Second International Handbook of Educational Change, Part I (Springer International Handbooks of Education 32) - PDF Free Download (2024)


Springer International Handbooks of Education VOLUME 23

For further volumes:

Second International Handbook of Educational Change



Andy Hargreaves Lynch School of Education, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA, USA

Ann Lieberman Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Stanford, CA, USA

Michael Fullan OISE/University of Toronto, ON, Canada

David Hopkins University of London, UK

Managing Editor:

Corrie Stone-Johnson


Editors Andy Hargreaves Boston College Lynch School of Education Campion Hall Chestnut Hill MA 02467-3813 USA [emailprotected] Michael Fullan University of Toronto Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) 252 Bloor Street W. Toronto ON M5S 1V6 Canada [emailprotected]

Ann Lieberman Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching 51 Vista Lane Stanford CA 94305 USA [emailprotected] David Hopkins University of London Inst. Education HSBC Chair iNet in London United Kingdom WC1H 0AL [emailprotected]

ISBN 978-90-481-2659-0 e-ISBN 978-90-481-2660-6 DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-2660-6 Springer Dordrecht Heidelberg London New York Library of Congress Control Number: 2010927490 © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010 No part of this work may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, microfilming, recording or otherwise, without written permission from the Publisher, with the exception of any material supplied specifically for the purpose of being entered and executed on a computer system, for exclusive use by the purchaser of the work. Printed on acid-free paper Springer is part of Springer Science+Business Media (


Part I

Theories of Change

Better Schools Through Better Knowledge? New Understanding, New Uncertainty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Karen Seashore Louis


Innovation and Diffusion as a Theory of Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tom Bentley


The Psychodynamics of Educational Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chris James


Moving Change: Evolutionary Perspectives on Educational Change . . Stephen E. Anderson


A Temporary, Intermediary Organization at the Helm of Regional Education Reform: Lessons from the Bay Area School Reform Collaborative . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ann Jaquith and Milbrey McLaughlin Change from Without: Lessons from Other Countries, Systems, and Sectors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Andy Hargreaves



Positive Pressure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Michael Fullan


Education for an Interdependent World: Developing Systems Citizens . Peter M. Senge


Social Movement Organizing and Equity-Focused Educational Change: Shifting the Zone of Mediation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Michelle Renée, Kevin Welner, and Jeannie Oakes Community Organizing and Educational Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dennis Shirley

153 169




Recent Developments in the Field of Educational Leadership: The Challenge of Complexity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bill Mulford


Large-Scale Reform in the Era of Accountability: The System Role in Supporting Data-Driven Decision Making . . . . . . . . . . . . Amanda Datnow and Vicki Park


Teacher Emotions in the Context of Educational Reforms . . . . . . . . Michalinos Zembylas The Micropolitics of Educational Change and Reform: Cracking Open the Black Box . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Joseph Blase and Lars Björk Part II



Systemic Change

How Government, Professions and Citizens Combine to Drive Successful Educational Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Michael Barber


Educational Change and Demographic Change: Immigration and the Role of Educational Leadership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pedro A. Noguera


Probing the Limits of Systemic Reform: The English Case . . . . . . . . John Gray


How to Change 5,000 Schools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ben Levin


Educational Change in Finland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pasi Sahlberg


China as a Case Study of Systemic Educational Reform . . . . . . . . . Yong Zhao and Wei Qiu


Educational Leadership in Racially Divided Communities . . . . . . . . Jonathan D. Jansen


Educational Change in Chile: Reform or Improvements? (1990–2007) . Beatrice Avalos


A Market for Knowledge? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Frederick M. Hess


Marketization and Post-Marketization in Education . . . . . . . . . . . Geoff Whitty


Large-Scale Assessment for Accountability Purposes . . . . . . . . . . . Peter W. Hill


Digital Technologies and Educational Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Juana M. Sancho



Toward a Theory of Teacher Education for Social Justice . . . . . . . . Marilyn Cochran-Smith Connecting Learning Communities: Capacity Building for Systemic Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Louise Stoll




International Comparisons of Student Learning Outcomes . . . . . . . Andreas Schleicher


Teaching and Educational Transformation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Linda Darling-Hammond


Part III Levels of Change The Legacy of the School Effectiveness Research Tradition . . . . . . . Charles Teddlie Professional Learning Communities at the Crossroads: How Systems Hinder or Engender Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Joan E. Talbert New Teacher Induction and Mentoring for Educational Change . . . . Betty Achinstein and Steven Z. Athanases Smart School Improvement: Towards Schools Learning from Their Best . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . David Reynolds How Successful Leadership Influences Student Learning: The Second Installment of a Longer Story . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kenneth Leithwood, Karen Seashore Louis, Kyla Wahlstrom, Stephen Anderson, Blair Mascall, and Molly Gordon


555 573



The Moral Character of Academic Learning: Challenging the Exclusivity of the Reigning Paradigm of School Learning . . . . . . . . Robert J. Starratt


Teacher Leadership: Developing the Conditions for Learning, Support, and Sustainability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ann Lieberman and Linda Friedrich


On Personalizing Learning and Reculturing Teaching in Large High School Conversions to Small Schools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Michael A. Copland, Mary Beth Lambert, Cathy Wallach, and Brinton S. Ramsey Improving Schools in Challenging Contexts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Alma Harris Knowledge-Based Organizational Learning for Instructional Improvement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jonathan Supovitz






Federations and System Leadership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rob Higham Every School a Great School – Realising the Potential of System Leadership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . David Hopkins School-Based Networking for Educational Change . . . . . . . . . . . . Christopher Chapman and Mark Hadfield Travel of District-Wide Approaches to Instructional Improvement: How Can Districts Learn from One Another? . . . . . . Mary Kay Stein, Lea Hubbard, and Judith Toure Part IV


741 765


Teaching, Learning and Change

Involving Children and Young People in Educational Change: Possibilities and Challenges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pat Thomson


Adaptive People and Adaptive Systems: Issues of Learning and Design John Bransford, Susan Mosborg, Michael A. Copland, Meredith A. Honig, Harold G. Nelson, Drue Gawel, Rachel S. Phillips, and Nancy Vye


Changing Classroom Learning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Daniel Muijs


Making Sure that Every Child Matters: Enhancing Equity Within Education Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mel Ainscow and Sue Goldrick Making Formative Assessment the Way the School Does Business: The Impact and Implications of Formative Assessment for Teachers, Students and School Leaders . . . . . . . . . Ruth Sutton Self-Evaluation for School Improvement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . John MacBeath


883 901

The Emerging Politics of Curriculum Reform: Technology, Knowledge, and Power in Homeschooling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Michael W. Apple


Supporting the Education and Care of Young Children: Putting into Practice What We Know . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Beverly Falk


Reforming Upper Secondary Education in England: A Necessary but Difficult Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ann Hodgson and Ken Spours




Gender and Educational Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Charol Shakeshaft


Class, Race, and Educational Achievement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Brenda X. Mejia-Smith and Edmund W. Gordon


Blindness to Change Within Processes of Spectacular Change? What Do Educational Researchers Learn from Classroom Studies? . . 1001 Kirsti Klette School-Based Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Programming: Current Perspectives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1017 Nicole A. Elbertson, Marc A. Brackett, and Roger P. Weissberg To Seek, to Strive, to Find, and Not to Yield: A Look at Current Conceptions of Vision in Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1033 Karen Hammerness Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1049

Introduction: Ten Years of Change

Ten years ago, generational researchers Strauss and Howe (1997) anticipated a great disruption when our world would take a great turning. After three earlier turnings that defined a time of prosperity, optimism, security, pragmatism, and social conservatism in the 1950s; a period of cultural and spiritual awakening in the 1960s and 1970s; and an era of individualism, self-centeredness, and general unraveling in the 1980s and 1990s, Strauss and Howe predicted a Fourth Turning which, they claimed, will be as dramatic as the last Fourth Turning in the Great Depression of the 1930s. This turning, they argue, brings economic collapse and financial ruin, insecurity and conflict, and a shaking of society to its very foundations, with the emergence of structures, cultures, and politics, as well as value and belief systems that are profoundly different on the other side. At the Fourth Turning, people start to turn outward again, beyond themselves, in search of the spirituality, sustenance, and support that can connect them once more to their fellow women and men. Although the Fourth Turning is borne of crisis, it beckons with the prospect of great transformations and opportunities. Yet it does not show what these are. This is a defining moment for all of us. In the midst of a great global disruption when economies are collapsing, insecurity is everywhere and some are even saying that globalization is going into reverse, it is a time in economic and educational life either to pare down our budgets, reduce our ambitions, turn in on ourselves, and keep outsiders at bay or to embark on a new course that can lead us toward a better place, a new high point of inclusiveness, security, and prosperity. Education is an essential part of the second path. It is time, now more than ever, for a New Way of educational change that is suited to the dramatically new problems and challenges we are encountering. This New Way should build on the best of what we have learned from the Old Ways of the past, including those of the past decade, without retreating to or reinventing the worst of them. It should look abroad for intelligent alternatives and be especially alert to those educational and economic successes that also express and advance democratic and humanitarian values. It should attend to the advancement of the economy and the restoration of prosperity but not at the price of other educational elements that contribute to the development of personal integrity, social democracy, and human decency. It has to be concerned with the furtherance of economic profit yet also with the advancement of the human spirit. xi


Introduction: Ten Years of Change

Ten Years After This second edition of the Handbook contains chapters that show us the possibilities for positive change. The chapters within it come from leading researchers on educational change from around the world. What has happened to the field of educational change across this 10-year period that has brought us well into the twenty-first century? Have we seen great breakthroughs and synergies of strategy and impact along with impressive new results? Or, have educational reform strategies been just as much a part of the great unraveling of overconfidence and overreach as have the bursting bubbles of speculative investment and uncontrolled indebtedness? As the editors, and as researchers of educational change in several countries over three decades, we believe that educational change and reform strategies and their accompanying research directions have become bigger, tighter, harder, and flatter. These trends are evident in the grand designs of political reform strategies and also in the ways that professional communities in schools have developed and done their work. These very directions that have brought us to this defining moment of educational change, however, are not the ones that will get us productively beyond it, and so the second part of this introduction sets out some anticipated and alternative directions for the future.

Bigger Following years of frustration developing promising innovations that existed only as outliers and failed to spread, of watching pilot projects be replicated only poorly when their designs were then mandated across a system, and of seeing that early implementation of changes rarely turned into full-blown, widespread and effortless institutionalization, educational reformers began to look at more coordinated system-wide designs for reform – and research money increasingly followed them. School-based and classroom-based change was out; large-scale reform was in. The earliest efforts were most evident in England and to some extent in Australia and New Zealand in the early 1990s. This was partly a response to the incoherence and inconsistency of preceding decades, but also an ideological onslaught on the educational establishment, as they were called, of teachers and university education professors who were deemed to be responsible for the unfocussed approaches to educational progressivism that politicians and the business community along with an increasingly irritated public associated with the economic decline of the 1980s. The mechanisms of change to bring about this ideological shift were the introduction of market competition and league tables of performance between schools, a return to traditional models of curriculum and teaching through closely prescribed curriculum contents and standards sometimes accompanied by scripted and paced models of literacy and mathematics instruction, pervasive systems of educational testing that were tied to the curriculum basics and to the criteria for market competition, and intrusive systems of surveillance by external inspection. All these were linked with

Introduction: Ten Years of Change


high-stakes consequences of public exposure, administrative intervention, and even enforced closure for schools that performed badly. Some years later, these basic principles and practices were largely replicated in the US federal reform strategy of No Child Left Behind with its similar emphasis on test scores, competition between schools and other education providers, and severe consequences for schools that failed to meet the legislation’s compressed time lines for improvement. Research findings reflected mounting professional and also public dissatisfaction with the limitations of this large-scale model, in terms of overemphasis on basics, teaching to the test, concentrating only on those borderline students who could offer hope of quick test-score gains, problems of recruitment and retention among teachers and leaders, and a tendency for initial test-score gains to reach an early plateau. In response, while other reformers and their research-driven supporters stayed with the large-scale reform agenda, they also looked for other sources of inspiration to improve it. The trailblazing work of New York District 2 under the inspirational leadership of Anthony Alvarado was a key influence here. Approvingly advocated by Elmore and Burney (1997), this model of district-wide change developed a clearer, stronger, and more pedagogically constructive focus on instruction backed up by high-quality materials, a network of high-quality instructional literacy coaches, a concentration on turning principals into instructional leaders who were also required to discuss their learning and difficulties together, a system of monitoring and inspection using administrative “walk-throughs,” and a clear link to transparent test-score results. Efforts to undertake direct transplantations of this model – like all attempts to clone educational changes exactly – proved disappointing as Mary Kay Stein, Lee Hubbard, and Bud Mehan have demonstrated on the attempt to implement the District 2 model in San Diego under conditions of lesser resources, greater scope, a different political climate, and shorter time lines (Stein, Hubbard, & Mehan, 2004). But principles and practices derived from District 2 started to surface among other large-scale reform advocates who wanted better and more lasting results, a closer connection to pedagogy and instruction and better ways to engage and support teachers and leaders in the change effort. In England, there was a similar trend during the second term of the Blair government, when there was a concerted policy effort to personalize learning, build a stronger focus on enhancing teacher professionalism, make assessment and accountability more formative, and build stronger forms of collaboration between schools (Hopkins, 2007). So although Sir Michael Barber’s (2007) delivery strategy tightened the national focus around literacy and numeracy, it also increased levels of support for teachers in terms of materials, finance, and technical coaching and paid increasing attention to leadership development, especially through the establishment of a National College for School Leadership. In Ontario, continuing commitment to test-based educational accountability was supplemented by a range of system-wide initiatives that built capacity for improvement and provided professional support. Alongside the idea borrowed from England


Introduction: Ten Years of Change

of making tested literacy and numeracy linked to political targets for improved performance the centrepiece of its reform strategy, the province added thousands of new teaching positions to reduce class sizes in the primary grades and “student success teachers” were designated in every high school to assure that each student would be well known and supported by at least one school staff member. At its core, the Ontario strategy focused capacity-building at the school and district levels through the support of a Literacy Numeracy Secretariat and used achievement results as a nonpunitive but specific stimulant for further reform. Like New York District 2 and England, large teams of consultants and coaches worked alongside teachers with the support of quality materials. Teacher unions were allocated $5 million to spend on professional development, successful practices were networked across schools, and underperforming schools were encouraged but not compelled to seek assistance from government support teams and higher achieving peers.

Tighter Proponents of large-scale reform models that also offer increased support, capacitybuilding, and professional involvement claim that in general, bigger has been better. Authoritative independent evaluations of the Ontario experience are just starting to emerge, but the evidence from England is uneven although the trends remain positive. In any walk of life, the more that control and intervention are orchestrated from the top, the tighter the focus must become in terms of what has to be controlled. The wider the scope of action, the more that trust, decision-making, and responsibility must be devolved downwards – what is known as the principle of subsidiarity. There are simply never enough resources to permit close control of everything from above. The answer to this conundrum among large-scale reformers has been to establish a tight focus for control and intervention. Hence, the growing consensus has been to concentrate policy efforts, curriculum development, instructional training, intervention strategies, and improvement plans on raising test scores and narrowing achievement gaps in the tested basics of literacy and numeracy (mathematics) along with secondary school examination results. For a while, these strategies have increased consistency across the system, heightened the sense of urgency about rectifying underachievement and mobilized support to do so, and sometimes secured public reassurance as well as political credibility in relation to the standards agenda. Early improvements are rarely sustained, though, and their validity is often contested on the grounds that results are achieved by teaching to the test and by initially low test baselines through deliberately poor preparation and hasty implementation which is only then followed by training and support – so that what appears to be an improvement is actually a recovery. The greatest problem of the tight focus on tested and standardized basics, though, is that the efforts and activity of teachers and schools concentrate overwhelmingly on these high-stakes areas and neglect developing a curriculum or a pedagogy

Introduction: Ten Years of Change


that will prepare students with the twenty-first century skills and capacities that are essential if we are to transform our economies and communities into creative, competitive, and inclusive knowledge societies. At the very beginning of the century, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD, 2001) advocated a shift in educational reform strategy toward developing these new competences and capacities. Hargreaves (2003) built on its argument and set out the case for knowledge society schools that emphasized the skills of creativity, innovation, flexibility, problem-solving, and teamwork that would fuel entrepreneurial initiative and that also promoted the skills and dispositions of inclusiveness, emotional development, community-building, and cosmopolitan awareness that are integral to social democracy. Wagner’s (2009) book on The Global Achievement Gap also echoes the advocacy for twenty-first century corporate skills. A high-profile US Commission convened by the National Center for Education and the Economy (New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, 2007) that includes leading superintendents, CEOs, and two former Secretaries of Education also complains that America’s obsession with tested, standardized basics is destroying its capacity to be economically creative and competitive. The most assessment-obsessed Anglo-American nations, the United Kingdom and the United States, actually rank last and next to last on UNICEF’s (2007) 21country list of child well-being. A formidably funded and influential review of UK primary education at Cambridge University (BBC, 2009) concludes that England’s reform directions have stripped innovation, creativity, and the most basic needs of child exploration and development out of young children’s curriculum as all teachers’ energy has been targeted toward government tests. Even the UK government’s own review body points to some of the same conclusions (BBC, 2009). In the face of global economic collapse, the dubious path of narrow standardization is now one that only educational and economic ostriches and lemmings will follow as they blindly race over the edge of an economic precipice. The ironic effect of international interest in large-scale reform is that it has exposed how the countries and systems that have actually been most successful educationally and economically are ones that provide greater flexibility and innovation in teaching and learning, that invest greater trust in their highly qualified teachers, that value curriculum breadth, and that do not try to orchestrate everything tightly from the top (Darling-Hammond, 2008; McKinsey, 2007). High performing Singapore emphasizes “Teach Less, Learn More” and mandates 10% “white space” for teachers to bring individual initiative and creativity into their teaching. Finland – the world leader on results in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests of sophisticated, applied knowledge in mathematics, science, and literacy, as well as on international ratings of economic competitiveness – avoids national standardized tests altogether and reaches high levels of achievement by attracting highly qualified teachers with supportive working conditions, strong degrees of professional trust, and an inspiring mission of inclusion and creativity (Hargreaves, Halasz, & Pont, 2008). The Canadian province of Alberta, which tucks in just behind Finland in international PISA rankings, has secured its success, in part, by partnering with the teacher’s union to develop a


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9-year initiative in school-developed innovation (the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement) that involves 90% of the province’s schools. Even in the Anglo-Saxon nations, the tide of narrow standardization appears to be in retreat. Many parents and teachers in England object to young children being the most tested in the world, that country’s government has put an end to all standardized testing in secondary schools, and Wales has abolished national testing altogether up to age 14 (Hargreaves & Shirley, 2009). We are at the end of a decade of large-scale limitations. The question is, What might come next?

Harder The decade of large-scale reform has also been a decade in which evidence has replaced experience; hard data have pushed aside soft intuition and judgment. Data-driven instruction and improvement have become de rigeur elements of Anglo-American approaches to educational reform. At first, data on student performance in examinations and standardized tests were used as crude ways to rank schools publicly and competitively, inform parent choice, pit the strong against the weak, and shame the poorest and weakest performers into pulling their socks up. Later, many countries worked at making the database more sophisticated. Progress measures were developed so schools could compare present performance to past achievement, and achievement results were contextualized in relation to the kinds of communities in which they were located. Schools could compare themselves against similarly placed peers and contact ones that were performing more strongly to access help and assistance. Many schools then started to use data to drive improvement internally. Departments were compared with departments, boys with girls, majority with minority students, second language learners with others, and so on – so that teachers could identify where they needed to concentrate their efforts and make timely interventions. Achievement data were also shared with individual students in regular one-to-one meetings to manage and monitor their progress and set goals with them for the future. Data-driven improvement has become an integral part of the movement to develop schools into being professional learning communities (PLCs), where teachers use data and other evidence to inquire into their practice and its effects on students and make needed improvements together to address the shortcomings that they find. In the best or most advanced PLCs, a wide range of quantitative and qualitative data are used as a regular and effortless part of collective practice to inquire continuously into practice in the classroom, department, or entire school so as to keep improving in order to raise standards of achievement (Datnow, Park, & Wohlstetter, 2007). While these developments have undoubtedly concentrated teachers’ energy and efforts on identifying and responding to struggling students and groups of students who need their help the most, the enthusiastic adoption of data-driven instruction and improvement has also introduced some risks and drawbacks. First, instead of merely respecting the value of data and objective evidence as opposed to subjective intuition, schools and systems have sometimes come to revere

Introduction: Ten Years of Change


it above all else. In sport, Lewis (2004) has demonstrated how the Oakland A’s baseball team made the playoffs each year on a low budget simply by taking the statistic that most predicted season-long success – how often a batter reaches first base – as a basis for recruiting new players, even when those players did not intuitively strike coaches as being the most athletically likely prospects. By comparison, work on how organizations, including sports teams, achieve performance above expectations has pointed to inadvisable and ineffective ways that clubs push players to improve performance by setting targets for how many digitally tracked steps they take during a game, for example (the players simply cheat by taking more steps on the sidelines) (Hargreaves & Shirley, 2009). And Lewis (2009) again has put the other side of the evidence-based argument by highlighting one of the United States most successful pro-basketball players who consistently lifts team performance when he comes on court but whose highly complex and subtle contribution cannot be measured by any existing statistics. Sometimes the objective evidence is a good counter against intuitive judgment, but sometimes it is also insufficient, unhelpful, or just plain wrong. Experience and evidence need to be discussed in dialogue together without privileging one over the other. Second, the quest for more and more detailed data to guide every action and decision can become obsessive and excessive. The origin of this approach is in the business practice of World Class Manufacturing which is actually a methodology of improving quality by disaggregating every part of the production process into miniscule, granular data and detail so that attention is paid relentlessly to improving every tiny aspect of that process. Numerous targets set yearly, monthly, and even weekly have red, green, or amber lights attached to them as indicators of whether or not they need real-time attention. Increasingly, frequent management of student progress and school improvement by constantly disaggregating data and targeting interventions in real time to underperforming groups or subjects represents the application of this philosophy to education. This data-driven intervention strategy can nip performance problems in the bud, but it can also divert teachers’ attention and energy on to short-term tasks in easily measurable indicators of achievement and away from longer-term engagement with teaching, learning, and students within more complex sets of lasting relationships. Third, while the best, most mature PLCs integrate and embed evidence-informed inquiry into the daily work of teaching across the curriculum, the imposition of top– down high-stakes assessments in narrowly defined basic areas such as literacy and numeracy drive many PLCs into taking a much narrower and more artificial focus. In practice, although the scope for PLCs is wide, most studies show that a majority of their activity concentrates on teachers looking at spreadsheets of student test scores together after busy days at work, then devising swift solutions to bring about the rapid improvements that will keep the forces of accountability at bay (Datnow et al., 2007; McLaughlin & Talbert, 2006). While business and sporting organizations take metrics and indicators of improvement very seriously, there is little dispute among staff about the validity of those metrics in relation to what the organizations are trying to achieve – customer satisfaction, or the degree of stickiness that customers show in staying with a company’s Web site, for example. In an age that needs to embrace innovation and


Introduction: Ten Years of Change

creativity, the test-score metrics by which educational performance is measured are not appropriate to knowledge society goals or to many valuable educational goals more widely. So the practice ends up being distorted to fit the cheap and available metrics of test scores, rather than metrics being designed which are widely agreed as being valid in reflecting the deeper and broader goals of high-quality practice.

Flatter In education, the work is increasingly flat. The aim is to narrow achievement gaps – to intervene so that girls catch up to boys, for example, and then so that boys can catch up to girls. These are worthy goals, but not when they are pursued relentlessly so that when any gap opens up, the immediate response is to close it. This creates a myth of the gapless school where all and any gaps, like orthodontically perfect and characterless smiles, are the target for immediate attention and elimination In the 1960s, Young (1958) wrote a fable on The Rise of the Meritocracy. It depicted a society in which the goals of meritocracy had been perfectly realized – one in which everyone reached their potential and was rewarded accordingly. The result was that in a society which continued to value and reward occupations unevenly, everyone came to the often-depressing conclusion that what they got or didn’t get was entirely what they deserved – a pure and incontrovertible reflection of the talents and abilities they had been allocated at birth.

Ten Years More In most of the Anglo-American group of nations, the last 10 years have been marked by high-stakes and large-scale attention to tested basics and secondary school examinations, in which objective test-score data drive increasingly detailed and granular efforts at improvement in an attempt to close all gaps wherever they appear. It is increasingly clear that these emphases cannot develop or deliver the essential learnings that are integral to the creative and innovative knowledge societies that are our best bet for extricating ourselves from the collapse of the existing global economy. So what directions and developments might educational change policy, practice, and research take instead? We offer the following suggestions: First, the collapse of the global economy will grab people’s attention into adopting educationally driven strategies like those of Finland in turning round to become successful and competitive knowledge economies. Standardization will go into decline and innovation will emerge in its place. At first, this will appear as supplements to the existing diet of standardization – in after-school curriculum activities, or sheltered time for creativity or interdisciplinary studies within an otherwise standardized environment. But eventually, policymakers will have to concede that innovation and creativity require different, more flexible conditions of teaching, learning, and leadership than those that have prevailed in the managerial era of testdriven and data-obsessed educational reform. At the same time, as part and parcel

Introduction: Ten Years of Change


of the pursuit of innovation, evidence-informed decision making will result in the consolidation of high-yield instructional strategies. The development of the teaching profession will entail incorporating a growing body of sound practice and knowledge. Around these ideas we will need to learn once more how to spread innovation through networks, relationships, and interaction and to do this more effectively than in the 1960s and 1970s. Second, at the end of the age of materialism and of “selfish” forms of capitalism (James, 2008), we will ask bigger questions about the goals of education – about how we are preparing the next generations. Technical preoccupations with narrowing achievement gaps in the tested basics and vague allusions to developing “world class schools” that are actually importations of the technically driven principles of World Class Manufacturing, will give way to goals that embrace the forms of innovation and creativity, and the identification of effective practices that are essential for advanced knowledge economies, and the virtues of empathy and community service that are integral to more “selfless” forms of capitalism. Third, we will or should witness the decline of the district and of districtdriven reform. This will be replaced by districts fostering the creation and spread of promising practices. Teachers can only really learn once they get outside their own classrooms and connect with other teachers. This is one of the essential principles behind PLCs. Likewise, schools can only really learn when they connect with other schools – including ones outside their own immediate district. Many districts are too small to enable that learning. Others are hierarchical, bureaucratic, excessively politicized and controlling – with connections to other cities and districts being orchestrated and patrolled only by the most senior district staff who then filter what their own staff should be permitted to learn. A learning society requires schools that can connect with and learn from other schools beyond the confines and bureaucratic controls of their own districts. Without these developments, schools will become increasingly isolated and anachronistic – ill-equipped to prepare their students and themselves with the flexible learning and adaptation to change that are vital to twenty-first century economies. For this reason, face-to-face and virtual school networks that stretch across and between districts can and should become a key research and reform priority in the coming decade. Fourth, the greater proportion of effects on student achievement comes from outside the school. Yet, being afraid to challenge parent electors about their practices and responsibilities with their children at home, policymakers have concentrated almost all their improvement efforts on the school alone – trying to improve performance within what is actually the lesser variable of influence on student achievement. The end of materialism, however, is now bringing community spirit and community responsibility back in. The highest performing nations like Finland, Singapore, the Netherlands, and Russia maintain high achievement by supporting their children in families and communities as well as in schools. Policy developments that combine district leadership with responsibility for other children’s services in England are an attempt to move in the same direction. So are extended day schools, full-service schools, and community schools in other countries. In the coming decade, we will learn and commit to the idea that the strongest


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and most effective schools are the schools that work with and affect the communities that affect them – schools where educational leaders are also effective community leaders. This will signal an end to the misdirected assumption that all responsibility for improvement falls exclusively on the shoulders of teachers and their schools. Fifth, management that assists the delivery and implementation of policies will give way to leadership that can build innovative professional communities. Especially challenging here will not be the task of preparing new leaders but of converting existing ones who had been appointed and had learned to survive in conditions of competition and managerialism. How to change managers responsible for faithful delivery into leaders capable of inspiring self-initiated innovation and creativity will be one of the major strategic and research tasks in the era of post-materialism and post-standardization. Sixth, as the boomer generation retires and moves on from teaching and leading, it will be replaced by the more direct and demanding generational successors of Generation X and even more of Generation Y – sometimes called the Millennial generation (Howe & Strauss, 2000). This generation, now in its 1920s, is already introducing ideas and incorporating technologies that are closer to the cultures of today’s children and youth. But it is when this generation move into leadership in great numbers toward the end of this next decade that Millennial leadership styles – more swift, assertive, direct, team-based, task-centered, and technologically savvy – will finally bring about the classroom and organizational transformations that are necessary for twenty-first century schools. A key research priority in the coming years should be on the nature and needs of the Millennial generation in teaching and leadership within our schools. Last, global conditions of economic collapse call for greater prudence in educational spending. With financial support for learning and teaching in jeopardy, it is demonstrably no longer prudent or sustainable to finance pervasive systems of standardized testing of all students across many curriculum areas, at multiple age points by a census. Effective corporations only test samples of their products in order to ensure quality control. It is bad business and a waste of profit to test more than this. We will need to grasp that this principle also applies to education as many countries like high-performing Finland and New Zealand already accept. The excuse that industrial products don’t have parents but students do as a justification for testing everyone is already on the wane with parent opposition to testing in Britain already leading to its abandonment in Wales and reductions in its scope and impact in England. Standardizing testing by census is a financial and political indulgence we can no longer afford and one that electors are increasingly opposed to. It is time to research, develop, and implement strategies of assessment that are equally accountable but economically less expensive. The coming era of educational change needs to be an era of reduced commitments to grandiose designs and granular micromanagement of top–down reform in favor of an age of innovation and inspiration in a post-materialist world where people are increasingly prepared to look to each other in building a more hopeful and innovative society together, rather than acquisitively and self-indulgently looking only to their own families and themselves. As the Millennial generation moves into

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leadership, it will eventually bring about these transformations almost naturally – it is the responsibility of the rest of us in the coming years to reflect on our past policy excesses of top–down control and prepare the ground in a post-materialist and post-standardized system and society for those who will follow.

References Barber, M. (2007). Instruction to deliver: Fighting to transform Britain’s public services. London: Methuen. BBC. (2009). Primary education “too narrow”: Retrieved February 20, 2009, from Darling-Hammond, L. (2008). Teaching and the change wars: The professionalism hypothesis. In A. Hargreaves & M. Fullan (Eds.), Change wars (pp. 45–68). Bloomington: Solution Tree. Datnow, A., Park, V., & Wohlstetter, P. (2007). Achieving with data: How high performing schools use data to improve instruction for students. California: Center on Educational Governance. Elmore, R., & Burney, D. (1997). Investing in teacher learning: Staff development and instructional improvement in Community School District #2, New York. Washington, DC: National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future & the Consortium for Policy Research in Education. Hargreaves, A. (2003). Teaching in the knowledge society: Education in the age of insecurity. New York: Teachers College Press. Hargreaves, A., Halász, G., & Pont, B. (2008). The Finnish approach to system leadership. In: Pont, B., Nusche, D., & Hopkins, D. (Eds.) Improving school leadership (Vol. 2, pp. 69–109). Case studies on system leadership. Paris: OECD. Hargreaves, A., & Shirley, D. (2009). The fourth way. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Hopkins, D. (2007) Every school a great school. Maidenhead, Berkshire: McGraw-Hill/Open University Press. Howe, N., & Strauss, W. (2000). Millenials rising: The next generation. New York: Vintage. James, O. (2008). The selfish capitalist. New York: Random House . Lewis, M. (2004). Moneyball: The art of winning an unfair game. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. Lewis, M. (2009). The no-stats all-star. The New York Times Magazine, February 15, 26–33, 56, 63–64. McKinsey & Company. (2007, September). How the world’s best-performing school systems come out on top. Retrieved November 25, 2008, from clientservice/socialsector/resources/pdf/Worlds_School_Systems_Final.pdf. McLaughlin, M.W., & Talbert, J.E. (2006). Building school-based teacher learning communities. New York: Teachers College Press. New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce. (2007). Tough choices or tough times – The Report of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce. Washington, DC: National Center on Education and the Economy. OECD. (2001). What schools for the future? Schooling for tomorrow. Paris: OECD Stein, M., Hubbard, L., & Mehan, H. (2004). Reform ideas that travel far afield: The two cultures of reform in New York City’s District #2 and San Diego. Journal of Educational Change, 5(2), 161–197. Strauss, W., & Howe, N. (1997) The fourth turning. New York: Broadway. UNICEF. (2007). Child poverty in perspective: An overview of child well-being in rich countries, Innocenti Report Card 7. Florence: UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre. Wagner, T. (2008) The global achievement gap. New York: Basic. Young, M. (1958). The rise of the meritocracy. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.

Part I

Theories of Change

Better Schools Through Better Knowledge? New Understanding, New Uncertainty Karen Seashore Louis

As I pointed out in the first edition of this handbook, theories of knowledge utilization and educational improvement have been closely linked since Havelock’s (1969) classic literature review. This connection is also apparent in practice. On the one hand, school improvement depends on the implementation of new ideas – in the form of both programs and policies – about school organization and instruction; on the other, the refinement of theories about knowledge use depends on having schools that serve as natural loci of experimentation and change. Over the past several decades, explicit attention to dissemination and knowledge utilization have dropped from the agenda of most scholars interested in school reform and have been replaced with related but new concerns, ranging from the spread of comprehensive models to organizational learning. The purpose of this chapter is to review theories that may help to connect research on knowledge utilization with research on educational improvement. The analysis presented here assumes that the reader is familiar with the broad outlines of both school improvement and school effectiveness research (Hopkins, 2001; Sammons, 1999; Schmoker, 1999; Teddlie & Reynolds, 2000), but less familiar with research traditions related to knowledge utilization. In the first section of this chapter, I briefly review the “state of the art” in knowledge utilization theory, and discuss how it is connected to both school effectiveness and improvement research streams. I will briefly discuss why the dominant and the challenging paradigms for knowledge utilization are not adequate to explain observed phenomena relating to knowledge flow and use in education. In the second section, I examine emerging perspectives that have the potential for altering the way in which we analyze and interpret the observed phenomena discussed in the first section. Most of the examples used in this chapter are based on research carried out in the United States, but as I note throughout, they appear to be applicable in European Union and OECD countries. In reviewing new ideas that contribute to our understanding of knowledge utilization, it is critical that we maintain the thoroughly interdisciplinary base of this field. K.S. Louis (B) University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA e-mail: [emailprotected]

A. Hargreaves et al. (eds.), Second International Handbook of Educational Change, Springer International Handbooks of Education 23, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-2660-6_1, C Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010



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While various writers may approach the problem of putting knowledge to work for the betterment of individuals – and/or societies – with different lenses, major reviews of the field, such as Rogers (1983) or Glaser, Abelson & Garrison (1983), demonstrate that high quality research and ideas come from disciplines ranging from agriculture to political science. The most recent review focuses on the use of behavioral and social science and draws on a wide range of experts from the media, public interest groups, and others whose focus is on dissemination (Welch-Ross & Fasig, 2007). This chapter cannot, of course, range as broadly as these synthetic reviews, and since my objective is primarily to stimulate thinking about theory, I will confine myself to a few viewpoints from political, historical, organizational, and cognitive learning theory. In each case, I will briefly illustrate how the knowledge utilization perspective is reflected in current school improvement or school reform issues. I then turn to some elements of an intersection between knowledge utilization theories and school improvement theories that may drive us forward to a synthetic model of dissemination and utilization (D&U) that represents a paradigm shift rather than a paradigm revolution (Kuhn, 1970). Some suggestions about practical implications will also be made.

State of the Art In 1997, when the first edition of this handbook went to press, it was the beginning of an era that posed serious challenges to the way in which educational researchers thought about change. The era of research-dissemination-diffusionutilization (RDDU), which assumed a linear relationship between the production of new knowledge and its appearance in practice, was sharply challenged by more constructivist ideas about the relationship between knowledge production and knowledge use. Although this body of research was never as simplistic as latter-day critics contend, many studies led to the conclusion that there was no simple, direct line between knowledge production and utilization, the assumption of unidirectionality in influence dominated both policy and practice (Havelock, 1969).

Renewed D&U Theory: Bringing the “User” Back in Huberman’s review of the “state of the art” in the mid-1990s began with the accepted assumption that there is a “gap” between research knowledge and practitioner knowledge that can be bridged with calculated interventions. (See Huberman, 1994, whose work was carried out in the United States and Switzerland) Early efforts to do so have long been viewed as hyper-rational due to their assumptions that (1) the flow of knowledge should be largely one-way, from the research community to the practice community; and (2) that more sophisticated forms of knowledge packaging and communication strategies would reduce, if not eliminate, the “gap” between what was known and what people did. Huberman noted the many challenges to a rational

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model of knowledge use but chose to review the subtleties of the existing paradigm, arguing that five factors explained why some knowledge becomes common practice in schools, while other new ideas are rejected. These include: • the context of research, including characteristics of the knowledge base and the motivation of the researcher to disseminate to practitioners; • the user’s context, including factors ranging from perceived needs to the perception of the value of the research information; • “linkage mechanisms” between researchers and practitioners during the production and utilization phases; • the impacts of context and linkages on resources, including attention, time, and acceptability of the research; and • the amount of effort expended creating an appropriate environment for use, which includes both the amount and quality of dissemination effort, the “usability” of the knowledge, and the quality of planning and execution in the school or district. Huberman focused on the role of reciprocally influential relationships in the process of knowledge utilization (Huberman, 1999), but his perspective is consistent with the main lines of dissemination research during the 1980s and 1990s, which emphasizes the dispersion of knowledge to multiple sites of practice. This perspective was reflected in programs and initiatives in a number of contexts, particularly those that emerged from the school effectiveness research tradition. For example, beginning in the late 1970s in the United States, there were a number of efforts by regional educational laboratories and individual entrepreneurs to develop researchto-practice models that translated the results of the effective schools and effective teacher research into training and support programs for local schools. Similar experiments involving collaboration between schools, trainers, and researchers were conducted in other countries (e.g., the middle schools reform efforts in the Netherlands). Thus, Huberman’s review makes a bridge to alternative perspectives by emphasizing the importance of mutual influence. Huberman notes that researchers and practitioners may have a reciprocal influence on each other and suggests that the need for sustained interactivity to promote research/knowledge utilization is consistent with some elements of the contemporary constructivist approach to teaching. The latter asserts that practitioner knowledge is constructed, largely by individuals, both through reflective practice (Schön, 1983) and through more disciplined inquiry, such as action research (Carr & Kemmis, 1986; Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999b).1 Even with the modest adjustments posited by the need for mutual interaction, policymakers in most countries continue to believe that, with proper sticks and carrots, schools can be encouraged (or required) to become better consumers of

1 Huberman also notes that the constructivist teaching models emphasize the need for knowledge from “outside sources,” whether generated by research or through teacher inquiry, to be filtered through an interpretive individual lens.


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“good research results” and programs or policies that they believe are researchbased. In the United States and other countries, efforts to develop “comprehensive” school reforms that combine a research base and technical assistance for change have consumed considerable resources and energy on the part of governments, private agencies, universities, and schools. The literacy and numeracy initiatives in England stand out as clear examples of efforts to create systems change through knowledge use (Brown, Askew, Millett, & Rhodes, 2003). Still, evidence continues to mount that the “packaging” of ideas into user-friendly modules continues to reveal that there is never enough knowledge in the package to eliminate problems in use (Hatch & White, 2002) and that “co-construction” of knowledge, combined with shifting policies and resources outside the school, creates further complications and erosion of effort (Datnow, 2002). This seems to be characteristic of not only schools, but other public agencies (Landry, Lamar, & Amara, 2003).

Postmodernist Challenges to Traditional Thinking2 In 1997, the greatest challenge on the horizon seemed to be from “postmodernist theory” that provided a sharp critique of the renewed conceptual framework presented in Huberman’s review (Watkins, 1994). Watkins begins with the observation that teachers construct knowledge as they go about their work, particularly when they engage in professional discussions around their own practice. Like many constructivists, he then goes on to equate daily efforts to solve classroom problems with research – research that is highly contextualized because it is grounded in experience. The school’s process may appear nonlinear and random to outsiders, but constructivists accept that all knowledge is “local” (Geertz, 1983), contested, and partial and political (influenced by the interests of those who develop or use it). The extreme assumption – that research knowledge is not useful to teachers – has been largely abandoned. However, given the weak results of formal R,D,D and U efforts, many researchers on both sides of the Atlantic agree that it is simply good practice to have educational practitioners involved in debating, selecting, and coconstructing practice implications (Ainscow, 2005; Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999a), or a modified form of postmodernism. One clear example is in policy initiatives in Europe, Canada, England, and New Zealand and Australia that attempt to foster learning communities among principals and teachers under the assumption that the right combination of reflective discussions, research-based knowledge, and motivation will lead to school improvements (ETF, N.D; Jackson, Cordingley, & Hannon, 2006; Stoll & Louis, 2007).

2 Andy Hargreaves notes that one may whole-heartedly agree that we live in a postmodern era, defined by a radical shift in the nature of economies, employment, and social relations, and disagree with many of the propositions put forward by self-style postmodern thinkers (personal communication).

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The notion that local invention in response to local conditions is also part of the persistent policy thrust in several countries toward deconcentration and decentralization. The “charter schools movement” in the United States, for example, is promoted as an antidote to centrally managed effectiveness programs that don’t work. Proponents of charter schools, which are typically new schools founded by groups of teachers and parents, assume that improving educational performance requires invention at the lowest level, not the diffusion of centrally developed and approved ideas. This assumption has driven public-policy options in many countries, ranging from Sweden to New Zealand, based on the belief that the role of central governments is to set standards, and the role of local agencies is to figure out how to meet them.

Organizational Learning Another wrinkle added to the knowledge utilization puzzle in the 1990s emerged from the influence of Peter Senge’s work on organizational learning (Senge, 1994). The idea of organizational learning drew on a deeper knowledge base in the management literature, which pointed out, for example, that there were real differences between change that was induced by nondeliberate and random adaptation and change as a result of collective learning (Fiol & Lyles, 1985), and that learning implied both a set of conceptual frameworks through which information was processed and required the ability to learn from multiple sources (Levitt & March, 1988). Senge’s contribution was to look at how organizational conditions shaped deliberate consideration of new ideas. In addition, there was immediate interest, based on his and others’ work, in applying the idea that organizations can learn – from experiences and knowledge produced outside their boundaries to public agencies, including schools (Busenberg, 2001; Mahler, 1997; Senge, McCabe, Lucas, & Kleiner, 2000). The importance of organizational learning as a challenge to the traditional D&U model is threefold. Outside vs. inside knowledge. Like the postmodernist perspective, the organizational learning perspective presents a challenge to the notion of knowledge as something created outside of the school and then “implemented.” Knowledge comes from multiple sources, includes experience as well as research. Thus, research (expert knowledge) becomes one competing resource and needs to be factored in with other sources such as (Huber, 1991, p. 88): • drawing on knowledge available at the organization’s birth (what other similar organizations have done), • learning from experience, • learning by observing other organizations, • grafting on to itself the components that possess knowledge needed but not possessed by the organization, and


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• noticing or searching for information about the organization’s environment and performance. Only the last two of these categories have the potential for including formal research-based knowledge. Ambiguous quality standards. Unlike the first two perspectives, no source of knowledge is inherently privileged over other sources, whether change occurs as a result of considering new information is dependent on the particular circ*mstances in which the organization finds itself (Morris & Moore, 2000; van de Ven & Polley, 1992). For example, organizations that are experiencing a strong threat may be more inclined to “learn” rather than to “adapt” – if they change at all. In addition, organizations that are in an early phase of a major change process may be more likely to engage in intuitive experimentation, leading later to more purposive search and analysis that might be more clearly indicative of collective learning. The centrality of process. The organizational learning framework, unlike the renewed D&U model or postmodernism, raises important questions around the culture of the organization along multiple dimensions, including the presence of multiple processes for dealing with new information. Experience matters, but organizations can’t learn if they don’t have a “learning culture” that includes features such as a willingness to experiment or improvise, cooperative rather than competitive teams or subunits, and processes for reflection and turning consensus into action (Edmondson, 2002; Huber, 1991; Miner, Bassoff, & Moorman, 2001; Pisano, Bohmer, & Edmondson, 2001).

A Critique of Postmodernism The debates between “objectivist modernists” and “constructivist postmodernists” are based in competing assumptions about science and the nature of knowledge, in which both groups fail to reflect on the conditions of inquiry or practice that are related to the knowledge use in schools. There are also some similarities between the two: both focus on the nature of knowledge and assume, for the most part, that formal knowledge is currently produced by researchers, and knowledge utilization, whether formal or informal, takes place in the work of practice.3 In other words, as Huberman posits, there is “a gap.” In fact, both also acknowledge that the picture is more complex but have not built a theoretical base that incorporates the complexity that they acknowledge. Postmodernism appears, on the surface, to be more flawed than the revisionist versions of traditional theory. Most basic scientists have long ago given up the straw man of radical empiricism, while it is hard to imagine most practitioners accepting the contention that their classroom practice is guided only by their 3 See Dunn and Holzner (1988) for a postmodernist perspective on dissemination that is explicit about this assumption.

Better Schools Through Better Knowledge?


own interpreted experience. Furthermore, some observational empirical evidence suggests that, although there is a gap between what researchers think they know and how users and practitioners of various sorts behave, there is also considerable activity around knowledge utilization that does not obviously involve dark efforts to impose ideas on a passive audience. The organizational learning perspective is appealing for a variety of reasons. It focuses clearly on the “research consumer” as a collective body, and thus fits neatly with our assumption that “the school is the unit of change” (Cuban, 1990; Fullan, 1985; Spillane & Louis, 2002). In addition, it is flexible, and allows us to think about what constitutes knowledge and knowing using our now well-embedded constructivist lenses. All in all, it feels more contemporary. It is not, however, without limitations. First, it provides us with weak guidelines for assessing what constitutes “good” knowledge for improvement. In a school setting this is a particular drawback, because judgments are always being made about the quality of what is “known” in education, whether the topic concerns the best way of teaching mathematics or the best way of assessing student learning. Thus, the organizational learning perspective has an abstract quality that bears in only a limited way on the complex, high pressure world of practicing educators. A second drawback is the limited research base: We don’t know how different kinds of knowledge actually fit into the change decisions that are made by schools, nor what the implications are of the variations in knowledge for the improvement of outcomes.

An Increasing Emphasis on “Scientific Knowledge” for Policy Decisions One thing is clear: None of the controversies surrounding theories of knowledge use have damaged “science” at all. Around the world, governments are placing more rather than less emphasis on the importance of rigorous research and “evidence-based” innovation in education, and scholars are also calling for more high quality designs, both quantitative and qualitative (Feuer, Towne, & Shavelson, 2002; Maxwell, 2004; Wolter, Keiner, Palomba, & Lindblad, 2004). In many disciplines other than education, scholars are eagerly sought out for the potential commercial value of their ideas (Blumenthal, Causino, Campbell, & Louis, 1996). The value of a scholar’s “sticky knowledge” – Hippel’s (1994) term for the insights from research that is not published, but can be communicated – is also apparent in education, where some researchers are in high demand among the practitioner community. This knowledge is not always purveyed by social scientists and educational developers, but the fact that some of our knowledge is not viewed as useable does not obviate observations that research finds its way into educational practice. If we see many examples of educators looking for or using externally generated knowledge as if it had real meaning, then postmodernism’s argument that all knowledge is local must be flawed. Similarly, if we see that most knowledge from the outside is viewed as suspect – or at least imperfect – until other additions have


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been made to it, then modernist/positivist views are also problematic. Although the revisions to traditional theory suggested by Huberman attempt to address the problematic and contingent nature of knowledge, and to suggest ways in which dissemination activities may take account of this, his discussion does not address the other issues raised by postmodernists, namely that all knowledge is local, contested, and political. Organizational learning theory has not, to date, given us much evidence about how practitioners or policymakers grapple with the wide variety of “evidence-based” innovations that are promoted by hucksters as well as scholars. And none of the perspectives help us much as we try to understand the deepening politicization of knowledge in education, in which governments privilege some research while ignoring other “rigorous” approaches, and where parents and community members (at least in the United States) want to weigh in so that their opinions about what constitutes a high quality idea will also be heard.

New Perspectives The new perspectives on dissemination and knowledge utilization that will be described briefly below can be viewed like layers on an onion of the problem of knowledge and practice. While it is clear that philosophers – and most Western individuals – accept Descartes’ dictum of “I think, therefore I am,” which encapsulates the individual and psychological perspective on knowledge use, there has been a long recognition that thinking and subsequent knowing is constrained by context. Scholars have recently begun to examine these layers at a number of different levels: political, social networks, organizational fields, and cognitive responses. Each of these will be briefly examined below, and the relationship of theoretical ideas to the problem of school improvement will be suggested.

Political Agenda-Setting Characterizing applied educational research as an underutilized treasure trove or as a vast swamp of mediocre studies of limited utility is a matter of opinion rather than objective assessment. There is, however, little question that policymakers hope for quick answers that they rarely get, and researchers want to produce definitive studies that will change the direction of education. If this is the case, why don’t we see more use of rigorous research? The answer lies, in large measure, in the nature of the policy process, whether it occurs at a national, state/provincial, or local level. The notion that knowledge use is constrained by political contexts is not new. In the late 1980s, when evaluation research was well established on the policy scene, observers began to notice that publicly funded research was often used primarily because it “fit” a set of partisan purposes that were formed prior to the availability of the results. Legislative or parliamentary staff members did not read research to find out how their elected bosses should vote; instead they often combed research to

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find results that would fit the official’s or party’s preferred stance. Thus, for example, even the most rigorous multimillion-dollar educational evaluations relating to supplementary educational services for less advantaged children in the United States were ignored or embraced depending on personal perspectives. Weiss and Bucuvalas (1980) were among the first to propose that knowledge produced through more-or-less rigorous inquiry needs to pass two types of tests before it is used: a truth test, which helps the individual or group looking at the information to decide whether it is a reasonable approximation of “reality,” and a utility test, by which the same groups determine whether or not it can be applied given a set of constraints, which could range from financial to potential negative consequences not considered in the research. Thus, for example, educational researchers wonder why policymakers continue to advocate for large schools and large districts when cumulative research evidence suggests strongly that size is negatively related to students’ achievement (Lee & Smith, 1997; Fowler & Walberg, 1991). Yet, local school boards and their administrators can present compelling evidence to support bigger institutions that range from obvious (cost savings) to symbolic (large schools are more likely to have comprehensive programs, which increases public support for education). The research may be true, but does not yet pass the utility test. In addition to Weiss’s cogent observations, the robust line of research on the policy-making process has been driven by the observation that much of the action in policymaking occurs before any votes are taken, during the period when new ideas are introduced and become policy issues for the legislature body and the public. The most frequently cited models of policy development emphasize, like Weiss’s, the chaotic and pluralistic aspects of the process in most Western countries. Until the 1970s, research on agenda-setting tended to look for (and find) elite influence (Putnam, 1976). An alternative, while acknowledging elite bias and resistance to change in the formal system of influence, makes a key additional assumption: that “pre-political, or at least pre-decisional, processes are often of the most critical importance in determining which issues and alternatives are to be considered. . .and which choices will be made” (Cobb & Elder, 1971). This may include “nondecisions,” one process by which ideas are eliminated from formal consideration. While elites may determine which issues come up, it is at this juncture that nonelite groups joust to get their knowledge and ideas into the discussion. The pre-decision process is often biased and politicized (Wolter et al., 2004, p. 521), but in other cases there are multiple points of entry, and “outsiders” who have ideas can market them freely (Edmondson, 2005; van Velzen & Louis, 2009). The Role of Knowledge in Agenda-Setting Explaining the complexity of the social problems to be addressed by policy is usually left to social scientists and practitioners. However, in education, researchers are ill equipped to participate in the policy-making process because they don’t understand it. While educational researchers occasionally become active policy analysts, they are more likely to play an entrepreneurial role, “selling” their own findings or acting as a behind-the-scenes advisor. Researchers complain that their firm results


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are often ignored, while policymakers argue that the research is not useful. At the same time, professional associations representing educators are regarded as weak sources of knowledge for policy (Louis, Febey, Gordon, & Thomas, 2008). Whoever is complaining, the outcomes are the same: limited attention paid to the value of rigorous research or practice-based knowledge (Rosenbaum, 1996; Ryan, 1999). The point is not that policy deliberately ignores research and rigorous examination of effective practice (although it sometimes does), but that the policy-making process always takes into account that “what we know,” at least in the social sectors, is swamped by what we don’t know. Focusing on these uncertainties often stimulates debates that further undermine the credibility of knowledge, sometimes resulting in policy statements that research was not important in determining policy when it is apparent that there is a strong research base (Brown et al., 2003). Alternative Modes of Agenda-Setting A recent example in the United States illustrates the problem of incorporating research and practice perspectives into agenda-setting. The federal Reading Excellence Act was based on the goal of ensuring that every child in the United States would read by the 3rd grade and on the assumption that we know how to teach reading. However, competing views among various actors – individuals, professional associations, and well-placed policy advisors – undermined these reasonable assumptions (Edmondson, 2005). Schisms concerned the best way to teach reading, whether reading should be taught in pre-school or earlier, and other issues. Rather than rallying the expected coalition of stakeholders, the legislation precipitated lingering divisions between agencies and researchers committed to understanding and promoting reading. If promoting reading in the early grades can be politically volatile and create vituperative debate, we cannot expect that managing change in more complex parts of the system will be less so. Policy initiatives can also become resistant to empirical or rational analysis. For example, Technical and Further Education (TAFE) policies in Australia were influenced primarily by corporate opinions and a neoliberal rhetoric linking further education to economic expansion and work, in spite of limited empirical evidence supporting the payoff of such a shift (Ryan, 1999; Symes, Boud, McIntyre, Solomon, & Tennant, 2000). This policy process apparently lacked the pluralistic and chaotic discourse that characterized the development of the Reading Excellence Act in the United States, but did so at the cost of discouraging the inclusion of alternative ideas that might have led to a more comprehensive education policy. There is little evidence that the policy change made much of a difference in the routines and practices of universities, except on the margins (Symes et al., 2000). What can we conclude? First, the use of knowledge in the agenda-setting process is contested and poorly understood. Second, using rigorous practice or researchbased knowledge to sway opinions once the agenda is set has little impact (sad news to all of the social scientists who prepare for legislative or parliamentary testimony). Finally, in education, research on agenda-setting is very limited; we know more about how legislative agendas are set in the small, progressive state of Minnesota

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(Mazzoni, 1993) than we do about larger and perhaps more typical states and much less about other countries. The contrasting agenda-setting histories of the US reading initiative and Australia’s TAFE policies reflect the problems of school improvement today. On the one hand, we observe devolution or decentralization policies that place the responsibility for knowledge utilization and change more clearly in the hands of schools. The assumption that localized processes of knowledge utilization can contribute to educational improvement is a distinct paradigm shift that has occurred on an international basis, propounded by an increasing consensus among teacher associations, politicians, and parents in countries as diverse in educational tradition as Sweden, New Zealand, the Netherlands, England, and the United States. On the other hand, political actors continue to make decisions that involve centralized, hegemonic decisions that are intended to shock the system into change – for example, efforts to introduce new standards-based reforms in previously decentralized systems.

Social Networks Many scholars focus on the characteristics of knowledge and context as a predictor of use. According to many writers, educational research is likely to influence policy development when it (1) is compatible with existing belief structures, (2) diffuses rapidly throughout the organizational field so that it becomes legitimized, (3) has prima facie utility in local sites, and (4) is “processed” or discussed within the potential user group in ways that make it fit with local preferences (Wejnart, 2002). Weak Ties and Diffusion The “strength of weak ties” is a concept that explains the unexpected finding that new ideas transfer most rapidly between groups that share only a few members (Granovetter, 1973). The underlying explanation is that very strong ties foster “groupthink”: little disagreement about preferred policy solutions occurs among groups that share common ideologies, and therefore genuinely challenging information is unlikely to be exchanged. The absence of ties between groups means that innovative policy ideas will not be shared at all because of limited opportunity to meet. Weak ties, in contrast, permit both the development of diverse ideas in independent groups and also the occasional ad hoc communication that is associated with more the rapid spread of new ideas. Weaker ties between units within the same social system can be important in generating a broader range of solutions to identified problems, or help in identifying new problems (Hansen, 1999). The implicit understanding of the importance of weak ties underlies much of the enthusiasm in several countries for developing networks among administrators and teachers in different settings (Stoll & Louis, 2007). Recent research on policy formation and agenda-setting incorporates network studies of networks that examine weak and strong ties. In particular, research on policy networks has turned from an emphasis on bargaining to one that also includes


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information transfer (John, 2001) and the diffusion of innovations in the public sector (Louis, Rosenblum, Bingham-Catri, & Jones, 2003; Wejnart, 2002). This shift expands the framework to account for the emergence of competitive “issue networks” and also moves beyond examining privileged or “elite” communication relationships to more inclusive and loosely regulated forms of information exchange. A network approach argues that most connections are fluid and bound together by the trading of valuable ideas and joint work and not just the exchange of favors. The fact that these are international trends, often involving the borrowing of language and ideas between countries, suggests a strong currency for a flow of political perspective about educational reform among elites. Ideas about effective schools and effective teaching have also been widely diffused through international research networks, and later, within countries, have been influential in affecting policy discourse. The implications for conceptualizing complex educational changes are stunning. If policymakers at all levels in the educational system are held in a large but diffuse network in which crudely defined ideas circulate, but in which some ideas come up against unpredictable exclusionary boundaries, the problem of managing change becomes enormously complex. In large systems, managing complex change requires managing the flow of knowledge – something that has become increasingly difficult in the information age. Rather than managing change, we are driven to a worldview in which embracing the apparent chaos and disorder of an evolutionary process provides the only logic for making the world better (Wheatley, 1999; Wheatley & Crinean, 2004). It is the nature of the idea and whether it “sticks” that creates structures – not the command and control apparatus.

Strong Ties: The Influence of Elite Networks on Knowledge Use and Change The weak ties concept is compelling, but may be less applicable when complex knowledge needs to be transferred. The weak ties approach suggests that countries or states will look for solutions to educational problems quasi-independently. One government’s choices will not dictate an approach to the other. “Successes” are, however, communicated in a variety of venues ranging from invitational expert conferences to OECD meetings, and governments compete to be the first to adopt solutions that look good (Berry & Berry, 1999). The problem with this pattern is that the information communicated can be weak and poorly researched, and that spread may be based more on the immediate needs of officials to “look good” than on careful analysis. Furthermore, the more complex the information, the more likely it is to be distorted during transfer. To compensate, officials develop stronger ties with information providers, turning to trusted groups for information on complex issues. In general, when faced with complex problems, most policymakers look for acknowledged expertise that has proven helpful in the past (Salisbury, Johnson, Heinz, Laumann, & Nelson, 1989). Experts may become members of the policy elite as part of their role in regularly providing information, a trend that accelerates when legislators are faced with ever

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more complex research results and policy options. In countries with a professionalized civil service, inner circle policy advisors, often with ties to academia or think tanks, may come to be seen as displacing more neutral and experienced advisors. Sustained interactions are a key to the effective transfer of complex knowledge. This is the strong ties–weak ties dilemma: Trust creates networks that not only facilitate the flow of complex knowledge, but may also serve to crowd out divergent voices and ideas. Sustained interaction facilitates consistency in “mental models” or the worldviews of parties (Huberman, 1999), and emerging research suggests that people simply do not remember factual information that challenges their mental model (Mishra & Brewer, 2003). Perhaps fortunately, networks connecting researchers and policymakers rarely generate stable or formalized strong ties. Reliance on experts does not make decision makers powerless recipients, because they pick and choose who to listen to (Lupia & McCubbins, 1994; Mishra & Brewer, 2003).

Organizational Frames: Institutional and Cognitive In addition to the infusion of ideas related to organizational learning into educational lexicon, other recent developments in organizational studies seem to have profound implications for knowledge use and school reform. Each also contributes to the debate between the modernists and postmodernists. The first builds on the work of institutional sociologists of the 1950s and early 1960s, but takes a more radical stance in terms of the degree to which external influences condition internal stabilities in organizations, and thus affect the knowledge that will or will not be used. This school of thought, which emerged in the early 1980s, is referred to as the “new institutionalism” (Powell & DiMaggio, 1991). A second line of work, which is more recent, examines sensemaking in organizations. This perspective is consistent with the organizational learning ideas discussed above, but pays more attention to the “how” of organizational learning.

The New Institutionalism The new institutionalism in organizational theory begins with the assumption that the patterned regularity of organizational behavior, which is particularly noticeable within sectors or industries, is a major social phenomenon that requires explanation. The assumption that repetitive social relations are facts that cannot be reduced to individual explanations is as old as the field of sociology itself. What is new about the current perspectives, however, is the emphasis placed on explaining lack of variation in organizational patterns – for example, why do all modernized countries have a higher education system that is increasingly similar in terms of types of institutions, length of study, and the names of courses of study? Why are school


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classrooms remarkably similar whether one is in San Francisco, Rockford, Illinois, or London? Organizational Fields The answer, according to institutional theory, is that the emergence of an organizational field, or a collection of organizations in the same line of business, creates both collective opportunities to influence the environment and group norms that may generate resistance to change. . . . in the long run, organization’s actors making rational decisions construct around themselves an environment that constrains their ability to change in later years. Early adopters of organizational innovations are commonly driven by a desire to improve performance. But . . . as an innovation spreads (within the field) a threshold is reached beyond which adoption provides legitimacy rather than improves performance . . .. Thus organizations may try to change constantly; but after a certain point in the structuration of an organizational field, the aggregate effective of individual change is to lessen the extent of diversity within the field. (DiMaggio & Powell, 1991, p. 65) (italics added)

The spread of the community college system throughout the United States after its initial “invention” in California is an example of this – a diffusion that has now been completed virtually worldwide in developed countries. Particularly striking is its institutionalization as a system that contains both “academic” and “vocational” programs and the similarity of programs between units that avowedly respond to local labor market needs (Brint & Karabel, 1989). Norms and Epistemic Communities The similar nature of individual organizations within an institutionalized field is maintained not by rational choices, but by the dominance of the norms and symbols that come to exemplify “the best of what we do.” Through their participation in symbolic rituals, organizational action reinforces the order of the institution and its relationship to society (Detert, Louis, & Schroeder, 2001; McLaren, 1999). To give just a small example, the use of bells in US high schools to signify the end of classes had little practical significance. Yet, in the 1960s, efforts to eliminate bells were resisted: Bells stood for the orderliness of schooling, as contrasted with the chaos of adolescence. Resistance was not a consequence of individual concerns, but of environmental pressures from the organizational field, and other constituencies who reinforce the norms and symbols. These may range from the general public (who expected bells) to the government and accrediting associations/inspectorates. In spite of the large and small rigidities introduced into an institutionalized organizational field, change and knowledge utilization do, of course, occur. However, reforms often spread in a mimetic fashion among governments and become quickly institutionalized (DiMaggio & Powell, 1991). A clear example is the recurring waves of curriculum standards reforms in developed countries – a response to public concerns about the rigor and breadth of this highly institutionalized aspect of the education system. Because math is an area in which major comparative tests

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have been conducted, the similarity in curricula between provinces/states (and countries) is increasing rapidly, while other curriculum areas (art, social studies, etc.) are highly variable between schools (e.g., are not institutionalized). Why should this be the case? In making these changes, policymakers and educators rely on information from others in their field: rates of knowledge dissemination and utilization are high, and research about math curricula and its effects are widely circulated. In the case of math reforms, the institutional interests of the organizational field in preserving public confidence in their programs often stimulated very modest changes in classroom behavior (Spillane, 2000). The “middle school movement,” intended to reform schools for younger adolescents (usually 11–14-year-olds) in the United States, is another example of dissemination based on a mixture of scholarly research, information about practices in other schools, and “local knowledge.” The initial period of reform was more localized and chaotic, with many efforts to invent new solutions to the problem of creating more academic engagement among early adolescents. More recently, key structural elements, such as teacher teams, interdisciplinary curriculum, and cooperative pedagogical styles, have become widely shared and legitimated, although research supporting their value is still rather slim. What the institutional perspective points to is the increasing similarity in features of schools that are deemed necessary in order to qualify as “a real middle school.”

Institutionalism and Postmodernism To summarize, the institutional perspective picks up the postmodernist themes of hegemony of particular ideas and forms of knowledge, but argues that these are largely created within the organizational field (often in response to external pressure) and are self-sustaining. Rather than emphasizing the “localness” of knowledge construction and use, they point to the mimetic nature of organizations within an institutionalized field as a determinant of what knowledge will be used. Educational reform within the broad organizational field is not dependent on the availability of specific externally developed models complete with training and support, although these may support change in individual schools: The intersection between pressures for change from outside, local development activities, and the rapid spread of workable ideas between adopting units determines knowledge use.

Making Sense and Giving Sense The determinism of new institutionalism is challenged by an offshoot of the organizational learning perspective, which argues that the superficial resemblance of schools may be misleading. Effective schools research suggests that the organizational factors that matter for student achievement are not easily visible to an outsider. If the new institutionalism examines the environment for dissemination and knowledge utilization activities that affect whether information will spread within


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an organizational field, new ideas about sensemaking move into the interior of the school, looking at features that affect the adaptability of individual units. There are a variety of theoretical perspectives on sensemaking and change in the educational literature, but one finding is clear: When teachers or administrators are confronted with a new set of practices (such as those emerging from research), their interpretations of it will determine whether they engage in change, resistance, or simply ignore it (Gold, 2002; Louis & Dentler, 1988). Some studies focus on individual responses to disruptions or demands for change, which examine cognitive processes used by individual teachers to understand new information that is inconsistent with what they already know (Broadway, 1999; Zembylas, 2003), while others look at the role of context and culture as conditions mediating individual change (Angelides & Ainscow, 2000; Blase & Blase, 1997; Gioia & Thomas, 1996; Harris, 1994).

What Is Sensemaking? Sensemaking is not an event, but is ongoing, focused on extracted cues, driven by plausibility, and tied to identity construction (Weick, 1993). Individuals pay attention when something in their surroundings does not fit with their usual routines, and use their experience to find patterns that help to explain new situations. Similarly, collective sensemaking occasionally occurs as part of a deliberate activity (like strategic planning), but more often emerges from informal communication that leads to common actions or agreed-upon activities (Coburn, 2001; Donnellon, Gray, & Bougon, 1986). In education, the nature of professional communities and dialogue has emerged as a powerful factor, determining collective understanding of new ideas introduced from outside (Coburn, 2001; Honig & Hatch, 2004), as well as organizational learning, or the creation of coherent and shared explanations for “how we do things around here.”

Sensemaking and Knowledge Use Sensemaking occurs when teachers work together and learn from each other, which leads them to interpret changes in their setting and practice in a consistent and collective manner (Coburn, 2001; Craig, 1995; Louis, Febey, & Schroeder, 2005). The role of school leaders in helping to interpret new information or demands from the school’s environment and their implications for collective work is increasingly important (Coburn, 2005). Recent work has focused on the role of administrator’s story-telling as part of the collective interpretation (Dunford & Jones, 2000), while other research has emphasized the role of the school leader in helping to determine what information is considered worth talking about in the first place (Wahlstrom & Louis, 1993). The paradox of distributing knowledge more broadly is that it may require a significant “push” from the top of the organization (the principal or other local leader) in order for more initiative to be taken up as a more fundamental element of sensemaking. It is this paradox that has led some people to talk about

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“sensegiving” as typically the job of a formal leader at the beginning of a change process (Fiss & Zajac, 2006). Sensemaking requires not only cognitive engagement with the implications of a new research-based idea, but also opportunities to learn and practice (Coburn, 2001; Marks, Louis, & Printy, 2002). In peer groups with a high rate of interaction among members, values and attitudes are redefined through frequent contact. For example, time to meet and talk allows teachers and administrators to construct interpretations of new ideas and information, and to draw implications for their own work. Thus, organizational learning is a critical outcome of sensemaking because it prevents current beliefs and experiences from interfering with teachers’ and administrators’ ability to implement and interpret the new expectations that come along with expectations that the shape and practice of leadership in schools will change (Kezar & Eckel, 2002; Spillane, Diamond, & Burch, 2002). Making sense of any new initiative or idea, whether research-based requires alignment with existing conditions in the school, and the manner in which a new initiative or idea is framed also affects the role of policy actors outside the school (Firestone, Meyrowetz, & Fairman, 1998; Spillane, 1998). In particular, educational professionals need to see a connection to their main task, which is supporting student learning. Sensemaking is a form of social processing but not necessarily deep processing. Studies of sensemaking often explore micro-interactions and cultural narratives. However, casual conversations and narratives can reflect superficial behavior expectations rather than addressing core assumptions about how the school should function (Craig, 1995). In order to create a more fundamental change, both time and deeper challenges to embedded assumptions are needed (Huy, 1999; Kezar & Eckel, 2002). This focus on “sustained interactivity” meshes well with Huberman’s analysis, reviewed earlier, as well as with most descriptions of the conditions that foster organizational learning.

