po sited that the context fo r that learning mattered. T he authors descri bed learning as situative which depicts learning a s social, situated, and distributed. If we accept practice as predictive of learning, then further research on teacher learning supports this conception. It is consistently found that learning is most connected to changes in practice when the explicitly connected to a larger agenda of a school, and engage d in with colleagues at the same school site (Desimone, et al ., 2002; Garet, et al 2001; Nir & Bogler, 2008; Schnellert, Butler, & Higginson, 2008). Cochran knowledge of practice positioned teacher learning as fostered b y a community. It further illustrated the important role that the context and colleagues have in teacher learning. Putnam and Borko (1997) stated that viewing learning as situative places emphasis on the discourse communities in which teachers work and lea rn. These discourse communities play central roles in shaping the way teachers view their world and go about their work. Indeed, patterns of classroom teaching and learning have historically been resistant to fundamental change, in part because schools hav e served as powerful discourse communities that enculturate participants (students, teachers, administrators) into traditional school activities and ways of thinking (p. 8) Altering that discourse and reshaping schools into learning centered communities r ecognizes teachers as situative learners who draw on their classrooms and their schools to inform their learning. The social context of learning has taken a front seat in H e used evidence from two cases of education reform in the United Kingdom and research on teacher effectiveness to test his theory. He posit ed that a reform will only
42 be effective to the extent that it contributes to not only student outcomes, but to Hargreaves described l everage as being the ratio of effort to outcome. These three elements are enhanced when learning and responsibility are collective endeavors and outcomes. S chool improvement means capitalizing on teachers as learners and data generators/users Across the research is a call for schools as learning organizations. Studies in high performing high poverty schools consistently find that effective schools in some wa y encourage and capitalize on teacher learning. Examples include teachers engaged in continuous data use to drive instruction (Taylor, Pressley, & Pearson, 2002) and commitment to and belief in continuous professional development (Cole Henderson, 2000). A review of the school improvement literature by Muijs, Harris, Chapman, Stoll, and Russ (2004) found both themes echoed in their reviewed studies of effective schools in challengi ng contexts They cit ed inquiry mindedness as a key interrogate existing test data to see whether initiatives are working, or whether there are problems with achievement in particular areas or with 159). They cited research by Florian (2000) that indicated schools sustainin g in reform efforts work as l earning organization s. These schools could integrate new practices into the school routine and the schools created structures that put emphasis on professional development and collab oration. The relationship of such structures to organizational learning has been found in related research (Leithwood, Leonard, & Sharratt 1998). A study by Silins, Mulford, & Zarins (2002) found organizational learning to directly affect n classrooms and to mediate school effects on student outcomes. They
43 considered learning organizations to be schools that 1) have a trusting and collaborative climate where faculty actively seek to improve their work, 2) emphasize taking initiative and ris ks and have structures to support it, 3) have shared and monitored mission where faculty critically examine practices and align curriculum with school goals, and 4) engage in professional development that is ongoing, team based, and promoted by leadership. Creating schools that are learning organizations is seen as the way to break down barriers to continuous improvement, to promote the idea of evaluation and subsequent action, and to redefine how teachers view their abilities to affect student learning. Sc ribner, Cockrell, Cockrell, and Valentine (1999) examined the organizational learning literature to create the analytic framework for their two year qualitative case study of professional community development in three schools. In their framework, they dre w on organizational learning: single and double loop. Single loop learning was described as pressures [in this level] consist of actions embedded within existing ways of knowing. Limited by existing norms, those actions ironically tend to perpetuate ineffective previously we can characterize most change in schools as being single loop The second level of organizational learning was double loop learning where organizations: Q uestion underlying assumptions that guide practice so that chosen solutions address the core probl em and not merely symptoms. Organizations using double loop processes often merge new learning with existing organizational knowledge or replace that prior knowledge entirely. In doing so, they create new organizational knowledge and new norms that guide f uture actions and create new cultures. Organizations that experience
44 double loop learning search for ways to increase their cognitive, behavioral, and performance effectiveness through multiple strategies. ( Scribner, et al., 1999, p.134) In other words, sc hools that engage in initial and sustained improvement do so through the continuous learning of faculty by evaluating practices, assumptions, and norms. This learning is not just focused on the happenings within individual classrooms, but is focused on ind ividual classrooms as part of the larger school organization. Scrib n the development of double loop learning. In order for schools to develop as learning organizations, they n eed structural and cultural supports These supports inc lud e opportunities for teachers to use their learning to participate in school decision making processes in ways that enable them to move from awareness to action (Marks & Louis, 1999; Leithwood & Jan tzi, 1998; Scribner, Cockrell, Cockrell, & Valentine, 1999). School Climate and Professional Community state of an environment (Sergiovanni & Starratt, 2007). A helpful w ay to think about healthy school climate, school members have high morale, high sense of efficacy, and feel a sense of cohesiveness between themselves and other members An unhealthy school climate is marked by distrust, lowered efficacy, and lowered interactions between members. School climate and professional community are parallel concepts. There are five elements commonly accepted as key to professional community: sh ared values, focus on student learning, collaboration, deprivatized practice, and reflective dialogue (Bryk, Camburn, & Louis, 1999; Louis, Marks, & Kruse, 1998). School climate and professional community play important roles in school capacity and in resu ltant student
45 achievement. In fact, research examining elementary school level achievement and climate has found strong, interdependent relationships between the two, indicating that professional community and climate affects and is affected by student ach ievement (Brookover, et al.,1978). Th e rest of this section details the research in school climate and professional community. The research presented here demonstrates the influence of community on teacher practice and student achievement Various element s of school climate and professional community have been linked to student achievement. For example, Johnson and Stevens (2006) examined the climate variables of affiliation, innovation, participatory decision making, resource adequacy, and student support They analyzed surveys from 1,106 teachers in 59 elementary schools in a single district in the United States. Using structural equation modeling, they found a significant positive relationship between school climate and student achievement. Hoy and Hannu m (1997) reported similar findings in a study of 86 middle schools in New Jersey. They found school health as measured by academic emphasis, teacher affiliation, collegial leadership, resource support, principal influence, and institutional integrity, to b e positively associated with student achievement. In another study, Stewart (200 8 ) used data from a large database set to examine the school cohesion), and student achievement in a sample of 1,238 10 th grade African American students from 536 high schools. Data sources were interviews with students, their teachers, and administrators. After controlling for the individual level variables school cohesion had the most significant effect on student grade point averages. School cohesion was a global measure that
46 represented indicators such as positive interactions between students, teachers, and administrators; shared expectations; teacher e fficacy; and student perceptions of teacher care. In fact, when taking school cohesion and individual level predictors into account, no other school level indicators (school poverty level, proportion of Non White students, location, size, or social problem s) had significant effects on student achievement. Additionally, professional community has been found to contribute strongly to collective efficacy have also demonstr ated strong relationships to student achievement. that the faculty as a whole can execute courses of action required to positively affect Hoy, Sweetland, and Smith (2002) found direct effects between collective efficacy and achievement. More specifically, collective efficacy was the strongest predictor of mathematics achievement, even over socioeconomic status in their study of 97 randomly s ampled high schools in Ohio. Goddard, Hoy, and Hoy (2000) reported very similar results in a single urban district. They found that a one unit increase in collective teacher efficacy was associated with an increase of more than 40 % of a standard deviation in student achievement. Further, research by Goddard and Goddard (2001) supported this relationship and also found that individual teacher efficacy was higher in schools with higher collective efficacy. Relatedly, Caprara, Barbaranelli, Steca, and Malone ( 2006) found teacher self and collective efficacy beliefs aggregated across a school to be a significant predictor of student achievement. Such
47 findings consistently support the social role of the school in influencing individual beliefs that lead to professional action. High levels of professional community and a healthy climate have also been found to encourage innovation in instructional practice (Bryk, et al., 19 99; Mulford & Silins, 2003). Meirink, et al. (2009) found that as teachers exchanged ideas and then experimented with those ideas in their own classrooms, that their beliefs changed regarding student learning. Professional community had to encompass more t han just collegial discussion, but had to encourage instructional risk taking for these participants as well. The deprivatization of practice paired with risk taking and evaluation through data analysis holds promise for school improvement efforts. The rel ationships between school climate and achievement presented here indicate the need for a strong professional community within and across a school where uncertainty and success are shared, supported, and deconstructed. Such a need has positioned teacher lea dership ideals at the forefront of school improvement efforts. Katzenmeyer and Moller (2009) identify with and contribute to a community of learners and leaders; influence ot hers Teacher leadership is conceptualized as the means for transforming schools into learning communities (Harris, 2003). School Structures It has long been argued that t he structures of a school are not enough to affect the capacity of the school (Elmore, 1995; Fullan, 2007; Sarason, 1971 ). Reform efforts that are based in restructuring alone have historically not been effective at changing the practices of teachers or af fecting the achievement of students. Previous sections of this
48 review have demonstrated the ineffectiveness of changing core work when structures are laid over existing beliefs and cultures. That said, school structures have an important role to play in th e capacity of a school. Structures here are considered to be the elements that frame how a school is organized. For example, they include roles, responsibilities, meetings, formal teacher groups, teaching arrangements, and all other organizational elements that affect how the school operates. Research in organizational conditions ha ve as a learning organization (for example, Ingram, Louis, & Schroeder, 2004; Leithwood, Leonard, & Sharra tt, 1998). No structure within a school affects only one element of capacity. As Stoll (2010) describe d it, all elements of a school are part of a larger system and affecting one means rippling effects for all others. What is presented in this section is a snapshot of effective structures for capacity. Professional learning communities research is used to illustrate three conclusions regarding effective structures for school capacity. There are many other effective structures that make up a school, includi ng curriculum coherence (Newmann, Smith, Allensworth, & Bryk, 2001) and the matching of formal teacher leadership roles to existing instructional responsibilities and expertise (Copland, 2003). However, because professional learning communities are a popul ar and widely advocated structure for capacity, I focus on them here. They also help to make the point that school improvement is about the school as a system, and structures need to do more than merely be structural placeholders for the same norms and pra ctices of years past. In
49 practice, he ma de the following observation illustrating how structures do not dictate behavior. The relationship between structural chang e in schools and changes in teaching and learning are mediated by relatively powerful factors, such as the shared norms, knowledge, and skill of teachers, and that changing structure has a slippery and unreliable relationship to these mediating factors. A teacher who responds to the opportunities presented by longer class periods by showing the whole movie is a teacher who is pursuing old practices while working in a new structure. (p. 26) What follows is drawn from empirical studies in school capacity and improvement, three literature reviews (Harris, 2010; Stoll, et al., 2006; Vescio, Ross, & Adams, 2008; York Barr and Duke, 2004), and conceptual/theoretical work (Hargreaves, 1994; Harris, 2003; Spillane, Diamond, & Halverson, 2004). Effective structures are those that enable time and space for community and learning activities and in doing so provide the opportunity to break the physical isolation of teachers. Scholars characterize the inherent physical and organizational structure of school as isolating and promoting of individualist attitudes (Hargreaves, 1994; Spillane, Diamond, & Halverson, 2004). Hargreaves describe d school cultures as (p. 256). The relationship ideals of community, teacher learning, and leadership. Therefore, formal school structures that can enable social and intellectual access to colleagues can help to enhance school capacity. For example, structural actions such as time for primary teachers to work with intermediate teachers, daily common planning time for grade level teams, creation of half days for professional development, and forming teacher inquiry groups have been reported as supportive to maximizing professional development
50 within a school (Youngs & King, 2002), as have opportunities for large gatherings of the entire faculty and opportuniti es for regular meetings of small teacher teams (Louis, Marks, & Kruse, 1996). Schools as learning communities depend on smaller groups of teachers to enact the principles of the larger organization. As Harris (2003) stated in her review of the teacher lea support collaboration and creating the internal conditions for mutual learning. This infrastructure provides a context within which teachers can improve their practice by develop formal structure that is meriting a great deal of attention both in practice and in research is that of small formal professional learning communities within a school. Other terms for this structure might be communities of practice or critical friends groups. These structures provide the time and space for examining and refining practice. Two reviews of the literature support that view. Vescio, et al. (2008), reviewed work from 1 1 studies that examined PLC impact on teaching practice and/or student learning. They cited four characteristics of PLCs from their reviewed research that were found to affect teaching culture: intentional collaboration, focus on student learning, teacher authority to make decisions regarding both the processes of the PLCs and school governance, and the facilitation of continuous learning. Similar findings were also reported in a PLC review by Stoll, et al. (2006). Conflicting with these reviews, are more r ecent findings by Leithwood, Patten, and Jantzi (2010) These authors conducted a large scale exploratory quantitative study that tested various paths of how leadership influence s and did not
51 find professional community to be a signif ica nt predictor of achievement. It is unknown, though, what the structure and content of the PLCs were like for the participating teachers. Leithwood, et al. concluded that professional learning communities get more attention than research merits. However, wi thout knowing whether the content of participant PLCs had an intentional focus on student learning and teaching practice, it is hard to evaluate the strength of this conclusion since the research reviewed by Vescio, et al. and Stoll, et al. clearly indicate s the necessity of this PLC focus for student achievement Effective structures have a shared purpose and intentional focus Providing the structures for organizational learning is a necessary but not sufficient element of capacity building; it is what happens during that time that makes the difference. Shared goals help to frame collaborative work and provide a focus regarding broader issues than just individual classroom problems. For example, Huffman and Kalnin (2003) examined the effects of sh ared engagement in inquiry. Using TIMMS scores for the state, individual teams of teachers then created inquiries that were more specific to their classrooms and/or school (e.g., ways to improve the math scores of certain groups of students or comparing th e performance of students participating in two different math programs). The authors analyzed survey data from 29 participants and focus group interviews of nine participants. They found that the shared umbrella topic and shared process bound participants together and they reported deep reflection into teaching practices, increased professionalism, and an increased focus on the school unit versus just their individual classroom.
52 Operating with an intentional focus that supports the shared goals is a key at tribute of an effective structure. Supporting this, Vescio, et al. reported in their review that changes to instructional practice occurred when there was an intense focus on student learning and achievement in PLCs. The need for intention in community wor k is additionally supported by Levine and Marcus (2009). Levine and Marcus examined teacher collaboration in a small, low income high school in California. They primarily relied on field notes from 37 collaborative meetings of the six teachers and one prin cipal in the school. They found that when the PLC was intentionally and tightly focused on They concluded that collaborative endeavors seem most effective when they engage a feedback loop that pairs student outcomes with a specific group focus. Such intention provides opportunities for reflective dialogue that are accompanied by consistent focus on means and ends. Developing effective structures means guidance is needed for establishing purpose and constructive action In their review of the teacher leadership literature, York Barr and Duke (2004) cited numerous research studies that demonstrate d how teachers and administrators are often tossed into leadership roles with limited preparation, thus limiting their effectiveness or even their tenure in that role. Just as formal roles and structures need an explicit purpose, studies in individual PLC development have indicated that they also need guidance. For example, a study by Clausen, Aquino, and Wideman (2009) examined the establishment of a single professional learning community at a rural Canadian elementary school. They found
53 that the group re lied on the focus and technical guidance provided by the principal characteristics of a collaborative community. Additional work by Dooner, Mandzuk, and Clifton (2008) illumin ates the need for a group leader who can provide purpose and help members expand their ideas of reflective dialogue. The authors traced an organically self created learning community from its inception through two years of practice. The group was establish ed because of a common pedagogical interest, and had no formal leader due to their agreement that described by the authors suggest limited forward motion in establishing capacit y across than to using the experience as a way to continually study their practice and student learning. Their norms of teaching and learning were not disrupted. Addition ally, participants were continually challenged by the need to maintain social relationships and although they were typically candid with one another, the tensions did not subside. The group eventually split into smaller groups by the end of the study. Re search such as that presented here regarding professional learning communities, reinforces the need for structures that can both support and advance the teacher learning a nd leadership, principal leadership, and professional community. There must be a shared vision that structures are helping to create, and they must be guided. Developing structures for a new way of work is challenging and requires strategy (York Barr, Gher
54 role of structures in school change. Structures are there to support a wider effort in teaching and learning that w ill dictate how the structure is utilized; structures are not the effort in and of themselves. Principal Leadership Research in school organization consistently positions school principals as critical elements o f school capacity. Newmann, King, and Youngs (2000) went a step further and place d principal leadership as the foundation for all elements of school capacity. Their reasoning was that as the legal head of the school, the principal holds enormous power and has been shown in the literature to have a po capacity. In fact, in their review of the leadership literature, Leithwood, Harris, and Hopkins (2008) claim ed of principal leadership will do, howev er, and Leithwood, et al. offered six further claims regarding successful leadership. Relevant to this review are the claims that successful leadership is comprised of the same basic activities across leaders, but dif ferentially enacted for each specific context; that school leaders improve student achievement through their influence on motivation, commitment, and working conditions; and that school leadership has a greater influence on schools and students when it is widely distributed rest of this section. Various terms are used throughout the literature to describe current notions of effective leadership. Scholars tend to a ttach themselves to one term for their research purposes, although each label for leadership is conceptually very similar and all are
55 (Harris 2003 ; Spillane, et al. 2004 ) teacher leadership (Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2009 ; Lieberman, and Miller, 2004 ); transformational leadership (Leithwood, et al., 1998, 2010; Leithwood & Jantzi, 2000 ; Mulford & Silins, 2003); collaborative leadership (Hallinger & Heck, 2010); and shared lea dership (Lambert, 1998, 2002 ). The idea undergirding them all is that the principal cannot and should not be the only decision maker of a school. Building internal capacity requires cultivating and utilizing the s members. Such a requirement dictates that time. ( Harris, Leithwood, Day, Sammons, & Hopkins, 2007 ) For example, Leithwood and Jantzi (2000) define d transformational l eadership as leadership then can be characterized as intentional capacity building lead ership. Elements of transformational leadership have been found in large scale studies to be significantly related to organizational learning conditions in schools (Leithwood and Jantzi, 2000; Mulford and Silins, 2003). These actions include building schoo l vision and goals, providing intellectual stimulation, offering individualized support, symbolizing values, demonstrating expectations, and developing structures to foster participation in school decisions. Leithwood and Jantzi include the managerial dime nsions of staffing, instructional support, monitoring school activities, and community focus as important demonstrated parallel findings that leadership has strong direct e ffects on organizational
56 learning, but significant indirect effects on student participation (Leithwood & Jantzi, 2000) and student learning (Mulford & Silins, 2003). Such findings make sense considering that teachers, not principals, are the people who ha ve the most direct sustained involvement with students In more contextual ly oriented, qualitative work, Scribner, Hager, and Warne (2002) used interviews with teacher s and principals and observation of professional learning events to examine the professio nal community in two urban high schools. The schools found that the principal at one school fostered professional community by encouraging risk taking, pushing teachers to pursue their own ideas, and establishing and actions met the individual autonomous desires of the teachers while also cultivating a collective identity for the school. The pr incipal of the second school in the study was less successful at cultivat ing professional community. This school was described by the However, these characteristics did not preclude the faculty from a professional community that was tense and isolationist. The principal in this school attempted to impose a collective identity without considering individual teacher needs. This resulted in a retreat of the teachers from pursui ng learning opportunities with peers and from Jantzi (2000) and Mulford and Silins (2003) by finding very similar leadership elements affecting school community, and t hey also extend them by demonstrating that those actions are mediated by how they are employed in context.