Paradigm Shift or Paradigm Revolution? The purpose of the above review of recent research in a number of disciplines is to point to two issues: First, there is a proliferation of research and theory bearing on the intersection of knowledge dissemination and utilization and school improvement (although many authors quoted in this chapter do not explicitly consider this issue), and second, much of this research already incorporates elements of a postmodernist position, although none of the empirical studies discussed is consciously postmodernist. The convergence taking place around the key elements of emerging views of knowledge will be considered first, and then the implications for school improvement practice: • All knowledge is local. The above discussions assume that local knowledge is a key feature of the landscape of change, but most would agree that there is important knowledge that is not local. Knowledge created elsewhere must, according to


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all theories, be compatible with existing belief structures, diffuse rapidly throughout the organization field so that it becomes legitimized, have utility in local sites, and be “processed” in ways that make it fit with local preferences. The “new institutionalism” adds another wrinkle to this: knowledge that is widely diffused is itself institutionalized so that it can be easily legitimated and shared within the “field” of organizations, sites, or other members of the culture. Although a great deal of important knowledge may come from outside the organization, the above theories also suggest that this information is always combined with local knowledge. • All knowledge is contested and partial. This is supported by most of the new theoretical advances. Sensemaking, for example, assumes that the contesting of knowledge is central to the learning process. The “new institutionalism” (at a very different level) argues that it is the incontestability of many features of an organizational field that makes it difficult to change: only where there are chaotic events that cause either insiders or outsiders to question the existing knowledge base will change/knowledge utilization occur. The contested nature of knowledge is a key element of political theory and the primary element that leads most contemporary writers to conclude that there are many ways of using knowledge, depending on the degree to which it is “solid” – for example, meets truth and utility tests – and enters the agenda-setting arena at the right time and from the right source. In the organizational learning model, it is the debate and discussion around contested or partial knowledge that leads to a new modus operandi, a perspective that is consistent with the sensemaking perspective. • All knowledge is political. Insofar as the newer theories address power, there is a tendency to follow Macaulay’s assumption that “knowledge is power” and that the creation of knowledge creates powerful settings (including constraints). None of the perspectives reviewed here adopt, however, the critical postmodernist view that power-plus-knowledge inevitably becomes an instrument of oppression. Nevertheless, political contexts are critical to understanding knowledge use, as is demonstrated by the analysis of knowledge utilization among policymakers, the “new institutionalists” observations that knowledge use is constrained as the organizational field becomes defined by both internal norms/patterns and external expectations/regulation, and the sensemaking focus on the role of designated leaders as “sensegivers.” While all of the perspectives reviewed are consistent with some of the basic tenets of postmodernist views of knowledge, they also assume that knowledge has some realist qualities, and that it can be used by individuals who have not created it. The use process is complex and difficult to predict: there will be no production function D&U models emerging from this set of scholars. But messy cannot be equated with impossible. In fact, we may draw some lessons from Bordieu and Wacquant (1992) in this regard: Awareness of the limits of objectivist objectivation made me discover that there exists, within the social world, and particularly within the academic world, a whole nexus of institutions whose effect is to render acceptable the gap between the objective truth of the world

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and the lived truth of what we are and what we do in it. . .. It is this double truth, objective and subjective, which constitutes the whole truth of the social world. (Bordieu & Wacquant, 1992, pp. 254–255)

Some Implications for Practice There are many implications of the layered approach to D&U theory proposed in this chapter. In particular, I argue that there is a self-conscious need to reintegrate our understanding of the nature of three arenas of knowledge: research results related to educational goal achievement (school effectiveness, broadly conceived), educational change processes (school improvement, broadly conceived), and the knowledge use strategies that can be pursued both inside and outside schools to improve student learning and development. None of these are inconsistent with Huberman’s reformulation of traditional dissemination theory, but suggest an expanded context for thinking about D&U. In particular, we need to draw upon the research about political, historical, and organizational contexts affecting knowledge use to enrich the micro-level perspectives that are emphasized by Huberman and the sensemaking research. While it is beyond the scope of this chapter to suggest a model for D&U and school development that fully incorporates these theories, a few examples can demonstrate the practical connections: • Research knowledge is only one source of knowing, and its use must be negotiated during a dissemination process. This fluid relationship – and even co-dependence – between research and practice must be acknowledged, and researchers must be prepared to be open to involvement in the development process at the user level. Much of the best practice in education is not generated by scholars in laboratories, but by teachers and school leaders in actual settings. Research enters the field at a later point, synthesizing, developing, and assessing practice-generated ideas. In case you think that this is evidence of the weakness of the field of education, the same is also true in science and engineering, where connections between universities and firms are increasingly close (Owen-Smith, 2003). On the other hand, the spread of new ideas in education, as in science and engineering, is frequently aided by research, which may codify and extend practice-based knowledge as well as making independent contributions to it. In many cases, researchers may not be as well equipped to engage in field-based development over long periods of time (they have students and new research projects to carry out), but the others may fulfill this function if they have a deep understanding of the emerging nature of the negotiated knowledge. • Involving potential users in research will not necessarily make research more useable – except at a particular site or among those who have been directly involved. There has been a trend in many countries to involve practitioners in setting some research agendas (e.g., serving on peer review panels), and even as co-participants in carrying out research. This is thought to make research more grounded and, hence, useable. While it may be good for researchers to become


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more connected to practice settings and vice versa, the power of site or place when it comes to change is infinite. Thus, extensive involvement of practitioners as researchers should occur for its own direct benefits, and not because it improves the possibility of dissemination and utilization. The main barriers to knowledge use in the public sector accrue as a result of rigidities induced in institutionalized organizational fields, organizational designs that do not foster learning, and political agendas that are not consistent with the information. Changing these interorganizational rigidities in the short run may be extremely difficult. The motto under these circ*mstances is not to engage in Sisyphysian efforts, but to “try again another day” because contextual circ*mstances change for reasons that have nothing to do with research or educational policy. The barriers to knowledge utilization are often to be found in organizational design. This suggests that redesigning the organization should be part of any effort to engage in “sustained interactivity” around research utilization. The emphasis on developing school self-management that is emerging in many countries should be shaped around those capacities that augment not only the ability to manage budgets and personnel policies, but also attends to the creating of schools that can learn from knowledge that is generated inside and outside the school. This objective will require policies, as well as direct training and support to schools that have previously not engaged in these efforts. Some forms of useful knowledge will spread with little dissemination effort – due to organizational field compatibility or because the field develops an infrastructure to assess and legitimate the type of knowledge. We do not always need elaborate infrastructures or sustained interactivity to ensure the incorporation of new ideas in practice – nor can we ensure that the knowledge that spreads most rapidly is “good knowledge.” Utilization and impact can only be assessed over the long haul. Short-run efforts to foster major utilization are likely to appear shallow and hegemonic to practitioners, and fail to disrupt the interorganizational rigidities of the field. Policymakers and disappointed researchers are likely to view these efforts as failures and to pronounce schools as impossible to change. Thus, researchbased efforts to create school reform must be based on an extended time line. Creating sustained interactivity is not a solution to the D&U problem, but if it becomes a norm, it may well increase the scholarly impact because it enlarges the organizational field. We should not limit the idea of sustained interactivity to the relationship between a “knowledge producer/researcher” and “knowledge consumers/practitioners” but focus also on formal and informal networks for transmitting knowledge between units. These networks, to be successful, must involve practice templates that combine research knowledge and practice knowledge.

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Innovation and Diffusion as a Theory of Change Tom Bentley

In 1991, a Finnish computer science student named Linus Torvalds announced, in an email to an Internet news group: I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional) . . . this has been brewing since April, and is starting to get ready (Steinberg, Mulgan, & Salem, 2005).

By 2002, the system that Torvalds had developed, Linux, had claimed 25% of the world market for server operating systems, drawing on an estimated 8,000 person hours of developer time. It now supports a burgeoning range of software applications and services, shaped and spread by enthusiastic user communities and used by some of the world’s largest public and private organisations. The key to its rapid evolution and spread was its open, free nature. Torvalds deliberately shared the program, encouraged its replication and use and invited modifications and improvements which he vetted and adopted and as such the core operating system continued to evolve. Open-source programmes are perhaps best known for the challenge they present to the dominant incumbent in the world of proprietary computer software, Microsoft. The challenge is not just to the quality and cost of products, but the operating philosophy behind them: Open source appeals to many who somehow feel that the tools to create and manipulate knowledge and information are best shaped by an ethic of openness, creativity and collaboration (Leadbeater, 2008). Open-source methods have led to many other powerful ways of creating, refining and sharing knowledge. One of the best known is Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia that now holds more than 1 million articles in over 100 languages. Wikipedia is created by its users and edited by volunteers according to open editorial standards. The Internet is making possible mass-scale applications of knowledge and knowledge-sharing, which could be powerful, if not revolutionary, when applied the task of improving the quality and of reach public education. T. Bentley (B) Policy Director for Julia Gillard, Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister, Melbourne, Australia (writing in a personal capacity) e-mail: [emailprotected]

A. Hargreaves et al. (eds.), Second International Handbook of Educational Change, Springer International Handbooks of Education 23, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-2660-6_2, C Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010



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There is no shortage of visionaries who can see the potential. For example, Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia’s founder, recently coauthored an article with Richard Baraniuk calling for an “open education revolution”: We want to infect you with the dream that anyone can become part of a new movement with the potential to change the world of education. (Wales & Baraniuk, 2008)

Baruniuk, a professor of engineering at Rice University in Texas, is the founder of Connexions, an “open-source media platform” designed to encourage the sharing and adaptation of educational materials. Connexions provides an online environment in which learners and educators can freely access, share and adapt learning materials on any subject. In November 2008, Connexions announced a collaboration with the South Africa–based Shuttleworth Foundation to “jointly develop one of the world’s largest, most comprehensive sets of free online teaching materials for primary and secondary school children.” For Wales and Baruniuk, changing the nature of educational textbooks and teaching resources is just the start. They see these methods as part of a mission to transform the nature of education itself, just as new collaborative technologies and methods are having radical, disruptive effects on the organisation of science, commerce, and cultural production. In the same year, Paul Miller, a young researcher and entrepreneur in London, launched the School of Everything with a group of friends (School of Everything, 2008). The School of Everything describes its mission as “Everyone has something to teach, everyone has something to learn.” It offers a simple, Web-based system, through which members can find people offering to teach in any area of knowledge and register to offer their own expertise. School of Everything is setting out to reinvent adult education. Early signs are promising: Following 2 years of development, its public launch in September 2008 was followed by thousands of members signing up every month. Though its founders do not see themselves as business entrepreneurs, it has been deliberately established as a for-profit entity, in part to bypass the difficulties of operating in the world of public education, with its bureaucratic management structures, closed accreditation systems and incremental timescales.

A Shifting Landscape These examples point to a profound shift in the organisation of work and learning that has been gathering force for a generation. Information has become pervasive through the networking of information and communications technologies (ICTs). Value is increasingly added through the creation and embedding of knowledge into products, services and organisations, and the most successful ways to innovate and undertake large-scale adaptation have become significantly more interactive and open.

Innovation and Diffusion as a Theory of Change


The shift applies to every sector – in the corporate world, investment in research and development is increasingly undertaken through open, collaborative processes which seek to attract and motivate contributors from far-flung networks spanning countries, sectors, and firms rather than seeking to direct innovation through dedicated research labs, proprietary pipelines, or closed policy silos (Chesbrough, 2003). In the public realm, civil society is using the same methods to mobilise campaigns, activism, and journalism through open, user-driven networks., the Korean-based citizen journalism project, produces news and commentary generated by its network of more than fifty thousand user-contributors in more than one hundred countries. – motto: “the world in action” – has built a global Web-based community to campaign on issues from human rights to climate change and poverty. It has attracted more than three million members and regularly mobilises hundreds of thousands to lobby meetings like the 2008 EU leaders’ summit on climate change. These examples share common features: • They are open, making transparent their own structures, operating processes and content to an unprecedented degree, and allowing access to users and participants with few restrictions. • They are highly networked, operating through structures which enable rapid lateral transfer of new material across networks of users who cut across institutional, sectoral or geographical boundaries. • They are user driven, affording a new level of empowerment and contribution to participants who might previously have been thought of as passive consumers or inexpert students. The combination of these three features means that the activities they create can be highly self-organising, relying on emergent structures and distributed decision making to allocate resources and coordinate projects, and highly differentiated, responding to the varying needs of their users instantly through the terms on which they choose to participate and in the process generating personalised services and experiences. These features have led some to declare a new era of participatory democratic innovation which shakes the foundations of our professionally dominated and proprietary systems of institutional and economic life (Benkler, 2006). Such changes have obvious importance for the way we understand and approach change in education. They point to the potential of emergent, networked innovation as a means to achieving rapid and widespread change. But dynamic new movements and transformative ideas have been with us for much longer than the last generation. Some wither on the margins, while many turn out not to fulfil their radical promise. Others are absorbed into the wider pattern of economic and social life without revolution. New educational eras have been boldly predicted many times before, premised on “scientific” measurements of intelligence, the professionalization of teachers, the


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role of the state in making schooling universal, the introduction of computers into classrooms, and more recent advances in neuroscience. This chapter examines the importance of the new innovation movement for the organisation of K-12 education and the potential for its methods and tools to extend the repertoire of educational change. Beyond its potential, we should ask whether the growing emphasis on innovation and diffusion amounts to a model of systemic change relevant to the governance, leadership, and reform of mass schooling systems. There are many barriers to such change, including sunk investment in old models, producer capture and the cost of making disruptive transitions. But there is also no question regarding the fact that education is already part of the global shift: Linus Torvalds was a student when he posted his program (as was Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, the social networking tool). Many of the most influential innovations, such as the World Wide Web itself, have emerged from public education and research institutions. This is not surprising: Any approach to enquiry and innovation which treats knowledge as a common good, pursues collaboration as a means to deeper understanding, and encourages open exchange and dialogue owes much to long-standing educational traditions. But in the last century the dominant methods for governing and improving public education systems have taken quite different forms. While there have been many innovations, successful reform strategies and fiercely competing intellectual and ideological currents in education policy, deep systemic change has remained elusive, despite the central political status that education policy now enjoys in most countries and the intense focus on improving outcomes that accompanies this status. This chapter examines whether the growing emphasis on innovation and diffusion amounts to a model of systemic change relevant to the governance, leadership, and reform of mass schooling systems. It argues that the conditions for systemic adoption of this approach to learning and adaptation are not in place in most school systems despite the welter of innovative activity and the growing emphasis on spreading it. Accurate understanding of the real causes of rigidity and “adaptive flexibility” in school systems is a precondition of understanding how innovation can lead to deep, beneficial, educational change.

The Need for Systemic Change The current pressure on schooling arises from twin drivers. The first is to ensure and demonstrate better attainment across all students and schools, and narrow the gap between the highest- and lowest-achieving students. The second pressure is to respond to the ever-growing range of need and demand, expressed as social and cultural diversity; greater student mobility; changing student, family and employer expectations; growing economic inequality; and geographical polarisation.

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Public recognition of education as a central determinant of social and economic success – both for individuals and for whole societies – continues to grow. But educational performance is both cause and consequence – mirror and mould – of a society’s success. So the practice of education is entangled, inevitably, in wider processes of change including urbanisation and industrialisation, family formation and the renegotiation of gender roles, mass migration and the emergence of new knowledge economies from India and Brazil to Finland and Malaysia. As a result, of course, education systems are under constant pressure to improve fast enough to meet this heightened demand, while simultaneously adapting to the effects of wider social, economic and technological change, in real time, on the systems themselves. Any strategy for adaptation and improvement through innovation must therefore address these complex, ongoing interactions – between the impact of schools’ performance on the capabilities of the communities they serve and on schools of changes to the economic, social, demographic and technological context in which they operate. The challenge under those circ*mstances is to build systems which can improve their own core performance by focusing on priority outcomes like literacy and numeracy and essential standards of equity or fairness, while also actively reflecting the heterogeneity and diversity of the societies they serve. Under these conditions – where education is expected to deliver often dramatic improvements in performance with often only modest injections of extra funding and simultaneously expected to respond and adapt to an increasingly diverse and vociferous range of demands – it is no surprise that innovation is also in demand. Nor is it in short supply. New tools and practices are continuously being generated from both within and beyond formal education. They range from breakthrough pedagogies to concentration-enhancing drugs, digital learning assistants and communities of practice to corporate engagement strategies and models of system reform. But despite the success of some strategies, few would claim that education systems are improving or adapting at the rate or depth that is really needed, or of the examples with which we began this chapter. The questions which are continuously raised in educational debate are how to find more powerful ways to select and run with the right innovations and how to spread them effectively across whole systems of organisation (Dede, Honan, & Peters, 2005). In the case of public education, those systems are often very geographically dispersed and organisationally fragmented.

The Dominance of the Bureaucratic Paradigm In the second half of the twentieth century, education policies focused on achieving universal coverage for the core years of schooling. In its last 2 decades, the focus shifted towards pushing up quality through standards-based reform. Most countries have national education policies clustered around the following themes:


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• standards-based measures to improve attainment in essential outcomes, especially numeracy and literacy; • reporting, assessment and accountability based on key performance indicators; • new infrastructure, including the overhaul and modernisation of school buildings and the introduction of ICT hardware and networks; • reduction of class sizes and training of new teachers; • finding, training and rewarding high-performing educational leaders; • funding and growing childcare and early years centres; • increasing post-compulsory participation by expanding higher education and creating new schoolwork pathways and higher vocational qualifications; • reshaping the educational workforce to emphasise flexibility, professional development, specialisation of professional and paraprofessional roles and performance management; • civic engagement and citizenship among young people; • targeted strategies to tackle underperformance among specific, deprived social groups and in marginalised urban or rural areas.

This list masks many important variations in the ways that each reform can be approached. Among others these variations reflect policy choices about the measurement of attainment, funding, curriculum prescription, the role of government and non-government schooling providers and the structure of the teaching workforce. But with few exceptions, the reform agenda across OECD nations revolves around the same governance paradigm and the ongoing dominance of public bureaucracies in managing schooling and school reform. In this model, responsibility for educational management and improvement is coordinated through a tri-level structure of central agencies, local authorities or school districts and individual schools. The centre makes policy, sets rules of accountability and allocates funding; a layer of local or regional authorities conducts planning and coordination and individual schools operate according to their own mix of leadership, community expectation and organisational capability within the prevailing environment. This model is almost universal, though the relative power of each layer varies. Its ubiquity means that no reform strategy will be successful without explicitly addressing and aligning actions at each of the three levels (e.g., see Michael Fullan’s theory of tri-level reform) (Fullan, 2005). But while active alignment of the three levels is clearly essential, it is equally striking that the tri-level schema applies equally to the internal organisation of the typical school as well as to the wider system, indeed, to many different kinds of organisation. In fact, other educational innovations tend to be channelled through and absorbed into this institutional paradigm as part of the enduring operating framework for schooling. As such, the tri-level framework provides the setting for the standardsbased reform strategies of the last generation and helps to explain both their successes and shortcomings.

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Standards-based reform uses a simple, powerful set of tools to pursue better outcomes. They are as follows: • Creating formal performance objectives and standardising measures of performance; • Targeting resources and prioritising key outcome measures; • Strengthening and simplifying accountability structures; • Building professional development and continuous improvement strategies; • Centralising control over investment budgets, performance measures, curriculum specification, accountability structures and inspection systems; • (Often) decentralising and deregulating other aspects of school resourcing and organisation, including school budgets, support services and professional development, creating new managerial flexibilities for school leaders. The major policy trend, over a generation, has been the creation of a single framework through which to pursue continuous improvement in school performance by identifying standards, resourcing schools to meet them and making schools, students and professionals accountable for their attainment. This trend has occurred, of course, at the same time as the shift in public administration towards decentralisation and devolution in the organisation of public services through reforms broadly associated with the “new public management”. These reforms, which have applied to education as much as to anything else, have encouraged contracting out of key services, entry of new service providers into areas of state monopoly and devolution of management control towards the local level, for example, through school-level autonomy over budgets, teacher recruitment and procurement of support services. If differentiation and responsiveness have been achieved through administrative devolution and operational flexibility, they have been accompanied by the standardisation and hardening of measurement and accountability structures. The aim of the reform strategies using this approach has been to ensure that each school has appropriately focused capacity and incentives to improve its own performance through participation in a common system of governance and accountability. Schools are then supported or rewarded to the extent that they are deemed to have under- or over-performed. Some of these strategies have been highly effective (Levin, 2008). But this strategic focus has never, as far as I know, led to the replacement of the traditional model of bureaucratic governance.

Why is the Bureaucratic Model So Resilient? One explanation, I believe, for the persistence of this model is that it fits hand in glove with a model of schooling itself which is deeply rooted in public imagination and in our wider systems of social and economic organisation. Centuries-old habits are hard to break and lead to the formation of powerful vested interests. Traditional forms of schooling are especially susceptible to producer capture given the relatively weak voices of users (students and parents). The costs sunk over generations into


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schooling infrastructure and industrial organisational models mean that moving to alternative patterns of organisation and delivery can be expensive, although some more networked and open models could eventually reduce overheads and encourage more innovation. But even where vested interests are weak or have been swept away by reform or market competition, the model does not seem to have changed radically. Successful private schools rarely stray from the organisational form or the regulatory methods found in state sectors and often generate their own intermediate bureaucracies to coordinate, regulate and manage support services in the absence of public school boards or local government. Across countries and cultures, the received definition of an “effective school” has also become remarkably similar, influenced by both the international research movement on school improvement and the internationalisation of performance indicators and measurement. The effective school is characterised by strong, purposeful leadership; an ordered, stable setting that sustains a consistent focus on learning, held in place by a clearly defined hierarchy of professional roles and organisational systems and cultures which support continuous review and improvement within the organisational framework. Of course there are many variations and inflections, from specialist curricula to religious or community ethos. But the organisational core remains recognisable across sectors and cultures – and it aligns seamlessly with the wider governance framework. This might prompt many discussions, but our focus is on what shapes the flow of innovation and adaptation. Traditional models of bureaucracy are usually characterised as rigid, rule based, and internally focused. Many reformers and reform strategies have worked to inject openness, contestability and explicit goal-setting into the workings of these systems. But perhaps the explanation for their resilience lies in their peculiar flexibility rather than their closed nature. Much recent thinking about the shaping of social and economic behaviour has focused on the evolution, through open and self-organising processes, of complex adaptive systems. Rather than the formal, rational goals and accountabilities of the institutional framework, which is the focus of so much school reform, this thinking focuses on the patterns and dynamics of behaviour in systems which hold together without explicit systems of command. Human behaviour is adaptive in the sense that it continuously adjusts to changing environments and new experience, even without conscious decision making. A burgeoning literature on game theory and behavioural and institutional economics provides a rich new source of insight into these patterns and the fact that social and organisational behaviour forms complex, durable patterns which often subvert or contradict both chains of command and the “common sense” of market incentives (Homer-Dixon, 2006; North, 2005). The evolution of these adaptive systems can lead to increasingly complex patterns of specialisation, interdependence and self-organisation which hold together different needs, functions and interests in a wider community (Wright, 2001). Such systems contain many diverse parts but still operate as coherent wholes which generate more than their sum (Chapman, 2003). Ecosystems function in

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this way, with clear hierarchies, specialised division and sharing of labour between species and within groups, a constant, evolving mix of competition and collaboration and physical boundaries set and shaped by the interaction between landscape, population and capability. A school system could be characterised in the same way, except that its evolution is directed by human intentions and norms and not simply by competition and natural selection. My argument here is that the bureaucratic model is adaptive, but that it is not necessarily designed to optimise learning outcomes for all of its participants. Instead, it enables its members – schools, administrators, teachers and so on – to coordinate the process of continuous adaptation to changing student identities, changing socio-economic conditions and changing policy requirements, through an ordered, incremental process of adjustment, refinement, and organisational learning. The bureaucratic model is not impervious to change: It offers a particular kind of flexibility which makes adaptation manageable, as long as the changes can be accommodated within its own organisational parameters. The system is implicitly geared towards maintaining the integrity of its own design. This layering allows reliable organisation of teaching and learning and progression of cohorts of students, simultaneously with the day-to-day adjustment and improvisation needed to accommodate changing needs and behaviours – each box in the diagram in Fig. 1 simultaneously represents a unit of formal accountability and a domain of local knowledge and authority with its own leadership, power structure, informal social relationships, shared culture and so on. Fig. 1 The tri-level adaptive structure of schools and school systems

The remarkable durability of these routines in the face of change may be explained partly by the mutual dependence of policy makers, administrators and practitioners on its orderly structure for the implementation of their own central objectives. They make ordered learning possible by creating the predictability and responsibilities needed to organise at large scale. As Christensen, Horn and Johnson put it: In every organisation there are forces that shape and morph every new innovative proposal so that it fits the existing organisation’s own business model, rather than fitting the market it was intended to serve. (Christensen, Horn, & Johnson, 2008)

All durable systems set parameters on the scope of what they can accommodate. If an innovation has to pass through these processes and routines – what Christensen et al. describe as a “legislative process” – in order to win legitimacy and be taken up


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across the operating system, it is inevitable that it will be shaped and implemented by the perspectives, interests and dominant methods in that existing system.

Stemming the Flow of Learning But if the system as a whole increasingly requires rapid, powerful flows of innovation, these underlying sources of order also present a major constraint. The same structures which make ordered learning possible also set boundaries which limit its possibilities by limiting the scope of inquiry, interaction and information flow in teaching and learning. At the level of practice, many teachers seek ways around these limitations, but most remain within the boundaries of classrooms, year groups and a preset curriculum. Some of the most powerful educational innovations are disruptive: They require radically different patterns of organisation, using time, space, information and people differently in the learning process, in order to achieve their potential impact. But as Richard Elmore has persuasively argued, the multiple layering of organisational systems and authority, and the strong separation of the core technical and practical knowledge of teachers from the organisational knowledge and authority of educational administration, creates a potent “buffering” effect. Thus policy makers and experts are insulated from the classroom, and individual teachers are insulated from the expertise and exposure to new practice that might make them directly accountable for generating the best possible outcomes (Elmore, 2000). These properties have not escaped the notice of educational leaders. The need for “adaptive work” as part of any change strategy is increasingly accepted as part of the lexicon of educational reform. (Heifetz & Linsky, 2002) In this context, adaptive work means mobilising people to solve problems or meet challenges which go beyond the existing capabilities or technical solutions at their disposal (Bentley & Wilsdon, 2003). Adaptive strategies therefore seek explicitly to build a new capacity which can be used to support higher student achievement and to build a culture of “high expectations” which seeks permanently to overcome an institutionalised status quo of student underachievement. Two elements in particular stand out as features of these reform strategies: the focus on developing leaders who can successfully raise expectations and the focus on starting (or restarting) new organisations – academies, charter schools and so on – as a way to disrupt these patterns. But while the introduction of fresh external stimulus may be recognised as essential to the prospects of systemic change, how best to combine them with the resources of the existing system remains a challenge unmet. In short, educational reform has become more adept at creating new directions and new models in the last generation, but still struggles to gain leverage for these innovations across whole systems.

Innovation and Diffusion as a Theory of Change


In the context of the tri-level governance framework, this creates a deep systemic tension: Focusing on performance regimes in pursuit of higher standards from the centre requires strengthening of vertical chains of command and reinforcement of the structures which create functional standardisation and fragmentation. At the same time, meeting the needs of an increasingly diverse student body by utilising a burgeoning range of expert knowledge and evidence about effective learning practices requires much greater levels of flexibility and direct collaboration with the wider world. This combination of stability and incremental change allows the traditional model of schooling, and of bureaucratic school systems, to adapt continuously to all kinds of external change, and therefore to deflect the disruptive potential of almost any innovation, whether it comes from above, below or around the corner. While reform strategies continue to rely on the ongoing consistency at the core of the system – such as those required by standardised reporting processes, outcome measures and benchmarked features of effective schools – they will inevitably help to reinforce and embed the core institutional design. Meanwhile, the adaptive resilience of the wider system is just as likely to be filtering and interpreting the signals being sent from the policy centre, and in the process reducing their impact.

Making Innovation Systemic Yet if this were the whole story, it would be hard to account for the many different ways in which innovation is generated and spread across existing education systems. Of course, much of the current wave of open, networked innovation has its roots in long-standing educational thinking and practice. The School of Everything is a self-conscious twenty-first century manifestation of Ivan Illich’s “de-schooling” ideas, while the principles of systems thinking and reflective practice flow directly from thinkers like John Dewey and Donald Schön to contemporary scholars like Lawrence Lessig and Etienne Wenger. Most school systems make significant investments in infrastructure for knowledge transfer, whether through professional development programs or technology networks, research laboratories or leadership institutes. Most schools participate in partnerships, exchange programs and self-generated improvement projects of some sort. The question is not whether resources for innovation exist, but whether the wider whole of the system manages to create more than the sum of its individual parts. Some of the more breathless theories of networked innovation would suggest that its spread depends almost entirely on the kind of spontaneous, organic and self-organising growth shown by the viral spread of Web-based phenomena. But a longer view would acknowledge that the most influential innovations are often the result of deliberately crafted strategies and that innovation has its greatest impact precisely when it is integrated with, or replaces, existing systems.


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Christensen’s analysis of the growth of disruptive innovation helps here: Genuinely disruptive innovations, in order to achieve their full impact, must initially be developed to “compete against non-consumption”, that is, for use by those for whom the current industry standard is not accessible, affordable or sufficiently valuable. If new innovations are tested immediately against the industry standard, they will come up short because they are more expensive, lower in quality or do not benefit from an existing infrastructure. But if innovations can grow in a space where previously a group of users was unserved – teenagers listening to transistor radios who could not have afforded the expensive table-top version, for example – then they may, over time, develop to the point where they can genuinely compete with and supplant existing industry standards. Take a political example: the 2008 US Presidential election broke all records for campaign fund-raising and produced an unprecedented surge in voter turnout for the Obama campaign by successfully integrating long-established methods of political communication and campaign coordination with forms of Internet-based mobilisation pioneered as an alternative to the dominant approach since 2000. The Obama campaign produced a winning synthesis of traditional political organisation and open, networked activism which has helped to break the mould of US politics. It could not have done so without building on the growth of alternative spaces and user groups of pro-Democratic activists, but it could not have changed the national political landscape without integrating these methods into an adapted (and highly adaptive) national campaign infrastructure which built on long-standing party and fund-raising structures. The lesson is that, rather than seeking only to subvert or bypass the adaptive capacity of existing systems, change strategies based on innovation and diffusion must harness them. Too often innovation is assumed to flow from one of three sources: • from competition between schools, or from “quasi market” policy measures which replicate the effects of open competition, such as publishing performance league tables. • from new knowledge, primarily created upstream from teaching and learning in the fields of basic research. For example, advances in neuroscience or ICT create insights about the nature of learning which can be fed scientifically into the design of curriculum, teaching and assessment programmes. • from the interaction between teachers and learners; it is context specific and organic and cannot be generalised in ways that go beyond professional judgement and discretion; it therefore emerges from the bottom up, and should be recognised by policy makers through respect for professional autonomy and creativity. While each of these has some truth, it fails to capture the systemic properties – we need a larger, more robust schema which shows how multiple sources of innovation can form part of a more robust innovation system.

Innovation and Diffusion as a Theory of Change


According to the leading Australian researchers Jonathan West and Keith Smith, innovation systems embody five essential functions. • • • • •

Identifying opportunities; Creating and spreading knowledge and skills; Developing new organisations and production capacity; Managing risk and uncertainty; Building and maintaining essential infrastructure (West & Smith, 2005).

Different sectors, argue Smith and West, may adopt radically different ways of fulfilling these functions – but they are all present in systems which successfully adapt over time to changing conditions through the flow of innovation. Most importantly, innovation systems that succeed over time are grounded in the repeated, practical effort by participants to solve problems and challenges they encounter in the course of trying to improve what they currently do. Crucially, Smith and West remind us that successful innovation systems are not driven exclusively by a single external factor, such as the rate of technical invention or the pressure of market competition. Instead, successful innovation systems are ones in which a plurality of competing approaches, collaborative problem-solving and a constant interchange between specialist expertise and practical experience become embedded in the organisation, culture and market structure of a given field. Looking at the five together it is striking that some, like creating new knowledge and skills or developing new organisations, tend to receive disproportionate attention in education policy. For example, many school reform strategies now seek to create new organisations, such as the British Government’s Academy program or Chicago’s Renaissance 2010. Others, such as New York City or England’s National College for School Leadership, have created academies and institutes to instil high impact practices among emerging leaders. But while each of these elements may be highly desirable, depending on the specific need or opportunity it is addressing, it clearly will not bring systemic change unless it is combined in the right way with a wider set of activities.

Taking Diffusion Seriously The flow, or diffusion, of innovation through these wider systems of activity is mediated by all the same influences which shape and characterise systems of human organisation. So strategies for diffusion must be based on our understanding of the ways in which people actually come to learn and adjust their own behaviour in social groups and organisations (Bentley, 2007). They include the following: • Imitation: people take up new practices when they observe them in situ, that is, see them being modelled successfully by others;


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• Iteration: new practices are developed, accepted, improved and embedded through repetition and routine, not through one-off interventions; • Improvisation: necessity is the mother of invention, as the old saying goes. When we are confronted by the need to act in changed or unfamiliar circ*mstances, we are more likely to try things we have not done before; • Inspiration: stories narrated in compelling ways are far more likely to elicit positive responses than instructions, injunctions or more abstract descriptions of why change is needed; • Immigration: moving people into new settings is often highly effective in bringing new practices to bear, rather than trying to move ideas separately from the people who enact them; • Interpretation: the ability to recognise patterns and draw conclusions from complex sets of information about activities is crucial to whether or not innovations are successfully evaluated and adopted over time. As Lester and Piore argue, innovation requires the capacity to draw meaningful conclusions under conditions of sustained uncertainty, as well as to respond to unambiguous evidence of effectiveness. (Lester & Piore, 2004) These forms of learning, of course, feature in the repertoires of great teachers. Ironically enough, they rarely appear explicitly in innovation strategies designed for the larger systems that teachers inhabit.

Can Open Innovation Work in Real Communities? Hume, a local government area in the metropolitan area north of Melbourne, Australia, is characterised by ethnic and cultural diversity and economic struggle. It includes Broadmeadows, site of a Ford motor manufacturing plant, which is an important source of jobs and investment, but cannot sustain the whole local economy. Hume also includes Melbourne international airport, a crucial economic asset and source of thousands of jobs. Hume exemplifies many features of the new global economy – diversity, inequality and dynamism – which do not neatly fit into an idealised, traditionally planned definition of place or community. Thirty-five different languages are spoken by its people. But their achievement is limited by Hume’s location, which makes many job and learning opportunities difficult to access, and by the impact of economic disadvantage and social fragmentation. School reform to drive up standards is an obvious way to tackle this challenge and improved schooling outcomes is high on the agenda of the state, local and federal governments. But Hume has also chosen a different kind of response: the Hume Global Learning VillageTM . Hume’s Global Learning Centre, a sleek steel and glass building in the town centre, is designed as a hybrid: It houses the Council Chamber, a welcoming café and a public library. It provides conference and seminar facilities and Internet services for local learners: teenagers using them after school, mothers learning English,

Innovation and Diffusion as a Theory of Change


or workers looking to improve their ICT skills. As Vanessa Little, the Learning Community’s General Manager, explains, there are so many kinds of community resource in the building that there is very little space for her own team. But there are good reasons for the close proximity of so many different functions. The centre is part of a much more ambitious strategy to link together the traditional elements of Hume’s educational infrastructure – schools and colleges – with many other activities and sites of learning that can impact positively on learning outcomes. In Learning Together, the centre outlines a vision of “a learning community where people embrace learning as a way of life, for all their life, thereby creating a community that values learning as the key to strengthening individual and community wellbeing.” Hume’s strategy is to transform and enhance what is achieved within its education institutions by linking them directly to its wider communities. This means myriad projects, organised around themes like inspiring lifelong learning; learning in community settings; language, literacy and numeracy; ICT uptake and village networking. Threaded through them is a hard, practical focus on developing skills and learning with tangible benefits. But the activities reach into places where the traditional bureaucratic model rarely gets: recruiting women from new migrant communities to create digital records of songs, stories and oral history; attracting teenagers to download, create and exchange their own learning materials; holding an annual State of Learning research conference; mentoring and “inspiring learners” programmes that put high-profile individuals who grew up in the area in touch with Hume’s current youngsters. Many of these activities are familiar to educators. But there are few places where they are systematically connected to the development of formal education services. Hume’s model for doing so is a wide-ranging partnership of institutions, a network capable of combining to raise money, offer shared services and jointly plan new infrastructure. As part of the same regeneration process, many of Hume’s government schools are being rebuilt and reconfigured into a smaller number of learning centres designed to offer a new range of learning pathways to all their students. The Global Learning Village does not act as a traditional corporate or bureaucratic centre; when it needs a legal entity to form a partnership or bid for funding, one of its network members steps forward. It is not a direct replacement for the existing governance institutions or service providers, but by designing itself to further the whole population’s learning interests, it can bring these other institutions together to create entirely new options. The Hume Global Learning Village is one illustration of how open systems of governance and learning can support more ambitious educational strategies. It uses practice-based innovation to generate collective action to change the context in which individual experience and service delivery occur. In doing so, it seeks to adjust the broad institutional parameters which frame the ongoing, incremental processes of educational participation. Crucially, it connects the workings of formal education providers with the many other dimensions of learning and sources of innovation that exist beyond their formal boundaries. It seeks to create community, as well as to serve it.


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Innovation comes from multiple sources; but it may be best understood as the product of dissonance or incongruity, the clash between expectation and reality or the gap between the ideal standard and the particular form. Hume’s innovation is perhaps a response to the gap between the diversity and inequality of its community. In successful learning systems, dissonance is not screened out or neutralised, but used as the stimulus for a continuous pattern of experimentation, evaluation, collaboration and exchange; that is the theory of change which educational innovators should seek to enact.

Conclusion: An Architecture for Systemic Innovation Whether or not Hume offers a powerful innovation that can be successfully adopted across whole systems of education is impossible to tell for now. But there may be one overall conclusion to draw from its approach, from the “open-source learning” innovations featured at the beginning of this chapter and from the overall analysis of systemic change that I have presented. The new theories of innovation and adaptive systems offer an opportunity for a new synthesis between schools of educational thought which have traditionally emphasised either the authority of expertise transmitted through vertical chains of authority or the necessity of understanding grounded in the experience of learners and the emergence of communities of practice. As I argued, successful open systems are not governed by free-for-alls. An essential feature of open-source programming is that it maintains a clear editorial hierarchy and quality standards against which any adjustment can be judged. The crucial feature is that access to these standards, and the opportunity to test out new ways of meeting them, is openly shared. Twenty-first century education cannot succeed without becoming more explicit or authoritative about the meaning of understanding and excellence. But the ways in which these definitions of excellence are applied: in school selection criteria, professional standards for educators, methodologies for student assessment and the expectations of the wider community could all be radically improved if they were subject to the rigours of open, user-driven testing and codevelopment of new methods. Whether these methods become mainstays of our next education system depends on whether the institutional architecture underpinning mass education can be designed to make these standards and processes transparent to the people who use and depend on them rather than to the current closed communities of administrators and experts. For example, such an architecture might include systems for the following: • individual digital record keeping and portfolios; • formative assessment and peer-to-peer exchange; • open access curriculum standards and specifications, and open archives of curriculum content and learning resources;

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• network-based user communities, both of educational practitioners and of students, clustered around specific shared interests; • area-based information about social and economic outcomes, services and community structure, integrated across different public agencies and openly available for community use; • funding and regulation of education providers which did not discriminate by sector or function, for example, between private schools or public technical colleges, but which explicitly sought accountability for public outcomes for any kind of organisation receiving public subsidy or protection; • opening of educational infrastructure and facilities to wider, plural forms of community use, as many jurisdictions are now doing; • harmonisation of regulatory regimes designed across different countries and jurisdictions to encourage diversity of practice and model, but make possible higher levels of mobility and “interoperability” between systems; • development and research programmes based on open, collaborative platforms and specialised clusters of innovators; • home-school-community services designed to support the educational “coproduction” of families and informal community networks. There are certain to be many more applications. The crucial point is not that we should continue searching for the most powerful innovations, but that education needs an architecture which is capable of harnessing the flow of innovations far more effectively. We are far more likely to be successful in building this “supporting infrastructure” for systemic, adaptive learning if it is built in ways which make the standards, content and terms of participation for public education radically more open than they have been over the last century. The tools with which to build such an open architecture are currently emerging around us.

References Benkler, Y. (2006). The wealth of networks: How social production transforms markets and freedom. New Haven: Yale University Press. Bentley, T. (2007). 7 kinds of learning. In S. Parker & S. Parker (Eds.), Unlocking innovation: Why citizens hold the key to public service reform. London: Demos. Bentley, T., & Wilsdon, J. (2003). The adaptive state. London: Demos. Chapman, J. (2003). System failure: Why governments must learn to think differently. London: Demos. Chesbrough, H. (2003). Open innovation: The new imperative for creating and profiting from technology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press. Christensen, M., Horn, B., & Johnson, C. (2008). Disrupting class: How disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns (p. 74). New York: McGraw Hill. Connexions: Sharing Knowledge and Building Communities. (2009)., accessed February 28, 2009 Dede, C., Honan, J., & Peters, L. (2005). Scaling up success: Lessons learned from technologybased educational improvement. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


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Elmore, R. (2000). Building a new structure for school leadership. Washington, DC: Albert Shanker Institute. Fullan, M. (2005). Leadership and sustainability. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. Heifetz, R., & Linsky, M. (2002). Leadership on the line. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press. Homer Dixon, T. (2006). The upside of down: Catastrophe, creativity and the renewal of civilisation. London: Souvenir Press. Leadbeater, C. (2008). We think: Mass innovation, not mass production. London: Profile Books. Lester, R., & Piore, M. (2004). Innovation: The missing dimension. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Levin, B. (2008). How to change 5000 schools. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. North, D. C. (2005). Understanding the process of economic change. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. School of Everything. (2008)., accessed February 28, 2009. Steinberg, T., Mulgan, G., & Salem, O. (2005). Wide open: Open source methods and their future potential. London: Demos. Wales, J., & Baraniuk, R. (2008). An open education revolution, Project Syndicate,, accessed February 28, 2009. West, J., & Smith, K. (2005). Australia’s innovation challenges: Building an effective national innovation system. Melbourne Business Review,, accessed 17 May, 2008. Wright, R. (2001). Nonzero: The logic of human destiny. New York: Vintage.

The Psychodynamics of Educational Change Chris James

Educational change can take many forms. It may be equivalent to or an extension of something familiar, may restore expertise in an aspect of practice long forgotten, and may add skills and experience without a sense of loss. Radical educational change may be fundamental, requiring a substantial reorientation of practice or the way practice is organised. However, such a change may not be particularly disruptive to any sense of well-being because it is appropriate, required and timely. So, although the change may break important attachments to ways of working and expose relatively trivial habits and expectations, it may at the same time launch a new and exciting enterprise or endeavour. Moreover, whilst the change may generate great anxiety and apprehension, there is no powerful sense of loss; the change may even be experienced as revitalising and energising. Even if the hoped-for expectations do not materialise and the venture does not succeed, the accustomed sense of selflimitation has been broken. Not all educational change is experienced so positively. When the change is unwelcome, involves the loss of important attachments that cannot be restored and does not have an acceptable purpose, there may be considerable mental disturbance resulting from internal conflicts and the loss of meaning (Marris, 1974). The experience of educational change may therefore be complicated, and making sense of it can be extremely problematic. This chapter makes sense of some of these complexities in the sometimes disturbing experience of educational change. The chapter draws upon a set of interlinked concepts known as system psychodynamics (see James & Connolly, 2000; James, Connolly, Dunning, & Elliott, 2006, 2008; Obholzer & Roberts, 1994), which use concepts from analytical psychology (Gabriel, 1999; Hirschhorn, 1988; Kets de Vries, 1991; Papadopoulos, 2006) and systems theory (Hanna, 1997; Miller & Rice, 1967; von Bertalanffy, 1968) to interpret individual and group behaviours in social settings. In system psychodynamics theory, a number of concepts are central:

C. James (B) University of Bath, Bath, England e-mail: [emailprotected]

A. Hargreaves et al. (eds.), Second International Handbook of Educational Change, Springer International Handbooks of Education 23, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-2660-6_3, C Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010



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• social defences, which are the behaviours that individuals and groups adopt to protect themselves against unacceptable feelings that may imperil their senses of identity, legitimacy and value; • unconscious mental activity and its influence on individual and group behaviours; • boundaries, which are places of discontinuity in an individual’s external social world, within an individual’s inner psychic structure, and between an individual’s internal and external worlds and which can be powerfully influenced by affective experience; • the primary task of work groups, which is what work groups feel they should be doing, along with work group mentalities; • basic assumption tendencies in group behaviour where groups in work settings put their efforts into meeting their unconscious needs instead of working on the primary task; and • affective containment by individuals and in organisations. The foundational axiom of system psychodynamics is that feelings powerfully influence individual and collective organisational practice and changes to those practices. So, regardless of any intentions to retain a cognitive rationale for practice and a cognitive perspective on educational change, feelings dominate. Systems psychodynamics enable that affective influence to be understood. This chapter explores the reasons for the high level of affective intensity in educational institutions. It then sets out what may lie behind responses to educational change and, using concepts from systems psychodynamic theory, explores those responses in greater depth. In shedding light on change processes from this affective standpoint, the chapter also seeks to offer pointers for those leading and managing change in schools and colleges.

Feelings and Educational Institutions For a variety of reasons, schools and colleges are places with high levels of affective intensity (James, 1999, 2008a; James & Connolly, 2000; James et al., 2006). For teachers, the work of teaching and organising in schools can call up a whole range of feelings (Beatty, 2000; Hargreaves, 1998a, 1998b). Learning requires motivation, which has an affective component. If the pupils are not motivated to learn, the teacher has to engender it and provoke the feelings that are part of it. Teaching is an uncertain and unpredictable practice, which can bring feelings of both excitement and anxiety. Teachers’ and educational leaders’ relationships with pupils, parents and close working colleagues can have a powerful affective aspect as typically do most social relationships that add to the affective intensity. Schools and colleges are institutions, which means they have important and significant social purposes. The responsibility carried by those who work in them arguably increases the affective intensity of their work. Importantly, many teachers have a very powerful attachment (Fonagy, 2001) to their work. It has meaning for them. For the pupils, learning is associated with risk and uncertainty, so they may well feel excited and energised

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and apprehensive and fearful as they learn. In their lives in and out of school, pupils may experience a whole range of unfamiliar and unmanageable feelings, which may be brought into the classroom in ways that can be difficult to control.

The Affective Experience of Educational Change While some educational change is easily accepted and can even be energising, invigorating and uplifting, unwelcome change can be profoundly disturbing and disorientating. There are two main reasons for the effect of unwelcome change: the disruption of defensive behaviours and the complex feelings that result from loss of meaning. Much organisational practice in work settings involves defensive behaviours (social defences) that are intended to protect against the experience of unacceptable feelings or the prospect of that experience (Argyris, 1985; Menzies, 1960; Obholzer & Roberts, 1994). The same is true in schools and colleges – perhaps more so because of the affective intensity of educational work (Dunning, James, & Jones, 2005; James & Connolly, 2000). So, a good deal of educational practice, although it may have an explicit cognitive rationale, is actually intended to defend against the prospect of experiencing difficult feelings and to optimise the probability of experiencing positive ones. The requirement to change practice, especially if the change is not welcome, may cut across the “conservative impulse” to preserve and safeguard the predictability of life of those concerned (Marris, 1974). It may therefore be accompanied by feelings of loss, insecurity and inadequacy, which may all bring other distressing feelings such as anxiety. Thus, educational change may require a change in practice, which in itself can be associated with difficult feelings and anxieties, which are explicitly intended to protect against other difficult feelings and anxieties. So, change can bring an extra burden of difficult feelings and anxieties (James & Connolly, 2000; James et al., 2006). It is no surprise therefore that the conservative impulse in educational practice can be strong and can overwhelm adaptive capacity, which is the readiness and capability to learn and change. Unwelcome change that disrupts the familiar practice pattern can as a result generate high levels of anxiety. It can also call up powerful internal conflicts, which can influence responses to change that need to be resolved. Educational change can also result in the loss of meaning. Throughout our lives we attach meaning to significant practices, physical objects and the people around us (Fonagy, 2001). In educational change, significant objects and aspects of educational work – teaching and organising – may be discarded, deemed redundant and lost and the attachment to them threatened or broken. Realisation that the meaningful object no longer exists requires that our mental energies “are withdrawn from its attachment to this meaningful object” (Freud, 1925, p. 15x). This requirement to withdraw from an attachment and to reattach to other objects demands a fundamental restructuring of meaning. This restructuring can provoke high levels of anxiety and generate conflicting feelings, which can influence behaviour. Those concerned may experience two powerful impulses: firstly, to return to the time before the loss,


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and secondly, to reach a state of mind where the past is forgotten, both of which are practically impossible. The struggle to resolve this conflict and to begin to restore a sense of equilibrium can take time and energy and can drain people’s vitality. Recovery from the feelings generated by loss depends on restoring a sense that the lost attachment can still give meaning to the present. However, when the sense of loss is extreme, it can impair the ability to attach meaning to subsequent events and lessen the ability to learn from them and to begin to understand how to resolve the conflicting feelings. Individuals may also seek to withdraw from the kinds of social experiences that may help them. So, a teacher whose work is profoundly affected and radically changed in an unwelcome way by an educational change may find it impossible to become motivated to work in the new way and in the new setting, may withdraw from contact with colleagues, and may feel unable to “move on” from the sense of loss (Marris, 1974).

Social Defences in Educational Institutions Social defences are patterns of behaviour that are often routinised and taken for granted and that have the purpose of reducing the prospect of unacceptable feelings – typically anxiety – or eliminating influences that are experienced as potentially threatening a person’s mental survival (Gabriel, 1999). They may be present in existing individual and organisational practice, and individuals and groups may resort to them in the face of unwelcome educational change. Typically, they are not deliberately or consciously engaged in unconscious processes but are largely the result of them. Understanding social defences can therefore give important insights into the experience of educational change and how to manage change appropriately. Social defences can become so deeply embedded in organisational practices that their defensive purpose may not be immediately apparent or understood by those who engage in them. Indeed, for a variety of reasons individuals and groups are likely to cover over the affective rationale with an apparently valid and sensible cognitive explanation of their behaviour. Whilst social defences offer protection from affective pain and danger, they can also distance the individual and the group from their experience of the external world (Obholzer & Roberts, 1994). In that regard, they support and protect the ego. From a Freudian perspective, the ego is the part of the psyche that links with the external reality of the environment. The ego also has the task of mediating between the id, which in Freudian terms is the location of unconscious excitations and desires and what he called “a cauldron full of seething excitations” (Freud, 1933, p. 106), and the superego, which is the part of the psyche that is responsible for self-criticism and self-monitoring. The ego ideal, though a contested concept, is generally considered to be an amalgam of the desired yet often conflicting features and representations that the ego attempts to emulate (Gabriel, 1999). The ego’s tasks of arbitrating between these three “harsh masters” (Gabriel, 1999, p. 308) and mediating between the individual’s internal world and their environment are substantial. They involve keeping the boundary between the individual’s internal

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and external worlds, self-preservation, and maintaining the mental integrity between the psyche’s different components. It is no surprise that in the face of such challenging work as teaching or changing teaching or organisational practice in schools and colleges that individuals and groups resort to defensive behaviours to support the ego in its work. Basically, social defences take five different forms, which are linked and can occur in combination: rituals and routines, projection and introjection, regressions, repressions and resistance and splitting.

Rituals and Routines Organisational rituals and routines are the practices that one is repeatedly engaged in and that then become taken-for-granted ways of working. Such behaviours may have little apparent connection to any rational understanding of experience or may have a cognitive rationale that overlays and belies their deeper affective purpose. They can be engaged in individually or collectively (Menzies, 1960). Importantly, rituals and routines satisfy both the conservative impulse (they provide a consistent secure pattern) and the protective purpose (they afford a defence against difficult feelings). So, for example, having regular seating arrangements in the school staffroom avoids any conflicts that might ensue and associated difficult feelings that might be generated if there was a free-for-all for seats at lunchtime. The arrangement might also provide a secure place that contrasts with the relative chaos outside the staffroom. The long-established tradition in the UK of pupils addressing their teachers as “Sir” and “Miss” arguably has the purpose of reducing the affective content of pupil– teacher relationships. Perhaps school uniform is simply a way of protecting against the difficult feelings that may result from pupils being allowed to wear what they want to. Educational change may well alter defensive routines and the order they give and may also involve the loss of an attachment to a “much loved” way of working. Taken to extremes rituals and routines can develop into obsessions and compulsions. They can be very damaging to organisational effectiveness if the routine takes up resources that can be used on the organisation’s primary task (see below). When engaged in collectively, rituals and routines and the set of shared assumptions and beliefs on which they are based provide a frame of reference for establishing meaning and significance. This frame of reference and the associated routinised and ritualised practices can become an important dimension of the organisational culture (Alvesson, 2002; Schein, 1992). The protective purpose of rituals and routines and attachments to them can help explain why culture change in schools and colleges can be so difficult.

Projection and Introjection Although many writers from a range of fields use the terms “feeling” and “emotion” as synonyms (Goleman, 1995; Hochschild, 1983; Niedenthal, Krauth-Gruber, &


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Ric, 2006; Oatley & Jenkins, 1996), others, such as Forgas (2000) and Fineman (2003), distinguish between the two on the basis that feelings are what is experienced, whilst emotions are feelings that are displayed. Such a distinction is helpful because it gives an additional analytical dimension, and on that basis emotions become particular kinds of actions, which have an affective rationale. However, feelings are also important rationales for actions that might not be described, as emotions and many actions can have a powerful affective component. There is thus a good case for arguing that all actions, including emotions, are feelings that are shown to others. When the feeling associated with an action is very apparent, for example, a teacher very heatedly arguing against a proposed educational change at a staff meeting, that feeling is very easily and consciously experienced by all those witnessing the event. The impression is that the feeling has “moved” from the teacher to those listening, who may then feel similarly angry. If feelings are expressed less overtly or less straightforwardly, the feelings may only be experienced unconsciously. Nonetheless, they are still experienced by others, and again, the feelings still seem to have moved, albeit unconsciously. The apparent movement of feelings in this way is known as projection (Diamond, 1993; James et al., 2006; Obholzer & Roberts, 1994). Projected feelings may be “taken in” by others, which is a process known as introjection (Diamond, 1993; James et al., 2006; Obholzer & Roberts, 1994). The essence of the feelings and what the feeling represents become part of the recipient and turn into a so-called internal object (Diamond, 1993). During early development, children introject “parents” and “important others” who give security and reassurance. Later, the child may introject the parental ego ideal and superego to assemble a set of principles, a sense of conscience, an internal arbiter and censor. If the child introjects a parental superego that is punishing and harshly judgmental, he/she may as an adult become a severe judge of others and highly critical of what they do (Diamond, 1993). As a social defence, introjection can work in various ways. For example, in the process of implementing unwanted educational change, individuals may introject the feelings of security and assuredness projected by a wise and thoughtful head teacher so that the head teacher becomes internalised as a good object, in this instance a protector from the difficult feelings generated by the undesirable change. The introjection of the projections of a critical and judgemental manager can paradoxically be protective if the projections feel “right” and resonate with internal feelings of inadequacy and incompetence in the recipient. The introjection gives a sense of consistency between the recipient’s internal and external worlds. It is important for those managing educational change to learn to accept and respond to the projections of others without introjecting them. The introjection of others’ projections is likely to be unhelpful regardless of whether the projections are positive or negative (James & Vince, 2001). When feelings have been introjected, the recipients may be unable to distinguish between their own feelings (those that have originated within them) and those that have been projected by others that they have introjected (James & Vince, 2001). In those circ*mstances, it is quite possible for the projected feelings to be used by the recipient as rationales for their own actions. This process forms the basis

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of a social defence known as projective identification, which was first identified by Melanie Klein (Likierman, 2001; Segal, 1979). Projective identification is an attempt to control the other by means of projections. The subject (the person doing the projecting) imagines he/she is “inside” the other. The recipient of the projections may not be aware that their behaviour is being controlled in part at least by the other. An example would be a situation where the deputy principal does not want to implement a required curriculum change because of the unbearable anxiety it would provoke. The anxiety may be projected toward the principal (“I don’t think it would be a good idea to bring in the change until at least next year, I don’t think the staff would like it”). The principal may well introject the projection and delay the implementation. The deputy principal has created a proxy character to act on his behalf and he can then distance himself from the decision.

Regression Regression is when people return to a childlike state of dependency, helplessness and immaturity when faced with difficult situations that generate threatening feelings. Put simply, “Adults take on childlike roles” (Diamond, 1993, p. 6). This defence is generally not particularly effective or successful. Even in the regressed state, the individual or group still experiences anxiety, and the more primitive level of ego functioning resulting from the regressed state means that the threat is less easily coped with. Despite its ineffectiveness, regression is a familiar response to the uncertainties and threats that can come with organisational change such as leadership transitions, changes in organisational objectives or radical changes in practice. As a consequence, groups may regress in their relationships with the leader, perhaps forming subcultures that may become more like that of a group of children with a parent, or the group members might fantasise about the possibility of remaining in a secure place (“We don’t have to change do we? Why can’t the school stay as it is?”) or returning to a former “safer” time, perhaps referring to it as “The good old days”. The recipient of the projections that result from regression may experience them consciously or unconsciously, a process that is known as transference. He/she may start behaving on the basis of the projections that he/she has introjected (see above), which is known as counter-transference in this context. So, in the example above, the leader of the group may begin to feel like a parent to the “regressed children” and start acting in that way. Covert coalitions are social defences that are linked with regression and projection, which provide protection from painful feelings by establishing “a more durable set of relationships” (Hirschhorn, 1988, p. 63). These relationships typically reflect family relationships such as parent–child or sibling relationships. So, for example, a young newly qualified teacher may form a covert coalition with the more experienced head teacher, treating him as a father figure in order to gain protection from the anxieties associated with starting teaching. The head teacher’s response may be to become a kindly father-figure, thus colluding in the coalition. In educational change, problems may arise in this example when the young teacher’s expertise


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develops and she seeks to break out of the relationship against the head teacher’s perhaps unconscious wishes, or if the young teacher is unable to respond to a change that the head teacher is advocating and is keen to implement.

Repression Repression is a social defence that consigns threatening or painful desires, thoughts and feelings to the unconscious, thus preventing them from being experienced consciously (Diamond, 1993; Gabriel, 1999). The repressing process begins in early life and continues throughout adulthood. It contributes to the formation of the personal unconscious (see below). If the repression is incomplete, the contents of the unconscious may emerge. A repressed thought or feeling may emerge relatively harmlessly, although perhaps embarrassingly as a parapraxis or Freudian slips, as such occurrences are more colloquially known. Serious repression failures may threaten an individual’s deeply seated senses of lack of self-worth and vulnerability and may therefore provoke intense anxiety. Periods of stress, exceptional tiredness and the introjections of others’ projections, all of which are probably more likely to happen during times of educational change, can undermine the repressing process and allow unconscious content to reach consciousness resulting in increased levels of anxiety. In organisations, individuals and groups may adopt rituals and routines and other defensive behaviours to support the repression process. Changes in these individual and organisational practices may therefore be highly threatening. Denial is a defence that involves painful or unacceptable aspects of the internal or external world being denied but without their “being excluded from consciousness” (Gabriel, 1999, p. 293) in the way that occurs in repression. The presence of denial may be confirmed by the process of negation, which is when an idea is repeatedly and firmly ruled out when such an overt rejection is not really called for. So for example, a colleague who is anxious about the implications of a change to a teaching programme (but is in denial about it) may persistently say how happy he is about the change and how unconcerned he is about it (the process of negation).

Resistance Resistance is a direct refusal to accept information or to defy or oppose a proposal, request or order of some kind (Fineman, 2003; Gabriel, 1999). It usually has an unconscious origin and may not appear reasonable or rational, and those resisting may not be able to articulate any rationale. Resistance results from a powerful and deeply seated sense of anxiety, which, in turn, may result from a perceived threat to an individual’s sense of their identity, esteem and worth. Imposed educational change may be experienced as just that kind of threat, which is why opposition to it can be so strong. As with all social defences, but particularly so with resistance because of its direct oppositional nature, it may not be possible to overcome resistance by authority, regardless of its legitimacy. In the face of direct compulsion, the mode of resistance may simply take on a different form.

The Psychodynamics of Educational Change


Splitting In the social defence of splitting, contradictory feelings about objects and experiences that generate painful or threatening internal conflicts are separated and perceived as either ideal (all good) or persecutory (all bad) (Halton, 1994). It is a very common defence in organisations – especially those under stress – and the consequences may be very damaging. Splitting may result in reaction formation when the threatening impulse is repressed, leaving in its place the diametrically opposite feeling. For example, the quite natural anxiety about change in familiar practices may be so firmly repressed that the change is only seen as good with no negative anxiety-provoking aspect to it at all. In response to unwelcome educational change and the resulting organisational stress, individuals and groups such as school leaders, the local authority, the school board or the government may be viewed as either “on our side” or “the enemy”. Experiences during the change process such as meetings may be described as either “excellent” and or “rubbish”. The way a department in a school has responded to change may be seen by the principal as “absolutely marvellous”, whereas the response to another department may be viewed as “dreadful, as usual”. In both examples, the reality may be more complex. The split and separated feelings may be projected to other individuals, groups or institutions by means of actions that are driven by the separated feelings (Diamond, 1993; Dunning et al., 2005; Obholzer & Roberts, 1994). So, in response to unwanted change, a head teacher may be heard blaming “the stupid politicians for interfering in education”. His unacceptable feelings about the imposed change are separated and projected towards the government. A group of disillusioned teachers discussing the implementation of a new teaching programme may be heard saying the “teaching in this new way would be fine if it wasn’t for that group of trouble makers in year 10”. The anxieties associated with the implementation are separated from other feelings and projected towards the group of pupils. If splitting and projection are persistent and widespread, they can result in a blame culture, where anything unacceptable or mistakes are always another’s fault. Taken to extremes, it can lead to bullying where an individual or group is always the recipient of blame. Ultimately, it can result in scapegoating where the recipient of the difficult projected feelings eventually leaves the group or organisation taking the difficult feelings with them, much to the pleasure – and relief – of those left behind (Dunning et al., 2005). In bullying and scapegoating, there is usually a fit between those projecting and those introjecting, so often organisational scapegoat will themselves feel a sense of release and liberation if they leave. It is as if their departure feels right to them. So, for example, a head teacher seeking to bring much-needed change in the face of continual conscious and unconscious hostile projections from the staff, governors and parents may come to the view that “it would be better for all concerned if I left and allowed someone else to take up the challenge” with a sense of relief all round.

The Unconscious at Work in Schools It is now widely accepted that we are not fully conscious of all our mental functioning and that there are unconscious processes at work in our minds. However,


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what the unconscious part of the mind is and what it does remain open for debate, as indeed does the whole notion of where it is. In the modern era, two main perspectives on the unconscious, those of Freud and Jung, have dominated. From a Freudian perspective, the content of the unconscious is the outcome of repression (see above) and thus contains hidden and potentially threatening urges, ideas and feelings (Gabriel, 1999). Jung, who was for a time a student of Freud, generally agreed with this conception but argued that this personal unconscious also contained “semi-impressions, which had never sufficient intensity to reach consciousness but have somehow entered the psyche” (Jung, 1927, para. 321). Jung argued that what Freud had described was the personal unconscious, which was unique to each individual. Compared to this, Jung contended that there was also a substantial collective unconscious (Hauke, 2006). It was on this idea (as well as Freud’s deterministic position and his narrow linking of libido with sexuality) that Freud and Jung disagreed, a disagreement that in effect ended their working relationship. The central feature of Jung’s conceptualisation of the collective unconscious was the notion of the archetype (Lawson, 2008). From the Jungian standpoint, human consciousness grew out of the unconscious mental processes of the primitive ancestors of human beings who lived largely in a state of preconsciousness. In this primitive form, instinctual behaviour would have dominated and the individuals would be unable to distinguish between their internal mental world and the external world. Both would have been as one. The residues of those instincts have remained in the human psyche as archetypes, which are archaic structures within the psyche that have become embedded over generations. Archetypes predispose us to particular behaviours. Metaphorically, an archetype can be viewed as the bed of a river that has long since dried up, but should the rains come, the water may begin to flow and may then become a raging torrent. So, typically, we may not be consciously aware of archetypes much as we may not notice a dried up watercourse when we view a landscape or walk through it. However, in appropriate circ*mstances, the archetypes may become actualised – the rivers flow – and may condition our behaviour sometimes very powerfully. Importantly, archetypal structures are widely shared amongst all humans. This notion gives rise to the idea of the collective unconscious, from which it can be asserted that, despite substantial cultural differences, the dominant underpinnings of human functioning are in fact broadly similar. Jung used the term “archetype” in a very broad and perhaps even confusing way, referring to the following: archetypal events, such as birth, death, separation from parents, initiation and marriage; archetypal figures, for example, mother, hero, swindler and wise man; archetypal symbols such as the sun, water, the cross and the snake; and archetypal motifs, such as the Apocalypse, the Deluge, the Creation, and the Night Journey (Samuels, 2006). The notion of the collective unconscious and archetypal structures has important implications. For example, behaviour resulting from an actualised archetype can be very powerful, a notion that “gains its way against all reason and will, or else produces conflict of pathological dimensions, that is to say neurosis” (Jung, 1936, para. 99). The existence of archetypal structures may have a role in establishing the notion of a “vocation” such as teaching and the desire to respond to such a calling. Changing

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behaviours that are strongly conditioned by the actualisation of an archetype may be difficult and may be resisted by those being asked to change. So when asked to fill in forms detailing the attainment of tightly defined competences by her pupils (as required by a new policy), the devoted, charismatic, passionate teacher may well respond with some feeling: “I didn’t come into teaching to do this!” or “Please tell me exactly how my precious pupils will benefit from this pointless exercise!” An interpretation of this event would be that the teacher’s commitment to her pupils, which is underpinned by the forceful activation of archetypal structures, is being blocked by a requirement to undertake work that she considers to be of little value in fulfilling her commitment, hence she seeks to resist and reject the requirement. Henderson (1962) has proposed the notion of a cultural unconscious that “lies between” and mediates the influences of the personal unconscious and the more archaic and primordial collective unconscious with its archetypal structures. It “is built up through many exposures to cultural canons of taste, of moral principles, of social custom, and of religious symbolism” (p. 8). Such an idea is attractive and its potential mediating role immediately apparent. The cultural unconscious is linked to and influenced by the collective unconscious. Over time, the cultural unconscious has influenced the archetypal tendencies and predilections of the collective unconscious. At the same time, there would be a similar linkage and interplay between the cultural unconscious and conscious mental processes. The cultural unconscious could also have a role in influencing what is repressed into the individual unconscious. Thus, although teaching or being the head teacher of a school may have archetypal foundations, the actualisation of the archetypes may be conditioned culturally. So, for example, the work of the teachers in a science department in a school may be powerfully underpinned by the actuation of archetypal structures in the collective unconscious, which drives a desire to “educate the next generation.” That desire is conditioned by perhaps unwritten cultural assumptions on which the practice of teaching in the department, the school and the profession more generally is based. Those taken for granted assumptions may in part both influence and be influenced by repressed desires in connection with teacher–pupil relationships.

Boundaries and Educational Change The work of schools shapes organisational and intrapersonal boundaries and at the same time is shaped by those boundaries. There are physical boundaries, for example, around classes, the school grounds and particular parts of the school, such as the staff room. There are boundaries between different groups – between pupils and staff, the leadership team and the teaching staff, the administrative staff and the teachers, and the cleaners and the ground staff. There are also task boundaries that distinguish what is legitimate work in the school and what is not. As with any work organisation, schools function because of boundaries of a whole range of different kinds. Intrapersonal boundaries of the kind discussed in the previous section between the collective unconscious, the cultural unconscious and the personal unconscious also configure what goes on in schools.


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In system psychodynamics, the boundary represents structural inconsistency and discontinuity (Heracleous, 2004; Lamont & Molnar, 2002), and boundaries can be internal as well as external (Hirschhorn, 1988; Roberts, 1994; Schneider, 1991). Gabriel (1999) asserts that “The first boundary we discover is that which separates us from an external world” (p. 98). This boundary is the ego. From an organisational standpoint, Hernes (2004) argues that boundary formation in organisations is not incidental but is inherent to the process of organising and to the organisation itself. Boundaries are not therefore by-products of organising; rather, organisations evolve through the process of setting boundaries. As such, organisational boundaries are not fixed and static but may be variable, unclear and, to varying degrees, permeable (Paulsen & Hernes, 2003; Perrow, 1986; Scott, 1998; Weick, 1979, 1995). Organisational boundaries can be experienced and analysed from a number of perspectives (Hernes, 2004). Various kinds of boundary have been identified: authority, political, task and identity boundaries (Hirschhorn & Gilmore, 1992); functional, hierarchical and inclusionary boundaries (van Maanen & Schein, 1979); and behavioural and normative boundaries (Scott, 1998). Leach (1976) defines boundaries as spatial, temporal and psychological, a view supported by others (Stapley, 1996) and Diamond, Allcorn and Stein (2004). Hanna (1997) considers that physical boundaries are also important. Czander (1993) argues that all organisational conflicts are related to boundaries in some way. As points of where difference is distinguished and experienced (Heracleous, 2004; Lamont & Molnar, 2002), boundaries will be places of tension and affective intensity (Douglas, 1966; Hernes, 2004). Boundary violations are articulated and experienced as conflicts and may well escalate into major incidents in individual and organisational life. For this reason, people may be reluctant to protect boundaries, or may protect them more vigorously than might be expected (Czander, 1993). The maintenance of boundaries is critical to organisational success (Czander, 1993; Diamond et al., 2004) despite the sense that in current ways of working in education and other settings boundaries may be disappearing (Hirschhorn & Gilmore, 1992). The management and maintenance of organisational boundaries is therefore an important organising practice. Similarly, securing and sustaining the boundary between individuals’ internal and external worlds and between the different parts of the psyche, for example, between the conscious and non-conscious elements, is crucial to survival in work settings. It is difficult to think of an educational change that does not involve a reconfiguration of individual and organisational boundaries. A change to the teaching task means a reworking of the task boundaries. A change in practice demands a change in the role boundaries – which capabilities are now within the role boundary and which are not? A change in organisational responsibilities will require a similar redrawing of role boundaries. Altering the school timetable shifts time boundaries. Changing pastoral care responsibilities will almost certainly require a reworking of psychological boundaries. Varying a teacher’s regular teaching room requires a change in physical boundaries. Given that boundaries have a conservation function and given that existing boundaries are frequently points of conflict, it is no

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surprise that unwelcome educational change (and therefore boundary change) can be so problematic.

The Primary Task in Educational Change and the Work Group Mentality The primary task is what an individual, group or organisation feels it must do to survive and to continue and to carry on (Rice, 1963). If the task that the work group is engaged upon is widely sanctioned within the organisation and by key external stakeholders, organisational success can result (James et al., 2006). Clarifying the primary task of a work organisation may be difficult but is arguably crucial in improving organisational effectiveness, especially in schools (James & Connolly, 2000). An organisation that focuses its resources on the primary task is said to have a work group mentality (Bion, 1961). Typically however, work on the primary task carries a high level of anxiety, and this is especially the case in work in schools and is part of the reason why schools are places of high affective intensity. This taskrelated anxiety may be exacerbated in times of educational change, when the task may be redefined, when the definitions of successful task completion are altered or when a change is required in established ways of successfully completing or performing the task. In these circ*mstances, and indeed under normal circ*mstances, because of the primary task–anxiety link, work-group members may seek to avoid working on the primary task and turn instead to basic assumption tendencies.

Basic Assumption Tendencies and Change Processes in Groups A basic assumption tendency is when the group avoids primary task-related work and concentrates instead on meeting its unconscious needs (Bion, 1961). There are different forms of basic assumption mentality, and they are not fixed. Moreover, a group may move between a work group mentality and a basic assumption mentality. There are several kinds of basic assumption tendency (Bion, 1961). • Fight and flight (baF) occurs when the group behaves as if it has met to flee from or fight something. • Basic assumption dependency (baD) arises when the group acts as if it has met to be sustained by a leader on whom it depends. • Basic assumption pairing (baP) is when the group functions as if the members have met together in order that two people can pair off and create a new and as yet unborn leader. • Basic assumption oneness (baO) is where members join and surrender themselves to the group, thereby experiencing well-being and wholeness (Turquet, 1974). • Basic assumption me-ness (baM) is when the members of a group behave as is they are not a group but are separate and distinct individuals for whom “groupness” is an anathema (Lawrence, Bain, & Gould, 1996).