57 Additional work by Newmann, King, and Youngs (2000) found that principals of schools rated in their study as having the strongest school capacities, had stronger emphases on coherent professional development for their teachers. The principals development opportunities that occurred during school hours; this was in contrast t o the schools with the weakest rated capacities where professional development decisions were entirely up to individual teachers. The assertions that effective capacity building principals foster coherent professional development, as well as enable opportunities for teacher leadership is supported in other research on the roles of school principals (see for example, Cosner, 2009; Hoppey & McLeskey, 2010). This research utilizing principal p erspectives of their actions also found that an important role of principals in capacity building is building trust and encouraging data use to drive instruction. In their case study of an individual principal, Hoppey and McLeskey also pointed to a key ac tion of the principal as buffering teachers from external pressures in part by the school creating its own standards and goals internally. In their review of how school leaders interpret accountabilities Firestone and Shipps (2005) argued that this intern al accountability and its effects on student learning bears more researc h, particularly in how it is developed in challenging school contexts. Studies of Whole School Capacity Building and Change The research reviewed thus far has examined elements of cap acity building. The findings have demonstrated that principal leadership, teacher learning and leadership, school structures, and professional community work in complex ways to both directly and indirectly affect teacher practice and student achievement. T he research designs have included four kinds of studies: large scale quantitative studies of randomly
58 sampled schools and teachers to examine a predetermined set of variables, studies of schools and teachers to examine the effects of a specific reform effo rt, studies of smaller groups operating within a larger school to examine community dynamics, and studies of whole schools identified as excellent to examine elements of their operation. This section is a closer examination of the research most aligned wit h the present study. As this is a study of internal capacity building, it was important to review research that explicitly focused on the internal changes in high poverty, academically improving or improved schools. Searching for rich description of change in action was especially important due the large amount of research we already have documenting the characteristics of effective, high poverty schools. For example, Muijs, Harris, Chapman, Stoll, and Russ (2004) found the following elements in their revie w of the research in low income school improvement: school wide pervasive focus on teaching and learning; leadership that involves teachers in decisions; creating and utilizing a data rich environment, creating a positive school culture, cultivating learni ng communities; engaging in continuous professional development; involving parents; and maximizing resources and external support. As is evident, these elements match what has been reported in this review thus far regarding capacity building more generally However, scholars have pointed to the necessity of context in school reform research ( Thrupp & Lupton, 200 6 ; Muijs, et al., 2004). The change process of a dysfunctional, chronically underachieving, low capacity school is logically going to be different f rom the process in a school that is successful in at least one of these areas already. Highlighting this, in their study of the development of professional community in three schools Scribner, et al. (1999) found that along with leadership and organization al priorities, organizational
59 history played a role in how schools developed or did not develop community over the course of two years. Additionally, given the sociopolitical challenges of teaching students from poverty ( e.g., mobility, documented relation ship between socioeconomic status and achievement, low teacher expectations for student achievement, low achievement motivation) and the challenges frequently documented in high poverty schools ( e.g., high teacher and principal attrition, often mandated ba sic skills curriculum, external accountability pressures, cultural mi smatch of teachers and students ) a host of contextual factors come into play that make reform contextually dependent. Therefore, to identify research for this section, I searched for rece nt case studies of between one and ten schools, that were methodologically qualitative, that examined the school as a unit, and that relied at least in part on the voices of both the formal leadership and the teachers. Because there is some evidence that p rincipal perceptions may not coincide with those of the teaching staff as a whole (Bevans, Bradshaw, Miech, & Leaf, 2007), it was important to pair data from both groups of studies did not just focus on the present work of the school, but followed the school over time, either longitudinally or retrospectively. It was necessary that the schools have demonstrated improvement in some way, preferably in academic achievement. What follows is not an exhaustive list, as access to all published studies was not possible, but it is at the least representative of the available literature. I found one study that matched the delimiting criteria exactly (Eilers & Camacho, 2007). A further e ight studies were culled that met the criteria to varying degrees. Six
60 (Anderson & Kumari, 2009; Copland, 2003; Malen & Rice, 2004) or to examine a framework of capacity ( Newmann, Smith, Allensworth, & Bryk, 2001; Newmann, King, & Youngs, 2000; Youngs & King, 2002). Of these six none provided analysis of the prior context, and only four provided evidence that student achievement was affected (Anderson & Kumari, 2009; Newma nn, Smith, Allensworth, & Bryk, 2001; Newmann, King, & Youngs, 2000; Youngs & King, 2002). Finally, two studies generally examined internal change over a thirty year time span (Giles, 2008; Hargreaves & Goodson, 2006). Because the study by Eilers and Camac ho (2007) so closely mirrors my study, it is critically deconstructed. The remaining studies are more broadly synthesized. In their single school case study, Eilers and Camacho (2007) used interviews with school faculty, observations, and culture surveys to detail how a chronically underachieving, high poverty, minority majority school recultured and restructured with the leadership of a new principal. The authors provide d evidence that the school engaged in changes in culture and improved student achievem ent over the two year period of study. Accounting for the prior context of the school, they report ed that the and a pervasive resistance to learning and collaboration when he began at the school. They also describe d how the teachers operated in isolation from one another and from the district. There was little to no consistency across classrooms in scheduling or instruction, and data were not used nor intentionally coll ected. Low expectations for student learning were also reported. The authors stated that the school scored in the oration around instruction, some
61 team structure, weak professional community of practice, weak administrative support, ed that the school moved above district average s in their survey scores, but did not indicate in what stage of readiness that then placed the school The school also met safe harbor at the end of the two years, resulting in It is unknown what student subgroups met the district and state average. change in achie vement. They identified the following actions within each leadership theme: Creating learning communities: 1) the principal embracing and fostering a no excuses mentality through high expectations and focus on what they can do to affect students, 2) holdin g an immediate team building retreat with follow up session throughout the year, 3) implementing a book study, 4) site visits at other schools known for their community, 5) grade level teaming with shared professional time, 6) redesigning schedule for prof essional development time, and 7) strengthening link between curriculum and assessment by relying on a district specialist to coach teachers Collaborative leadership: 1) serving as a model to teachers by practicing continuous learning by visiting peer sch ools and inviting them to visit, 2) asking district for help with weak areas of the school, 3) using teachers on special assignment for literacy and math professional development Evidence based practice: 1) explicit district training in data use, and 2) i mplementing regular data meetings restructure a school for improvement. It supports other research in leadership and effective schools (for example, Kannapel & Clements, 20 05; Ma & Klinger, 2000; Sammons, 1995) by finding learning communities with high expectations for student
62 learning, principal as model of his own expectations, and use of data to be key elements the g round work in high poverty schools that is missing from the school reform literature. That said, there are some immediate issues with the methodology of Eilers and parti cular school was selected for study. Second, it is not known how the authors analyzed the data the school participated. It is also unknown what role the school level observations played in the findings as the observation data are not referred to in any way throughout authors make no mention of this being intentional. Finally, there is strong evidence tha t the second author is the principal of the studied school. The authors do not make this explicit in their article and do not describe how this factored into their data collection and analysis. Finally, t he principal is presented in this story as savior versus engaged leader. presented with the opportunities for better teaching they just accepted them. They are portrayed rather passively and their inclusion in the study seems to be only to support own staff, the power relationship could help to explain this. The remaining eight studies i n the section are described to highlight common methodologies, questions, and findings. The end of the section provides a synthesis of findings from all case studies
63 The next two studies examine the same data set (Newmann, King, & Youngs, 2000; Youngs & K ing, 2002). Here the authors collected data in seven public elementary schools across the United States. All schools served large proportions of low in student achievement o ver three to five years prior to participation in this study, (c) attributed their progress to school wide and sustained professional development, (d) participated in site based management, and (e) had received significant professional development assistan interviews with 10 12 members of school staff in each school, observed professional development activities and classes, and collected documents. School reports were written to synthesize this information in relation to elements of capacity and how professional development in each school addressed them. Capacity was considered by professional community; progr am coherence; technical resources; and principal leadership. Each study, however, only closely examined three constructs: knowledge, skills, and dispositions; professional community; and program coherence. They then used the reports to rate the schools in terms of six indicators : level of school capacity at the first visit, the extent to which professional development strongly addressed each dimension of capacity over time, the extent of principal leadership for professional development aimed at each aspect of capacity, the extent to which the school received technical assistance addressing aspects of capacity from external agencies, the extent to which district and state policy supported professional development, and level of school capacity at the final vi sit.
64 The first study (Newmann, King, & Youngs, 2000) described how each of the seven schools differentially used professional development to address capacity The authors detailed a variety of actions within each school that addressed each of the three ele ments of capacity under study What they found was that schools with high initial ratings of capacity were most effective at integrating professional development in ways that further developed capacity. For example, in one school they continued the learnin g spurred by their Success for All CSR training and observed colleagues, visited conferences, and took risks in their instruction evaluated with data. They also used the collaborative learning advocated by SFA and used it to structure their own professiona l growth by collaboratively engaging in inquiry. In contrast, in another school with low initial capacity scores, teachers engaged in professional development but there was no schoolwide collective focus. Although this school was an Accelerated Schools CSR model they did not use the emphases of AS to push their learning in a targeted direction or to enhance how their community operated. Members of the school faculty additionally participated in a graduate course offered on site by a local university. Howeve r, its development remained fragmented and without collective direction. The authors also found a strong association between principal leadership and comprehensive professional development. This was detailed further in (Youngs & King, 2002). The leadership varied significantly between schools as principals interpreted their jobs differently. principals should help them to understand the main elements of school capacity and
65 how professional development can enhance, neglect, or even diminish aspects of re was indication that when schools experienced principal turn over, the goals of the new principal affected school capacity because one new principal came in to a school with the intention to focus on thematic integration of the arts. The school was already operating in a Montessori model that the principal knew little about. The result was further fragmentation in professional development and inconsistent school vision; c apacity was weakened. The importance of the principal professional development surrounding that work. Newmann, Smith, Allensworth, and Bryk (2001) mixed methods study pai rs with these findings. In this study, the authors found that schools with stronger program coherence (common instructional framework, staff working conditions to support that framework, and school resources directed at matching improvement efforts to that framework) experienced greater student achievement gains. The authors examined schools over three years and found that as instructional coherence increased, so did student achievement. The last study in this group is a single school case study of a schoo l in Pakistan that was involved in a 10 year partnership with a local university (Anderson & Kumari, systemic n the idea of teaching methods and school improvement strategies (e.g., peer coaching) will work
66 286). Data included interviews with administrators and teachers, classroom observations, focus groups with students, and student work and school documents. During the ten year partnership, the university had a marked influence on the teaching and learning of the school. The a uthors described a variety of changes, such as new instructional leadership roles being formed to enable site based school improvement planning and activities, appointment of a principal supportive of the partnership activities, implementation of various m odels of instruction based on new learning and reflective dialogue amongst school leaders, participation in peer coaching by teachers. By the end of the study, formal organizational structures transitioned to more informal means and infrastructure adaptati ons occurred that teaching methods focused professional development resulted in changes to instructional practice, but not to changes in achievement. Additionally, the researche rs questioned teacher understanding of the practices they were using due to their development to student learning (data use and achievement targets) and reported significa nt increases in achievement. It is not known how that change affected teaching practices. The remaining studies are change over time studies. They offer strong evidence of how schools negotiate changes to curriculum, reform efforts, and society, but they do not offer outcomes related to student learning. Copland (2003) used qualitative methods examined distributed leadership practices in sixteen schools operating within the Ba y
67 Area School Reform Initiative (BARSC), an inquiry focused reform effort. Schools were either in their first or second year of the initiative. Drawing from the literature to guide his analysis, he considered distributed leadership to be a collective activ ity, spanning responsibility between roles, and relying on an expert authority versus hierarchical an important component of school capacity. In line with other research on capacity for change, he found that administrative turnover and external pressures adversely affected practices also led him to conclude that shared inquiry into s tudent learning had the potential to foster community within the school and promote the distribution of leadership across the faculty. While Copland offers evidence that leadership was distributed, he does not offer evidence that doing so affected student achievement, nor is there evidence that it significantly affected any other elements of school capacity, at least not in ways that would indicate potential for the school to sustain its distributed leadership practices. Maren and Rice (2004) used two case studies to examine the impact of accountability policy on school capacity. They used a framework of capacity that included resource and productivity dimensions to study four schools over two years that were identified as low achieving. Three schools were located in the same urban district and one was a small rural school. The urban schools underwent reconstitution while the occurred in the urban schools as a result of reco nstitution. A c onsequence of this upheaval was schools were working each day to
68 stable, but pushed them to adopt a variety of new prog rams in a short amount of time leading to fragmentation in their work and confusion about what they were trying to accomplish. The authors conclude that accountability policies that on the surface seem designed to strengthen school capacity (e.g., by start ing over with a new staff to build community and vision or providing choice in program adoption), in reality undercut that productivity. There was no description of the scho from the beginning and therefore were not able to adapt the accountability policies. The authors did not report on the outcomes of the schools. Two additional studies also reported internal school changes over time. A qualitative study by Hargreaves and Goodson (2006) retrospectively explored three decades of changes in eight secondary schools through Canada and New York. The school s represented a variety of settings, student demographics, and curricular emphases. The authors used a grounded theory approach and conducted interviews with cohorts of teachers from each decade and each school. They found five major change forces that aff ected the work of these schools over time: waves of external reform, leadership succession, student and community demographics, teacher generations, and school interrelations. The authors describe how the schools changed over time mostly to survive whateve r change force was upon them. Capacity that may have initially existed in many of the schools was degraded as standardized reforms took
69 work, most often in ways that un dermined any building of capacity. study provided more in depth reporting on two of the urban schools studied by Hargreaves and Goodson. In her study, Giles sought to examine the resiliency characteristics that enabled these two schools to adapt over time as their context s changed She organizations to endure in their initial progressive vision s including a strong match in vision between the organization and the faculty, continuity of leadership and longevity of faculty, administrative fostering of faculty ownership and activism in the school, and internal and external network of partnerships. The evidence presented however does not make a strong argument that these scho ols were in fact self renewing. For example, when faced with a demographically different stu dent body over time, the faculties lamented the change s rather than inquiring how to change their pedagogy to meet new student needs Additionally, the faculties re ported a lowering of expectations for student success and an increase in their rote instruction. So while the progressive vision was maintained over time, Giles presented evidence that the vision perhaps constrained the r changing political and demographic contexts. In sum, these case studies have revealed the following: Initial capacity dictates how a school uses resources and interprets policies regardless of the intention of the policies. Therefore schools with strong capacities will use resources and policies to grow even stronger or to expand their work. Schools with weak capacities will not be strengthened without intentional, informed internal leadership to do so. When principals enter a school, they need to understand what the school is currently doing, for good or bad, before implementing a new vision. Principals coming into a school with an established agenda and imposing a vision results in fragmented profession al development that
70 constrains capacity. Further, professional development in change and capacity may affect principal actions. None of the studies reported principals engaging in any type of targeted professional learning themselves. Streamlining school v ision, programs, and professional development increases instructional coherence and student achievement. There is limited research in schools that have demonstrated improvement as measured by current accountability policies. Of the nine studies reviewed he re, only five were of schools reported to have improved student learning. Of these five studies that examined student learning, only one examined how capacity was developed. The other four studies examined a framework of capacity at work within schools No study examined differences in achievement for student sub groups, a missing piece that Purkey and Smith (1983) advocated for in their review of effective schools research. None of the case studies reported on prior conditions before improvement. Conclusi on Th is review of school change demonstrate d that reforming schools is a complicated process that must happen from the inside Schools must have the c apacity to address continually changing demands and to utilize and create resources and structures that will enable their students to achieve at socially and academically high levels Applying external reforms to schools that lack such internal cap acity has characterized the history of reform polic y. It has al so resulted in underperforming students and sch ools remaining underperforming. The literature reviewed here posited five elements of school capacity: teacher instructional practice, teacher learning and leadership, school climate and professional community school structures, and principal leadership. The model of capacity drawn from this research illustrates the interactional nature of all elements in affecting student achievement. It also illustrates how the potential of external policies or supports to a ffect student achievement depends on the to interpret and utilize them.
71 Collections of studies in teacher learning and instruction and school change and reform informed the model The majority of studies offered pieces of the big ger picture of internal school reform. That is, the current literature in whole school reform mainly draws from studies of the individual elements of capacity There is limited research studying all of the pieces in action in schools that have reformed, or are reforming, successfully. The research informing the model can be divided into four categories. Studies of specific elements of the model. For example, qualitative study of the dynamics of building community. These were typically studies of smaller gr oups within a larger school. Another example is the research in professional development that may or may not include participants from the same school site. The purpose of these studies is not necessarily focused on school reform but is more so focused on the examination of a change Studies of specific elements of the model as they relate to each other These studies were mostly quantitative or mixed methods. An example of this research is quantitative study of how leadership affected various other elements of school capacity. Studies of the characteristics of effective schools. This research focused on discrete elements that are common to schools considered successful or improving. These studies rarel y described the context of the school before it experienced significant change other than to identify discrete elements that were present previously and then to identify those present after a period of time. Case studies of whole school change This resea rch consisted of case studies focused on the close examination of an entire school. These studies were limited in number and in site selection. Some of these studies selected schools based on demonstrated achievement, but t he majority of schools that were examined did not demonstrate marked academic improvement. They were selected due to their student demographics and/or participation in a given reform effort The lack of recent case study research examining internal whole school capacity Levin & Fullan, 200 8 ) is puzzling given the emphasis on its importance to school reform. Our current understanding of and faith in capacity building to improve schools and affect student achievement is built upon relatively disconnected evidence from the studies described above. T hi s available research
72 enabled the construction of a model of school capacity, but w hat is missing from the research base is more rich and rigorous study of how school s develop that capacity. There is evidence th at schools with low capacity and low achievement do not grow stronger in our policy climate and there is little literature evidence documenting the internal work of those that do ( Riehl & Firestone 2005) This study addresses that gap by studying how a chronically underachieving, high poverty, minority majority school with previously l ow capacity strengthen ed internally to transform its work and successfully affect student achievement It offers an analysis from the perspective of those who participated in the changes. Through this analysis, the study also offers grounded theory that both supports and contributes to the model of capacity presented here.
73 Figure 2 1. Dynamics o f school capacity
74 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY Introduction The purpose of this study was to analyze the internal school change process in a high poverty school that experienced marked improvement in student achievement. By describing how and why the school changed from the perspectives of the stakeholders, a story of change is told that offers an explanatory theory of school reform. Using a quali tative approach, the study focused on the following initial research questions: 1) What are the changes th at this school has experienced? 2) How did this school experience the changes? and 3) Why did this school engage in the changes that it did? Janesick (2000) assert ed that qualitative research is suited to questions that explore whole systems such as schools, questions regarding the social context of an organization, and questions focused on the political, economic, or sociopsychological aspects of organizations. The q uestions for the current research therefore made qualitative inquiry the most appropriate choice for study. Additionally, qualitative research enable d simultaneously open ended and rigorous and that do justice to the complexity of the This chapter describes the constructionist grounded theory research process that was used to address the research questions. It includes the theoretical perspective guiding methodological decisions, rationale for site selection, data collection methods, data analysis methods and my role as researcher.
75 Theoretical Perspective endeavor is guided b y how the researcher considers the data and approaches the which shape how he or she sees the world, interacts with it, and makes decisions regarding its study. Surfacing these beliefs, methodological decisions, and their effects on a study is a key responsibility of the researcher. This study is situated within the interpretivist constructivist paradigm (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005) and is informed by social constructionism. Social constructionism considers knowledge construction as a socially mediated process. Constructionism holds that people make meaning not through their unique individual interac tion with a pre existing world as in constructivism, but rather their understa ndings are constructed through the social processes in that world. Of importance to a social constructionist cial constructionists therefore reject the idea that any essential or natural givens precede the process of p. 20). In sum, as Gubrium and Holstein (2008 ) social worlds as realities assembled and sustained, not just as evidently available for p. 9). Social constructionism is a useful perspective for studying school change as it focuses the research gaze away from simply identifying discrete causal links within a successful reform as has been done in much prior research ( for example, Borman,
76 Hewes, Overman, & Brown, 2003; Leithwo od, Harris, & Hopkins, 2008; Louis & Mar ks, 1998; Rowan & Miller, 2007). I nstead of this more reductionist approach, social constructionism focuses on understanding how the stakeholders within the change have made sense of it within their social world. Ope rating within this perspective will enable me to frame knowledge a s both sustained and created by the social processes of the school and to consider how that knowledg e and social action have developed together (Young & Col lin, 2004). How people have interacted the change a school has undergone and the processes by which it has done so. As has been established, social constructionism was the interpretive lens used to design the study and identify and analyze data. Social constructionism is also important to the data analysis process in two ways. First, because the constructionist perspective considers knowledge construction a social proces s, the research process itself must be situated within this social world. Second, the role of the researcher must be scrutinized and the data attended to as a co construction between participants and researcher (Charmaz, 2003). The interactional nature of more than a simple information Additionally, as will be explained in more detail in the foll owing sections, this study employed a grounded theory approach to data collection and analysis. It was the intent to construct a theory of change through this study. The theory will describe and explain how this school has transformed over the past few years. Gr ounded theory, however, is often considered to be a more positivist oriented approach to data analysis and the use
77 of a social constructionist orientation requires the traditional idea of theory to be (1967) original conception of the grounded theory method emphasized an objective knowing which assumed that the resulting served as a way to advance qualitative research as a legitima te research approach by producing a generalizable theory that would hold stable over similar contexts. Through this method, however, the minutiae of a phenomenon tend to be ignored as unimportant to the larger discovered theory and the view that there is a n objective truth to be known is reinforced. Constructionist views of theory differ from this more positivist view. A study operating within a constructionist theoretical perspective considers theory as a construction, not as an objective given. This the ory can be utilized for understanding contextual happenings and may generalize to other settings As Sharon Turnbull (2002) writes: Social constructionist theory building is derived from cases that are grounded in situated experience and practice and are inductively derived. Although such theories are potentially transferable and applicable beyond the cases from which they emerge, soci complexity and variability of social relations to argue against any attempts to claim causality, generalizability, or repeatability in their theories. (p. 331) Research Design Case Study Rationale This is an instrumental case study (Stake, 2005) of a Title I elementary school that engaged in transformation. An instrumental case study uses a case to provide insight into an external interest. In this study, the external interest under examination was successful school refor m. This interest was explored through the in depth study of
78 a particular school in a particular context. The hope was that this school would be instrumental to understanding the particulars of how a school can transform, what elements interrelate to effect substantial changes, and how the stakeholders themselves affect these changes. This was not a search for causal explanation of school change, but rather as Stake ( 2005) describe d it was interrelated an Because casual explanations and generalizability are not goals of this case study, or any case study, it will be up the individual reader to determine what from this research can be applied elsewhere (Merriam, 2009). This is not a damning limitation, however, as there is much to be learned regarding whole school transformation from the particulars asse Site Selection This case study was conducted at a single school site. The school itself served as the bounded system of analysis for the case study, purposefully sel ected as an extreme case The scho ol was selected due to its potential for offering an inform ation rich case as a recently transformed school that is continuing to improve (Patton, 2002) To choose the best case for study, criteria were established which helped to guide site selection (Mer riam, 2009). The selection criteria included: Being a high needs school as characterized by identification as a Title I school and at least a 70% free reduced student lunch rate Experiencing recent or current ranking within the state Differentiated Account ability system which indicates that the school is a high needs school (i.e., is/has been struggling in student achievement)
79 Recently experiencing a significant improvement in student achievement as indicated by the achievement of Adequate Yearly Progress f or student subgroups B eing identified by school stakeholders as having experienc ed a highly successful change over time These criteria led to the selection of Gateway Elementary 1 This school met the first three criteria and also was identified by stakeholders as experiencing a transformation that was due to teachers and administration, not necessarily to externally imposed programs. Stakeholders preliminarily indicate d that a series of interrelated factors influenced not only strong p ositive change in professionaliza tion and school health, but substantially affected student achievement. Site Description Gateway Elementary is a prekindergarten to fifth grade school with approximately 600 students and 47 administrative and instructional staff members. As of the 2008 2009 school year, 80 % of the students w ere on free or reduced lunch, 31 % were English Language Learners, and 16 % were classified as having disabilities. Thirty one percent of students were absent more than 2 1 days in the 2008 2009 school year. T he school had never achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under the current AYP criteria. In 2008 2009, they met AYP for all student sub groups. The student population of the school has changed dramatically in recent years. The percentage of students on free and reduced lunch, the percentage of English Language Learners (ELL), the percentage of minority students and rate s of absenteeism ha ve all increased steadily each year. Between 200 2 and 2008, the free and reduce d lunch rate increased 15 % the number of ELL and minority students 1 Gateway Elementary is a pseudonym.
80 increased 30 % and 35% respectively Additionally, the percentage of students absent 21 days or more increased from 5 to 31% by the 2008 2009 school year. If we consider the data indicating that higher percentages of students in poverty adversely affect school achievement levels (Planty, et al. 2009), then Gateway should still be struggling in achievement. Instead, the opposite has occurred Although the student population has increased in need, achievement has significantly risen over the past three years. See Table 3 1 for an overview of student demographics and the accompanying AYP of student sub groups. At the start of this study, t he school was in the Prevent I phase of Differentiated Accountability While they met AYP for the 2008 2009 school year their lack of AYP prior to that year means that they w ill need to achieve AYP for another consecutive year to be removed from this category. Schools in Prevent I are schools that are designa ted as Schools in Need of Improvement ( SINI ) for one, two, or three years, that have a school grade of A, B, or C and that meet at least 80 % of Adequate Yearly Progress criteria. hese schools decide which interventions meet their needs and the district provides assistance in implementation. State department of education staff monitor compliance through desktop reviews and monitor student achievement through progress monitoring reporting Per state policy, reform interventions are organized around nine areas: school improvement and planning, leadership, educator quality, professional development, curriculum aligned and paced, continuous improvement model, choice with transportation, supplemental educational services, and monitor ing plans and processes. Appendix A additionally contains detailed information regarding the demographic and achievement history of the school.
81 Table 3 1. % of AYP criteria satisfied Subgroups not meeting AYP criteria in reading Subgroups not meeting AYP criteria in math % Free/ Reduced Lunch % ELL % Minority % Absent 21+ days 2008 09 100 None None 80 31 79 31 2007 08 87 Black, Economically Disadvantaged Black 71 34 75 22 2006 07 87 None Black, Hispanic, Economically Disadvantaged, English Language Learners 72 26 69 24 2005 06 82 Black, English Language Learners Black, Hispanic, Economically Disadvantaged, English Language Learners 71 21 67 20 2004 05 83* Black, English Language Learners Black, English Language Learners 73 20 64 23 2003 04 100* None None 66 9 57 8 2002 03 Not reported Not reported Not reported 65 1 44 5 Source: Florida Department of Education School Accountability Reports database percentages represent 30 criteria, all other years represent 39 criteria
82 Participants and Data C ollection This case study was largely retrospective in nature. Because of this, the primary source s of data were interviews with key faculty and ad ministrators. Secondary archival data provide d study context. Participant recruitment Participant selection took place in two phases: recruitment and snowball sampling. In the first phase, a group of potent ial participants was recruited by the researcher. To introduce the study to the faculty, an internet chat session was arranged during a school faculty meeting. In this session, I presented the faculty with a description of the research, emphasized confiden tiality for all participants and their responses, reiterated that participation was voluntary, and informed them that I would be on campus in person the next week to distribute consent forms and answer any questions. The next week, I brought and distribute d consent forms to every faculty and administrative member of the school. Thirty five consent forms were returned. In the second phase, participants were then identified for participation through a snowball sampling technique. Snowball sampling is a sampl ing technique in which current informants identify further informants (Patton, 2002). Using questions such as Insert element of their school that was identified by them and was a key element of the literature on h igh poverty school reform), current participants recommended subsequent participants Through this, I was able to ascertain who m stakeholders believed could help me to understand the school and what had changed. This provide d an information rich participan t sample derived directly from intra identified stakeholders. As the official leader of the school, the principal was the beginning of the snowball. His interview provided the initial
83 participants. As the snowball grew larger, it ultimately stabilize d as p eople repeated ly identified the same key names. Due to Institutional Review Board (IRB) requirements I could not interview every person who was recommended by participants. All interviews had to be conducted with persons from onl y the initially recruited pool. This resulted in participants occasionally recommending people who did not initially consent to the study and who therefore, could not be contacted. I was cautious not to reveal who had consented and who had not when partic ipants offered their recommendations Additionally some recommended participants who originally consented to be interviewed were not available when contacted later for an interview. Participant characteristics. A total of f ourteen participants were inter viewed. A fifteenth participant, who was not interviewed participated in a member check of the findings. This is approximately 30 % of the instruct ional and administrative staff and 50 % of the eligible pool from participant recruitment. Of the fourteen par ticipants interviewed, nine were classroom teachers, four were members of the school leadership team, including the principal, and one was a district appointed specialist who had worked with the school for six years. The fifteenth participant, who only par ticipated in the member check, was a classroom teacher. Particip P articipants had been working at Gateway between 1 and 18 years. Eleven participants were female and four were male. Twelve participants identified t hemselves as White or Caucasian, and one participant identified as Hispanic. The ethnicity and age of two participants is unknown. The classroom teacher participants represented kindergarten through fifth grade in their most recent teaching positions; two participants taught
84 kindergarten, two participants taught first grade, one participant each taught second, third, and fourth grades, two participants taught fifth grade, and one participant taught a range of grades. For the purposes of identifying participants with codes, all non classroom teacher participants are coded as LTM for Leadership Team Members. All classroom teacher participants are coded as CT. An arbitrary number follows the letters to maintain distinction between participants. For exam ple, CT 1, CT 2, and so on. code is LTM P. Interviews In depth interviews were conducted with fourteen key informants. The purpose of the interviews was to understand how the participants socially constructe d their engagement with, and In grounded theory, examination emerge, this type of data collection structure enables moving closer to the operating processes by allowing for follow up, which when done over time, can Upon beginning the snowball, p articipants identified by the principal were interviewed using a semi structured version of the initial interview questions. Not only were those who responded positively or who had been leaders of the changes sought for interviews Those who were resistant also provide d key information related to how the school changed and why. All participants were interviewed using the interview guide presented in Appendix B. These questions were constructed to allow for a breadth o f participant responses. As
85 [theoretical] categories in advance, much less have them contained in our beginning data coll ection and analysis progresse d more specific follow up or sub questions were asked. These qu estions were intended to confirm, refute, or expand tentative theories that were emerging from the data. Theoretical sampling procedures are discussed later in thi s section. The interviews were used in part as DeVault and McCoy (2003) described in their reveal subjective states, but to locate and trace the points of connection among individuals working in different parts of instit individual interviews sought not just the perspectives of the individual participant, but also to place that participant in the larger change of the school. Through the interviews, a constructed piece by piece v was built (p. 375). All i nterviews focus ed retrospectively on how and why the participants perceive d the school ha d c hanged over the past few years, but as more data were gathered, the interviews focus ed on specific area s and dynamics of that change. All but one participant was interviewed on ce for ap proximate ly 45 minutes. The principal was interviewed twice. All interviews were audio recorded and transcribed To keep organized and track data collection, two tables were created and maintained throughout the interview process. The first table include d the purpose of each interview, the and archival data recommendations, and key questio ns or thoughts that the interview immediately prompt ed The second table include d characteristics of each participant
86 including age, sex, ethnicity, position, total number of years teaching, number of years teaching at this school, and type of preservice p reparation. The chart of participant demographics is included in Appendix A. Archival data Secondary data sources were identified using the same snowball technique ied documents t hat informants believe d would provide rich information related to how the school ha d changed. These docu ments did not serve as primary data for analysis, but rather add ed to the contextual description of the site The only documents that participants ident ified as potentially useful were those showing achievement difference over time. This information is included in Appendix A. Data Analysis I employ ed data analysis methods consistent with those of constructionist grounded theory. While Holstein and Gubrium (2003) maintain that social constructionism typically informs the more practical what and how of a process, Charmaz (2008 ) sees a social constructionist approach to grounded theory as allowing why questions whi le preserving the complexity of change that this case study addressed of study and sees b oth data and analysis as created from shared experiences and Any research process itself is a social construction, and constructionist grounded theory embraces and recognizes the significance of thi s. The version of grounded theory utilized for this study offer s a richly s insight into our understanding of how
87 participants in this school experienced and interpreted change as they reformed. This approach was (1967) more positivistic conception, al though critical differences laid in how the research process was theory to oversimplify, erase differences, overlook variation, and assume neutrality Consequentially, t [d] ob during the process, there was an understanding that as contingencies unfold ed my as I interpreted the data The graphic below (Figure 3 1) represents the general pr ocess of the analysis. four in terviews conducted were initially coded. Examples of i nitial cod ing included such codes a communicating expectations directly , and expectations Using a technique of constant comparison, initial code s and their accompanying data were reread compared with one another, and refined to form focused codes. This meant grouping similar codes together u nder a common, more theoretical code. For example the codes above became the focused code of The focused code gave a broader view of the process being described. Focused codes then enabled the beginnings of memo writing. S uccessive and ongoing memo writing throughout the analysis process facilitate d comparisons between data and data, data and codes, codes of data and other codes,
88 codes and cat egory, and category and concept and for articulating conjectures about The content of these early memos described the processes represented by the focused code and created the beginning of theories explaini ng why and how actions were engaged While writing and rereading these early memos, the focused codes became emergent categories as codes were combined reconceptualized or expanded during the constant comparative analysis. At this point, a further two intervie ws were conducted. These interviews were used the emerging categories. Through their coding, I looked for new threads of analysis that could be used to expand the emerging theories. The interviews were coded first with initial codes that closely described the action in the data. They were then coded with the more theoretical focused codes During this process, the newly coded data were integrated into the emergent categories. This deepened the properties and description of each category. The scho and how the changes were enacted started to take form. Though n ot everything fit naturally into the emergent theoretical categories. When a focused code or category did not seem to accurately capture a piece of data, that conflict provided a point for theoretical sampling. Theoretical sampling elaborate and refine categories in 6, p. 96). I theoretically sampled in two ways. The first way was by going back to previously coded data. As conflict arose between new data and existing categories, I went back to relevant codes to compare the new data with the old data. This enabled me t o review
89 realized that the data were different parts of the same whole and used that to expand the category. Other times, I realized that what I initially interpreted was not supported with the new data. This led into the second means of theoretical sampling. Here, subsequent interviews were used to elicit data relative to a weak category The same basic questions were posed from the interview guide, however, the content o f follow up questio ns often depended on the category conflict. This iterative data collection and analysis process continued throughout the study. In the later interviews, the categories stabilized and d in Charmaz, 2006, p.114) I then sorted my categories, created a rough diagram depicting their relationships, and began the first draft of the findings. Of note, is that the analysis did not stop once writing began. I used the category memos to drive the or ganization of the findings; this meant constant comparison of categories. Through this process, categories were further refined and linked with one another. A final step to the data analysis process was member checking. A summary of the findings was em ailed to all fourteen participants asking for their input regarding the alignment of the findings with their perspectives. The findings summary was also sent to a fifteenth participant who did not participate in the interviews due to time constraints. It w as assumed that if the findings were representative of the experiences of the school as a whole then this participant would share this constructed version of the changes without having participated in an interview Seven participants responded to the member check. Their feedback was compared to the data and integrated into the findings. The data analysis process resulted in a refined diagram depicting the process of school reform. This diagram is presented in Chapter 4. The next section details my
90 role as researcher and the steps that were taken to strengthen the credibility of the findings. Figure 3 1. The employed grounded theory process adapted from Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Researcher Role and Credibility My role of researcher in this study is not a neutral one. Interview data are the result of an interactional co construction of knowledge between participant and
91 interviewer (Holstein & Gub rium, 2003). My choices of questions, my responses to participants during the interview, and my interpretation of their responses were all value laden decisions that affect ed the resulting data. I constructed their story with th em, just as much as I sought to understand their experiences. Because of this, I cannot assume a sense of neutrality in my role, as it did not exist. Approaching the interview as an interactional process means that I was necessarily attentive at all times to how my role affect ed the data ; I had to always treat it as a co constructed truth. It also means that I need ed to nurture relationships with participants prior to and during the interview (Dunbar, Rodriguez, & Parker, 2003). As an outsider to the school, former insider of the dis trict and unfamiliar member of a familiar university partnership, I immediatel y held roles that influence d how participants respond ed to me and to the interview process In addition to the more explicit roles that affect ed how participants respond ed to th e study, I have entering perspectives that inherently affect ed my interpretation of the data. These entering perspectives were influenced by my personal beliefs, experiences, and interests. In line with Glesn not suppress th ese subjectivities, but rather use d and to shape new questions through re enab le d me to attend The strategies that were used for monitoring this subjectivity as well as ensuring a thorough research proce ss so that research credibility was enhanced are described
92 below. These strategies are: triangulation with multiple sources of data, member checks, expert audit review, and refle x ivity. Each strategy is defined and its role in the study is described below. T RIANGULATION WITH MU LTIPLE SOURCES OF DA TA (M ERRIAM 2009; P ATTON 2002) Triangulation ross checking data collected from people with different perspectives or from follow up interviews with the same This was done throughout the study as data and codes were subjected to constant comparison and memoing. M EMBER CHECKS (M ERRIAM 2009; P ATTON 2002; G LESNE 2006) Member checks are the solicitation of feedback from participants regarding their responses, their experiences, and the subsequent interpretations of them. As co constructors of the data, participants had an important role to play in how the data was interpreted. A summary of the findings was provided to all participants for their review and feedback. E XPERT AUDIT REVIEW (P ATTON 2002) An expert audit review is conducted by research experts who assess the quality of the research methods and analysis process. This was conducted by my doctoral committee before, during, and after R EFLEXIVITY (M ERRIAM 2009). Reflexi vity involves the researcher reflecting critically about his or her entering biases and assumptions and then making publicly available how they intersect with the research. Engaging in reflexivity throughout the research enables 1) the use of strategies to consistently monitor and conclusions (Maxwell, 2005 as cited in Merriam, 2009). This was conducted pri or to the start of the research through the creation of a reflexivity statement Reflexivity was also conducted throughout the process through the use of an that surfaced and how they were attended to. The reflexivity statement and Summary To study the internal processes of successful school change, this study employed a constructionist grounded theory approach. This approach rel ied on participant perspectives to tell the story of high poverty school reform. The data collection and analysis process was iterative and engaged until the final draft was penned.