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Following a study of successful schools in disadvantaged settings, I have examined the associations between the different basic assumption tendencies and the different facets of joint working or collaborative practice in school staff work groups (James, 2008b). I found that fight or flight, dependency and pairing are associated with the group’s relationship with the primary task. In the successful schools, while the work group tendency was evident, this was due in part at least to the highly meaningful nature of the given, normative primary task. Thus, the staff group’s work on this task satisfied a deeply rooted and perhaps unconscious need. By contrast, oneness and me-ness are associated with the deeply seated ambivalence that individuals feel about group membership. These simultaneous and conflicting feelings result from desire to join the work group along with anxieties that joining the group will result in some form of psychic annihilation. In collaborative practice, both collective and individual endeavours are valued. The “collective” pre-dispositions of oneness and me-ness and the behaviours they underpin must therefore be held together in dynamic tension in a staff work group for successful joint working. Two new basic assumption tendencies concerning the learning and change that are inherent in reflective practice emerged from this work. In basic assumption change (baC), the group behaves as if current practice is not – and will never be – good enough. This basic assumption drives a powerful desire in the group to change its practice. By contrast, in basic assumption stasis (baS), the group behaves as if it must stay as it is in order to survive. Both baC and baS are driven by anxiety. In the change mode, the anxiety may be founded on a lack of self-worth and a desire to counter a sense of personal and organisational. With the stasis tendency, the anxiety may be that change will bring chaos and insecurity. Both change and stasis must be held together in a dynamic tension and their concomitant anxieties contained (see below) if collaborative practice is to be successful. In educational change, alterations to the task may heighten the anxieties associated with it, and as a result, the staff may begin engaging in fight/flight, dependency and pairing ways of working. If there are disruptions to the composition of the working group, the group may move to either individual atomised functioning (me-ness) or may give up their individual autonomy, sacrificing it for the good of the group oneness – neither of which is ideal. In the face of educational change, the group may start working in a change mode and may rush wholeheartedly into the proposed change and indeed any other change that comes along. On the other hand, the group may adopt a stasis mode of working, refusing to adapt in any way and resisting the change.

The Importance of Affective Containment by Individuals and Organisations During Educational Change When there are difficult feelings in an organisation, for example, during a time of educational change, people are more likely to seek to protect themselves from them

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(Dunning et al., 2005). Schools are places where feelings are always concentrated and where there are often difficult feelings present. During times of change, affective intensity and the likelihood of difficult feelings being present will increase. One response might be exerting affective control to minimise or even eradicate the difficult feelings from teaching, organising and change in educational institutions. However, even though feelings are very difficult to deal with, they are essential in helping to motivate actions and are a prerequisite for practice. The same applies to changing educational practice; feelings support the will to change and are dominant in the experience of change. An alternative to affective control is affective containment. Affective containment is the process of providing an environment that brings about effective and authentic receptiveness and reflection. The idea was first developed by Bion (1961) to describe the creation of the conditions during psychoanalysis under which the experience of feelings, especially anxiety, can be accommodated securely, articulated and reflected upon. A containing environment for emotions (feelings that are shown) contrasts with a controlling environment where feelings are restrained, hidden and not allowed to become apparent as emotions. In controlling environments, difficult feelings have to be managed in other ways. If those feelings are hard to bear, individuals and groups may attempt to protect themselves by adopting defensive behaviours. In addition, the sense of “being controlled” may itself be experienced as a threat, which may in turn generate unacceptable feelings. Environments that seek to bring about affective control may therefore create more problems than they solve. During educational change, affective containment can be very important. It can allow feelings to come to the surface, to be talked about and reflected upon. The difficult feelings can be accepted by others (as opposed to being introjected) and, in an important leadership act, can be reconfigured and returned to the others in an acceptable form (James & Jones, 2007). The containment processes can prevent the development of defensive routines in the face of change, enable the meaningful objects that may be lost during the change to be appropriately valued, and can facilitate re-attachment to the new.

Concluding Comments This chapter has addressed the sometimes destabilising experience of educational change. By drawing on system psychodynamic theory, it has sought to explain and interpret individual and group responses to educational change. A number of systems psychodynamics theory concepts have been employed in this endeavour. They are social defences, the influence of unconscious mental activity, organisational and individual boundaries, the primary task of work groups and work group mentalities; basic assumption tendencies in group behaviour particularly in relation to collaborative practice; and affective containment by individuals and in organisations. Although the reasons for initiating change may be varied and the responses to change may be very wide ranging and unpredictable, systems psychodynamic


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theory can offer some very powerful insights into understanding the educational change process and how it might be better managed and led.

References Alvesson, M. (2002). Understanding organizational culture. London: SAGE. Argyris, C. (1985). Strategy, change and defensive routines. Boston: Pitman. Beatty, B. R. (2000). The emotions of educational leadership: Breaking the silence. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 3, 331–357. Bion, W. R. (1961). Experiences in groups and other papers. London: Tavistock. Czander, W. (1993). The psychodynamics of work and organisations. New York: Guilford Press. Diamond, M. A. (1993). The unconscious life of organisations: Interpreting organisational identity. London: Quorum Books. Diamond, M. A., Allcorn, S., & Stein, H. (2004). The surface of organisational boundaries: A view from psychoanalytic object relations theory. Human Relations, 57, 31–53. Douglas, M. (1966). Purity and danger. London: Routledge. Dunning, G., James, C. R., & Jones, N. (2005). Splitting and projection at work in schools. Journal of Educational Administration, 43, 244–259. Fineman, S. (2003). Understanding emotion at work. London: SAGE. Fonagy, P. (2001). Attachment theory and psychoanalysis. London: Other Press. Forgas, J. P. (2000). Introduction: The role of affect in social cognition. In J. P. Forgas (Ed.), Thinking and feeling: The role of affect in social cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Freud, S. (1925). Mourning and melancholia (Vol. IV, 1925 ed.). London: Vintage. Freud, S. (1933). New introductory lectures on psychoanalysis (Vol. 2). Harmondsworth: Penguin. Gabriel, Y. (1999). Organizations in depth. London: SAGE. Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. New York: Bantam. Halton, W. (1994). Some unconscious aspects of organisational life. In A. Obholzer & V. Z. Roberts (Eds.), The unconscious at work (pp. 11–18). London: Routledge. Hanna, D. (1997). The organisation as an open system. In A. Harris, N. Bennett, & M. Preedy (Eds.), Organisational effectiveness and improvement in education. Buckingham: Open University Press. Hargreaves, A. (1998a). The emotional practice of teaching. Teaching and Teacher Education, 14(8), 835–854. Hargreaves, A. (1998b). The emotions of teaching and educational change. In A. Hargreaves, A. Lieberman, M. Fullan, & D. Hopkins (Eds.), The international handbook of educational change (pp. 558–575). London: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Hauke, C. (2006). The unconscious: Personal and collective. In R. K. Papadopoulos (Ed.), The handbook of Jungian psychology (pp. 54–73). London: Routledge. Henderson, J. (1962). The archetype and culture. The archetype: Proceedings of the second international congress of psychology. Zurich, New York: S. Karger. Heracleous, L. (2004). Boundaries in the study of organisations. Human Relations, 57(1), 95–103. Hernes, T. (2004). Studying composite boundaries: A framework of analysis. Human Relations, 57, 9–29. Hirschhorn, L. (1988). The workplace within: Psychodynamics of organisational life. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Hirschhorn, L., & Gilmore, T. (1992, May/June). The new boundaries of the ‘boundaryless’ company. Harvard Business Review, 70, 104–115. Hochschild, A. R. (1983). The managed heart: Commercialisation of human feeling. Berkeley: University of California Press.

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James C. R. (1999). Institutional transformation and educational management. In T. Bush, L. Bell, R. Bolam, R. Glatter, & P. Ribbins (Eds.), Educational management: Redefining theory, policy and practice (pp. 142–154). London: Paul Chapman Publishing/SAGE. James, C. R. (2008a). Teaching as affective practice. In H. Daniels, J. Porter, & H. Lauder (Eds.), Companion in education. London: Routledge. James, C. R. (2008b). Collaborative practice in schools: Developing understandings of educational organising using systems psychodynamics theory. Annual Conference of the American Educational Research Association, New York, 24th–28th March, 2008. James C. R., & Connolly, U. (2000). Effective change in schools. London: Routledge Falmer. James, C. R., & Jones, N. (2007). A case study of the mis-management of educational change: An interpretation from an affective standpoint. Journal of Educational Change, 9, 1–16. James C. R., & Vince, R. (2001). Developing the leadership capability of headteachers. Educational Management and Administration, 29, 307–317. James, C. R., Connolly, M., Dunning, G., & Elliott, T. (2006). How very effective primary schools work. London: SAGE. James, C. R., Connolly, M., Dunning, G., & Elliott, T. (2008). High attainment schools in disadvantaged settings: An interpretation of significant characteristics from a system psychodynamics perspective. International Studies in Educational Administration, 36(2), 66–79. Jung, C. G. (1927). The structure of the psyche. In H. Read, M. Fordham, & G. Adler (Eds.), The collected works of C. G. Jung (Vol. 9i, paras. 112–147). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Jung, C. G. (1936). The concept of the collective unconscious. In H. Read, M. Fordham, & G. Adler (Eds.), The collected works of C. G. Jung (Vol. 9i, paras. 1112–1147). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Kets de Vries, M. F. R. (1991). Organisations of the couch. San Francisco: Josey Bass. Lamont, M., & Molnar, V. (2002). The study of boundaries in the social sciences. Annual Review of Sociology, 28, 167–195 Lawrence, W. G., Bain, A., & Gould, L. J. (1996). The fifth basic assumption. Free Associations, 6, 28–55. Lawson, T. L. (2008). Carl Jung: Darwin of the mind. London: Karnac. Leach, E. (1976). Culture and communication. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Likierman, M. (2001). Melanie Klein: Her work in context. London: Continuum. Marris, P. (1974). Loss and change. London: Routledge Kegan Paul. Menzies, I. (1960). A case study in functioning of social systems as a defence against anxiety. Human Relations, 13, 95–121. Miller, E., & Rice, A. K. (1967). Systems of organisation. In A. D. Coleman & W. H. Bexton (Eds.), Group Relations Reader 1 (pp. 43–68). Jupiter, FL: A. K. Rice Institute. Niedenthal, P. M., Krauth-Gruber, S., & Ric, F. (2006). Psychology of emotion: Interpersonal, experiential and cognitive approaches. London: Psychology Press. Oatley, K., & Jenkins, J. M. (1996). Understanding emotions. Oxford: Blackwell. Obholzer, A., & Roberts, V. Z. (1994). The unconscious at work. London: Routledge. Papadopoulos, R. K. (Ed.). (2006). The handbook of Jungian psychology. London: Routledge. Paulsen, N., & Hernes, T. (2003). Managing boundaries in organisations: Multiple perspectives. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Perrow, C. (1986). Complex organisations – A critical essay (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. Rice A. K. (1963). The enterprise and its environment. London: Tavistock. Roberts, V. Z. (1994). The organisation of work: Contributions from open systems theory. In A. Obholzer & V. Z. Roberts (Eds.), The unconscious at work. London: Routledge. Samuels, A. (2006). The archetypes. In R. K. Papadopoulos (Ed.), The handbook of Jungian psychology (pp. 177–195). London: Routledge. Schein, E. H. (1992). Organisational culture and leadership. San Francisco: Jossey Bass. Schneider, S. C. (1991). Managing boundaries in organisations. In M. F. R. Kets de Vries (Ed.), Organisations of the couch. San Francisco: Josey Bass. Scott, W. R. (1998). Organisations – rational, natural and open systems. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.


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Segal, H. (1979). Klein. London: Fontana. Stapley, L. (1996). The personality of organisation. London: Free Association Books. Turquet, P. M. (1974). Leadership – the individual and the group. In G. S. Gibbard, J. J. Hartman, & R. D. Mann (Eds.), Analysis of groups. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass. van Maanen, J., & Schein, E. H. (1979). Towards a theory of organisational socialisation. In B. Staw (Ed.), Research in organisational behaviour (Vol. 1). Greenwich, CA: JAI Press. von Bertalanffy, I. (1968). General systems theory. New York: George Brazillier. Weick, K. E. (1979). The social psychology of organising (2nd ed.). New York: Random House. Weick K. E. (1995). Sensemaking in organisations. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Moving Change: Evolutionary Perspectives on Educational Change Stephen E. Anderson

The recognition that the implementation of changes in the professional beliefs and knowledge, behaviors, organizational conditions, and outcomes of people working in schools and school systems takes place over time is a fundamental precept in educational change theory, research, and practice. The aim of this chapter is to provide a concise overview of significant conceptual tools developed by education change theorists for describing, studying, and explaining that process as it plays out over time at different levels – e.g., individual, program, school, and school system. Given the volume of published research on educational change over the past 50 years, it is perhaps surprising that our understanding of the process dimensions of educational change remains limited to a few core concepts that once articulated have assumed a taken-for-granted status. This chapter revisits these concepts, highlights key areas of debate or lack of conceptual clarity, and suggests areas for further research regarding the processual nature of education change, particularly in terms of stage or phase theories of change over time. For each level of change considered, reference is made to key sources in the literature for the prevailing conceptual models of the temporal dimensions of the change process. While other publications might have been selected, these have been chosen because they are widely cited and applied in the literature on educational change, and because they draw attention to many of the key ideas and issues in considering change as a process that evolves through identifiable personal and organizational stages or phases over time.

Change as a Developmental Personal Process Credit the developers of the Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM) for their seminal conceptualization of change as a developmental process in attitudes and behaviors for individuals attempting to put new ideas and practices into use (Hall & Loucks, 1977, 1978; Hall, Loucks, Rutherford, & Newlove, 1975; Loucks & S.E. Anderson (B) Ontario Institute for Studies in Educational Change, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 1V6 e-mail: [emailprotected] A. Hargreaves et al. (eds.), Second International Handbook of Educational Change, Springer International Handbooks of Education 23, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-2660-6_4, C Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010



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Hall, 1977; see Hall & Hord, 2006, for a recent comprehensive overview of CBAM and supporting research). The basic ideas are straightforward. One dimension of change is represented as a developmental sequence of “Stages of Concern” that reflect a person’s (e.g., a teacher) disposition or attitudes toward a change that he or she is attempting to put into practice (voluntarily or as an organizational mandate). A second dimension focuses on a developmental progression in a person’s behaviors as he or she prepares for, begins, masters, and refines the use of new professional practices, referred to as “Levels of Use.” Through studies of experienced teachers implementing changes in curriculum and teaching (referred to as innovations), the CBAM developers identified and defined seven Stages of Concern. At Stage 0, Awareness, a teacher has little knowledge about or interest in the change. At Stage 1, Informational, the teacher is interested in learning more about the change and the implications of its implementation. Teacher concerns at Stage 2, Personal, reflect anxieties about the teacher’s ability to implement the change, the need for change, and the personal costs of getting involved. Stage 3, Management, concerns intensify as the teacher first begins to cope with the logistics and new behaviors associated with putting the change into practice. At Stage 4, Consequence, teacher concerns focus on the impact of the change on students in their classrooms and on ways of modifying the innovation or its use to improve its effects. Teacher interest in working with other teachers to jointly improve the benefits of implementing the change for students is manifested in Stage 5, Collaboration, concerns. At some point in the change process, teachers may develop Stage 6, Refocusing, concerns. These teachers think about making major modifications in the use of the innovation, or perhaps replacing it with something else. The intent of the developers of the CBAM framework was not simply to create a research-based framework for understanding teacher change, but also to create ways to assess teachers’ feelings and experience with innovative practices, and to use this information to provide interventions that would address their concerns. The image of affective “stages” that a teacher (or anyone implementing a change in practice) progresses through over time is somewhat misleading. It is grounded in the notion (supported by research) that as teachers (both novice and experienced) become aware of, learn about, try out, and master the use of new teaching methods and programs their feelings about the change often evolve from a predominant focus on self (high Personal concerns), to task (high Informational and Management concerns), to impact (high Consequence and Collaboration concerns). Where things can get confusing, however, is if education researchers or practitioners misinterpret the CBAM framework as a necessary and lockstep evolution in the concerns of innovation users, rather than a possible progression dependent upon the influence of other factors at play in the implementation context. CBAM theory posits that the nature and intensity of individual concerns about the implementation of new ideas and practices across and within each stage will be higher or lower, depending not only on the person’s progress in mastering the change, but also on the organizational conditions (e.g., administrative and collegial support, fit with prior beliefs and practices) associated with the change, and the perceived impact or results of the change

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for those affected (teachers, students). Without effective professional development inputs during the time in which teachers are learning to use new teaching strategies and programs, for example, teachers may experience unresolved Personal and Management concerns that can lead to frustration, resistance, or even abandonment of the change. Furthermore, interventions that do effectively resolve early stage concerns do not necessarily stimulate more intense concerns at subsequent stages in the model. Researchers applying the CBAM have discovered, for example, that even with repeated use of a new practice and adequate professional assistance, teachers may incorporate new teaching methods and programs into routine patterns of use without necessarily shifting their concerns toward refinement of the innovation based on observed evidence of student impact. Research on teacher collegiality and professional community suggests that the shift into more intense Consequence or Collaboration stage concerns may be less a function of teachers’ individual mastery in the use of new programs and practices than of whether the organizational culture of the school in which they work emphasizes improvement in student learning through shared goals, teacher collaboration, and ongoing teacher learning activities (e.g., Anderson, 1997; Dufour, Eaker, & Dufour, 2005; Little, 1982; Rosenholtz, 1989). A second element of potential confusion in applying this stage theory of teacher feelings about implementing new practices is that teachers are likely to experience and express concerns that link simultaneously to multiple “stages” in the model. It is the relative intensity of their concerns related to one or more stages that distinguish teacher attitudes toward a particular change they are involved with, not the mere presence or absence of concerns. For example, a teacher who is preparing or just starting to use some new teaching method might be genuinely wondering about the potential benefits of the innovation for student learning compared to current practices (Consequence concerns), while being predominantly concerned with figuring out how to integrate the use of that method into his/her daily lesson plans, and with attaining a basic level of comfort and competence in how he or she applies it in the classroom with students (Management concerns). In other words, at this point in their mastery of the use of the new method teachers are more preoccupied with the logistics and skill of doing it than with assessing and judging its effects on students and modifying it accordingly. It is not the case, however, that they do not care about student impact. In a metaphorical if not a real sense, it may be more appropriate to think of the different categories of concerns less as distinct stages than as notes in a musical chord that can be played in ways that give emphasis to different feelings depending on the teachers’ progress in context. The CBAM developers refer to change users’ concerns profile across the stages. A profile may reflect multiple peak concerns, not a single dominant focus on one stage. The theoretical and practical meaning of “stage” in this well-known model of the evolution of teachers’ dispositions toward the implementation of changes in practice would benefit from further research. The second dimension of the CBAM framework for understanding, assessing, and facilitating teacher change refers to a behavioral progression in knowledge and skills associated with mastering the use of new programs and practices, described


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as Levels of Use. Progression from one level to the next is marked by key decision points and corresponding behaviors in several domains associated with the change: acquiring information, assessing, sharing, planning, status reporting, performance, and knowledge. Levels 0 (Nonuse), I (Orientation), and II (Preparation) describe the behaviors of teachers vis-a-vis an innovation before they actually begin using it in the classroom. Teachers at Level I, Orientation, are seeking or receiving information about the change, but have not yet committed (or been committed) to implementation, whereas at Level II, Preparation, a teacher is actively planning to begin implementing the program or practice at a later date. Once teachers actually begin to operationalize their use of the innovation in the classroom, they enter Level III, Mechanical Use. Teachers at this level are struggling with the logistics of implementation (e.g., lesson and resource planning, classroom management, record keeping) and with attaining basic mastery of the new teaching skills. Any changes they make in their use of the innovation are likely to be teacher-centered, that is, aimed at making use of the innovation more manageable and easier to practice. A teacher who establishes a pattern of regular use and who makes few adaptations in his/her use of the new program and practices is said to have attained Level IVA, Routine Use. Many teachers will settle in at a Routine Level of Use once the new program or practice gets integrated into their ongoing repertoire of teaching strategies, materials, and so on. Some teachers, however, may begin making adjustments in their use of the program or practice based on evaluations of its impact on students. This is characterized as Level IVB, Refinement Use. If they actively seek out and interact with other teachers to collectively and collaboratively modify their use of the innovation to improve student results, they are engaged in Level V, Integration, behaviors. Eventually, some teachers may exhibit Level VI, Renewal, behaviors. Teachers at this level are actively exploring alternative programs and practices or major changes in the innovation. Similar to the Stages of Concern, the CBAM Levels of Use concepts and framework describe a possible – not an inevitable – progression of individual innovation user behaviors associated with mastering the implementation of new programs and practices in teachers’ work. As a developmental model of innovation user behaviors over time, however, the Levels of Use concepts and framework are more inclusive of alternative outcomes of use than the Stages of Concern. The behavioral model recognizes the practical reality that many educators engage in all sorts of professional learning experiences (Orientation) that lead to greater awareness and knowledge about programs, ideas, and practices that they may never end up implementing. It distinguishes people who are planning and otherwise getting ready to try out something new (Preparation) from those who are actually applying it in their work (Mechanical Users and beyond). Most importantly, the model accommodates the fact that some innovation users (perhaps most), after an initial period of mastering the logistics and basic skills required to implement the program or practice (Mechanical), will settle into a personally comfortable Routine Level of Use. The factors that lead some educators to engage individually or collectively in deliberate impact assessment and modification of their use of new programs and practices (Refinement, Integration) are not well understood. As noted for the arousal

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of impact-focused concerns, this may be less generally a function of individual professional orientations and skills than of workplace-specific norms and arrangements that give more or less emphasis to results. The original CBAM research and theory were developed prior to the contemporary curriculum content and student performance standards and accountability policy era. The incidence of impact-focused levels of user behaviors (Refinement, Integration, Renewal) linked to the implementation of new programs and practices may be more prevalent nowadays given the changes in the policy context. Again, the theory that supports this developmental model of change would benefit from further research. The common sense appeal of the Levels of Use (and Stages of Concern) concepts and frameworks relates to their generic applicability to any new policy, program, and professional practices that require expected implementers to alter current professional beliefs and behaviors. Just because it resonates well with people’s practical experience, however, does not mean that it makes perfect sense as a developmental model of change. One source of persistent confusion has to do with the nature and definition of professional expertise as it relates to the implementation of new programs and practices. Implicitly we can infer that someone (e.g., a teacher) who has sufficiently mastered his/her use of a new program or practice to move from an assessment of Mechanical Use to Routine or Refined Use has attained a higher skill level. Some CBAM researchers, however, note that implementers may routinize the use of new programs and practices at sub-optimal levels of expertise (Anderson, 2006). In other words, they are implementing the practices on an ongoing basis, and are comfortable with the way they are doing it, but demonstrate low levels of understanding and skill in their use (and are probably not aware of that discrepancy). Our understanding of teacher and principal growth from novice to expert generally and with regard to the use of specific teaching and leadership strategies remains poorly developed. When it comes to teachers, in particular, our notions of developing expertise are confounded with notions of fidelity and with compliance. Fidelity refers to the degree to which someone, such as a teacher, is implementing a program or practice in accordance with the way that program or practice is designed to be used (Fullan, 1982). Compliance adds the prescriptive expectation that particular forms or patterns of practice are not merely professionally desirable, but are formally required by some external authority (e.g., school system policy and/or administrators). Some change researchers and theorists have argued that it is appropriate to view and assess changes in teacher practices as a process of behavioral change that progresses incrementally toward conformance with ideal images of implementation, when supported by effective leadership, resources, and technical assistance (e.g., Leithwood & Montgomery, 1982). From this perspective, variability in the ways that teachers implement new programs and practices reflects variations in teacher understanding and skill in the use of those particular programs and practices. To the extent that these variations are conceived as a linear progression of behaviors that approximate a desired pattern of use, this represents a normative developmental model of teacher change over time. Others have similarly distinguished variations in teacher use of specific programs and practices as ideal, acceptable, or unacceptable relative to prescriptive definitions of what the


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innovation would look like in practice if implemented well, but without arguing that the variations represent developmental steps in mastering its use (e.g., Hall & Hord, 2006). Our conceptions and understanding of variability and growth in teacher implementation of educational innovations are further complicated by the recognition that innovations are typically multi-dimensional (Fullan, 1982; Hall & Loucks, 1981; Leithwood, 1981). In broad terms, educational innovations for teachers may involve changes in materials (curriculum content, textbooks), practices (e.g., teaching or assessment strategies, grouping practices, classroom management), and beliefs (ibid). The exact nature and extent of change within each of these dimensions, however, is innovation and context specific. The adoption of a new textbook, for example, is a change in materials that may or may not fit with teachers’ prior beliefs and practices. Furthermore, for a group of teachers simultaneously learning to implement the same new teaching strategy (e.g., guided reading), the gap between their prior beliefs, understanding, and practices and those associated with use of the new strategy may vary in magnitude and complexity for different individuals. Leithwood (1981) proposed a generic framework of ten dimensions that might be implicated in the implementation of any change in teaching and learning (not all changes would necessarily affect all dimensions), and that could be used as a tool for comprehensively describing and assessing use of different components of a change. For our discussion here, the basic point to highlight is that for a given set of innovation users, implementation progress relative to expected and ideal patterns of implementation may vary for different dimensions. Considered from this perspective, the idea that teachers or anybody implementing changes in their professional practice may move through holistically defined but empirically identifiable stages or levels of concern and skill in their use of that change gets murky indeed. Intuitively, no one disputes that implementing changes in current practices is not a single event, but rather an evolution in attitudes, understanding, and behaviors for those involved over time. The theoretical concepts that we use to describe and explain this process, however, are not resolved.

Program and School Change as an Organizational Process over Time The preceding section examines developmental theories of change in educational settings from the vantage point of the individuals attempting to implement changes in programs and practices. This section focuses on process theories concerning the implementation of new educational policies, programs, and practices over time more from an organizational perspective. Key sources for the original ideas date from the 1970s and 1980s in the research and writing of Berman and McLaughlin (1976; Berman, 1978, 1980, 1981), Fullan (1982, 2007), Fullan and Pomfret (1977), Miles and Huberman (Miles, 1983; Huberman & Miles, 1984), and a few others (e.g., Corbett, Dawson, & Firestone, 1984). There are four core ideas that have become

Moving Change: Evolutionary Perspectives on Educational Change


ingrained in the discourse on educational change – (1) that change is an organizational process over time; (2) that the process can be described and explained in terms of three broad phases; (3) that activities associated with different phases are interactive, not necessarily sequential in time; and (4) that change over time is less a process of direct replication than one of mutual adaptation. This conceptualization of change as an organizational process over time has been applied to the investigation of educational changes that take the form of new programs (e.g., a new curriculum, a new textbook, a set of packaged set of activities and materials for a specific curriculum area) and new instructional strategies (e.g., cooperative group learning, particular assessment techniques, specific classroom management strategies), as well as to the study of the adoption and implementation of models for whole school reform. First is the idea that change is a process and not an event (Fullan, 1982; Hall & Loucks, 1977). This idea emerged as a rebuttal to the misguided expectation by policy makers and external program developers that putting new programs and policies into practice was equivalent to the simple replacement of one technology with another, an event commonly referred to as innovation adoption. This concept worked well when applied to the diffusion and adoption of technological innovations (e.g., new types of seeds by farmers) (Rogers, 2003). Education change researchers discovered early on that public announcements declaring the adoption of new policies or changes in educational products (e.g., curriculum content, textbooks, program kits) and practices (e.g., team teaching, teaching methods) at the classroom, school, school district, or school system levels did not guarantee that practitioners at the local level would change what they were doing (Charters & Jones, 1973). As characterized by Berman (Berman, 1981; cf. Fullan, 1982, 2007), change is an implementation-dominant process not a technology-dominant process, and the progress and outcomes of the implementation process are highly contingent upon interaction of the innovation with local context factors (e.g., perceived need and motives for change, innovation quality and complexity, fit with prior practices and beliefs, funding, resources and working conditions to enable change, quantity and quality of technical assistance, leadership stability and skill, participation in decision making by key stakeholder groups, competing priorities and expectations). In their early research and writing, Berman and McLaughlin (1976) employed the concept of “stages of innovation” to characterize the overall organizational process through which school district and school personnel engage in efforts to replace, modify, or supplement current professional practices with new ones over time. They defined three stages: initiation, implementation, and incorporation. Each stage is associated with different activities and decisions concerning the selection, use, support, and progress in putting the change into practice on the part of local actors in their respective roles. Initiation encompasses decision-making activities about the reasons for change, selecting solutions (new programs and practices), implementation planning, and seeking resources. Implementation refers to the stage during which local educators are actually attempting to put the selected change into practice. Typically, this involves activities that lead to adaptations in the innovation as well as changes and modifications in the organizational setting and behaviors. Incorporation refers to activities associated with the continuation of what


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was originally a change into ongoing organizational routines and work practices. Berman and McLaughlin noted that decisions and actions at earlier stages affect what happens at later stages. From their research on the implementation of some 280 federally funded educational change projects in the United States, they concluded that while the focus of change was generally predictable from the content of the change initiative, the actual progress and outcomes of change were highly dependent upon local decisions and actions vis-à-vis its adoption, use, and continuation and upon the degree of specificity or uncertainty about the image of what the change should look like once put into practice. Fullan (1982) nudged the conceptualization of the change process in organizations away from the linear notion of stages. He referred instead to three broad “phases” of change: initiation (also referred to as adoption or mobilization), implementation (or initial use), and continuation (cognate terms include incorporation, routinization, institutionalization). While he did not explain his decision to employ the concept phase instead of stage, his explanation of this model of the change process clearly indicates that he was striving to develop a way of thinking and talking about change in organizational practices that could account for the fact that it is “not a linear process,” even though it occurs over time. Like Berman and McLaughlin, Fullan asserted that what happens at one phase strongly affects events and outcomes at later phases. But he added the nuance that events associated with a particular phase can feed back into and alter decisions and actions taken previously, and employed two-way arrows in a conceptual diagram to try to capture the interactive relationships between actions within each phase, as opposed to portraying change as a deterministic causal chain of events. Nonetheless, the metaphorically sequential image of a change progressing through the phases over time remained powerfully embedded in this conceptualization of change. In a later work, citing the research and thinking of Matthew Miles, Fullan further elaborated on what he then characterized as the “Triple III” model of change: initiation, implementation, and institutionalization (Video Journal of Education, 1992). Implementation success (defined as putting the change into practice and sustaining that practice) depended upon the quality of attention and action given to distinct conditions and activities associated with each phase: Initiation (high-profile need, clear model of change process, strong advocate, active initiation); Implementation (orchestration, shared control, pressure and support, technical assistance, rewards); and Institutionalization (embedding, links to instruction, widespread use, removal of competing priorities, continuing assistance). Berman (1981) reconceptualized his original stage constructs of the change process as “sub-processes” related to specific functions and activities within an organizational system. According to this organizational systems view, a change can be said to occur when existing organizational routines are replaced or modified such that the system enters a different state of organizational behaviors and attendant relationships, materials, and so on, depending on the content and scope of the change. While this occurs over time, Berman deliberately avoided the language and images of linearity in the activities associated with the three sub-processes: mobilization, implementation, and institutionalization. The sub-processes co-exist

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as change-related functions in the organization, and the activities linked to those sub-processes can overlap in time and interact in mutually influential ways. The activities associated with certain sub-processes, however, may be more prominent in the actions of local actors at different times in the history of a change initiative, and the roles that those actors play in the change process can vary for different subprocesses. Mobilization activities include developing an image of the desired change (e.g., needs assessment, goal setting, product adoption), planning for implementation, and lobbying internally and externally for support (commitment, political support, resources, etc.). Implementation encompasses two broad functions that local educators engage in as they attempt to put new programs and practices into action – clarification and adaptation. Clarification is linked to activities such as professional development that help implementers figure out exactly what and how to do the change and how it differs from what they were doing before. Adaptation refers to local activities that lead to modifications in the content or design of the change as originally presented, as well as to the changes in behaviors and knowledge that they experience as a result of the process. Institutionalization happens when a system stabilizes into a changed state of routine behaviors, and is manifested through activities that demonstrate the assimilation of new practices into the ongoing behaviors of organizational members affected by the change, and by incorporation of these new routines into associated organizational decision-making processes (e.g., budget, staffing, support services). For purposes of this discussion, the key idea advanced by Berman is that organizational change is more appropriately conceived of as a change of state in an organizational system of behaviors, arrangements, and processes that occurs as a result of actions taken within different sub-processes of the system, but not as a predictable progression through developmental stages or phases over time. Berman’s ideas foreshadowed much of the contemporary thinking about schools and school systems as complex adaptive systems, but these ideas did not catch on at the time. What did capture the attention of educational change scholars and practitioners was the idea that various implementation outcomes were possible (where outcomes refer to the use of new programs and practices, not to the effects of their use on students or organizational effectiveness and efficiency). Berman and McLaughlin (1977; cf. Berman, 1978) distinguished four possible outcomes, differentiated in terms of the changes that result through the implementation process in implementer behaviors and in the new program or practices, i.e., the innovation. Non-implementation (or symbolic implementation) describes a state in which no change occurs either in implementer behaviors or in the innovation. Co-optation describes a situation in which the implementers modify the new program or practice to conform to what they were already doing, resulting, as well, in no substantive change in organizational work practices (though sometimes the users adopt new ways of talking about what they do that promotes an illusion of change in beliefs and behaviors). Berman and McLaughlin (op cit) reported that mutual adaptation was the most common implementation outcome associated with successful change. Under these circ*mstances, the implementation process results in changes in implementer behaviors in the direction of those envisioned by the innovation


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developers and promoters, as well as in adaptations in the innovative program or practice in response to local circ*mstances. The fourth implementation outcome, technical implementation, refers to the rational planning image that implementers of an innovation will alter their existing behaviors in compliance with the ideal forms of practice as specified in new policies, programs, or practices, with minimal changes in the design, content, and procedures of the innovation. Berman and McLaughlin reported that they did not actually find examples of this outcome in their investigation of the implementation of federally funded educational innovation projects in the United States (ibid). Other education change researchers, however, argued that the change projects that Berman and McLaughlin studied simply did not include procedurally specific programs and practices that were known to yield demonstrably positive effects if faithfully implemented as designed (Crandall, 1983) when conditions conducive to successful implementation were in place (e.g., leadership, good training, resources). While it is debatable whether any new program or practice is ever exactly replicated by users in different settings, the idea that the quality of education could be substantially improved if only teachers and principals would carefully replicate “best practices” that have worked well for desired educational goals in schools serving similar students with similar resources remains deeply ingrained in the discourse on educational change. Fullan drew a distinction between two organizational approaches to implementation – a fidelity approach and an adaptive approach (Fullan, 1982, 2007; Fullan & Pomfret, 1977; cf. Berman, 1980). The fidelity approach is most appropriate when procedurally clear new programs and practices are introduced in settings where there is a good match between local needs and goals and the selected change, where local resources and conditions are adequate to support the implementation of that change as designed, and when the likely effects of innovation use have been previously demonstrated in similar settings. Under these circ*mstances, organizational expectations and support for change may aim for the ideal of technical implementation of the change, whether that outcome is achieved or not. The adaptive approach is more appropriate when the technology of innovation use is not well specified, the claimed benefits of implementation are not well supported by evidence, and the local needs and resources conditions are not well matched to the change. Under these circ*mstances, the expected outcome would be mutual adaptation. Whether by design or by default, mutual adaptation remains the most realistic conceptualization of what happens when educators genuinely attempt to implement new ideas, programs, and practices, i.e., changes occur both in implementer behaviors and in the innovation as initially conceived and designed by those promoting the change. Has our understanding of the process of mutual adaptation evolved since the original formulation of these ideas in the 1970s? The simple answer is not much. Analysis and discussion of mutual adaptation as a phenomenon has tended to focus less on the “mutual” dimensions of adaptation, than on whether and how implementers alter the change as originally introduced. The most common strand of inquiry and discussion reaffirms the idea already noted that under certain conditions (e.g., an uncertain technology, poor fit between the innovation and the “problem” it is supposed to address, inadequate resources, ineffective leadership and assistance)

Moving Change: Evolutionary Perspectives on Educational Change


the degree of adaptation to the innovation will be greater than under the opposite conditions. From this perspective, mutual adaptation is commonly characterized in quantitative terms as a matter of degree. Berman and McLaughlin (1977) also used the term mutation to describe what happens when implementers modify the design and content of a change as they put it into practice. Hall and his colleagues introduced the idea that for innovations that are procedurally well specified, there can be a point of “drastic mutation” beyond which so much modification has occurred in the program or practice as initially presented that it is no longer appropriate to claim that the original innovation has been implemented (Hall & Hord, 1987, p. 137). No one, however, has presented empirical evidence to suggest any uniform or alternative stages or developmental patterns in the process of mutual adaptation over time. Datnow, Hubbard, and Mehan (2002) present a more elaborated conception of mutual adaptation in which context constitutes the critical explanatory dimension, rather than characteristics of the innovation, the implementation support system, and time. Their research and analysis focused on the fate of changes (e.g., comprehensive school reforms) originating externally to schools and school districts attempting to put them into practice. While employing the familiar language of reform adoption, implementation, and sustainability (i.e., continuation or institutionalization) to organize their account and analysis of change over time, they reject technical rational linear conceptions of the change process. They define implementation simply as “doing the reform,” and building upon the earlier work of Berman and McLaughlin, Fullan, and others, they argue that implementer adaptation of new policies, programs, and practices in relation to varied components or dimensions of local context is the normal process of change, even in situations involving highly prescriptive innovations. Their theoretical and research-based conceptualization of context and the adaptation process, however, adds complexity and depth to our understanding of this phenomenon. First, they propose that mutual adaptation might be more appropriately conceived of as a process of “co-construction” between those who design, advocate, or facilitate the implementation of a change and those expected to participate in enacting the change. Second, they argue that this co-construction process is subject to the varied interests, actions, and influence of all stakeholders implicated in implementation decisions and actions acting from the situational position of their particular roles and social contexts Third, they argue that context is often misconceived as a system of lower levels (e.g., classroom, school) embedded within higher or broader levels (e.g., district, community, state). This metaphor tends to promote hierarchical and unidirectional perspectives on implementation in which local actors are portrayed as simply reacting to changes and pressures originating from external sources. Datnow, Hubbard, and Mehan argue instead for what they call a relational sense of context. From this perspective, people implicated in different functions of the overall enterprise of public education – e.g., state policy making, state education agency activities, district office work, school administration, classroom teaching, parental and community involvement, being students – each enact their role in particular social contexts. These social contexts co-exist in interconnected sets of relationships. Actions taken in one context create outcomes and conditions which can permeate through these interlocking relationships


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to influence subsequent actions in other contexts in unpredictable ways. The unpredictability arises in part from the unique histories, socio-cultural characteristics and relationships, and social structural conditions of the different interacting contexts. In order to understand mutual adaption in the implementation of educational change, one has to examine the interconnections among these contexts and how people involved in implementation respond in terms of the specific characteristics of the contexts within which they play out their roles in the process. The overall process (inter-contextual connections, communication between contexts, and prevailing responses within contexts) is strongly influenced by those actors whose organizational, political, or social positions allow them to exert the most power over how reform efforts and responses to them are defined and the corresponding courses of action that are taken. This relational and dynamic view of actions taken within and between interlocking contexts does not privilege a priori the influence of actions taken in one context over another. Change is multi-directional, not unidirectional. Datnow, Hubbard, and Mehan provide examples of local adaptations of school reform initiatives to a variety of structural and cultural contextual conditions – school organizational constraints, overlapping reform initiatives, state and district policies, linguistic diversity, and educator beliefs about student abilities, teaching and learning. Datnow, Hubbard, and Mehan’s account of the mutual adaptation process is consistent with complexity theory perspectives on social organizations as complex adaptive systems in which change occurs as a non-linear dynamic process over time (Kauffman, 1995; Waldrop, 1992; cf. Fullan, 2003). Actions taken in any specific socio-organizational contexts that are interlinked and implicated in adopting, implementing, and sustaining the change have unpredictable effects (including no effects) on organizational conditions and actions in other contexts. To posit predictable stages and outcomes of implementation is meaningless in this view. The overall model of the implementation of school reforms and programmatic changes in educational settings, however, preserves the basic distinction in chronological time between deciding to change (adoption), doing the change (implementation), and sustaining (or abandoning) the changes over time. All analysts of the process of planned changes in education talk in both a chronological time and an organizational sense about the continuation or sustainability of changes in programs and practices beyond early experiences with implementation. While there is no fixed timeline, the basic idea is that some innovations lead to enduring changes in the way educators go about doing their work; that is, they become routine features of ongoing practice. Others only lead to temporary modifications in behaviors that are abandoned after some recognizable period of initial use. Changes may be abandoned for any number of reasons – e.g., loss of funding or other resources required to sustain the program or practice, evidence or perceptions of ineffectiveness, low leadership pressure and support, the presence of other priorities competing for people’s time and energy, and staff turnover. As previously reviewed, change researchers and theorists have identified a number of organizational conditions and management practices and innovation characteristics that affect the likelihood that a given change in a particular setting will be sustained

Moving Change: Evolutionary Perspectives on Educational Change


or not (Anderson & Stiegelbauer, 1994; Berman, 1981; Fullan, 1982; Miles, 1983). The key point is the idea that some efforts to change do result in what systems and complexity theorists refer to as a state change for the people and organizations involved. That is, the changes become more than passing perturbations in the way people conduct their work. The idea of a change in state (as opposed to a stage or phase in change) makes sense, but is not without its own conceptual and empirical conundrums. One has to do with the multi-dimensionality of change. Thus, some components of a change may get institutionalized and sustained as a feature of ongoing practice while others do not. Second has to do with the loosely coupled nature of schools and school systems as organizations. Thus, a change that affects multiple settings (classrooms, schools, district offices), or multiple contexts as conceptualized by Datnow and her colleagues, might get sustained in some contexts but not in others. Even in those where it does carry on, it is likely to take different forms as a result of the contextually sensitive adaptation process. Third has to do with the magnitude of the change in terms of the actual difference it makes in prior patterns of work for the educators involved. Numerous analysts of planned educational change draw a distinction between changes which may result in people refining existing practices, replacing existing practices, or adding new practices to existing patterns of work, but which do not alter the fundamental nature of that work. Elmore (1995) describes this as the difference between first-order and second-order change. The idea of changes and improvements that are more profound and far reaching in their consequences for how schools and school systems are organized, the professional work of educators, and the nature and outcomes of student learning, than simply changing materials, learning a new teaching strategy, enabling people to work together (rather than individually) to try to improve what they do, and so on, is intellectually and politically appealing, but challenging to define and identify empirically. Perhaps we will know it when we finally experience it? Suffice it to say that most educational change initiatives are more about modifying the existing state of school organization and educational practice than about fundamentally changing that state. Conceptually and instrumentally, the idea of a state change in education runs into difficulties when we try to define the parameters and boundaries of the phenomenon or system that is potentially undergoing a non-trivial change in “state.” These concepts are hard to apply at the organizational levels of schools, districts, or state/national educational systems. Regardless of the organizational level or magnitude of change at hand and in mind, the long-standing notion of institutionalization as a final stage or phase of planned change is challenged by the contemporary ideology of continuous improvement in the context of standards-based and results-oriented education accountability systems. The idea that even new programs and practices that are successfully put into practice may eventually be subject to major modifications or replacement was noted long ago by the developers of the Concerns-Based Adoption Model, in the form of the Refocusing Stage of Concerns and Renewal Level of Use behaviors (Hall & Hord, 2006; Hall & Loucks, 1977, 1978). Crandall, Eiseman, and Louis (1986) posed the question of whether institutionalization or renewal was the


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more appropriate organizational goal for the introduction of school improvement– oriented policies, programs, and practices. Over the past 20 years, the entrenchment of national and state accountability systems linked to curriculum content standards, student performance standards, student performance targets, large-scale testing of student performance, and mandatory consequences (rewards, assistance, sanctions) at the school and district levels based on evidence of performance is fueling and sustaining the idea of continuous improvement in the quality of teaching and learning in schools. Drawing upon studies of sustained (5–10 years) improvement efforts at the school and district levels, Anderson & Kumari (2008) distinguishes the organizational practice of continuous improvement from the evidence of impact over time on student learning and the quality of teaching. They report that schools and school districts that engage in sustained improvement efforts may evolve through successive phases of improvement marked not only by the introduction of new or revised instructional programs and practices, but also by changes in the organizational structures and processes to support ongoing change, when there is compelling evidence that further improvement requires rethinking the existing support system for improvement. The latter point is key. It arises from the recognition that sustained improvement in student learning can stall in two significant ways. First, the support system as currently organized may reach a limit in terms of its capacity to effectively reach and provide ongoing support for improvement to all teachers, principals, and schools that it is intended to serve. Second, after a period of change, student learning levels can reach a point where evidence of improvement plateaus (cf. Fullan, 2003; Hopkins, 2007). Further improvement will not be accomplished simply by doing more of the same. These findings are discussed further in the succeeding section on educational change at the system level (district, state, nation).

System-Wide Change and Improvement in Student Learning The idea of continuous improvement as applied to educational change has brought student learning outcomes more explicitly into theories and models of change. But what does it mean for student learning to continuously improve in a school, a school district, a school system? Is it incremental growth on set indicators of academic achievement for all students? Is it mainly about bringing low-performing students up to the level of their higher performing peers? Does it involve changing the standards and expectations as student performance rises? Does it happen in ways that can be characterized as phases, stages, or changes in state? Empirical and conceptual accounts of student learning over time in the context of educational change are recent and associated mainly with studies of large-scale reform at the state/national and school district levels (Fullan, 2000). Some well-known and researched examples at the district level include the decentralization reform in the Chicago School Systems (Bryk, Sebring, Kerbow, Rollow, & Easton, 1998; Simmons, 2006) and the case of Community School District #2 New York City (Elmore & Burney, 1997). Longitudinal investigations of improvement at the state/national level are

Moving Change: Evolutionary Perspectives on Educational Change


more difficult to come by. Two prime examples are an evaluation of the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategies in the United Kingdom (Earl et al., 2003; cf. Fullan, 2003; Hopkins, 2007) and the controversial accounts of and debates about state-wide improvement and equity in student achievement across Texas in the 1990s (e.g., Scheurich & Skrla, 2001; Skrla, Scheurich, Johnson, & Koschoreck, 2001a; Valencia, Valenzuela, Sloan, & Foley, 2001). The breadth and depth of longitudinal research on large-scale reform at this level is insufficient to generalize with much certainty about patterns of change over time. We can, however, highlight some key findings and ideas emerging from this research. One is the phenomenon of plateaus in the trajectory of aggregate improvement in student learning over time. While this has been noted in long-term studies of school-level improvement (e.g., Anderson & Kumari, 2008; Anderson & Stiegelbauer, 1997), it is more profoundly evident in evaluations of system-wide reforms involving large numbers of schools and districts. Analysts of the British government’s Literacy and Numeracy Strategies reform, for example, chart significant improvements in the percentages of elementary school students performing at or above government-prescribed standards on standardized tests of reading and mathematics during the first 3 years (1997–2000), a reduction in the gap between higher and lower performing students, and a phenomenal scaling-up of the number of schools and local education authorities reporting these positive results (the story and data are reviewed in Hopkins, 2007; also Fullan, 2003). Student performance across the system, however, leveled off for about 3 years and only began to rise again around 2004 and 2005. Hopkins attributes the early gains to the government’s success in designing and intensively supporting a rigorous standards-based national curriculum development and implementation reform. In short, a national infrastructure of policies, resources, training, technical assistance, and monitoring to support implementation of the literacy and numeracy initiatives was effectively put into place. Citing the reform’s director, Michael Barber, Hopkins refers to this period of the reform as a time and strategy of informed prescription. Informed prescription worked to get the curriculum reform into place with significant gains in student learning, but did not result in the ideal of continuous improvement once the initial gains settled in. Hopkins attributes the revitalization of improvements in student performance after a 3- or 4-year plateau to a deliberate shift in the government’s strategy for improvement to what Barber conceptualized as informed professionalism. The impetus and support for ongoing improvement was redirected from a dependency on external direction and expertise to developing local leadership for improvement, and to encouraging and supporting lateral networking among schools and school personnel about promising practices and solutions to locally contextualized needs and challenges for improvement. The government reorganized its support for improvement less around technical implementation of the literacy and numeracy reforms, and more around developing and sustaining the capacity of school personnel to lead and make improvements together. For purposes of this discussion of phases, stages, or state changes in the process of educational change, the exact details of this shift in government strategy are less relevant than the evidence of the plateau effect in improvement student learning over time, and the


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British government’s strategic decision that further improvement meant rethinking and reorganizing the support system for change within the parameters of national goals. The student achievement plateau phenomenon, followed by a restructuring of the system support system and then by renewed evidence of student performance gains, is also reported for the Ontario government’s literacy initiative (Campbell & Fullan, 2006) and in longitudinal analyses of decentralization reforms, district organization and support, and student outcomes in the Chicago school system (Bryk et al., 1998; Simmons, 2006). The Chicago case adds some additional complexity to this pattern. As recounted by Simmons (2006), the Chicago reform has moved through three phases of improvement relative to student performance and to the district role and relationships with schools. Each phase of reorganization was preceded by a period of system-wide improvement in standardized test scores leading to a 2- to 3-year plateau in student performance gains. The complexity in this picture arises from the fact that the improvement gains varied for different sets of schools. Focusing on the low-performing elementary schools in 1990 (82% of the city’s 429 regular elementary schools), Simmons shows how test scores declined initially in all these schools, began to rise in 1992, and plateaued 1993 and 1995. Among these schools, however, Simmons identifies half as “high-gain” schools that showed evidence of significant improvements in student performance, while the other half were “low-gain” schools that showed minimal overall improvement in this phase. The scores leveled off for both sets of schools, but at different performance thresholds. Following a partial recentralization of the district authority and reorganization of district direction, support, and intervention for school improvement, student achievement scores improved significantly among all these schools from 1995 and 1999, but stalled again between 1999 and 2001, leading to another reorientation and reorganization of district-level involvement in supporting ongoing improvement efforts in the schools. This change was followed by renewed evidence of improvement in the high-gain schools, but did not have an effect on the stalled achievement test results in the low-gain schools. Again, our purpose here is not to explore the details of the district improvement strategies and their evolution over time, but rather to highlight some patterns of change associated with a long-term system-wide improvement effort. The Chicago case reinforces the expectation that a system-wide improvement strategy is likely to result in short-term improvement in student performance followed by a leveling off or plateau in student learning gains, and that further improvement may require strategic rethinking and reorganization of system-level leadership and support for change at the school level. The difference in the Chicago case is the recognition that the pattern of gains and plateaus may vary for schools in varying circ*mstances across the system. Thus, the support system for improvement has to become increasingly differentiated in response to the performance trends and circ*mstances of individual schools and sets of similar schools. Elmore and Burney (1997) also talk about the development of a district approach to improvement in NYC District #2 that became increasingly responsive to differential progress in achieving school improvement targets in the context of district-wide goals.

Moving Change: Evolutionary Perspectives on Educational Change


A different scenario of wide-scale improvements in student performance over a sustained period of time occurred in Texas during the 1990s and into the current century. The history of this process and controversies surrounding the social and educational implications of the results are widely documented, e.g., Haney, 2001; Klein, 2001; Scheurich & Skrla, 2001; Skrla et al., 2001a, 2001b; Valencia et al., 2001. Texas was one of the first states in the United States to introduce a standardsbased curriculum aligned with a state accountability system that included annual criterion-based testing of student performance on the curriculum, state-mandated performance indicators and reports, and public ratings of schools and school districts on the basis of student performance (aggregated and disaggregated by student characteristics, such as race and family income). Over a 10-year period, schools and districts across the state charted remarkable gains in student achievement on the state tests, and a significant narrowing of gaps in performance between racially and socio-economically different sub-groups of students. Controversy surrounding the results centered on claims that the state curriculum standards and tests were set at a low level of expectations for student learning, that Texas students did not perform nearly as well on nationally normed tests, that the state education agency inflated performance ratings by manipulating minimum pass standards, that the accountability pressures led teachers to concentrate classroom instruction more on preparing students for the tests than on learning per se, and that the claimed improvements in student learning, particularly for minority and poor students, were more illusory than real. By 2001, as seen elsewhere, student results had plateaued, but had plateaued at relatively high levels, with many schools and districts reporting 80% or more of their students performing at or above the state’s minimum standards for acceptable performance in reading, writing, and mathematics. The state’s response at this point was not to rethink and reorganize its support system for ongoing improvement under the existing curriculum regime. Instead, the state introduced a more challenging curriculum and testing system. In essence, the state raised the bar of standards and acceptable performance. The immediate effect was a decline in student, school and district performance levels. This created a new context and stimulus for improvement (and an impression that some schools and districts that were high performing under the old system were not so effective after all). Here is not the place to engage in the debate on the educational and social significance of the Texas miracle from 1991 to 2001 (see the works cited). The Texas case is, however, important to this discussion of the conceptual, methodological, and political complexities of measuring and judging continuous improvement in student learning over time. It reminds us of the implications of stability and change in how we assess and judge the quality and change in student learning over time. It also illustrates that when confronted with what may be an inevitable leveling off of gains in student learning across a system, system authorities can respond in different ways. In England and in Chicago, they reoriented and reorganized the external support systems to achieve better quality implementation within the existing curriculum and accountability system. In Texas they changed the curriculum and performance standards, with no major shift in state support for implementation of altered expectations and accountability requirements. It remains to be seen whether Texas schools will,


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on a wide scale, register renewed gains with a more challenging curriculum and performance standards, but low investment at the state level in whether and how this might require change in the infrastructure of system support for improvement at the school and district levels.

Concluding Remarks The aim of this chapter was to review and discuss different ways in which education change researchers and analysts have conceptualized, studied, and explained the process of change over time, particularly in terms of successive stages, phases, or states. Popular concepts used to make sense of change over time were discussed as an individual phenomenon and as an organizational phenomenon at the level of schools and school systems (district, state, nation). These included the developmental schema of affective Stages of Concern and behavioral Levels of Use applied to individuals implementing innovations associated with the ConcernsBased Adoption Model (Hall & Hord, 2006); the three-stage/three-phase mobilization, implementation, and institutionalization model of planned changes in program and practices in organizations (Berman, 1981; Berman & McLaughlin, 1977; Fullan, 1981, 2007); continuing developments in understanding the phenomena of mutual adaptation (Datnow et al., 2002) and the sustainability of change; and recent attempts to conceptualize and describe what continuous improvement looks like at the school and school system levels in terms of both student outcomes and systemlevel organization (e.g., Anderson & Kumari, 2008; Fullan, 2003; Hopkins, 2007). While many of the concepts reviewed are well known and often applied, this review draws attention to some of the knotty conceptual problems associated with their application to empirical findings from research on educational change. On the basis of this review, I argue that the fit of these theoretical concepts to practice should not be taken for granted by education researchers and practitioners. More research effort is needed to deepen theoretical development along these lines in our ongoing efforts to construct a discourse that accurately describes and explains educational change. In sum, as knowledge workers in the field of educational change, we need to continually challenge and refine our conceptions and explanations of the change process over time.

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Berman, P. (1980). Thinking about programmed and adaptive implementation strategies and situations. In H. Ingram & D. Mann (Eds.), Why policies succeed or fail. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. Berman, P. (1981). Educational change: An implementation paradigm. In R. Lehming & M. Kane (Eds.), Improving schools: Using what we know (pp. 253–286). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications. Berman, P., & McLaughlin, M. (1976). Implementation of educational innovation. Educational Forum, 40(3), 345–370. Bryk, A., Sebring, P., Kerbow, D., Rollow, S., & Easton, J. (1998). Charting Chicago school reform.Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Campbell, C., & Fullan, M. (2006). Unlocking the potential for learning: Effective district-wide strategies to raise student achievement in literacy and numeracy. Toronto, ON: Ontario Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat, Project Report. Charters, W. W., & Jones, J. (1973). On the risk of appraising non-events in program evaluation. Educational Research, 2(11), 5–7. Corbett, H. D., Dawson, J., & Firestone, W. (1984). School context and school change: Implications for effective planning.New York: Teachers College Press. Crandall, D., Eiseman, J., & Louis, K. S. (1986). Strategic planning issues that bear on the success of school improvement efforts. Educational Administration Quarterly, 22(3), 21–53. Datnow, A., Hubbard, L., & Mehan, H. (2002). Extending educational reform: From one school to many. London, NY: RoutledgeFalmer. Dufour, R., &, Eaker, R. (Eds.). (2005). On common ground: The power of learning communities.Bloomington, IN: National Educational Service. Earl, L., et al. (2003). Watching and learning 3. Final report of the external evaluation of England’s national literacy and numeracy strategies.Nottingham: Department for Education and Skills. Elmore, R. (1995). Getting to scale with good educational practice. Harvard Educational Review, 66(1), 1–26. Elmore, R., & Burney, D. (1997). Investing in teacher learning: Staff development and instructional improvement in Community School District #2, New York City. New York: Consortium for Policy Research in Education and National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. Fullan, M. (1982). The meaning of educational change.New York: Teachers College Press. Fullan, M. (2000). The return of large scale reform. Journal of Educational Change, 1(1), 5–28. Fullan, M. (2003). Change forces with a vengeance.London, NY: RoutledgeFalmer. Fullan, M. (2007). The new meaning of educational change(4th ed.). New York: Teachers College Press. Fullan, M., & Pomfret, A. (1977). Research on curriculum and instruction implementation. Review of Educational Research, 47(1), 335–397. Hall, G., & Hord, S. (1987). Change in Schools: Facilitating the Process. Alhang, NY: State University of New York Press. Hall, G., & Hord, S. (2006). Implementing change: Patterns, principles, and potholes(2nd ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc. Hall, G., & Loucks, S. (1977). A developmental model for determining whether the treatment is actually implemented. American Educational Research Journal, 14(3), 273–276. Hall, G., & Loucks, S. (1978). Teacher concerns as a basis for facilitating and personalizing staff development. Teachers College Record, 80(1), 36–53. Hall, G., & Loucks, S. (1981). Program definition and adaptation: Implications for inservice. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 14(2), 46–58. Hall, G., Loucks, S., Rutherford, W., & Newlove, B. (1975). Levels of use of the innovation: A framework for analyzing innovation adoption. Journal of Teacher Education, 26(1), 52–56. Haney, W. (2001). The illusion of educational equity in Texas: A commentary on ‘accountability for equity’. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 4(3), 267–275. Hopkins, D. (2007). Every school a great school. Berkshire, England: Open University Press, McGraw-Hill.


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Huberman, M., & Miles, M. (1984). Innovation up close: How school improvement works. New York: Plenum. Kauffman, S. (1995). At home in the universe: The search for the laws of self-organization and complexity. New York: Oxford University Press. Klein, S. (2001). Is there a connection between educational equity and accountability. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 4(3), 261–266. Leithwood, K. (1981). Dimensions of program innovation. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 13(1), 25–36. Leithwood, K., & Montgomery, D. (1982). Evaluating program implementation. Evaluation Review, 4(2), 193–214. Little, J. W. (1982). Norms of collegiality and experimentation: Workplace conditions of school success. American Educational Research Journal, 19(3), 325–340. Loucks, S., & Hall, G. (1977, February). Assessing and facilitating the implementation of innovations: A new approach. Educational Technology, 17(2), 18–21. Miles, M. (1983). Unraveling the mystery of institutionalization. Educational Leadership, 41(3), 14–19. Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations(5th ed.). New York: The Free Press. Rosenholtz, S. (1989). Teachers’ workplace: The social organization of schools.White Plains, NY: Longman. Scheurich, J., & Skrla, L. (2001). Continuing the conversation on equity and accountability: Listening appreciatively, responding responsibly. Phi Delta Kappan, 83(4), 322–326. Simmons, J. (2006). School reform in Chicago, 1988–2005. In Breaking through: Transforming urban school districts(chap. 1, pp. 11–23). New York: Teachers College Press. Skrla, L., Scheurich, J. J., Johnson, J., & Koschoreck, J. (2001a). Accountability for equity: Can state policy leverage social justice? International Journal of Leadership in Education 4(3), 237–260. Skrla, L., Scheurich, J. J., Johnson, J., & Koschoreck, J. (2001b). Rejoinder: Complex and contested constructions of accountability and educational equity. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 4(3), 277–283. Valencia, R., Valenzuela, A., Sloan, K., & Foley, D. (2001). Let’s treat the cause, not the symptoms: Equity and accountability in Texas revisited. Phi Delta Kappan, 83(4), 318–321, 326. Video Journal of Education. (1992). Managing change: The dynamics of change. Video Journal of Education, 2(4). Waldrop, M. (1992). Complexity: The emerging science at the edge of order and chaos. New York: Simon and Schuster.

A Temporary, Intermediary Organization at the Helm of Regional Education Reform: Lessons from the Bay Area School Reform Collaborative Ann Jaquith and Milbrey McLaughlin

The Bay Area School Reform Collaborative (BASRC) was invented in 1995 as an ad hoc intermediary organization. It was created in response to a national challenge from philanthropist Walter Annenberg and his half-billion-dollar gift to American public education. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation responded with $25 million to support the creation of a San Francisco Bay Area regional education reform initiative. BASRC was charged with the goal of stimulating and supporting education reform in the Bay Area and working to close the achievement gap among students of different race and language backgrounds. During its 10-year history, BASRC pursued its mission by making grants to support schools’ reform work and establishing a regional collaborative of member schools, districts, support organizations, and funders. BASRC’s reform efforts proceeded in two phases. During Phase I of its work (1996–2001), BASRC funded 86 “Leadership Schools” in 6 Bay Area counties. By the fall of 1999 the initial $50 million had been matched by $62 million more in public and private funds.1 During Phase II (2001–2006), BASRC invested in reform efforts in four focal districts and featured coaching as a reform strategy. The Hewlett and Annenberg Foundations provided $40 million in funds and other sources contributed a total of about the same amount. Throughout, the Collaborative’s signature reform tool was the school-based Cycle of Inquiry, in which teachers used student data to assess and plan for instruction.2

BASRC’s Organizational Form BASRC was an organization of a particular stripe. As an intermediary, BASRC operated between districts and schools and funders. The Collaborative vetted M. McLaughlin (B) Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA e-mail: [emailprotected] 1 BASRC’s regional membership also included an additional 146 Membership Schools, 40 districts, and several regional school reform support organizations and foundations which participated without funding. 2 See McLaughlin and Mitra (2004).

A. Hargreaves et al. (eds.), Second International Handbook of Educational Change, Springer International Handbooks of Education 23, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-2660-6_5, C Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010



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participation in the reform effort, carried out an oversight role, and enacted a vision of whole school/whole district reform. As a temporary organization, funding periods defined its lifespan. According to a founding board member, there was never any intent to make BASRC a permanent addition to the Bay Area’s education landscape. Intermediary organizations have evolved as a response to a number of policy problems – how to make effective use of scarce resources, how to foster the spread of ideas and technologies, and how to coordinate missions across organizational and political lines. Likewise, temporary structures spring up in both public and private sectors to carry out special missions. Though both organizational forms are valued as promising policy responses, empirical research about the function and contribution of temporary intermediaries is limited. This chapter draws on 10 years of site-based and survey research in BASRC schools and districts to consider BASRC as a temporary intermediary charged with regional education reform. As background for the analysis, we first discuss the general opportunities and challenges associated with intermediary organizations and temporary structures. To identify and illustrate lessons for policy and practice, we then turn to BASRC’s experience as a temporary intermediary charged with bringing about education reform in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Intermediary Organizations The appearance of intermediaries in both public and private sectors reflects the contemporary appeal of interactive, boundary-spanning organizations dispatched to connect organizations and individuals. Intermediaries of various descriptions generally are capacity-building organizations, operating to increase the capability of individuals, organizations, or systems.3 Several features of intermediary organizations make them uniquely suited to play the roles of connector and broker. Many intermediaries are non-system actors and so have flexibility not available to public agencies. They enjoy multiple connections and complex relationships that permit them to act across institutional domains. Intermediaries such as BASRC live “at the boundaries. . .neither ‘of’ the system nor wholly outside it” (McDonald, McLaughlin, & Corcoran, 2002, p. 6). A positional aspect that adds value is their “betweenness” (Botes & Mitchell, 1995; Scott, 2003). Intermediaries can move between public and private agencies, individual and organizational concerns, and institutions with a nimbleness typically unavailable to bureaucracies or public agencies. Intermediaries “add value to the world mostly through what they enable other players to do (or do better)” (Briggs, 2003, p. 3).

3 Initial conceptions of intermediaries featured them as mediating structures linking “the individual in his private life and vast institutions of the public order” (Berger, 1976; Kerrine & Neuhaus, 1979, p. 10). Subsequently, intermediaries’ roles extended to include inter-institutional and interorganizational transactions of various sorts.

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However, intermediaries wrestle with their own set of positional challenges. Intermediaries such as BASRC must determine the appropriate balance between delivering their own vision and building the capacity of the organization they are trying to help (Sherman, 2002). To what extent does an intermediary see itself as transforming the field by imposing knowledge and skills, versus supporting a change that is coming from within the organization with which it works (Wynn, 2000)? Similarly, staff experience and background influence relationships intermediaries can establish with focal organizations and the organization’s credibility (Honig, 2004). Do actors associated with an intermediary have credibility in the array of institutions with which they interact? A related challenge involves establishing channels to enable a two-way communication between the intermediary and its target – channels that provide ongoing information about what client organizations need and enable intermediaries to be responsive in a dynamic environment. Briggs (2003) describes the environment in which intermediaries exist as “fluid, where demand for what they do can shift or erode, where the functions of intermediaries and other players may overlap, where the rules are ambiguous” (p. 2). Responding strategically to clients’ shifting and evolving needs requires that intermediaries know what is needed when and are able to scan the environment and adapt well (Briggs, 2003, pp. 9–15). Funder relationships also test many intermediaries when they seek to attend to funders’ interests while remaining faithful to their own goals as an organization, a problem of serving “many masters” (Briggs, 2003).

Temporary Organizations Temporary organizations such as BASRC are created with a specific purpose and duration in mind. They are “defined as a set of diversely skilled people working together on a complex task over a limited time period” (Goodman & Goodman, 1976, p. 494). Temporary organizations assume varied forms and missions – such as presidential commissions, task forces, negotiating teams, research and development projects, and structures charged with providing a particular service. Their charter confines their mission and the organization’s termination is tied to a specified time or event – when the commission or task force completes its work, and when an experiment, pilot project, or reform initiative ends. “These new structures are themselves innovations in the larger system – innovations designed to further installation of other, more specific innovations in target systems” (Miles, 1964, p. 19n). Temporary organizations are created to do something that existing, permanent organizations cannot do, or accomplish easily. Typically they are invented to bypass “anti-change” elements in permanent organizations, to focus on a problem outside the purview of existing systems, or take on a problem for which permanent organizations have no regularly specified procedures or capacity. “They are formed with a sense of making a difference” (Goodman & Goodman, 1976, p. 496). Temporary organizations are distinctive in their ability to focus on a discrete task, and operate on


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a narrowed, finite time table. To accomplish their charge, they need to keep a steady pace and cannot put off decisions in the way permanent organizations often can. Time presents perhaps the greatest problem to both the temporary system and the organizations or systems it seeks to influence. Many temporary organizations operate under unrealistic timelines – constraints imposed at their creation that often reflect insufficient initial understanding of the scope and complexity of the task assigned. Further, temporary organizations’ schedules as developed by funders or commissioners often overlook or minimize the start-up requirements of getting a new structure staffed and up and running. Implicit in the plans for temporary organizations frequently is the assumption that they will be “good to go” once the doors are opened and the first check is cut. Yet, staffs responsible for carrying out the organization’s work need clear specification of rules, expectations, and procedures. These organizational processes and procedures take time to establish, yet funding and activity schedules often neglect this important management task for the new, temporary organization (Miles, 1964). Temporary organizations also commonly experience difficulty establishing effective, credible channels of communication with clients in permanent systems. Building the relationships essential to an effective communication strategy takes staff-intensive effort – a resource in short supply in a temporary organization on a fast pace to meet ambitious goals. The “extra-system” character of temporary organizations provides flexibility and protection from the daily pressures felt by actors in permanent systems. This feature permits single-mindedness but it also can isolate temporary organizations and their staff from real-world dynamics. Being cut off in this manner can generate “them/us” divisions and “boutique” products impractical in the everyday context of permanent organizations. The education reform arena is replete with examples of initiatives nurtured in a special project setting but unsustainable once special funding and attention end – pilot projects that led nowhere. Miles (1964) and others who study temporary systems comment on a tendency toward “grandiose, unattainable goals” (p. 481). Unrealistic goals may reflect the relative freedom from the constraints of permanent organizations and the warrant to think broadly. But they can also be “excessively noble in sentiment and impossibly difficult” (op. cit.). Temporary organizations walk a fine line between imagining the innovative “out of the box” plan for action, and simultaneously considering the doable. And, temporary organizations often confront resistance because they are temporary. Perhaps nowhere more than in the field of education are actors cynical about the “flavor of the month” or the next good idea brought into a district by a wellintentioned group or task force. Educators often dismiss projects associated with temporary organizations as efforts to be endured but ultimately dismissed as “here today, gone tomorrow” resources. Temporary organizations such as BASRC, then, face special obstacles when it comes to handing off their efforts to permanent systems. Have they fostered change in attention, systems, and resources that will be continued, or will the target organization return to the status quo once the temporary structure is dismantled?

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BASRC in Action BASRC’s founding was big news; the size of its purse and its ambitious, innovative mission created significant buzz in the Bay Area public education community.4 BASRC brought a vision of regional educational reform, tools and strategies for achieving this vision, and resources in the form of dollars and technical supports. BASRC’s theory of change featured elements of school and district culture it assumed essential to improved student outcomes – a professional learning community focused on inquiry and evidence-based decisions about practices. In many respects, BASRC functioned as planners and funders intended, moving between schools, districts, support providers,5 funders, and others to advance its mission of regional reform. In other respects, the Collaborative fell short of its goals; many schools and districts struggled to carry out BASRC’s mission and among those that did, the end of the initiative saw serious questions of sustainability. Many of these shortfalls can be understood in terms of BASRC’s organizational form. Here we explore the strengths and weaknesses of BASRC as a temporary intermediary. First, we look at the roles BASRC assumed and the ways in which it added value and promoted reform. Then we turn to the challenges that frustrated BASRC’s efforts. What factors in the sites and the Collaborative itself account for the significant variation seen in the implementation and outcomes of BASRC’s efforts? Finally, we consider the lessons BASRC’s experience teaches about the role and function of a temporary intermediary at the helm of regional education reform.

BASRC as Reform Agent The Collaborative constructed three broad roles to implement its reform goals: grant maker, broker, and educator. Grant maker. BASRC acted as a scout for funders, establishing application and vetting procedures for the schools or districts. Funders expected that BASRC would develop a reform with coherence at the initiative level, capable of generating regional reform capacity. Through its support of Leadership Schools and focal districts, BASRC re-granted over $100 million to support locally proposed reform efforts. Not surprisingly, educators were positive about BASRC’s funding for their reform efforts and appreciative of the Collaborative’s flexibility compared to that of public agencies. They also were positive about BASRC’s accountability strategy, the Review of Progress – a strategy designed to establish and enforce standards for self-regulation and mutual accountability among its members. The R.O.P. process asked schools to document their reform progress and state their plans for the following year. This document underwent a peer review process by colleagues and

4 Wildermuth

(1995). termed individuals and organizations providing technical assistance to BASRC schools “support providers.” 5 BASRC


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BASRC coaches through the local collaborative network. Ultimately, the R.O.P. was intended as a way for BASRC to hold schools accountable for making reform progress and to provide guidance to schools as they refined their reform goals. Broker. BASRC played different brokering roles at different times and for different constituencies. Sometimes the Collaborative connected individuals and groups both inside and outside the system. For instance, BASRC brokered relationships with other support providers such as content-focused professional development on reading. At other times, BASRC brokered knowledge, by helping to translate, coordinate, and align perspectives on reform practices within and across the regional participants. BASRC defined its broker role in two complementary ways: as a builder of ties and as a convener of stakeholders. BASRC brought educators together from a wide variety of school contexts through its Summer Institutes, role-alike networks, and Best Practices Institutes. Participants generally viewed these activities positively. A number of district administrators and principals commented that they had few opportunities to engage with educators outside their district and that they found these cross-school and -district conversations stimulating and valuable. Despite the value experienced by those who participated in these opportunities to connect with other educators and experts, these brokering efforts experienced limited success. Attendance was spotty; competing demands for time and attention figured prominently as obstacles. Though a temporary organization operates in time and space apart from the permanent organizations it seeks to inform or change, the individuals who are the focus of such efforts rarely have the luxury to suspend their daily responsibilities. And the sprawling geography of the Bay Area region meant that participation in BASRC events required significant commute time, extending time away from schools and offices. The BASRC-supported professional exchanges educators reported valuing most involved opportunities without demands of travel and daylong meetings. For instance, though almost half of the principals reported that they had not attended a BASRC regional convention, nearly half said that they found opportunities to work with other schools in their district’s local collaborative very or extremely useful. Similarly, a district administrator said that BASRC’s local collaborative strategy “opened up an opportunity for us to join in partnership within our own district that we might not have thought of.” BASRC’s most effective brokering supports ultimately may have existed in the relationships and structures it built on the ground, up-close rather than regional exchanges. Educator. Central to BASRC’s educator role were strategies, tools, and technical assistance for teachers and administrators to learn about the Cycle of Inquiry, its foundational process for using data to investigate practice and plan for change that promised to increase student achievement. During Phase I, that support featured workshops and Summer Institutes as well as on-site assistance from BASRC staff. During Phase II, BASRC supported coaches at both school and district levels to provide hands-on assistance with the Cycle of Inquiry and other elements of its reform vision. Many teachers and administrators said that they would not have made progress in the areas of evidence-based decision making and comfort with data without BASRC. A teacher commented:

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BASRC’s biggest contribution—they made you do these Cycles of Inquiry. Initially like “oh my God.” But in retrospect, in addition to all of the staff development and materials, were the concepts and structures and systems that would never have been established had it not been for their guidance and requirements.

Some administrators described BASRC’s concentration on inquiry in terms of culture change. “This has been a major shift—really looking at what we do, what we need based on data, based on how well we know the district. [The BASRC coach] was really able to pull it together and drive it home.” In particular, they commented about how a major part of the “culture change” BASRC enabled was to get beyond the “culture of nice,” to analyze their own work critically and ask tough questions “. . .and say if that’s not working well, then let’s throw it out.” To expose BASRC members to new ideas, the Collaborative offered various 1-day or multi-day sessions focused on promising practices. Presentations by experts provided teachers, administrators, and local collaborative coaches with concrete examples of practices. BASRC’s various professional development offerings received generally high marks from participants and positive recognition of BASRC’s educator role throughout the Collaborative’s duration. A teacher stressed how important it was for a district team to be off-site, hearing about promising strategies, and “talk about some issues that are vital to the district.” Another district superintendent thought “BASRC provides the type of professional development that can grow capacity in a district.” However, response to BASRC’s education efforts was not uniformly positive, and varied in both reception and consequence depending on site or individual readiness to learn. Schools and districts primed to begin, or just embarking on, the use of evidence-based practices were quicker to credit BASRC with building their local capacity. In particular, districts ready to engage BASRC’s vision reported that the Collaborative’s tools, procedures, and coaching enabled them to go to the next stage and, by their report, change culture. BASRC staff’s feedback in this context often was deemed “excellent” because “working from the outside, they look at us through a different lens.” Teachers and administrators talked about BASRC as “providing needed focus,” “a facilitator,” “a vehicle for change,” “a kick in the butt,” “an external force to keep you moving,” and “preventing [the district] from staying stuck in management-type things.” Not all BASRC staff experienced a smooth course working with schools or districts, however. Some coaches described difficulties in using some BASRC tools to help teachers learn. These differences turned less on the nature of the feedback BASRC coaches and others provided than on administrator and teacher willingness to hear critical feedback about the progress of their reform efforts. Across all of the focal districts and schools, BASRC tools, supports, and coaches added greatest value in schools and districts already committed to reform and eager for support. Districts and schools with less concrete engagement with education reform often experienced BASRC’s efforts as “all process and no product,” and “providing too little direction.” These different assessments of BASRC’s work highlight the significance of “readiness” as an important aspect of BASRC’s ability to achieve, given its status as a temporary organization.


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Its status as an intermediary provided BASRC a high degree of independence and agency in pursuing regional reform. Participating Bay Area schools and districts valued the Collaborative’s flexible organizational structure and resources. However, though BASRC can count some important accomplishments in its decade of regional reform work, it also struggled with many of the obstacles associated with temporary systems and intermediary organizations – challenges that ultimately limited the Collaborative’s impact in the region. BASRC’s experience provides instructive perspective on the limits of this organizational form as a reform agent.

Ambitious Scale and Scope: Struggles with Regional Diversity In theory, an intermediary organization ought to be able to educate and build capacity at the same time. In practice, educating and building capacity within a complex, interdependent, and loosely coupled system such as the San Francisco Bay Area proved to be an overly ambitious undertaking. The bold scale and scope of BASRC’s work meant that the organization faced the difficult task of providing services and resources across the broad and differentiated population of Bay Area schools and districts. BASRC’s reform vision – culture change in schools and districts that supported evidence-based decision making and attention to equity – made the outsider’s role an especially challenging one. BASRC was not attempting to “deliver” a wellspecified reform package; rather, the Collaborative sought to introduce the tools and habits that would enable participating sites to make fundamental change in the business of schooling and conceptions of practice. BASRC’s executive director described it “not as a program but a vision – a vision of what schools should look and feel like.” The Collaborative’s initial 86 Leadership Schools varied significantly in student demographics, faculty background, community contexts, and grade levels. And most important to the outcome of BASRC’s work, Leadership Schools joined the Collaborative with substantively different reform histories. Some Leadership Schools had extensive experience with the evidence-based, whole-school reform efforts BASRC promoted. Others, especially schools with a poor track record of student achievement, had little to no experience with the strategies BASRC advanced. Many schools felt BASRC’s tools and strategies did not meet their needs. Schools advanced in evidence-based practices found various BASRC technical assistance and support efforts too elementary, while many schools new to inquiry found sessions too abstract to be useful to them (McLaughlin & Mitra, 2004). BASRC recognized these problems but had insufficient capacity to provide Leadership Schools with tailored supports. BASRC sought to meet requests for site-specific technical assistance by underwriting support providers for each Leadership School. In some instances, these matches were effective; in many others, however, successful matches were not made. Schools discovered that the “pool” of support providers in the region was thin and that available support providers either did not fit their needs

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or were ineffective. Staffing constraints, an insufficient number of qualified support providers, and the Collaborative’s own relative newness to the enterprise often constrained BASRC to a “transmission” role and, as a teacher put it, “produced lots of big fat binders.” In its Phase II work, to move away from standardized tools and strategies, BASRC hired school- and district-level coaches, as well as local collaborative coaches, to work with teachers and administrators. In practice, however, the work of transforming the culture of even a single district consisting of multiple schools, each with its own different context and needs, proved a complex and demanding task. One way BASRC responded to this challenge was to keep its tools and technical assistance relatively non-specific in terms of content. This strategy reflected a philosophical commitment on BASRC’s part to site-based input and local development of specific reform plans and strategies. But this approach left many responsible for carrying out reform efforts in schools and districts frustrated and unclear about how to proceed. As a reform coordinator in a focal district put it, “BASRC staff contributed with implementing change without a recipe but with the ingredients.” It soon became apparent that in schools and districts lacking substantial experience with inquiry, more concrete guidance was needed – especially in light of the relatively limited timeframe under which reformers were operating. Many protocols ran into problems because of the significant variation among settings in which they were used. In some schools, protocols did not connect with teachers’ day-to-day realities; in others, protocols were ineffective because, as a coach put it, “the protocol didn’t teach them anything new.” The Literacy Learning Communities or the Equity Learning Communities BASRC introduced as a way to support teachers’ implementation of reform strategies never came together for similar reasons. The diversity of teachers’ experiences, expertise, and commitments to various literacy programs meant that a single “curriculum” or focused discussion was difficult to stage.

Ambitious Goals: Too Much, Too Soon BASRC’s goals were broad and ambitious – in retrospect, too much so given the organization’s capacity and timeline. The Collaborative was commissioned to “close the achievement gap,” to build appetite and capacity for regional change – a breathtaking charge resonant with worries about temporary systems, that in the presence of high-flying, unattainable goals, “failure and disenchantment are practically guaranteed” (Miles, 1964, p. 481). BASRC’s status as a regional intermediary stretched its capacity to respond effectively to the diverse needs and experience of participants. Its temporary status compounded the problem. Since the Collaborative was not in it for the long haul, many schools and districts poised to take advantage of BASRC’s resources were unable to reach “take off” point during their participation in the Collaborative. This outcome might have been different had BASRC been able to target intensive, site-specific resources. The Collaborative had insufficient organizational capacity to scan the region for these resources. But even if its plan


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of action had allowed such focusing, its temporary status made BASRC relatively inflexible in terms of pace of change, and so unable to make the adjustments in timelines and expectations a permanent intermediary could.

Staffing Issues and a Tight Timeline BASRC introduced its two-tier coaching strategy – executive coaches to work with the superintendent and school coaches to work at the school level – as a way to honor the organization’s belief in the importance of ground-level development while also providing material, specific implementation assistance. Though BASRC expended much effort and many resources to do a better job of supporting the reform progress of its diverse membership, the Collaborative’s coaches struggled with their task. BASRC’s coaching staff, though they were educators with substantial reform experience, generally did not bring the background needed on the ground. Coaches shared no common experience with each other and in some instances even with their “coachee.” For example, only one of the BASRC school-level coaches had been a principal. And though all executive coaches were former superintendents, only one of the executive coaches engaged to “teach” BASRC had previous district experience with BASRC. Further, one executive coach questioned “the assumption that if you hire people who have been successful superintendents, that was going to be good for coaching. . .” In addition, the Collaborative’s coaching staff was new to the challenges before them. Their own lack of clarity about their roles and the expectations hampered their ability to promote BASRC’s vision or bring coherence to the initiative. The coaches had little opportunity to develop a shared understanding about ways to respond to members’ different styles, needs, and expectations. As a consequence, both executive and school coaches were uncertain about how much latitude they had to create site-specific plans. The local collaborative coaches (LoCoCos), who were district employees hired to support BASRC’s work in the district, also wished for more role clarity. But perhaps more important, they wished for more time. LoCoCos often felt overwhelmed. They described their coaching role as “like a second full-time job.” These staffing issues with BASRC coaches responsible for carrying out Phase II reform work in focal districts and schools meant that, in practice, BASRC’s coaching model was unevenly implemented and the pace of the reform left little opportunity for mid-course correction at any level.

Sustaining Reform: Managing the Handoff Temporary organizations such as BASRC must, at some point, hand off their work to permanent organizations. Creators of temporary organizations expect that these provisional resources will engender change in systems, organizations, and individuals – new practices that are incorporated into permanent organizations’ routines and norms. On sustainability grounds, BASRC’s impact on Bay Area education has been

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disappointing. The Collaborative did accomplish some changes in district systems, but they were few. In one focal district, the local collaborative structure is in place, which “would not have happened” without BASRC. In other districts and schools, some BASRC practices remain, such as “selecting and tracking target students” and convening school leadership teams. Signs are that the reforms BASRC championed will fade in many schools and districts. For example, though several BASRC Phase I schools that were in Phase II focal districts continued and deepened their inquiry-based reform work, by 2005, schools new to BASRC had caught up, with teacher survey data showing the same inquiry levels. However, both groups showed decline during the final year when BASRC funding support had been reduced, suggesting that inquiry practices had not been embedded in school culture in ways that were sustainable in the longer term, even in schools with almost a decade of BASRC experience. One district administrator says that in order to sustain the district’s conversations about evidencebased learning it needs “to continue its relationship with BASRC” because the “personnel resources and . . .the opportunity to talk about education . . .at different levels” is even more helpful than the financial resources. The district has not created its own internal structures and knowledge resources to continue these sorts of cross-level educational conversations when this temporary system disappears. According to their BASRC executive coach, BASRC’s failure with this district is “sobering, given how many resources and how much time has gone into that district.” The lack of adequate resources comprises a significant obstacle to sustainability. BASRC’s flagship reform, the Cycle of Inquiry, requires dedicated staff and attention. It is not a reform to be “learned” and then considered self-winding. Change of the sort BASRC promulgated and tools such as the Cycle of Inquiry require ongoing learning and support if they are to deepen, spread, and retain vitality. The Cycle of Inquiry requires time for individual practitioners to collect and analyze data as well as reflect on practice. These activities must in turn be supported by data collection and analysis capacity at both the school and district levels. When BASRC funding ended, so did dedicated attention to a Cycle of Inquiry in most all schools and focal districts. As a temporary intermediary, BASRC introduced reforms that generally could not be sustained by existing district budgets and staff – especially in a context of high stakes accountability and state mandated curriculum – even when administrators were supportive. Significant turnover in district and school staff also compromised the sustainability of BASRC tools and vision. The reform BASRC brought to participating schools and districts was not one of simple activity structures, but one that assumed change in organizational culture, norms, and expectations. So as staff left, so did the vision. Further, BASRC’s executive coaches worked only with the superintendent – other central office administrators were not included in coaching or, in some instances, in feedback sessions. BASRC elected this strategy on the assumption that Superintendents would be most comfortable and candid in a one-on-one coaching format. However, this tactic meant that other central office administrators were not brought into the district reform effort in a meaningful way, and so were unable to


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provide substantive support. Yet, experience teaches that middle management backing is key both to implementing and sustaining district-wide reforms (Spillane & Burch, 2004). All of these factors contributed to a survey-based conclusion of little “BASRC district effect.” Responses from district administrators in districts participating in Phase I and Phase II show no significant differences over time (1998–2004) in their assessments of “district reform leadership” or “central office reform culture” – two scales measuring key aspects of BASRC’s focal district strategy such as support for schools’ focus on teaching and learning and use of data as a basis for decision making (reform leadership), and district’s active involvement in school reform and district administrators’ learning (reform culture).6 However, a modest “BASRC effect” is evident in the 4 Phase II focal districts. Compared to 11 non-focal districts, they started with lower district indicators of reform culture and caught up to or surpassed the non-focal districts on measures of distributed leadership; district central office reform culture at the end of Phase II. Survey and interview data suggest that some BASRC-related change in district office culture was beginning to occur as the initiative drew to an end. As a temporary organization, BASRC could not continue supports for participating districts once its funding came to an end. Because the Collaborative did not achieve the degree of system and organizational change it sought, it was unable in most cases to hand off its reform strategies and programs. The overall demand on participating schools and districts made by BASRC strategies and vision was greater than could be sustained on a permanent basis, all things equal. Despite funders’ intent and the Collaborative’s innovative work, BASRC in the end functioned more as a “special project” than the transformative force for education reform its supporters imagined.

Lessons for the Field: Temporary Systems, Intermediaries, and Culture Change Can a temporary intermediary organization stimulate and sustain learning and growth on the ground? The response, drawing on BASRC’s experience, is “it depends.” The success of an ad hoc reform intermediary hinges critically on the readiness and capability of target organizations to take advantage of the tools and resources it provides, connections to additional resources it facilitates, and the school and district subscription to the overall operating vision. In BASRC’s case, its status as a temporary intermediary compromised its ability to be an effective outside reform resource. In hindsight, this shortfall reflects to a significant extent the mismatch between BASRC’s timeline and the pace of reform progress in many participating districts. Many schools and districts simply were not ready or able to engage the reform process BASRC assumed, and BASRC had neither 6 BASRC

District Administrator Survey – 1998, 2002, 2004.

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the time nor the resources to respond effectively to these different paces of reform. BASRC’s own management strategies are equally important to understanding the Collaborative’s relatively disappointing impact on education reform in the Bay Area. In this case we consider lessons for the field based on BASRC’s experience.

Address Sustainability Issues at the Start Temporary organizations assuming a change agent’s role must continually attend to sustainability issues once the funding clock starts ticking. Given a limited timeline to meet goals and the challenges inherent in creating sustainable solutions, temporary organizations need to focus on the attitudes and structures necessary to support and sustain the new practices from the beginning of their relationship. Commitment. One important aspect of sustainability resides in the initial commitment of participants. In retrospect, many BASRC staff wonder how committed Collaborative participants really were to making the fundamental changes BASRC advocated – or whether primary motivation for some participants lay in the possibility of new funds. BASRC conceived of its reforms in terms of learning, and an implicit assumption was made that, once learned and value demonstrated, tools and routines such as the Cycle of Inquiry would be incorporated into school and district practices. Sustainability issues associated with allocation of needed resources – such as funds, personnel, and time – were not addressed directly at the outset. Furthermore, key players in focal districts often did not recognize the kinds of supports that were needed to sustain the work. Even districts inclined to sustain and even extend BASRC reforms found themselves scrambling to do so as funding drew to an end. We saw that while commitment may be an essential element of a successful handoff, more is needed to embed reform goals and practices. Organizational “hooks”. A deficiency of organizational “hooks” to which individual participants could attach their new perspectives and learning diminished the spread and sustainability of BASRC tools and vision. A number of teachers commented on the lack of expectations for them to share what they learned at BASRC gatherings, such as the network meetings. Others felt unable to act on BASRC’s tools and reform strategies once they returned to their “regular jobs” because they lacked the warrant or support to do so. Explicit understandings and expectations about how the information, tools, and resources BASRC provided would be brought back to districts and schools – and explicit hooks for them – might have broadened their impact on practice or system routines. Likewise, by expressly defining an “emissary” role for BASRC participants, the Collaborative might have lessened the “them/us” feelings sometimes expressed by non-participants – feelings that BASRC activities and mission had nothing to do with them or that participants received special resources and treatment. In some instances, educators participating in the Collaborative were relatively isolated. In one district, for example, an effective local collaborative structure added sustained value and connections to participants, but created resentment feelings elsewhere in


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the district “that some of the schools were the ‘special schools’ that went up and did BASRC stuff, and some of them weren’t.” The whole-school, whole-district message was not uniformly received or understood and BASRC strategies did not address effectively issues of “spread” beyond BASRC participants.

Temporary Organizations Require Strategic Site Selection BASRC’s decade at the helm of regional education reform provides clear instruction about the importance of a “match” between the capacities and mission of a temporary intermediary and its reform target. BASRC was most successful in supporting sustainable reform in schools and districts that were ready to take up its vision of reform and experienced in the evidence-based strategies used to advance it. Schools and districts less far along this reform path generally found BASRC’s tools and resources less valuable (funding excepted), and struggled to apply the loosely defined BASRC protocol and strategies to their settings. These sites, just getting started, had scant experience with inquiry and were unfamiliar with a culture of evidence-based reflection and focused critique. Culture change takes time. But as a temporary organization, BASRC lacked a timeline compatible with this goal. Schools and districts “ready” for BASRC had histories with similar reform strategies; their growth and change with BASRC support reflected much more than their years with the Collaborative. In hindsight, it seems that a temporary organization of BASRC’s tenure is ill-suited to promote a significant normative and skill-based reform in settings lacking foundational experience and readiness. Almost all of the sites were moving toward BASRC’s vision of reform, but more time was needed for them to get there than was available under BASRC’s grant-supported tenure. In these instances, a permanent organization able to partner over an extended period of time and provide “just in time” resources would seem a more effective reform agent. An important lesson from BASRC’s experience is that readiness to pursue a particular reform vision is essential when the reform time frame is delimited and goals are ambitious.

Measurable Goals BASRC was “accountability lite.” The Leadership School application of Phase I as well as the needs assessments and related requirements associated with Phase II membership asked educators to set out clear goals and strategies for meeting them. However, little clarity existed throughout the Collaborative’s life about what participating schools and districts were accountable for and on what timeline. Looking back, several BASRC leaders regret the absence of a memorandum of understanding to anchor expectations for both the Collaborative and participants. BASRC’s single-minded reform focus was not matched in participating districts, especially as state and federal high-stake accountability requirements turned up pressure for improved student achievement. Even without considerations such as

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those brought by No Child Left Behind, participating schools and districts by and large did not share BASRC’s sense of urgency about either a pace of change or expected outcomes. Thus, as grant periods neared their end, both local educators and BASRC staff were unclear about what was expected of participating schools and districts, and when and how it would be measured. Reflecting on the Phase II experience and its variable outcomes, BASRC’s head school coach said “I think we would all agree that from the very beginning we formed partnerships with districts that were rather vague agreements and we didn’t really investigate the district’s capacity to do the work, certainly at the district level.” BASRC’s experience highlights the need for measurable goals and agreed-upon indicators, especially when the relationship is a temporary one aiming at sustainable outcomes. BASRC’s executive coach, who initially resisted setting targets because they conflicted with what he called his “constructivist approach to learning,” reflected on this lesson: “I want to be clear that the next time we go out with something we want to accomplish, that we’re clear about it. . .even if they [participating districts] don’t approve the goals, at least we’ll have clear, measurable goals [to hold them accountable].”

Balancing the Tension Between Prescribing and Co-constructing BASRC’s process-heavy approach proved difficult for a temporary organization to execute effectively, especially when its “clients” were a diverse lot. In theory, BASRC’s coaching approach might have been a way to create a balance between prescribed practices and local adaptations. However, given the bumpy start of the coaching strategy and the relatively short time it was in place, the Collaborative’s experience supplies a cautionary tale about implementation but little solid evidence of the value of coaching as a way to achieve this balance. Another way to address the diversity in BASRC’s clients might involve a differentiated portfolio of tools, resources, and approaches. BASRC had limited success dealing with member diversity across the region. To this point, the head executive coach advised: “Even though lots of money has been poured into these districts over the years, they were not all on the starting block. So their level of readiness to accomplish what we wanted to accomplish was very different. And so we need differential models. We need [models for] places where we start at ground zero, and we need [models] for places where we can enter and really accelerate their movement forward.” In addition to the intrinsic initial value of a diversified portfolio, this capacity in a permanent or semi-permanent intermediary would allow response to any falloff in effort that might occur due to factors such as turnover in leadership or teaching positions. Intermediaries can act as relatively stable actors in the unstable environment in which schools are located. The instability of the political context in which schools reside makes it extremely difficult for schools and districts to adopt a longterm vision for success and then sustain the organizational capacity to achieve this vision over time. An intermediary organization can become the keeper of the vision


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and can respond flexibly to fill the different needs that emerge as districts move to implement their reform strategies. However, as a temporary organization BASRC could not assume that role.

Managing Temporary Organizations BASRC was “building the plane while flying it.” Plans were developed as the initiative went along; tools and strategies were tweaked or modified along the way. Leadership Schools – especially those new to evidence-based reform – found the Collaborative’s ongoing adjustment of protocols and strategies somewhat problematic during Phase I. The significant sea changes of focus on the district during Phase II were even more unsettling to participants. Changes in priorities, direction, or routines that occurred during the first years of the focal district strategy further complicated basic issues such as a lack of clear role definition for coaches and the introduction of insufficiently specific reform tools.

Role Clarity BASRC’s experience suggests that in order to interpret successfully the Collaborative’s vision – and stay true to that vision – coaches and other staff required a greater degree of clarity than they achieved about both the vision and the practices intended to support it. An executive coach remarked on the absence of a welldeveloped conception when work began with the superintendents. “When I took this job I knew some parts of it would be under construction, but I thought there would be a more well-thought out model, and there wasn’t. But it has been pretty much ‘stumble your way through’. . .” School-level coaches worried from the start about expectations, what they were supposed to do, and how to assess their work. One said: “We’re still trying to figure it out, what our theory of action is. . .” And another pointed to the organization’s own structure as an issue: “We’re independent contractors. There is no loop for us to enter into. We’re sort of out of the loop.” If time and resources had been dedicated at the outset to allow them to work together to define their roles and establish explicit expectations, the coaches might have achieved the clarity and common language they sought. Role ambiguity created stress within the organization as well. As a temporary organization, the amount of “start up time” that BASRC could afford to spend building its own foundation of resources was limited. The BASRC staff responsible for the school coaching strategy recognized the problems stemming from this initial lack of role clarity: . . . real live bodies are out in the field every day and they’re doing something. And I have more questions about, (a) what are you doing? Are you clear about the outcomes that you’re hoping to achieve when you’re out there? (b) how does the school work and the district work inform itself?

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School and district participants similarly were unclear about their roles and responsibilities to the Collaborative. For example, many Summer Institute attendees were surprised by the expressed expectation that they would take what they learned back to their respective schools and districts, to help others understand BASRC’s vision and goals, and to gain support for BASRC-related activities. Additionally, Summer Institute participants repeatedly pointed out that it took them 3 entire days to grasp BASRC’s vision and tools, but they would have very limited time in the context of their day-to-day activities to present their knowledge to others.

Conclusions Where BASRC’s vision of inquiry and evidence-based reform was realized, even if incompletely, the power of its conception of what was needed to bring about education reform (i.e., changes in organizational culture and the integration of evidence-based practices at both the school and district level), as well as the value of the resources it brought to the task were evident. This conclusion from BASRC’s 10-year experience confirms funders’ and founders’ vision about the focus and character of significant education reform, especially reform addressing equity of educational outcomes. However, other lessons offer a cautionary tale: BASRC’s organizational form was ill-suited to its mission and charge. As a regional intermediary with limited capability to differentiate its tools and resources, the Collaborative was unable to provide an effective response to the significant diversity in experience, district contexts, and student demographics existing in its broad membership. Even though BASRC employed application procedures designed to reduce member variability in such important dimensions as reform appetite, buy-in, and capacity, local differences in these elements nonetheless thwarted BASRC in its role as educator. As a consequence, the scope of BASRC’s change agent responsibilities overreached the organization’s ability to respond in both phases of its work. Over time, BASRC might have been able to evolve a way of working with schools and districts that provided both consistency of vision and opportunities for local adaptation. The Phase II coaching strategy held promise to this effect. But the Collaborative’s status as a temporary organization meant that, except for schools and districts experienced in inquiry and ready to take up the reform BASRC envisioned, reformers sought too much, too soon. The organization had insufficient time to work with participants to make adaptations or even to develop the internal community of practice BASRC staff needed to carry a confident, consistent message to schools and districts. BASRC’s experience counsels that a temporary organization generally is a poor choice to bring about change in norms and values, or to teach complex skills of the sort required by the Collaborative’s evidence-based reform. For many of participating schools and districts, BASRC’s strategies could not be fully mastered and its tools could not be deeply embedded in everyday work in the period of time available. BASRC’s experience affirms and illustrates the vulnerabilities associated with both temporary and intermediary organizations (see Table 1). It advises that,


A. Jaquith and M. McLaughlin Table 1 Distinguishing features of temporary and intermediary organizations Temporary organization

Temporary intermediary


• Created to solve a particular problem • Diversely skilled staff • Decisive actor • Aims for quick results

• Flexible actor • Broker • Designed to develop innovative solutions


• Limited timeline to: (1) Build shared understanding of task among diverse, “temporary” staff (2) Develop relationships w/“target” organization (3) Establish effective communication channels (4) Meet own ambitious goals • Isolated from “real world” • Create sustainable solutions

• Acquiring inside knowledge and legitimacy • Assembling necessary organizational capacity

Intermediary organization • Capacity builder • Grant maker • Non-system actors • Connector of disconnected agencies and institutions • Manage own vision with specific needs of target organization • Have needed organizational capacity to: (1) Scan the environment for needs (2) Respond flexibly to shifting needs in a dynamic environment (3) Manage scale and scope of work • Manage relationships with funders; serve “two” masters

to be successful, a temporary, intermediary organization promoting regional education reform needs either to provide specific, discrete assistance, or to be extremely strategic in its choice of reform sites, assuring both readiness for and explicit commitment to reform. BASRC’s mission called for a stable presence in the region, one that was capable of working over time with schools and districts as they developed their reform goals and achieved the degree of readiness necessary to use the rich array of resources the Collaborative provided. Its organizational form frustrated that mission.

References Botes, J., & Mitchell, C. (1995, November). Constraints on third party flexibility. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 542, 168–184. Briggs, X. (2003). Working the middle: Roles and challenges of intermediaries. The Art and Science of Community Solving Project, Harvard University. Goodman, R. A., & Goodman, L. P. (1976, September). Some management issues on temporary systems: A study of professional development and manpower—the theatre case. Administrative Science Quarterly, 21, 494–501. Honig, M. I. (2004, January 1). The new middle management: Intermediary organizations in education policy implementation. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 26(1), 65–87.

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Kerrine, T. M., & Neuhaus, R. J. (1979). Mediating structures: A paradigm for democratic pluralism. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 446(1), 10–18. McDonald, J. P., McLaughlin, M. W., & Corcoran, T. (2002). Agents of reform: The role and function of intermediary organizations in the Annenberg Challenge. Paper presented at the AERA. McLaughlin, M., & Mitra, D. (2004). The cycle of inquiry as the engine of school reform: Lessons from the Bay Area School Collaborative San Francisco, CA: Bay Area School Collaborative. San Francisco: Center for Research on the Context of Teaching. Miles, M. B. (1964). Innovation in education. New York: Teachers College Press. Scott, W. R. (2003). Institutional carriers: Reviewing modes of transporting ideas over time and space and considering their consequences. Industrial and Corporate Change, 12(4), 879–894. Sherman, A. L. (2002). Empowering compassion: The strategic role of intermediary organizations in building capacity among and enhancing the impact of community transformers. Charlottesville, VA: Hudson Institute. Spillane, J., & Burch, P. (2004). Leading from the middle: Mid-level district staff and instructional improvement. Chicago: Cross City Campaign for Urban School Reform. Vargo, M. (2004). Choices and consequences in the Bay Area School Reform Collaborative: Building the capacity to scale up whole-school improvement. In T. K. Glennan, S. J. Bodily, J. R. Galegher & K. A. Kerr (Eds.), Expanding the reach of education reforms: Perspectives from leaders in the scale-up of educational interventions. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation Wildermuth, J. (1995, May 18). $50 million to improve Bay Schools. San Francisco Chronicle (p. 1). Wynn, J. (2000). The role of local intermediary organizations in the youth development field. Chicago, IL: The Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago.

Change from Without: Lessons from Other Countries, Systems, and Sectors Andy Hargreaves

Change Alternatives When Galileo first constructed a telescope and saw that Venus transited around the Sun and not vice versa, and it was concluded that this must also be true of the third planet from the Sun – the Earth – Europeans had to confront the idea that everything did not revolve around them. Teachers can also only really learn once they get outside their own classrooms and connect with other teachers: when they can see beyond the immediate world that surrounds them. This is one of the essential principles behind professional learning communities. Likewise, schools can only really learn when they connect with other schools – including ones outside their own immediate districts. And the same is true of countries. In the early twentieth century, educational ideas used to spread around the world freely and in many directions. This is when learning theory was inspired and influenced by European psychologists and philosophers like Piaget, Froebel, Montessori, Pestalozzi, and Vygotsky. Now, ideas circulate more among the globally dominant Anglo-American group of nations and then outwards to other countries through international lending and donor organizations such as the World Bank. Whereas the ideas that circulated almost a century ago were largely pedagogical and psychological ones that involved professional educators, today’s globally circulating ideas in education are institutional and systemic and are more confined to politicians, bureaucrats, and their advisors – they are ideas about how to change education on a large scale across entire systems and countries in relation to particular visions of economic reform.

A. Hargreaves (B) Boston College, Boston, MA, USA e-mail: [emailprotected] A. Hargreaves et al. (eds.), Second International Handbook of Educational Change, Springer International Handbooks of Education 23, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-2660-6_6, C Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010



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The Anglo-Saxon Obsession In one sense, these developments are a good thing. Especially in America, for too long, educational reform strategies had been circulated incestuously within districts, states, and the country at large. The source of inspiration might shift – from New York City to Cincinnati and Chicago and then to Boston or Denver – but ideas moved around mainly internally – recycling ideological obsessions with tested achievement targets, accountability requirements, greater independence for charters and pilots, and performance-related pay for teachers. All these have been locked within an economic ideology of market competition, measurement-driven performance, granular analysis of data on quality, and the exercise of accountability in relation to standards, targets and outcomes. The ironic effect of contemporary international interest in large-scale reform, though, is that it has exposed how the countries and systems that have actually been most successful educationally and economically are the ones that provide greater flexibility and innovation in teaching and learning, that invest greater trust in their highly qualified teachers, that value curriculum breadth, and that do not try to orchestrate everything tightly from the top (Wei et al., 2009; McKinsey, 2007). Most market-driven and individualistically oriented countries in the AngloAmerican group of nations suffer from wide achievement gaps between children from poor and rich families respectively, rank poorly in early child-care provisions (except for New Zealand), score particularly badly in child well-being (the UK and U.S. ranking last or next to last out of 21 developed countries) (UNICEF, 2007), and register much higher rates of stress and mental illness, especially among the young, compared to more mainland European-style systems and economies (James, 2008) By comparison, high-performing Singapore emphasizes “Teach Less, Learn More” and mandates 10% “white space” for teachers to bring individual initiative and creativity into their teaching. Finland – the world leader on results in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests of sophisticated, applied knowledge in mathematics, science, and literacy, as well as on international ratings of economic competitiveness – avoids national standardized tests altogether and reaches high levels of achievement by attracting highly qualified teachers with supportive working conditions, strong degrees of professional trust, and an inspiring mission of inclusion and creativity (Hargreaves, Halasz, & Pont, 2008). The Canadian province of Alberta, which tucks in just behind Finland in international PISA rankings, has secured its success, in part, by partnering with the teachers’ union to develop a 9-year initiative in school-developed innovation (the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement) that involves 90% of the province’s schools. Among a number of emerging reviews of international practice (e.g. McKinsey, 2007), a state-of-the-art review for the U.S. National Staff Development Council of teacher education and professional development practices in the highest-performing countries reveals that high performance is associated with highly qualified teachers being accorded wide professional flexibility for curriculum and pedagogical decisions within broad boundaries (rather than prescribed and standardized

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requirements) in countries and systems where teachers are well supported in their schools and accorded considerable public and political respect (Darling-Hammond et al., 2009). What can be learned from international comparative examples such as these, and just as importantly, how can this learning be organized most effectively? What can we take from other effective systems, and how can we learn from the best of them?

Change Travel Reform is like ripe fruit. It does not usually travel well. In a classic set of studies, Mary K. Stein and her colleagues (Stein, Hubbard, & Mehan, 2004) have examined the destinations and destinies of successful reforms originally designed for New York District 2 in the 1990s. With a tight and detailed design focused on specified literacy instruction, learner-centered leadership, intensive coaching, and a relentless preoccupation with results, a successful reform in New York District 2 was transposed, along with some of its architects and implementers, to the city of San Diego. After some initial increase in measured attainment, the attempt to impose an instant solution on San Diego that had been developed over many years in New York was then declared a failure. The researchers identified many reasons for this, including: • Military-based and larger San Diego was more conservative yet had less local capacity than smaller District 2 within high-capacity, chutzpah-like New York. • San Diego’s reforms were imposed in 2 years, whereas New York’s had been developed over a decade. • Large and complex secondary schools were included in the San Diego reform, unlike District 2. • As San Diego’s reform mill became increasingly grueling, resentment grew against the interlopers responsible for its implementation. • Understandings of literacy and instruction that had taken a decade to develop in District 2 were interpreted more superficially in the fast-track reform environment of San Diego. Stein and colleagues go on to document that a little less was lost in translation with a further attempt at implementation in Philadelphia as implementers tried to be more sensitive to differences of context. Attempts to transplant reform designs from one country to another in wholesale fashion suffer from the same historic fallacies as the efforts to copy or replicate innovative, lighthouse, or model schools. Attempts to transplant the innovative designs that are evident in many model schools often stumble because implementation timelines are shorter, leaders are less charismatic or exceptional, staff are “captives” of a preceding culture rather than drawn to the school by its mission or being handpicked by the principal, resources are scarcer, and – in consequence – understanding of and


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capacity to enact the complex principles and practices that make up the model school are weak (Fink, 1999). A second fallacy in trying to spread school-level reform is that if whole systems cannot be copied, at least particular elements can. This leads to a search for silver bullets of educational change – easily separated practices or elements that appear to work well in a group of pilot or outlier schools and that seem to be worth mandating for or spreading to the rest. Technology is a common temptation. Small schools are another – ignoring the fact that a badly led or dysfunctional small community, or one that perpetuates poor teaching and learning practices, can be more claustrophobic and stressful for staff and students alike than a larger, more anonymous institution that at least has some variety within it (McQuillan & Englert, 2001). This fallacy and failing also occurs at the international level of policy borrowing and policy transfer. For example, from the complexity of high-performing Finland, policy-makers might be and have been drawn to the fact that all Finnish teachers have masters’ degrees and then embark on certifying all their own teachers to Masters level (McKinsey, 2007). But just as when college-educated teachers were upgraded in many countries in the 1970s to acquire bachelor of education degrees on often indifferent, part-time courses, the acquisition of an additional masters-level qualification in other countries can lose the rigor that first defined it and connected it to its already highly qualified applicants in the case of Finland. It can become a merely symbolic process of certification, rather a substantive process of quality improvement. In educational reform, Sarason (1990) pointed out everything is connected to everything else. You cannot change one thing without changing the rest. Cherrypicking particular policies like small schools or masters’ degrees fails to grasp how they are interconnected with a whole array of other elements. But as we have seen, trying to transpose an entire system can be culturally inflexible and ineffective too. Despite these documented difficulties, whole reform designs or isolated elements of them are often exported impulsively from one country to others. The reasons are usually ones of ideological compatibility with favored agendas of market competition and political control over the education agenda, and cultural affinity among the English-speaking nations, along with the physical travel of a very small number of international consultants or policy pollinators among and beyond them. One key instance concerns the transposition of national policy strategies from England to other English-speaking countries. These policy strategies center on setting imposed targets in tested literacy and numeracy at different age points along with curricular and training emphases in these core subjects. Strangely, England ranks relatively poorly on international tests in literacy. The record of its literacy strategy has been labeled as unsuccessful, contrived, or stuck even by its proponents (e.g. Barber, 2007); parents are increasingly opposed to the testing of younger children (Honore, 2008); and the scope of standardized testing is already being severely scaled back (Hargreaves & Shirley, 2009). Yet, the country’s emphasis on standardized testing and governmentally imposed system-wide targets has been eagerly adopted by both Ontario and Australia, even though they already rank among the world’s leaders in literacy attainment (Levin, 2008). These ready-made solutions seem to be going in

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search of problems that do not exist or making up ones that aren’t there, rather than local problems giving rise to their own solutions.

Change Lessons This does not mean that we cannot or should not learn from other contexts. But we should do so intelligently in relation to clear principles and multiple examples, sensitively in relation to differences in context, and interactively through dialogue among educators at all levels within and across the respective systems rather than confining discussions and decisions to only the most senior leaders in the system. Let’s look at three examples by way of illustration.

Finland Finland receives a lot of international policy attention. It ranks number one on most PISA assessments, has the narrowest achievement gaps in the developed world, and is a world leader in corporate transparency and economic competitiveness. In 2007, I took a team there for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)to examine the relationship between leadership and school improvement (Hargreaves et al., 2008). Drawing on our evidence and on the growing body of other literature on the Finnish experience (Aho et al., 2006; Castells & Himanen, 2004; Grubb, 2007; Sahlberg, 2006), this is what we concluded. After being one of the most backward economies in Europe in the 1950s and after an international banking crisis, the loss of its Russian market, and the escalation of unemployment rates to almost 19% in the early 1990s, Finland consciously connected economic transformation toward being a creative and flexible knowledge economy to the development of a significantly more decentralized education system. This effort has been coordinated at the highest political level where chief executive officers (CEOs) from leading companies like Nokia meet regularly with university presidents in a science and technological development committee chaired by the prime minister. The coherence is not merely bureaucratic and governmental, but visionary and inspirational. Finns have a common vision that connects their creative high-tech future to their past as creative craftspeople. There are more composers and orchestral conductors per capita in Finland than in any other developed country, and all young people engage in creative and performing arts until the end of their secondary education. This vision is shared at every level among Finns since teachers create their country’s future as a creative and inclusive nation. Though teachers are paid only at the OECD average, teaching in Finland is highly competitive with only a one-in-ten chance of acceptance to teacher education programs in primary education. Retention is high among Finnish teachers because conditions are good and trust is high. All


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Finnish teachers are awarded masters’ degrees. Finns control quality at the most important point – the point of entry. Within broad guidelines and with minimal steering by the state, highly qualified teachers create curricula together in each municipality for the children they know best. Curricula and pedagogy are not separate – they are in a common tradition of what continental Europeans call “didactics”. The sense of delivering a curriculum devised by others from afar is utterly alien to Finnish educators. Finnish educators are grateful that they are not constantly bombarded by government initiatives, like the Anglo-Saxon nations. In small classes rarely larger than 24 students, and with generous definitions of special educational needs, the push for quality is driven largely by quietly lifting all children up from the bottom, one at time, through knowing them well in small classes, having specialist support as needed, and not having to deal with excessive paperwork and endless external initiatives. Principals work across schools, sharing resources where they are needed, and feeling responsible together for all the children and young people in their town and city, not acting competitively only for the children in their own school. Assessment strategies are largely diagnostic forms of assessment-for-learning and internal to the school. External accountability is confidential and undertaken on a sample basis for monitoring purposes only, not as a census of everyone. Principals are seen as being part of a “society of equals” in their schools, not as line-managers. They are often recruited from within their schools and they engage in considerable informally distributed leadership with their colleagues. Principals may not be recruited from outside education, and many principals teach for at least 2 h per week. Leaders teach and teachers lead. Teachers say that if the principal is indisposed or ineffective, they take over the school as it belongs to all of them. Finland has a strong system of social support and investment funded by high taxes that characterizes much of continental Europe so that people have security of housing, of support for parental leave so families can care for young children, of early childhood education, and of care and livelihood in old age. Some market-oriented advocates dismiss the high-performing Finnish example as simply too different (New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, 2007). Or they highlight weaknesses such as Finland’s impending generational crisis of leadership succession, as a way of occluding the strengths. Or they choose single items such as awarding teachers masters’ degrees, that are applied and imposed in isolation and disembodied from the democratic and inclusive context of the rest of the system and society (Barber & Mourshed, 2007). Or they overly celebrate how the system succeeds without Anglo-Saxon systems of standardized testing (Sahlberg, 2006). And yet, the broad principles of developing an inspiring and inclusive mission that attracts into the profession high-caliber people capable of creating curriculum together for children they know well in smaller classes is much more readily transferable. So too is the importance of active trust among and for the teaching profession, and the synergy of educational and economic improvement with social and public investment more widely.

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Without an inspiring and inclusive mission, high trust for professionals and strong social support throughout the society, other less successful measures such as market incentives have to be used to attract and retain highly qualified professionals. Without highly qualified professionals, teaching cannot be trusted so much, which increases the argument for external accountability, standardized curriculum, and government intervention. But these measures then destroy nations’ capacities to be competitive and creative knowledge economies. Last, without small classes in which teachers know their children well, individual knowledge of children’s needs has to be developed in other ways, through batteries of data on standardized tests.

Tower Hamlets If Finland seems too culturally hom*ogeneous for other countries to be able to copy, let’s turn to an interesting and more diverse outlier in England instead. After the collapse of London’s docking industry in the 1970s, when supertankers and container ships could no longer navigate the tight bends of the River Thames, new waves of immigrants moved into the newly impoverished area of Tower Hamlets – many from rural areas of Bangladesh, one of the world’s poorest countries. Despite the reconstruction of part of the Docklands into a fashionable global finance and media center of Canary Wharf, the white-collar workers who came and went on the new high-tech transit line were barely aware of the immigrant community in their midst whose people found little skilled employment in the office towers of glass and steel. Tower Hamlets’ Bengali community suffered from high unemployment rates and some of the greatest incidences of poverty in the country with more children on free school meals than almost anywhere else. Educators’ aspirations for student achievement were startlingly low and in 1997, Tower Hamlets was proclaimed the country’s worst-performing Local Education Authority, with the lowest-performing primary school in the nation. Ten years later, the transformation of the schools in Tower Hamlets is dramatic. The schools perform around and above the national average. On standardized achievement tests, General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) examination results, and rates of students going on to university, the borough ranks as the most improved local authority in Britain. It has significantly reduced achievement gaps in relation to children with special educational needs, those from cultural minorities, and those on free school meals. These gains have been achieved with largely the same population and are reflected in Figs. 1 and 2 in relationship to the more modest national gains posted in the same time period. Figure 1 refers to the percentage of students gaining five or more passing scores at grade C and above in their crucial GCSE secondary school examinations. Grade C is typically the minimum required to move on to university-bound programs. Figure 2 displays the percentage of students at key Stage 2 (age 11/the last year of primary school) who attain Level 4 proficiency in English literacy. What explains this system-wide turnaround? In a large-scale research project codirected with Alma Harris called Performing Beyond Expectations, I have studied


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Fig. 1 Secondary school examination results in Tower Hamlets

Fig. 2 Primary school literacy achievement in Tower Hamlets

the secrets of Tower Hamlet’s success in association with my research colleague Alan Boyle (Hargreaves & Shirley, 2009). At the center of the story are the following components: • The visionary leadership of a new director (superintendent) who was a selfconfessed workaholic and who believed that “poverty is not an excuse for poor outcomes,” that aspirations should be extremely high, that efforts to meet these aspirations should be relentless, and that everyone should work on this together; • The successful succession of this first driving leader by a more developmentally inclined, yet equally persistent one, with just a short period of instability in between where the results took a slight dip; • The ability to attract high-quality teachers who stay with the borough, after a period of weeding out overseas teachers who were drawn more to enjoying a brief life excursion in London than a long-term professional commitment to the schools;

Change from Without: Lessons from Other Countries, Systems, and Sectors


• A commitment developed with the schools’ leaders to set and reach ambitious shared targets for improvement in “a culture of target setting” so that “everybody owns them”; • A shared philosophy that it is better to have ambitious targets and just miss them than have more modest targets and meet them; • Mutual trust and strong respect where “lots of our schools work very closely together and with the local authority” and where inspectors’ reports refer to the “enthusiasm and high level of morale among the workforce”; • Knowledge of and presence in the schools which provides support, builds trust, and grounds intervention in consistent and direct personal knowledge and communication more than in the numerical data that eventually appear on spreadsheets; • A commitment to cross-school collaboration, so that when one secondary school went into “Special Measures” (similar to “corrective action” in the United States) after taking in Somali students from refugee families in a neighboring authority, all the other secondary schools rallied round to help; • A resilient but not reckless approach to external government pressure and policy – accepting the importance of testing and targets, but deciding to set their own targets and resisting the politically motivated pressure to build new (and partly privately funded) high-school academies since the authority already had hightrust relationships with its schools that now performed very well; • Positive business partnerships with corporations in Canary Wharf that model a new form of “corporate educational responsibility” with schools; and • Strengthening of community relations and engagement. Tower Hamlets schools affect the communities that affect them. They have done this by working with faith-based organizations and forming agreements with imams from this largely Muslim community to counter the effects of children taking extended absence from schools to attend and then stay on after family events such as funerals in Bangladesh. This includes announcements at school and at prayer in the mosque that extended absences will be treated as truancy because the educational achievement of the young people and the development of the community’s future capacity matter that much. Tower Hamlets has also developed some of its schools into community centers that keep a school open from 8:00 am until 10:00 pm – providing resources and recreation for both students and the community’s adults. Last, the employment of large numbers of classroom assistants and other staff from the community to support teachers builds strong relationships and trust between professionals and community members and enables and encourages some of these community members to go on to become professionally trained teachers themselves.

Educators in Tower Hamlets possess a robust and resilient sense of purpose; enjoy successful and sustainable system leadership that stays close to and is undertaken with schools; commit to professionally shared targets rather than politically arbitrary ones; establish an ethic of schools helping schools and the strong


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supporting the weak; and commit to a kind of community development that penetrates all aspects of a cohesive and coherent change process, while still respecting and even enhancing the special expertise of educators in boosting achievement. One of Tower Hamlet’s visionary leaders sums it up well: It’s “not just about the data. It’s actually knowing the school, knowing the community, knowing about history, knowing about the staff—all of that.”

Performing Beyond Expectations The study of Tower Hamlets is part of a larger investigation into unexpectedly high performance in other sectors and its implications for educational improvement. One of these sectors is sport. Sport has started to undergo a revolution in evidence-based improvement. In Moneyball, Lewis (2004) describes how the Oakland Athletics baseball team of the 1990s managed to outperform most competitors, even after its financial backers had pulled out, by paying relentless attention to the statistic that best predicts season-long high performance: on-base percentage (the percentage of times a player can reach first base from the plate where he bats). “The most important, isolated offensive statistic is the on-base percentage,” Lewis notes (p. 58). So the Oakland Athletics set about recruiting players who had a high on-base percentage and batters were urged to attend to it – to do anything it took to get on base, even drawing a “walk” or being hit by a pitch. Systematically attending to this single statistic throughout the club’s selection, organization, and playing strategies got it into the play-offs season after season, despite falling levels of investment. Before, coaches had recruited players who reminded them of themselves – big guys who could hit a ball hard. Now, the Oakland Athletics had some of the most peculiarly built players in baseball, but what they could all do was get on base consistently! The parallel in football is Prozone: a computer program that can track players’ performance throughout a game – monitoring and measuring energy levels, areas of the pitch covered, and number of successful and unsuccessful passes made – backwards, forwards, and sideways. An English Premiership football club we have been studying employs a single Prozone analyst. Many Premiership clubs have entire Prozone analysis teams while at the other end of the scale, one low-ranking second division team’s Prozone analyst fell off the floodlights in a rainstorm while recording the game with his camera! The Premiership Prozone analyst we interviewed, who made the program the subject of his master’s degree, described how multiple cameras are typically positioned around the ground to track players during each game. Individual player patterns and profiles are subsequently compiled from the accumulated data. The key question, though, is how are the data used to improve performance? In the extreme case, our interviewee described how some managers had tried installing electronic chips in their players’ boots to measure the number of steps they took per game as an indicator of energy expenditure. Some managers then set

Change from Without: Lessons from Other Countries, Systems, and Sectors


“step” targets to increase the energy that players used. However, players got around this by taking extra little steps off-field when they were retrieving the ball and the camera couldn’t follow them. The same kind of cheating occurs in education when targets for increased test scores are imposed on teachers who take their own extra little steps such as teaching to the test in order to produce the necessary numbers. By comparison, the Premiership Club Prozone director invites players in to discuss their data. At first, only a trickle of players come to see him, but as players’ subsequent performance improves, their peers take notice and are very soon following their team-members’ footsteps to join this intelligent community of soccer learners who analyze data to improve performance together. Whether they concern individual student achievement, or comparative international performance, the most productive uses of data in education similarly occur not by imposing unwanted targets that lead to unnecessary expenditures of energy on superfluous extra steps, but by building intelligent communities of professionals and policy-makers who look at data together in shared commitments to improvement.

Conclusion All policies start somewhere but most of them travel poorly. The past is a foreign country and too much nostalgia or amnesia about it impairs the intelligent immigration of its policy strategies into the present. This is the danger when presidents, prime ministers, and premiers try to replicate what worked for them as students in the past across entire policy systems in the present. Other countries and other sectors that seem to show exemplary success can equally be sources of disappointment if their strategies are adopted inflexibly and simplistically because of cultural familiarity or political plausibility. Policy principles are much more transposable and transportable if they are interpreted intelligently within communities of practice among and between those who are their bearers and recipients. Indeed, it is these communities of practice and the ways they engage with past policies and comparative policies elsewhere in order to make committed and sincere efforts to improve together that will prove to be the ultimate test bed of effective as well as sustainable policy development and implementation. Seeds travel better than ripened fruit and so does the germination and cross-pollination of policy change. In a high-performing country, a remarkably successful district, and a sports club that performs far beyond expectations, we have begun to discern what some of these common principles of high performance can be, including in contexts of low resources and even outright adversity. What they point to is not what has characterized many Anglo-American reform strategies over the past 2 decades – bureaucratic standardization that stunts creativity, cutthroat competition that widens achievement gaps and pits the strong against the weak, obsessions with the independent authority of objective data and autocratically imposed targets that make everyone expend fruitless energy on taking unnecessary extra steps to create the appearance of improvement, and the reduction


A. Hargreaves

of leaders who develop their community s purposes to managers who merely implement the purposes of others and who are turned over with increasing frequency or ferocity if they fail to deliver. Instead, what we have encountered is the importance of inspiring missions that connect the future to the past and draw the best people to the organization; leaders who know their people and how to get them to work well together in interchangeable roles and positions and who are able to stay long enough to see their work through; cultures of trust, cooperation, creativity, and responsibility; intelligent use of data that serves as a conscience that checks people and not as an all-powerful force that drives them; and commitment to the cause of community development, even among competitors who are galvanized by a common cause that transcends their differences and rivalries. As we strive to extricate ourselves from the worst economic catastrophe for 70 years, it is time to move beyond the failed solutions of the last 2 decades, to abandon the ingrained ideologies of bureaucratic prescription and market competition, to resist the temptations to inflict our own educational biographies and the opportunities they gave us on a present population whose success may require different solutions, and to avoid transplanting simple solutions from plausible models of success elsewhere. Our task instead is to work together in relation to an inspiring purpose that can lift us all and commit us to helping each other, and to learn from the common principles that underpin inspirational success, far beyond expectations, in systems and sectors beyond and beside us. In the Renaissance, it was the telescope that got us to see beyond ourselves. In the twenty-first century, it’s more of a metaphorical Global Positioning System (GPS) that will help us locate and navigate inspiring sectors and systems, and that will help us learn how to extricate ourselves from the economic calamity that has befallen us. In the end, this will be achieved by no more slick solutions for achieving success in low-tax systems, but by truly investing in the quality, creativity, and community of the only sustainable resource we can ultimately rely on – the future generations of our people and those teachers who we call and depend on to educate them.

References Aho, E., Pitkänen, K., & Sahlberg, P. (2006). Policy development and reform principles of basic and secondary education in Finland since 1968. Washington, D.C: World Bank. Barber, M. (2007). Instruction to deliver: Fighting to transform Britain’s public services. London: Methuen. Castells, M., & Himanen, P. (2004). The information society and the welfare state: The Finnish model. New York: Oxford University Press. Fink, D. (1999). The attrition of change: A study of change and continuity. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 10(3), 269–295. Grubb, W. N. (2007, October). Dynamic inequality and intervention: Lessons from a small country. Phi Delta Kappan, 89(2), 105–114. Hargreaves, A., Halász, G., & Pont, B. (2008). The Finnish approach to system leadership. In Pont, B., Nusche, D., & Hopkins, D. (Eds.), Improving school leadership, Vol. 2: Case studies on system leadership (pp. 69–109). Paris: OECD.

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Hargreaves, A., & Shirley, D. (2009). The fourth way, Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Honore, C. (2008). Under pressure. New York: HarperOne. James, O. (2008). The selfish capitalist. New York: Random House. Levin, B. (2008). How to change 5000 schools: A practical and positive approach for leading change at every level. Cambridge: Harvard Education Press. Lewis, M. (2004). Moneyball: The art of winning an unfair game. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. McKinsey & Company. (2007, September). How the world’s best-performing school systems come out on top. Retrieved on November 25, 2008, from clientservice/socialsector/resources/pdf/Worlds_School_Systems_Final.pdf McQuillan, P. J., & Englert, K. S. (2001). The return to neighborhood schools, concentrated poverty, and educational opportunity: An agenda for reform. Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, 28(4), 739–770. New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce. (2007). Tough choices or tough times: The report of the new commission on the skills of the American workforce. Washington, DC: National Center on Education and the Economy. Sahlberg, P. (2006). Education reform for raising economic competitiveness. Journal of Educational Change, 7(4), 259-287. Sarason, S. B. (1990). The predictable failure of educational reform. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Stein, M., Hubbard, L., & Mehan, H. (2004). Reform ideas that travel far afield: The two cultures of reform in New York City s District #2 and San Diego. Journal of Educational Change, 5(2), 161–197. UNICEF. (2007). Child poverty in perspective: An overview of child well-being in rich countries, Innocenti Report Card 7. Florence: UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre. Wei, R.C., Darling-Hammond, L., Andree, A., Richardson, N., & Orphanos, S. (2009). Professional learning in the learning profession: A Status Report on Teacher Development in the United States and Abroad. Dallas, TX, National Staff Development Council.

Positive Pressure Michael Fullan

Educational systems are known to be loosely coupled, fragmented, and overloaded with piecemeal initiatives. Under these conditions, there is a lot of room for inertia – things like to keep on doing what they are already doing. Yet, improvements in the performance of schools are badly needed. What forces could possibly and positively move whole systems toward substantial and continuous improvement? When we first turned out the phrase “pressure and support” in the early 1990s, it became an instant hit. People could pick whichever concept they were predisposed to like and give lip service to the other. Politicians in particular loved the pressure part. What should have been an integrated set became two pillars. Now that we have much more experience under our belts, it is time to take stock and clarify what forms of pressure and support in combination are effective. To do this, I (1) stipulate two advance criteria; (2) consider bad or negative forces of pressure; (3) identify a core list of integrated elements of positive pressure; and (4) furnish a case example to show that these ideas can and are being embedded in reality. The two criteria to judge effectiveness are as follows: 1. Is a given pressure or support action motivational? That is, does it cause people to put in the effort to get good results? 2. Do the set of pressure and support policies and actions address improvement of the whole system? By “motivational,” I do not mean that an action today will motivate people tomorrow, but rather if a particular action is taken with a degree of persistence it will incrementally and perhaps dramatically gain on the motivational problem. Whole system is an entire state, province, or country. It is what we call “trilevel reform” – the school and community, the district, and the government. All schools. All children. Our question in this chapter is, why some forms of pressure M. Fullan (B) OISE/University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada e-mail: [emailprotected] A. Hargreaves et al. (eds.), Second International Handbook of Educational Change, Springer International Handbooks of Education 23, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-2660-6_7, C Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010



M. Fullan

work, while others don’t? By “work,” I mean that they motivate lots of people to change the whole system. One final foundational point: Inertia works because it is organic – nobody has to do anything for it to be effective. Negative pressure doesn’t work because it is ad hoc or inorganic. Positive pressure will work when it becomes organically part and parcel of system functioning.

Negative Forms of Pressure To recall, negative pressure is ad hoc and extraneous to the system culture. To the extent that some forms of negative pressure are built-in they actually serve the forces of inertia. I take up five forms of negative pressure: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

blind sense of urgency pressure without means punitive pressure groupthink win–lose competition

The more the system fails, the greater the blind sense of urgency. Kotter (2008) talks about this as a false sense of urgency: With a false sense of urgency an organization does have a great deal of energized action, but it’s driven by anxiety, anger and frustration, and not a focused determination to win. . . With false urgency, the action has a frantic feeling: running from meeting to meeting, producing volumes of paper, moving rapidly in circles, all with a dysfunctional orientation that often prevents people from exploiting key opportunities and addressing gnawing problems (p. x).

This is a recipe for burnout and cynicism. It saps people’s energy while they never learn what to do. People get discouraged and lose hope. Along with a blind sense of urgency is mounting “pressure without the means” to act on it. This is pressure without a theory of action. It shows the failures and the goals but no way of getting there. It omits or gives lip service to “capacitybuilding” – how to build the individual and collective knowledge, skills, competencies, and motivation necessary to work on the problem. Pressure without means can afford to have ridiculous goals. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act in the United States is a prime example – well-intentioned with lofty goals (such as every child will have a qualified teacher by 2014 or every child will perform at a world-class level in literacy, math, and science, and so on) and without any strategy to get there, it becomes a fantasy. Fantasies left to rot become nightmares. The more that blind sense of urgency and lofty goals without means prevail, the more the next bad step is likely to occur: tightening the screws with punitive pressure. Accountability with teeth, proponents say, is necessary to show people that we are serious. We will leave no child left behind because we say so, and we mean it.

Positive Pressure


Punitive pressure is what most authoritarian regimes and individuals reach for when all else fails. It doesn’t take a psychology graduate to know that punitive pressure doesn’t work. It can work in narrow situations such as standing over a person’s shoulder with a gun or its equivalent. But even this doesn’t work if the person doesn’t have the capacity to do what needs to be done. Pfeffer and Sutton (2000) identify the problem as “fear prevents acting on knowledge.” They found that organizations that were weak on generating and using knowledge had an atmosphere of fear and distrust. They identify two specific consequences of fear mongering. The first problem is that it causes people to focus on short-term immediate results even if they have to cheat or fudge the books to show that they met targets. The second adverse consequence is that it fosters selfishness and individualism. Look after number one, blame others—survival of the sneakiest. Fourth, groupthink is interesting because it can cut both ways – to prevent action and to encourage ill-considered action. “Groupthink” is a term coined by Janis (1982) that describes “a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ striving for unanimity overrides their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action” (quoted in Wilson, 2007, p. 202). Many examples of negative pressure including our entire list can be attributed to the unexamined assumptions of the in-group going along with the policies and strategies promulgated by a central few. Groupthink can serve inertia in another way. When teachers tacitly or otherwise fail to face up to poor performance of their peers by reinforcing the norms of the privatization of teaching, they are engaged in an act of groupthink. Groupthink is one of inertia’s best friends. Finally, certain forms of competition unleash negative pressure. When there is an unfair playing field, when certain groups do not have the capacity to be competitive, when some people are left out, competition actually increases the gap between high and low performers. Win–lose competition acts like Pfeffer and Sutton’s fear mongering. Some individuals win, but at the expense of the system. What makes the set of the five forms of negative pressure perverse is that they almost always appear together. The mind that thinks up any one of the forms is very likely to find and embrace all forms. One can almost see Douglas McGregor (1960) turn in his grave. Theory X assumptions are alive and well in the land of negative pressure: – The average human being has an inherent dislike of work and will avoid it if he or she can. – Because of their dislike for work, most people must be controlled and threatened before they will work hard enough. – The average human being prefers to be directed, dislikes responsibility, and desires security above everything else. (Theory Y is the opposite where you expect people to rise to the occasion if you treat them well and enable their development.)


M. Fullan

Positive Pressure The opposite of negative pressure is not no pressure. No pressure is complacency. No pressure is inertia’s other best friend. Fortunately, there are forms of pressure that palpably meet our two criteria: they are motivational, and they are such for hordes of people. They require a degree of sophistication and perseverance to master and to kick in, but they are practically powerful. They don’t work overnight, but they are not long-term either – benefits (remember our large-scale criterion) can be obtained in 2 or 3 years, and then leveraged for greater gain thereafter. We have identified and used five forms of positive pressure: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

sense of focused urgency partnerships and peers transparency of data nonpunitive accountability irresistible synergy

I define these in turn and then provide a case example of them in action. Recall that Kotter did not like frenetic urgency. But he also knows about inertia. After examining about 100 large-scale change initiatives, he formed the following conclusion: Incredibly, we found that in over 70 percent of the situations where substantial changes were clearly needed, either they were not fully launched, or the change efforts failed, or changes were achieved but over budget, late, and with great frustration. We also found that in about 10 percent of the cases, people achieved more than thought would have been possible (p. vii–viii).

Kotter (2008) states, The winning strategy combines analytically sound, ambitious but logical goals with methods that help people experience new, often very ambitious goals, as exciting, meaningful, and uplifting – creating a deeply felt determination to move to make it happen, and win, now (p. 47).

This is moral purpose with a focus: a confident but humble sense of real hope that this can be done; ideas for acting on the goals; a wraparound sense that there is no time to waste; and a can-do attitude that this will be achieved by the whole team through engaged partnership. Second, the partnership is crucial in two respects. One is vertical. Central leaders make it clear that they will provide direction and stay the course, but they also are committed to acting through two-way partnerships. Participation is made more meaningful and powerful through the use of horizontal peer learning strategies – within schools, across schools, and across districts. The idea is to learn about implementation from peers during implementation. Knowledge flows and a sense of identity grows with wider circles of peers. Yes there is lots of peer support, but one of the most powerful forms of pressure comes from engaged peers with a sense of urgency. The power of peers is that there are so many of them.

Positive Pressure


Third, transparency of data is essential and can and must be made into a powerhouse. Transparency is about two things: results and practice (i.e., the practices that caused the results). The good news is that both of these components are now recognized as crucial and are being developed in tandem. This is about assessment of learning (especially higher order skills), and the link to precise, high-yield instructional practices that produce such learning for all students. There is still in the education field too much assessment (without adequate links to instructional practice) and too much stick wielding. Cisco, Intel, and Microsoft have just partnered with leading academics to produce new assessments linked to powerful instructional practices for the twenty-first century skills (Partners in Education Transformation, 2009). This initiative promises to develop and make available higher order assessments, and equally importantly to identify the effective instructional practices associated with the accomplishment of these new learning goals. Transparency of data about results and practice is powerful positive pressure when used with the other four pressure elements in this section. It exposes not only results, but practices that produce the results. It generates specific, precise, visually clear images of what works. It is accessible for all as it takes all the excuses off the table. Nonpunitive accountability must accompany transparency. Openness will do its work if people do not run away. The combination of positive pressures actually helps people to experience success, thereby motivating them to do even more. Nonpunitive accountability plays down “judgmentalism” in favor of high expectations in your face. Achievement data, effective practices, decisions about progress or not, are relentlessly pursued and portrayed. These practices act as (effective) accountability but accountability per se is not the main point. The value of relentless nonpunitive accountability is that it is a powerful strategy for improvement with external accountability as a natural by-product. Finally, positive pressure is never piecemeal. The only chance to alter the course of inertia (because it is embedded culture) is to attack the cultural core itself in order to create a new replacement organic culture with positive pressure and support seamlessly built-in. Thus, coherence, alignment, and synergistic integrated forms of the first four positive pressures working in concert need to be established as “the new way we do things around here.”

A Case Example The previous section could be written off as mere theory. It is not. There is now a powerful growing presence of many countries, provinces, and states committed to what Michael Barber, Fullan, and MacKay (in press) calls “the professionalization of system reform.” There is not total agreement, but a growing commitment on the part of politicians and professionals to put these ideas into practice, and yes, with a sense of urgency.


M. Fullan

We can look for many manifestations of this in the coming year(s), and here I report on only one, namely, the case of Ontario where we have been using and studying the role of positive pressure since 2003 (see Fullan, 2010, and Levin, 2008). Here are some of the main elements expressed in reference to the five components of positive pressure presented in the previous section. The Ontario public school system consists of 2 million students, 4,000 elementary schools, and 900 secondary schools within 72 districts. From 1995 to 2003, it was a stagnant system in terms of literacy and numeracy achievement – essentially flatlined and had actually lost ground with respect to high school graduation rates. With a new government in 2003, and a commitment to educational improvement as measured by student learning, the province formulated a strategy based on purposeful, positive pressure. Based on the five elements of pressure outlined in the previous section, the strategy created a powerful base for improvement.

A Sense of Focused Urgency Being elected in 2003, the new government immediately announced a small number of ambitious goals: improve literacy, numeracy, and high school graduation. The other elements of positive pressure created the essential means of getting there but let’s stay with urgency for a moment. Urgency is not (although it could be) a crisis. In all cases, it is a sense of deep dissatisfaction with the status quo and a corresponding ambitious but manageable focus. The government set targets, roughly committing to going from 54% high proficiency in literacy and numeracy in grades 3–6 to 75%; and from 68% high school graduation to 85%. These three priorities were stated and reiterated in all educational pronouncements. The priorities gained greater prominence by the establishment of an informed “guiding coalition” (GC), chaired by the premier and included the top officials (minister, deputy minister, advisers). The GC is a kind of “feet to the fire” mechanism that constantly puts pressure on the priorities, strategies, and progress. It was clear to all that literacy, numeracy, and high school graduation represented a small core set of urgent ambitious priorities. It is interesting to observe that negative or frenetic sense of urgency always loses steam. It has no focus or momentum. Focused urgency maintains and even gains energy. When the government was re-elected in 2007, after four successful years, it was not complacency but greater urgency that characterized the mood. The premier commented just after the election in 2007 that he had changed in two ways since 2003, namely, (a) he was more confident about being on the right track and (b) more impatient. With positive pressure, urgency (partly because of initial success) actually intensifies as you go.

Partnership and Peers A second form of powerful pressure consists of strategies that cause peers to interact and learn from each other in implementing improvements. Central leadership

Positive Pressure


provides direction, a sense of urgency, a concern with monitoring results and invests in strategies whereby peers can learn from each other. I mention a few here. One is called “schools on the move” where over 100 schools (currently) have been identified as experiencing 3 years of gains in literacy and numeracy. These schools are profiled by name, demographics, strategies used, and results obtained. Funds are made available to other schools to learn from these schools – not in a hierarchical, superior sense of accomplishment, but rather, “this is hard work let’s learn from those who are making progress.” Other similarly based strategies include “networked learning communities,” “districts learning from other districts” achieving success in district-wide reform, and schools facing difficult challenges being paired with other schools facing similar challenges but experiencing success. In all these strategies, peers learn specifically from each other about what is working. Of course, there is plenty of support, but there is also a built-in form of pressure that happens organically. Nothing is more powerful than positively driven peer pressure.

Transparency of Data Transparency or openness of data, as will be recalled, refers to two elements that must be connected. One is data on student achievement – performance data over time and disaggregated so that it is clear which groups are doing well or not. The other component is transparency of practice. We have to be able to access and learn from others who are employing more effective instructional practices in getting greater achievement results with given groups of students. We have just seen in the previous strategy (peers learning from each other) how this works to get at effective instructional practice. Here we add the outcome data. It is crucial to note that there is a very close integration between instruction and assessment in these strategies. Schools examine and get better at identifying the causal relationships between particular instructional actions and specific student engagement and learning. In Ontario, we pursue this from two perspectives, what I would call microand macro-viewpoints. Micro is the school; macro is the district or state. At the school level, in addition to promoting instructional practices in the classroom that closely link to diagnostic assessment (the daily two-way street between diagnosis and instruction), we foster three school assessment perspectives. First, schools begin to compare themselves with themselves – where were we last year on literacy achievement, the condition this year, and what do we aspire to for the next year. Second, schools are enabled to compare themselves with schools in similar circ*mstances (what we call “statistical neighbors”). This “apples to apples” comparison is valuable and stimulating especially when used in conjunction with peer learning strategies. Third, we help schools compare their performance to a larger external standard such as 95% success or the provincial target.