93 Constructing and comparatively attending to memos at each step of the rese arch, enabled me to continually explore the data as it was collected, thus making the 326). Data collection and analysis became intertwined in this process as theoretical s ampling was conducted to explore and expand categories that seemed weak or incomplete. This constant comparison of data, codes, and memos leading to category refinement informed an ultimate explanatory theory of school reform. This explanatory theory is pr esented in Chapters 4 and 5
94 CHAPTER 4 THEN AND NOW Introduction Over the course of two years, Gateway Elementary engaged in a transformation. They changed their leader, their organizational culture, their way of work, and their student achievem ent. They changed without a loss of teachers and without external intrusion. They worked to meld initiatives within their context and to redefine the role teachers played. They followed a leader who they saw as having the best interests of their students a t heart and who could help them rise to the expectations held at more affluent schools. Gateway faculty worked hard, sweat blood, and came back for more. Most significantly, they never gave up on their students. A teacher new to the school illustrated this commitment in the following story. I really think [the veteran teachers] take such pride in being a teacher from Gateway You know I went on a field trip with my kids to [a performing arts center in a more affl nd here come the Gateway children. straight little soldiers [but] like you know what? Happy children getting off the buses, laughing, smiling. Are they a little noisy? Y es. Are they getting out of line? Yes. Are they being respectful? Yes. And a teacher turns to Gateway we are. We are Gateway those child ren. So that perception of these poor children, lower class, that is why [the teachers] are tough. That is why they want you to work hard to fit in because they have gone -they have gone through a lot. Just like the children. ( CT 7 ) This study is the sto ry of what happened within this school why it happened, and how it happened. B efore we can understand the present, we have to understand the past. The building of Gateway into an organization that valued learning and change, that placed students as first priority, and that embraced a communalist spirit began on ground that held fresh memories of isolation and toxicity. This chapter is the description
95 wide change. The following section s of this chapter will detail how participants viewed the context culture at the time of this study. The following chapter, Chapter 5, is the story of how they engaged in that change. To describe the school before the change ten of fourteen participants accounts were analyzed. Nine were teachers who worked under the previous principal ; one was the new principal who reported on the context he found at the beginning of his tenu re at the school All nine participants spoke of the lack of administrative involvement by the prior school principals. Eight of the nine participants viewed the low level of administrative involvement by the prior administration as a problem. The ninth pa rticipant recogniz ed result in progress for the school, but attributed low performance on achievement tests to the students, not the administration. The following quote exemplifies this par perceptions. T he pr evious administrator, I had her for two years and I could see she was very laid back. I t was a little bit looser, but not like loose in a bad way. You know obviously the school didn t get the best grades because that kind of goes back to Because [ Gateway ] was the kind of the school that people [chose] when the [more desirable schools were full]. [ Gateway ] got I don t want to say stuck with certain kids So, it wasn t that it was loosely run it was just that the kids we had here weren t as focused as if you go to a school [in a more desirable area]. ( CT 8 ) The tenth participant, t he incoming principal also reported on what he found upon entering the school. As the incoming admini strator, he studied the entering context so that he could determine his next steps as the school leader. His perspectives of the state of the school are included along with the teachers who experienced the prior
96 administration The beginning of this story is built around these ten participants accounts. The Cultural Context: A History Participants described the prior culture of the school as complacent. They noted that s everal aspects of the administration were dysfunction al and disconnect ed Participants perspectives indicated two overwhelming characteristics of the context before transformation: an absent administration and a faculty of untapped potential An Administration Absent: A Latchkey Faculty The prior administrations of Gateway were described as absent. They were absent not just physically, but mentally. Going back at least two principals, participants reported a history of hands off leadership. they noted that t he previous principal s did not visit in classrooms, seldom held meetings, and did not interact with students. Without observing in classrooms, the administration did not know what was going on instructionally. Without a principal who kn ew what was going on teachers felt no push to improve. Before I just had my little class and I did w hat I thought and nobody really checked in and there was not a lot of accountability A nd there was nobody to say, ou know, you can push these kids even this much further ( CT 4 ) I think our teachers felt [the prior principal was there to] put in her fe w more years un til she could retire. She didn t want to make any w aves. You know did what she needed to do and like I said she was there when R eading F irst began and was supportive of me doing the training, but she wasn t one th at woul s. Reading Coach, try this here the principal now [says] ey [Reading Coach], I want you to give this training to our teachers, I want you to take our teachers to go see this ( LTM 3 ) Teachers reported that the principal established no expectations for content for teaching practices or for teacher professional duties. The district implemented a
97 county wide pacing guide and encouraged best practices in literacy and math education but teachers noted that there was no school level accountability to monitor their practices Teachers reported that t eaching varied across the campus Although a laissez faire administration might be thought to lead to a welcomed level of professional autonomy instead teachers indicated that the opposite happened. An absentee administration undermined teacher growth and meaningful don t know what we don for professional learning and success were lost because teachers were not directed to them. As shared below, the reading coach tried to enhance teacher learning, but many felt they needed instr uctional leadership that they did not have from the principal. Nobody had been in anyone s classroom [to observe]. N obody was telling people ey fix your I mean [the Reading Coach] was. You know she was coming in and coaching but if somebody was really not following through on what they were being taught the principal wasn t going to follow through on it, so they let it go ( LTM 2 ) when you re not worried about your administrator coming into your classroom, you kind of can ju st never be o n your toes. ( CT 3 ) B est practice such as the architecture of the mini lesson wasn t there T eaching points there low of the day was not there D ifferentiating instruction wasn t there. So some of those key practices that good teachers do were n t happening I t was void, it wasn t the re, there was no emphasis on it. (LTM P) As one participant described it nothing happened ( CT 1 Teachers were not held accountable for p rofessional responsibilities such as arriving on time to work, fulfilling instructional intervention monitoring tasks, or working to develop teaching skill s. As a result, teachers reported that they were LTM 2 ) Ineffective habits became s tatus quo. I was hired in January M y first day on the job I noticed that [if] school was for example 2:50 k indergarten students were lining up
98 at 2:25 and being dismissed t wenty minutes prior [to the end of the school day]. I was like W ell what about the teaching and learning that can happen S o those are the things [that I saw]. T here was no camaraderie with regards to the curriculum or the direction of the school that was happening (LTM P) Repeatedly teachers repo rted that p roblems were not addressed and in many cases not recognized Participants did not indicate that the principal struggled to effectively solve problems, but instead indicated that they did not see the principal as recognizing that there were probl ems to solve. This lack of active problem posing served to stagnat e the school s progress. The status quo left ineffective teachers and unsuccessful students unchanged She interviewed me and it was a silly interview I t was [just] Y es you have the job. But I never saw her in my classroom. She came to observe me once my first year teaching and put a paper in my box that said I did a great job and that was it. She never came, she never -I mean I -I never saw her ( CT 3 ) Actions such as brief intervi ews and seemingly indiscriminate hiring practices demonstrated to teachers a lack of care related to the quality of instruction available to CT 2 ). Such practices denied students optimal educational opportunities. The following participant described lowered expectations for students who had prior history of low achievement and/or came from low income families. What used to bother me about administrations we had in the past [was that] they would say h, our FCAT scores aren t really good this year, but you guys know the kind of kids we re teaching. Man, we have got our backs up against the wall. You know, hearing them say that was like a lmost also giving teachers an excuse to slack ( CT 6 ) A few years into the previous administration s tenure, a group of teachers fe lt that a hostile workplace was being intentionally created by the principal and filed a district grievance against her. This grievance seemed to cause the principal to retreat even
99 further from management and participants reported that they felt an even greater disconnection between the administration and the teachers. The teachers reported that they were subsequently left almo st completely alone and that isolationist tendencies were reinforced O ver several years this resulted in the teachers being in what I will describe as a state of teetering. They teetered on the edge of change, desiring to do better but that change never happened due to obstructed potential and a seeming sense of ennui This was a conflicting time for the faculty of Gateway. A Faculty with Untapped Potential Despite a seeming lackadaisical approach to their jobs by some teachers, in general participants de scribed teachers as a young group with potential just waiting to be released Participants described a conflict between what they wanted for themselves and their school and the available opportunities to make it happen. They wanted to do better; t hey wante d to try new things. But their potential went unrealized and remained untapped E ven the faculty who had positive relationships with the principal recognized that her lack of energy and profes sional growth hindered possibilities for change. [The prior principal] didn t support our teachers as far as them being young and being go getters and needing more than what she could give them. You know what I mean? I think what I m trying to say probably is because our teachers were newer they were like cutting edge ; they want to learn the new things and find out what the research says and she wasn t one that was pushing towards all of that ( LTM 3 ) Not only were faculty members not encouraged by their administration to improve, the haze of apa thy that had settled over much of the school veiled their own view of possibilities. They felt there was more, but did not know how to move beyond the haze to something different than their current state M any reported lingering in a limb o of a
100 complacent minimalism where teachers felt dissatisfied, but did not complain because 1) it did no good, and 2) there was a sense of freedom and comfort that a lack of oversight brought The following quotes represent this limbo. With the old principal I think people were disgruntled ; they didn t like [that] their boss never came in, because nobody was holding them accountable, I believe, as much as they are now [being held accountable]. ( LTM 2 ) I can honestly say there are people who were happy that nobody was coming around. You know like thank G od they re not coming into my room ( CT 2 ) Without firm guidance or resources to support change the teachers teetered on the edge of nothing, yet on the edge of everything Without a leader to provide direction, they were unabl e to provide it for themselves. They needed guidance and a shared purpose to move beyond their current state and to realize their obscured potential. This is supported in their actions as they were able to change rapidly once presented with the opportunity The Catalyst for Transformation When the previous principal retired, a new one came aboard. This was the catalyst for a transformation that would and redefi ne the school. With sweeping changes to the school s structures and ways of work ing the school moved from a state of complacency, self management, and isolation to a culture characterized by innovation, raised teacher voices, and communal responsibility. An active and firm reliance on data led to constant examination of student progress and attention to needs; an embedded principal led to increased accountability to district and school responsibilities; a negotiation of external initiatives pushed growth t hat was relevant to their context; and although instructional consistency was expected, it was
101 negotiated in ways that honored teachers as professionals. The next section describes the transformed culture of the school. Now The culture described here was conveyed directly and indirectly through elements: continuous innovation, reliance on and belief in data use, and collective responsibility for student learning. This ch apter provides a brief introduction to the cultural characteristics of the school. Chapter 5 illustrates the processes of change as current culture and the transition to thi s new culture is provided. Continuous Innovation Continuous innovation represents the proactive process used to find problems and craft solutions, both at the school and classroom levels. Continuous innovation is an active learning process that is manifest ed in the culture by problem posing, generating inventive solutions, and then implementing, evaluating and tweaking or discarding solutions, and renewing the search. All of these processes are undergirded by a shared sense of high expectations for both tea chers and students. The process of continuous innovation is initiated by repeatedly asking the question s there a better way to do something ? C an I do it better? Can I move forward? (LTM P) Consistently looking for areas to improve led the principal a nd faculty to be continuously innovating for student success. The following quote captures how continuous innovation often played out in daily work. data] obviously something is no t working. We need to be able to get these kids to read lists faster because we know they can and we know that
102 tional CT 2 ) school engaged in a wide variety of new school wide initiatives, such as Response to Intervention, Walk to Instruction (a reading intervention), and implementing two transition classes for students who met only minimum requirements for promotion. Teachers and administrators gained ideas as they engaged in learning experiences such as a school book club, district trainings and meetings, or a formal graduate program. These learning experiences pushed participants to try new things and to be attentive to thei r effects. For example, when changes in the school population led to an increased number of students who were struggling in reading, faculty looked for ways to innovate. The administration considered the benefits that redesigning their reading instruction would have for student learning, presented information about the benefits to the faculty and solicited for their input, and then chose people at each grade level to pilot the new program. Such actions demonstrated that exploring possible changes in order t o enhance student success became a staple in the work of the school, even if the process was not always linear. It seemed like we went a roundabout way to get to certain points and a lot of trial and error kind of things. But we always seemed to get where we [we had] to try three or four different things before we got what we wanted. ( CT 9 ) Sometimes the culture of continuous innovation was challenging, causing teachers to feel t here was little stability. Negotiating the tension between innovation and stability is still a work in progress for the administration and the teachers.
103 S ometimes it can be a bit much [to implement new programs so frequently] instead of sticking to wha t we know. Like now, this year, [the administration] is all about the vocabulary because last year our vocabulary scores were poor. So now, they re like really into the vocabulary, where I think last year, I forget what we tried last year, but I m pretty s ure we tried something different last year. Also now is the oral reading, the oral story telling. We didn t talk about t a big deal. We started Walk to [Instruction] two years ago and now we re still doing that. It s like the onl y thing that we actually are still doing. ( CT 3 ) A e can t do every single thing that is out there. Like you can t volunteer us for all of this stuff ( CT 4 ) developed as a natural consequence of holding high expectations for students and teachers. Continuously innovating around teaching practice was a response to the increased internal accountability driven by their shared understanding that students can and will be successful, and that the school has a strong influence in enabling that success. As [We think now] ey, these are our kids. M aybe they are struggli ng. But We can change that ( CT 6 ). Reliance on and Belief in the Use of Data Innovation was driven by a reliance on data. Continuous innovation was never nts CT 8 ) and that using data to guide instruction is an essential and ongoing piece (LTM P) es. Consistent monitoring of student learning, both academic and behavioral, drove school and classroom level decisions. I think it s really, the [internal] accountability for teachers has changed and the shift in thinking has really [become] you have got to assess your kids Y ou have to assess them before you teach. Y ou have to assess them after
104 you teach You have to observe them while you re teaching, and then make sure that you go back and hit those kids that didn t get it and make sure that they do ge t it in your differentiated time ( CT 6 ) The culture of data also meant that participants viewed judgment and bias as potential obstacles that could interfere with the equity of instruction for students. Relying on data was a way to ensure that school dec isions and classroom decisions were based in evidence, not in whim. The second quote highlights how evidence enabled teachers to move past passive acceptance of student progress to reflective action. uld just make anybody. ( LTM 4 ) And in order for us to help these kids needs we have to sit down and look at differently. Which has really been helpful, I see [some kids seem to be struggling and not looking closer]. ( CT 2 ). The cultural belief in the power of data impacted every facet of teaching an d learning in the school. Collective Responsibility widely shared sense of responsibility for student learning driven by collective accountability for all students in the school Teachers broadened their sense of responsibility beyond themselves and their own students; they felt a responsibility to their school. The administration and the teachers were all perceived as members of one team, working for the same goal of student achievement. As one participant stated
105 when talking ab teaching all of the subjects], i t s the big picture for the school. It s what s good for the kids. It s what is good for the school ( CT 7 ). Collective responsibility meant conside ring how a change would affect not only their practice, but how it would affect the students as a whole. Teachers shared student data in professional learning communities and relied on their peer teachers and coaches for expert advice. The shared commit ment to the learning of all students meant that faculty opened their classroom doors to share data, problems, and successes. everything I have got. Who has something else that they ca n give me? program or putting them on a computer for x amount of minutes I had my colleagues and my coaches s felt for students besides those in individual classes]. [My team member] t you bri ng him in, I ( CT 4 ) Opening that door and engaging in a culture that was characterized by collective responsibility also meant collective accountability. Data were shared freely by the administration with grade level teams, and data were examined for instructional areas that could be improved. It is Gateway school, it is not individual classrooms of Gateway Gateway ery other [teacher] with regards to [your] data because that third, fourth, and fifth grade teacher holds kindergarten, first, a third grade because one teacher is not implementing [effective teaching practices] then that swallow. Nobody wants to let down their peers or their friends and when
106 (LTM P) culture as a whole, t here are pockets of faculty still transitioning to stronger communal actions. Some teams are stronger than others, some individuals are stronger than others but all participants described elements of collective responsibility that characterized their work and their roles. Conclusion Participants described the school as previously being isolating, hostile, and complacent. They reported their administrators were absent. The faculty was not challenged to improve their instruction or student achievement. The s tudent population became increasingly more high needs and yet teachers were left unguided in addressing this change. As a result, teachers settled into a steady state, some effective and some not, but there was no impetus for change. Student achievement re mained stagnant and low. With the exit of a principal and the entrance of a leader, the status quo was finally disrupted. The faculty and administration of this school transformed their culture into one where learning was valued and problem posing was encouraged. Their culture became defined by continuous innovation, reliance on and belief in data, and collective responsibility. They developed the capacity to evaluate their needs, adjust in response, and positively affect the achievement of their stude nts. Transformation required more than a new principal, however. There were key actions that altered ways of thinking and impacted how the school started doing the business of schooling. I deconstructed these actions within the school in my analysis. In
107 C capacity building voices, changed pedagogy, the creation of strategic structures and negotiation of ex ternal mandates ; the interaction of which resulted in a recultured and restructured school. By engaging in such a transformation, the faculty of the school positioned themselves to be able to meet the changing demands of a changing world.