M. Fullan

The macro use is from the district or province vantage point. Here, we have employed nonpunitive strategies. We have created a “statistical neighbors” database. All 4,000 elementary schools are on the database. They are organized into four bands – those schools facing the most challenging circ*mstances, two groups in the middle, and a fourth set situated in the least challenging contexts. Other demographic data are included: size of school, rural/urban, percent of ESL students, percent of special education students, and so on. Finally, each schools’ student achievement data are included – grade 3 and grade 6 percentages of students achieving proficiency on the state tests in reading, writing, and mathematics – six scores in all for each school, year after year. The province monitors results, has a turnaround schools strategy (see below), and invests in helping school principals learn how to use statistical neighbors to monitor their own performance, to learn from others, and to work on strategies that will beget better results. Transparency as can be seen is a pressure point. What makes it a positive pressure is that it is used largely nonpunitively, and the information is readily and easily accessible, not just for learning outcomes, but also as a route to learning about the practices that produced the results. All of this is reinforced by negotiating annual targets (in the six results areas) based on existing and previous performance. Every school and every district is always cognizant of how well it has been doing or not in comparison with its own previous efforts, and in terms of what its peer schools are accomplishing.

Nonpunitive Accountability One of the most perplexing problems in large-scale reform is how to turn around large numbers of poor performing or nonperforming (coasting) schools. We have already seen that punitive accountability backfires. Absence of pressure honors inertia. The previous three forms of positive pressure already stimulate action and improvement. A focused sense of urgency gets people’s attention; partnership and peer learning increase support, and also pressure from successful cases (it is being done in circ*mstances similar to ours); transparency of data makes it even more evident who is successful and who is not. These three forces, however, are not powerful enough to improve the whole system. This is where nonpunitive accountability comes in because it puts the spotlight on all the schools and their performance. We have already seen that transparency of performance data and practice stimulates improvement for many schools. Nonpunitive accountability puts acceptable “teeth” in the change proposition. Here is how it works in practice. First, in the face of poor or stagnant performance, leaders make it explicitly clear that the schools in question are not to blame. We call this nonjudgmentalism. Poor performance is recognized – transparent data tell us so – but the entire initial response focuses on capacity-building rather than criticism. Put another way, it is best to test the capacity-building hypothesis – if knowledge and skills were

Positive Pressure


developed would better performance ensue – rather than dwell on whose fault it is – the latter being a classic de-motivator. Again, this is not just theory. We have done it with success through a strategy called the Ontario Focused Intervention Partnership (OFIP). As whole system (all schools) reform unfolds, it is necessary to elevate expectations for all schools in an explicit action-oriented manner. OFIP is a natural next step to focusing energy and capacity-building because it “picks up” schools that are, so to speak, not responding. We have three categories of OFIP schools: 1. OFIP1 (N = 36): these are schools whose students are achieving below 35%, as measured by the percentage of students achieving the high standard provincial average of 75%; 2. OFIP2 (N = 200): schools whose students are achieving 35–50%; 3. OFIP3 (N = 755): schools whose students are scoring 50–74%, but are coasting (i.e., their student achievement is between 50 and 74% but is flatlined or declining over a 3-year period). Three points are crucial here. First, the focus is on all schools not just the so-called “low performing schools.” Over 1,000 (25% of all) elementary schools are involved, including those schools that seem to be doing okay but actually are “cruising” showing no improvement over a given 3-year period. Second, OFIP schools are publicly labeled (any district could identify its nine or ten OFIP schools by name), but do not feel stigmatized. They are not treated as “failing schools,”, but rather as schools in need of capacity-building. In some sense, it is all in the attitude – Theory Y not Theory X: treat people nonjudgmentally, invest in their capacity-building, and (in most cases) reap the reward. Third, these schools really do get specific capacity help – the kind of help that is being discovered and delivered from the three previous positive strategies. All of this is increasingly specific. The name of the game is clarity, precision, and relentless implementation of effective practices. The key to success is consistent implementation of a few key strategies and time for staff to work together with a specific focus. All staff is engaged in the development of the school improvement plan and the monitoring of progress in achieving the goals in their school improvement plans. All OFIP schools are required to have in place: • Uninterrupted blocks of time for literacy and numeracy • A common assessment tool for primary and junior divisions • A school improvement team that uses the school effectiveness framework as a guide to examine data, identify instructional intervention, and to plan for next steps in meeting ambitious targets for student learning • A school improvement plan (SIP) revised based on the school’s self assessment and linked to the board improvement plan (BIP) • Resources to implement a comprehensive literacy and numeracy program across the school


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• A process to regularly monitor the growth and progress of specific students to ensure equity of outcome • Interventions for struggling students We could be much more specific if space permitted but basically OFIP helps lower performing or stagnant schools install practices of schools that are highly effective. And it does this without “attitude.” The result is that most OFIP schools improve – in 2007–2008, OFIP schools moved ahead 10 percentage points higher compared to the non-OFIP schools. No OFIP school, as I have said, feels negatively labeled. This is positive pressure at its best. But, what if schools or certain districts (with high numbers of OFIP schools) do not improve? First, this is a much smaller number compared to systems that have a punitive accountability. Second, the pressure on nonresponsive schools and districts is mounting. The small number of schools and districts not moving forward become more and more noticeable. And yes, eventually direct intervention on the part of governments aimed at school districts, not improving despite all efforts, is necessary. But this (because of the strategy) is in a very small number of situations. When direct intervention is exercised under these (relatively last resort and small number of cases), it is applauded by the public and peer districts (as in “it is about time someone intervened”). The lesson here is first use indirect means of pressure such as the three addressed earlier in this section, add more direct, but still positive measures as in the OFIP strategy, and then take more serious interventionist action in those (few cases) failing to move forward.

Irresistible Synergy The previous four positive pressure points when pursued in an integrated fashion create relentless synergy. Strategies are focused, aligned, comprehensive, and based on partnership. They foster concentrated practice linked to results. Through purposeful action people become more skilled, as they become more skilled they become clearer (skill produces clarity), and as skill and clarity combine they generate shared ownership. The corresponding positive results themselves are further energizers. Literacy and numeracy increased by 13% (using a very high standard of proficiency) across 4,000 schools in 4 years: high school graduation rates increased from 68 to 77% over the same period; morale of teachers and principals increased; and the percentage of new teachers leaving the profession by their 4th year plummeted from 32 to 9%.

Conclusion Ontario is not a conclusive case. It still has not yet met its ambitious targets, let alone full success. It is difficult to maintain the sense of urgency. Perhaps the

Positive Pressure


pressure points are not strong enough. But the main line of argument holds. Specific, synergistic positive pressures are powerful in motivating very large numbers of system members to put in the individual and collective effort essential for getting continuous results. I mentioned earlier the notion of culture as being organic –norms and values built-in that come to have their own momentum. Let’s take accountability in terms of it being either a negative or positive culture. Strong accountability measures (our negative pressure points) occur when the system is not improving itself. This, as I have argued, produces even more negativism. By contrast, positive pressure results in a new culture in which the system is committed to and engaged in improving. I like Hargreaves and Shirley’s (2009) statement that accountability is the gap that exists where responsibility stops. In other words, if (intrinsically motivated) responsibility is full bore, accountability is redundant. It is a natural and self-evident by-product of intrinsically driven individual and collective responsibility. You still need external accountability, but in synergistic positive pressure cultures internal and external accountability merge. These advanced forms of integrated positive pressure for whole systems are fairly recent phenomenon – barely 5 years old. But they augur well for the future because they get results. This makes it politically attractive. It is still tough for politicians because the methods are indirect. They prefer “do this, get that” short-term strategies. But the strategies are still politically attractive because they do get results in relatively short time frames – 2 to 3 years, not 5–10. Globally, attention is now beginning to shift to whole system reform because some countries are noticeably doing better through the explicit use of the strategies identified in this chapter. Barber and Mourshed’s (2007) How the world’s best performing systems come out on top is a case in point. People are now beginning to benchmark not just outcomes, but also policies and strategies. My prediction is that this whole system reform work, undergirded by positive pressure components, will take off in the next 2–3 years. We will come to know a lot more about the nature, value, and indispensability of positive pressure in largescale reform. It’s about time, and desperately needed in the world of educational reform.

References Barber, M., Fullan, M., & MacKay, T. (in press). International education dialogue. Melbourne, Victoria: Centre for Strategic Education. Barber, M., & Mourshed, M. (2007). How the world’s best performing systems came out on top. London: McKinsey & Co. Cisco, Intel, & Microsoft. (2009). Partners in education transformation. Author. Fullan, M. (2008). The six secrets of change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Fullan, M. (2010). All systems go. Thousand Oakes, CA: Corwin Press. Hargreaves, A., & Shirley, D. (2009). The fourth way. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. Janis, I. (1982). Groupthink. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin. Kotter, J. (2008). A sense of urgency. Boston: Harvard Business Press. Levin, B. (2008). How to change 5000 schools. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.


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Levin, B., Glaze, A., & Fullan, M. (2008). Results without rancor or ranking. Phi Delta Kappan, 90(4), 273–280. McGregor, D. (1960). The human side of enterprise. New York: McGraw-Hill. Pfeffer, J., & Sutton, R. (2000). The knowing-doing gap. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. Wilson, D. (2007). Evolution for everyone. New York: Delacorte Press.

Education for an Interdependent World: Developing Systems Citizens Peter M. Senge

The work described here was only possible because of the many pioneers of the systems thinking movement in public education and the founders of the more recent SoL Education Partnership – Burlington, Vermont; Murphy School District in Pheonix, Arizona; the Hewlett-Woodmere District in Long Island, New York; the E3 Initiative and the Washington Sustainability Education Association; Sustainable St. Louis; Jaimie Cloud of the Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education; and Lees Stuntz of the Creative Learning Exchange, dedicated to fostering networks of collaboration among systems thinking educators. A special thanks also to Linda Booth Sweeney, who has served as coordinator of the Partnership in its formation and now supports capacity building and research in several of the sites. See the Creative Learning Exchange, The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education

Education for Today’s World, Not Yesterday’s I believe that the Industrial-Age education system that has spread around the world in the past 150 years will change dramatically in the coming decades. This will not happen because such a change is easy. Indeed, as most educators know only too well, few institutions are more resistant to innovation and change than primary and secondary education. It will happen because fundamental change is necessary if human society is to survive and thrive in the world in which we now live. The Industrial Age is ending, and the changes coming will not be possible

P.M. Senge (B) MIT and SoL (The Society for Organizational Learning), Cambridge, MA, USA e-mail: [emailprotected], ISEE Systems, and The Waters Foundation.

A. Hargreaves et al. (eds.), Second International Handbook of Educational Change, Springer International Handbooks of Education 23, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-2660-6_8, C Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010



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without recreating the two central institutions, business and education, which have been the primary propagators of the Industrial Age worldview and skillset.1 Economic globalization has brought extraordinary material benefits and unimaginable dangers. For the first time in human history, billions of people share a material standard of living previously unimaginable, just as more share reasonable expectations of long life, democratic processes, and formal education than at any previous time. Just so, human beings are destroying other species and ecosystems at unprecedented rates and altering their ecological environment locally and globally as never before. The average American causes a ton of material waste to be generated per day, including the gaseous waste by-products of industrial life like greenhouse gas emissions. According to Jason Clay of the World Wildlife Fund, to support today’s global economy takes 1 1/4 Earths. Soon it will be more. But we have only one Earth, and the inevitable adjustment to living within the scope of her generosity grows more severe every year we continue down the “take-make-waste” industrial path. The challenges ahead will be social and cultural as well as economic and ecological – indeed they are inseparable. According to the World Bank, the poorest quartile of the world’s people saw their income share of global income fall from 2.5 to 1.4% from 1975 to 2000. Globalization has caused a collision of cultures as well as economic systems, with many around the world fighting to preserve traditional cultural identity against the spread of western style consumerism, while massive joblessness spreads as rural economies decline and tens of millions are forced to migrate to cities. In this sense, global terrorism, fueled by millions of disaffected youth with little hope for a positive future, is as inevitable a by-product of the spread of modern industrial development as is global climate change. While most individuals and organizations are still largely in denial regarding the profound changes required to meet these challenges, more and more business-, civil-society, and governmental leaders (mostly in local government in the US) not only see the changes needed but are busy bringing them into reality (Senge et al., 2008). Fortunately, this revolution also includes a growing number of educators and communities, some of whose examples are mentioned in the following section. These innovators are guided by imagining a different path into the future, one that leads toward regenerative economic system in place of the extractive system that has dominated the Industrial Age. They are guided by simple but profound questions. Why could we not emulate nature in creating “circular economies” with little or no waste? Why could we not interact across cultural differences with the

1 Many have argued that the industrial age ended decades ago, as the world of smokestacks and mass production was replaced by that of bits and bytes. But this confuses shifts in dominant technologies with shifts in the underlying values and processes that defined the industrial age. More steel is produced in the world today than ever before. So, too, are more automobiles produced and more coal burned. Indeed, shifts in dominant technologies are a defining feature of the industrial age, what Lewis Mumford and others called the “Age of the Machine.” See “The Myth of the Machine, Vol. 1: Technics and Human Development,” New York: Harcourt Brace, Jovanovich 1967.

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aim of learning rather than domination, fostering a new renaissance as has happened before when established cultures were forced to face radical new ideas? Why could globalization not represent mindful stewardship of the Earth’s treasures rather than mindless consumerism, awakening us to our sacred identity as hom*o sapiens, the “wise species”? The key, to paraphrase Shakespeare, lies not in our stars but in ourselves. Below the multiple symptoms of social and ecological imbalances sits a growing gap in awareness between the nature of our reality and the nature of our thinking, symbolized in the following figure:

Level of interdependence Gap = unsustainability of present way of living Ability to Understand Interdependence time

Fig. 2

Global industrial expansion has woven a web of interdependence, the likes of which has never before existed. The average pound of food travels 2,000 miles prior to its purchase by an American consumer. Many of our everyday goods travel much further. Conversely, the by-products of our ways of living likewise travel around the world. For example, the greenhouse gasses emitted by Americans’ cars and SUVs, along with our video games, flat panel TVs, and Web surfing (whose electricity is powered mostly by burning coal), 20% of worldwide emissions, contribute to shrinking glaciers, reduced spring runoffs, and hundreds of millions of chronically dehydrated people in northern India. Weather instability, flooding, and rising sea levels affect a great many more.2 Soon, the same statement will be valid in reverse: as China’s and India’s surging economies eclipse that of the United States in greenhouse emissions (China’s already has). Never before in human history have people’s daily choices on opposite sides of the globe been so entangled. But while this web of interdependence has been growing, our capacity to understand interdependence has not; indeed you could argue that it has steadily deteriorated over centuries. As humans have moved from tribal to agrarian societies and more recently to the modern industrial society, our sense of connection to the larger living world has progressively become more and more tenuous. For example, recent studies have shown that many American children believe that their food 2 In 2007, Oxfam estimated that the costs to the world’s poor of adapting to global climate change (including costs due to loss of crops, spread of tropical diseases, and migration) exceeded $50 billion. (see This figure is expected to rise sharply in the coming years.


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comes from the grocery store, and most have no concept of seasonality in food, since all foods are available at all times. Because this decline in capacity to understand interdependence has happened over many generations, it has largely gone unnoticed. Native peoples do not need to read books to understand their dependence on and responsibilities to “Mother Earth”; it constitutes the very roots of their culture. Farmers likewise must understand the dance of sun, wind, rain, soil nutrients, and water flows or they cannot survive as farmers. We need to understand neither, and consequently do not. As this gap grows, our way of living becomes increasingly unsustainable. Very few adults today understand the global economy, let alone where the goods they buy come from, or the social and environmental by-products of the global supply chains through which they move. Few know, for example, that the worldwide expansion of industrial agriculture, mostly to serve middle-class consumers in the north, which displaces tens of millions of rural residents per year due to falling farmer incomes, is a major source of greenhouse gases (not only CO2 from shipping food around the world but methane from the expansion of livestock to meet growing demands for meat), and has caused the loss of over a billion hectares of topsoil in the past 50 years, more than the size of India and China combined. While there are many facets of the malaise of global industrial society, it is hard to imagine much real change without beginning to address this gap between our growing interdependence and our ability to understand that interdependence. No technological fixes are likely to solve climate change alone. No global government is likely to suddenly appear to deal with the growing stresses of food and water. No enlightened corporate responsibility movement will miraculously change the DNA of global business so that short-term profit comes into balance with long-term contribution to people and planet. All of these changes, and more, will only happen as our thinking changes. The institutions of the modern world work as they do because of how we work. How we think and interact shape their policies and practices, neither of which is likely to change on their own.

Thinking Newly, Educating for New Thinking Time does not go backward. Our task is not to re-create yesterday’s cultures of interrelatedness but tomorrow’s. This will require deep change in all the primary institutions that shape modern society – none of which is more important than education because none has a larger long-term impact. “To be a teacher is to be a prophet,” said Gordon Brown, former Dean of the MIT School of Engineering and a founding inspiration to the systems thinking in education movement. “We are not preparing students for the world of today, or the world that teachers have grown up in; we are preparing students for a world that we can barely imagine.” Education is the one social institution with a 50-year-plus time horizon. Business does not have this. Government does not have this. The media

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does not have this. But, school, by its nature, does. That is why education is always a key to the future direction of a society. When education is driven by incessant pressures to perform on standardized tests, get good grades, and get into the right college, in order to get a good job and make lots of money, then education reinforces the consumerism and economic orthodoxy that drive the present global business system. When it is oriented around deeper questions of human and social development, it can contribute distinctly to the larger needs of a society needing desperately to reorient its priorities. In this sense, education is a natural leader in this time of “great turning,” when the Industrial Age is dying and, as Vaclav Havel put it, “something new, still indistinct, is struggling to be born.” While this might sound romantic or grandiose, I believe the kids in school sense the significance of the moment. More than ever before in history, today’s young people grow up with an awareness of the world. They know about climate change. They know about our addiction to fossil fuels. They know about the persisting gap between rich and poor. They are often in direct communication with friends in other countries, and they know about the struggles of the world’s cultures to live respectfully with one another. As such they are disengaged when education that will shape their future does not address the imbalances, and when it does, they thrive. Young people know that we are “living into” a new global society. What they don’t know is whether their teachers know about it. What they don’t know is do adults care enough and have enough courage to re-create education to match their world. Regardless of how they express it, they know that the only citizenship that matters today is global citizenship, how the people of the world work together to, in the words of Buckminster Fuller, “create a world that works for everyone.” The overarching aim of education must become developing “systems citizens,” a generation of young people whose capacity to understand interdependence is commensurate with the interdependence that shapes our lives. This aim will take us all into new territory. No one knows how to do it. There is no set curriculum, anymore than there is agreement on the processes of learning that will be needed. Moreover, educators won t be able to do this by themselves. The modern school is an expression of public priorities and sits within a complex web of societal accountabilities. In the Industrial Age, school became the domain of specialists who taught fragmented subjects in a way that was fragmented from the lives of the learners and the larger community (Senge, 2000). Re-creating education will be a job for communities committed to a future that has a future, not just for professional educators. Our efforts to explore this new landscape through the SoL Education Partnership focus on four foundational changes3 : 3 SoL (the Society for Organizational Learning – is a network of individuals and organizations who work together around the world for systemic change. The SoL Education Partnership focuses primarily on communities within the US where educators, local businesspeople and government, and youth organizations are working together to create a climate for continuing innovation toward educating systems citizens.


• • • •

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systems thinking, authentic youth engagement, rethinking schools as learning communities, and education for sustainability.

The overarching aim is not educational reform but recontextualizing the whole process of education: starting with young children learning how to be more responsible for their own school environment and gradually moving to interconnecting diverse stakeholders in tackling complex real-life community issues. In this process, students stop being passive recipients of someone else’s curriculum and become active agents in developing a sense of responsibility and efficacy for an interdependent world.

Systems Thinking The first systems thinking classes at Orange Grove Middle School started in 1988, instigated by Frank Draper, a science teacher, and encouraged by Mary Scheetz, then Orange Grove’s principal. When my wife, Diane, and I first visited Frank’s 8th grade science class in 1991, it was hard not to notice that something was different. First, Frank was nowhere to be seen. In fact there was no teacher in the room. A couple of students had some questions about their library research, and Frank had gone to the library with them (remember, this was much before the Internet). But, to our amazement, the classroom had not descended into chaos. Instead, the thirty or so students were glued to their new MacIntosh computers, two to a machine, deeply engrossed in their conversations with one another. We learned that Frank and his colleague Mark Swanson had designed their semester science curriculum around a real project, the design of a new state park to be developed on the north of Tucson. After studying the sorts of conflicts that inevitably arise in park and wilderness area management, they were working with a STELLA-based simulation model that showed the impacts of different decisions.4 They had an overall budget and prescribed mission based on environmental-quality, economic, and recreation and education targets they set for the park. At the time, there were working on designing the park’s trail system. Once they would lay out a proposed trail, the simulation model calculated the environmental and economic consequences, prompting energetic debates over trade-offs among different options. We had only been standing in the back of the room for a few minutes, and a couple of young boys came and grabbed us. “We need your opinion,” Joe said. “Billy (the boy’s partner) has a trail system that he thinks is great because it makes a lot of money (routing hikers past the best views), but it also does a lot of environmental

4 STELLA and ITHINK are products of ISEE Systems, Hanover, New Hampshire:

Education for an Interdependent World


damage. Mine avoids the environmental impact areas, but he thinks it is too close to the Indian Burial Grounds and will stir up protests.” We listened for a while as the two boys explained their different trails and showed us some of the simulated consequences. There were no black and white answers, and it was clear that they understood this. This was about design and making choices. The bell rang signaling the end of the period, and they said goodbye, agreeing as they left to come back after school to see if they could agree on a proposal to share with the rest of the class at the end of the week. (Eventually, the students’ proposals and analyses were presented to the actual park planning commission at the end of the term.) Barry Richmond has identified eight constituent thinking skills that comprise a broad definition of systems thinking5 : • Dynamic Thinking – seeing patterns of change over time rather than focusing only on isolated events. • System as Cause Thinking – recognizing that problems and their solutions are endogenous: They arise within a system, not from outside. • 10 K Meters Thinking – being able to step back and see the big picture. • Operational Thinking – understanding how the structure of a system causes its behavior, and that the same basic structures apply to all systems. Understanding stocks and flows. • Closed-Loop Thinking – recognizing feedback: Any action has consequences that can influence that action again. • Nonlinear Thinking – knowing that feedback loops interact to produce changing responses over time. • Quantitative Thinking – being able to consider and include all variables, even those that cannot be measured in standard units. • Scientific Thinking – recognizing that all models are working hypotheses to be rigorously built, tested, and refined. In that particular project at the Orange Grove, the students were learning to see change – the consequences of how the park’s trail system was laid out – as differing patterns of behavior over time (Richmond’s “dynamic thinking”). This was also illustrated earlier, when I argued that many of today’s most pressing problems could be understood as arising from a particular pattern of behavior over time: the growing gap over time between interdependence and our understanding of interdependence. The students were also practicing stepping back to see how one change can have many different effects as the change plays out in a larger system, and how that system has its own distinctive characteristics and generates particular forces (10 K meter thinking and system as cause thinking).

5 See

“Tracing Connections: Voices of Systems Thinkers,” forthcoming (2010).


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And, they were learning how to formulate a hypothesis: what sorts of consequences they expected from different changes and testing their expectation against a formal model of the system (scientific thinking). The students also learned a variety of conceptual tools for mapping systems and for expressing and communicating with others about their understanding of interdependence. Again, these were applied to real-life situations the children could identify with, including ones drawn from their own lives. Today, tools like “behavior-over-time graphs,” “connection circles,” “causal loop diagrams,” and “system archetypes” are introduced as early as third and fourth grade, and young children are invited to look at daily experiences like how trust builds or deteriorates in a friendship, or what happens in breaking a bad habit (Quaden, Ticotsky, & Lyneis, 2009). As students get older, they can naturally extend these tools to more complex subjects, including developing their own simulation models.6 This develops not only deep content knowledge but thinking skills to see how common system dynamics can underlay very different situations.7 “Our approach was to invite kids to consider a worldview of complex interdependent systems. Instead of abstract learning, we use simulations to begin to confront and to penetrate this world of interdependence as it is embodied in particular real-life situations, and how these systems relate to other systems,” says Frank Draper. This work is challenging and requires dedicated teachers like Draper and Swanson willing to wrestle with some timeless questions, as well as newer ones brought to light by the systems worldview – like, What if the education process throughout primary and secondary school continually build on children’s innate curiosity and capacity to construct their own understanding rather than digesting a teacher’s understanding? Learning through doing is ultimately essential for retention and meaningfulness, but how can this learning be extended to more complex subjects where the consequences of our actions are no longer immediate? What really are our innate capacities to understand complexity, and how far could this intelligence develop if it were really nurtured?

Authentic Youth Engagement What was equally evident from the outset at Orange Grove was the engagement of the students. What made the state park exercise so engaging for them?

6 See, for example, Diana Fisher, “Modeling Dynamic Systems: Lessons for a First Course,” available at In this book, Fisher shares examples of remarkable student work that includes college and post-graduate level work done by high school students versed in systems modeling tools. 7 The idea of “generic structures” is a cornerstone of systems education and ranges from simple dynamic structures like delays that arise in virtually all social systems (and confound decisionmakers expecting immediate results from their actions) to more involved structures like “aging chains” which arise in diverse settings from demographics to product life cycles.

Education for an Interdependent World


First, they were wrestling with real-world problems rather than artificial schoolroom exercises. They could identify not only with the challenges of developing a new state park but also with the benefits of designing the park well. Second, they were thinking for themselves. They knew there was no single right answer to the challenges they were facing. Ultimately, they had to understand better what would happen if different decisions were made, and they had to frame trade-offs. There was no single formula presented by the instructor to gain the right answer. Rather, they had to sort out their own thinking about a real issue and explore different proposals – ultimately coming to their own conclusions. Third, the teachers operated as mentors, not instructors. The teacher’s role was not to give a prescribed method or guide the students to a predetermined right answer. Indeed, the teachers did not know the best outcome and were colearners with the students. But the teachers’ roles were no less crucial: They had to help the students make sense of the outcomes of different experiments. Having been involved in building the computer simulation gave them important knowledge for this task but no simple answers: A complex dynamic simulation model will often respond to changes in ways that its developers do not anticipate, as different feedback interactions play out over time. So, the learning project was mutual for teacher and student. Though they had built the simulation model, it was a model and thus, by definition, incomplete. Indeed, one of the teachers’ roles was to help the students appreciate the assumptions upon which the model was based, and to invite the students to critique those assumptions and consider the implications of alternative assumptions, a critical aspect of scientific reasoning.8 Lastly, working with partners drew the students into a joint inquiry. This not only enabled them to get to know one another but forced them to continually confront alternative views and assumptions. This drew students into a natural process of seeing how each of us reasons from past experiences and assumptions to draw conclusions that guide our actions, and to becoming more open to testing their reasoning. Of course, human beings follow such processes of inferential reasoning all the time, but it is often easier to see how this works in another situation, since our own reasoning is often “transparent” or invisible to us. Educators understand the importance of reflection – learning how to examine our own assumptions and reasoning – but it remains an elusive educational goal, all but completely ignored by traditional schooling. Didactic instruction bypasses it entirely. Teachers’ efforts to try to get students to reflect is easily undermined by teachers’ authority and formal power, which intimidates students programmed to seek correct answers. As Scheetz said, reflection requires safety, which benefits from an environment of mutual inquiry. In this sense, students helping one another reflect is a powerful approach that goes well beyond teacher-centered strategies.

8 For examples of students developing their own simulation models see D. Fisher, “Modeling Dynamic Systems: Lessons for a First Course”, Second Edition, available from


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For example, consider the followed (slightly stylized) interaction between Joe and Billy working on their park trail system.

Billy: “ Your trails are a bad idea because they are too close to the Indian burial grounds. You shouldn’t do that.” Joe: “ Who says? There are no rules that say we can’t do that. They do a lot less environmental damage than yours.” Billy: “Yeh, mine are a problem. But what is worse?” Joe: “I didn’t really think about the burial grounds. Maybe there is a way to avoid the burial grounds and also do less environmental damage also?” Billy: “Yeh. Maybe, but I wonder how much less money we’ll make; the park has to generate enough money to stay open. Let’s try some other routes.”

In this simple interaction, the two boys are practicing Richmond’s “operational thinking,” understanding how specific features of the structure of a system cause its behavior (such as how trail location affects visitor hiking patterns, environmental effects, and park revenues) and how changes in that structure can change system behavior. As important, the boys are engaging in a critical collaborative learning process: probing one anothers’ ways of thinking through the design problem they face and, in the process, making their own thinking more explicit. Plus, they are helping one another – neither is right or wrong, both are learning. Joe hadn’t really thought about the Indian burial grounds as a constraint; this was outside the assumptions upon which he was operating. Likewise, Billy had not paid a lot of attention to the environmental damage of his trails because he was focused on maximizing hiker traffic and park revenues. Both become more aware of taken-for-granted assumptions through the other’s inquiry. Both conclude that there may still be better overall designs if they expand their assumption sets. In short, the boys are mastering the basics of reflective learning based on collaborative inquiry, becoming more aware of their own taken-for-granted assumptions through thinking together. Of course, such interactions only work if there is mutual respect. It is easy to imagine two young boys simply arguing about who is right, and never challenging their own reasoning. This is why educators like Scheetz understand that realizing the benefit of systems thinking tools depends on the overall school environment. “An environment where learning is likely to occur,” said Principal Mary Scheetz, “is one that is safe and secure, and where taking risks is OK.” What if we saw learning how to see systems as inseparable from learning how to see one another? What if we saw the foundation for systems citizenship as a seamless blend of cognitive and interpersonal skills in learning about complexity, anchored in learners’ ongoing discovery about what it means to grow as a human being in relationship with one another? What if teachers, as well as other adults working with kids, saw themselves as mutual learners along with the students?

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Rethinking Schools as Learning Communities Early on in Orange Grove’s movement toward adopting systems thinking and “learner-centered learning,” the staff realized that their success depended on the overall learning culture at the school, starting with how they interacted with one another. For example, teachers often espouse an ideal of collaboration but lack practical experience at truly creating a collaborative work environment. Of all professions, teaching is among the most individualistic. Whereas most people in business or architecture or law have an acute sense that their accomplishments are the result of a team effort (even though some individuals may have more visibility to a customer or a client), teachers typically operate in a highly fragmented world of their courses and their students. Working as teams does not come easily to teachers who have spent most of their lives in an educational system that emphasizes individual performance and competition, reinforced by a professional work environment that forces them to practice their craft alone much of the time. It takes time and commitment to go beyond platitudes about collaboration. “Of all the changes I tried to lead as principal, helping teachers learn how to team was probably the most difficult,” says Scheetz. She personally led severalday retreats, where teachers began to reflect and listen to one another more deeply and to build different capacities for dealing with the inevitable conflicts that arise between different teachers’ lesson plans or strategies with particular kids. “There is so much more potential for collaborative solutions than normally gets realized given the professional isolation common to most schools,” says Scheetz. Scheetz and assistant principal Tracy Benson (who later succeeded Scheetz) made sure collaboration became part of teachers’ daily lives by redesigning the school schedule so that all teachers had 45–60 min free to clinic with one another, each day. “Collaboration only starts to make a difference when teachers have time to practice coordinating in real time,” says Benson. “They need to know what Billy’s teacher found out in his first period class or how a new systems idea that is suppose to integrate across civics and science is actually playing out for the kids. This is what actually helps them feel like a team.” Gradually, Orange Grove’s teachers began to build a larger vision of the type of school culture they wanted to create. “We have to lead by example,” said Martha Jones (check name), a history teacher. “If we show respect to the kids and to one another, the kids see that.” Over time, the Orange Grove teachers found that their hard work in developing themselves as a learning community started to reshape how they interacted. “Any topic we talk about is a process of building a community,” said Tom Keys, a math teacher. “Dealing with all our differences is the key to building our shared vision.” As the teachers developed as a team, so did their understanding of how specifically to move toward the overall school environment they envisioned. In the end, this came down to one idea: respect. “Teachers are always trying to improve discipline. We took a radical approach: we abandoned all the rules,” said Jones. “We eventually


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came up with one rule: show respect. We don’t put one another down. We have to continually learn to listen to one another, not just superficially but actually.” Building learning communities does not stop at the four walls of the school. School cultures based on genuine respect and student engagement affect how people think and act and naturally start to bridge to encompass the larger community. Ironically, building this larger community is often more common in poorer settings, where resources are scarce and people must work together. The Murphy School District in Pheonix, one of the founders of the SoL Education Partnership, is one of the poorest in America. Yet, the members of the community have succeeded in creating networks of mutual support that have led to delivery of food and clothing to those in need, a decrease in youth violence, domestic abuse and substance abuse, and an increase in student achievement over the past 3 years. A recent study by SoL researcher Dennis Sandow found that the “Students and their families, as well as the neighborhoods within Murphy School District, all benefit from a large, collaborative social system whose members include but are not limited to not-for-profit, government, faith-based and business organizations, teachers, councilors, parents, and Murphy School District graduates. There is a single (although unstated) purpose to this social system: to generate health and well being for Murphy School District students, families and neighbors” (Sandow, 2006). Traditionally, the professional isolation of teachers is mirrored by the way schools see themselves as isolated institutional entities sitting apart from the larger communities in which they are embedded. This tragically often becomes a selffulfilling prophesy: Isolated schools contribute little to their communities and in turn fail to tap the potential engagement and support from those communities. As this happens, the reciprocal benefits from acknowledging and cultivating the interdependence between school and community are lost. “Maybe it is the harsh circ*mstances of Murphy, but it has always been obvious that if school here is to succeed it must become a hub for community building,” says superintendent Paul Mohr, a founding member of the SoL Education Partnership. “When that happens, the benefits for students as well as adults can go well beyond what educators can do on their own.” Over the past 5 years, student achievement at Murphy has increased significantly because of, according to Sandow, the larger “social system supporting the Murphy School District student’s academic achievements.” What if “school” was defined not by institutional geography but by the geography of students’ lives? What if the “teachers” were not just the professional educators but all the adults (and the older youth) with whom a student interacts? What if we assumed that sustaining innovation in education will only occur to the extent we develop collaborative networks linking local business, local social services and government organizations, and families who share a common vision of supporting kids in their development? What if we realized that whatever shortage we perceive in teachers is but an artifact of the fragmentation of school from the larger community – that, in fact, there are vast numbers of potential teachers waiting to be asked to help? What would this mean for how education works in general and for nurturing systems citizens in particular – through reconnecting school and the larger communities

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to create a rich laboratory for students learning how to build healthy interdependence here and now?

Education for Sustainability: Making Systems Citizenship Real The Monte del Sol charter school in Santa Fe, New Mexico, came up with a simple way to start reconnecting school to the larger community, the school’s innovative “community learning project” requirement. Here’s how it works. Every tenth grader at Monte del Sol can identify something she or he wants to learn that someone in the community can teach her or him. The resulting project then constitutes one of his or her five required courses for the year. I have met students at Monte del Sol who have learned carpentry, consulting, and community organizing. As important as what they learn is how they learn it. Freed from the classroom, they re-create the oldest form of education, apprenticeship. Not only does this lead toward learning that has real meaning to them, it connects many adults with students and gives them a sense of being meaningful contributors in the school, paving the way for both to work together for building healthier and more sustainable communities. Jaimie Cloud of the Cloud Institute, a national leader in education for sustainability for over a decade, identifies seven primary “habits of mind” to be cultivated in education for sustainability (Federico, Cloud, Byrne, & Wheeler, 2009):

• Understanding of Systems as the Context for Decision Making. The extent to which one sees both the whole system and its parts as well as the extent to which an individual can place one’s self within the system • Intergenerational Responsibility. The extent to which one takes responsibility for the effect(s) of her/his actions on future generations • Mindful of and Skillful with Implications and Consequences. The extent to which one consciously makes choices and plans actions to achieve positive systemic impact • Protecting and Enhancing the Commons. The extent to which one works to reconcile the conflicts between individual rights and the responsibilities of citizenship to tend to the commons • Awareness of Driving Forces and their Impacts. The extent to which one recognizes and can act strategically and responsibly in the context of the driving forces that influence our lives • Assumption of Strategic Responsibility. The extent to which one assumes responsibility for one’s self and others by designing, planning, and acting with whole systems in mind • Paradigm Shifting. The extent to which one recognizes mental models and paradigms as guiding constructs that change over time with new knowledge and applied insight


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Cloud sees education for sustainability as integrating ideas and approaches from many different content areas, like “ecological literacy” (science principles and natural laws that help understand the interconnectedness of humans and all of the Earth’s systems), system dynamics and systems thinking, “multiple perspectives” (truly valuing and learning from the life experiences and cultures of others), “sense of place” (connecting to and valuing the places in which we live), “sustainable economics” (study of the connections between economic, social, and natural systems), citizenship, participation and leadership (the rights, responsibilities, and actions associated with participatory democracy toward sustainable communities), and creativity and visioning (the ability to envision and invent a rich, hopeful future). Obviously, education for sustainability is more than just new curriculum. It is about how the content and process of education can be interwoven with real-life contexts to create opportunities for young people to lead in building sustainable communities and societies. In short, real education for sustainability is only possible in concert with systems thinking, authentic youth engagement, and rethinking schools as learning communities to catalyze a radical shift. No longer is education something that adults do to kids. Education becomes a joint learning process for communities learning to become more sustainable. For example, before I knew of the Monte del Sol charter school in Santa Fe, local businesspeople had given me an impressive local magazine, “Sustainable Santa Fe.” In addition to high-quality articles focused on community sustainability challenges and innovative responses by local organizations, I noticed the editorial byline: In order to advertise in the magazine, companies had to first meet certain criteria of waste management and energy efficiency. So, not only did the magazine feature sustainability-oriented stories, it fostered healthy competition among local businesses for positive brand image. It was only later that I discovered that the magazine was in fact a product of a group of Monte del SoL students teaming up with local community mentors in desktop publishing. Indeed, it was the students who had the idea of the advertising criteria. In such projects, students become catalysts for engaging their communities, as they have at Brewster, New York High School, where science teacher Scott Beall created a novel way to teach 10th and 11th grade science, “Do Right Enterprises.” Beall told his largely conservative school board he was connecting meaningful science education with developing entrepreneurial skills. In fact, he had a bigger aim. For example, Brady teaches students how to conduct energy audits and then engages local businesspeople as clients. Not only do the students learn how to apply science to practical analysis, even local businesses start to reduce their energy (and carbon) footprint. Along the way, the students discover the difference they can make to their community. “We thought we were doing the students a favor by letting them come in and gather some data from our restaurant,” said one local businessperson. “We had no idea how much waste they would find, and how much money we could save.” The difference for student learning, even as defined more traditionally, is dramatic. “There is no doubt that the kids in the “Do Right” course learn as much science content as counterparts in more traditional science classes,” says Beall. In

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fact, their New York Regents’ science exam results tend to be as high or higher than counterparts in more traditional classrooms. “There are many ways you can design meaningful service learning sustainability projects with particular curricular content in mind,” says Beall. “The big payoff is student motivation and a completely different understanding of what it means to do science rather than do schoolroom exercises.” When education for sustainability is connected to authentic youth engagement, learning naturally becomes intertwined with youth leadership development. “I think we tend to greatly underestimate young people’s capacities as leaders,” says Les Omotani, superintendent of the Hewlett-Woodmere district and another SoL Education Partnership founder. Starting several years ago, Omotani invited high school students to learn the disciplines of learning organizations and how to become systems thinkers and to serve as facilitators for community dialogues that the school hosts. “The young people learned that they could help adults have meaningful conversations about how to make the community, including the schools, more healthy,” says Omotani. “The adults at Hewlett-Woodmere have learned to listen to and support the students’ voice and come to see the students as important leaders, a view that many of the young people have accepted as well.” The whole process is anchored in the yearlong Youth Leadership Forum, which invites students to focus on their own development as servant-leaders and systems thinkers, including change projects they shape themselves. Projects in recent years have included replacing disposable cups with reusable cups in the school and a “bag the bag” project that produced and promotes the use of reusable bags, rather than plastic bags, in the community. “It’s hard for me to imagine achieving the changes ahead without empowering the voice of young people to take responsibility for their own future,” says Omotani, “rather than graduating disempowered and disengaged high school students angry at the irresponsibility they see all around them. We believe that a twenty-first century high school education must not only prepare our graduates for higher education and how to make a living but perhaps more importantly to prepare them to live (create) a sustainable and high quality of life!” Stories like these also implicitly raise basic questions about how education for sustainability might address fundamental developmental needs for teenagers long neglected by traditional secondary education. For most of human history, by the age of thirteen to fifteen, children had gone through some sort of rite of passage that signaled their joining the adult community. It was well understood that it was important that they discover how they could contribute to that larger community. Confining students in their mid-teens to classroom instruction and traditional academic exercises not only fails to tap their creativity, it also ignores fundamental developmental needs to deepen their sense of personal purpose and to learn how they can make a difference. It is impossible to know how much of the anomie and developmental anxiety young people encounter later in life, in their twenties and thirties, has its roots in neglecting these developmental requirements in their teens. Noted anthropologist Edward Hall, who had spent his life studying childrearing in diverse cultures, felt that confining young adults to schoolroom learning


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“(ignores) the primate base we are built upon. . . Until a generation ago, males were warriors at the age of 18. . . with all that energy, those glands going like mad, they shouldn’t be in school. They’re tearing things apart! We should educate them before and after” (Hall, 1980, 1988). What if we learned once more how to create meaningful rites of passage for entering young adulthood, and this were integrated into the educational process? How much of the frustration for students and teachers alike would be alleviated if we stopped seeing traditional classroom education as the anchor in secondary education and school became more a sort of base camp for young people exploring how to deepen their own sense of responsibility and efficacy – and the content of the curriculum were organized around this core developmental need? What if we stop seeing them as school children and, as Omotani says, saw them as important leaders in building more sustainable communities? How much would this contribute to the shifts desperately needed in awareness, understanding, and values needed to build a more sustainable world?

Learning that Lasts These schools afford a rare opportunity to glimpse the longer-term consequences of education for systems citizenship. Orange Grove was one of the first public schools in the US to adopt systems thinking, authentic youth engagement (what they called “learner-centered learning”), and building schools as learning communities, starting in the late 1980s. (Education for sustainability was not a term used explicitly then, but many of the school’s projects focused on these priorities.) Now, thanks to a recently released video documentary, we can see some of the longer-term effects. Filmmaker James Morrison and former Orange Grove teacher Joan Yates recently brought together seven former Orange Grove students, including several who had been part of an earlier PBS satellite video program when they were students, 14 years earlier. The former students’ reflections indicate powerful life lessons tracing to their experiences as middle schoolers. “My overwhelming positive recollection was one of being involved in what I was doing; there not being a set outcome; of learning on the go, of presenting at the end of the day a result that was totally mine, that didn’t conform to a typical schoolsheet form,” says James, now an attorney. “I remember that as a very powerful thing. I really felt like I was seeing real world results.” The systems perspective was very real for the kids when they were students, as evident in these quotes from the original video: “I like the flexibility.” “You use it almost automatically: just like that, you analyze a problem as a system.” “We are so much more motivated than kids in other schools.” “You learn so much more than you would if it was just paperwork.” And, it clearly had stuck with them 14 years later. Dave (a high school teacher today) talked of seeing a classroom as a system: “From the minute they walk in from home, managing thirty kids in a room five times a day is all about the systems.”

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Nat (now a medical resident) commented: “(I notice) how often people use the word “system” and why the levers people try fail. In a recent documentary on New Orleans (after Hurricane Katrina), I was struck by how often people said that we need to use a systems approach so that this does not happen again: the failure in the levies happened because multiple parts of the system that should have been considered were not, whether it was wetlands or the height of the levies or whatever – people just didn’t consider how all of this would interact.” “It (systems thinking) really made us think out of the box, rather than just follow the easiest answer or the first answer that comes to you,” according to Athena, a dentist today. Interestingly, one of the lasting effects of their systems thinking work as teenagers was a sense of humility that had carried into their careers as adults: “Systems thinking teaches you to not take the straight line path between point A and point B,” said James. “That’s such an important lesson, not just for children, but for everyone. The ultimate lesson of systems thinking is that it’s always more complicated than you think. As a parent, I cannot think of anything more important I could teach my children, because it goes to addressing so much in our society – not just what we do as professionals, but for who we are as people and how we interact with our community and how we interact with the world at large. I think systems thinking is an imperative for how we educate our children, both now and in the future.” In the original video, Scheetz talked about the importance of creating “simulations where students learn how to make decisions to improve a system.” Interestingly, when the adult students go together, several reflected on what they had learned from the systems simulations they had done years earlier. “In an ideal world, patient care would work like a good simulation,” said Nat. “You come with your set of knowledge but you have access to people you consult with. A cohesive approach is especially important with complicated patient illnesses.” Others talked about a city planning simulation they had done as students and the lessons it had left, like understanding trade-offs in making decisions. “I had located the school next to a shopping mall,” said Kelly, now a nurse, “because I thought getting kids to shop would be good for the economy. But, it also promoted truancy. I hadn’t thought about that.” The adult former students also talked about the importance of collaboration and learning from one another as a defining feature of their Orange Grove experience. In the original video, many of the students’ comments had focused on the importance of working together: “Working together we get to know one another. . . You learn more trust.” Another commented: “You had a partner and you could converse a lot. . . there was so much freedom but you also had a goal.” Fourteen years later, Andy (now a trade negotiator at the Department of Commerce) commented, “(In order to get things done) you are completely dependent on your ability to understand other people’s thinking. . . (for example in negotiations with the Chinese) to understand their positions, what sorts of pressures people feel domestically from their constituents. It’s really hard to shift from a


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‘push’ type of argument, trying to convince someone, to ‘pulling’ them towards you. Making that sort of mental transition was really beneficial in my work.” Interestingly, in the original video, 13-year old Andy had commented, “You really have to start to learn to listen to other people. . . because you may actually be wrong.” Seeing this, Andy commented, “I had not realized how much of this insight came from the 8th grade.” Appreciating collaboration is rooted in understanding the limits of each person’s mental models, starting with your own. “You have your perspective and you have to seek others’ views,” said Nat. “You learn pretty quickly that the docs are pretty knowledgeable but so too are the nurses and the support staff, and many have been in the trenches a lot longer than you have. You need to pay attention to one another and actively seek their advice.” Clearly, for these young adults, systems thinking and learning collaboratively had shaped their worldviews in profound ways. In Andy’s words: “The real question is, are you, when you are the person in a position of power, willing to let it go? Are you willing to ask, ‘I don’t know – what do you think?’” For Athena, “Yes, we learned to look for more complexity, but also to look to our peers.” For Nat, “I think we learned how to actively seek out knowledge together.” For Dave, “When you look at other middle schools and you talk with other people, this really was a different place.”

Conclusions “Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world,” said Nelson Mandela. As concerns grow around the world around “sustainability” and the overall path of global industrial development, businesses, NGOs, and governments are stepping forward to confront increasingly critical issues around food, water, climate change, destruction of ecosystems, waste and toxicity, and growing gaps between rich and poor. But, if you believe that the shifts ahead will be cultural, not just technical, the potential role of education looms large. Hoping to direct attention to this role, the United Nations declared the decade from 2005 to 2014 the decade of “Education for Sustainable Development.”9 This is encouraging, but the response in schools to date far less than what is needed. Today, what passes for sustainability education mostly is reworked environmental science curricula, even though the UNESCO emphasizes that it is about more than ecology but affects an “integrated approach to education, learning and life.” Still, few school systems have reprioritized their goals. Most teachers remain focused on “teaching to the test,” seeking to improve student achievement in traditional subjects. Few business and public-sector leaders have stepped forward to “connect the dots” between essential long-term societal changes and a fundamental rethinking

9 See SECTION=201.html

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of the aims of primary and secondary education. Lofty sentiments do not make a revolution – yet that is exactly what we need. In my view, two things are missing. First, we must build a meaningful consensus as to the scope and substance of education for the twenty-first century and how it differs from education in the past. Perhaps, the vision of systems citizenship can help focus this budding consensus. Whether we are ready or not, young people will inherit a world in which they are first and foremost global citizens, not national citizens. Unlike any time in human history, young people today grow up with an awareness of the world, and with increasing connections to other young people around the world. It is irresponsible that they should leave secondary school without understanding how the global economy works, or understanding the basic interconnections between healthy economies, healthy societies, and healthy ecosystems. It is tragic that they should leave without genuine curiosity about and engagement with other cultures, for which, often, they need but to travel across their city. I believe that systems thinking provides the missing intellectual and cognitive underpinning for education for global citizenship. This is starting to be understood among business and civil society leaders. “If I reflect on what many organizations have been going through, the whole awareness of sustainability has been growing because systems thinking, in different forms, is enabling us to see much more interdependencies than we have seen in the past,” says Andre van Heemstra of Unilever Management Board. He adds: “It is those interdependencies which make you conclude that it is more than stupid, it is reckless to think of commercial sustainability in isolation of either social or environmental sustainability” (Senge et al., 2008, p. 217). Barry Richmond’s eight “systems thinking skills” offer a starting point in translating the need for systems thinking into the curricula and pedagogy needed to achieve it. By building upon the foundations of critical thinking and scientific reasoning, Richmond offers a bridge to mainstream ideas that are widely accepted. He extends these to incorporate thinking and learning skills almost completely missing in education today: namely, “the endogenous viewpoint” and learning how to identify feedback dynamics and understand the nonlinear ways complex systems can respond to simple changes. Long regarded as the stuff of graduate education, 20 years of evidence now exists to show that, done well, these skills can be nurtured in primary education and developed to remarkably advanced levels in secondary education, not just for an elite but for the majority of students. Today many educators embrace goals like students “should know how to think systemically.” But little will change without rigorous programs of study, teacher training, and curriculum development. When combined with developments in education for sustainability and reflection and youth engagement, I believe there is much to build upon to create such programs. Second, we must face the fact that it is unlikely that basic innovation in education will be accomplished by educators working alone. The failures of endless “educational reform” movements to produce large-scale lasting changes offer mute


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testimony to forces that work to conserve the status quo in public education. The problem is not that educators do not have new ideas. The problem is that we, as a society, demand that education continue to operate in the main as it did when we were children. This immense cognitive anchor becomes the source of the political movements that inevitably rise up to squelch meaningful experimentation, the sine quo non of innovation. This inherent conservatism will continue to thwart innovation until communities of leaders from education, business, civil society, and local government start working together to support ongoing basic innovation, not remediation in public education. We do not need to have all the answers worked out in advance in order to build these coalitions. We do need to have the capacity as communities to prioritize and persist in supporting new thinking and new practice. We don’t just need teachers who are “prophets,” as Gordon Brown called for. We need diverse leaders from all sectors willing to travel together into a future we can only begin to imagine. Education for life after the Industrial Age requires realizing that humans will actually be living together differently in the coming decades or they will not be living much at all – and that young people often have deeper intuitions than do adults regarding the changes coming. Through the SoL Education Partnership, we are working together to embody and explore in several communities around the country what these new partnerships can look like. In particular, we are working to connect innovators from business and civil society with their counterparts in education. Many businesspeople live in a world where either you innovate or die. They understand how to manage the risks that come with experimentation, how to focus on testing new ideas in local ways before they are extended prematurely to broad application, how to finance and assess innovation. But to date, the businesspeople drawn into working on education have mostly been reacting to perceived shortcomings in schools, rather than focusing on the real needs of creating sustained innovation. A natural alignment exists between innovators in the private sector and innovators in education, but this alignment has not yet developed sufficiently to have large-scale impact. Leaders in the private sector know that they need people who can think for themselves; solve complex problems in creative teams; work effectively with people from different cultures; and maintain a global, longer term perspective while dealing with immediate problems at hand. Yet, relatively few of our schools are focusing on these requirements in educating students, and most school systems and state departments of education are still sadly out of touch with these very real needs. Lastly, pursuing both this new consensus and building these new cross-sector partnerships will, I believe, bring us as a society to confront a core unasked question: In a world of growing interdependence, what is the purpose of education? There is a timeless aspect of the purpose of education, enabling young people to grow as healthy and contributing human beings. Most people drawn to teaching as a life work are drawn because of this calling, to be part of how children and young people grow and develop as human beings. This is the love of learning for its own sake.

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But there is also a timely and contextual aspect of education, which starts with recognizing the specific challenges society faces and how education must be part of solving these problems. This is the aspect of education that Nelson Mandela reminds us of, and it is to this aspect that education for systems citizenship points. No one works consciously to destroy ecosystems, or to widen the gap between rich and poor, or to use water and topsoil more rapidly than they are replenished, or to increase concentrations of greenhouse gases to the point of destabilizing global climate. All these changes occur as unintended by-products of business-as-usual. The problem is that, whether as businesspeople, consumers, or voters, we tend to operate with blinders. Individuals make decisions, like the products we buy, with virtually no awareness of the consequences of their choices for others. Companies maximize profits with little attention to the larger social costs, like the costs of climate change. Governments pursue national interests with little regard to the fact that all nations’ interests are now increasingly bound together. We have the sustainability issues that we have because, as individuals, organizations, and societies, we are unable to see the larger systems we have created that shape modern society, and we are unable to work together across institutional and national boundaries to create alternative systems. Our core task is simple – to create a truly regenerative economy and society, one that operates based on the defining principle of all interdependent living systems: Life creates conditions for life. It is time to recognize that young people have the largest stake in the unsustainable future we are now shaping, and they are more than ready to share in creating an alternative. Are we?

References Federico, C., Cloud, J., Byrne, J., & Wheeler, K. (2009). Kindergarten through twelfth-grade education for sustainability. Accessed 23 July, 2009, from what/education_for_sustainability/documents/K12Chapter.PDF Hall, E. (1980). Beyond culture. New York: Doubleday. Hall, E. (1988, Spring 12–14). The drive to learn. Santa Fe Lifestyle. Quaden, R. A., Ticotsky, A., & Lyneis, D. (2009). The shape of change. Accessed 23 July, 2009, from Sandow, D. (2006). Murphy School District’s learning communities. Piper Foundation research paper. Phoenix, Arizona: Virginia Piper Charitable Trust. Senge, P. (2000). The industrial age system of education. In P. Senge, N. Cambron-McCabe, A. Kleiner, T. Lucas, & B. Smith (Eds.), Schools that learn (pp. 27–58). New York: Doubleday. Senge, P., et al. (2008). The necessary revolution: How individuals and organizations are working together to create a sustainable world. New York: Doubleday.

Social Movement Organizing and Equity-Focused Educational Change: Shifting the Zone of Mediation Michelle Renée, Kevin Welner, and Jeannie Oakes

In the first edition of this handbook, we recommended significant shifts in the way education change is understood and pursued. Specifically, we argued that reforms seeking to disrupt historic connections among race, social class, educational opportunities, and schooling outcomes are likely distorted or abandoned altogether during the implementation process. To succeed, such “equity-focused” change must move beyond conventional change to address a series of unique political and normative challenges (Oakes, Welner, Yonezawa, & Allen, 1998). A related recommendation from that earlier chapter was that the processes of formulating, adopting, and implementing include the active participation of members of less powerful communities as well as the professionals and elites who typically lead reforms. Finally, we joined many others in recommending that education leaders be held accountable for providing all students with a high-quality education and, in particular, for ensuring that the least well-off students are provided with the learning resources they need. Here too, however, we argued that the form of accountability most likely to support the implementation of equity-focused change is the accountability of policy makers and school officials to the public and, most notably, to members of marginalized groups whose educational chances depend on such reforms. An emerging body of research documents how social movement organizations around the nation have, over the past decade, furthered all three of these recommendations. This updated chapter use Welner’s “zone of mediation” (Oakes et al., 1998; Welner, 2001) to illuminate how social movement organizations are beginning to shift the boundaries, structure, and substance of local- and state-level education reform. The zone of mediation describes the potential of these organizations to bring greater balance to policy deliberations, increasing the probability of the initiation and sound implementation of equity-focused change. The chapter begins with an explanation of the zone of mediation – describing the nature and use of the concept. We identify the types of forces that shape the zone and describe the potential role of social movement organizations as one of those J. Oakes (B) Presidential Professor of Educational Equity, UCLA; Director, Educational Opportunity and Scholarship, The Ford Foundation, New York e-mail: [emailprotected] A. Hargreaves et al. (eds.), Second International Handbook of Educational Change, Springer International Handbooks of Education 23, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-2660-6_9, C Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010



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forces. We then review recent studies that document how social movement organizations are building on the legacy of the civil rights movement to advocate for more equitable school policies and practices. Next, we apply the theoretical construct of the zone of mediation to two examples from our work in California – a statewide “opportunity-to-learn” campaign led by a coalition of community-based and legaladvocacy organizations and a grassroots movement in Los Angeles to make college preparatory courses the default curriculum for all students. We conclude with an analysis of three elements that we think are key to the future success of social movement organizations in shifting the zone of mediation to make schools more equitable: (a) the practice of participatory inquiry, (b) the need to address the political and normative aspects of education reform, and (c) the importance of efforts being grounded in the theory that schools are a key component of the larger political economy.

Reintroducing the Zone of Mediation The equity-focused reform process is unique. These reforms tend to face daunting normative and political obstacles at both the initiation and implementation stages. Quite often, the environment for potential equity-focused reforms is simply not hospitable toward forward movement. In our studies of detracking reforms, for example, we repeatedly observed this inhospitability; teachers and school leaders have explained to us that the politics of schools and neighborhoods would never allow for meaningful changes to elite, high-track classes (Oakes, 1992, 2005; Welner, 2001). A decade ago, when we wrote our chapter for the first edition of this handbook, we criticized the dominant educational change literature for failing to adequately account for the normative and political barriers standing in the way of such equityfocused reform. That literature, we contended, assumes well-meaning actors who, if given the technical tools and shown the way, will move forward with school improvement efforts. While this dynamic might exist for purely technical reforms, it is rarely recognizable for reforms that strongly implicate issues of race, class, and language-minority status. To help illustrate the forces – particularly technical, normative, political, and inertial forces – that create the environment surrounding a potential reform, we described a zone of mediation: [Schools are] situated within particular local enactments of larger cultural norms, rules, incentives, power relations and values. These forces promote either stability or change, and they accordingly set the parameters of beliefs, behavior, and policy in schools. The intersection of forces around a particular issue shapes the zone of mediation for that issue. Such forces may include such far-reaching items as legislation, judicial decisions, foundation support, demographics, housing and nutritional needs, economic and market forces, social/state political climates, educational influence groups (such as teacher unions), district history, individual players within districts, their political ambitions, and the media. (Welner, 2001, p. 95)

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Each reform proceeds within a unique context. This context, . . . the zone of mediation, is shaped by a myriad of forces. When forces are added, subtracted, strengthened or weakened, the zone shifts. With each shift, the zone becomes more receptive or more hostile to the reform. From this perspective, the reform process is a battle over contextual turf. (Welner, 2001, p. 223)

The zone framework calls our attention to the forces that continually shape and reshape the context for reform. Each new reform rests atop multiple layers of social and political history, as well as past experiences with education reforms. The zone framework also highlights why a reformer attentive to just technical interventions will likely fail to advance equity-focused change. Such change requires a fundamentally different understanding than do changes in the overwhelmingly technical realm – for example, changing approaches to teaching mathematics, acquiring and using new instructional technologies, or even most reforms designed to foster healthier school cultures. These technical changes are not simple, particularly when they deviate from the culturally established “grammar of schooling” (Tyack & Cuban, 1995), but compared to equity-focused change, they do not implicate substantial normative and political issues. That is, they tend to require only relatively small changes in core normative beliefs about who can learn and in the need to overcome political opposition related to issues of race and social class. If reformers create an environment where technical needs are met (i.e., where school structures changes and resources are put in place), but they neglect the political and normative environment, an equity-focused change is unlikely to be successfully initiated or implemented (Welner, 2001; see also Oakes & Rogers, 2006). We’ve also criticized mainstream school change literature for “emphasiz[ing] concerns that are normatively and politically neutral, such as the need for schools to become ‘learning organizations’ where teachers and administrators act as ‘change agents’ skilled at dealing with change as a normal part of their work” (Welner, 2001, p. 12; see also Oakes & Rogers, 2006). This same approach can be seen in recent attempts at so-called “whole school reform,” which is similarly focused on carefully planned organizational change (see Berends, Bodilly, & Kirby, 2002). In the service of implementing the school improvement plan, whole-school reformers address such items as getting the pieces in place, creating buy-in, instituting staff development, acquiring resources, and developing and empowering leadership. While careful planning, resources, buy-in and leadership certainly do help to create a more hospitable environment for reform, this is what we call a “neutral” reform approach. When it comes to equity-focused reform, these neutral elements are insufficient to create a healthy change context. In this regard, we think it important to draw a distinction between school improvement, which depends overwhelming on a healthy within-school culture, and third-order change (Welner, 2001), which depends not only on within-school culture but also greatly depends on the context surrounding the school. Third-order changes are “fundamental changes which seek to reform core normative beliefs about race, class, intelligence and educability held by educators and others involved with our


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schools” (Oakes et al., 1998, p. 968).1 While school improvement is intended to better accomplish current school goals, third-order reform is intended to shift those goals to become more equity-focused. Third-order changes tend to directly oppose and confront prevailing external forces and, therefore, are most likely to fall outside the zone of mediation. Moreover, the process of implementation often results in a watering down of reforms’ equity-focused aspects. We call this process “downward mutual adaptation:” [T]he changes [to an equity-focused reform] that arise as a result of interaction with preexisting school context will almost always be in the direction of less equity. That is, the pressures from the school and the community will likely favor the dominant societal actors (the local elites) at the expense of the reform’s intended beneficiaries. (Welner, 2001, p. 228)

As explained throughout this chapter, these concepts of the zone and of downward mutual adaptation illustrate why political mobilization is crucial for the success of third-order, equity-focused reform. Community organizing and other forms of political mobilization can help shape a zone of mediation in the direction of more equity. The principal at a school with a recently initiated detracking reform, for example, is more likely to push forward with the reform if any voices of discontent are balanced by voices praising the effort. This chapter fleshes out these ideas, again considering the equity-focused reform dynamic and again applying the zone framework to help explain the importance of addressing norms and politics. Our specific emphasis in this chapter concerns social movements. In our chapter a decade ago, we illustrated the zone concept while describing the role of court orders. Like such mandates, social movements and community organizing can play an important reform role, and we contend here that this role has generally been misunderstood and underestimated and has too often been ignored. Our current emphasis on social movements should not, however, detract from our broad contention about the zone of mediation: many scholars and policy makers have fallen into the trap of looking to just one type of “force” – whether technical, legislative, judicial, or social movement – as having the sole potential to bring about change. By pushing social movements to the forefront, we are in no way minimizing the importance of other forces shaping the zone; rather, this chapter serves to introduce social movement organizations as one critical and increasingly active force.

1 Larry Cuban (1992) set forth a framework with a two-part typology for educational change, distinguishing between changes of different magnitude. He categorized changes that simply improve the efficiency and effectiveness of current practices as “first-order” or “incremental” changes, and he categorized those changes that seek to alter the basic ways that organizations function as “second-order” or “fundamental” changes. Our “third order changes” are fundamental (secondorder) changes that also seek to reform educators’ and community members’ core normative beliefs about such matters as race, class, intelligence, and educability.

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Reshaping the Zone Through Social Movements The role of social movement organizations in equity-focused education change is perhaps best understood in the context of recent social movement theories, which focus on both political processes and identity formation. Pursuant to this approach, social movements are first and foremost identified by the presence of protest, or “contentious actions” (Tarrow, 1998). By definition, social movements challenge the technical, political, and normative aspects of the existing political system. Social movement organizations are also defined as organizations that engage in forming new collective identities (Whittier, 2002). That is, at the same time that social movement organizations aim to transform the external political system through protest, they also aim to transform the role of individuals and groups in that system (generally by increasing the power of traditionally marginalized groups). And social movement organizations share common features of all organizations: internal structures, regular participants, defined goals, and technical skills and resources (Della Porta & Diani, 1999). Social movement organizations vary significantly – some are multinational, are well funded and engage in multiple issues; others are small and focus on just a single local issue. Most exist somewhere in between. Current social movement organizing for school equity builds on the long history of activism in African American, Latino, Asian American, and Native American communities. The Civil Rights Movement is perhaps the most well-known social movement in American history. Though the Civil Rights Movement was focused on achieving equity for African Americans across all sectors of society, educational equity was clearly at its center. Similarly, prior to Brown, Latino communities in California and elsewhere organized and litigated to fight segregation and inadequate educational opportunities (Donato, 1997). Beginning at the time of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which annexed the American Southwest, and continuing to the present day, organizing in Latino communities has included student protest, leadership development, and the creation of Latino community organizations (Delgado Bernal, 2003; San Miguel & Valencia, 1998). Some of the established organizations that currently work on education reform around the nation, such as the NAACP and MALDEF, have direct roots in the Civil Rights Movement. A small but growing body of literature is beginning to document the recent wave of social movement organizing focused on education reform. The Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) is perhaps the best-studied example of modern education organizing. The IAF began with Saul Alinsky’s work in Chicago’s poor neighborhoods in the 1930s, helping ordinary people organize to solve local community problems. Self-interest, collective power, and relationships were central to Alinsky’s organizing approach. Drawing from labor organizing movements, he taught neighborhood residents to identify problems in their communities and use confrontational tactics such as sit-ins and boycotts to improve their lives. In Alinsky’s view, collective power was the only tool available to poor people for wresting concessions from the rich and powerful and for countering their use of wealth and political position to maintain their advantages (Alinsky, 1971). These ideas remain at the core of contemporary organizing, although today’s grassroots efforts also reflect the legacy of


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the Civil Rights Movement, which infused organizing with an emphasis on learning and leadership development (Oakes & Rogers, 2006; Payne, 1995; Ransby, 2003). Shirley (1997, 2002) and Warren (2001) provide extensive case studies of the development and impact of the Alliance school network built by the Texas IAF. Ernesto Cortes and the group’s organizers built on local movements to form the Alliance Schools Project in Texas. Local parents and community members learned to use contentious action to develop what they called “fear and loathing relationships” with elected officials, which held those officials accountable for improving schools in some of the state’s most impoverished neighborhoods of color (Shaw, 2001). At the same time, however, the Alliance Schools Project augmented their repertoire of strategies beyond direct confrontation to include mutually supportive, if sometimes confrontational, relationships between communities and local schools. Over time, this productive combination of “relational” strategies – powerful community engagement and strong accountability – was recognized and supported by the state legislature and department of education. The network of Alliance schools has been granted financial resources supporting teacher professional development and student academic assistance. Teachers, principals, and parents within the network of schools meet to collaborate, learn, and campaign for additional resources, helping to enhance and sustain the reform. Notably, throughout the evolution of the project, the work has maintained its organizing edge – with community members judging educators and officials by actions and results (rather than promises), giving them credit when they have advanced the group’s agenda and criticizing them loudly when they have not. Setting aside for a moment the normative and political context, one can identify within this reform elements that are often advocated by mainstream school reformers: collaborative school environments, professional development, resources to help students succeed, and even waivers from restrictive top–down rules. These can be thought of as the “technical” elements of the Texas IAF reform. But describing the reform only in terms of those technical elements neglects the reality that in most jurisdictions normative and political forces, as well as inertial forces, would likely keep this reform from going forward; what differed in Texas was the social movement (Oakes, 1992; Oakes & Rogers, 2006; Welner, 2001). The Texas IAF challenged the forces that created the preexisting zone of mediation as well as the inequitable education system in Texas. The participation of community members, parents, teachers, and others who developed the Alliance schools brought about the technical changes, but they did so by also bringing about political changes (community members gained an authentic role in school decision making) and normative changes (IAF members countered stereotypes, increased the social capital of their community, and helped to shift fundamental ideas about the cause of inequity in Texas schools). That is, these political and normative changes made possible by organizing strategies shifted the zone to make it more hospitable to the technical changes. While the technical knowledge likely existed prior to the social movement, the reform could not feasibly have been initiated or implemented without that movement.

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The impact of social movement organizing on the zone of meditation is also illustrated by the normative changes resulting from the activities of Comité de Padres Latinos (COPLA), a community organization of Latino parents in Carpentaria, California. Delgado-Gaitan (2001) describes how engaging in school reform “changed [the parents’] perception about their lives from one of deficit to empowerment [which] led to the cultural changes in the family, the community and in their personal lives” (p. 175). These are not isolated, insignificant examples. A national study by Gold, Simon, Mundell, and Brown (2004) located over 140 education organizations with an active membership base, working on equity, building cross-community alliances, developing democratic leadership, and aiming to improve the civic participation and power of low-to-moderate communities. After synthesizing information about these organizations, they concluded that organizing “creates the political will to address problems that would otherwise go unattended for lack of an organized constituency demanding attention to them” (p. 705). Most recently, Mediratta and her colleagues (2008) found that by creating political contexts (zones of mediation) hospitable to equitable education change, community organizing in eight communities around the country produced tangible effects on policy and resource decisions, school-level improvements, and student outcomes. This emerging body of literature documents the increasing engagement of social movement organizations in education reform, as well as the ways in which social movement organizations intentionally and explicitly address the political and normative aspects of reform and thereby reshape the zone. Yet, as we explained above, no single force is responsible for shaping the zone; in each of the case studies we encountered, social movement organizations interacted with other forces (many hostile to the reform efforts) to reshape the zone and redefine their schools. To further illustrate the role of social movement organizations, we present two case studies of social movement organizing from our research in California (Oakes & Rogers, 2006; Renee, 2006). These examples demonstrate how the organizations act as a force and how they interact with other forces (economy, history, courts, politicians, school administrators, etc.) to shape the zone. The first focuses on a statewide campaign to ensure all California students have an equal opportunity to learn. The second is an example of education reform at the local level – a coalition of grassroots organizations formed to advocate for the implementation of a curriculum policy extending college preparation to all students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Both cases involve the joining together of grassroots, advocacy, legal, and research organizations to form coalitions capable of generating enough power to alter technical policies, political relationships, and normative beliefs.

Case Study #1: Education Adequacy and Opportunities to Learn in California By the turn of this century, California’s once first-rate education system had crumbled. The state ranked below almost every other state in the number of counselors and teachers per student; hundreds of schools and thousands of classrooms were


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overcrowded; only 69 students of every 100 who were in 9th grade 4 years earlier actually graduated from high school, and only 27 of those 69 graduates had passed the courses required for entry into any of the state’s 4-year public colleges (Rogers, Oakes, Terriquez, & Valladares, 2007). Layered on top of this inadequacy was significant inequality; the state’s growing Latino and African American student populations were far more likely to bear the brunt of resource shortages and lack of educational opportunity. Subsequently their rates of graduation and college preparation lagged far behind those of Whites and Asians. Little meaningful reform had been forthcoming to counter these problems. Students ill-served by the schools 20 years earlier found their own children to be equally ill-served, or worse. And, as easy as it was for some policy makers to recognize and decry inequalities and other weaknesses in the school system, it had been extraordinarily difficult to initiate and implement policies that substantially reform the system. To some extent, this is because change must overcome inertial forces, such as educators and others who want to continue doing things the way they’ve always been done. To some extent, too, it is because of normative and political forces. Challenging these forces in California were forty-eight students and their parents, supported by a team of advocates, who filed a lawsuit (Williams v. State of California) in the spring of 2000. These families argued, on behalf of a class of over a million students, that California’s governor, State Board of Education, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction failed to provide them with qualified teachers, basic educational supplies, and safe classrooms and school facilities. Their case alleged that the state violated the students’ constitutional right to an education. The plaintiffs, who were nearly all African American, Latino, and Asian Pacific Islander students attending predominately non-White schools, also argued that students of color and low-income students disproportionately experienced the lack of basic educational resources. Their bottom line was that all students must receive certain basic resources in order to learn and that the state had a legal responsibility to ensure that schools are adequately resourced. As is generally the case with major education rights litigation, a cadre of public interest law firms represented the interests of the Williams plaintiffs.2 Unique to Williams, however, was the extent of engagement from the very outset between the lawyers and a group of grassroots community advocates and educational researchers. Aware of past long-term failures of much equity-focused litigation, this coalition determined that sustained community engagement was critical to maintaining public pressure on policy makers and in particular for ensuring that the equity intent of any new laws or regulations survived through implementation. In this regard, it is noteworthy that the legal team set aside staff time and organizational resources to support the learning and mobilization of community organizations engaged with the Williams litigation. The result was that the inertial, normative,

2 In this case, the firms included the ACLU of Northern and Southern California, Public Advocates, and MALDEF, as well as pro bono counsel from the San Francisco firm, Morrison & Foerster.

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and political forces shaping the zone of mediation were all challenged – by the litigation itself, but also by grassroots organizing that targeted political and normative resistance to change. For a group of California social justice organizations, Williams was an opportunity to collaborate with each other, building their own base of members concerned about education, and helping to address the inequalities in California’s education system. A newly formed collection of local community organizations, state chapters of national grassroots organizations, research institutes, and advocacy groups approached philanthropic organizations with a proposal for a collaborative campaign to further the education justice goals of the Williams litigation. Two statewide collaboratives were formed – the Campaign for Quality Education (CQE) and the Educational Justice Collaborative (EJC). The CQE is a loose coalition of California education justice organizations that meet to build alliances and coordinate statewide campaigns. Its structure and development were facilitated by Californians for Justice, a statewide student organization. The EJC is a collaborative effort between UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (IDEA) and over 30 activist and advocacy organizations, with the express goal of improving the equity of California schools. The EJC does not run campaigns. Rather, it provides the time and space for different organizations to study issues, form relationships, exchange ideas and strategies, and build organizational capacity to engage with policy makers and the media. These two statewide collaboratives overlap in membership as well as in their focus issues (Oakes & Rogers, 2006). As the Williams litigation made its way through the courts and the eventual negotiated settlement, California’s educators, students, and policy makers were debating a related policy: the impending implementation of a new high school exit exam. Organizers participating in the CQE and EJC began to look for ways to address this combination of issues. At a grassroots level, students, parents, and advocates pointed to the unfairness of denying high school diplomas to students denied opportunities – those who attended poorly maintained and under-resourced schools. From their perspective, the exit exam seemed to be punishing students for politicians’ failure to adequately fund schools. As these community groups began to develop campaigns, they collectively turned for assistance to the researchers at UCLA’s IDEA (including authors Renee and Oakes) affiliated with the EJC. During these meetings, we heard them articulate their concerns and recognized the match between their theories and the “opportunity to learn” theories discussed in the education literature. Specifically, we heard in these ideas the call for resource and practice standards needed to ensure that all students have the opportunity to perform at a high level (Guiton & Oakes, 1995; O’Day et al., 1993). In daylong retreats with these community activists and advocates, researchers shared studies on opportunities to learn, and the community activists applied the research concepts to their campaigns around Williams and the high school exit exam policy. The research was helpful to them, but it was not received without critique; many lamented that the published research had missed key components of equal educational opportunity, such as the need for standards to address access to culturally relevant curriculum, respectful teachers, and dignity. The process of learning about research and,


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more importantly, of engaging and exchanging ideas with researchers allowed organizers and advocates to grapple with key concepts and apply empirically derived knowledge to their campaigns. Armed with the “opportunity to learn” framing, several EJC organizations embarked on multiple education equity campaigns across the state. As one example, professional legal advocates at the organization Public Advocates used the opportunity-to-learn framing to develop legislation to create opportunity-to-learn standards.3 At the same time, the CQE focused its opportunity-to-learn campaign on delaying the high stakes consequences of the high school exit exam. The mobilization against what they termed “the diploma penalty” began in 2002 and continues as we write this. It has included many forms of protest: rallies, petition drives, policy advocacy, public testimony, publication of reports, and litigation. The impact of this work is neither straightforward nor easy to measure. The campaign to derail California’s high school exit exam had an important “win,” in the form of a 2-year delay in the requirement that high school students pass the exam in order to graduate. Nevertheless, the diploma penalty was implemented for the Class of 2006 – a result at direct odds with a key goal of the organizations. Yet the implementation did include exceptions for English Learners and special education students, something the organizations and others fought hard to bring about. The campaigning also resulted in new state funding and education programs to assist students not initially able to pass the exam. But the impact of this social movement organizing can only partially be measured by dollars spent, legislation passed, or test scores raised. We have, in the past, described how the success of equity-focused reform efforts is found, in part, simply in the struggle to improve schools (Oakes & Rogers, 2006; Renee, 2006; Welner, 2001). During that struggle, educators and others learn about their own values and beliefs, challenge accepted norms and politics, and develop technical skills, as they pave the way for future efforts. Similarly, a large part of the success of the organizing against the California High School Exit Exam is found in the broader, ongoing political and normative arenas. Students and parents from low-income communities of color forced their concerns and ideas directly into this state-level policy debate. Their steady and determined protest and demand to be included provoked a very public debate around the implementation of the exam and the inadequacy of California’s public schools. Young people testified at the State Board of Education, community organizers lobbied the legislature, and the media covered much of the protest. The result was a shift in the zone of meditation surrounding state education policy. The parameters of a feasible exit exam policy correspondingly shifted. The resulting zone – in particular, the new political context – became more hospitable to conversations about the adequacy and equity of the education system.

3 Though the legislation was introduced in the California Senate, it did not pass (SB 495, 2003; SB 550, 2003).

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Organizing also created a normative shift. By being physically present in the debate, low-income parents and students directly challenged the deficit notion that the achievement gap is the result of their apathy or low desire for an education. Instead, the public and policy makers were confronted with the reality that parents and students were not only concerned but were also demanding that the education system change. One visible result was that policy makers began talking more about providing all students in California with basic learning resources alongside their more conventional concerns about the “achievement gap” and “failing students.” The Williams litigation itself resulted in a more traditional, technical change, although the plaintiffs did not secure a legal victory that established these opportunities to learn as a constitutional right. Instead, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger settled the Williams lawsuit at the outset of his first term in office. The settlement included nearly a billion dollars set aside to correct the most egregious resource shortages in the state’s lowest performing schools. It also included significant new accountability requirements for monitoring students’ access to basic education resources that make state and county governments more accountable to students and parents. Importantly, and in contrast to much earlier litigation focused on civil rights and education rights, the settlement did not end the involvement of the plaintiffs and their supporters. Grassroots organizations around the state continue to use the new complaint process created by the Williams settlement as a tool for engaging parents and students in improving schools. This new process allows parents, students, and community members to file a grievance about inadequate educational resources or unsafe school conditions. School and county officials are required to respond to and, as appropriate, fix the problems. In this way and others, Williams brought about ongoing political change in addition to the structural, technical changes in state policy. The relationships and alliances built during the litigation have continued, as groups work toward the equitable implementation of the settlement. Advocacy organizations have helped draft implementing legislation in the California legislature. When these organizers and advocates come across technical problems, they turn to the research and researchers they know and trust. Grassroots organizations have testified, written letters, and met with elected representatives to ensure that the legislation moves through the policy process. Acting in concert, these organizations – advocacy, grassroots, and research – are developing community-led research projects as well as student and parent campaigns to ensure that the equity intent of the legislation is maintained through implementation. In our earlier work (Oakes et al., 1998; Welner, 2001), we warned that a zone of mediation hospitable to equity-focused reform could not be maintained unless one of two things happened. Pursuant to the first possibility, the forces that originally created the hospitable zone remain in place, although we have viewed this possibility as particularly problematic when reform was initiated with court involvement. A second possibility involves the emergence of new force or (preferably) set of forces to sustain a hospitable political and normative environment. The California case study illustrates the potential of this latter approach.


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Case Study #2: College Preparation for All in the Los Angeles Unified School District The second case study takes place during the same timeframe as the opportunity-tolearn campaign described above. Although education adequacy and the California High School Exit Exam were dominating state policy debates, grassroots organizations in Los Angeles were beginning to look for ways to engage in education equity reform at the local level. If the data about student opportunities and outcomes looked bad statewide, they paled in comparison to those in Los Angeles. The second largest school district in the nation, LAUSD, educates more than 700,000 young people, including high percentages of low-income students and English learners. In 2002, the district produced only about 48 graduates for every hundred 9th graders 4 years earlier, and only 20 of these hundred 9th graders graduated from high school qualified for a 4-year college. These low numbers of college-prepared students were not terribly surprising, given that most of the LAUSD high schools provided the college preparatory course sequence to only a fraction of their students. Moreover, many of the district’s college preparatory courses were being taught by teachers without the proper subject matter certification, took place in overcrowded schools and classrooms, and often proceeded with inadequate curriculum materials. As in the state, LAUSD students of color and low-income students disproportionately experienced these resource shortfalls (UCLA IDEA, 2004). In 2003, community organizers in Los Angeles decided to challenge these inequities. Early on, they contacted researchers at UCLA IDEA and asked for data regarding high school graduation and college preparation rates in the communities’ schools. Community organizers, parents, and students were outraged when they saw, across the large district, the stark disparities in access to college preparatory coursework. The data (presented on straightforward maps and tables) showed that schools in low-income communities of color offered significantly fewer opportunities offered significantly fewer opportunities for students to graduate high school prepared to enter California colleges and universities. At the time these meetings were taking place, the United Way published a “Latino Scorecard” grading the quality of life for Latinos in Los Angeles. The education system received a “D” grade. Moving from outrage to action, the organizers pursued approaches to change LAUSD policy to make a college preparatory curriculum the default curriculum for all students – students would have to affirmatively opt out in order to enroll in classes with a less-challenging curriculum. The organizers quickly found an ally in LAUSD School Board President Jose Huizar and his chief of staff, Monica Garcia. The region of the school district President Huizar represented had some of the lowest rates of college preparatory offerings, undoubtedly influencing his decision to take on the issue. Community organizers guiding the emerging campaign made a concerted effort to broaden the base of their coalition – reaching out to other community organizations, the teachers union, and school district insiders. They organized themselves into key teams to create a policy proposal, develop political support in the district and community, and produce a media campaign around the issue. For a year, they worked to increase the sense of urgency around the issue and to build a critical mass of supporters.

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Prior to the school board vote, the organizations involved in this effort formalized their collaboration by officially creating Communities for Educational Equity (CEE). By June 2005, CEE had helped President Huizar draft and pass a districtwide resolution making the college preparatory sequence of courses the default curriculum for all students; this sequence also became a graduation requirement beginning with the high school graduating class of 2016.4 Members of the community had built effective alliances with researchers, teachers, administrators, and elected officials, changing the nature of policy discussions and solutions. Their involvement and the alliances they formed helped policy makers to understand the academic desires and needs of their communities, building a zone of mediation – a policy making context – that was hospitable to this equity-focused reform. Yet passing this resolution turned out to be just the beginning for the CEE. With their sweeping new reform in place, CEE organizers are ensuring that the equity intent of their resolution survives implementation. Most of the pressures and forces that preexisted their reform effort – that created a relatively inhospitable zone for the reform – were undoubtedly still in place, so if the CEE’s own pressures had disappeared, the zone might have quickly shifted back. Implementation of the reform would then have looked very different from the CEE intent. Accordingly, CEE members pushed to ensure that community organizations had an official role within the LAUSD team charged with implementing the reform. They also insisted that their concerns continue to be addressed by district officials during the reform’s implementation. In addition, the CEE organizations collectively, and successfully, applied for a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. With significant support from this foundation, and with input from the community as well as education researchers, CEE has developed an effective communitybased implementation strategy at eight core families of schools (high schools and the junior high and elementary schools that feed into them). The goals and new resources for these “collaboratives” were celebrated at a widely reported joint press conference held by the CEE groups, the LAUSD superintendent, and city officials. In each of these sites, the community groups now have both dollars and legitimacy as they use social movement strategies (relationship building, contentious action when needed, and constant monitoring) to fight for changes in schools’ structures, curriculum, and teaching. This ongoing effort – the “insider” involvement of the community groups on district implementation teams and their “outsider” monitoring of that implementation – has taken place with much less public attention compared to the initial campaign. But this long-term commitment to the issue has elevated the reform to a different level of sustainability and potential success. These community members and the ones discussed in the first case study realized that state policy debates, local outrage, and their increased capacity to collaborate change the nature of the policy discussion, shifting the zone to one now open to new equity-focused reform efforts.

4 Resolution to Create Educational Equity in Los Angeles Through the Implementation of the A-G Course Sequence as Part of the High School Graduation Requirement (Board President Jose Huizar, author), passed 6-1 by the LAUSD Board of Education in June 2005.


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They researched reform ideas, built collaborations across organizations, agencies, and political offices, and thus increased their ability to disrupt established norms and politics. The result on a technical level was unambiguous: the passage of a resolution that structurally changed the curriculum of the second largest school district in the nation. But this was only the most visible success. At a political level, community concern was legitimized and responded to, from policy development through passage and now into implementation. On a normative level, a policy that prepares all children to have the choice to go to college challenges deficit notions about who is capable of high academic success. Another normative and political shift arises from the long-term engagement of low-income communities and communities of color, defying common beliefs that these communities are not invested in the education system.

Conclusion Community organizations and community involvement are really about the full participation of all voices – of all segments of that community. In our earlier discussion of top–down reform, we warned that court orders and policy mandates provide, at best, temporary disruptions of an inequitable status quo. Once the mandate disappears, the reform’s survival depends on the presence of some other set of forces that will create a hospitable zone. We argued that to remain receptive to an equityfocused policy, reformers must build a normative, political, and technical foundation (Oakes & Rogers, 2006; Welner, 2001). The needs and concerns of all parts of a school’s community should be considered. Although the voices of so-called “local elites” (Oakes & Lipton, 2002; Wells & Serna, 1996) have long been heard, the same is not true of voices representing students of color and those whose parents have less wealth and formal education. As described in this chapter, community organizing has the potential to create balance among all these voices and concerns and, as a result, the potential to create equitable schools.

References Alinsky, S. D. (1971). Rules for radicals: A practical primer for realistic radicals (1st ed.). New York: Vintage Books. Berends, M., Bodilly, S., & Kirby, S. N. (2002). Looking back over a decade of whole-school reform: The experience of new American schools. Phi Delta Kappan, 84(2), 168–175. Cuban, L. (1992). Curriculum stability and change. In P. Jackson (Ed.), Handbook of research on curriculum (pp. 216–247). New York: Macmillan. Delgado Bernal, D. (2003). Chicana/o education from the civil rights era to the present. In J. Moreno (Ed.), The elusive quest for equality: 150 Years of Chicano/Chicana education (pp. 77–108). Cambridge: Harvard Educational Review. Delgado-Gaitan, C. (2001). The power of community: Mobilizing for family and schooling. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Della Porta, D., & Diani, M. (1999). Social movements: An introduction. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

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Donato, R. (1997). The other struggle for equal schools: Mexican Americans during the civil rights era. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Gold, E., Simon, E., Mundell, L., & Brown, C. (2004). Bringing community organizing into the school reform picture. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 33(3), 54S–76S. Guiton, G., & Oakes, J. (1995). Opportunity to learn and conceptions of educational equity. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 17(4), 323–336. Mediratta, K., Shah, S., McAlister, S., Fruchter, N., Mokhtar, C., & Lockwood, D. (2008). Organized communities, stronger schools. Providence, RI: Annenberg Institute for School Reform. Oakes, J. (1992). Can tracking research inform practice? Technical, normative, and political considerations. Educational Researcher, 21(4), 12–21. Oakes, J. (2005). Keeping track: How schools structure inequality (2nd ed.). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press (First edition in 1985). Oakes, J., & Lipton, M. (2002). Struggling for educational equity in diverse communities: School reform as social movement. International Journal of Educational Change, 3, 383–406. Oakes, J., & Rogers, J. (2006). Learning power: Organizing for education and justice. New York: Teachers College Press. Oakes, J., Welner, K. G., Yonezawa, S., & Allen, R. (1998). Norms and politics of equity-minded change: Researching the “zone of mediation.” In M. Fullan (Ed.), International handbook of educational change. Norwell, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers. O’Day, J.A. & Smith, M.S. (1993). Systemic reform and educational opportunity. In S. Furham (Ed.), Designing coherent education policy: Improving the system. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Payne, C. M. (1995). I ve got the light of freedom: The organizing tradition and the Mississippi freedom struggle. Berkeley: University of California Press. Ransby, B. (2003). Ella Baker and the Black freedom movement: A radical democratic vision. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. Renee, M. (2006). Knowledge, power and education justice: How social movement organizations use research to influence education policy. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles. Rogers, J, Oakes, J., Terriquez, V., & Valladares, S. (2007). Roadblocks to college. In D. Mitchell (Ed.), California policy options 2007. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA School of Public Policy. San Miguel, G., Jr., & Valencia, R. (1998). From the treaty of Guadalupe Hilgado to Hopwood: The educational pight and struggle of Mexican Americans in the Southwest. Harvard Education Review, 68(3), 353–412. Shaw, R. (2001). The activist s handbook: A primer for the 1990s and beyond. Berkeley: University of California Press. Shirley, D. (1997). Community organizing for urban school reform. Austin: University of Texas Press. Shirley, D. (2002). Valley Interfaith and school reform: Organizing for power in South Texas (1st ed.). Austin: University of Texas Press. Tarrow, S. G. (1998). Power in movement: Social movements and contentious politics (2nd ed.). Cambridge [England], NY: Cambridge University Press. Tyack, D., & Cuban, L. (1995). Tinkering toward utopia: A century of public school reform. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. UCLA IDEA, (2004). The education gap in Los Angeles county. Los Angeles: UCLA Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (IDEA), available online at Warren, M. R. (2001). Dry bones rattling: Community building to revitalize American democracy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Wells, A. S., & Serna, I. (1996). The politics of culture: Understanding local political resistance to detracking in racially mixed schools. Harvard Educational Review, 66(1), 93–118.


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Welner, K. G. (2001). Legal rights, local wrongs: When community control collides with educational equity. Albany, NY: SUNY Press. Whittier, N. (2002). Meaning and structure in social movements. In D. Meyer, N. Whittier, & B. Robinson (Eds.), Social movements: Identity, culture and the state (p. 366). New York: Oxford University Press.

Community Organizing and Educational Change Dennis Shirley

As recently as the late 1990s, the concept of community organizing for educational change would scarcely have registered a blip on the proverbial screen of most change theorists. The first foray into research on this topic, documenting the origins, growth, and impacts of the “Alliance Schools” of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) in Texas (Shirley, 1997), generated some interest, but many considered the Alliance Schools to be an idiosyncratic appearance on the educational landscape and expected community organizing for educational change to dissipate as had so many other change efforts before it. After all, what were the chances that a network of schools organized through community-based organizations (CBOs) founded by the flamboyant, willfully adversarial Saul Alinsky, with institutional membership made up of inner-city African American and Latino churches, could have any lasting impacts on low-achieving schools in a state as famously conservative as Texas? Furthermore, unlike the Accelerated Schools, the Comer Schools, or the Coalition of Essential Schools, the Alliance Schools lacked a powerful, well-positioned academic leader such as Hank Levin (at Stanford), James Comer (at Yale), or Ted Sizer (at Brown) heading the network, with a resultant diminished impact on education anticipated. But contrary to expectations, community organizing for educational change – referred to here interchangeably with “education organizing” for reasons of brevity – did not disappear into the ever-expanding roster of failed change initiatives. Although Ernie Cortés, the Southwest Executive Director of the IAF, was not based in a university, his talents as a community organizer and his successes in launching the Alliance Schools led him to receive a prestigious MacArthur “genius” award as well as a Heinz award for civic leadership. Cortés skillfully recruited dozens of academic allies to leadership seminars for community leaders in Texas, and soon prominent authors as diverse as psychologist Seymour Sarason (2002), political scientist Robert Putnam (Putnam, Feldstein, & Cohen, 2003), and economist Paul Osterman (2003) were writing about the Alliance Schools. Significantly, they were

D. Shirley (B) Boston College, Boston, MA, USA e-mail: [emailprotected] A. Hargreaves et al. (eds.), Second International Handbook of Educational Change, Springer International Handbooks of Education 23, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-2660-6_10, C Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010



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not only seeking to understand, but actively promoting the Alliance Schools as a new model of educational and social change. Texas was not the only site experiencing a renaissance of community organizing with a concomitant expansion of organizing into education in the 1990s. In 1999 a second study, Marion Orr’s Black Social Capital: The Politics of School Reform in Baltimore, 1986–1998, appeared and documented the capacity of a predominantly African–American CBO named BUILD (“Baltimoreans United In Leadership and Development”) to bring corporate and civic leaders in that city to sign a “Commonwealth Agreement” pledging unprecedented support for urban high school graduates to receive scholarships at area colleges and universities or well-paying jobs with health care benefits in the private sector. Soon, cities around the United States were imitating Baltimore’s Commonwealth Agreement, thereby demonstrating the ability of a relatively small CBO in an aging industrial city to expand the educational “zone of mediation” (Welner, 2001, p. 94) to enhance the public good. From those early efforts to today, the field of community organizing for educational change has exploded. Leading scholars at schools of education in the United States increasingly are focusing their research and graduate-level courses on this area. Mark Warren at Harvard, initially trained as a sociologist, has turned from his first masterly overview (2001) of the multifaceted political agenda of the IAF in the Southwest to focus exclusively on community organizing and educational change throughout the United States (2005; forthcoming). Milbrey McLaughlin at Stanford, dismayed by the findings of “misery research” (2008, p. 176) indicating the inability of policy reforms to impact school-site issues without considerable grassroots leadership at the local level, has come to focus her latest research (2009) on community organizing as a powerful resource for knowledge utilization and capacity enhancement. Jeannie Oakes, John Rogers, and Martin Lipton, at the University of California Los Angeles, have broken new ground (2006) by reconnecting community organizing explicitly with the democratic theorizing of John Dewey and extending it in new directions that blend on-the-ground research with equity-driven change strategies. A cohort of scholars affiliated with Brown University and the Annenberg Institute (Mediratta, Shah & McAlister, 2009) have developed a sophisticated blend of research strategies that have pushed beyond the earlier almost exclusive reliance on qualitative research to include hierarchical regression analyses that document strong correlations between high levels of intensity of community organizing in Alliance Schools in one city (Austin, Texas) and pupil achievement gains on Texas’ standardized tests. In March 2008, a Community and Youth Organizing Special Interest Group (SIG) was approved by the American Educational Research Association, thereby adding an important academic imprimatur for this new scholarly field. Finally, during the US presidential campaign of 2008, the fact that Hilary Clinton had written her undergraduate senior thesis on Saul Alinsky and Barack Obama had been a community organizer in Chicago brought international attention to the continuing relevance of organizing as a change strategy. These gains of community organizing as a field of scholarship have not been hermetically sealed off from broader research developments and policy

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recommendations in the area of educational change. David Cohen (1990), Linda Darling-Hammond (1990), and Seymour Sarason (1974, 1995a) have all long argued that local adaptations and leadership are indispensable if any policy reforms at the state or federal level are to have a chance of success, with Sarason (1995b) taking the lead in insisting that at some point power relations and strategic conflict are necessary to disrupt the ossified patronage machines that have corrupted too many public school systems. Michael Fullan began his Turnaround Leadership (2006) not with a focus on superficial gimmicks to “game the system” to raise pupil test scores but with a deep and probing examination of the impacts of rising inequality on a wide variety of indicators including education outcomes, income levels, and life expectancy. His foremost recommendation for attacking this inequality was simple and direct: “First, focus on the societal problem of income differential and employ direct community-based short-term and long-term strategies,” he wrote (2006, p. 9). Likewise, Andy Hargreaves (2002) has written of the need to conceptualize educational change as part of a broad, equity-driven social movement that engages all sectors of the public, and Andy Hargreaves and Dean Fink (2006), in identifying social justice as one of seven key principles of sustainable leadership, have viewed a renewal of public engagement with public education as a central component of any durable change strategy. On the basis of the foregoing observations, one could argue that we are now approaching an important confluence between a rising tide of communityorganizing efforts and broader developments in theorizing and enacting educational change. Yet, the rapid rise of education organizing has in many ways outpaced the ability of change theorists to keep pace with developments. Furthermore, occasional fireworks such as Aaron Schutz’s in-depth critique (2007) of Jeannie Oakes and John Rogers’ Learning Power, Francesca Polleta’s (2002) forthright description of a macho organizing style that is still evident in many CBOs, and the “marriage made in hell,” which was described by one grantmaker who tried to build a coalition between two CBOs (MacKinnon, 2006, p. 11), indicate that community organizing for educational change is much more incomplete and contested than the more positively inflected earlier accounts (Shirley, 1997, 2002; Warren, 2001) suggested.

Three Questions Community organizing as a new field of study in educational change is thus characterized by a rapid rise in visibility, a plurality of different forms of organizing that blend with other approaches to change, and scholarly controversies about the theories-in-action and outcomes of organizing. In light of this situation, the present chapter seeks to answer the following sets of questions: • First, what is it that makes education organizing different from other forms of parent and community relationships with schools, as articulated by Joyce Epstein (2001) in her oft-cited six-fold model of parent involvement? How many groups currently are engaged in education organizing, and what kinds of change strategies do they typically use?


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• Second, what evidence do we have that education organizing improves conditions in struggling schools and communities? Do we have evidence of improved pupil achievement, high school graduation rates, or greater civic engagement among students and parents in schools that have been the foci of organizing efforts? On the other hand, when education organizing appears to be ineffective or counterproductive, what seem to be common problems that lead to such outcomes? • Third, how might education organizing best be understood in regard to recent reforms related to high-stakes testing and accountability? In light of these reforms, what role should organizing play in a repertoire of change strategies in the future? Furthermore, how might researchers best study education organizing in the future?

Origins of Community Organizing for Educational Change Although some recent work (Orr, 2007; Payne, 1995; Ransby, 2003) has directed attention to Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hammer, and other leaders of the civil rights movement in regard to community organizing, the genesis of most historical scholarship (Horwitt, 1992; Santow, 2007; Warren, 2001) on community organizing begins decades earlier, with attention focused on Saul Alinsky’s work in the “Back of the Yards” immigrant neighborhood in Chicago in the 1930s. Alinsky, a biographer of Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) founder and leader John Lewis (Alinsky, 1949), took from Lewis key principles of union organizing and essentially transferred them with some modifications to the neighborhood or community setting. To do so, Alinsky had to shift his focus from attacks simply upon employers alone to include the complex web of governing elites and private and public social service providers that failed to improve conditions in the poorest communities. By garnering a number of unexpected victories in neighborhoods filled with immigrants who neither spoke English nor enjoyed high levels of social trust with one another, Alinsky demonstrated that the democratizing potential of the labor movement could be extended beyond the workplace into the community, thereby inspiring thousands of activists and community leaders to study the principles of community organizing and to enact them in their own settings (Alinsky, 1946; Horwitt, 1992). Scholars have noted that Alinsky generally kept his distance from issues of educational change, preferring to deal with more familiar bread and butter issues such as job creation services, housing provision, and health care (Fish, 1973; Shirley, 1997). When Alinsky organizations in Chicago attempted to become involved in school reform in the late 1960s and early 1970s, they were outmaneuvered by the district’s ability to contain and ultimately destroy their attempts to start experimental schools through a strategy of attrition (Fish, 1973). The lesson seemed to be that schools, with their complex bureaucracies, specialized knowledge and modes of operating, and vast professional apparatuses, were off limits to and impenetrable by the urban poor. While many community groups sprang up in the 1970s and 1980s to support or battle school busing, or to champion or to denounce various court orders

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of federal mandates to support English-language learners or children with disabilities, when it came to their understandings of power, these groups often shared more in common with single-issue organizations such as the National Council for Learning Disabilities or the National Association for Bilingual Education than they did with the Alinsky model of multi-issue and multi-class “people’s organizations” that focused on fundamental political change across the social spectrum. It was not until 1985 that the Allied Communities of Tarrant (ACT), an affiliate of Alinsky’s IAF, demonstrated that community organizing could turn around a troubled school in an urban setting. Morningside Middle School, located in an African–American working-class neighborhood in Fort Worth, Texas, was in such trouble at that point in its history that even an Alinsky-affiliated group was welcome to try its hand at turning it around. The school was besieged with gangs who made a mockery of its educational aspirations; the recently retired principal had had his jaw broken when trying to break up a scuffle on a basketball court; and when the new principal, Odessa Ravin, arrived for her first day, she found that her office had been firebombed the night before and she had to set up shop in the school’s library. Ravin connected with ACT, and together they rolled out classic community organizing strategies. Drawing upon local leaders affiliated with churches and schools, ACT began making home visits to all of the parents of Morningside students – a task that was expedited by the concentration of parents in two large housing projects adjacent to the school. House meetings were convened in the homes of parents and teachers who met with organizers to air grievances and to identify winnable victories that they could pursue to build confidence and establish momentum. Research actions into school district policies, Texas state laws on education, and potential political allies unfolded. Accountability sessions in which public officials and business leaders promised to support ACT’s agenda for educational change and community development created vivid public dramas that allowed local leaders to develop new political voices and to create long-term strategies that would improve community conditions. In the course of 2 years, the middle school went from dead last – twentieth of twenty middle schools on Texas’ standardized tests in the Fort Worth Independent School District – to third. This kind of education organizing is quite different from the traditional forms of parent–teacher involvement that have been documented by Epstein (2001). As several scholars have noted, those traditional forms really have no public-forming dimension, but in many ways exemplify the individual client, consumer, or even customer-oriented approach that has become dominant in many privatized, marketdriven analyses of educational change (Schutz, 2006; Shirley, 1997; Warren, 2005). Such approaches largely restrict parents to the role of passive consumers of preestablished school curricula, with their involvement limited to volunteering at the school, tutoring the child at home, or enriching the child’s learning through accessing educational resources affiliated with but not embedded in the school. Indeed, Epstein’s original model did not even include community (rather than just parent) involvement, and when it was belatedly added (Epstein, 2001), it altogether failed to address asymmetrical power relationships between communities and schools – a shortcoming noted by scholars more attuned to the manner in which


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schools actively reproduce social inequalities (Lareau & Shumar, 1996; Schutz, 2006). Community organizing for educational change, then, must be understood as a form of public engagement for public schools. The emphasis by community organizers is not on an individual’s human capital, nor even on his or her social capital, but more on the development of political capital to change power relationships in a community, city, or state to empower the marginalized and disenfranchised (Alinsky, 1971; Chambers, 2003; Stone, Henig, Jones, & Pierannunzi, 2001). Nor is community organizing directed toward establishing programs – a point of view that emerged most famously when Alinsky (1965, p. 41) attacked the War on Poverty as a form of “political p*rnography” for providing services disconnected from community empowerment. While programs often are battled for and their acquisition can be celebrated as real advances, the ultimate goal, Alinsky contended, should be to develop power through authentic “people’s organizations” that effectively articulate community concerns and impact the overall distribution of power and influence in a city or state. Even among social justice activists, community organizing is often conflated with advocacy or social movements, although organizers themselves take great pains to avoid such confusion. Organizers do not view themselves as conducting advocacy as much as developing independent, non-partisan CBOs that will impact politics from the position of intermediary institutions that are beholden to no special interest groups. Nor do they view themselves as part of social movements, which they typically view as driven by single issues that lead to the loss of organizing capacity when goals are achieved (Chambers, 2003). Rather, the intention is to attack a broad array of community issues through multiracial, multiclass organizations that endure over time and that continually are reorganizing and expanding, by identifying and training grassroots community leaders. Estimates suggest that there are approximately 800 community organizing groups in the United States today (Warren, 2010). Roughly 500 of those 800 groups are now working in the area of school reform. These groups span a broad spectrum, from entities like the Oakland Community Organization (OCO) affiliated with the national People’s Institute for Community Organizing (PICO) to groups such as the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) in Boston and the Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) in Chicago. These latter groups are unaffiliated with larger national networks and have truly developed grassroots campaigns that have successfully improved their communities and schools (Medoff & Sklar, 1994; Warren, 2010). What kinds of strategies and campaigns do CBOs engaged in education organizing typically develop? They usually are working in the poorest communities of color in a metropolitan region in the United States and are concentrating their efforts on those schools that have the least qualified teachers, most staff turnover, and worst records in a district in regard to pupil achievement and high school graduation rates (Mediratta et al., 2009). Conditions of concentrated poverty, higher rates of unemployment, and environmental racism make for challenging work, so organizers need to be selective in choosing organizing “handles” (in the argot of

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organizers themselves) that will lead to palpable victories rather than reinforce a sense of fatalism and despair. In my early work with the IAF in Texas, many of these early organizing efforts focused on what some might consider to be insignificant, almost trivial matters, such as the circulation of petitions to install a new traffic light at a busy intersection near an urban elementary school or efforts to press city councillors to fund a community center or library close by a school. Many of the early efforts did not begin in schools themselves. Rather, they emanated from community conditions close by schools that threatened children, such as a crack house across the street from a middle school or a junkyard infested with rats behind an elementary school that outraged community residents. By attacking those visible insults to their communities, parent leaders, educators, and community organizers have developed increasingly sophisticated campaigns in recent years that have capitalized upon the human capital of academic allies situated in universities and, in some cases, developed their own research and development projects. In New York City, for example, the Community Collaborative to Improve District 9 Schools in the South Bronx developed a teacher support program with that city’s public schools that reduced teacher attrition from 28 to 6.5% in targeted schools in the space of a single year (Academy for Educational Development, 2006). In Philadelphia, high school activists with “Youth United for Change” exposed the way in which one of the only three secondary schools in the city that achieved “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) cheated by posting answers to anticipated test questions on walls where tests were administered (Shah & Mediratta, 2008). In Chicago, the LSNA and other community groups created a “Grow Your Own” teacher preparatory program linked with area universities to prepare poor and working-class parents, many with immigrant backgrounds, to become certified teachers (Warren, 2005). Beyond an immediate metropolitan area, statewide campaigns by CBOs have persuaded policymakers to pass legislation providing additional resources for schools that collaborate with CBOs in Texas (Shirley, 1997) and have led to litigation to improve funding for children in the poorest and most disenfranchised communities in California (see chapter “Social Movement Organizing and Equity-Focused Educational Change: Shifting the Zone of Mediation” by Renée, Welner, & Oakes, this book). However, while these kinds of strategies and outcomes are encouraging, most of the CBOs engaged in education organizing have only one or two organizers focused on education, and they operate with small budgets, generally in the range of $150,000–$200,000 per year (Mediratta, Fruchter & Lewis, 2002; Warren & Wood, 2001). With such small staff and financial resources, the CBOs have to develop the unpaid leadership of community members. For groups such as the IAF and PICO that rely on congregationally based community organizing, churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques contribute annual dues to support the CBO. Other groups solicit individual memberships, such as is the case with the many affiliates of the Association of Communities Organized for Reform Now (ACORN). Still, for comparative purposes, we should note that just two direct service providers in the San Francisco Bay area have combined annual budgets of over $13 million, 179 staff


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members, and over 100 regular volunteers (McLaughlin et al., 2009). Hence, in spite of the growth of education organizing and a string of victories in the past 15 years, organizing remains a comparatively small phenomenon in a larger social ensemble of diverse public, nonprofit, and private entities.

Questions of Evidence It is difficult to conduct rigorous research on education organizing because the process of organizing is so multifarious and unpredictable. In many ways, only case studies, with appropriate analysis of pupil achievement data and other school district records, enable one to get an overview of the organizing process and its impacts. My own early examination of the impact of education organizing on pupil achievement in the Alliance Schools of the IAF in Texas documented modest gains at the elementary school level and none at the middle or high school level (Shirley, 1997). My subsequent examination of three Alliance Schools in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas showed no test score gains in one elementary school with high levels of parent engagement, high gains in a second elementary school with high levels of parent engagement, and modest gains in a middle school with a faculty that was polarized with the school administration about the Alliance Schools project (Shirley, 2002). Other authors (Osterman, 2003; Putnam et al., 2003; Sarason, 2002; Warren, 2001) who studied the Alliance Schools generally relied on that earlier research or did not discuss test score results beyond brief presentations of achievement gains of individual schools. In 2002, the Charles Stuart Mott Foundation funded the Institute for Education and Social Policy, then at New York University and now at Brown, to begin a systematic investigation into the diverse modalities of education organizing and their impacts on pupil learning. The research team identified seven urban school districts and targeted schools that were working closely with CBOs for in-depth study. Their research methods included 321 interviews, 509 teacher surveys, 124 youth member surveys, and 241 surveys of non-educators involved in community organizing for educational change (Mediratta et al., 2009). School district pupil achievement results, graduation rates, and enrollments in college preparatory courses were also studied to illuminate correlations between organizing strategies and orthodox measures of educational improvement. Among the findings were the following: • People Acting for Community Together (PACT) in Miami used a congregationally based organizing approaching matching parents with partner schools to focus on literacy instruction in elementary schools, and those schools improved from 27% pupils at proficiency in 2001 to 49% in 2005, far outpacing a demographically similar comparison set of schools in grades 3 and 4; • Measuring the intensity of collaboration with the local IAF affiliate, Austin Interfaith, the Alliance Schools in Austin, Texas, with higher levels of faculty engagement in education organizing showed larger percentages of students

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meeting minimum standards on Texas’ state test when controlled for student SES, limited English proficiency, and after controlling for the effect of baseline test scores; • A campaign by the OCO broke up that city’s largest and most dysfunctional high schools, with the new, small schools showing improved graduation rates, increased enrollment in college-preparatory coursework, and improved ratings on California’s Academic Performance Index; • On a survey distributed across seven sites, young people who affiliated with education organizing projects reported on a higher level of civic engagement than a national comparison group and organizing experience was a significant predictor of enhanced academic motivation ( p = 0.004). Perhaps the most interesting finding of the research team was that community organizing is correlated with higher levels of social trust within schools and between schools and community members. Previous research has found social trust in schools to be a prerequisite for raising pupil academic achievement (Bryk & Schneider, 2004). Surveys of teachers in the Alliance Schools in Austin showed that schools that had high levels of involvement with Austin Interfaith had higher levels of teacher–parent trust, sense of school community and safety, an achievement oriented culture, and parent involvement in the school than schools with less involvement. High levels of community organizing were also associated teacher– teacher trust, teachers’ commitment to their school, and teachers’ peer collaboration. The survey data indicate that organizing appears to be associated with a dilution of the individualism (Lortie, 1975) and privatism (Little, 1990; Zahorik, 1987; Zielinsky & Hoy, 1983) among teachers that research has found to be inimical to the creation of learning-enriched schools (Rosenholtz, 1989). Given organizers’ stated rhetoric about drawing individuals out of their isolation and creating new political capacity for attacking tenacious social problems, the survey data point to significant success in achieving these goals.

Education Organizing in the Age of Accountability It would take too long to provide a full history of the rise of the standards and accountability movements in the United States since the issuance of the Nation at Risk report by White House in 1983 (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983. Much scholarly ink (Center on Education Policy, 2007a, 2007b; Gamoran, 2007; Hamilton et al., 2007; Nichols & Berliner, 2007) has been spilled documenting the rise of standardized testing to increase accountability in education, and the (hotly debated) blessings and curses that have ensued. In general, most of these debates have focused on student achievement results on test scores, with special attention devoted to the impact of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act on schools. Yet from the very first plan for a system of public schools in Virginia proposed by Thomas Jefferson in 1779 through Horace Mann’s advocacy of “common schools”


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in the 1830s through battles for equity and integration that animated the Civil Rights movement and galvanized further social justice struggles that continue up to the present day, American education has always been closely intertwined with ideals of civic engagement (Shirley, 2010). An inclusive definition of “accountability,” therefore, must include themes of community and public accountability that have become marginalized from mainstream educational discourse since A Nation at Risk was issued. We know that many sectors of the public – especially those who do not speak English and the have least financial capital and the least formal education – are not in a position to influence the formation and implementation of policy in the United States (Rogers, 2006). Hence, new forms of community and public accountability need to be developed to create a truly inclusive public sphere, such as the following: • Through modalities of “empowered participatory governance” (Fung & Wright, 2003) that place a premium on easily accessible deliberative forums that allow individuals and groups to engage in the political process without presuming a high level of technical and bureaucratic skill; • Through creating new cultures of “collaborative transparency” (Fung, Graham, & Weil, 2007) that use house meetings and home visits to enable parents and community members to understand not just pupil test score results, but also educational choices that teachers make and why; • Through school-based “accountability sessions” in which public officials and business leaders commit to community-initiated policy reforms, with ongoing evaluation and reporting embedded into accountability processes (Shirley, 1997, 2002). Still, while all of these forms of community and public accountability are desirable, they need to be placed in relationship to recent educational changes that have radically restructured education today. How, for example, does community organizing for educational change interact with the recent drive for clearer standards, more testing, and more accountability in terms of pupil achievement? To answer this question, Michael Evans and I (2007) studied three CBOs and their interpretations of the impact of NCLB on organizing. The three groups were ACORN Chicago, PACT in Miami, and the IAF in Texas. Drawing upon interviews of educators and organizers, CBO reports, and a wide range of school district data, the following findings emerged: • ACORN Chicago used the “highly qualified teacher” definitions provided by NCLB as a point of departure to document a crisis of teacher quality in Chicago, with high schools in particular unable to retain certified teachers over time; this documentation then contributed to the creation of a “Grow Your Own” teacher preparatory program ( that tailored teacher education coursework to community members with a commitment to teaching in their neighborhood schools;

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• PACT in Miami found that public achievement data gave organizers a “handle” for working with parents and community members to understand low pupil test score results in PACT-affiliated schools; this access to information was then utilized to adopt a literacy program in PACT partnership schools that led to improved test scores; • The IAF found that educators in Texas were becoming skilled at “gaming the system” by excluding low-achieving pupils from schools on test days, reclassifying them as special education students, and narrowing the curriculum to tested subjects; in addition, educational administrators used NCLB as a pretext to exclude parents from schools, arguing that they needed to focus all of their efforts on meeting AYP under NCLB guidelines. These findings indicate that NCLB and the broader accountability movements have had multiple impacts on the field of education organizing. In the case of Chicago ACORN and PACT in Miami, CBOs were able to use provisions of the act to gather and interpret data and to shape policy in such a way as to improve teacher quality and to raise pupil achievement. Here, the two CBOs served as policy mediators that used provisions of the act to increase civic engagement and improve educational outcomes. In the third case of the Texas IAF, however, community organizers experienced the more heavy-handed and ethically dubious strategies of “educational triage” (Booher-Jennings, 2005) that appear to have led a mere 15% of American educators to believe that NCLB is improving American education (Public Agenda, 2006). These findings indicate that in the Texas setting a new form of “civic triage” (Shirley, 2008) has occurred that resembles the “decline of the local” in contemporary education articulated by Foster (2004, p. 176) in one of his last papers. Rene Wizig-Barrios, an organizer with The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) affiliated with the IAF in Houston, described the conditions there as follows: One of our principals was told by her district to make sure that homeless kids in a shelter shouldn’t show up on testing day because they would depress the scores. Other principals have abolished free time for kids in first, second, and third grade. Principals tell us that they want to meet with us and work with us but that they’re so much under the gun to raise test scores that they just can’t make the time. And now we have this new law in Texas which says that if kids don’t pass the TAKS [Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills] reading test in third grade they can be held back. That kind of pressure seems to us to be way too great to put on kids who are that little, and it’s a major source of fear and stress for the teachers.

Wizig-Barrios noted that it was unclear how many of these actions were caused by NCLB. “It’s hard to tell what comes from the principal, the district, the state, or NCLB,” she said. Nonetheless, when the larger “policy narrative” places such enormous stakes on test score results, the exact source of the pressures on schools may be less important than understanding the cumulative effect (Gerstl-Pepin, 2006, p. 146).


D. Shirley

The Three Contradictions of Education Organizing In this chapter, three sets of permanent tensions in the field of education organizing have become salient. These are contradictions that are inherent in the very different kinds of organizational settings community organizers and educators inhabit and are related to the compatible but also distinct goals aspired to by educators and organizers. On the one hand, each of the contradictions can appear somewhat abstract and ambiguous; however, in the daily, street-level work of education organizing, they surface repeatedly and illuminate the different ways that educators and organizers frame issues and seek to bridge, amplify, and extend them across settings (Snow & Benford, 1988). The ability of educators and organizers to adjudicate these differences successfully is crucial, I argue, to their ability to engage in crossorganizational learning and field-building processes that are needed to restructure relationships between schools and communities beyond single-shot, grant-funded programs that expire far too quickly when budgets get tight and inadequate capacity has been developed. The first contradiction concerns the tension between the educational and the political. Ideally, political processes support learning, but we know of many cases in which struggles for power come to preoccupy educators and community members. In the case of one Alliance School in the Rio Grande Valley, for example, my earlier research (2002) showed that battles over educators’ autonomy, administrators’ exhortations to teachers to support the IAF organization, and teachers’ intense identification with their academic subject areas and relative disinterest in pupil’s community backgrounds led to a long, grinding stalemate. Other research describes educators who resent the intrusive interventions of special interest groups who seek to mobilize power to foist their particularistic agendas on the public schools (Binder, 2004; Bryk, Sebring, Kerbow, & Rollow, 1999; Nespor, 1997). On the other hand, researchers with social justice values (Oakes & Lipton, 2002; Welner, 2001) have found that educators’ claims to specialized professional knowledge are sometimes used to undermine efforts to develop more democratic and inclusive schools. The point here is not to adjudicate the veracity of either interpretation, but simply to note the presence of a major fault line that can separate and polarize schools and communities. The second contradiction concerns the relationship between the community and larger macro-level contexts of change. Leading change scholars (Elmore, 2004; Fullan, 2001; Hargreaves & Fink, 2006; Hopkins, 2007) often emphasize the national or even international contexts of educational change, but grassroots organizers generally prefer activating community actors to develop “civic capacity” (Stone et al., 2001) to solve local problems. On the one hand, this preference for the local bespeaks a long-standing Jeffersonian tradition in American political thought and, in the case of congregational community organizing, extends the notion of “subsidiarity” that is a cornerstone of Catholic social thought. However, the increasingly transnational nature of urban populations – with millions of immigrants moving regularly in well-defined circuits between their home nations and employment centers in remote corners of the globe – is requiring new elasticity of

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approaches and a fundamental rethinking of traditional organizing strategies. For example, the IAF increasingly frames its work in terms of “broad-based organizing” rather than community organizing, and groups such as ACORN, the Center for Community Collaborations, and the Public Education Network have developed a sophisticated repertoire of digitally-mediated campaigns and reporting that are accessible around the globe to those with a PC, an electrical outlet, and a modem. Yet, as this greater technical capacity and professional expertise of organizers expands, one may anticipate that it will be increasingly difficult to maintain credible and deep connections with local communities. It surely can be done, but only with exceptionally adroit and principled leadership. The third contradiction concerns issues of representation and legitimacy. Who really represents “the community”? The term is often used as a simplistic slogansystem. City councilors, school board members, and mayors are all elected through democratic processes, but in some framings, they are seen as not only distant from but opposed to the individuals who elected them (as well as those who abstained from voting or could not vote). On the other hand, CBOs generally only represent a sliver of a population, yet are able to advance claims of universality for a given neighborhood or part of a city while avoiding normal electoral processes altogether. In many cities there are numerous CBOs, often with conflicting agendas, that contend with equal assertiveness that they are the “authentic” representatives of communities. Such claims can give way to demagoguery and de facto misrepresentation of the diversity that exists in communities. At the same time, however, it is by no means clear that elected officials do not distance themselves from their communities for a variety of complicated reasons, and hence need continual pressure from below to assure that they indeed serve their constituencies. These contradictions are pervasive in community organizing for educational change. Educators learn that a community organization is coming to a school to attend a faculty meeting and fears of intrusiveness and manipulation are raised immediately. A second community organization seeks to develop local political capital to attack academic underachievement and dangerous neighborhood conditions, but is not able to negotiate the maze of local, state, and federal guidelines that lead educators to pay more attention to the requirement to reach AYP than to improve school safety and student learning. A third community organization develops a campaign to provide health clinics in inner-city schools but then is outmaneuvered by school committee members who mobilize religious fundamentals who raise fears that contraceptives will be distributed through the clinics. Such is the complicated political terrain in which education organizing occurs. Such organizing involves a never-ending oscillation between the educational and the political, the local and the cosmopolitan, and the community and its representatives. In this dynamic and contested field, there are abundant opportunities to improve neighborhood safety, increase student achievement, and advance community development. There are also, however, an equally large number of opportunities for individuals to derail promising school improvement initiatives by defending professional prerogatives, failing to develop effective guiding coalitions, and simply failing to understand the complicated internal workings of schools in the first place.


D. Shirley

Yet lest these many problems with educational organizing be misunderstand as grounds for inaction, one must hasten to add that opportunity costs of a particularly devastating kind and scope are incurred when educators marginalize community engagement, overemphasize top-down management rather than bottom-up activism, and mystify the role of power and politics in educational change (Ginwright, Noguera, & Cammarota, 2006; Sarason, 2005b). Educators often overstate technical considerations in educational change that advantage their own status and knowledge and minimize political and cultural factors that parents and community members seek to bring to their relationships with schools (House & McQuillan, 2005). On the one hand, this reliance upon technical procedures in adjudicating conflicts is understandable for educators or for any “street-level bureaucrats” who engage with a fractious and assertive public (Lipsky, 1983. But educators cannot forget the political decisions that shape the broader social context and have an enormous import for children and their schools. In one recent study, for example, the United States ranked next to last in a roster of 30 nations ranked by child poverty rate, exceeded only by Mexico (United Nations Children’s Fund, 2004, p. 28). Thirteen million children in the United States now grow up below the poverty line, and numerous indicators of child well-being reflect steady declines in the past two decades (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2005). Who should be held “accountable” for leaving so many children behind in poverty when other nations with far less wealth and power outperform the United States on these indicators? The consequences of neglectful policies and values injurious to children spill over into schools and communities on a daily basis and suggest that educators have a civic responsibility, as part of their vocation, to remedy the most egregious forms of social injustice that afflict the most vulnerable members of their schools and communities.

Conclusion We now have a significant and ever-growing body of literature indicating positive consequences from community organizing for educational change. The findings discussed in previous sections indicate that education organizing has an important role to play in contemporary educational change. Positive impacts were found when organizations such as Chicago ACORN and PACT in Miami studied data and used it to develop new strategies of school site and district-level change; when groups such as the OCO promoted a small school reform that improved Oakland’s ratings on the multifaceted indicators of California’s Academic Performance Index; and when young people affiliated with education organizing in Philadelphia rated more highly on civic engagement than a national comparison group of students. On the whole, the research on education organizing has been positive in tenor. Nonetheless, some areas of concern must be addressed for the future of this change approach if it is to expand beyond its first innovative phase and is to become anchored in schools and districts as a visible, effective, and sustainable strategy. First, community organizers and educators need much more assistance with capacity

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enhancement to overcome the fault lines that can divide local political leaders from the professional autonomy and respect sought by educators. Second, the balance between the local grassroots nature of change and broader national and even transnational developments will need to be reconceptualized to link the ensemble of strategies developed by community organizers in the past to the complex new demographic and technological challenges of the present. Finally, issues of representation and legitimacy will continue to need to be adjudicated and clarified so that single individuals or small groups do not assert themselves as community representatives when they in point of fact may only be representing themselves. In the years to come, it will be necessary for community organizers and educators to deepen their collaborations and to structure educational change in such a way that community development and school improvement are mutually supportive undertakings that are sustainable over time. To do so, at a certain level, it will be necessary for community organizations to continue their crucial contribution by revitalizing democracy and expanding the public sphere. Educators in turn will need to find new ways to network not only with one another but also to reach out to community members to confront common problems, to share expertise, and to slowly but surely transform schools from islands of bureaucracy to centers of civic engagement. The interdependent relationship between democracy and education may remain fractious and demanding, but it also remains indispensable.

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Recent Developments in the Field of Educational Leadership: The Challenge of Complexity Bill Mulford

In this “golden age” of school leadership (Anderson et al., 2007; Day & Leithwood, 2007) the field is faced with the fact that “new managerialism” which embraced managerial efficiency and effectiveness through bureaucracy and accountability as key levers for reforming schools has failed. It is argued that it is time that the professionals and educational leaders strive to ensure what happens now and in the future is what they want to happen (Gronn, 2003; Hargreaves & Fink, 2006; Hyman, 2005; Leadbeater, 2004a; MacBeath, 2006; Mulford, 2003a; OECD, 2006). However, overcoming the gap between dependence on, or a feeling of the inevitability of, system or school bureaucracies as the means of achieving what they want and their preferred model of seeing schools as social centres and learning organisations remains a challenge.1 In order to achieve greater professional control, educational leaders need to understand and be able to act on the context, organisation and leadership of the school, as well as the interrelationship among these three elements. A single input by a leader can have multiple outcomes. Success, therefore, will depend on which elements and in what sequence the educational leader chooses to spend time and attention on (Mulford, 2007b; NCSL, 2007). Recent developments in the field suggest the elements for successful educational leadership involve being contextually “literate”, organisationally “savvy” and leadership “smart”. To add to the complexity, successful educational leaders are the prime vehicle for linking all three elements. This chapter draws on mainly Western literature to examine each of these elements and then the interrelationships among them.

B. Mulford (B) University of Tasmania, Tasmania, Australia e-mail: [emailprotected] 1 See, for example, the OECD (2001a) scenarios for future schools and feedback from educational leaders on the most likely and preferred scenarios in the next 5–10 years (Mulford, 2007a).

A. Hargreaves et al. (eds.), Second International Handbook of Educational Change, Springer International Handbooks of Education 23, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-2660-6_11, C Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010



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Contextually “Literate” Context matters. School leaders need to be contextually literate. A context involving rapid advances in science and technology, increased globalisation, changes in demography, including in the nature of work, and pressures on the environment argues for educational leaders achieving balances between and/or choosing between competing forces and a broadening of what counts for good schooling (Mulford, 2008). Choices between competing forces make the most sense when they foster stability (in the form of a school’s collective capacity to learn) for change, independence rather than dependence, community rather than individualism and heterogeneity rather than hom*ogeneity. Broadening what counts for good schooling needs to include excellence and equity as well as cognitive and non-cognitive (especially personal and social skills) (Mulford, 2002; Mulford and Edmunds, 2010). In such a context school leadership has been found to be intense, varied, accountable and rewarding (NCSL, 2007).

Achieving Balance and/or Choosing between Competing Forces There are at least four sets of competing contextual pressures on schools. In what follows, these are examined under the following broader headings: continuity and constant change, dependence and independence, individualism and community, and hom*ogeneity and heterogeneity. Continuity and/or Constant Change In contrast to past continuity, recent times have been witness to constant change, a stream of new movements, new programs and new directions. Unfortunately, some in education seem to be forever rushing to catch the next bandwagon that hits the scene – “unfortunately” because there is increasing evidence that many a school and school system and their children have been badly disillusioned by the galloping itinerant peddlers selling the new movements (sometimes the new and ever changing ministers of education and/or departmental officials). The main challenge in such a situation, a world of massive and constant change, is how to foster enough internal stability in people and the organisation in which they work and study in order to encourage the pursuit of change. Stability for change, moving ahead without losing our roots, is the challenge (Peters, 1987). It is quite incorrect to assume that a school is effective only if it is undergoing change. Change may be in an inappropriate direction, for example, towards a facade of orderly purposefulness (Sergiovanni, 1990). Change may also involve the use of inappropriate measures of success, especially when they are merely procedural illusions of effectiveness (Meyer & Rowan, 1978). The difficulty of providing output measures by which education’s success can be measured has often led to the elevation in importance of “approved” management processes. These processes include program planning budgeting systems, school-based management,

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charters/partnership agreements and strategic plans. Such processes contribute an illusion of effectiveness and become desired outputs in themselves, thus deceiving outside observers and many of those in schools as well. Such deception should have no place in good education. In a changing world it might be more helpful to remember Noah’s principle: One survives not by predicting rain (change) but by building arks. Amid uncertain, continually changing conditions, many schools are constructing arks comprising their collective capacity to learn; they are striving to become intelligent, or learning, organisations (Mulford, 2003c). Dependence and/or Independence A second fundamental issue relates to the balance between the competing factors of dependence and independence and the current imbalance favouring dependence. This situation is most easily seen in the over-dependence many of those in schools place on “leaders” outside schools, often engendered by the overconfidence of these “leaders” in their own abilities or importance. There seem to be a lot of people who want to tell those in schools what to do. This situation is unfortunate because many of those doing the telling do not seem to want to accept responsibility for their advice, are not around long enough to take responsibility for their directions and may even seek to prevent fair and open assessment of the changes they promulgate. We cannot avoid change; indeed we may wish to seek, embrace and even thrive on it. Education is an integral part of our society and must anticipate change as being one of the constants it will face. Whether these changes result in Frankensteins, or gentle, functional, collaborative and sustainable butterflies, depends largely on the response of those in schools. Hyman (2005), for example, who left 10 Downing Street after many years as speech writer and advisor to the prime minister to work as an assistant to the head teacher at London’s Islington Green School, concludes that: Perhaps the biggest eye-opener for me on my journey has been how the approach I had been part of creating, to deal with 24-hour media and to demonstrate a decisive government, was entirely the wrong one for convincing frontline professionals, or indeed for ensuring successful delivery. Our approach to political strategy has been based on three things: momentum, conflict and novelty, whereas the frontline requires empowerment, partnership and consistency. (Hyman, 2005, p. 384)

Individualism and/or Community Religious institutions no longer attract or have an impact on the young, families are dysfunctional more often than ever before, some children are malnourished, drug addiction is a scourge and many prime-time television programs can be vacuous and educationally bankrupt. It is a time when advertisers and their clients have succeeded in not only rushing children through their developmental stages into a false sense of maturity but have also managed to link identity and status to brand names,


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and gang members; athletes, and narcissistic celebrities are the admired adolescent role models (Goodlad, 1994). Although schools do have the responsibility of care for students, at the same time debate continues as to whether schools should be dealing with these broad social issues (Bernstein, 2000). It may be unreasonable to expect the schools to pick up the slack in such situations but if the home cannot and the school does not pick up the responsibility for our young then who will? Who will counter, for example, the pressure inherent in much of our “modern” society to act alone rather than with, or for, the community? We need to be reminded that change for the sake of change, including technological change, is not necessarily good; it must be tempered with wisdom, compassion and justice. A different generation, those born from the 1980s onwards, the New Millenial Learner (NML), now populate our schools – as students and, increasingly, as staff. The NML are the first generation to grow up surrounded by digital media, and much of their activity involving peer-to-peer communication and knowledge management is mediated by these technologies (Howe & Strauss, 2000). Also called “hom*o Zappiens” (Veen, 2003), this generation has made popular the less controllable “socially” oriented technologies such as blogs, wikis, tagging and instant messaging (Pedro, 2006). In this individualistic, technology-mediated world, a skills crisis would indeed be bad enough but a values crisis would be devastating. For example, turning back the tide of a “virtual”, computer-based cyberspace existence, with its stress on individualism and encouragement to dissociate oneself from an increasingly challenging world, is vital for our future survival. For, as Peck (1987) has reminded us, a community is a place where conflict can be resolved without physical or emotional bloodshed and with wisdom as well as grace. A community is a group that “fights gracefully”. A generation that is unable to feel for others is incapable of creating the social trust that is so essential to maintain culture. And, as it is in the broader culture, so it is in schools. For example, it has been demonstrated that where teachers’ trust in principals is undermined by perceptions of principal co-option of top-down system change initiatives, especially when unsupported by teachers, it results in teacher alienation and feelings of disempowerment, which can then bring teacher strategies of resistance to the fore (Bishop & Mulford, 1999). hom*ogeneity and/or Heterogeneity If you look for common denominators in successful schools, you will see that a strong indicator is to find a way to get some of the staff and students to do a radical thing, to take the initiative, to take risks. If a system is too tight for this there will be no search and no development and if there is no search and no development there is no learning. One lesson in this context is that reductionist approaches in education, to the complexity that is the world of the teacher and the student, should not go unchallenged. Uniformity for schools and education systems in aims, in standards and in

Recent Developments in the Field of Educational Leadership


methods of assessment is a complexity-reducing mechanism. It is far tidier to have a single set of aims for all, a single curriculum for all, a single set of standards for all and a single array of tests for all than to have locally developed approaches to school improvement. hom*ogeneity of outcome for the future of our schools and society is not necessarily the highest pinnacle and attempts to reach it may have backfired in terms of student attitudes to school. International research (OECD, 2004) shows, for example, that more than a quarter of students agrees or strongly agrees that school is a place where they do not want to go. In countries such as Belgium, France and Hungary, where there is a high level of hom*ogeneity in the education system, the proportion ranges from 35 to 42% while in countries such as Denmark, Mexico, Portugal and Sweden, where there is less hom*ogeneity, the figure is less than 20%. In fact, UK researchers are: beginning to encounter students expressing doubts about the genuineness of their school’s interest in their progress and well-being as persons, as distinct from their contributions to their school’s league table position. [The result is that] contract replaces community as the bond of human association. (Fielding, 1999, p. 286)

Broadening What Counts as Good Schooling The forces and factors increasingly permeating our schools show that to achieve their purposes there is a pressing need to broaden what counts for “good” schooling. Measures of successful student achievement in a knowledge society are increasingly being seen as wider than the cognitive/academic; it is more personalised and involves achieving both excellence and equity (DfES, 2005; Leadbeater, 2004a; OECD, 2001b; World Bank, 2005). If we stress only scientific and technological knowledge, or only literacy and numeracy, we could languish in other respects, including physically, aesthetically, morally and spiritually. Howard Gardner understood the need to broaden what counts for good schooling with his conceptualisation of multiple intelligences. His most recent work (Gardner, 2007) continues this understanding by defining the abilities that will be needed in times of vast change as his five “minds for the future”; that is, disciplinary, synthesising, creating, respectful and ethical minds. In linking this broadening of what counts for good schooling to school leadership, Leo (2007) points out that: a key question for school leadership is how to develop more imaginative approaches to educational assessment that illuminate how schools develop capabilities such as motivation and creativity and to ensure that these are among the outcomes of education for all students. (Leo, 2007, p. 10)

Consistent with this argument to broaden what counts is a range of impressive research using data from the British cohort study. This data base followed all children born in the United Kingdom in the first week of April 1970 and surveyed them again in 1975, 1980, 1986, 1991 and 1996. At age 10, in 1980, over 12,000 children were tested for mathematics and reading ability and the psychological attributes of


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self-esteem and locus of control. The children’s teachers were questioned about their behavioural attributes of conduct disorder, peer relations, attentiveness and extraversion. In 1996, at age 26, information was collected on highest qualification attained, earnings and periods of unemployment. The author of one of these studies, Leon Feinstein, an economist, summarises his findings as follows: . . . attentiveness in school has been shown to be a key aspect of human capital production, also influencing female wages even conditioning on qualifications. Boys with high levels of conduct disorder are much more likely to experience unemployment but higher self-esteem will both reduce the likelihood of that unemployment lasting more than a year and, for all males, increase wages. The locus of control measure . . . is an important predictor of female wages . . . . Good peer relations are important in the labour market, particularly for girls, reducing the probability of unemployment and increasing female wages. . . . [These results] suggest strongly that more attention might be paid to the non-academic behaviour and development of children as a means of identifying future difficulties and labour market opportunities. It also suggests that schooling ought not be assessed solely on the basis of the production of reading and maths ability. (Feinstein, 2000, pp. 22, 20)

These results have been confirmed in other longitudinal research by Carneiro, Crawford, and Goodman (2006) where it was found that 7- and 11-year-old children who exhibited social maladjustment were less likely to stay on at school post-16 (after taking into account cognitive ability and other family background factors); did less well in terms of performance in higher education; were more likely to display negative adolescent outcomes, such as trouble with the police by age 16 and teenage motherhood; and even conditioning on schooling outcomes were more likely to have both lower employment probabilities and lower wages at age 33 and 42. Carneiro and colleagues (2006) believe their findings are consistent with another research (e.g., Cunha, Heckman, Lochner, & Masterov, 2005) which shows that non-cognitive skills are more malleable than cognitive skills. This finding suggests that schools can have a greater effect on students’ non-cognitive than cognitive outcomes. Cunha and colleagues (2005, p. 1) also remind us that “remediation of inadequate early investments [in such areas of social skills] is difficult and very costly”.

Organisationally “Savvy” School organisation also matters. Educational leaders need to be organisationally savvy. They need to be able to build capacity. Broadening the way schools are organised and run would see a move from the mechanistic to an organic, living system; from thin to deep democracy; from mass approaches to personalisation through participation; and from hierarchies to networks. The emphasis would very much be on social capital, learning organisations, collective teacher efficacy and communities of professional learners.

Recent Developments in the Field of Educational Leadership


From Mechanistic to Organic, Living Systems In her book, Finding Our Way: Leadership for an Uncertain Time, Wheatley (2005) employs two competing metaphors – “organisations as machines” and “organisations as living systems” – as explanation for both organisations and leadership that differ radically in their functioning and outcomes. The “machine” metaphor encourages a view of organisation as a fixed structure of some sort, a structure consisting of parts that need to be “oiled” if they are to function together smoothly. From this view, organisations require effortful monitoring, coordination and direction by someone, typically a “leader”. Wheatley (2005, p. 4) notes that “in the past few years, ever since uncertainty became our insistent twenty-first century companion, leadership strategies have taken a great leap backward to the familiar territory of command and control”. Such leadership, aiming to increase employees’ certainty about their work (and increase the school’s level of accountability to government and the public) is mostly transactional. This means that, in the case of school organisations, teachers are assumed to be motivated by the promise of such extrinsic, positive rewards as money and status and opposing, extrinsic, negative impacts such as school reconstitution and public shaming through the publication of league tables. Transactional, command and control forms of leadership on the part of principals further manifest themselves in the close supervision of teachers, specification of the one best model of instruction which all teachers must use, centralised decisions about how time in the classroom is to be used together with very long lists of curriculum standards or expectations which teachers are required to cover with students. Teachers are allowed little autonomy over their work in classrooms, their voices are heard weakly, at best, in school-wide decision making and yet they are held almost entirely accountable for student achievement (Day & Leithwood, 2007). An organic, or “living systems”, metaphor encourages a view of organisation as a process, one of constant adaptation, growth and becoming that occurs naturally and inevitably in response to a strong desire for learning and survival. As Wheatley describes it: the process of organizing involves developing relationships from a shared sense of purpose, exchanging and creating information, learning constantly, paying attention to the results of our efforts, co-adapting, co-evolving, developing wisdom as we learn, staying clear about our purpose, being alert to changes from all directions. (Wheatley, 2005, p. 27)

A description of organisation-as-living-system bears a strong resemblance to accounts of organisational learning in schools (Mulford, Silins, & Leithwood, 2004; Silins & Mulford, 2002a), professional learning communities (Stoll et al., 2006) and the OECD (2001b, 2006) scenarios for future schools as social centres and learning organisations. The ongoing eight-country research project on successful principalship (see, for example, Gurr, Drysdale, & Mulford, 2005; the edited book by Day & Leithwood, 2007) strongly suggests that successful principals thought of their organisations as living systems, not machines.


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From Thin to Deep Democracy Furman and Shields (2003) argue that there is a need to move our schools from “thin” conceptions of democracy based in the values of classical liberalism, and its concern with the right of the individual to pursue his or her self-interest and the resolution of conflict through “democratic” majority voting, to a notion of “deep” democracy. Dewey (in Furman & Shields, 2003) saw “deep” democracy as involving respect for the worth and dignity of individuals and their cultural traditions, reverence for and the proactive facilitation of free and open inquiry and critique, recognition of interdependence in working for the common good, the responsibility of individuals to participate in free and open inquiry and the importance of collective choices and actions in the interest of the common good. Furman and Shields (2003) state that “deep” democracy needs to be practised in schools. However, as a consequence of risk of chaos and loss of control from the forces on schools, the typical pattern they perceive is that students are expected to conform to hierarchically imposed decisions about what they study and teach and when, what the outcomes of instruction should be, how to behave and talk, and even how they look. . . . [In fact,] learning democracy may be one of the least experiential aspects of K–12 curricula. (Furman & Shields, 2003, p. 10)

The results of a recent analysis of school principal training in the Australian State of Tasmania (Mulford, 2004) leads one to suggest that the same could be said about the adults in schools within bureaucratically designed systems. “Deep” democracy needs to be practised by them but it may be the least experienced aspect of their working world, especially when it comes to their own professional development.

Personalisation through Participation A major debate taking place in the United Kingdom about the future shape of public services picks up on the confused organisational situation for those in schools. This debate is pitched into the chasm between the way public institutions work and how users experience them. For example, in the education sector it has been argued by Leadbeater (2004a) that efficiency measures based on new public management as reflected in: [t]argets, league tables and inspection regimes may have improved aspects of performance in public services. Yet the cost has been to make public services seem more machine-like, more like a production line producing standardised goods. [And, I would add, increasingly create dependence on the system.] . . . It is . . . clear that the State cannot deliver collective solutions from on high. It is too cumbersome and distant. The State can only help create public goods – such as better education – by encouraging them to emerge from within society. . . . That is, to shift from a model in which the centre controls, initiates, plans, instructs and serves, to one in which the centre governs through promoting collaborative, critical and honest self-evaluation and self-improvement. (Leadbeater, 2004a, pp. 81, 83, 90)

It is further argued (Leadbeater, 2004a, 2004b, 2005) that public services can be improved by focussing on what is called “personalisation through participation”.

Recent Developments in the Field of Educational Leadership


The “pay off” of personalisation is believed to be increased knowledge, participation, commitment, responsibility and productivity. Thus personalisation can be seen to be both a process and outcome of effective public organisations, including schools. A personalised public service is seen as having four different meanings: • Providing people with a more customer-friendly interface with existing services. • Giving users more say in navigating their way through services once they have access to them. • Giving users more direct say over how the money is spent. • Emphasising users are not just consumers but co-designers and co-producers of a service. As we move through these four meanings, dependent users become consumers and commissioners then co-designers, co-producers and solution assemblers. In schools, learners (students and staff) become actively and continually engaged in setting their own targets, devising their own learning plan and goals and choosing among a range of different ways to learn. As we move through these four meanings, the professional’s role also changes from providing solutions for dependent users to designing environments, networks and platforms through which people can together devise their own independent and interdependent solutions. (NCSL, 2005a)

From Hierarchy to Networks Leadbeater (2005) believes that personalised learning will only become reality when schools become much more networked, collaborating not only with other schools, but with families, community groups and other public agencies. Arguably one of the best funded and continuous school networks – The Network Learning Group (NLG) with its hub at the United Kingdom’s National College for School Leadership (NCSL) – summarises its learning about the advantages of networks in comparison to traditional hierarchically designed organisations (NCSL, 2005b) as greater sharing, diversity, flexibility, creativity, risk taking, broadening of teacher expertise and learning opportunities available to pupils, and improved teaching and pupil attainment. They point out that while there is no blueprint for an effective network, it is possible to identify factors that successful networks have in common: • Design around a compelling idea or aspirational purpose and an appropriate form and structure. • Focus on pupil learning. • Create new opportunities for adult learning. • Plan and have dedicated leadership and management.