108 CHAPTER 5 THE PROCESSES OF CHANGE Introduction This chapter is intended to bring life to the processes of change that moved through the school as they recultured themselves. In Chapter 4, I introduced the transformed culture of the school as collec tive, data reliant, and continuously innovative all of which align with research on successful high poverty schools. How this culture was transformed is the topic of this chapter. Participants indicated five linked processes that affected their transforma tion: taking immediate action, valuing and empowering structures to systematize processes and negotiating external initiatives. Findings indicated new cultural tendencies were initiated through int entional actions by school leaders to enact changes. The newly emerging culture then influenced future actions and a momentum took hold. What follows is a description of the six processes that served to reculture the school. While I attempt to describe the se in terms that position them within the time and space of the school, the messiness of such a reality cannot be underestimated (Clarke, 2005). Often these processes developed simultaneously as parallel actions. Factors influencing the processes overlappe d. What started to happen as the new culture took root adds to the complexity 5 1 illustrates how the school level actions, organizational culture, and external influences operated w ithin the school
109 Figure 5 1. The processes of change in Gateway
110 Taking Immediate Action The new principal joined the school in January 200 7 He immediately took action to learn about the school, about the teachers, and about the students. As he examined the context, his essential first steps included mobilizing leaders, becoming embedded in the context, immediately attending to teachers, and pulling back the curtain to reveal urgency and extend invitation. These first steps served to get the school moving, but also established how future actions would come to be framed. Mobilizing Leaders incipal created a leadership team comprised of a core group of like minded school level leaders. These included the reading coach, Title I facilitator, and assistant principal. He additionally surrounded himself with a group of like m inded teacher leaders who were influential among their peers The new p rincipal did not know all of the details related to t he prior school organizational leadership structure but he did not need to He was able to fill in the gaps by creating t hese core groups of leaders. H e also rel ied on them to help move changes. I came here and I surrounded myself with people who thought the way I thought who wanted to work the way I work and move that forward I m not going to surround myself with individuals who are negative or aren t t eam players or that the best interests of kids at heart. I m not going to surround myself with those things so you know of course I m go ing gravitate towards those people [who want to improve outcomes for students] and those people are going to gravitate towards me (LTM P) Both of the leadership teams he created, one formal and one informal, worked to establish his trustworthiness and expectations for teachers and for the school An I don t have time for negativity. I don t have time for you if you are
111 priority was the students. In fact, the new at titude was described as positioning students first, then the school, and then the teachers. The following leadership team participant highlights this priority. H is vision comes from doing what s best for our kids, [so] our teachers would have to go along w ith that If he wants all of our kids to succeed and you re a teacher in our school, how would you not want that as well? I f you don t want that, then you re not here for the [right] reason and maybe you should go somewhere else ( LTM 3 ) This expectation w as established during this very first step of mobilizing leaders and was sustained by intentionally and strategically building trust with and among the teachers. Additionally, mobilizing formal and informal leaders readied the context for the parallel acti on of raising teacher voices. Becoming Instructionally Embedded As the new principal mobilized leaders to promote a new way of working, he established the beginnings of his position as an active member of the school, embedded within the instructional cont ext rather than external to it. This strong connection to teaching and learning was enhanced as the new principal actively learned about teachers and their practices by being visible in their classrooms getting to know the students, and examining student data with the teachers H e learned which teachers were effective and which were struggling. He learned the kinds of teaching practices that characterized the school and individual teachers. Statements such as the one below demonstrate how embedded the prin cipal became in the instructional life of the school. And then when [the new principal] came in he was like the total opposite [of H e was in the classrooms and he was constantly looking at data and he could figure out which teache rs were helping their
112 kids progress and which teachers were not H e knew the kids and he knew what was going on. And he knew the pacing guide so he knew what was expected to be taught at any given time. It was just like a culture change, a big culture chan ge and a lot of that I think was good ( CT 1 ) Statements such as this one indicated that b ecoming embedded meant more than knowing the instructional practices and the data. It also meant knowing the pacing guide and the district expectations for teaching and learning. Pairing knowledge of school and district practices, the new principal ramped up the instructional and professional expectations for teachers. I think it did [affect things on a daily basis to have the principal be visible] I t hink it did. Well, I think he just had more input to [share] But he set expectations for us, like this is what I expect first grade to be doing. I expect them to have a 90 minute reading block ; 90 minute reading blocks might have started before he came; I can t remember. But I don t think they ran as smoothly as they did once he came ( CT 3 ) See he came on in like December. He came on middle of the school year and then so that transition [began] that second half of the school year and then the start of the next year when his first school year started. That is things thrown at once. ( CT 8 ) The second teacher quote here describes the shift in exp two administrators. As the new principal became embedded in the instructional life of the school, he was able to institute greater expectations for teaching and learning. Because the prior principal was not described as being visible in the school, the increased expectations were a drastic shift in how the school operated. Immediately Attending to Teachers to Build Trust Part of becoming instructionally embedded meant learning about the context and what was needed and desired by those within it. As the new principal took immediate
113 action, he used what he learned while becoming embedded to attend to the teachers. These actions nurtured the development of a sense of trust. The actions also seemed to set the stage for the changes to come. The following quote from the new principal illustrates the connection he perceived between attention to the teachers now and the work that was to come. There was no camaraderie with regards to the curriculum or the direction of the school So that was my biggest thing and I think they knew that but teachers you know when I spoke to them they wanted someone to come in here and say this is where we re going to go T ake us to the promise land L ead us to what we need to do because we know some gre at things can happen and it was just there was no binding of the souls to make sure that was happening and that s what they were looking for. They were looking for that missing link to go forward. Not that I m the missing link at all but in my posit ion I was able to say L et s go let s put this forward and let s move it forward and go from there (LTM P) Hearing that teachers wanted a leader to guide them and wanted a more united approach led the new principal to act in ways to support them. Future actions such as valuing and empowering teacher voices and changing pedagogy provide evidence that attending to teachers from the very beginning had long range effects. An additional action that helped to establish the message he was listening to school program that had been a bandoned by the prior principal for reasons unknown. When the new principal heard from teachers that the prior program was important to them and students, he reinstituted it. The following quote sums up this action. W hen the new administration came, the PE teacher said I really want to bring this [swimming program] back and they were all for it and you know we were happy because we know that s the only way these kids are going to learn how to swim. You know they re in [a state with a lot of water] T hey need to know how to swim. But that was like one thing that was done away with. She wanted that out Sh e didn t want anything to do with that and as much as we tried to fight to keep it, it was like no we re not doing it. Then when [the new principal] came, he was like h no we re doing this ( CT 2 )
114 While only one teacher mentioned this specific program as being an instrumental action, it is representative of listening to teachers, an action that helped to foster trust and build the beginnings of a culture wh Pulling Back the Curtain to Reveal Urgency and Extend Invitation accountability, transparency, urgency, and collectivism. The beginnings of such character going actions, but they were birthed during one pivotal event As the new principal took action to mobilize leaders, eve nt that helped to solidify his place in the school and provide the teachers with motivation to be on board with change. This event additionally served to establish how future work would be conducted. This event can be described as pulling back a curtain th By meeting with the faculty and explaining that without change, they would go further into corrective action and have to re interview for their jobs, the principal revealed an urgent situation. In some schools this might be defined as a threatening meeting, but participants did not describe feeling threatened. Instead they described an invitation to generate solutions and to move forward together. The following two quotes demonstrate the cause and effect of this action. None of us knew the sh a p e we were in until [the new principal and assistant principal] came in and said o you realize if we don t make AYP we go under review ou could have heard a pin drop that day. None of us wer e B ecause of that grievance [teachers filed against the former principal] she was so [withdrawn that] she wouldn t do anything. S he wouldn t let us know that Yo u can tell nobody had any clue. ( LTM 2 ) I think the biggest change happened [as we prepared for] t he following year W e were able to get together over t he summer to plan his is
115 our game plan that we re going to implement These are the things that I expect from you to move forward T his is our direction T his is our str ate gic of the thi was how bad the situation really was. You know we kind of had to have a and say hese are scores W e re going to go under restructuring if this doesn t happen T his is where we re coming from and what are we going to do to correct it or to prevent this from falling into worse hands Y ou know for lack of better words. So [before that meeting] there was no temperature check being done, the state of the union wasn t being addressed. I don t think the staff really knew [what] dire straits the school was really in with regards to academic achievement (LTM P) Letting teachers in to the decision making process at this early point in the new gave the te achers a common, immediate goal to bind them together. The new principal did not com e in instituting arbitrary changes. He came in and invited teachers to work with him to make changes in order to push students toward success and to keep teachers from havi ng to re interview for their jobs. This participant continued in her perception of how defining this openness was. Once we found out we were in restructuring, THAT is what made the difference [between changes attempted by the previous principal and new pri ncipal]. People then were like hat!? And then when they heard they had to re interview for their jobs, they were like and they were ready. I think people were ready for a leader because there was no leader. The teams were leading themselves. I thi nk there were a lot of pockets and subgroups of teachers who started running the school and the [former] principal was okay with that. Then when [the new principal] came in I think people realized that ow we need to get this done or you know chances are we won t have a job S o that I think was a good thing for [the new principal] that we were where we were at because if not you know it might have made a more hostile work environment for him, like people may have fought him a little bit more ( LTM 2 ) Th is event served t o solidify the idea that change was necessary. It meant a realization that the current and previous way s of doing things were not getting the job done. Within this event the new principal e stablish ed a direction for the school, while simu ltane ously asking teachers for their help. Such a behavior would come to
116 characterize how the school did future business. Within this event a sense of urgency was created that underscored all future actions. Val that communicated that he valued teacher input and encouraged problem solving. This process subsumes all actions related to soliciting faculty input, encouraging independent probl em solving by faculty, and the promoting a team approach to making decisions. In eliciting and valuing teacher voices, the principal actively brought teachers into a decision making role in the school and disrupted a rigid hierarchy of leader subordinates. By raising teacher voices, the principal voice was simultaneously the enabling of teacher instructional decision making. T his action/effect overlaps with the process o f changing pedagogy and is also evident in the creating str uctures to systematize system s process There was an intentional effort on the part of the leadership to raise teacher voices, voices that, while instrumental in the education of the students, were previously was precipitated by the change in principal. Where some leaders might impose the solutions, instead this leader empowered teachers by bringing them to the table for conversation and evaluation and modification of ideas, while also empowering them to identify problems and craft solutions within their sphere of direct influence. The impact was la sting and pervasive in how decisions were made inside and outside of the classroom. There are three pieces of this process that stand out in the
117 soliciting input, invoking e lements of team strength, and encouraging independent problem solving. By themselves, these pieces would not have affected the faculty as powerfully as they did together. The process of soliciting input enabled teachers access to school decision making an d also relied on them as expert resources for pervasive instructional dilemmas. If the principal had stopped here in fostering teacher voice, teachers would have had only a reactive role. Rather, by invoking elements of team strength, faculty was further p ositioned to actively push themselves and their colleagues to seek problems and generate solutions. Encouraging of independent problem solving moved the faculty from giving input to proactively approaching their work. These three sub processes are detailed below. Solicit ing Input Upon entering the school, the principal stated that he understood from teachers that they wanted to give input and be heard. This initial understanding drove how he approached decisions. Teachers were encouraged to share their opin ions, ideas, and frustrations. Some felt more comfortable to do this than other s There is indication that newness to the school and level of personal connection/relationship affected this comfort. That a new teacher would feel apprehension about sharing h is/her perspective is not too surprising, and neither is apprehension by a few veteran teachers still feeling out their new leader. Nevertheless, the call to share opinions was offered and a number of teachers answered. An experienced teacher new to the sc hool shared that when she CT 7 ).
118 Input was sol were asked for feedback related to ideas for potential change. Over time teacher input became the key element in how the school structured their School Based Leadership Team (SBLT) mee tings for their Response to Invention (RtI) model. Feedback elicited prior to changes. Administration presented ideas for school level changes. Presentation of potential ideas typically occurred after a problem was identified and a possible solution brain stormed by the leadership team. The idea was then presented to the staff for feedback. Transparency in decision making was created by presenting the staff with ideas for programs or processes and then asking for feedback regarding their implementation. Sol iciting teacher input opened potential changes to scrutiny. Not every decision was made with teacher input, and not every decision was transparent, however a significant number were. These opportunities for input were significant enough that participants d escribed transparency as a core way of working in the school. There clearly was a leadership team and a principal with final decision making authority, but teachers were more involved in the decision making process than they had ever been before. I think I felt like [the administration] did still lead, but I think it was more of -it s hard to describe because I don t want to say collaborative with us, but we were brought in on more decisions with his administration than any other administration that I had been involved with. Not to say that every decision we were brought in on, but because there some that still felt secret, still felt those kinds of things, lack of communica tion, but there were more [times] that he would like to listen to other people s id eas ( CT 5 ) working with RtI Tier 2 students. The administrators strategically chose a healthy team to potentially implement the new plan; then approached the team with it.
119 W e would get input from the teachers because we said to the teachers his is going to be a huge undertaking Are you guys interested in this? This is what it would do for you, this is how it s going to help you meet the needs of the kids, and this is how it s going to help you differentiate, and this is how it s going to help us get the kids where they need to be ( LTM 4 ) Presenting a new idea or plan to teachers in such a fashion as this served to demonstrate that 1) the teachers were valuable and deservin g of the opportunity to evaluate something that they would be responsible for implementing, 2) teachers had a voice in their school, and 3) teachers were indeed operating as the team that the school espoused being. RtI: Professional Learning Communities (P LCs) redefined During the last year that this study concerns, the school changed the structure of their Professional Learning Communities to better fit their RtI needs. PLCs were already a school structure per district mandate. What happened in them, howe ver, was variable depending on individual team interpretations of their purpose. In redefining their use, one grade level PLC meeting a month was transformed into a School Based Leadership Team (SBLT) meeting that involved all administrators, service provi ders, and teachers for a given grade. This meeting focused on trends in the assessment data. Teachers were solicited for ideas to improve weak areas in student learning. Essential to this new structure was opening the floor to all members. The principal, i nstructional coaches, assistant principal, school psychologist, behavior specialist, and Title I facilitator brainstormed ideas for improvement before the meeting. Once identified problems were initially explored, then an idea for improvement was presented to the grade level. The following quote sums up this process and the effect of soliciting input. T hen at the SBLT [meeting], [the principal] says ow we re taking it to the teachers o when the school based leadership team kind of comes to consensus about something then we bring it up to each grade level at
120 those meetings. And the same thing happens everybody shares. [The principal] says hat are you thinking about this e show them the data we have and what we ve problem solved and say k guys here s our hypothesis, here s what data we have, here s the intervention we re thinking and this is how we re going to measure it A nd it s kind of huge, because sometimes I will say [the grade level teams] add a lot more to it and then s ometimes it really does tweak what our problem solving circle looks l LTM 2 ) This respected and empowered teacher voices by providing clear opportunities for discussion related to issues across the grade level. Teachers were pushed to act in ( LTM 4 ). This new structure treated them like the experts they are by asking them for help. This also served to push responsibility beyond individu al classroom walls as teachers were examining data trends across their grade level, not only in their classroom. Invoking E lements of Team Strength (Leader vs. Ruler) Raising teacher voices also flattened traditional hierarchical notions of principal as Ru ler. The principal was direct in stating that he does not know it all and therefore relied heavily on the teachers and leadership teams to help make decisions. Where he had strength in vision, they had strength in details. Where he could pinpoint a problem they could brainstorm effective strategies for approaching it. Teachers began to see themselves as integral members of the school team because they could bring everyday classroom experiences to the decision making table. So while they still saw the princ ipal and leadership team as more or less removed from the classroom, they started to see themselves as being able to help fill in the gaps between grand plans and the reality of classroom life. As these teachers illuminated, what they often noticed in an i ssue or plan
121 [The principal] was a great leader, but he was A at me [when I CT 4 ) [The principal] was very big picture and some of the others of us are very detailed. [We CT 5 ) The teachers were able to offer perspectives that otherwise w ould have gone unnoticed. The broad stroke approach of the principal and his constant flow of ideas relied on team members who could reign in big plans to make them manageable and team members who could refine plans both before and during implementation. B y leader than ruler. Encouraging I ndependent Problem Solving teacher problem solving skills. The principal as leader had faith that teachers could do great things and directly communicated that by prompting them to use their expertise to craft solutions to their classroom problems. As is discussed in the changing pedagogy category, there was a lev el of encouragement for teachers to pose problems about their practice and about student learning and to do something to help solve those problems, even if that meant looking beyond their pacing guide. The following participant, who was in her second year at the school, spoke of how risk taking and learning were at the core I t s scary, scary, scary scary, but you know, what do we tell our children about learning You re going to feel uncomfortable. It s not going to always be fun T eachers need to be in that position. If you re going to grow, you have to challenge yourself and it s not always comfortable. So you have to
122 put yourself out there and [the principal] allowed teachers to do that. He had the safety net for sure. ( CT 7 ) A long term teacher at the school echoed this and described how she was empowered to look for problems and pose solutions. And if you had a problem with other administrations that I had, it was you bring the problem to them and they would solve it. With [th is principal] he BUT I want to try, he was very much behind you on that. I think it did [have an effect on the staff]. It helped people to think outside of the box of from what they had ing to listen, CT 5 ) The new principal r he did not have all of the answers and he could not solve all of the problems. The teachers needed to develop skills to identify and examine issues. T he faith placed in teachers to problemat ize their practice and make instructional decisions for their students instilled a confidence that enabled them to express and use professional knowledge. There is evidence that the established urgency to improve drove the principal and he intentionally fo stered independent problem solving to push teachers out of complacent behavior. As a result, an increased problem posing stance in teachers developed, as is highlighted in the quotes below. He was very challenging... He was always challenging us to think outside CT 4 ) [The principal] saying to me I trust you as a teacher; I trust your judgment. If you need to veer from the pacing guide and you don t want to use your
123 textbook and you think you can come up with better ways to teach your kids, go for it H i m saying that to me and giving me the latitude to really get to know my kids and really get to create lessons that were meaningful for me and there fore meaningful for my kids, him giving me the latitude to do that was big -it was a big push to give me the opportunity [to problem o know that [the administration] had the trust in me to be able to do that was huge, and I m sure I m not the only one he had that conversation with. ( CT 6 ) The valuing and empowering of teacher voices could be characterized as a significant push toward teacher leadership in the school. This array of actions affected how teachers were valued and h ow their role was defined. A reliance on teacher input, responsibilities and enhanced their instructional skills. Changing Pedagogy Changing pedagogy refers to changes in act ions and beliefs by teachers. It encompasses how teachers construct their practices and how they view the influences on those practices. When describing changes in pedagogy, participants saw distinct shifts in how they collectively taught previously and ho w they teach now. They saw differences and recognized that those differences had marked impact on their students. Seeing pedagogy as more than the day to day teaching, participants tended to talk in terms of changing their approach to instruction. It trans cended what they do. Changing pedagogy was about how and why Participants told an intertwining story of external influences and administrative emphases that pushed their teaching and in most cases redefined their roles and responsibilities for instructio n. Changing pedagogy is characterized by four pieces: Aligning school practices with district expectations holding high expectations and acting
124 accordingly becoming more data centered, and targeting essential areas with resources school wide Aligning S chool Practices with District Expectations The district tightened their expectations for content and instructional practices. As this happened, changes occurred at t he school level as teachers began using the pacing guides to lead their instruction. As the reading coach described it, instruction LTM 3 ). With the increased district expectations, teachers expressed a common critique that their curriculum had become more focused yet narrowed. They additionally had a ninety minute reading block dictated by the reading. As introduced in Chapter 4 these expectations were communicated by the district, however, implementation across classrooms was inconsistent due to a lack of school level expectations and accountability. Teachers did not start consistently aligning instruction with district guideli nes until they received the school level push to do so. When the new principal came on board, he expected the teaching in classrooms to reflect the district expectations. Teaching became more aligned with district advocated practices, such as the architec ture of the mini lesson. However, as represented in the next piece, this alignment was not hard and fast. Rather there was a flexibility that Holding High Expectations and Acting Accordingly The administration explicitly expressed high expectations for students, and as a result, such thinking started to pervade the faculty. It affected how teachers thought about student learning and that subsequently affected how they appro ached instruction.