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But Leadbeater (2005, p. 22) warns that the collaboration needed for effective networks “can be held back by regulation, inspection, and funding regimes that encourage schools to think of themselves as autonomous, stand-alone units”. Levin (NCSL, 2005b, p. 6) agrees, pointing out that there “are inevitable tensions between the idea of learning networks, which are based on ideas of capacity building as a key to reform, and . . . reform through central policy mandate”. Rusch (2005), in fact, concludes that networks cannot be controlled by the formal system. She questions the role of the system in effective school networks, identifying competing institutional scripts between what is likely to be required by networks as opposed to the system as follows: • Structures are seen as malleable in networks but fixed and hierarchical in the system. • Conflict is open and valued in networks while it tends to be hidden and feared in the system. • Communication is open and unbounded in networks but controlled and closed in the system. • Leadership tends to be fluid in networks while it is hierarchical and assigned in the system. • Relationships are egalitarian in networks but meritocratic in the system. • And, finally, knowledge and power based on inquiry and learning is valued in networks while expertise and knowing are valued in the system.

Social Capital and Communities of Professional Learners Arguably, the two organisational concepts that underpin schools as social centres and learning organisations, organic systems, deep democracy, personalisation through participation, and networking are social capital and communities of professional learners. Social Capital The idea of social capital has enjoyed a remarkable rise to prominence. By treating social relationships as a form of capital, it proposes that they are a resource, which people can then draw on to achieve their goals. It also serves alongside other forms of capital (e.g., economic, human, cultural, identity and intellectual) as one possible resource and accepted contributor to our individual, community and national wellbeing. International bodies such as UNESCO, OECD and World Bank have engaged in extensive conceptual, empirical and policy related work in the area and a number of websites are devoted entirely to the area.2 2 For


Recent Developments in the Field of Educational Leadership


What do we mean by “social capital”? The World Bank (Grootaert, Narayan, Jones, & Woolco*ck, 2004, p. 3) concludes that social capital “is most frequently defined in terms of the groups, networks, norms, and trust that people have available to them for productive purposes”. As well as this generally accepted definition, Grootaert et al. (2004, p. 4) point out that common distinctions are made among “bonding”, “bridging” and “linking” forms of social capital. “Bonding” social capital refers to “ties to people who are similar in terms of their demographic characteristics, such as family members, neighbours, close friends and work colleagues”. “Bridging” social capital is also horizontal in nature but refers to “ties to people who do not share many of these characteristics”. However, it continues to connect “people with more or less equal social standing”. “Linking” social capital operates across power differentials and thus is seen vertical in nature. It refers to “one’s ties to people in positions of authority such as representatives of public (police, political parties) and private (banks) institutions”. Knowing the definition of social capital and its different forms is helpful, but it does little to assist educational leaders with the challenges in building social capital in schools. A way through this situation is for the educational leader to see bonding social capital as that occurring among work colleagues within schools. It is the most developed area in the research literature (Goddard, Hoy, & Woolfolk Hoy, 2004; OECD, 2004; Ross, Hogaboam, & Gray, 2004; Somech, 2002; Stoll et al., 2003). Bridging social capital can be taken as that occurring between schools. This area is a recent but growing one in the research literature, especially in the area of networking (see the previous subsection) (Hopkins, NCSL, 2005b; Kanter, 1994; Leadbeater, 2005). Linking social capital can be understood as that occurring between a school and its community. While there is a long research tradition in this area it tends to be unidirectional, concentrating on what the community can do for the school, rather than the other way around (Jolly & Deloney, 1996; Kilpatrick, Johns, Mulford, Falk, & Prescott, 2001). The research evidence is clear in its strong support for all three forms of social capital. The outcomes are impressive, not the least of which being improved student engagement, academic performance and later life chances, improved teaching and learning, reduced within school variation and retention of teachers in the profession, and increased individual and community capacity to influence their own futures. However, the research also points to many challenges to overcome at the contextual, organisational and individual levels including the current accountability press, especially system preoccupation with a limited number of academic performance outcomes; the micro politics of schools such as contrived collegiality, groupthink and conflict avoidance; differences between policy development and its implementation; dedicated leadership; large, secondary, high-poverty schools; and professional autonomy. Communities of Professional Learners Where do we take this research evidence on the importance of and challenges to social capital? The way forward is to see the task as establishing communities of


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professional learners (CPL) and to see it as developmental starting with the building of social capital. A message arising from the research is that those in schools must learn how to lose time in order to gain time. Awareness of, and skill development in, group and organisational processes is a first step towards any effective change. Instead of others trying to insert something into a school’s (or community’s) culture, the school, and especially its leadership, should first be trying to help that culture develop an awareness of and responsiveness to itself (Scribner, Hager, & Warne, 2002). In brief, the position taken identifies three major, sequential and embedded elements in successful school reform. It takes the two elements in the definition of social capital, “groups, networks, norms, and trust” and “for productive purposes”, and extends them to include a third element, learning. The first element in the sequence relates to the community, how people are communicated with and treated. Success is more likely where people act rather than are always reacting, are empowered, involved in decision making through a transparent, facilitative and supportive structure, and are trusted, respected, encouraged and valued. It is a waste of time moving to the second element until such a community is established. The second element concerns a community of professionals. A community of professionals involves shared norms and values including valuing differences and diversity, a focus on implementation and continuous enhancement of quality learning for all students, de-privatisation of practice, collaboration, and critical reflective dialogue, especially that based on performance data. However, a community of professionals can be static, continuing to do the same or similar thing well. The final element relates to the presence of a capacity for change, learning and innovation – in other words, a community of professional learners (CPL) (Mulford, 2007d). Each element of a CPL, and each transition between them, can be facilitated by appropriate leadership and professional development. Also, each element is a prerequisite for the other; they are embedded within each other with only the emphasis changing. For example, when learning is occurring there is still a need to revisit the social community and the professional community, especially where there has been a change of personnel and/or a new governmental direction announced. Using this analysis of bonding, bridging and linking social capital to understand the importance of, challenges to and developmental nature of CPLs can assist the educational leader in better translating the research into policy and practice. It can help him or her to do the following: • understand better and be able to take action on the intricacies involved in moving a school, or part of a school, from where it is now to becoming truly a place of ongoing excellence and equity without those in schools being “bowled over” by the demands for change that surround them; • target appropriate interventions to ensure more effective progression through the stages. In targeting interventions recognition will need to be given to the fact that it is a journey and that actions at one stage may be inappropriate, or even counterproductive, at another stage; and, • support the position that a school will need to be evaluated differently depending on the stage it has reached.

Recent Developments in the Field of Educational Leadership


Changing the organisation of and leading schools and school systems so they become CPLs will not be for the faint of heart. It will require schools and their leaders to radically rethink how they operate. As Leadbeater (2005) points out, many of the basic building blocks of traditional education – such as the school, the year group, the class, the lesson, the blackboard and the teacher standing in front of a class of 30 children – could be seen as obstacles. All the resources available for learning – teachers, parents, assistants, peers, technology, time and buildings – will have to be deployed more flexibly than in the past. School leadership in such organisations will certainly be less lonely and more collaborative and professionally interactive than ever before (NCSL, 2007).

Leadership “Smart” Educational leadership matters (Day & Leithwood, 2007; Fullan, 2005; Hallinger, 2007; Hargreaves & Fink, 2006; Leithwood, in press; Leithwood, Day, Sammons, Harris, & Hopkins, 2006; Marks & Printy, 2004; McREL, 2005; Silins & Mulford, 2004), is changing (Leithwood et al., 2006; NCSL, 2007) and, given the changing context and organisational response, needs to be smart. Unfortunately, in this situation the plethora of advice about “strong”, adjectival, one-size-fits-all school leadership (e.g., instructional, transformational and distributed) is anachronistic. Successful educational leadership is more complex; it needs to be able to see and act on the whole, as well as on the individual elements, and the relationships among them over time (i.e., in a developmental manner). As Hargreaves and Fink (2006) point out, it is a meal not a menu, with all pieces needing to fit together in different ways at different times. A lack of time and professional isolation are major barriers to collaborative endeavours. Donaldson (2001, p. 11) describes some major attributes of schools that contribute to what he calls a “leadership-resistant architecture” reflected in a “conspiracy of business”. There is, according to Donaldson, little time for the school leader to convene people to plan, organise and follow through. Contact and the transaction of business often take place “catch-as-catch-can”. Opinion setting and relationship building in schools, he argues, are mostly inaccessible and even resistant to the principal’s formal attempt to guide and structure the direction of the school. Consistent with the findings from the Australian LOSO project (see the next section), it was found that the larger the school the more complex and impersonal the environment and the fewer the opportunities a principal was likely to have for individual relationship building or problem solving. It may in fact be that “strong”, visible, visionary leadership is dysfunctional. A research by Barnett, McCormick, and Conners (2001) is key in this context, showing as it does the positive effects of principals demonstrating individual concern and building relationships but the negative effects of being inspirational and visionary. While one leadership style or approach may work well for some leaders, most have a range of leadership styles. Dinham’s (2007, p. 37) research examining schools achieving outstanding educational outcomes found that “the turning-around and lifting-up processes can take


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around 6–7 years to accomplish”. In this situation, successful leaders adapt and adopt their leadership practice to meet the changing needs of circ*mstances in which they find themselves (see, for example, Hallinger, 2007; Leo, 2007). As schools develop and change, different leadership approaches will inevitably be required and different sources of leadership will be needed so that the development work keeps moving. A one-size-fits-all, adjectival style or approach to leadership, or checklists of leadership attributes, may seem superficially attractive but can often limit, restrict and distort leadership behaviour in ways that are not always conducive to school development and improvement. On this point, it is interesting to note that proponents of instructional (Hallinger, 2005), transformational (Leithwood et al., 2006) and distributed leadership (Spillane, 2006) have, over time, moved well away from the one-size-fits-all, charismatic, heroic model of school leadership and expanded their understandings to include aspects of the context, antecedent conditions (e.g., school level, size and SES) and school mission, culture and a reinforcing structure (especially developing people, collaboration and monitoring) and instructional program. For example, Hallinger (2007) calls for an integrative model of educational leadership which links leadership to the needs of the school context, Leo (2007) focuses on the role of social context and socio-cultural factors on achievement motivation and Mulford (2003b) calls for an awareness of balance and learning.

Interrelationships among Context, Organisation and Leader: Two Models Meeting the Challenge of Complexity The final section of this chapter outlines two models based on an Australian research that take the evolving, broader and more complex approach to educational leadership. The models are fully consistent with the advice in other sections to meet the following: achieve balance and/or choose between competing contextual forces; broaden what counts as good schooling; and broaden the way schools are organised and run, especially as social centres and learning organisations, organic, living systems, deep democracies, networks, personalisation through participation, and social capital developers through communities of professional learners. The first is a model of successful school principalship based on the evidence from qualitative in-depth case studies of five best practice Tasmanian schools that constitute part of an eight-country exploration of successful school leadership (the Successful School Principals Project – SSPP) (see, for example: Gurr et al., 2005; Mulford, 2007b, 2007c). The second is a model of leadership for organisational learning and student outcomes (LOLSO) based on quantitative survey evidence from over 95 principals, 3,700 teachers and 5,000 15-year-old high school students in South Australia and Tasmania. Details of the samples, methodologies, related literature reviews and so on can be found elsewhere (see, for example: Silins & Mulford, 2002a, 2002b; Silins, Mulford, & Zarins, 2002; Silins & Mulford, 2004), as can the application to policy (Mulford, 2003a, 2003d).

Recent Developments in the Field of Educational Leadership


Successful School Principals Project (SSPP) Findings from the SSPP case studies suggest that successful school principalship is an interactive, reciprocal and evolving process involving many players, which is influenced by and in turn influences the context in which it occurs (see Fig. 1). Further, the findings demonstrate that successful principalship is underpinned by the core values and beliefs of the principal. These values and beliefs influence the principal’s decisions and actions regarding the provision of individual support and capacity building, and capacity building at the school level, including school culture and structure. The principal’s core values and beliefs, together with the values and capacities of other members of the school community, feed directly into the development of a shared school vision, which shapes the teaching and learning – student and social capital outcomes of schooling. To complete the proposed model requires a process of evidence-based monitoring and critical reflection, which can lead to school maintenance, change and/or transformation. The context and the successful school principal’s values form the “why” of the model; the individual support

Figure 6: Model of successful school principalshipFigure 6: MorincipalshipFigur WHY



Context Understandings/Requirements of, and Support from, Community (Local to Global) and Employer

Individual Support . Acknowledge . Encourage

Student Outcomes

& Capacity &Commitment . Responsibility for leadership and PD . Feel valued

Principal Values . Good/Passionate ..Equity/Social justice . Other-centred . Hard working . Sense of humour

School Capacity Culture . Trust . Collaboration and support . Risk taking and learning Structure . Shared decision making . Distributive leadership . Professional learning

Teaching and Learning Outcomes

Vision/ Mission . Child focus . Caring environment . Clear/high expectations .Wide scope . Celebration

. Constructivist approach . Student involvement, choice and responsibility . Meaningful tasks . Collaboration In heterogeneous grouping

Academic . Literacy . Numeracy Nonacademic . Confident, selfmotivated, engaged learners . Sense of identity, self-worth and belonging

Evidence Based Monitoring and Critical Reflection (on WHY, HOW and WHAT, and the relationships among them) leading to possible

Change/Transformation HOW DO WE KNOW and DO WE NEED TO CHANGE

Fig. 1 SSP model

Community Social Capital Outcomes . Identity . Empowered, active and engaged citizens . Lifelong learning


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and capacity, school capacity and school vision/mission form the “how”; and the teaching and learning, student and community outcomes form the “what”. The evidence-based monitoring and critical reflection on the “why”, “how” and “what” and the relationship among them form the final section of the model, the “how do we know” and “do we need to change” element.

Leadership for Organisational Learning and Student Outcomes (LOLSO) Evidence from LOLSO surveys clearly demonstrate that leadership that makes a difference is both position based (principal) and distributive (administrative team and teachers) (see Fig. 2). Further, it was found that the principal’s leadership needs to be transformational – that is, providing individual, cultural and structural support to staff; capturing a vision for the school; communicating high performance expectations and offering intellectual stimulation. However, both positional and distributive leadership are only indirectly related to student outcomes. Organisational learning (OL), involving three sequential stages of trusting and collaborative climate, shared




Teachers’ Non-academic



Organisation Work

Student Outcomes

Academic Student Outcomes (Exams)

Teacher ‘Voice’ (Survey)

Student ‘Voice’ (Survey)

Fig. 2 LOLSO model (−→ = positive and = negative relationship)

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and monitored mission and taking initiatives and risks supported by appropriate professional development, was found to be the important intervening variable between leadership and teacher work and then student outcomes. That is, leadership contributes to OL, which in turn influences what happens in the core business of the school: teaching and learning. It influences the way students perceive that teachers organise and conduct their instruction and their educational interactions with, and expectations of, their students. Students’ positive perceptions of teachers’ work directly promote their participation in school, academic self-concept and engagement with school. Student participation is directly and student engagement indirectly (through retention) related to academic achievement. The contextual variables of school size, socioeconomic status (SES) and, especially, student home educational environment make a positive or negative difference to these relationships (as indicated in Fig. 2). However, this was not the case in terms of teacher or leader gender or age, having a community focus or student academic self-concept.

Summary As we have seen over the course of this chapter, a great deal of a school’s success depends on which areas of school life the educational leader chooses to spend time and attention on. As a single input by a leader can have multiple outcomes, a leader needs to be able to see and act on the whole, as well as on the individual elements, and the relationships among them (NCSL, 2005c). The chapter moved through evidence on three elements: context, organisation and leaders. Context related to the forces currently pressing on schools and the implications of these forces for schools and their leaders. School organisation focused on evolving models that moved beyond the outmoded and ineffective bureaucratic model to communities of professional learners. Evidence on leaders questioned whether one type of leadership fits all contexts and organisations and subsequently what it meant to be a successful leader. A great deal of promise was found in the evidence on successful leaders building school capacity and doing this in a developmental way. To be successful on all these fronts and how they interrelate is the biggest current leadership challenge. Within this complex challenge, school leaders must be part of ongoing conversations about context and its implications for schools. Leaders need to understand and be able to act on the evolving and preferred organisational models for schools. And, leaders need to be able to understand and act on the quality evidence that is now accumulating on being a successful school leader. With the eminent retirement of a larger-than-normal proportion of our nation’s school leaders (Anderson et al., 2007), there is no better time to act on these challenges. Will education systems and, more importantly, the profession take up the challenges? And, will they actually use quality evidence (OECD, 2007), such as that provided in this handbook, in schools and school systems to enable us to move


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forward? This is a plea for us to move beyond mere technical competence in school leadership. Galton (2000, p. 203) makes this point well in terms of teachers: By making certain techniques mandatory you run the danger of turning teachers into technicians who concentrate on the method and cease to concern themselves with ways that methods must be modified to take account of the needs of individual pupils. As we face the demands of a new century, creating a teaching profession which while technically competent was imaginatively sterile would be a recipe for disaster. (Galton, 2000, p. 203)

As it is for teachers, so it is for school leaders. (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2007) There is clearly a need to achieve better balances in our world, including between learning what the political and bureaucratic systems require of individual leaders and what practising professionals require of themselves and their colleagues. On the basis of the available research, I believe this balance can best be achieved by groups of educational leaders, or professional collectives and alliances, setting, negotiating and delivering their own agendas. This position is also consistent with the emerging priorities for successful educational leadership detailed in this review. After all, participation in context, organisation and leadership, including policy making, not only enhances efficiency in implementation, but also contributes to the creation of more pluralistic and democratic political systems (Lecomte & Smillie, 2004).

A Concluding Comment Recent developments in the field of educational leadership demonstrate that it is more complex, nuanced and subtle than previously portrayed. It may be that we need to take models such as SSPP and LOLSO, as well more recent work by Heck and Hallinger (2009), Mulford and Edmunds (2009) and Sammons et al. (2009), further by having a set of models representing different groupings of variables and their relationships and sequences, for example for high-poverty, rural, inner city, primary and/or public schools. On the other hand, when lost in the complex, “swampy” ground of schools and their environments a simple “compass” (head roughly west, be “instructional”, “transformational” and/or “distributive”) may be felt to be much more helpful than the detailed road maps in linking leadership with improving learning in schools. However, in an age of “global positioning systems” and models based on quality evidence that are complex enough to come close to the reality faced by schools and are predictive in that they link leadership and student outcomes, such a simplistic response does education and its continued reform a deep disservice.

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Large-Scale Reform in the Era of Accountability: The System Role in Supporting Data-Driven Decision Making Amanda Datnow and Vicki Park

The contemporary education policy marks a shift away from the idea that change happens organically, one school at a time. Instead, there is a focus on creating a systematic infrastructure to support change across a large number of schools at once. Within this decade, we have witnessed several types of large-scale reform efforts in the United States and across other Western countries, including state and federal systems of standards and accountability and system-wide implementations of literacy and numeracy programs, among others. In the United States, the shift to large-scale reform was crystallized in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 which instituted a new accountability system based on assessments and standards. As the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), NCLB followed up on the ideas laid forth in governmental plans and policies beginning in the 1990s. However, this new policy gave the federal government unprecedented authority in several ways by “crea[ting] stern directives regarding test use and consequence; put[ting] federal bureaucrats in charge of approving state standards and accountability plans; set[ting] a single nationwide timetable for boosting achievement; and prescrib[ing] specific remedies for under-performing schools” (Finn & Hess, 2002, p. 2). NCLB is the first federal comprehensive educational framework consisting of standards, assessments, and accountability. NCLB is particularly noteworthy because it moves past the traditional focus on schooling “inputs” and holds educators responsible for student performance results (Dembosky, Pane, Barney, & Christina, 2005; Ingram, Louis, & Schroder, 2004; Lafee, 2002). Under this system, the mechanisms for accomplishing these goals emphasize data-driven decision making (i.e., test scores, yearly progress reports), the implementation of evidencebased practices, and increased school choice for parents. NCLB requires states to have standards detailing content for student learning. Testing is also mandatory for students in most grades, and results are intended to be used to drive instruction and teaching practices. In addition, student performance data must be disaggregated

A. Datnow (B) University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA e-mail: [emailprotected] A. Hargreaves et al. (eds.), Second International Handbook of Educational Change, Springer International Handbooks of Education 23, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-2660-6_12, C Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010



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based on major demographic classifications such as race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, disability, and language. Systematic testing is also coupled with prescriptive intervention remedies for schools not meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Schools are pushed to improve under threat of sanctions that ultimately allow parents to opt out of low-performing schools. Additionally, guidelines for enhancing teacher quality are laid out. Thus, the current era of large-scale educational reform is marked by standards, assessments, and accountability. These policy tools are held together by assumptions of the need for policy coherence, system alignment, and coordination among various education agencies. Standards, tests aligned to standards, and accountability systems are stronger policy instruments because they attempt to directly influence instruction and student outcomes. However, the instruments are still relatively weak because the how and why of teaching and learning remain unaddressed. Standards provide guidance on classroom content but do not assist teachers in translating standards into effective instructional practices. Given the flexibility that states have in determining standards and proficiency levels, metrics of student performance can also be misleading, since some states opt for less rigorous standards and minimum competency measures of learning rather than the world-class standards touted by NCLB (NCES, 2007). Even in the era of large-scale educational reform ushered in by NCLB, determining effective instructional practices and measuring learning remain elusive goals. Moreover, capacity building for the core technology of education (Spillane, Reiser, & Reimer, 2002) – teaching and learning – has not been apparent in NCLB. Thus, the work of changing practices to meet more stringent accountability demands has been left to educators at the school and district levels, hence setting the stage for system-wide movements toward data-driven decision making (DDDM). In this chapter, our purpose is to open up the “black box” of large-scale educational change, specifically focusing on a reform movement that results from the current era of accountability: data-driven decision making. We first present the “co-construction” framework as a way to understand large-scale reform and then examine research and theories of action behind DDDM. Our focus here is on the system, or school district level, where large-scale efforts to engage educators in the use of data often are initiated. We summarize with conclusions and implications for further research.

Understanding Large-Scale Educational Reform Through the Co-construction Framework In our earlier work (e.g., Datnow, Hubbard, & Mehan, 2002; Datnow, Lasky, Stringfield, & Teddlie, 2006), we have found the “co-construction” perspective to be a useful heuristic for examining the dynamics involved in the implementation of large-scale educational change. The co-construction perspective extends the mutual adaptation theory coined in the Rand Change Agent study (Berman & McLaughlin, 1978) and elaborates on how the interconnections between actors and the wider

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social and political sphere shape policy implementation (Datnow et al., 2002). Co-construction draws upon the socio-cultural tradition which identifies personal, interpersonal, and community “levels” or “planes” of interaction (Rogoff, 1995; Tharp, 1997). Furthermore, co-construction, like mutual adaptation, views organizations as embedded within successively contextualized layers (McLaughlin & Talbert, 1993), but it extends the context to include the broader social system and political economy. The co-construction approach has a number of specific dimensions. Most important is the idea of a relational sense of context (Datnow et al., 2002). By this we mean that people’s actions cannot be understood apart from the setting in which the actions are situated; reciprocally, the setting cannot be understood without understanding the actions of the people within. A relational sense of context does not privilege any one context; rather it highlights the reciprocal relations among the social contexts in the policy chain (Hall & McGinty, 1997). Because contexts are inevitably connected (Sarason, 1997), multiple layers of the social system must be considered (Datnow et al., 2002). Of course, at a given point in time, a researcher will foreground interactions among social actors in one context and locate others in the background; but in order to allow for complete analysis, the interconnections among contexts throughout the system need to be described (Hall & McGinty, 1997; McLaughlin & Talbert, 1993; Sarason, 1997). The relational sense of context builds on but also moves beyond the embedded sense of context notion that has dominated many analyses up to now. While definitions vary, embedded context typically refers to classroom as nested in broader system layers (Fullan, 1991) or interactional “planes” (Rogoff, 1995). This conception is important because it calls attention to the fact that face-to-face interaction occurs within wider dimensions of social life. However, it often puts only one site in the center. Furthermore, the embedded sense of context can be susceptible to the conceptual traps of structural determinism and uni-directionality, implying that policy only travels in one direction, usually from the top to down (Datnow, Hubbard, & Mehan, 2002). By contrast, the relational sense of context does not automatically assign a sense of importance to any one context but rather highlights relationships among contexts as key focus for analysis. As Cohen, Moffitt, and Goldin (2007) noted, implementation of policy is a complex process; policy aims, instruments, implementers’ capabilities, and the environment of practice all interact to produce policy outcomes (p. 71). Accordingly, the co-construction perspective rests on the premise of multidirectionality: that multiple levels of educational systems may constrain or enable policy implementation and that implementation may affect those broader levels. In this view, political and cultural differences do not simply constrain reform in a top–down fashion. Rather, the causal arrow of change travels in multiple directions among active participants in all domains of the system and over time. This grammar makes the reform process “flexible” and enables people who have “different intentions/interests and interpretations [to] enter into the process at different points along the [reform] course. Thus many actors negotiate with and adjust to one another within and across contexts” (Hall & McGinty, 1997, p. 4).


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Given that it takes into consideration political and cultural differences, coconstruction also acknowledges the role of power (Datnow et al., 2002). The co-construction perspective recognizes that people in organizations at all levels contribute to the policy-making process and that process is characterized by continuous interaction among agents and actors within and between levels of the system. However, differential access and use of power are affected by a person’s position in the system (Firestone, Fitz, & Broadfoot, 1999). For example, unlike policymakers whose main role is to help design policy, implementers (whether they are situated at the state, district, or school levels) are simultaneously the object of reform and the agents of change. Consequently, implementers tend to carry the bulk of the weight in adjusting or conforming to policy mandates. Most studies that look across contextual levels take an embedded sense of context. If we were to take an embedded sense of context, we would assume that events at higher levels of the context occur first and are more important analytically. We might also assume that policies originating in “higher” levels of context cause or determine actions at lower levels. However, this may limit our understanding of educational reform, as we will explain. This conceptualization makes the reform process flexible, with people who have “different intentions/interests and interpretations [and who] enter into the process at different points along the [reform] course. Thus many actors negotiate with and adjust to one another within and across contexts” (Hall & McGinty, 1997, p. 4). As with Elmore’s (1979–1980), “backward mapping” concept, we also do not assume that policy is the only, or even major, influence on people’s behavior. Individuals at the local level do indeed make decisions that affect not only policy implementation, but sometimes also the policy itself. This emphasis upon multi-dimensionality marks the co-construction perspective of reform implementation and departs from the technically driven, uni-directional conceptions of educational change. We believe that formulating implementation as a co-constructed process coupled with qualitative research is helpful in making sense of the complex, and often messy, process of large-scale educational reform. Even when policies are seemingly straightforward, they are implemented very differently across localities, schools, and classrooms (Elmore & Sykes, 1992). We will call up the co-construction framework as we discuss DDDM.

District Level Reform and Data-Driven Decision Making In the current policy environment, districts have emerged as key players in educational reform. More than ever before, districts are helping schools to focus on student achievement and quality of instruction (McIver & Farley, 2003; Togneri & Anderson, 2003). They have done so by learning to strategically engage with state reform policies and resources, with DDDM being a key ingredient. When the term data-driven decision making is raised, people often ask, exactly, “what data are you referring to?” When using the phrase data-driven decision making, we refer to the process by which individuals or groups think about and

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use data. Some scholars make delineations between concepts such as data, information, and knowledge (Mandinach, Honey, & LIght, 2006). In these cases, data are defined as “raw” pieces of facts while information and evidence are described as an interpretation of data. Since all data, including those collected from formal research projects, are designed and gathered based on theoretical and methodological perspectives, this distinction narrowly defines data and ignores the importance of data collection methods. In contrast to these narrow definitions, Earl and Katz (2002) adopt a broader view on what constitutes data. They argue that data are “summaries that result from collection of information through systematic measurement or observation or analysis about some phenomenon of interest, using quantitative and/or qualitative methods” (p. 4). Data are not characterized based on their visual representation (e.g., whether they are numbers or words or “raw facts”) but by the quality of their collection and synthesis. Furthermore, evidence refers to the interpretation arising out of data synthesis and analysis that is then used as a justification for specific purposes such as supporting a course of action or confirming or disconfirming assumptions (Lincoln, 2002). When referring to data use by individuals in schools and districts, we specifically refer to broad categories of information including (Bernhardt, 1998): 1. Demographic data, including attendance and discipline records; 2. Student achievement data, which encompasses not only standardized data but also formative assessments, teacher developed assessments, writing portfolios, and running records; 3. Instructional data, which focuses on activities such as teachers’ use of time, the pattern of course enrollment, and the quality of the curriculum; and 4. Perception data, which provides insights regarding values, beliefs, and views of individuals or groups (e.g., surveys, focus groups). As noted above, with the advent of No Child Left Behind, many districts are relying on these kinds of data (though often primarily those listed in number two, student achievement data) to inform decisions. A recent national study of the impact of NCLB reveals that most districts are allocating resources to increase the use of student achievement data to inform instruction in schools identified as needing improvement (Center on Education Policy, 2004). Similarly, summarizing findings across several major recent studies of high-performing school districts, Anderson (2003) writes: Successful districts in the current era of standards, standardized testing, and demands for evidence of the quality of performance invest considerable human, financial and technical resources in developing their capacity to assess the performance of students, teachers and schools, and to utilize these assessments to inform decision-making about needs and strategies for improvement, and progress towards goals at the classroom, school, and district levels (p. 9).

Supporters of data-driven decision making practices argue that effective data use enables school systems to learn more about their school, pinpoint successes and


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challenges, identify areas of improvement, and help evaluate the effectiveness of programs and practices (Mason, 2002). Previous research, though largely without comparison groups, suggests that DDDM has the potential to increase student performance (Alwin, 2002; Doyle, 2003; Johnson, 1999, 2000; Lafee, 2002; McIntire, 2002). Student achievement data can be used for various purposes including evaluating progress toward state and district standards, monitoring student progress, evaluating where assessments converge and diverge, and judging the efficacy of local curriculum and instructional practices (Cromey, 2000). When school-level educators become knowledgeable about data use, they can more effectively review their existing capacities, identify weaknesses, and better chart plans for improvement (Earl & Katz, 2006). Data-driven decision making is also critical to identifying and finding ways to close achievement gaps between white and minority students (Bay Area School Reform Collaborative, 2003; Olsen, 1997). One of the expected outcomes of using evidence to base decisions is the questioning of long-held assumptions about students and student achievement. In some instances when educators are confronted with evidence that challenges their views about students’ abilities, data can act as a potential catalyst for changing perceptions (Datnow & Castellano, 2000; Skrla & Scheurich, 2002). Armstrong and Anthes (2001) indicated that comparisons to high-performing schools with similar student demographics helped teachers in lower-achieving schools to stop blaming students’ background for low academic results. Skrla and Scheurich (2002) suggested that the Texas accountability system’s emphasis on disaggregating student data by subgroups helped to displace, but not eliminate, deficit views of students. Similarly, Woody’s (2004) survey of educators’ views on California’s accountability system found that larger data patterns increased teachers’ awareness of inequities in student outcomes. Prior research on DDDM indicates several key strategies, or areas of work, particularly when the reform is initiated by a system as part of a large-scale educational reform effort. First of all, studies indicate that using data must be a key feature in reform plans rather than a supplemental or sporadic activity (Datnow, Park, & Wohlstetter, 2007; Supovitz & Taylor, 2003; Togneri & Anderson, 2003). Becoming a learning organization necessitates a collaborative environment in which teachers and administrators have multiple opportunities and resources to examine and interpret data, followed by time to develop an action plan to change behavior. Furthermore, the effective use of data must occur at the district, school, and classroom levels (Armstrong & Anthes, 2001; Datnow et al., 2007; Kerr, Marsh, Ikemoto, Darilek, & Barney, 2006; Supovitz & Taylor, 2003; Togneri & Anderson, 2003; Wayman & Stringfield, 2006). Because DDDM is a system-wide activity, the co-construction framework is a helpful way for thinking about the activities and interrelationships of the individuals involved, up, down, and around the system. Also, in districts where DDDM is prevalent, there is often a culture of inquiry (Earl & Katz, 2006) that supports data use at all levels. Districts are actively transforming their professional development practices from ones that focus on compliance to support in order to build the capacity of their staff to participate in decision-making processes and create an organizational culture of inquiry

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(Petrides & Nodine, 2005). A culture of continuous improvement accompanies this culture of inquiry. Also, inclusiveness in the DDDM process is often prevalent. Not only are principals privy to repositories of assessment data, but teachers are as well. Teachers are often encouraged to take a close look at grade-level and classroom data and share and discuss the data with each other (Armstrong & Anthes, 2001). As part of engaging in DDDM, districts often create a closer alignment between the curriculum and state standards. This typically involves creating benchmarks and standards for each grade level. Increasingly, districts are also implementing regular assessments throughout the school year in order to make sure that student progress toward standards is regularly monitored and that instructional adjustments are made accordingly (Armstrong & Anthes, 2001; Petrides & Nodine, 2005). Scorecards are also utilized as a management tool to monitor and measure the progress of schools as well as to assist districts and school in aligning their goals (Petrides & Nodine, 2005). However, data need to be actively used to improve instruction in schools, and individual schools often lack the capacity to implement what research suggests (Wohlstetter, Van Kirk, Robertson, & Mohrman, 1997). The implementation of NCLB has set the stage for schools to become “data-rich” but not necessarily for teachers to be effective data users; in other words, the presence of data alone does not lead to substantive and informed decision making. Thus, districts play a key role in developing capacity and structures to enable effective data use. Previous studies on the implementation of DDDM confirm that structural enablers, effective leadership, and positive socialization toward data use impact its effectiveness (Armstrong & Anthes, 2001; Datnow et al., 2007; Ingram et al., 2004). In districts that support DDDM, the superintendent and school board members often know how to lead and support data use. Districts often have staff that work as liaisons with principals and individual schools (Armstrong & Anthes, 2001). Some districts are hiring instructional guides for each school to help faculty interpret student achievement data and to develop plans for improving outcomes. Overall, strong leaders, committed to utilizing data for decision making and knowledgeable about the process, are essential to ensuring that a positive culture for data use is implemented at the school level (Dembosky et al., 2005; Marsh et al., 2005; Petrides & Nodine, 2005). They lead by creating an atmosphere where data use practices are relevant for instructional decision making. School systems that are more successful in data use also tend to balance both standardization and flexibility (Datnow et al., 2007; Marsh et al., 2005). A degree of autonomy and flexibility for teachers is necessary in order to maintain the perspective that decisions are based on data rather than predetermined conclusions. In schools where DDDM practices became a core element for improvement processes, central office administrators, principals, and lead teachers expected data to be used to inform and justify decisions. Whether teachers have the flexibility to reorganize their student groups based on benchmark assessments, re-teach previous topics outside the scope and sequence of the curriculum, or alter the pace of the curriculum impacts the degree to which data will be used to guide decisions.


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Teachers need time to review and make sense of data if it is going to affect their instruction. In districts and schools that use data effectively, time is reallocated in the school day for reflection and professional development (Datnow et al., 2007; Feldman & Tung, 2001; Halverson, Grigg, Prichett, & Thomas, 2005; Marsh et al., 2005). Group-based inquiry or “collaborative data teams” have been found to be successful in implementing DDDM across a system due to the broad participation from a diverse array of staff including teachers and administrators (Mason, 2002). School systems are also starting to data reflection protocols in order to guide these data meetings (Datnow et al., 2007). These structured data discussions provide teachers with continuous and intensive opportunities to share, discuss, and apply what they are learning with their peers (Garet, Porter, Desimone, Birman, & Yoon, 2001; Wilson & Berne, 1999). Once teachers identify instructional and learning gaps, improvement efforts may be blocked if teachers are unaware of intervention or instructional strategies. Leaders can address these needs by developing external partnerships to help build system-wide capacity (Anthes & Armstrong, 2001; Datnow et al., 2007). Studies consistently suggest that as part of their capacity-building efforts, districts often provide professional development for principals and teachers so that they can learn to use data effectively (Petrides & Nodine, 2005; Togneri & Anderson, 2003). This is very important, as a perpetual problem that many schools face in making data-driven decisions is the lack of training regarding how to incorporate data into the school improvement process (Cromey, 2000). The onslaught of “drive-by” training sessions (Elmore, 2002) that do little to address the specific needs of schools and teachers cannot support the ongoing learning that is required for capacity building (Darling-Hammond & McLaughlin, 1995). Instead, effective professional development provides teachers with continuous and intensive opportunities to share, discuss, and apply what they are learning with other practitioners (Garet et al., 2001; Wilson & Berne, 1999). In order for this to occur, system-level support needs to be in place. In addition to consistent structured time for collaboration and professional learning, schools need strategies for planning, sharing, and evaluating their efforts. Thus, developing teachers’ capacity to become effective at using data to inform their instruction requires actions at multiple levels. Studies have suggested that school systems empower teachers to use data to inform their instruction and learning by: (1) investing in user-friendly data management systems that are accessible to teachers; (2) offering professional development for staff in how to use data and how to make instructional decisions on the basis of data; (3) providing time for teacher collaboration; and (4) connecting educators within and across schools to share data and improvement strategies (see Datnow et al., 2007). However, it is important to note that teachers need not only the capacity but also the empowerment to make instructional decisions based on data. School and system leaders need to provide scaffolds of support, but at the same time allow teachers enough flexibility to act on the basis of an informed analysis of multiple sources of data about their students’ progress.

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Overall, school systems play an increasingly pivotal role in leading and partnering with school sites to make data-driven practices an engine of reform. However, it is at the school level where everything comes together – and where DDDM is coconstructed by local educators (Datnow et al., 2007). School leaders provide time for meeting to discuss data, flexibility for re-teaching, and curriculum and material resources in order to facilitate data-driven instruction. Schools also develop their own assessments and tools for acting on data, which were often created by teachers working together. Like the systems, schools also function as places to build human and social capital in the form of building the knowledge and skills of teachers, a process which happened through professional development, instructional leadership, and networking among teachers. Schools also play a critical role in providing the expectations for data-driven instruction among teachers, as well as creating a climate of trust and collaboration so that teachers can work in professional learning communities to improve their practice (Datnow et al., 2007). Thus, in DDDM, we see that reform success is a joint accomplishment of individuals and policies at multiple levels of the system. Broader federal and state accountability policies provide an important frame for the work that happens at the system and school levels. Although the crux of the work around data use takes place at the school and district levels, NCLB has helped to provide the political leverage needed in order for districts to stimulate improvement at the school level. The federal government holds states, districts, and schools accountable for student performance. States set curriculum standards and also hold schools and districts accountable. However, DDDM is in the work of teachers and administrators. As Dowd (2005) explains, “data don’t drive,” and therefore local educators co-construct the outcomes of this reform in their daily work with each other and with students.

Conclusion When we examine events and actions across various contextual levels in the policy chain, we find that conditions at the federal, state, district, school, and designteam levels all co-construct the implementation of large-scale educational reform. Whereas a technical-rational view of educational change might suggest that implementation is an activity restricted to a group of people in schools at the bottom of the policy chain, we see here that implementation is a system-wide activity, even when the desired change is mainly at the school level. However, the various policy levels have varying degree of influence, and varying levels of connection with each other in the schools and districts. These findings point to the need for viewing events in broader contextual levels not just as “background” or “context” but as important, dynamic shaping forces in the large-scale educational reform process. In order to fully understand the co-construction of a multi-level reform like the ones discussed here, researchers would ideally gather detailed, longitudinal case-study data on the district, state, community, and other systemic linkages that might influence large-scale educational change efforts. Multiple schools and school


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systems would be involved. The study might employ a mixed-methods design that supplements the qualitative data with valid and reliable measures of student achievement over at least a 3-year period. Survey data gathered from teachers and principals would also be very useful in assessing the extent to which educators at the school level have been engaged in reform efforts. For example, teachers and principals could be asked about the presence of systemic structural supports (e.g., collaboration time, networks), professional development, and resources devoted to assist in the reform effort. Examining the co-construction of reform and the linkages across the educational system would likely provide insights that can inform the fields of educational research, policy development, and evaluation. However, there is a dearth of empirical research with the primary goal of identifying or describing such linkages. This gap in the reform literature reflects a systemic weakness in understanding why reform efforts have not been more successfully sustained. Clearly, educational reform involves formal structures, such as district offices, state policies, and so on. It also involves both formal and informal linkages among those structures. Yet, reform involves a dynamic relationship, not just among structures but also among cultures and people’s actions in many interlocking settings. It is this intersection of culture, structure, and individual agency across contexts that helps us better understand how to build positive instances of large-scale educational change.

References Alwin, L. (2002). The will and the way of data use. School Administrator, 59(11), 11. Anderson, S. (2003). The school district role in educational change: A review of the literature. Ontario: International Centre for Educational Change, Ontario Institute of Studies in Education. Armstrong, J., & Anthes, K. (2001). Identifying the factors, conditions, and policies that support schools’ use of data for decision making and school improvement: Summary of findings. Denver, CO: Education Commission of the States. Bay Area School Reform Collaborative. (2003). After the test: Using data to close the achievement gap. San Francisco: Author. Berman, P., & McLaughlin, M. W. (1978). Federal programs supporting educational change, Vol. VIII. Santa Monica, CA: Rand. Bernhardt, V. L. (1998). Multiple measures. Invited Monograph No. 4. CA: California Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (CASCD). Center on Education Policy. (2004). From the capital to the classroom: Year 2 of the No Child Left Behind Act. Washington, DC: Author. Cohen, D. K., Moffitt, S. L., & Goldin, S. (2007). Policy and practice. In S. Furhman, D. Cohen, & F. Mosher (Eds.), The state of education policy research (pp. 63–85). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Cromey, A. (2000). Using student assessment data: What can we learn from schools? Oak Brook, IL: North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. Darling-Hammond, L., & McLaughlin, M. W. (1995). Policies that support professional development in an era of reform. Phi Delta Kappan, 76(8), 597–604. Datnow, A., & Castellano, M. (2000). Teachers’ responses to success for All: How beliefs, experiences, and adaptations shape implementation. American Educational Research Journal, 37(3), 775–799. Datnow, A., Hubbard, L., & Mehan, H. (2002). Extending educational reform: From one school to many. London: RoutledgeFalmer Press.

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Datnow, A., Park, V., & Wohlstetter, P. (2007). Achieving with data: How high-performing school systems use data to improve instruction for elementary students. A report commissioned by the NewSchools Venture Fund. Los Angeles, CA: Center on Educational Governance. Datnow, A., Stringfield, S., Lasky, S., & Teddlie, C. (2006). Integrating educational systems for successful reform in diverse contexts. New York: Cambridge University Press. Dembosky, J. W., Pane, J. F., Barney, H., & Christina, R. (2005). Data driven decisionmaking in Southwestern Pennsylvania School Districts. Working paper. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Dowd, A. C., (2005). Data don’t drive: Building a practitioner-driven culture of inquiry to assess community college performance. Boston: University of Massachusetts, Lumina Foundation for Education. Doyle, D. P. (2003). Data-driven decision-making: Is it the mantra of the month or does it have staying power? THE (Technological Horizons in Education) Journal, 30(10), 19–21. Earl, L., & Katz, S. (2002). Leading schools in a data rich world. In K. Leithwood, P. Hallinger, G. Furman, P. Gronn, J. MacBeath, B. Mulforld, & K. Riley (Eds.), The second international handbook of educational leadership and administration. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer. Earl, L., & Katz, S. (2006). Leading schools in a data rich world. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Elmore, R. F. (1979–1980). Backward mapping: Implementation research and policy decisions. Political Science Quarterly, 94(4), 601–616. Elmore, R. F. (2002). Bridging the gap between standards and achievement: The imperative for professional development in education. Washington, DC: Albert Shanker Institute. Elmore, R., & Sykes, G. (1992). Curriculum policy. In P. W. Jackson (Ed.), Handbook of research on curriculum. New York: Macmillan. Feldman, J., & Tung, R. (2001). Whole school reform: How schools use the data-based inquiry and decision making process. Paper presented at the 82nd annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in Seattle, WA. Finn, C. E., & Hess, F. M. (2004). On leaving no child left behind. Public Interest, 157, 35–57. Firestone, W. A., Fitz, J., & Broadfoot, P. (1999). Power, learning, and legitimation: Assessment implementation across levels in the United States and the United Kingdom. American Educational Research Journal, 36(4), 759–793. Fullan, M. (1991). The new meaning of educational change. London: Cassell. Garet, M., Porter, A. C., Desimone, L., Birman, B. F., & Yoon, K. S. (2001). What makes professional development effective? Results from a national sample of teachers. American Educational Research Journal, 38(4), 915–945. Hall, P. M., & McGinty, P. J. W. (1997). Policy as the transformation of intentions: Producing program from statutes. The Sociological Quarterly, 38, 439–467. Halverson, R., Grigg, J., Prichett, R., & Thomas, C. (2005). The new instructional leadership: Creating data-driven instructional systems in schools (Wisconsin Center for Education Research Working Paper No. 2005-9). Madison, WI: Authors. Ingram, D. Louis, K. S., Schroeder, R. G. (2004). Accountability policies and teacher decisionmaking: Barriers to the use of data to improve practice. Teachers College Record, 106(6), 1258–1287. Johnson, J. H. (1999). Educators as researchers. Schools in the Middle, 9(1), 38–41. Johnson, J. H. (2000). Data-driven school improvement. Journal of School Improvement, 1(1), XX. Kerr, K. A., Marsh, J. A., Ikemoto, G. S., Darilek, H., & Barney, H. (2006). Strategies to promote data use for instructional improvement: Actions, outcomes, and lessons from three urban districts. American Journal of Education, 112(3), 496–520. Lafee, S. (2002). Data-driven districts. School Administrator, 59(11), 6–7, 9–10, 12, 14–15. Lincoln, Y. S. (2002). On the nature of qualitative evidence. A paper presented for the Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education. Sacramento, CA. Mandinach, E. B. Honey, M., & Light, D. (2006). A theoretical framework for data-driven decision making. Paper presented at the annual meeting of AERA, San Francisco.


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Teacher Emotions in the Context of Educational Reforms Michalinos Zembylas

The ever-expanding field of teacher change informs us that reform in schools is about conflict, unpredictability, resistance, and some loss in self-image. Teachers are considered by most policymakers, curriculum developers, and school change experts to be instrumental in the process of educational change (Datnow, 2000; Fullan, 1998; Hargreaves & Fullan, 1998; Hargreaves, Earl, & Ryan, 1996; McLaughlin, 1998). Yet teachers respond to school reforms in a variety of ways: Some teachers are happy to support and sustain reform efforts, whereas others feel fear, frustration, or loss and resist such efforts (Datnow, 1998; Datnow & Castellano, 2000; Hargreaves, 1994, 1997, 1998a, 1998b, 2004, 2005; Lasky, 2005; Van Veen & Sleegers, 2006; Van Veen, Sleegers, & van de Ven, 2005; Zembylas & Barker, 2007). However, reform efforts rarely address the emotions of change for teachers and the implications of educational reforms on teachers’ emotional well-being (Hargreaves, 2004; Van Veen & Lasky, 2005). Over the last few years, two reviews of research on teachers’ meanings regarding educational practice (van den Berg, 2002) and policy implementation and cognition (Spillane, Reiser, & Reimer, 2002), and a special issue on emotions, identity, and change of Teaching and Teacher Education (Van Veen & Lasky, 2005), have brought attention to the emotional impact of reform efforts on teachers. Both of these reviews, as well as the articles published in the special issue of Teaching and Teacher Education, emphasize the need for research that pays attention to the emotional aspects of teacher practice and reform initiatives and moves beyond a “dispassionate cognitive perspective” (Spillane et al., 2002, p. 401) of teacher sense-making. Spillane and his colleagues state specifically that emotions are an “overlooked and understudied aspect of the social sense-making with respect to reform” (p. 411); similarly, Van Veen and Lasky (2005) assert that the ways teachers experience reform is fundamentally emotionally laden, and thus research on these issues can inform change theory and professional development.

M. Zembylas (B) Open University of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus e-mail: [emailprotected] A. Hargreaves et al. (eds.), Second International Handbook of Educational Change, Springer International Handbooks of Education 23, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-2660-6_13, C Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010



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In this chapter, I offer a critical synthesis and analysis of contemporary work on the importance of teacher emotions in relation to educational change. My purpose is not to provide a comprehensive review of current literature on teacher emotions and educational reforms but rather to engage in a discussion of contemporary work, focusing on what seem to me two major issues that run through recent research on teacher emotions and educational change. These issues are: (1) space and time as sources of social and emotional support for teachers in reform contexts; (2) the interplay among teacher emotions, identity, and politics. My discussion is informed by and contextualized in my own research in the area for the last 10 years, and my goal is to make a contribution to the ongoing conceptual analysis of investigations on teacher emotions in the context of educational reform. This chapter also explores the implications for practice and policy from the development of spaces for teachers to process their feelings about change. While more work is being done in the area of teacher emotions and the impact of high-stakes accountability and stress-inducing reforms (e.g. Troman & Woods, 2000; Vandenberghe & Huberman, 1999), research on teachers’ emotional efforts in the context of reforms has not been the subject of extensive research and thus requires more in-depth analysis (Day, 2002). In a world of unrelenting and even repetitive change (Abrahamson, 2004), understanding the emotional aspects of educational change is essential, if reform efforts are to be more meaningful and successful.

Emotionality and Educational Reform: An Overview Emotion and change are closely linked (Hargreaves, 2004). Teachers’ emotional responses toward change are the result of the ways teachers perceive, interpret, and evaluate their relationship with the changing environment (Blase, 1986; Troman & Woods, 2001). When teachers resist reform efforts, it is often because it threatens their self-image, their sense of identity, and their emotional bonds with students and colleagues by overloading the curriculum and intensifying teachers’ work and control from the outside (Hargreaves, 1994, 2005; Nias, 1999a, 1999b; van den Berg, 2002; Zembylas, 2005b). Teachers’ resistance to change has often been attributed to stubbornness, lack of imagination, and laziness. However, teachers grasp the negative consequences the reform agenda – often imposed from the outside – will have on them and their students; therefore, teachers resist reforms when the rhetoric of change does not match with the reality of their everyday classroom practices (Bailey, 2000; Schmidt & Datnow, 2005). Emotional disappointment with reform arises not only because of the unwanted imposition of reform demands, but also because of the cumulative effects of the repetitive and contradictory nature of such demands (Little, 1996, 2000). Van Veen et al. (2005) and Van Veen and Sleegers (2006) extend the work of Little and further show that even when teachers subscribe to the reform agenda, the working conditions under which the reform has to be implemented elicit more negative emotions than one would expect on the basis

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of the teachers’ (cognitive) assent. It is not surprising, then, that attempts for educational change may be unsuccessful not only because they may exclude rather than include teachers, but also because these attempts may have predominantly negative emotional implications for teachers (Hargreaves, 2004). There are many models of school reform that are based on the idea that change is a problem to be solved through appropriate needs assessment, followed by the implementation of appropriate strategies. Such perspectives on school reform are based on the idea that change is primarily a “rational” and “technical” process. The difficulty with such models of reform is that they overemphasize the rational and consequently do not take into account the complexity, ambiguity, and uncertainty acknowledged to be part of change in schools (Hargreaves, 1994, 2000, 2005; Nias, 1999a, 1999b). Rationality is often the driving force behind reform initiatives. In such circ*mstances, teachers’ emotional responses to change are often seen less important. However, change does not only occur as a result of outlining a set of problems to diagnose and solve (Vince & Broussine, 1996). It can also be approached through identifying the emotions (e.g., anxiety and loss) and relations of collegiality and trust that challenge the ways in which teachers think and feel about themselves and others. In the last two decades, educational reformers have emphasized the importance of collegial relations, collaborative networks, and trust among teachers in enriching the school organizational climate while also providing teachers powerful opportunities for self-renewal (Alfonso & Goldsberry, 1982; Hargreaves & Dawe, 1990; Little, 1990; Marlow & Nass-f*ckai, 2000; Sergiovanni, 1992; Wallace, 1998). True collegiality, according to Marlow and Nass-f*ckai (2000), involves ongoing professional interaction and trust; in these interactions there is validation of colleagues as equals. Despite the conceptual vagueness of the terms “collegiality” and “trust,” professional collegial relationships are suggested as one way to reduce isolation and develop greater coherence and integration to the work of teaching (Little, 1990). Several authors acknowledge the advantages of social and emotional support in teachers’ efforts to cope with change (Hargreaves, 1994, 2001a, 2001b, 2004; Nias, 1998, 1999a, 1999b; Van Veen & Lasky, 2005). For example, Nias (1999a) argues that collegial relations appear to strengthen the moral perspectives and values of teachers. “Collegial” or “collaborative” teacher cultures (Nias, 1989) are characterized by mutual support and caring, in which individuals feel able to express their emotions, negative and positive, to admit to failure and weakness, to voice resentment and frustration, to demonstrate affection. By contrast, a culture of individualism tends to increase emotional stress for its members by fostering an illusion that others are coping and that one’s own fears are born of a unique incompetence; by requiring individuals to pretend to feelings they do not own; by failing to promote the habit of day-to-day communication so that small interpersonal or professional differences build up into major problems. (Nias, 1999a, p. 235)

Nias (1998) also emphasizes that teachers who have the time or subject matter relatedness value talking and listening as a means of sharing emotional experiences – especially, in times of frustration or despair such as during stressful reform efforts. The benefits of this kind of teacher talk are important: First, teachers get to


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know one another much better, both personally and professionally; second, teacher talk builds trusting relationships and mutual openness; and third, teachers develop a shared language that contributes to the success of what they do (Nias, 1998). Interpersonal relationships among teachers contribute to the emotional health of the staff group; these relationships have added benefits such as improved cooperation, communication, and emotional commitment (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1995; Leithwood, Menzies, Jantzi, & Leithwood, 1999). Hence, trust and emotional support among teachers seems to facilitate effective and meaningful collaborative working relationships. Increasingly, change theorists acknowledge that resistance to change is part of the process – in fact, it has a modifying influence – and that the ambivalence and confusion teachers have toward change can be understood on the basis of how individuals respond to change and why they change. To accept reform costs teachers some loss in self-image and vulnerability (Hargreaves, 1998a, 1998b, 2000; Nias, 1999a, 1999b). This threat to self-esteem and the resulting vulnerability can work against reform efforts (Lasky, 2005; Kelchtermans, 2005). There needs to be acknowledged, of course, that sometimes reform is needed, even conceding that it will be emotionally destructive for some teachers who are involved. Nevertheless, as Blackmore (1996, 1998a, 1998b) argues, the issue is not so much about the rational vs. emotional views of reform, but it is about issues of commitment to certain values and certain types of social relationships. That is, Blackmore asserts, change theorists still fail to consider how individuals’ emotions intersect with the politics of change. Thus, any attempt to understand school reform needs to take into consideration both the individual and the collective coping practices of teachers. Evans (1996) suggests that change has emotional investment which cannot be altered by rational explanation or technical approach alone; change is part of the context of specific relationships with friends, colleagues, family and how change impacts on such relationships. Thus social, emotional, and material support for teachers during times of reform is necessary for the emotional well-being of teachers, as well as for the successful implementation of reform efforts (Hargreaves, Earl, Moore, & Manning, 2001; Van Veen et al., 2005). Finally, in my own work, I have used the metaphorical term spaces for coping with change (Zembylas, 2005a; Zembylas & Barker, 2007) to identify the spatiality and politics of emotional relations and understandings of teachers’ responses to educational reform. Space may sound like a vague metaphor until we realize that it describes experiences of everyday life (Palmer, 1993). We know what it means to experience a sunrise; we know what it means to be on a crowded rush-hour bus. In teaching, teachers know best what it is to be pressed, their space diminished by the urgency of demands, especially in the context of reform efforts that may exclude them. Needless to say, there is ample evidence of the chances of innovations when teachers feel some ownership of the change process (Fink & Stoll, 1996; Fullan, 1993; Sarason, 1990). But regardless of whether teachers feel ownership of the change process or not, they somehow have to make an affective meaning of change and move on. The term “spaces for coping” is used precisely to describe this notion: the literal and metaphorical spaces that teachers create to cope with change

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and make sense of their feelings about the change processes; thus teacher emotions are unavoidably social and political. The notion of “space” and its political implications are important because their relevance is seen as central to school reform efforts (Baker & Foote, 2006; Hargreaves, 2001b, 2004, 2005). The idea of “spaces for coping” may be utilized as an overarching concept, because it helps us identify the intersection between individual experiences and social power relations (Beatty & Brew, 2004; hooks, 1991) or structural and cultural working conditions (Kelchtermans, 2005). In other words, spaces for coping are places where it is possible to explore how teachers’ emotional responses are socially and politically contextualized (Zembylas, 2005a). Thus, spaces for coping imply defenses or resistances that may have to be breached for change to occur. But the creation of spaces of coping may also imply resisting those tendencies to clutter up a renewed consciousness about teaching; it is then that possibilities are opened up for real change.

Space and Time as Sources of Social and Emotional Support for Teachers in Reform Contexts A key idea of spatial theorists is that space is fundamental to social life; social spaces are produced and transformed by our practices (Harvey, 1989; Rose, 1993). There is a co-constructive relationship among individuals, groups, and their environments; in other words, our social space is producing and is produced by us. Space is conceptualized as an arena of social, historical, and political relations that imply certain assertions about social interaction, race, class, gender, identity formation, and power (Soja, 1989, 1996). According to this conception, our being-in-the-world is simultaneously historical, social, political, and spatial; social acting, then, has to be understood within spatial contexts. The field of geography has contributed significantly to our understanding of the role of spatiality in human relations, although more often than not space has been theorized in ways that have been complicit to the exploitation of individuals (Rose, 1993). What seems to be an important contribution of spatial theories to the discussion here is the notion that spatial aspects create emotional experiences in teaching. Spatial aspects such as physical closeness, social relations, moral values, professional ideas, and power relations are characteristics of schools. Hargreaves (2001a, 2001b) has utilized the term emotional geographies to emphasize the spatial and experiential patterns of closeness and/or distance in human interactions or relationships within schools. He identifies five key emotional geographies of teaching: sociocultural, moral, professional, political, and physical distance. It is important to reiterate the three caveats that Hargreaves (2001a) suggests regarding emotional geographies of teaching. The first one is that there are no “universal” rules of emotional geography in teaching, meaning that there is no ideal closeness or distance between teachers and others that is culture free. The second caveat is that emotions have imaginary geographies of psychological closeness as well as physical ones.


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And the third caveat is that distance and closeness are not just structural or cultural conditions that shape teachers’ interactions but active accomplishments by teachers who make or remake the emotional geographies of their interactions. In addition to the social and political understanding of space, time also constitutes human experience and thus change over time has to be examined in relation to the spaces in which it acquires meaning (Louis, 2006). Again, Hargreaves’ contribution is important here because as it is shown through his work, the issue of time is significant in understanding the emotions of change. For example, the sustainability of change is part of the social and emotional geography of a school (Goodson, Moore, & Hargreaves, 2006) and teachers’ age and career stages are inextricable aspects of spaces of change (Hargreaves, 2005). Teachers’ emotional responses to educational change, then, are as much a matter of spatial politics of reform as it is a historical matter of teachers’ concerns. Time and space are inevitably interpreted through teachers’ emotions and identities and thus the historical organization of spaces of reform is a constitutive element in teachers’ professional development (Baker & Foote, 2006). A similar term by Spillane (1999), teachers’ zones of enactment, refers to the social and political spaces in which reform initiatives are encountered within the worlds of practitioners; it is within these zones that “teachers notice, construe, construct, and operationalize the instructional ideas advocated by reformers” (p. 144). Both Hargreaves’ “emotional geographies” and Spillane’s “zones of enactment” offer important contributions to discourses on educational reform: they emphasize the (positive or negative) “emotional labor” (Hochschild, 1983) involved in teachers’ efforts to cope with change as well as the need that teachers’ emotional responses must be considered when reform efforts are undertaken. More recently, Beatty and Brew (2004) have also examined how emotional epistemologies address the power of connecting with self and others in emotional meaning-making, which may very well underlie “emotional geographies” and “zones of enactment.” In my own work, I have built on these ideas and conceptualized a term that captures more specifically the collection of teachers’ efforts and practices to deal with the emotional aspects of educational reform. For this purpose, I suggested the term spaces for coping to theorize space by bringing together the various kinds of modalities – emotional, political, cultural, and social – that produce an active (not a passive) locus of interactions and relationships among teachers (Zembylas & Barker, 2007). This term articulates a conceptualization of space as a product (Lefebvre, 1991) that contains (1) the social relations among teachers, students, and parents, along with the specific organization of the school; and (2) the emotional labor – positive and negative – of teachers as a result of their involvement in reform efforts. Spaces for coping are products of physical, social, moral, professional, and political processes enacted by teachers in the context of educational reform. By spaces for coping, I mean those spaces emergent through the enactment of practices that attempt to deal with educational reform in terms of awareness, thinking, feeling, and relating. This term does not merely represent a metaphorical conceptualization of space but an understanding of coping in terms of signifying practices and processes. In other words, the term “spaces for coping” captures

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the inseparable components of the dynamics of spatial production. The concept of spaces for coping explores how efforts to attend to and through processes and practices can work to extend rather than diminish the emotional field in which teachers move. This extension is facilitated by a deepening of the analysis of teachers’ emotional entanglements with change. Therefore, the emphasis is on how spaces for coping with change provide contexts through which to apprehend issues of emotionality and educational reform. For example, in many of the studies cited so far investigating teacher emotions and educational reform as well as in my own research, it is shown how teachers strive to balance their personal goals for reform, their emotional responses, and the external pressures. Opportunities like time and space set aside for conversations with their colleagues or for planning or practicing ideas provide teachers with sources of social and emotional support in their efforts to deal with change. Each teacher’s understanding of the reform effort is clearly very different from that of other teachers within the same school. In a sense, then, teachers’ struggles with the reform efforts constitute highly individual tales. Teachers embrace or reject reform for quite different reasons; they bring to the reform efforts certain commitments and have particular emotional responses that effectively undermine or support the proposed changes (Schmidt & Datnow, 2005). On the one hand, teachers, who are against the reform effort, may find ways to “adjust” the reform to their own needs and beliefs; on the other hand, others who embrace the reform efforts, value time and space opportunities so that they can be more successful in implementing the reform (see Zembylas & Barker, 2007). As it is shown through existing research, teachers who are in an environment of uncertainty use time and space in their own ways to create practices of coping with the reform efforts. What I want to suggest here, then, is that sensitivity to teachers’ needs for emotional and social support is essential to reform efforts. Creating networks of support that strengthen collegiality and trust can gradually make space for the feelings that help weave community and cultivate relationships. There are always the mixed feelings of excitement and anxiety teachers have at the outset of a new reform effort. Opportunities for time and space as sources of emotional and social support may work well for teachers, especially for those who resist change. On the one hand, having such opportunities might create opportunities for the future transformations of those teachers who initially resist change. On the other hand, it should not be ignored that such opportunities may in fact subvert reform efforts, despite the fact that “oppositional” teachers find their much-needed support to cope with change (see Zembylas & Barker, 2007). Teacher collegiality and trust are based not only on contextual factors (e.g., time, subject matter relatedness), but also on personal moral values (Hargreaves, 1994; Van Veen & Sleegers, 2006). Teachers’ moral values contribute to the school emotional culture and subcultures and affect teachers’ emotional practices in school reform efforts. Often, some teachers’ coping practices with reform efforts have damaging consequences for their effectiveness in the classroom and for their capacity to connect with students (Hargreaves, 2000; Woods, Jeffrey, Troman, & Boyle, 1997), because external reform efforts can work against the moral values and beliefs held


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by these teachers. In addition to the fact that the personal self-image and identity of teachers is usually at stake, teachers’ efforts result in the adoption of often insufficient coping practices such as retreatism or downshifting (Troman & Woods, 2000). Thus, change for some teachers can invoke a sense of powerlessness (Smylie, 1999) and vulnerability (Kelchtermans, 1996, 2005; Lasky, 2005), when teachers evaluate their capacities, values, and will to respond to change as incompatible. Inevitably, then, teacher emotions are interwoven with issues of power, identity, and resistance in the context of educational reform (Zembylas, 2005a, 2005b).

The Interplay Among Teacher Emotions, Identity, and Politics Recent research on teacher emotions and educational change also shows the multiple links among teacher emotions, identity, and politics (e.g. see Hargreaves, 2005; Kelchtermans, 2005; Van Veen & Lasky, 2005; Zembylas, 2003, 2005a, 2005b). This line of work provides evidence about the ways in which teacher emotions and identity formation play a central role in the circuits of power that constitute teacher-selves. The critical understanding of this process in contexts of educational reform is crucial, if we are also to explore the possibility of creating new forms of teacher-selves that escape normative responses to change. For example, it is shown that teacher identity is not fixed but is constantly becoming in spaces that are embedded in the interplay between emotions and actions, on the one hand, and the political conditions within a school, on the other; this interplay mediates the emotionally laden interpretation of reform policies (Zembylas, 2005b). This line of thinking – which is grounded on a poststructuralist theorization of emotions, identity, and power in education (Boler, 1999; Zembylas, 2005a) – provides a different lens than the usual sociocultural framework that has been used to understand teacher emotions and identity in school reform efforts (e.g., see Hargreaves, 1998a, 2000, 2005; Lasky, 2005; Van Veen & Sleegers, 2005). Most sociological studies on this subject emphasize how teacher emotions are socially constructed but often assume a givenness to teacher-self and identity – the processes of social construction pertain only to how social situations shape the expression and experience of teachers’ emotional states (Zembylas, 2005a). On the other hand, the approaches that are based on feminist and poststructuralist perspectives examine the transaction among larger social forces and the inner psychic aspects and highlight how teachers participate in emotional practices by adopting or resisting – in action – particular emotion discourses. The advantage of feminist and poststructuralist approaches compared to other approaches is that feminist and poststructuralist approaches focus on the role of emotional and social practices of teachers and avoid privileging selfconsciousness, that is, they reject the assumption that one’s awareness of being is separate from the socially constructed world (Boler, 1999). In particular, feminist and poststructuralist approaches draw attention to a deeper and more complex understanding of the role of power relations in the context of educational change. As Abu-Lughod and Lutz argue, power is an integral part of

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emotions, identity politics, and change, because “power relations determine what can, cannot, or must be said about self and emotion, what is taken to be true or false about them, and what only some individuals can say about them. [. . .] . . . [This idea] show[s] how emotion discourses establish, assert, challenge, or reinforce power or status differences” (p. 14). By recognizing the role power relations play in constructing emotions of change, a better understanding of the personal, cultural, political, and historical aspects of teacher identity formation might be gained. For this reason, I have termed this work genealogies of emotions in teaching (Zembylas, 2005a, 2005b). Following Foucault’s genealogical method (1983a, 1983b, 1984), I have argued that constructing genealogies of emotions in teaching casts light on how emotions are located and represented in teachers’ pedagogies and on teachers’ personal and professional development. In particular, genealogies of teacher emotions in contexts of educational reforms describe events, objects, persons, and their relationships that are present or absent in the realization of the emotions related to change, and the ways that these emotions are experienced in relation to teacherself (individual reality), others (social interactions), and school politics and culture (sociopolitical context). For example, it has been shown that analysis of identity politics and power relations in the context of school reform enriches our understanding of the fear and suspicion that teachers often feel when they are faced with change (Zembylas & Barker, 2007). The existing research on teacher emotions, identity, and politics in the context of reform highlights two important issues. First, it is valuable to gain an understanding of the constitution of teacher subjectivities within a historical and spatial framework of how meaning intersects with emotional experiences of change. Only by interrogating the temporal and spatial contexts from which questions of identity are posed can we trace how teacher identity is subjected to the social and emotional practices of change. As Bauman (1991, 2004) argues, identities in contemporary world are undergoing a process of continual transformation and emotional ambivalence is a compelling notion of understanding the changing nature of social life and personal experience. This kind of analysis problematizes the “emotional regulation” that is often demanded from teachers and highlights the process with which emotional rules are constructed in relation to change, that is, how power relations and identity politics shape the expression of emotions by permitting teachers to feel some emotions and by prohibiting them to feel others. This lesson turns our attention to the view that emotions are essentially embedded in identity politics and power relations; thus, emotional regulation is not only an individual process (which is how it is usually presented by psychologically grounded literature; see, e.g., Sutton & Wheatley, 2003) but also a political one. By understanding how emotional rules and expectations are historically contingent, teachers and teacher educators may begin to deconstruct the power relations and identity politics that seek to “regulate” teachers’ lives. The second issue has to do with the importance of the emotional aspects of the negotiation of change in the context of school reforms and the role of self-discipline, self-esteem, and professional norms in teaching. Professional values and norms, as Kelchtermans (2005) points out, ought to be conceptualized as inextricable aspects


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of teacher identity and the cultural and structural working conditions; these norms are continually (re)constructed and/or reproduced through interactions of domination and resistance. For example, it is shown in various studies that a teacher’s relation to oneself is marked by self-policing of emotional conduct according to the demands of a particular educational reform (Hargreaves, 2005; Lasky, 2005). Thus, there is a lot to be gained from developing accounts that are suspicious of appeals to emotional well-being tied to rationalizations and instrumental goals of educational reforms. Such appeals to emotional well-being tied to rationalizations need to be examined in terms of how they shape the meaning and drive the direction, goals, emotional conduct, and motivation of teachers involved in reform efforts. New theoretical frameworks, such as those of feminist theories and poststructuralism, can be helpful in identifying how problematic are some of the underlying assumptions of reform and show that power and resistance can be productive in efforts to subvert normalizing practices (see Zembylas, 2005a). Clearly, then, emotions in the context of educational reforms are not only a private matter but also a political space, in which students and teachers interact with implications in larger political and cultural struggles (Albrecht-Crane & Slack, 2003; Zembylas, 2005a, 2005b). The notion of “politics” here refers to “a process of determining who must repress as illegitimate, who must foreground as valuable, the feelings and desires that come up for them in given contexts and relationships” (Reddy, 1997, p. 335). That is to say, power is located in emotional expression (Campbell, 1997) – in who gets to express and who must repress various emotions. The politics of emotions, therefore, is the analysis that challenges the cultural and historical emotion norms with respect to what emotions are, how they are expressed, who gets to express them, and under what circ*mstances. It is in this sense that it may be argued that there is always something political in which teachers and students are caught up as they relate emotionally to one another in contexts of reform, because power relations are essentially unavoidable; there are always some norms influencing emotion discourses and emotional expressions during reform efforts. A careful analysis of the interplay among teacher emotions, identity, and politics provides openings for a critical intervention in a much larger debate about professional subjectivities in schools. The need for a deeper conceptualization of this interplay among teacher emotions, identity, and politics can guide future efforts to understand the power and the limitations of the political merits or demerits of any emotional regime within the space of educational reform efforts.