125 our students will learn and we will take action to expected to veer from the district pacing guide when needed. They were expected to know their students personally and to use stu encouraging instructional decision making by teachers enabled them to teach to their specific group of students not just teach a g roup of students. This is illustrated in varying ways such as using picture cues to teach vocabulary for ELL learners, using realia to teach about experiences that students have not had, or adjusting the timeframe given in the district pacing guide to hit certain skills harder before moving on 1 Administration established the explicit expectation that students will learn and then An with the principal. What started as an assignment for a common graduate program led the prin cipal was involved with her in this learning experience, instituting high expectations for students took on a new meaning, one that meant instruction needed to reach who students were. One of the classes that we did was a cross cultural class called funds of knowledge and it required us to go do home visits. And [the principal] and I actually went together and visited this home and we could not get enough of listening to this family tell their stories. And when we came back to the 1 This was expressed to varying degrees by participants. One participant (CT 8) indicated that he has previously created a separate type of curriculum for non English speaking students, but otherwise did not indicate strong emphasis on students affecting teaching decisions.
126 school and told our staff about it, they, I mean, to think about going into some of the homes that our kids live in is a very scary thought -but more going to hook them one of my ESOL teachers, lowest kids so we can find what to build on for them and then progressively can get in his house and find out wha t it is he likes to do; you know, what are things that the family does that I could try to find books or try to find activities that can possibly get him interested. ( CT 5 ) Such actions recognized the powerful effect of the teacher on student learning. In holding students to high expectations, teachers took on an active problem posing role. Making teaching and management problematic forced the onus of responsibility for student learning clearly on the teachers. It was not their sole responsibility for teacher responsibility began to expand to team responsibility but clearly the responsibility for student learning belonged to teachers High ex pectations for students meant failure to meet them was unacceptable. Teachers celebrated their incremental successes, but kept pushing students to reach the expectations. Constant ovided a means for evaluating those efforts. The sense of urgency imposed on the school to meet AYP to avoid restructuring left no time to be wasted by excuses. Teachers e alw ays try to keep the focus on the kids and making sure the kids who are falling behind get extra help pretty quickly ( CT 1 ) To place this trust in teachers to make instructional decisions for students meant that there needed to be work done in how those d ecisions would be made. The culture
127 established by the principal and maintained by the rest of the leadership team involved strategically implementing systems of action and expanding responsibility within a culture steeped in accountability and structure. This was particularly driven by a reliance on data. Becoming Data Centered approach rested on the assumption that if instructional practices were effective, students would be l earning in line with the county and state expectations, and that learning would be demonstrated on assessments. This assumption, in part, enabled the administration to trust the teachers, for if they were effective with their decisions, it would be visible in their data. It was a two way proces s Trust enabled the teachers to take risks and problematize their teaching. Additionally, data centered teaching enabled students to be successful which in turn increased the trust the principal had in the teachers t o make those decisions. Risk taking was never separated from data. The influence of being a Response to Intervention (RtI) district pilot school helped to frame how teams and individual teachers used data. By examining data in teams and analyzing trends a cross students, teachers began using data to guide their instruction, snapshot of how this approach was implemented. So, as a second grade team, [our reading coach] would c all us together and she would say, kay, here is what we ve got W e would assess [the students] and then she would say, kay, this is what I think we have got O kay, what can we do to get these kids to achieve at above level basically. I f we re doing X and we need to be doing Y, how can we do that? ( CT 4 )
128 The teachers moved from using assessment data infrequently, haphazardly, and/or inconsistently to using data frequently and systematically. In addition, the approach encouraged and facilitated follow through. Faculty gathered data to be used For the RtI p rocess, that meant the team used data to identify where kids were falling behind and brainstorm possible interventions or shifts in instructional strategies. Teachers then implemented the strategies and collected more data for progress monitoring. As one p articipant stated, the process helped teachers approach data as a LTM 3 ) or in other words, o ne thing that RTI really taught us is that we need to have data. You know -no longer are teachers saying this isn t working (LTM P) All participants recognized the impact that data have on the school and on their approach to instruction even teachers who expressed that they had already been using data to drive their instruction. The comments below are representative of Where before I was like h maybe I ll try that. Maybe that will wor k. What do you think? [ said in a sing song way of speaking ] ( CT 4 ) I would break them down and do what I had to do. So [having data conversations] was beneficial to the point where the room with your administrator so it looks good and it feels good that he cares and we say that we care lik e you bounce ideas off of each other, but in the end, like I said, I probably have [been using data]. Obviously you look at your test scores and you and see what question number three was and reteach it or figure out why. CT 8 )
129 Relying on data to make instructional decisions additionally influenced the development of the teacher as key in student learning or to put it another way, asking questions around data pushed the widespread development of a powerful type of teaching where the teacher became instrumental in student success. Targeting Essential A reas with Resources School wide Using research indicating that early reading success is predictive of later achievement, the principal began to build strong primary teams, implement a clear emphasis on reading for all grades, and focus the majority of data analysis on reading for primary grade students. Additionally, first and second grade teams implemented the Walk to Instruction differentiated skill model. T his strong emphasis on reading for primary grades was viewed as intentional. main goal, one of the main goals [the principal] took from the district but kind of internalized it in our building is basically he wanted and still wants every third grade student to be at or above level entering the third grade, knowing that third grade is t he big FCAT year where they have to take all that. He wants every student at our school to be on or above leve l going into the third grade. I mean he read us some statistic about how if they enter the third grade on or above that their rate of success is b etter. So that was our goal. Get these kids caught up before they get to third grade. ( CT 4 ) The other big mind shift that changed was I was very proactive in what was happening in the primary grades. I knew that if we were going to solve some of our issue s in the intermediate grades with kids failing I had to cut the bleeding at the primary grade s You know, kids can no longer go to third grade below third level. There is no [way] teachers can recoup from that, and that was tough I wanted to build a momentum, a shift from primary to intermediate so kids would go to third grade at or above grade level. (LTM P) If we can take care of all of the phonics issues, because that seemed to be our biggest problem, even with some of our olde r kids if we can take care of that and really hit it hard it in the primary grades by the time they get to third grade really the hope is [that] by the time they get to second grade we can really start focusing on the comprehension and the fluency. So
130 really it is like taking those things and doing them very well as opposed to just doing a bunch of different things okay. ( LTM 4 ) Participants indicated that the effect of this strong focus on reading and on the primary grades was a noticeable strength fo r students who were at the school for multiple years. Third grade teachers reported that students were coming into third grade as better all around readers, although perhaps still struggling in some areas of phonics. When the school underwent a drastic cha nge in student population, participants reported that the differences in students who had grown with the school and those who were new were highly visible. Yet once again, there was no time to lament this fact. The school staff continued to examine the rea ding data and pose questions to try to pinpoint areas to improve. Creating Structures to Systematize Processes Transforming the school into a learning organization that had the capacity to improve student achievement involved structural, as well as cultura l, changes. Creating structures to systematize processes captures how structures were implemented to foster greater operational effectiveness. Creating structures was accomplished in three key ways: immediate and strategic action (ready, fire, aim); maximi zing school resources; and formalizing processes. Immediate and Strategic Action (Ready, Fire, Aim) Gateway innovation. In creating structures, faculty identified needs and immediately impl emented structures to address them. This was represented in the ways that district emphases and programs were interpreted by the principal and leadership team and implemented by teachers. At the core of immediate and strategic action was consistent attenti on to
131 what structures were working or not working and how they could be made better. Professional learning resources were often catalysts for the examination of existing structures. The principal offered the following regarding how the school a pproached st voices process, innovation relied on collective problem solving to identify problems and potential structural solutions. in power of the group, of reading a bo ok called [Annual Growth for All Students, Catch Up Growth for resources with the amount of minutes they have. So w e did read that but everything with our structures in place has been kind of from our own our own brainchild. (LTM P) The principal here is taking care not to attribute their changes to any one source or to discount what they have done themselves locally. Instead he acknowledges the role of learning resources in spurring or guiding their ideas always with the understanding that whatever they implemented was because of their context and strategically adapted to build their capacity for improvement. The quot e below regarding their RtI process is representative of this attention to structural capacity. And it just hit us huge that day like wow we have about three people [who understand RtI], [I mean] people know stuff, but three of us really know stuff and we need to build our capacity and our infrastructure to strengthen our LTM 2 ) innovations. It could be characterized school wide as : see a need, implement a structure to address it, see an issue in the structure, implement a change to address it. Similar to how pedagogy was changed to become more problem posing and responsive
132 to change school structures were treated with the same app roach. Evaluation of effectiveness was ongoing. There is suggestive evidence that the urgency with which the school began to operate forced this immediate way of work. As one participant CT 5 ). It is important to note that the immediate implementation of new programs was still strategic. Even with the immediate action that characterized change, new programs were not implemented arbitrarily. An informed leadership influenced how new programs were structured. This is best illustrated in the Walk to Instruction program. The program was initiated in stages b y one grade level at a time with careful attention to how the program would fit into existing initiatives. The participant below described this r ational There were a couple of other schools that decided to jump on board and do [Walk to Instruction] at the same time, but we just took one grade level [at a time] because we really wanted to focus and get it right and we were also in the middle of the R t I pilot program. So we were looking at that and saying ow can this work with R t I and how can this meet our kids needs ? a nd H ow can we do it effectively [and] efficiently, if we re talking about needing 14 people to run a 30 minute intervention ogistics Where are you going to do it? Who is going to do it? What are [we] going to use? That type of thing So we re like we need to just start with one grade. W hereas there were other schools that decide d h yeah, we re going to do it K 5 Well, it s a lot of work. And some schools have even retracted and [decided] not to do that K 5 anymore Because in theory if you get kids where they need to be before they g et to third grade, you don t need to be doing it K 5. You re going to fill those holes and fill those gaps before they get to third grade and you re not going to need it in the upper grades. Or if you do, it s such a small population that requires that int ense of intervention, you wouldn t ne ed to do the entire grade level. ( LTM 4 ) Immediate but strategic action is evident in such major structures as Response to Intervention, Professional Learning Communities, a transition class for struggling first and second graders, and Walk to Instruction. Strategic action to implement new ideas involved deliberate phased implementation as well as the strategic use of resources.
133 Strategically Using Resources R esources were strategically utilized for the benefit of stu dent learning. The eing creative because my resources are only dwindling... if I use t he resources I have and I just manipulate them (LTM P) Participan ts indicated that human and structural resources were strategically utilized at the school level to support capacity building. The first way that this was accomplished was by strategically using specialists in eing supported. The following quote captures the strategic use of human resources. And we give them a lot of support, you know with the ESOL program and the Title I programs and we try to make sure those teachers are always working with kids instead of yo u know doing I don t know clerical or administrative type of things ( CT 1 ) Additionally, te aching partners funded through Title I funds began being used s trategically based on data analysis of need This was another way that the school began moving from a lackadaisical approach to instruction to one that was intentional. I remember going back three, four, five years ago. I would have Title I come in my room. I would be like, ey, what s up. Nice to see. Hey, um, why don t you read with these guys today. P ull this group today. Alright cool. Let s talk for a little bit. Alright cool. Why don t you help me hand this out. Great. Alright leave And that is literally how we used to use our Title I resources because we didn t know any better. And now instead of attaching Title I and extra teaching partners to teachers during specific times, they re actually now really trying to attach title one to kids that really need them, and I think part of that is W alk to I nstruction and part of that is R t I hugel y su ccessful, hugely successful. ( CT 6 ) Further, as this participant introduced, when the school implemented their Walk to Instruction program to address the Tier 2 requirements of Response to Intervention, everyone was considered an instructional part of the school. Walk to Instruction used
134 data to cluster all students across a grade level into flexible reading groups. Teachers with a given skill expertise taught a group of students for thirty minutes in that targeted skill area. Implementing this structural i ntervention meant utilizing staff such as the media specialist, coaches, and even office staff for instruction with students. It also fostered the development of the team ethos in the school. They have a Walk t o [Instruction] program that they have initia ted the past several years in [ Gateway ] and the guidance counselor is involved in that and like the data prep clerk, she is involved with that and that is really nice to see. That the staff as a whole, including support personnel matter ( CT 7 ) Second gr ade had a W alk to Instruction, and it took a lot. [The principal] his theory was, you know, everybody can help. Put the most highly effective teachers with the kids that you know need the most, but if you have a child that is exceeding expectations it s okay for the libr arian to take those children. So we had [the] librarian and T itle I people and a lady in the office We have a lot of ha nds on deck during that time, I do have to say. We had a lot of hands on deck helping us to make that work It wasn t just the first grade teachers. We had a lot of support. We had a lot of people helping us out ( CT 4 ) By strategically utilizing all available personnel for instruction, Gateway was able to implement their structural innovation to offer targeted reading i nstruction to all students in grades one and two. Resources were also used strategically to maximize the professional expertise of utilized in Walk to Instruction. I t was also evident in actions such as relying on the district appointed specialists The school psychologist in particular, became an active member of the school based leadership team to help teachers understand the RtI process and also to provide her inte rvention expertise. She no longer felt like a district person on the periphery ; she felt valued as a member of the school and became a
135 valuable asset. This maximizing of her expertise to help build capacity is evident in her quote below. [The principal] la st year said he wanted me to go to PL And I sat in with him and an administrator on it because he wanted me to hear and understand [the process] so that I knew what was going on [It] was just a phenomenal idea. I mean that just really helped me to see if I m going to help change something I need to know really what s going on which helped the teachers to get to know me a little more and [they] respected the fact that I was in the room hearing what they had to do [Previously] they had a hard time wit h me coming in suggesting things when they felt like I had no clue what they were doing. So as I sat in these hour and half PLCs I got to hear them plan, I got to hear what was going on S o during that [time] is when I could slowly educate the teachers on R t I and then this year e a huge difference. Strategically capitalizing on her potential contributions enabled the school to engage further in structural and cultural development. The communal way of work was furthered while the faculty engaged in procedural and structural chang es. Local expertise was also utilized f or faculty professional development This was expressed most intensely by the assistant principal and the reading coach The assistant principal described a developing reliance on local expertise due to dwindling dist rict resources, such as money for substitutes for professional development workshops or observations at other schools; through this, a realization struck that they had experts on their campus. She described how she adapted the structure of the school sched ule to accommodate for local professional development opportunities. And that s why when I set the schedule up, I try to stagger some of the reading blocks and put some of the -like I purposely put some of the veteran teachers into two different time fr ames and split the new ones because I want the new ones to be able to -and I purposely may put their music right during the veteran teacher s reading block. Because then I know at least once a week for 40 minutes she can go down to that other teacher s r oom and watch what is going on. ( LTM 4 )
136 A similar intention was echoed by the reading coach. Within her description of local professional development, she additionally highlighted how the principal was active part of the professional development process. Again that s been evolving the last couple years with the different staff development that the teachers get on their own, some teachers are more likely to go out and get more training, some teachers teach S ummer C amp, and then so other teachers hear about the different things that they re doing and they re like h I want to go watch what she s doing! O r sometimes that will even come from us or my administrator [The principal] will say I want this first grade teacher to go watch something that the second grade teacher s doing because I ve seen it. So set that up for her So it could start from many different ways. B ut yeah we do that a lot. I ve covered classes, we ll get subs, sometimes our T itle I partners will cover the classes, sometimes we try to sc hedule it when maybe one teacher s kids are at PE and another teacher s teaching her reading block. They also have their music and art so we try to do that many different ways. ( LTM 3 ) r learning opportunities was emphasized most greatly in the primary grades. This emphasis reading instruction for the Additionally, i nnovating and strategically utilizing resources relied on formal processes to be effective School level leaders developed formal systems of operation to monitor new structures and support Formalizing Processes Formalizing meant that operations within the school were crafted into defined structures and expectations. Processes became formalized with an emphasis on purpose and accountability. As the following two year veteran of the school indicated, the formalized processes establi shed efficient systems of operation. Last year was very structured. [The principal] kept everything on a very structured path. So, [that] made things go smoothly most of the time. ( CT 9 )
137 Leadership team meetings, grade level team leader meetings, faculty meetings, and professional learning communities were engaged in each month. Each meeting had between the principal and leadership team occurred weekly to provide status reports game [plan], or way of work for that week (LTM P) The principal additionally met with the grade level team leaders once a month to disseminate district information. Professional Learning Community meetings [enable] grade levels [to] collaborate or talk about student achievement, talk about behavior, [and] talk about the RtI process (LTM P) The purpose of the monthly staff meeting di My staff meeting is my vehicle or my method to talk to the staff to find out what s happening. It s kind of my cheerleading time that I have to kind of pump my staff up. I don t usually use it for more informational [type of things] or to disseminate information I t s just kind of a how the state of the union is doing in regard to what we can do [and] some of the great things that are happening I t s mo re a kind of touchy good feeling kind of meeting because that s really the only time I have with my staff is once a month that I have them as a captive audience S o I tend not to use that precious forty five minutes to disseminate information that could b e done at [the] team leaders [meeting] It s kind of my time to celebrate [and] we talk about all the good things that are happening and what we re doing differently W e highlight teachers t hat are doing some great things. (LTM P) Systematizing team structures, procedures, and meetings helped to move the found in how self contained special education teachers changed their process for mainstreaming students into gene ral education classes. This action became less
138 personally controlled and more communally systematized. The activity became part of a larger system of operation. The participant quote below highlights this change. When it was just between me and the teach ers and I could go to them and right now they want us to go through a series of different meetings to discuss th CT 9 ) the school based leadership team considered the needs of a given student reinforced strengthened th e voices. No longer were individual teachers on their own making decisions but it became a larger team phenomenon. Responsibility was expanded beyond two people. Having stakeholders at the table as part of a systematized process foste red coherence in process implementation It also increased broader stakeholder knowledge of what was happening and provided a means for stakeholders to influence what would happen A teacher participant shared the following related to the consequences of f ormalizing the intervention process into a consistent and team oriented approach struggling students. I found it to be effective to have the R t I team look at the data and help me to arra nge groups based on like needs and track their progress with data. I also liked that it was more than just me taking CT 6 ) more formalized, t here was a noticeable shift in responsibilities. F or at least one teacher who self identified as a more laid back teacher and for teachers identified by peers as shift reportedly created resistance. They perc eived that
139 the movement to formal structures intensified their workload. CT 8 ) as one participant put it. H owever t his shift was intentional on the part of the principal as he attempted to focus the sch instruction and achievement. When the school changed the RtI structure, he cancelled extraneous committees that met during working hours (such as the Hospitality Committee), made what was important for kids a priority (LTM P) The strategic structures that were put in place were intended to strengthen teachers abilities to help students. These actions were in sharp contrast to what the faculty was accustomed to with the previous administrations The result of creating structu res to systemize processes was that it created e fficient systems of operation This enabled greater streamlining of timelines and tasks, as well coherence among and within programs. Because structures were implemented that enabled a common understanding of structures were implemented that aligned with current work. Creating strategic structures by implementing purposeful meetings and making informed implementation decisions created the structural capacity necessary t o support the implementation of external initiatives. It also provided space for the improvement of instructional practice. Negotiating External Initiatives Gateway did not operate separately from a larger educational system T hey had external initiatives that they were responsible for implementing. P articipants described the implementation of external initiatives not in terms of direct application taking an initiative and just doing it but rather they described implementation in terms of negotiation. Th is meant that they interpreted each external initiative for their internal context. At the same time, their developing understanding of their internal needs was
140 actively influenced by each initiative. A consistent part of the negotiation was questioning h o w the initiative would fit into what was already being done and how what was already being done could be improved by the initiative. Participants described five main external initiatives as significant: District instructional mandates, Reading First, Respo nse to Intervention, Professional Learning Communities, and a university partnership graduate program. This section details how school leaders engaging in and encouraging professional development influenced the implementation of these external initiatives Active and communal learning is at the core of negotiating external initiatives. Through this process, school administration and faculty were able to utilize these initiatives to meet their needs and to restructure their work. As was introduced in Chapte r 4, external reforms were happening with the previous administration. For example, faculty teams were doing PLCs, they were implementing Reading First conditions they were collecting district assessment data, and they were following the pacing guide. But difference; the level of implementation was superficial or sporadic across teachers. Without obvious care or deep understanding demonstrated by the formal leadership, the structural initi merely maintained its status quo with extra responsibilities. The learning and meaning of the initiative s were absent. For example, an instructional coach illustrated how the distr ict mandate of P rofessional Learning Community meetings was first implemented at the school.
141 administrator, almost a scheduled team meeting. An d then I remember the principal giving beginning they were being told what to talk about because it was new And the teachers I want to say they were comfortable with that at first because LTM 3 ) While documenting PLC activity was a way to hold the teams accountable for discussing student progress, it was accountability without collective understanding of the PLC purpose. W ith the entrance of the new principal and the beginning of a university partner graduate program in teacher leadership, the externally mandated reforms got a new spin. The structures were treated differently because of a commitment to professional learning by the school leadership. Four teachers, an instructional coach, and the principal engaged in the online graduate program. As a result, the leadership team was able to conceptualize PLCs, professional development, and teaching practices in new ways. Professional learning was shared with team members and this affected how the school negotiated the external initiative. Leadershi p e ngaging in and sharing p structures and organizational culture. T his professional development led to an expanded understanding of school change and student learning The following quote s exemp lify how the administration and faculty negotiated external initiative s by being active learners with the faculty I think that [moving from a guessing game to progress monitoring] is probably just a movement in, you know, a new way of thinking, not neces sarily the university way of thinking, but just new information that we learned [related to] how to make decisions. Especially when we took the data driven decision making class [in our graduate program], I mean, we
142 started making decisions [based] on dat a before this but that really kicked it into high gear. And because our principal was in the program with us, I think that is why a lot of these things started to happen. I think if it would have just been five teachers, it might not have evolved as quickl y, but because he was there, that he could make those decisions for our school, I think that is the primary reason why. Plus we were also one of the pilot schools from the RtI process, so we had to have something as proof for why we were doing things with those kids that needed that extra help. Especially with [the new principal] being in on it because at every meeting, and at every single talked about it. With any staff meeting we had or PLC or anything like that, it would always come up. ( CT 5 ) The other thing that was huge has been the [university] wo rk that we've been working with A lot of the things that we're putting in place, this whole empowering teachers [for example] ly firm believer of empowering teachers. A lot of these teachers have the answers to our problems and by empowering them and giving them the opportunity to have their voice or the [un iversity program] right now So the classes that we've been working with at the [university] and learning here has been crucial. You know the backwards design, the data driven decision making, the inquiry, the funds of knowledge .. So I mean all those clas ses have been have had direct impact on our way of thinking. My reading coach was also getting her masters, my ESOL teacher was getting her Ed.S too. So those are three crucial people on my leadership team that were experiencing that kind of brain stimula tion. Being such active voice s on our leadership team and having that input, that was huge. (LTM P) When we started to become a Re ading First school, that s when our way of work changed CT 4 ). But, there is evidence that the full potential of Reading First for instructional improvement o professional learning. A member of the leadership team highlighted this in her discussion of how the school changed. Although she stated that the former principal supported Reading First, she emphasized the impact that the new principal had on profession al development. We had a different principal back then when we first became Reading First so you know she was a big supporter of that but then I would say even
143 been a big advocate for p rofessional development and he understands how another big thing you know him supporting what [the reading coach is] giving the teachers for professional development. ( LTM 3 ) Additionally, Response to Intervention (RtI) brought with it a heavy reliance on data for progress monitoring students throughout their interventions. The use of data became something mor e than just this process it became vital to how the school made decisions in all areas. The principal and leadership took advantage of the externally imposed emphasis on data and wove it into the culture of the school. Formal inquiry promoted by the schoo reinforced this use of data to drive decisions. Previously, data was something collected but not necessarily analyzed. As represented in the quote below, taking advantage of the PLCs and having dat a specific meetings enabled stronger conversations about practice. Well, the process has changed with the RtI, so it is a little bit different now because before it might be just a group of children where we used data, but but now with the Response to Intervention coming up with a team approach with everybody working together [to LTM 1 ) A district assigned RtI faci litator worked with the leadership team to help them engage that requires teachers to deeply investigate student learning and alter their instruction or environment to mee prior understanding of interventions, which were considered a minor detail in getting to the ultimate psychological and academic testing for special education eligibility.
144 [RtI] makes people focus on the data. Like [this child is] an outlier because student or somebody that is kind of off or [they ] might be having concerns with, but this kid is sticking out and above everybody else. And the team [knows who he is].Basically you can say a name and the team knows who that kid is, because they have all at some point in time touched him. And if they tou that room then the quickest and easiest thing that we can do is change his classroom for Walk to [Instruction] to see if that change in environment helps him. [We can] see if he is a kid tha t needs to be moved around. Or classroom. ( LTM 4 ) The shifted understanding of instructional interventions led to structural changes in PLCs. This was also directly affected by the sc LTM 4 ). Not only did the leadership translate external initiatives based on their growing understanding of the initiatives and teacher lead ership practices, they utilized available resources such as their early release days, their peers, their human resources, and their data in order to effectively implement external mandates to address their needs. For example, the district wanted staggered scheduling within teachers daily schedules so LTM 3 ) across grade levels. T he school then used this staggered schedule for their own purposes for enabling peer observation Negotiating external mand active learning by both informal and formal school leaders. Negotiating the initiatives for their needs enabled the school to adapt their structures and mold new ways of thinking among the faculty. In short, nego tiating external mandates meant making the external relevant for internal change.
145 Conclusion Gateway engaged themselves in a transformation. It was a transformation of culture and structure T eachers adopted new levels of responsibility ; they redefined wh at teaching and learning meant to them and they became responsible for students outside of their individual classrooms. They also became accountable to one another for continuing to improve their instructional practice and student learning. Gateway beca me a team that positioned the students and the school above all else This was not an easy transformation and not every parti cipant agreed with every change. Like any team, there were ranges of skills, opinions, and effectiveness. There were still issues tha t they were working to improve, such as communication or school wide student behavior during unstructured times. The key was that the re were more successes than not and more inquiry into those issues than ever before. Through five concurrent yet inter activ e processes, the conditions were created for this transformation. The following briefly summarizes those processes. T AKING IMMEDIATE ACTI ON D eveloping the capacity for change was initiated by a new principal taking immediate action to embed himself in the life of the school and establish motivation to improve together. V ALUING AND EMPOWERIN G TEACHERS VOICES value d and empowered through explicit solicitation for input and the establishment of structures to support such involvement. C HANGING PEDAGOGY Pedagogy was altered as data and problem posing became central to acting on high expectations for students. C REATING STRUCTURES F OR SYSTEMATIZING PRO CESSES S tructures were developed by continuously yet strategically innovating and maxi mizing resources. N EGOTIATING EXTERNAL INITIATIVES Constant in all changes was a negotiation of external initiatives to meet internal needs by engaging in constant learni ng.
146 These five processes strengthened the capacity of the school to meet their stude collective responsibility data, and continuous innovation based in high expectations took root in the school, th ey moved themselves from a school with limited capacity to positively affect student achieve ment to one with high capacity for meeting changing demands and needs. The effect of their capacity development was evident in student achievement as all student sub groups improved to meet Adequate Yearly Progress.
147 CHAPTER 6 DISCUSSION The pur pose of this study was to create a grounded theory of school reform built from the experiences of one school. Gateway Elementary School provided an extreme case (Patton, 2002 ) of a high poverty school that successfully built capacity and transformed school culture and student achievement. Through rich description of the their reform. This chapter explores the substantive theory developed from that examination and connects i t to the literature presented in Chapter 2. Review of the Study revealed three key issues in the educational literature. One, there is a persistent and significant gap in the a chievement of students in high poverty and low poverty schools. Students in high poverty schools, the majority of whom are African American and Hispanic, are not achieving success on measures of instruction at the same rates as their low poverty or White c ounterparts. Retention rates, graduation rates, and standardized test scores demonstrate a vicious cycle of reproduction by race and economics (Haycock, 2001; Kozol, 1992; NCES, 2007, 2008; Rothstein, 2007). Despite decades of reform efforts purporting to address this issue, little has changed for the better in the equitable education of students. In fact, many scholars argue that educational opportunities have grown even more inequitable for historically marginalized students (Ravitch, 2010). The second k ey issue is the discrepancy in the school level characteristics of high performing and low performing schools. Internal problems affecting low performing, high
148 poverty schools include hi gh teacher and administrator turnover low faculty and student morale ineffective and inefficient systems of operation and often a culture of excuses (Battistich, Solomon, Kim, Watson, & Schaps, 1995; Clotfelter Ladd, Vigdor, & Wheeler, 2006; Fullan, 2007 ; Ingersoll, 2004) Such an environment is not conducive to providing a rigorous education based in high expectations for student learning. Additionally, schools with these characteristics are not well positioned to adapt neither to changes in the policy context of our publ ic education system nor to changes in the student population of the United States. Therefore, low performing, high poverty, minority majority schools with unhealthy systems of operation are at a distinct disadvantage when charged with implementing instruct ional reforms. The third key issue is that we actually know a great deal about the characteristics of high performing high poverty schools those schools where students achieve and maintain learning expectations as typically demonstrated by standardized testing but we do not know as much about how they effectively develop those characteristics. C haracteristics include high student expectations, positive relations hips, strong instructional foci collaborative decision making, and systematic assessment and use of data to drive instruction (Bryk, Sebring, Allensworth, Luppescu, & Easton, 2010 ; Elmore, 2004; Kannapel & Clements, 2005 ) Research has indicated that these characteristics are part of a larger school organization, one that involves the capacity of work to ebb and flow as demands change. A review of the literature in Chapter 2 revealed five positively affect student achievement school wide : teacher instructional practice, teacher learning and leadership, school climate and professional community, school structures, and principal leadership. The
149 issue with the extant research in school capacity, however, is that there is limited research related to how schools develop capacity. We know more about what scho ols look like when they have this capacity and less about how to help schools develop this capacity. Additionally, there is little research that richly describes whole school contextual conditions prior to a reform. Driven by these three issues, I designe d the study to delve into the complexity of a single high participated in the process. This study contributes to our understanding of whole school change by offering a theory of capacity bu ilding in a high poverty, low achieving school that is validated by demonstrated student achievement. For this constructionist oriented study, I conducted interviews with members of the kindergarten through fifth grade faculty and administration, as wel l as one district specialist assigned to the school for the past six years I additionally reviewed the constructionist grounded theory design of the study dictated very broa d research questions that would provide ample opportunity for a substantive theory of whole school change to emerge from the data. This approach is in contrast to a design that might have intentionally looked for specific areas of change from the outset, s omething common to reform research (For example, see Anderson & Kumari, 2009 ; Copland, 2003; Hollins, Gunter, & Thomson, 2006; Leithwood and Jantzi, 2000 2003 ; Malen & Rice, 2004 ; Mulford and Silins, 2003 ). Because this was a grounded theory study, it was emerged in the data. To understand how this high poverty, chronically underachieving
150 What are the ch anges that this school experienced, if any? 2) How did this school experience the changes? and 3) Why did this school engage in the changes that it did? To address these questions, I engaged in constant iterative analysis of the interview data during data collection and used that analysis to guide each subsequent interview. This process of theoretical sampling allowed me to explore themes as they emerged by intentionally seeking data from new participants that would confirm, refine, or refute themes as data collection progressed. Finally, summaries of the findings were presented to participants for review, as well as to a fifteenth school faculty member who was not interviewed. The result was a grounded theory that offers an explanation of the school reform process in this school. Discussion of Findings The explanatory theory generated from this study reaffirms the argument that internal school reform is ultimately about capacity building. Findings indicated that the school began as an organization with limi ted capacity to positively affect student learning. The school then strengthened its capacity to respond to external policies and student needs. They strengthened their school by affecting each area of capacity identified by the literature to date: school climate and professional community, teacher learning and leadership, school structures, and principal leadership (see Figure 2 1 for the graphic of internal capacity derived from the literature). Through intentional actions he school, their reform efforts ultimately affected instructional practice, which in turn affected student achievement The findings revealed five interlinking processes, each made up of clusters of actions that had effects on multiple elements of capacity Table 6 1 presents a summary of these processes and
151 actions as described in Chapter 5. Figure 5 1 presented the dynamics of those processes as the school moved from low to high capacity. Three theoretical assertions drawn from this analysis follow below The assertions both support and expand the existing literature in school change. Table 6 1. Summary of findings Process Actions of the Process Principal taking immediate action Mobilizing leaders Becoming instructionally embedded Immediately attending to teachers to build trust Pulling back the curtain to reveal urgency and extend invitation Soliciting teacher input Invoking elements of team strength Encouraging independent problem solving Changing pedagogy Aligning school practices with district expectations Holding high expectations and acting accordingly Becoming data centered Targeting essential areas with resources school wide Creating structures to systematize processes Acting immediately and strategically Strategically using resources Formalizing processes Negotiating external initiatives Leadership engaging in and encouraging professional development T heoretical Assertion 1: Building Capacity in a School is a Complex Interplay of Actions that Are Influenced by Contextual Conditions. There is no prescription for reform. What is offered by this study is an explanatory theory of how a school can strengthen its capacity to achieve cultura l transformation and student achievement. Significant to this theory, however, is that contextual
152 conditions matter. Several contextual conditions influenced how and why the school transformed as it did, when it did. Three of the conditions stand out as pa rticularly influential. First, the presence of a group of strong veteran teachers who knew they could do better as a school readied the context for accepting the necessity of change. Second, a new principal was assigned to the school at the same time that the achievement situation was at its worst. The new principal was able to use that situation to bind the faculty in a common goal. Third, the implementation of two related initiatives, Response to Intervention and a university partnership, influenced the a pproach to change and instruction. In tandem, these two initiatives both aided transformation and their implementation was affected by the broader changes within the school. It cannot be known whether or how the school would have re formed without these co nditions. However, the history of the school as presented in Chapter 4, provides strong evidence that transformation may not have happened at all. While these factors created a context for how and why reform progressed as it did, by themselves they would n ot have been enough to engage such drastic change. They provided the backdrop, but not the actions. Although one participant likened their transformation to 3), their transformation was more than just the sum of its parts. Altho ugh context matter s it is important to remember that it merely provide s or constrain s opportunity. It is up to the actors to mold that opportunity. T was how the actors molded that opportun ity As presented in Chapter 2, rich study of whole school pre change conditions is lacking especially in regards to successful change in achievement. When it is examined, findings indicate that capacity rarely improves when
153 it is not already strong from t he outset. The current research suggests that contextual conditions play a critical role in improvement efforts, and that the interplay of contextual conditions is so complex that it must be considered when attempting reform. Theoretical Assertion 2: Capac ity Building I Actions; Because t hose Actions are a Necessary but Not Sufficient Condition for C hange, Change Should Be Informed by Collective Professional Development in Capacity Building. The changes in this school were sparked by the entrance of a new principal. All participants, without prompting, linked the beginning of their transformation to this event, dy. The principal was not the source of change, but he was the catalyst for it. The actions of the principal had the power to maintain the status quo or disrupt it. In this study, the principal intentionally chose to disrupt it. Enacting power in that way had meaningful school employed most all of the same teachers who as a group had previously been unable to meet the needs of the students. Other work has shown similar find ings related to the key role of the principal in school improvement and the difference that initial & Youngs, 2000; Scribner, Hager, & Warne, 2002). While essential to the process of transform ation, these initial actions did not stand alone but rather influenced and interacted with the other elements to strengthen capacity. By p osition ing himself as a learner the principal positioned himself with the faculty in a unique and powerf ul way. The principal did not have all of the answers for examine and change their work. This finding supports leadership research that in recent
154 years has moved away fro moved to the idea of transformative leadership for capacity building. This study supports capacity building as a collective effort unleashed by the principal and advanced by the faculty The findings demonstrate that because the impact of the principal can be so great, professional development for the principal can have a significant effect on the direction of school change. In the case of this school, because the principal is part of the larger system of the school, all potential impact of his professional development was enhanced by a critical mass of influential faculty who were engaged with him in a university partner graduate program focused on school improvement, master teaching, and teacher leade had marked impact on his decisions, and interviews with other participants revealed that the communal in volvement resulted in frequent utilization of program learning in school and team decisions. The shared professional development by this critical mass of administration and faculty enabled stronger and quicker adoption of shared vision than perhaps could h ave occurred otherwise. It also created an authentic model for continuous learning. Theoretical Assertion 3: The Potential Effects of External Policies and Intended Supports A As evidenced in C hapter 2, the literature abounds with arguments asserting the need for internal capacity building before external efforts will be effective at altering the work of schools. These arguments are built solidly on a history of failed reform efforts where new initiatives are superficially implemented over existing work (Baldridge, 1983).
155 This study further supports this literature and also extends our understanding of internal change by examining a school operating in our current wave of policy initiatives. Through in de the findings demonstrated differential effects of the same external policies. In other words, many of the same externally derived initiatives were in place prior to transformation and yet the school maintained a low level of capacity that stagnated its ability to positively affect student achievement. It was not until the internal capacity was strengthened that the outside world could contribute to their improvement efforts. Perhaps the greatest example of this was external versus internal accountability initiatives. A low school ranking based on achievement testing was not sufficient for change; it was not sufficient for motivation, and did not create conditions for improving practice. Pairing the low ranking with the conditions for collegial learning and the core work of the school to change. peer pressure. As part of this internal accountability strategy, outcome data are used causal relationships between particular instructional actions and specific student engagement and learning This is exactly what learners created conditions of positive pressure, collect ive responsibility, and continuous problem posing that enabled them to strengthen their teaching. The literature has demonstrated that high performing schools rely on data to guide
156 instruction. This study demonstrates how they can develop that ability and addresses calls in the literature for more investigation into how internal accountability is developed in challenging school contexts (Firestone and Shipps, 2005). Implications Based on analysis of the findings and the assertions above, this study suggests several implications for future research, educational policy, teacher education and professional development. For Future Research This study fills a gap in the literature by describing and explaining how a chronically underachieving high poverty school su ccessfully transformed as measured by improved student achievement. It offers insight into how this can be accomplished in a limited amount of time with the same group of teachers who as a group had previously cademic needs. It offer s rich description from the perspectives of participants that led to an explanatory theory of school reform. There is a wealth of information to be learned from this school regarding how participants constructed their changes. That s aid, it is a single school case study. Just as there was much to learn from this particular school, there is much to learn from looking across several schools. Future research should explore successful internal reform in several similar schools. Future research should also examine transformation over time. Sustaining change is always an issue in a complex organizational setting. So many factors can affect how work proceeds or recedes. For example, this study demonstrated that capacity building relies on the principal to provide guidance and to create the formal organizational support structures necessary for action. How do transformed schools sustain their work
157 when a new principal enters? Additionally, the school in this study was at the beginning of the ir transformed work. How do such schools respond when they experience a sudden change in student population? How do they continue to meld their work with changing policy initiatives? Longitudinal study of recently reformed schools would provide insight int o such questions. This study expands our current conceptions of school change that are focused on for its focus on empowerment and emphasis on the importance of breaki ng the isolation Hammond, 1993; Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2009 ; Lieberman & Miller, 2004 ). The majority of this literature however is focused on individual teachers or teams of teachers within a school and operates on the assumption that the influence will spread. The theoretical assertion described here calls into question the ability of that limited focus to affect broad change on a school wide level. This is not to discount the power of teacher leader work, but rather I am arguing the opposite. It is so powerful that to maximize its effect, it must be supported and fostered by school administration. I presented evidence in Chapter 2 regarding the difficulty inherent in changing individual teaching beliefs and practice and how this d ifficulty is magnified when attempting to spread change across teachers. This study supports those findings and adds evidence that reform efforts targeted simultaneously at teachers and leaders hold promise for developing whole school capacity. The study s involvement in structured professional development with members of the faculty. Additionally, a key factor was that this professional development was focused on teacher leadership and school improvement which scaff olded the development of a
158 shared vision and shared understanding of change. This collective professional development and growth helped the school transform quickly and pervasively. Future research should explore the effect of teacher leadership work schoo l wide, with engagement with teachers affects the outcomes. Finally, these teachers were described as having untapped potential that was released by the right kind of leadership at the right time. The rapidity of transformation for student success leads to a question of how potential can be identified and harnessed in similar underachieving schools How many low performing, high poverty schools have core groups of teachers whose potential is obstructed by contextual conditions? Are we overlooking this resource in school reform? Is there a way to identify that potential and use it to build capacity? Teacher leadership research is built on the assumption that there is a sleeping giant of teachers whose ex pertise and motivation to change is just waiting to be awakened (Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2009). Exploring this connection further in studies of whole school reform could offer important insight regarding how to utilize this inherent resource in high poverty schools. For Teacher Education And Professional Development Although this study did not focus on the role of novice teachers in school improvement, there are key implications for teacher education, particularly surrounding the importance of teacher leaders hip. As Darling Hammond, Bullmaster, and Cobb (1995) stated: fuller professional role enables them to learn and lead continuously as they inquire together into ever more responsive practice. This professional conception of teaching relies on g reater knowledge for teachers as the basis for responsible decision making and is thus related to
159 teachers' preservice and in service learning opportunities as well as the kinds of tasks they engage (p. 91) Findings from this study indicated the developme nt of a habit of problem posing linked to data. Data were shared and analyzed so that the community of teachers could engage in problem solving around pedagogical issues Data drove all school and pedagogical decisions. Given the significance of this type of stance to student achievement and the ability to engage with peers in a community, preservice teachers should be prepared for such work. Developing such a stance during their preparation would greatly increase the likelihood of immediate application in their beginning teaching context. It would prime them for engaging in such work themselves and with peers. Novice teachers are placed disproportionately in high poverty, low performing schools. Their ability to be agents of change for their school and thei r students holds significant promise for aiding larger internal school improvement efforts. Additionally, the capacity of high poverty, low performing schools would be enhanced by targeted shared professional development for teachers and their principals surrounding capacity. New conceptions of teachers as knowledge generators and active decision makers position teachers as essential to school operations. The critical role that teachers play must go beyond the individual decisions they make in their own c lassrooms. As such, engaging with their principal in professional development surrounding school change, school community, capacity, and teacher leadership could quicken the rate of, and deepen the meaning of, change within a school. The ideas related to c apacity building should not be reserved for administration alone.
160 For Education Policy Change in this school was deliberate and led by those within the school. External regulation provided ultimate goals and pedagogical direction, but it was the condition s that the faculty created that enabled them to internalize that regulation for improved student achievement. This finding has great implication for education policy. Education policy that assumes teacher motivation to be at the core of failing schools is misguided. As Payne (2008) describe d, our current standards based movement relies on holding schools and teachers accountable for student achievement. It is driven by the assumption that teachers can do better and that the application of pressure will mot ivate them to do so. Unfortunately, r esearch on the effects of government based accountability policies have shown that they have had unclear or, at best, small effects on the achievement gap (Harris & Herrington, 2006). Such policies also often undercut m orale which negates whatever extrinsic motivation the policy might have initially spurred (Finnigan & Gross, 2006). The current study provides insight into this by demonstrating that it is not lack of teacher motivation to improve that stands in the way of student achievement, but rather lack of guidance regarding how to improve. Despite accountability policies designed to hold schools to high standards, t he teachers in this school were not able to move forward without local administrative direction. The findings imply that school grades or merit pay do not inherently result in generation of knowledge related to better instructional practice T eachers need an administration that can provide internal p ositive pressure, cultivate collective responsibility, and help all teachers in the school become problem posers so that they can learn how to continuously innovate their instructional practice. Districts should be charged with placing transformative princ ipals within school s needing to strengthen
161 capacity Without such internal consideration, high poverty, underachieving schools are unlikely to improve pervasively Conclusion This study contributes to the knowledge base regarding effective school reform i n high poverty, underachieving schools. The findings of the study demonstrated that spurred by a new principal, the faculty of the school engaged in internal changes that develop ed the capacity to respond to the demands of their high needs student population. The explanatory theory generated by this single school case study offers insight into school capacity building and expands our knowledge regarding how a school cultivates cap acity in our current policy context.
162 APPENDIX A GATEWAY AND PARTICIPANT DEMOGRAHICS Table A 1. Achievement data by entire school School Year AYP? Grade % Meeting High Standards in Reading % Meeting High Standards in Math % Meeting High Standards in Writing % Meeting High Standards in Science % Making Learning Gains in Reading % Making Learning Gains in Math % of Lowest 25% Making Learning Gains in Reading % of Lowest 25% Making Learning Gains in Math 2008 09 Y A 64 69 96 34 67 69 74 68 2007 08 N C 56 58 86 27 57 58 58 61 2006 07 N B 64 55 81 29 77 58 80 68 2005 06 N C 63 60 56 55 61 63 2004 05 Pro visional A 63 66 78 69 78 70 2003 04 Y B 61 56 83 64 72 57 2002 03 N C 61 45 82 64 61 64 2001 02 B 66 54 80 68 57 68 2000 01 C 1999 00 A 1998 99 D Source : Florida Department of Education School Accountability Reports database *AYP criteria increased in 2005
163 Table A 2. Student demographic and attendance data % Female % Male % Hispanic % White % Black % Asian % Multi racial % Am. Indian % SWD % Gifted % ELL % F/R Total students % Absent 21+ Days 2008 09 51 49 35 32 22 4 7 0 16 2 31 80 597 31 2007 08 50 50 38 31 21 5 6 0 17 1 34 71 537 22 2006 07 48 53 34 33 24 4 5 0 16 1 26 72 535 24 2005 06 45 55 30 36 25 3 7 0 18 1 21 71 558 20 2004 05 47 53 24 44 24 4 5 0 15 1 20 73 555 23 2003 04 46 54 18 51 22 1 6 1 17 2 9 66 566 8 2002 03 45 55 9 58 28 1 4 0 19 2 1 65 456 5 Source: Florida Department of Education Division of Accountability, Research and Measurement Database
164 Table A 3. Teacher education and experience % Bachelors Degree % Masters Degree % Spec. Degree % Doc. Degree Avg Yrs Tching Exp 2008 09 81.4 18.6 0 0 10 .0 2007 08 87.8 12.2 0 0 11.2 2006 07 82.9 17.1 0 0 11.7 2005 06 83.3 16.7 0 0 10.6 2004 05 86.1 13.9 0 0 10.4 2003 04 87.5 12.5 0 0 10.6 2002 03 85.2 14.8 0 0 11.5 Source : Florida Department of Education Division of Accountability, Research and Measurement Database
165 Tabl e A 4. Staff movement by year Staff type Total number Number newly hired School % of new staff Lost Gained New positions added Turnover 2008 09 Instructional Staff 45 10 22.2 8 10 2 17.77% School Based Administrators 2 0 0 0 0 0 0% Total 47 10 21.3 2007 08 Instructional Staff 43 3 7 3 3 0 6.97% School Based Administrators 2 0 0 0 0 0 0% Total 45 3 6.7 2006 07 Instructional Staff 43 7 16.3 3 7 4 6.97% School Based Administrators 2 1 50 1 1 0 50% Total 45 8 17.8 2005 06 Instructional Staff 39 4 10.3 4 4 0 10.25% School Based Administrators 2 0 0 0 0 0 0% Total 41 4 9.8 2004 05 Instructional Staff 39 10 25.6 7 10 3 17.94% School Based Administrators 2 0 0 0 0 0 0% Total 41 10 24.4 2003 04 Instructional Staff 36 9 25 3 9 6 8.33% School Based Administrators 2 1 50 0 1 1 0% Total 38 10 26.3 2002 03 Instructional Staff 30 2 6.7 School Based Administrators 1 0 0 Total 31 2 6.5 Source: Florida Department of Education Division of Accountability, Research and Measurement Database
166 APPENDIX B INTERVIEW PROTOCOL Interview questions will be flexible and emerging throughout the study. The following are the initial questions that will be asked of participants. 1. get your sense of the s chool today and as we talk you can help me understand if the way you are describing the school today is similar or different from the way things and then if there are others y ou think are important in understanding your school, you can add. a. How would you describe curriculum and teaching in your school? i. How is this similar to or different from the way things were a few years ago? [Probe for specific examples] b. How would you desc ribe the structure and organization of the school? i. How is this similar to or different from the way things were a few years ago? [Probe for specific examples] c. How would you describe the attitudes, beliefs, or dispositions of school personnel? i. How is this similar or different from the way things were a few years ago? [Probe for specific examples] d. In your view, do faculty in general have a common perspective about the things you just told me or are there individuals or groups who think differently? [Probe fo r examples, assuring the participant that she/he need not name individuals]. e. Is there anything else that you think is important for me to know about how your school is today and what it was like a few years ago? Probe for specific examples. 2. [If changes w ere described] Why do you think these changes have occurred? Probe for: a. What programs or policies have been influential? (and how) [Probe for specific examples] b. What supports have been influential? (and how) [Probe for specific examples] c. What people have been influential? [Probe for specific actions taken by these individuals] d. Are there other factors that help explain why changes occurred in your school? If so, what are they?
167 3. Were there any changes that have been attempted or initiated over the past few a. If so, What do you think explains why these changes did not occur or were not sustained? That is, what programs, policies, or other factors seem ed to constrain change? [Probe for specific examples] 4. Were there any changes in the school [implemented or not] that caused concern for a sub group of the personnel? a. If so, what were these changes? Why were people concerned? What happened? [probe for spe cifics] 5. How would you describe your role(s) within the school? [Probe for any role descriptions beyond that of teacher or principal] a. Have you seen any changes to your role(s) over the past few years? [probe for specific examples] If so, to what do you att ribute this change? 6. a. so, to what do you attribute this change? b. Without naming the teacher, provide a descripti on of one teacher who you think is a clear example of the typical role teachers play at your school. c. Without naming the teacher, provide a description of one or two teachers who you believe define their role within the school differently than the teacher y ou just described. 7. a. Have you seen any changes in administrator roles the past few years? If so, to what do you attribute this change? 8. Who else could tell me about ____? 9. Who is someone in the school who has a different perspective about the school and/or change in the school than you do and who you believe might be open to talking with me? 10. What school related documents could tell me more information about ____?
168 APPENDIX C REFLEXIVITY STATEMENT AND LOG Reflexivity Statement As previously stated, my own identity is not absent from my research. In order to monitor its influence in my study and to aid reader understanding of how my self has impacted my decisions and conclusions, I will explore how my identity intersects with this research. Upon critically thinking about my past experiences and my values, it seems that dly color my interpretations and affect my decisions. These include 1) being a former teacher in the current accountability environment 2) being interested in high needs school reform because of that experience and my more recent higher education learning and 3) working closely with and for the university partner of the case study school. My experiences teaching in a high poverty school during the current accountability wave affects my perspectives of school reform and high poverty school achievement. I h ave direct experience with the demands placed on teachers and schools during this time. My affiliation with the university partner also exposes an immediate and explicit bias. I work closely with this university organization as a graduate assistant by faci litating their institutes for partner schools, collecting school culture and instruction data, and working on research teams investigating how their programs affect participants. I am an advocate for school reform through their methods of working with part ner schools and counties. Because the case study school is a partner school, I must be on guard to not skew the effects of their involvement on the changes within this school. This is a grounded theory study in which I seek to understand how this school
169 ha s experienced successful change from the perspectives of the participants. As such, questions must not lead participants in a given direction. If university support structures emerge from participants based on the general initial questions posed to them, t hen the data will lead me in that direction. I must follow the data, not my interests.
170 Table C 1. l og Date Subjectivity description What was its effect? How was it or is it being addressed? 7/5/10 Previous experience as a teacher During the interview colored my perceptions of what was respondents were saying. Assumed I understood certain responses based on my past experiences. Took note of this during the interview. Asked clarifying questions to ensure my assumed understanding mat ched what participants were intending/describing 9/20/10 Hard to revise constructed conceptions After a category is defined, it is difficult to revise it, especially if it is defined after a seeming breakthrough in understanding. In other words, it is difficult to think about a category differently even in light of new evidence that contradicts it or shows new side. Its effect is a wrestling match between me wanting to keep newly established categories and wanting to revise understanding. Awareness that this is the case. Awareness and vigilance to reframe. Constant comparison of codes and categories 9/22/10 Not subjectivity issue: revised understanding of theoretical sampling I had planned on multiple interviews per participant, however, because I revised my understanding of theoretical sampling, this became unnecessary. I no longer needed to revis it already interviewed participants to work out theories, I used further participants to do so. ---Ongoing Not leading during theoretical sampling When looking for theory confirmation/expansion/refutation, I am finding it difficult to not ask leading questions. For example, I was leadership was the main reason for teacher redefining of their role. When asking CT 3 about why she feels her role as a teacher has changed over the past few years, her response had more to with personal confidence and understanding of self as integral advocate fect this her there. Constant evaluation of questions being asked and how they are impacting participant responses. Evaluating questions mentally for this before asking them.
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185 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Stephanie Dodman was born on June 16, 1980 in Clearwater, Florida to Robert and Frances Dodman. She grew up in Pinellas County and graduated from Tarpon Springs High School in 1998. A fter graduati ng from high school she went on the University of Florida. S he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Education in 2001 and a Masters of Education in 2002. The first few years of her career were spent teaching in St. Petersburg, Florida where she fell in love with teaching but grew weary of the educational institut ion which she felt confined her and her students to mere followers and rote learners. She tried to pursue avenues other than education, but found that her passion for public schooling was not to be dampened. After spending a year on a team coaching Head Start teachers in science and literacy, she knew where to channel her passion teacher education and professional development. It became her goal that no other teacher should feel the helplessness that pushed her out of teaching and she would dedicate her research and teaching career to empowering other educators with the skills to empower their students. Stephanie earned her Ph.D. from the University of Florida in August, 2011 She then continue d her work in and for public education a t Geo rge Mason Univer sity as Assistant Professor of Elementary Education