Implications Overall, the findings from research on teacher emotions in the context of educational reforms highlight two issues: First, how schools structure teacher interactions in ways that hinder or promote the processing of teacher emotions; and, second, how teachers respond emotionally to professional expectations and norms (Ball & Cohen, 1996; Hargreaves, 2000; Kelchtermans, 2005; Spillane, 1999). My

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analysis in this chapter has emphasized that a teacher’s emotional development in the context of educational reform efforts is profoundly influenced by his or her participation in particular forms of discursive and emotional practices at school. By analyzing this idea in such terms, I wish to avoid a suggestion that subordinates the individual to the social and loses sight of the reciprocal relation between the two. As I have indicated, existing research shows that there is a great deal at stake in the emotional regimes of schools under reform. However, teacher communities are able to constitute spaces that have the potential to subvert disciplinary mechanisms and practices. My analysis here also identifies an idea that is found in previous studies about teachers’ responses to educational change. That is, it is shown how teachers differ in fundamental emotional ways with regard to how they create spaces for coping with reform efforts. Yet, more recent studies indicate that these differences are not idiosyncratic ones but are related to the sociopolitical culture of school. These findings suggest that working conditions, social relations, and moral/personal values and concerns engage teachers emotionally with the reform effort and signify what is at stake for them, regardless of whether teachers support or object the reform initiatives (see also Hargreaves, 2004, 2005). Educational change, then, is inevitably a deeply emotional sense-making experience for teachers. Consequently, allowing emerging feelings to be dealt with is not about helping teachers to feel “better” about reform pressures, but is a valuable contribution to teachers because it helps them practically to find ways of integrating and/or reconciling opposing or conflicting feelings about reform. On the one hand, teachers must understand that in the process of educational change, conflict, tensions, and disturbance to long-held beliefs are not to be feared; on the other hand, teachers also need the emotional and social support to take reasonable risks to cope with reform (Schmidt & Datnow, 2005). However, it is often assumed that all or most teachers will produce a uniform set of responses to reform – that is, they will want to teach and behave in the manner expected of them (Hargreaves, 1994). Such demand for uniformity highlights the power relations involved in reform efforts and seeks to limit teachers’ role to that of a technician. Therefore, an implication of this finding is that reformers have to acknowledge the significance of emotional diversity and provide opportunities for teachers to create their own spaces of coping with change. Change is not about forcing all teachers to subscribe enthusiastically to new ideas; a reform process needs to allow teachers to carve out spaces for themselves in order to work individually and collaboratively and find ways to reflect on their practices. Teachers need space and time to make sense of change and to make reform efforts part of their own teaching. In their own classroom, teachers hold the power for the success or failure of school reform efforts (Sarason, 1996). The findings of existing studies in this area add support to the research which suggests that teacher emotions, identity politics, and power relations have substantial effects on classroom practice and reform efforts (Beatty & Brew, 2004; Hargreaves, 2001a, 2001b; Little, 1996, 2000; Nias, 1999a, 1999b). These findings are not so unusual; however, it seems that these issues need to be directly addressed in schools undergoing reform, because stressed and unhappy teachers can subvert


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reform efforts in unexpected ways (Datnow, 1998; Datnow & Castellano, 2000). In some respects, the success of reform efforts that are based on collaborations among teachers is directly related to the relationships that these teachers develop. Not surprisingly, then, teacher collegiality and trust create distinctive emotional geographies that influence reform efforts in two ways. First, teacher collegiality that is also based on friendship and trust may intensely compete with interests for a successful reform effort; and second, teacher collegiality that is based on politeness and avoidance of conflict may end up subverting the reform effort because the real issues are not addressed (Zembylas & Barker, 2007). The contribution of existing studies lies in the finding that while social sharing and collegial relationships create important spaces for teachers to cope with change in a nonthreatening environment, it is also possible that these spaces may simultaneously undermine the reform effort. In an increasingly changing educational environment, it has never been more necessary to develop an in-depth understanding of teacher emotions in the context of reform. Building a better emotional understanding of educational reform expectations, teachers, administrators, and reformers will become able to form more productive alliances (Hargreaves & Fullan, 1998), and redefine the emotional geographies of their relationships to make them more effective in dealing with the emotional risks of change. Better emotional understanding, as Hargreaves (2001b) argues, implies a reversal in many educational policies and policy processes. Such policies must seriously consider the emotional implications of reforms that demand teachers to implement content and learning standards, to limit teachers’ time out of class to interact with others, and to standardize teachers’ interactions with those around them. Future research in this area needs to further clarify how different policies may enable productive spaces of dealing with change, while exposing the constraints of any taken-for-granted assumptions about educational reforms.

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The Micropolitics of Educational Change and Reform: Cracking Open the Black Box Joseph Blase and Lars Björk

The first studies of micropolitics of education were published during the mid-1980s (Ball, 1987; Blase, 1987). Two decades later, a small but significant number of studies have been completed, some of which have centered on the micropolitics of educational change and reform. In 1998, Blasé conducted a comprehensive review of the micropolitics of educational change; this chapter highlights primary studies from that review but emphasizes more recent relevant work. Micropolitics remains a fact of life in educational settings, and during times of change, such politics tend to increase and intensify. This chapter presents a review of studies that have generated findings on the micropolitics of educational change and reform. The chapter opens with an overview of macro– and micro– educational politics. Following this, a section focusing on the micropolitics of life in schools illustrates the ubiquitous nature of this important phenomenon in schools. Subsequent sections form the heart of this chapter and highlight findings about teachers, school principals, middle-level administrators (i.e., central office staffs), district superintendents, and school boards. Each section describes micropolitical factors that facilitate and impede school reform. The chapter closes with a brief discussion of directions for future research and a conclusion.

The Macropolitics and Micropolitics of Education Generally speaking, the term “politics” refers to decisions about the allocation of valued goods for a particular society or organization – for example, who gets what, how, and when. Macropolitics and micropolitics (i.e., organizational politics), two broad aspects of the politics of education, refer to similar conflictual and cooperative processes and similar concepts including individual and group interests, power and influence, strategic interaction, values, and ideologies (Ball, 1987; Barott & Galvin, 1998; Blase, 1991; Blase & Blase, 2000; Marshall & Scribner, 1991; Spring, 1997, J. Blase (B) University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA e-mail: [emailprotected]

A. Hargreaves et al. (eds.), Second International Handbook of Educational Change, Springer International Handbooks of Education 23, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-2660-6_14, C Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010



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1998; Wirt & Kirst, 1992). In the United States, macropolitics of education may describe the school’s external environment and its relationships at the local, state, and federal levels (Willower, 1991) as well as the interaction of private and public organizations within, between, and among levels (Cibulka, 2001; Marshall & Scribner, 1991; Spring, 1997; Wirt & Kirst, 1992). In recent decades, several waves of school reform have dominated the macropolitics of education in the United States. Firestone (1990) notes that although efforts to improve public schools began in the late 1970s, the release of a Nation at Risk in 1983 launched an era of educational reform “that is arguably the most intense, comprehensive and sustained effort to improve education in America’s history” (Bjork, 2001a, p. 19). Media coverage of the report heightened concern for the condition of public education, shaped the perception that the nation’s schools had failed the nation’s children and economy, and stimulated calls for reform. Other reports over long periods have reflected separate yet related reform themes (Bacharach, 1990; Firestone, Fuhrman, & Kirst, 1990; Lane & Epps, 1992; Murphy, 1990). The first wave (1983-1986), which began with the release of the Nation at Risk Report (1983), was followed in rapid succession by similar commission and task force reports that called for using student test scores to hold schools accountable, increasing graduation requirements, lengthening the school day and year, and increasing the rigor of teacher licensure requirements (Björk, Kowalski, & Young, 2005). Legislative accountability measures lessened district policy-making prerogatives by shifting decision making to states. An analysis of second-wave reports (1986–1989) suggests a continuation of accountability themes as well as greater emphasis on higher-order thinking skills, problem solving, computer competency, and cooperative learning. Importantly, many reports made a compelling case that schools should be responsible for ensuring that all children learn, particularly “at risk” children living in poverty (Murphy, 1990). In addition, efforts to establish teacher empowerment and strengthen teaching professionalism contributed to the devolution of decision making and governance from the district level to school councils. These shifts coupled with high stakes accountability attempted to alter both conventional practices and power configurations at the district and school levels (Björk, 1996; Murphy, 1990). Third-wave (1989–2003) reform reports criticized previous commission reports for their focus on organizational and professional issues rather than on student well-being and student learning. These reports offered two canons to guide reform including recentering the profession to focus on student learning and realigning schools to support families as a way to enhance children’s capacity to learn. In 2002, the enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) reiterated previous school accountability themes and underscored the importance of ensuring that all children learn. NCLB shifted accountability from the building level to the individual child and introduced the notion of holding school superintendents, principals, and teachers responsible for bridging the learning gaps for different groups of children. The NCLB coupled hardnosed accountability measures, performance timetables, and remedies with parsimonious federal support; consequently, many critics have

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characterized it as the largest underfunded federal education mandate in US history (Björk et al., 2005). Although it is generally agreed that NCLB has heightened attention to glaring inequities in student academic performance, many speculate that raising the bar to successively higher levels of performance until 2014 may result in a declaration that schools have failed and thus justify the offering of vouchers as an alternative way to fund public education (Björk et al., 2005). Indeed, nationally initiated legislation in the United States and the external collection of private and public organizations with interest in such legislation have had significant effects on politics at the district and school levels (Barott & Galvin, 1998; Blase, 1991, 1998; Cibulka, 2001; Datnow, 2000; Fuhrman & Elmore, 2004; Mawhinney, 1999; Oakes, Quartz, Ryan, & Lipton, 2000; Sarason, 1990, 2004; Smith, Miller-Kahn, Heineke, & Jarvis, 2004). The building or site level is the immediate organizational unit within which the principal and classroom teacher work, children are instructed and direct supervision occurs. At the same time, it is important to recognize that the school is nested in multilevel governmental structures. The organizational politics of the building site is the micropolitics of a subunit of a larger complex organization: the school district. In turn, the school district is a local government unit, variously connected to other local governments, as well as to the state and national governments (Barott & Galvin, 1998, p. 312).

In fact, in recent years macropolitical influences have strengthened in many parts of the world, and this has resulted in increased political conflict at the local and school levels, notably in the context of reform adoption and implementation processes (Ball, 1994; Blase, 1998; Cibulka, 2001; Hoyle, 1999; Lindle, 1999; Mawhinney, 1999). Consequently, beginning in the early 1990s, policy studies in education have increasingly investigated implementation processes associated with school reform at the local level. Those actually implementing policy in schools turned out to be the final policy makers, as evidence mounted that they could reshape or resist the intentions of policies adopted at higher levels. From these not entirely surprising revelations, it was only a short jump to the beginning of the systematic study of the dynamics of the “micropolitics” within the schools (Boyd, 1991, p. vii).

Not surprisingly, theoretical and empirical work has underscored stark differences between policy rhetoric and the reality of policy implementation, referred to as the “implementation gap” or “black box” of educational reform (e.g., Datnow, 2000; Mawhinney, 1999; Scribner, Aleman, & Maxcy, 2003).

Micropolitical Perspectives and Educational Change and Reform Studies of the micropolitics of educational change and reform have relied heavily on Ball’s (1987) and Blase’s (1991) perspectives. Ball’s approach emphasizes the politics of conflict:


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I take schools, in common with virtually all other social organizations, to be arenas of struggle; to be riven with actual or potential conflict between members; to be poorly coordinated; to be ideologically diverse. I take it to be essential that if we are to understand the nature of schools as organizations, we must achieve some understanding of these conflicts (Ball, 1987, p. 19).

Blase (1991) constructed a more inclusive definition of micropolitics from an exhaustive review of the literature that includes conflictive and cooperative processes: Micropolitics refers to the use of formal and informal power by individuals and groups to achieve their goals in organizations. In large part political action results from perceived differences between individuals and groups, coupled with the motivation to use power to influence and/or protect. Although such actions are consciously motivated, any action, consciously motivated, may have “political significance” in a given situation. Both cooperative and conflictive actions and processes are part of the realm of micropolitics. Moreover, macro and micropolitical factors frequently interact (Blase, 1991, p. 11).

More recently, Blase and Blase (2002) have argued that micropolitics is a critical aspect of many organizational structures and processes, and often constitutes the central mechanism through which major organizational outcomes related to school change and reform are produced: An organization’s political processes, for example, a school’s formal and informal (e.g., organizational stakeholders and their power sources, interests, ideologies, and interchanges) as well as its political culture (e.g., patterns of interests, ideologies, decision making, power distribution) dramatically influence most school outcomes, including teaching and learning. The degree to which political processes and political culture account for a given outcome (e.g., decision, policy, program, practice, event) varies, of course, from one school to another and, over time, within the same school. (p. 10).

In essence, micropolitics processes and structures make up the “political culture” of a school and account for both stability and change in school settings; certain political forces work to sustain (maintain) the status quo, while other political forces serve the interests of change and reform (Ball, 1987; Blase, 1991, 1998; Blase & Blase, 2002; Burlingame, 1988; Burns, 1961; Malen, 1994; Townsend, 1990). “The strong advocacy of some and the strong opposition of others. . .will be called into service to bring about or successfully oppose the innovation under consideration” (Mangham, 1979, p. 133). Typically, externally imposed initiatives to change and reform schools must contend with existing internal political cultures that promote and protect the school’s status quo (Ball, 1994; Blase, 1991, 1998; Cusick, 1992; Elmore, 2004; Gronn, 1986; Gtazek & Sarason, 2007; Lukes, 1974; Sarason, 1990, 2004). With reference to the micropolitics of change, Mangham (1979) stated, “[S]o significant is the collection of forces which underpin behavior in organizations that it is surprising that any changes ever manage to be promulgated let alone implemented” (p. 122). Sarason (1990) wrote, Schools will accommodate (change) in ways that require little or no change. . .the strength of the status quo—its underlying axioms, its pattern of power relationships, its sense of

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tradition and, therefore, what seems right, natural, and proper—almost automatically rules out options for change in that status quo (p. 35).

During periods of externally imposed change and reform, school-based political interaction tends to intensify, and new micropolitical processes and structures emerge and become more visible in formal and informal areas of school life. Specifically, change dynamics – uncertainty, diversity, ambiguity, and goal disparity and complexity tend to exacerbate political interaction within the school (Blase, 1998).

The Micropolitics of Life in Schools In the past two decades, empirical political studies have revealed strong findings about the ubiquitous and natural occurrence of micropolitics in the everyday life of schools. Topics studied include personnel evaluation (Bridges & Groves, 1999), superintendents and interest groups (Björk & Lindle, 2001), teacher induction (Kelchtermans & Ballet, 2002a), beginning teacher development and micropolitical literacy (Kelchtermans & Ballet, 2002b), teacher supervision and evaluation (Cooper, Ehrensal, & Bromme, 2005; Stronge & Tucker, 1999), school-level management teams (Cranston & Ehrich, 2005), educational interest groups (Johnson, 2001), and court-ordered desegregation (Goldring & Crowson, 2001). A number of studies of teacher–student interactions and instructional and social issues in the classroom have demonstrated the degree to which micropolitics pervades life in schools (Anton, 1999; Bloome, Carter, Christian, Otto, & Huart-Faris, 2005; Cazden, 2001; Connell, 1985; Gilbert & Yerrick, 2001; Gutierrez & Rogoff, 2003; Lee, 2006; Lightfoot, 1983; McDevitt, 2004; McNeil, 1983; Morgan, 2001; Nias, 1989; Pauly, 1992; Pollard, 1985; Powell, Farrar, & Cohen, 1985; Sedlak, Wheeler, Pullin, & Cusick, 1986; Waller, 1932; Winograd, 2002; Woods, 1990). Powell et al. (1985) and Sedlak et al. (1986) found that interaction between classroom teachers and students was essentially political; interactions were based primarily on power dynamics; “negotiation” between teachers and students produced “understandings,” “bargains,” and “treaties” that defined and controlled all aspects of classroom life. These findings have been confirmed by Winograd (2002), who reported that students’ resistance to teachers’ authority resulted in negotiated political agreements in the classroom. Anton (1999) found that interactive exchanges between students and teachers in learner-centered, second language classrooms were characterized by negotiation of form, content, and classroom rules of behavior, and such political processes created environments conducive to learning. McDevitt (2004) specifically studied issues of pedagogical and cultural appropriateness that arose between teachers and students from two disparate cultures of learning; she found that conflicts were resolved by negotiating course content and classroom procedures. Lee (2006) and Bloome et al. (2005) found that language, patterns of interaction, and activities used in classrooms were negotiated, a


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finding consistent with Pauly’s (1992) conclusion that “education is the result of working agreements that are hammered out by the people in each classroom, who determine the rules, the power relationships, and the kinds of teaching and learning that will take place there” (pp. 13–14). Such findings are also consistent with how informal language used in classrooms to promote learning (e.g., African American English paralinguistic practices) resulted from cultural negotiations and power relations linked to race, class, and ethnicity (Cazden, 2001; Gutierrez & Rogoff, 2003; Morgan, 2001). In contrast, Gilbert and Yerrick (2001) found that the quality of science instruction was subverted by negotiation between students and teachers in the context of low academic expectations in rural, underrepresented school contexts.

The Micropolitics of Educational Change and Reform A growing number of micropolitical studies address relationships at various levels of school organization that range from the nature of teacher engagement in school reform processes to superintendent–board interaction in district governance processes. General studies of school reform can also be interpreted from a micropolitical standpoint. Taken together, these studies demonstrate the critical role of micropolitics, a role that appears to facilitate and support as well as impede and inhibit educational change and reform.

Teachers and Educational Change and Reform A number of studies have demonstrated that teachers’ political participation in school-wide decision making, classroom autonomy, empowerment, and reflective critique of curriculum and instruction have facilitated successful school reform efforts (Allen, 1993; Blase & Blase, 2001; Bredeson, 1989; Brimhall, 1993; Corbett & Rossman, 1988; Melenyzer, 1990). Smylie and Brownlee-Conyers (1990) described teachers’ use of specific political strategies to develop innovative collaborative relationships with principals. Scribner, Sawyer, Watson, and Myers (2007) found that teacher problem-finding teams employed autonomy and relational leadership skills to facilitate collaboration and to avoid marginalization by principals. In a micropolitical study of a school’s implementation of site-based management, Somich (2005) found that when teachers’ political involvement in school increased, teachers’ classroom instruction benefited significantly. Reed (1992) reported that teachers who defined efficacy as greater formal authority in school-wide decision making were seen as more politically important than colleagues who participated primarily to facilitate classroom instruction and implement site-based initiatives. The work of Chrispeels and Martin (2002), Goldring and Simms (2005), Firestone and Fisler (2002), Feuerstein and Dietrich (2003), and Goodman (2006) affirmed the significance of teachers’ political involvement in school-wide and interorganizational relationships: when teachers participated in negotiating a redefinition of

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roles, building trust, setting agendas and standards, and confronting sources of conflict, they frequently facilitated reform. Heck, Brandon, and Wang (2001) found that decentralized (school-based) decision making was successful when teacher participation focused on improving student learning and selection of issues addressed in Site-based Decision Making (SBDM) meetings. Achinstein (2002) demonstrated that collaborative reform efforts in schools with strong professional learning communities generated constructive political conflict crucial to organizational learning. Johnson (2004) reported that leadership teams in several Australian schools enacted school reform through primarily positive political approaches; they conceptualized, negotiated, and implemented reforms via consensually and morally based approaches sensitive to teacher professionalism. There is also evidence that teacher-related micropolitical factors – classroom territoriality norms, protectionist orientations to outside intrusions, resistance to internal threats of work intensification, and relationships of power and negative forms of politics within classrooms impede school change and reform (Altrichter & Soukup-Altrichter, 2000; Cusick, 1992; Gitlin, 2001; Pauly, 1992; Powell et al., 1985; Sedlak et al., 1986). Moreover, confusion about roles and authority in schoollevel decision making, and structural factors (e.g., inadequate planning time and administrative control of planning topics and outcomes) interfere with collegial dialogue (Gitlin, et al., 1992). Other teacher-related micropolitical factors that interfere with reform include adversarial factions with competing interests that fail to share resources (Robertson & Briggs, 1994), domination of governance processes by particular teacher groups and the types of strategies teachers used to pursue their interests (Peterson & Solsrud, 1993), compliant orientations toward principals (Allen, 1993; Blase & Blase, 2001), resistance to decentralization by veteran teachers (Heck et al., 2001), and conflict arising from partial faculty involvement in school planning (Mintrop, Gamson, McLaughlin, Wong, & Oberman, 2001). Micropolitical factions do not only facilitate or impede reforms, but also alter and adapt them. For instance, in a 5-year case study of inquiry-based school reform, Stokes (2000) reported that responses of teachers and other stakeholders, largely defined by political forces (e.g., emotional and ideological differences), transformed a “literacy” project into one that emphasized “equity.”

Principals and Educational Change and Reform The importance of the principal’s role in facilitating school reform has been widely discussed in the restructuring literature. Studies of several models of school reform – Coalition of Essential Schools (Hall & Placier, 2003); the New American Schools project (Berends, Bodily, & Kirby, 2003), and the Bay Area School Reform Collaborative (BASRC) (Copeland, 2002) – have identified that principals are central to successful implementation. Maxey and Ngyuyen (2006) assume that distributing, sharing, and facilitating leadership are inherently political, and principals who engage in facilitative leadership and work with and through others are


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engaged in the politics of power sharing. Principals’ political role in facilitating reconfiguration of school structures and governance processes to ensure higher levels of collaboration and teamwork has been examined by a number of scholars (Berends, et al., 2003; Blase & Blase, 2001; Blase, Blase, Anderson, & Dungan, 1995; Etheridge & Hall, 1995; Firestone & Fisler, 2002; Freeman, Brimhall, & Neufeld, 1994; Hall & Placier, 2003; Murphy & Louis, 1994; Smylie, Wenzel, & Fendt, 2003; Somich, 2005; Reitzug, 1994; Rollow & Bryk, 1995; Rulfs, Crocker, Wright, & Petrie, 2001). Successful school reform has been strongly associated with principals’ facilitative leadership and specific political practices including empowering teachers (Berends et al., 2003; Blase & Blase, 2001; Hall & Placier, 2003; Smylie et al., 2003; Rulfs et al., 2001; Somich, 2005), team building (Farrell, 2003; Somich, 2005), enhancing parent and community participation in democratic governance processes (Berends et al., 2003; Copeland, 2002; Farrell, 2003; Flinspach, Easton, Ryan, O’Connor, & Storey, 1994; Goldberg & Morrison, 2003; Lopez, Scribner, & Mahitvanichcha, 2001; Rollow & Bryk, 1995), managing internal conflict (Beck, 1993; Goldberg & Morrison, 2003; Hall & Placier, 2003; Peterson & Warren, 1994), developing teachers’ capacity for critique (Reitzug, 1994), maintaining balance between district-level initiates and school-based initiatives (Conley & Goldman, 1994; Goldberg & Morrison, 2003), challenging teachers to transform schools (Prestine, 1994), maintaining accountability of organizational stakeholders (Bondy, Ross, & Webb, 1994; Feuerstein & Dietrich, 2003; Lopez, et al., 2001), and using high stakes accountability to garner support for school reform (Spillane et al., 2002). Moreover, these studies demonstrate that principals’ facilitative leadership is correlated with the development of democracy in schools and substantial increases in teachers’ sense of political efficacy. In contrast, studies have demonstrated that a control-oriented political approach to school reform on the part of principals (i.e., unwillingness or inability to let go of power to enact democratic facilitative leadership approaches) has been a major impediment to successful school reform (Blase, 1991; Cooper et al., 2005; Datnow & Costellano, 2003; Kilgore & Jones, 2003; Finnan & Meza, 2003; Maxey & Nguyen, 2006; Robertson & Briggs, 1994; Rollow & Bryk, 1995; Scribner et al., 2007; Smith, 1995). Malen and Ogawa (1988) were among the first to report that even properly conceived structural approaches to educational innovation and reform (e.g., wherein school-based councils had broad jurisdiction and decisionmaking authority) were easily sabotaged by principals’ predisposition to “control” interactions with teachers and parents. Implementation studies of school reform, including the Success for All Project (Datnow & Costellano, 2003), the Comer School Development Process (CSDP) (Payne & Diamond, 2003), The Modern Red Schoolhouse (Kilgore & Jones, 2003), Accelerated Schools Project (Finnan & Meza, 2003), and earlier studies of Chicago school reform initiatives (Rollow & Bryk, 1995) have also affirmed that principals who worked to control or mediate school reform impeded its success. More specifically, studies have found that principals have impeded school reform initiatives by controlling discourse, maintaining power, and preventing power

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sharing with teachers via a wide array of political tactics such as an unwillingness to facilitate shared leadership, failing to empower teachers, opposing collaborative work, dismissing agendas, marginalizing dissenters, intimidating teachers, postponing meetings with teachers, limiting access to information, providing misinformation, holding traditional expectations of self and teachers, undermining trust, and practicing favoritism and exclusion (Blase & Blase, 2003; Bredeson, 1993; Brown, 1994; Datnow & Costellano, 2003; Cooper et al., 2005; Etheridge & Hall, 1995; Finnan & Meza, 2003; Gitlin, et al., 1992; Kilgore & Jones, 2003; Lonnquist & King, 1993; Murphy & Louis, 1994; Reitzug & Cross, 1994; Scribner, et al., 2007; Smylie & Crowson, 1993).

Middle-Level Administrators and Educational Change and Reform Central office efforts to facilitate processes and protect schools engaged in restructuring from interference have been important to achieving successful implementation of school reform. Although central office administrators are often viewed as technocrats responsible for carrying out bureaucratic operations such as program planning, budgeting, compliance, accountability, and reporting, politically, they are not benign functionaries. As professional staff, their expert knowledge enables them to influence strategic policy decisions at the district and school levels. Björk (2001b) found that a district financial officer institutionalized a building-centered financial system that was essential to implementing decentralized decision making in schools. Spillane et al. (2002) found that central office staff functioned as sense makers, mediated district accountability policies, and used accountability policies as levers to support educational reforms. Studies have also revealed that central office support for training principals and teachers in collaborative processes facilitated implementation of decentralized decision making (Slavin, Madden, Shaw, Mainzer, & Donnelly, 1993; Smylie & Crowson, 1993). A study of collaboration within an external coalition of partners (university, district, and computer manufacturer) highlighted the importance of both central office strategy and resource control for school-level innovation (Baker, 1994). Morgan and Peterson (2002) found that multilevel collaboration among central office staffs enhanced superintendents’ work as instructional leaders in their districts. In contrast, studies also indicate that central office administrators impede school reform. Skrla, Reyes, and Scheurich (2000) reported that male-dominated societal and district office professional norms, and the use of coercive political pressure, effectively prevented female superintendents from publicly acknowledging genderbased discrimination. Rusch (2005) described a similar pattern of influence—in particular, how organizational cultures at the district office level created institutional scripts that sanctioned talk about school reform and inhibited learning among professionals. Björk (2001b) found that central office staffs leveraged internal and external influence among community interest groups and school board members to resist school decentralization initiatives that reduced their influence and threatened


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their positions. Honig (2003) reported that central office staffs defended conventional administrative roles until they were effectively threatened by school reform progress or marginalized by school reform initiatives. Glassman and Fuller (2002) found that superintendent evaluation practices illuminated the politics of local decision making and highlighted the role played by multiple and diverse constituency groups within central office professional staff, who required the inclusion of student achievement data in the evaluation protocol.

Superintendents and Educational Change and Reform Superintendents who maintain high levels of involvement in instructional matters play a crucial role in launching and sustaining district-level-initiated educational reforms (Björk, 1996, 2000). Recognition of their contribution to the improvement of learning and teaching has advanced efforts to redefine their roles as instructional leaders (Björk et al., 2005: Peterson & Barnett, 2005); this has also heightened interest in the politics of the superintendency. Superintendents’ capacity to work effectively within community and school board political dynamics and build community-based business coalitions has been directly related to the success of district reform initiatives. Such political capacities have provided the continuity necessary for long-term change initiatives (Björk, 2000, 2005; Glassman & Fuller, 2002). The importance of district-and-school-level leadership in launching and sustaining educational reforms specifically in high-poverty schools has been described by Berends et al. (2003). These researchers found that superintendents were instrumental in building organizational political support needed to establish a professional climate to advance teaching and learning as well as effectively communicating with the public about the purpose and status of change initiatives. Goldring and Sims (2005) reported that superintendents’ efforts to build collaborative partnerships in the community based on trust and power sharing were key factors in initiating and sustaining educational reforms. A growing academic literature on the role of female superintendents in educational reform shows that relational ways of working have enabled them to survive in office and successfully engage in district-level educational reform efforts. Ortiz (2001, 2002) found that female superintendents’ knowledge of community power structures and cultural practices in Hispanic communities contributed to their longevity and success in reforming educational programs. Owen and Ovando (2000) reported that superintendents who were knowledgeable about community cultural and political contexts were particularly adept at coalescing interest groups, building coalitions, negotiating agreements, forcing concessions when required, and empowering others, all of which were associated with effective educational change. In addition, Grogan and Blackmon (2001) and Skrla, Scott, and Benestante (2001) found that understanding constituent group interests, school board power structures, and competing community values enabled superintendents to protect their positions

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and unify board members, build coalitions, counter adverse interest group politics, and achieve district educational reform goals. Although the role of superintendents is pivotal to facilitating educational reform, the ways in which their political behavior impedes progress cover a wide spectrum of organizational issues (Björk, 2001b, 2005; Björk & Lindle, 2001; Bloom & Erlandson, 2003; Brunner, 2000; Hoffman & Burrello, 2004; Keedy & Björk, 2002; Kelsey & Lupini, 2001). Along these lines, Björk (2001c) found that a superintendent stalled district-initiated decentralization efforts when he acquiesced to pressure from the school board to retain a politically connected central office staff member who opposed the change. In addition, superintendents’ failure to support school site policy decisions, provide adequate time for decision making, clarify the role of principals, and develop assessment criteria relevant to principals’ new leadership roles has inhibited educational reform efforts. Hoffman and Burrello (2004) reported that superintendents’ needs for power and control and their reluctance to release test scores to reduce unfavorable political exposure undermined attempts to improve teaching and learning in low-achieving schools. Superintendents have also hindered reform by failing to clarify ambiguous governance procedures (Bondy et al., 1994), trust the professional judgments of teachers, provide adequate funding and resources (Murphy & Louis, 1994), and support principals in conflicts with others (Crowson & Boyd, 1991). The use of top-down mandates to create school-based collegiality among teachers (i.e., “contrived collegiality Hargreaves, 1991)” and extending inordinate power to school principals involved in site-based management have also been linked to adverse effects on school reform (Smylie & Crowson, 1993).

School Boards and Educational Change and Reform Throughout the history of American education, schools have been viewed as extensions of local communities bound by shared social, economic, and political circ*mstances. Alsbury (2003) and Björk (2000) found that political configurations of school boards were influenced by changes in community values and power structures, which, in turn, can facilitate or impede school reform. Shipps (2003) contends that school board policy making is influenced by multiple coalitions, the composition of which affects reform agendas. The dynamic relationship between communities and schools provides a framework for understanding school board responses to calls for school reform in the context of declining financial resources and politicization of educational policy making (Björk, 2005; Björk & Keedy, 2002; Johnson, 1996). Clearly, some view school boards as unworkable and detrimental; others see them as viable political forums in which individuals and groups openly express real needs and interests and reconcile differences through consultation and negotiation (Björk, 2005; Björk & Gurley, 2005). Unfortunately, there is very little empirical research on school boards in general. Björk (2000) discovered that some boards were remarkably consistent and resilient in their efforts to engage community interest groups, factions, and


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citizens to successfully advance school district reform. On the other hand, Glass, Björk, and Brunner (2000) found that many school boards’ primary expectations for superintendents have emphasized effective management of district affairs rather than instructional leadership or school change and reform. Louis and King (1993) discovered that educational reform efforts were impeded because the school board required teachers to share negative feedback about reform that potentially threatened the board s willingness to continue its support. Feuerstein and Dietrich (2003) found that local political turbulence and interest group conflict frequently impeded the ability of schools to implement state-initiated academic standards and testing.

Future Research Although research on the micropolitics of educational change and reform has increased significantly during the past decade, much more work will be required on all aspects of this incredibly complex, dynamic, and unpredictable phenomenon, particularly research on central office administrators and school boards. We suggest that future research employ a broad theoretical perspective of micropolitics that requires, among other things, investigation of cooperative and conflictive processes, overt and covert forms of political activity, the activities of relevant stakeholders, and the impact of school context, including macro-level factors. Methodologically, it will be important to employ both quantitative and qualitative research approaches at this early stage of inquiry. We especially need long-term, retrospective studies (Hargreaves & Goodson, 2006), and also real-time observational studies at the school level to capture the dynamic interplay of micropolitical factors that evolve in situ and that transform change and reform efforts and outcomes in unpredictable ways (Stokes, 2000). Studies of both successful and unsuccessful school change and reform initiatives would provide invaluable insights about related micropolitical configurations. Recently, the effects of NCLB and high stakes testing legislation in the United States have begun to emerge (Jennings & Rentner, 2006). It will be important to examine whether such heavy-handed, top-down, control-oriented approaches to school reform spawn the type of positive, facilitating school-based micropolitical processes and structures that appear to be essential to authentic school reform. The evidence from a range of other countries that have previously adopted similar measures and from states that had already adopted more centralized curriculum along with high stakes testing suggests that they will not (Hargreaves, 2003). In addition, future micropolitical studies must devote greater attention to the historical and cultural context of schools (Blase, 1998; Chrispeels & Martin, 2002; Pillay, 2004), including gender, race, and ethnicity (Datnow, 1998). Unfortunately, individuals and groups often experience intense stress and strain stemming from educational change and reform; however, very little research has addressed this crucial aspect of micropolitics (see Troman & Boyle-White, Durham, Leithwood, etc). Furthermore, few studies have attempted to uncover subtle and covert types

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of micropolitics such as the politics of powerlessness by stakeholders who practice “silence” in the face of school change (Pillay, 2004). Both of these areas provide fertile ground for political research. Datnow (1998) found that micropolitics was the centerpiece to adoption processes preceding implementation (i.e., how schools decide whether to implement a change project or approach); this suggests that greater attention to such factors would be worthwhile. Smith, et al. (2004) have argued that educational reform at all levels of the educational hierarchy and in varying degrees is, in large part, a “political spectacle”; that is, more symbolic than substantive. Using Edelman’s (1985, 1988) theory of political spectacle (which includes elements such as symbolic language, dramaturgy, illusions of rationality, democratic processes, and front-and-back stages), Smith et al. contend that political spectacle currently dominates American politics, and NCLB is but one conspicuous example of political spectacle. Needless to say, under such circ*mstances, authentic reform cannot be expected. Relatedly, Ball (2003) has discussed the relationship between educational change and reform as “spectacle” and performativity whose performances of organizations and individuals represent their respective value. Study of these fascinating phenomena would open new and exciting aspects of the micropolitics of educational change and reform.

Conclusion This chapter has focused on micropolitical studies of change and reform at the school and district levels. In each case, micropolitics impedes or facilitates school change and reform. Our examination of the extant research underscores the dramatic transformative effects of micropolitical processes and structures on internally and externally initiated school change. To be sure, cracking open the black box of educational change and reform reveals stunning differences between the intent of educational reform policies and the reality of school-based implementation efforts. Our review also reveals that, generally speaking, uses of positive forms of micropolitics (e.g., empowering, collaborative, problem centered) by political stakeholders, such as teachers, school principals, and central office administrators, are associated with facilitating school change and reform. Conversly, uses of negative forms of micropolitics (i.e., controlling and self-serving) is associated with impeding school change and reform. There is little question on the fact that school-based micropolitics pervade all aspects of educational change and reform and have the potential to promote successful and/or unsuccessful change. Despite this conclusion, educational policy makers and school district and building-level school administrators frequently fail to adequately acknowledge or address micropolitical features of their work. Further, university-based administrator and teacher education programs typically do little or nothing to equip students with relevant micropolitical knowledge and skill. For these and other reasons, decades of research indicate that successive iterations of reform have failed to produce significant, enduring changes in school improvement. Oakes et al. (2000) are not alone in contending that the educational


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“reform mill” (p. 264) rarely delivers improvements in student achievement. “[It] grinds out reworked versions of the status quo that do little to address whatever initially motivated the reform. . ..[D]isappointed policy makers, the public, and educators judge the reform to be misguided, poorly implemented, or both; and the next reform, waiting in the wings with new funding or new leadership, takes center stage” (p. 264). Long ago, in commenting on educational change and reform, Sarason (1971) observed, “The more things change the more they remain the same” (p. 297). Recently, he declared, “the one thing that history of educational reform indisputably proves is that the more things change the more they do not remain the same but rather do or will get worse” (2004, p. 25). Schools and school systems are political organizations in which power is an organizing feature. Ignore [power] relationships, leave unexamined their rationale, and the existing system will defeat efforts at reform. This will happen not because there is a grand conspiracy or because of mulish stubbornness in resisting change or because educators are uniquely unimaginative or uncreative (which they are not) but rather because recognizing and trying to change power relationships, especially in complicated, traditional institutions, is among the most complex tasks human beings can undertake (Sarason, 1990. p. 7.)

The implications are clear. As scholars we must substantially increase our efforts to understand micropolitics and educational change and reform. As policy makers, educational administrators and teachers we must learn to create the positive, robust type of political processes and structures in schools that lead to school improvement.

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Part II

Systemic Change

How Government, Professions and Citizens Combine to Drive Successful Educational Change Michael Barber

For much of the twentieth century, the story of education systems in developed countries was one of expansion – universal elementary education, then universal secondary education, and finally major growth in post-secondary and higher education. Details of how this occured varied from country to country, but no one doubted its importance. Underlying economic and social imperatives drove it forward. Even unskilled work in developed industrial economies benefitted from universal education. As the century unfolded, the nature of work became more technically demanding and more specialised, resulting in a demand for higher standards of basic education and a capacity for individuals to specialise and keep on learning. From the late 1970s onwards, the technological revolution and globalisation accelerated the demand for an educated workforce, and from the early 1990s, with the end of the Cold War, these forces intensified. The premium for an individual of a good education and for a country of a good education system became ever more apparent. Governments, from the 1980s onwards, began to demand more of public education. They were no longer interested just in quantity; they wanted quality. Where once they had asked about numbers of places, now they asked about results. Furthermore, changes in the economy also limited the extent to which governments could go on raising taxes to provide public education systems. Increasingly governments wanted improved results without necessarily a commensurate increase in investment. In any case, these economic pressures coincided with social pressures. The growing evidence that achievement was strongly correlated with social class (in England, for example) or with race (in the US, for example) led to demands from many quarters for improved performance. Thus, by the end of the twentieth century, in ways that had not been true 50 years earlier, the social and economic drivers of educational change reinforced each other. Public education systems struggled to respond to these pressures. They had, after all, not been established with change in mind; still less with any sharp focus on M. Barber (B) Head of McKinsey & Company’s Global Education Practice, SW1Y 4UH, London, UK e-mail: [emailprotected]

A. Hargreaves et al. (eds.), Second International Handbook of Educational Change, Springer International Handbooks of Education 23, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-2660-6_15, C Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010



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results. When the then British prime minister James Callaghan made a speech about education in 1976, he felt obliged to explain himself because at the time it was an unusual thing to do. “There is nothing wrong,” he said, “with non-educationalists, even a prime minister, talking about education now and again.” His main point was clear: In today’s world higher standards are demanded than were required yesterday and . . ..therefore we demand more from our schools than did our grandparents. (quoted in The Learning Game, pp. 33–34, Indigo, 1997)

In England, the need to understand educational change can be dated from that moment. In most of the developed world, it can be dated from around that time. Since then we have become much better informed than we were about the ingredients of successful educational change. The development of this knowledge began at the level of school. In the 1980s, a series of major reports from outstanding academics, such as Rutter et al. (1979) and Mortimore (1988), gave us for the first time a clear definition of school effectiveness. The picture they painted then has been refined somewhat in the decades since but has not been substantially altered. Then, in the mid-1990s, the focus shifted from school effectiveness (what an effective school looks like) to school improvement (how to achieve effectiveness). Since then we have moved on again. Now research about whole education systems, not just individual schools, is reaching a similar point not least as a result of the development of well-founded international comparison. We are becoming much clearer about what effective systems look like. The current picture will surely be clarified and refined in decades to come, but the central question of educational change is this: What kind of reforms and what approaches to implementation will be most successful in enabling systems to achieve effectiveness? This debate is only just beginning, and there is much more to learn. In this chapter, I will set out some admittedly early thinking on the question of system improvement based in part on the research, in part on debates of education reform in more than 20 countries around the world, and in part on my direct experience in England with both managing reform of the school system (from 1997 to 2001) and leading the prime minister’s Delivery Unit (from 2001 to 2005) for Tony Blair, which provided the opportunity to learn about reform of other large public systems such as health and policing. The value here is that while some of the knowledge about improving education systems will, of course, come from within education research, much, I believe, will also come from examination of the reform of large public systems in general. What they have in common may well be more important than their differences. In this chapter, I will do the following: • Describe the three paradigms of public service reform – “twenty-first-century solutions” – which I have put forward in previous and recent publications, relating them throughout to education reform and giving examples from around the world.

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• Extend the argument by analyzing the relationship between government and professions, a central issue in all education reform and one that the three paradigms on their own do not sufficiently explain. • Draw some conclusions both for government and for leaders of education systems. The first two sections draw heavily on my pamphlet Three Paradigms of Public Sector Reform (Barber, 2007), while the third and fourth parts draw similarly on the postscript in my book Instruction to Deliver (Barber, 2008a). This essay is also a refinement of my chapter in Change Wars (Barber, 2008b). The aim is to arrive at a first sketch of a complete theory of educational change.

Twenty-First-Century Solutions How do we go about ensuring that the public services, especially education, are good enough that increasing numbers of wealthy people still choose them, thus binding them to the system and thereby securing the support to generate enough revenue to ensure both steadily improving performance and increasing equity? Successful efforts to create effective education, health, policing, and social security systems suggest that there are three paradigms for reform in large-scale systems, that each is suitable in different circ*mstances, and that, regardless of which approach is selected, the government at the centre of the system has a crucial role to play. I should say at the outset, therefore, that full-scale privatization has not been included as an option. While it is theoretically feasible, no government of a developed country has applied it to education for the good reason that while it might in theory deliver efficiencies, it would be entirely inconsistent with equity.

Three Paradigms for Large-Scale Public Service There are three paradigms for the reform of any large-scale public service: command and control, devolution and transparency, and quasi-markets. Figure 1 shows these three paradigms.

Command and Control Command and control is often the first choice of governments that want urgently to enact change – and to be seen to be enacting it. As the phrase implies, it involves top–down management approaches and conveys at least an impression of government taking charge. If executed well, it can be highly effective. Good examples of this paradigm include the UK government’s National Literacy Strategy from 1997 to 2001 and its approach to reducing health service waiting times from 2000 to 2005. It should be noted, however, that there is nothing worse than command and control incompetently implemented.


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Fig. 1 Three choices for large-scale system reform

A refinement of this paradigm is also top–down, but it is built and designed much more explicitly in consultation and potentially in collaboration with other key stakeholders, such as teachers and local authorities. Perhaps, rather than top–down, it should be described as “government-led.” A good example of this is the education reform in Ontario since 2003, where educators have been successfully led by the government to pursue the moral purpose of higher standards of literacy and numeracy. The danger of this variation is that it becomes a soft, pragmatic compromise and can therefore be ineffective. In Ontario, the existence of clear targets, strong emphasis on capacity building, and the fact that the strategy was a reaction to a period of bitterness and conflict have all contributed to avoiding such an outcome. The question faced there is whether in the next phase the government can build effectively on the strong foundations already laid, because as performance improves, further improvements may depend on greater specification of teaching approaches – always a sensitive issue in relations between the teaching profession and the government.

Quasi-Markets The second paradigm is quasi-markets. Given the stunning gains in productivity and customer services brought about in recent decades by the global market economy and the difficulty governments have had in delivering improved public services, the idea of applying market forces to public systems without full-scale privatization has obvious attractions. Quasi-markets make the introduction of elements of the private sector feasible by introducing options such as retaining public control of the commissioning of services but having private or voluntary-sector providers deliver them. Examples include many IT systems in governments around the world and the use of independent-sector providers of routine operations in the UK health-care system, and private providers of public schools in Philadelphia, which, recent evidence suggests, have been modestly successful.

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However, applying marketlike pressures within a public service is not always straight forward. One must be able to define a clear customer, offer customer choice, bring in new providers, and ensure that the use of money reflects the choices made by the customer. Charter school programs in New York State and California and voucher programs in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Florida are examples of quasimarkets in action. Evidence of impact is so far mixed, however, and success seems to depend on the precise design of the program. For example, Swedish education reform, which has brought in new providers and offered much greater choice, appears to have had modest positive effects, while the radical restructuring of England’s National Health Service along quasi-market lines is bringing increasing evidence of positive impact. Meanwhile, evidence from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) international comparisons of education systems in the developed world are neutral on the benefits or otherwise of quasi-market reforms. What of situations in which a government wishes to reform a service without resorting to command and control, but where the conditions for the success of quasi-markets are not present? For example, in the provision of prisons, courts, or policing, it is either not possible or not desirable to define a customer and offer choice from a range of providers. In relation to education, a government may seek a means of improvement, but for political, ideological, or indeed pragmatic reasons, it may reject market thinking.

Devolution and Transparency In the third paradigm, devolution and transparency, the government can devolve responsibility to the frontline units delivering the relevant service and then use transparency – making public the results in a way that allows comparisons to be made – to drive performance. Units that succeed can be rewarded and potentially expanded; failing units can be made subject to interventions and ultimately shut down. To work, this model depends on genuine devolution of operational control along with accountability. The benefits have been limited at best in some US school districts where accountability has been devolved to principals without offering them commensurate operational flexibility. The New Zealand school reforms of the early 1990s, those in Victoria, Australia, under the Kennett government of the late 1990s, and those in England from 1988 onwards are examples of this philosophy being applied to public education systems. The model can operate in a fully public system – the most famous example being the New York City Police Department, where the Compstat process generated competition between precinct commanders – or within a service in which a mix of public and private providers compete on equal terms. “Compstat” became the term used for generating weekly data on each crime type for each precinct and then using that data to hold precinct commanders to account for their performance. This can also be done by separating payer and provider and encouraging competition for contracts offered by the government or its agencies. This approach has been widely adopted with


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significant success in a variety of public services. Examples include the use of private prisons and the contracting out of local education services in the UK. It seems clear that this approach can only work if, in those cases where performance is very poor in specific schools or local systems in education, the government has both the will and means to intervene effectively. This is by no means straightforward, and many American states are struggling with this challenge as the impact of the No Child Left Behind legislation is increasingly felt. Where fully applied, the devolution and transparency model has proved sufficiently beneficial that some informed commentators have suggested applying it fully to all government services (see Osborne & Hutchinson, 2004). Moreover, it has the advantage that it can be applied in combination with the quasi-market approach. For example, while the quasi-market approach has been put in place in some public school systems, it is important to acknowledge that it has limitations in this sector. In a true market, the customer may change providers regularly. But parents are naturally reluctant, for good reason, to change their child’s school often. For this reason, market pressures on schools tend to be weak. If, however, as is the case in England, New Zealand, and Holland, devolution and transparency are also introduced, pressure for school improvement tends to be significantly strengthened. The evidence from OECD–PISA international comparisons, particularly its most recent report published in November 2007 (OECD, 2007), suggests that moves in favour of both devolution and transparency are generally associated with better performance – though of course much depends on the precise detail. To some degree, these paradigms will be familiar to any government, and there is intense ideological and political debate about the merits of each. The truth is that each model is appropriate in different circ*mstances, and all may be deployed within a system, with the balance between them changing over time.

Changing Approaches for Changing Performance In Good to Great (2001), Jim Collins explains the characteristics that distinguish great companies from good ones. More recently, in Good to Great in the Social Sector (2005), he explains that similar characteristics apply to all good organizations, regardless of whether they are in the business or social sector. Unfortunately, some organizations, including many of those that have historically been insulated from the pressures of the market, cannot yet call themselves “good.” In the UK prime minister’s Delivery Unit, we developed an extended, four-point scale designed to encompass the full range of performance for the various public services whose improvement was sought (Fig. 2). The scale also suggests what the consumer reaction is likely to be at each point on the scale. This categorization is crude but useful. Generally speaking, when services are “awful” and users are exiting the system, command and control solutions are appropriate. This is certainly true in a crisis, but it also applies in circ*mstances of endemic underperformance. In such cases, the public, and even the workforce

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Fig. 2 A four-point scale for public services

within the service, will usually accept (albeit perhaps reluctantly) strong government intervention as long as it is effective. This is, after all, how the market handles bankrupt companies and how CEOs deal with underperforming companies. England’s National Literacy and Numeracy Strategies, for example, were justified by the fact that elementary school literacy had barely improved in the 50 years leading up to the mid-1990s and the country’s math standards lagged behind those in comparable countries. Once adequate performance is established – which in itself is a huge task – the benefits of command and control are less clear. Governments find it hard to sustain the focus and drive on which command and control depends. Frontline leaders find themselves constrained by government regulation. Moreover, while shifting performance from “awful” to “adequate” is a substantial achievement, it does not satisfy the consumer, who continues to grumble until performance improves substantially. In the end, achieving “great” performance in the public sector requires unlocking the initiative, creativity, and motivation of leaders throughout the system, rather than just those at the top. This cannot be done without substantial devolution and/or providing the freedoms of a quasi-market. In short, as Joel Klein, Chancellor of the New York City School system, says, “You can mandate ‘awful’ to ‘adequate,’ but you cannot mandate ‘greatness’; it must be unleashed” (Barber, 2008a, p. 337).

The Role of Government Reforming a large public service is a sophisticated challenge. Whichever paradigm is chosen, it will work only if three underlying roles are performed by government (Fig. 3): capability, capacity, and culture; performance management; and strategic direction.


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Fig. 3 Three necessary underpinnings for reform

The first requirement relates to the capability, capacity, and culture of the service in question. This means that the people who provide the service must have or must acquire the right skills, sufficient resources must be allocated to get the job done, and an appropriate performance mindset must be established among those providing the service. The precise nature of the required mindset will differ depending on the stage of reform. The final section of this chapter debates this issue in depth. The second requirement is that the government secures rigorous performance management. None of the three paradigms can work without it. Performance management starts with information: data on performance are essential so that service providers can see how they are doing and can benchmark their performance against others. The public, the ultimate funder of the service, also needs to see the return it is getting on its investment. Neither parents nor patients can exercise choice without good information. And as governments move away from command and control, the capacity to intervene when part of a service is underperforming, remains crucial. Again, this cannot be done without reliable, up-to-date information on performance. This explains why currently the development of refined and high-quality data systems is high on the list of priorities for many education systems. Third, because public-service reform is complex and only possible over several years, strategic direction is necessary. Developing a good strategy is a sophisticated challenge for a large business. In a political environment, with all its attendant pressures, this challenge is even more daunting. A small, well-qualified, courageous group – a kind of “guiding coalition” (Kotter, 1996) must oversee the sequencing and implementation of reform. The group that oversees the education reform in Ontario is a fine example. Given the controversy such reform often generates, only a sustained, well-thought-out strategy will work. Moreover, those responsible need to learn as they go because not all outcomes can be anticipated. This means designing by learning rapidly what is working, what is not working, and how the environment is changing. In short, what the literature calls adaptive leadership (see Heifetz, 1994) needs to be exercised by this group. The support for the strategy should build over time, both within the public service itself and among the public.

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Building on this kind of thinking, the UK prime minister’s Strategy Unit in its recent document on the next stage of public service reform (Cabinet Office, 2008) suggests there are four essential roles for government. 1. 2. 3. 4.

Leading change Guaranteeing standards and fairness Investing for the long term Capacity building and connecting

Leading change, the document explains, is similar to the description above of setting strategic direction. Guaranteeing standards and fairness describes a role for government in which, even in a largely good or great system, it would be willing to intervene to secure a minimum acceptable standard of performance or to guarantee fairness among different interest groups or sectors of the population. Investing for the long term is an argument for ensuring the funding is in place not just for the current year but also for the strategic period ahead. There is no doubt that an investment perspective is critical to enabling long-term strategic change and funding systems that depend on sources of income liable to wild fluctuations (e.g., property taxes) are likely to be less successful. Similarly, the process for the allocation of funding is also critical – transparency and steadiness help. Finally, capability building and connecting builds on the points made above about capacity, capability, and culture and emphasises in addition the important role government can play in connecting across service boundaries or between education and business, for example. In a democracy, government has a legitimacy in making these connections that no other actor has. The more it is able to develop trust-based relationships with key stakeholders, the more likely it is to succeed. Its store of political capital at any given moment will also be a factor influencing its ability to succeed.

Government and the Teaching Profession The most critical relationship of all for successful educational change is that between government and the teaching professions. For example, there was some frustration among many teachers in England in the 1990s and early 2000s as the education reform unfolded, though it has now diminished. Even now, much more could be achieved if the relationship between the teaching profession and government was one that – in the word of the 2008 Ontario Education White Paper – “energized” all those involved. The state of affairs in England’s education system in the late 1980s and early 1990s was unacceptable; performance fell short of both public expectations and the demands of the economy, so reform was necessary. There is no doubt government made mistakes along the way – governments always will. But despite mistakes, the education service significantly improved in England, not just for pupils but also for teachers and other staff because of, not in spite of, the government’s efforts. Test


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scores are higher at primary level. Secondary school performance are also much improved. There are also far fewer pupils failing schools. Moreover, teachers are better supported, better trained, and better paid than ever before. No one faced with the facts can dispute this, but it does not solve the problem of the strained relationship between the teaching profession and government over that 20-year period; the question is whether we can learn from that experience – and parallel reform efforts elsewhere – to develop a conceptual framework for thinking about this relationship, which is at the heart of education reform. Unless the relationship between teachers and government is soundly based, it is a problem for everyone. Such a strained relationship is a problem for government because the credibility with the public of a teacher will always be much higher than that of a minister or a civil servant and, more importantly, because well-motivated teachers will do a better job. It is a problem for the professionals themselves because if they are dissatisfied, their careers will be less rewarding than they might have been, and by suggesting to people that reform is not working, they undermine the long-term prospects of fully tax-funded services. Above all, it is a problem for citizens because even if it does not affect the quality of their services – which in some cases it might – they will often feel a sense of confusion about what is happening and where the services for which they pay their taxes are headed. Part of the answer to this problem lies with globalisation and technology, which are transforming services of all kinds everywhere. Those who work in media and communications or financial services, for example, have seen their working lives and organizations transformed since the 1980s. This is true for many professions in the private sector – architects, accountants, and lawyers, for example – whose working methods have been changed utterly. Globalisation and technology influence services such as health, policing, and education, which are in the public sector, just as much as they shape those in the private sector. The difference is that in the public services, the changes that result are inevitably – precisely because the services are public – mediated through government. When governments urge educators to be “world class,” they are giving voice to what the global market demands in other services. When doctors struggle with the impact of technology on medicine, they are facing what the market drives in other sectors. When police try to keep pace with organized crime, they are competing directly with an endlessly innovating – albeit in this case illegal and immoral – global business. Charles Clarke, former education secretary of England, makes this case in his chapter in Public Matters: The Renewal of the Public Realm (2007). He argues that technological and scientific innovation, empowered and assertive consumers, and growing concern about professional standards have dramatically changed the rules of the game and contributed to a mutual lack of confidence between government and the professions. So when public service professionals complain that government has driven too much change, often the drivers (hidden though they might be) are these wider forces. This does not excuse a government from coming up with too many initiatives or making mistakes, but it does help to explain why governments around the world

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generally want more change while simultaneously public service professionals complain about overload. Moreover, while it is true that there has been immense change in many education systems since the 1980s, it is not true that it is more than in many other sectors; indeed, it may overall have been less. For example, one of the most glaring gaps between the public and business sectors is in the attitude to customers. Public service professionals still too often take customers for granted and expect them to be grateful; very few professionals in the business sector can afford to take this attitude. In another example, in relation to the widespread availability of information, many people are now able to be their own lawyer or doctor or teacher up to a point, thanks to the Internet. It is easy for the professional, once revered specifically for his or her expertise, to feel threatened or defensive in these circ*mstances – but in fact the existence of many better-informed citizens or customers is potentially a major gain. The challenge for teachers is to build unshakeable partnerships for performance with those they serve – that is, pupils and parents. Consider performance data: Most teachers and head teachers I know hate published performance data, but this is the era of global media and freedom of information. University vice-chancellors do not like published data either, but The Times does, student websites do, and so do several outlets on a global basis. In Berlin recently, I saw that the front-page headline on the city’s main paper related to a website which enabled schoolchildren to rank their teachers across the city. Comparative data will out. Moreover, citizens and customers demand data and will not give it up. The only question, therefore, for teachers is whether they would prefer government to organize and provide reliable, published comparative performance information – in which case there can be an ongoing dialogue with them about what is included and how it is presented – or a major media organization to do it instead – in which case there will be no such dialogue. I emphasize this point because I believe that the two main drivers of teachers’ frustration in England, as in theUS, since the 1980s have been the pressures of accountability and the pace of change, yet both of these are ultimately spurred on not just by government but also by globalisation and technology. When government makes mistakes or suffers “initiative-itis,” it compounds the problem. Government hugely influences how these forces play out, so of course it bears huge responsibility. But unless this bigger picture is understood, we will never unravel the complexities of the relationship between government and professions. The central issue, therefore, beyond the competence of government, is how to construct a more effective relationship between government and teachers – one in which they develop a deeper understanding not just of each other’s views of the world but also of the profound forces that are reshaping everyone’s world and the implications of these forces for education. In the first broadly successful phase of Blair’s education reform between 1997 and 2000, one of the government’s mistakes in relation to the teaching profession was, in the words of John Kotter, “undercommunicating the vision by a factor of 10 (or 100 or even 1,000)” (Kotter, 1996, p. 4) To be sure, the government wrote what was widely recognized to be an ambitious white paper and promoted it. It


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consulted widely in its formation, too. It sent out pages of regulations and guidance on everything from the far-flung corners of school governance (unimportant) to the sequence of teaching phonics (vital). In what was widely seen as an innovation (remarkably), ministers and officials visited schools all the time. Alongside these efforts to communicate directly with the school workforce, government also ran a largely successful media strategy aimed, of course, at parents and taxpayers rather than teachers. The message here was that performance in the education system was not good enough, failure would be tackled vigorously, and poor schools would be closed. Parents and taxpayers heard and generally warmed to the message. The error was a simple and obvious one: Teachers read the newspapers like everyone else and heard the government’s message to parents loud and clear; understandably they did not pay as much attention to the guidance and white papers so they did not necessarily understand the strategy or its moral purpose. The government understood this challenge soon enough and began to respond. It reduced the paper going into schools dramatically, but obviously this did not convey the vision in the way Kotter suggests. It realized that in order to do this, it needed intermediaries. Government could not communicate directly with more than 400,000 teachers, so it focused on head teachers. For example, in September 2000, it took a road show around the country: five cities in 5 days, five hundred heads in each venue – like a band on tour. Ministers, leading officials, and successful head teachers explained the vision and the strategy and debated them vigorously with the very engaged participants. These events were a great step forward and valued greatly by those who attended, but what about Kotter’s point? This was the boldest direct communication exercise ever attempted by the Department for Education in England up to that time, yet that week just 10% of head teachers in the country participated in the events. The government needed the following: briefer, clearer, more memorable messages that resonated; to spend even more time than it did on the road; to integrate the media and direct communications approaches; to sustain the same messages for longer period; fewer distractions; constant, genuine interaction; and more intermediaries. The purpose, after all, was a better society – not, as many teachers understandably thought, hitting government targets. Others in addition to head teachers should have been effectively mobilized, such as local authority chief executives, chief education officers (now called Directors of Children’s Services), and heads of university schools of education. Not all of these people would have agreed with the government by any means, but it would have greatly helped if they had understood. I have spent some time discussing these communication efforts to make a more general point about the need to invest in much greater, deeper communication between professions and the government. Moreover, communication needs to be two way, interactive, and sustained. Much of policy in England from 1997 to 2000 was of the “shock therapy” variety. The government had set out to jolt a system from its comfort zone and deliver some results. It was largely successful, but could it have achieved what it did with a different approach, investing more deeply (and inevitably more slowly) in two-way communication early on? Or would it have lost

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momentum and found the cutting edges bevelled off its policies? There is no easy answer to these uncomfortable questions. This takes us back to the idea of a guiding coalition. It is necessary to have a small group at the centre of a change who know what they want to do and how they plan to go about it, but over time this group must widen. This is why Michael Fullan and I talk about “ever-widening circles of leadership;” the guiding coalition can stay at the centre, but it needs consciously and constantly to build leadership capacity throughout the service for which it is responsible. In Ontario’s education reform, this has been done well. In the second Blair term, Estelle Morris began and then Charles Clarke and David Miliband completed a process of building a social partnership with teacher leaders. In return for active involvement in the policy process, the unions (all but one of them) agreed to greater flexibility in working practices. This inspired the foundation of something that could be much more radical; imagine a joint declaration that, for example, the teaching profession and government would strive to achieve world-class performance – defined and specified – with both accepting their share of responsibility for achieving it. This points the way to the next phase of my argument: What is needed is not just better communication, but a shared understanding of what is required to achieve world-class public services and a shared commitment, given the huge investment over the past decade in England (and still flowing, albeit more slowly, in the next decade), that this is what this country needs to see delivered. Making this happen will require courageous leadership – not just in government but also in the professions. Whether it will emerge remains to be seen, but given that the alternative, over a generation, could be frustration, conflict, disappointing performance, the flight from the public realm of those who can afford the private alternative, and thus a residual set of poor public services for poor people, it must be worth a try.

Moving Towards World-Class Education In this final section, I want to set out a conceptual framework that might provide an underpinning for this long-term shared understanding between government and the professions. The basis of the framework is that the nature of reform and therefore the nature of the relationship between professions and government needs to change and adapt as services improve. The starting point is the scale presented in Fig. 2. As discussed previously, this crude scale establishes four states: awful, adequate, good, and great. In terms of reform, it establishes three phases or transitions: (1) awful to adequate, (2) adequate to good, and (3) good to great. My argument is that as systems pass through these three transitions, the nature of the relationship between government and the professions needs to adapt and the dialogue between them needs to develop accordingly.


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To take a large education system through these three transitions is a major task by any standards. To take them all the way from “awful” to “great” is surely at least a decade’s work. Any government, along with its allies in the professions, needs to be committed for the long haul. Indeed, given the vagaries of democracy, it is always possible that governments of differing parties will be involved, as in the 1990s in education reforms in England, Texas, and North Carolina. Given the long timelines, the key is for those leading the reforms to have two timetables in mind: one leading to short-term results, and the other leading ultimately to world-class performance. Both are essential; the former because without short-term results, neither those within the system nor those using it will have any confidence that progress is being made, and the latter because world class is the ultimate goal. Thus, in the awful-to-adequate phase, it is right to emphasize reducing outright failure and achieving a jump in the next year’s test results, just as the management of a failing company must first stop leaking cash and then build some confidence among investors. The key, though, is to take these sometimes drastic actions in a way that does not undermine progress towards the long-term goal. For example, Michael Fullan and I emphasize in our conversations the importance of building the underlying capability and capacity of a workforce and a system through every policy (Barber, 2008a, p. 375). Since 2003, the Government of Ontario has consciously modelled its strategy for improving literacy and numeracy in schools on our experience in England between 1997 and 2001, but it has also consciously varied the strategy, with greater emphasis on partnership, less prescription, fewer “distracters” (as they call them), and a language about capacity building and sustainability. They still have targets, but the government does not publish league tables (it leaves that to the newspapers), which means it can deflect this criticism. Interestingly, the results so far in Ontario are very similar to that in England – really substantial progress beginning to plateau, but so far not enough to hit an ambitious target. The test will be whether in the next phase they can avoid the long plateau seen in England. I believe they have a strong chance, partly because performance in Ontario was already better than in England when they began, so shock therapy was not judged necessary, and partly because leaders there have been careful to bear the long term in mind throughout the first phase. It will depend whether it can sustain partnership as the strategy becomes more precise and specific. Certainly, the dialogue throughout with the teacher unions, principals, and school boards has been focused on building partnership and appears to have developed and sustained a shared sense of moral purpose. This is just one interesting contrast. On the basis of education reforms such as these in other countries and my own experience in England in health and policing as well as education, it is possible to set out a framework for the changing nature of the dialogue that moves the conversation on as the system goes through the transitions towards world class. The basic premise is that awful-to-adequate phase may involve shock therapy and therefore a top–down approach, but the further you move towards world class, the less a government’s role is prescriptive, and the more it becomes enabling. Meanwhile, the professions need to move in the other direction to, at the world-class end, leading or driving the reform.

Citizens Combine to Drive Successful Educational Change


Table 1 How the relationship between government and professions could transform public service

At the outset, though, we need some understanding of what it takes to be world class. In education, we have this knowledge from a series of international benchmarking studies. What marks out the best systems in the world is that they recruit great people into teaching and invest in their skills effectively both at the start of their careers and throughout them so that they teach lessons of consistently high quality. This consistency is crucial, and it begins and ends in teachers’ classrooms. In other words, it can only be brought about by frontline professionals who share the mission, benefit from excellent management, and are given the tools and incentives to deliver consistent high quality by an enabling government. With this background, then, the framework described in Table 1 can be developed as the starting point for dialogue. At the very least, a framework such as this could provide a common language for the dialogue between government and the professions. That alone would be a major improvement on talking past each other, which has seemed so common in many countries. Two factors should enable it. The first is that even when a system is awful, there are plenty of head teachers and teachers who are doing an outstanding job. Right from the outset, government needs to foster a strong relationship with those in any service who are out in front. If these school leaders can express impatience with the slow pace of change, it helps to counterbalance the drag effect of those who want to slow things down. Indeed, this alliance with successful leaders is a key part of that process of building ever-widening circles of leadership, as previously mentioned. The second enabling factor is the vastly improved information


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Fig. 4 World class performance

available about the performance of public services. These data – everything from the published performance data to the growing range of international benchmarks – provide (and in the future will provide even better) the evidence base on which to have this conversation. Charles Clarke, former secretary of state for education in England, argues that part of the new relationship would need to be long-term pay settlements, which are both more flexible and more explicit about professionals’ responsibilities to develop their skills continuously, with government accepting responsibility for making this possible. The 3-year pay settlement for teachers in England announced in January 2008 may point the way. In Ontario, similarly, a long-term (4 year) pay deal was agreed upon in 2005 as a conscious step towards removing a “distracter.” New insights into this set of questions appear in a recent publication (Cabinet Office, 2008) from the prime minister’s Strategy Unit in the UK, which establishes a conceptual framework for the next stage of reform of the public services in the UK, as illustrated in Fig. 4. The document argues powerfully that whereas in the last decade the relationship between government and professions has been the chief focus of reform, in the next decade the relationship between citizens and professionals will become central. To quote, Excellence and Fairness argues: “We know that services need clear standards but that, following our first phase of reform, persisting with too may top-down targets can be counterproductive; we know services must value professionals if we are to foster innovation and excellence; we know that while central government must be a key player in driving better public services there are limits to what it can achieve and if it seeks to do too much it will stifle local initiative; and we know that vital though user choice is, it needs to be complemented with other approaches if we are really to empower citizens. So our established strategies now need to be accompanied by a new phase of reform:

Citizens Combine to Drive Successful Educational Change


• Developing new approaches to empowering citizens who use public services: both extending choice and complementing it with more direct forms of individual control, such as personal budgets in areas like care; opportunities for people to do more themselves, such as manage their own health; stronger local accountability, such as directly-elected police representatives; and providing greater transparency of performance. • Fostering a new professionalism across the whole public service workforce, from the dinner lady to the head teacher, from the hospital porter to the consultant. This combines increased responsiveness to users, consistent quality in day-to-day practices and higher levels of autonomy from central government wherever those at the front line show the ambition and capacity to excel and greater investment in workforce skills. • Providing strong strategic leadership from central government to ensure that direct intervention is more sharply concentrated on underperforming organisations, while the conditions are created for the majority to thrive more autonomously.”

Whether this precise mix is appropriate for every country, the direction is likely to be similar across the developed world and will increase the need to establish a principled relationship between government and public service professionals. The demand for public services of real quality that are available to all is overwhelming; those who work in the public services would surely prefer to be more motivated and more successful (rather than less), while governments in the next decade will find they need to sign up to this vision too if they are to succeed in meeting bold aspirations. Without something along these lines, we are likely to see public education systems collectively – government and the school workforce – fail to implement reform successfully or to communicate to the users and to those who pay for the services where they are heading and how they are doing. As a consequence, a spiral of decline would set in. If government and the teaching profession aim their messages only at each other and appear to be at loggerheads, then the public will inevitably be both sceptical and confused. If instead they combine in implementation and communication, they could be unstoppable. Easy to say, but very hard to do in practice, since this will require major culture change all round. It will require professions that embrace transparency, recognize the value of consistently high-quality and reliable processes, as well as personalization, and instead of saying “slow down,” they would promote greater urgency. It will require governments to engage in constant, informed dialogue, stick to priorities, avoid gimmicks, and admit mistakes. Delivering sustained system improvement and consistent world-class performance will be an exacting challenge for whole systems. System leaders around the world are just beginning to understand what it will take.

References Barber, M. (2007). Three paradigms of public-sector reform. London: McKinsey & Company. Barber, M. (2008a). Instruction to deliver: Tony Blair, the public services and the challenge of achieving target. London: Politico. Barber, M. (2008b). From system effectiveness to system improvements: Reform paradigms and relationships. In A. Hargreaves & M. Fullan (Eds.), Change Wars (pp. 71–96). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree.


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Clarke, C. (2007). Competition for social justice: Markets and contestability in public services. In P. Diamond (Ed.), Public matters: The renewal of the public realm (pp. XX–XX). London: Politico. Collins, J. (2001). Good to great and the social sectors: Why business thinking is not the answer. New York: Collins. Collins, J. (2005). Good to great. New York: Harper Business. Heifetz, R. A. (1994). Leadership without easy answers. Cambridge, MA: Belknap. Kotter, J. (1996). Leading change. Boston: Harvard Business School. Mortimore, P., Sammons, P., Stoll, L., Lewis, D., & Ecoh, R. (1988). School matters: The junior years. London: Open Books. OECD. (2007, December). PISA report. Paris: OECD. Osborne, D., & Hutchinson, P. (2004). The price of government: Getting the results we need in an age of permanent crisis. New York: Basic Books. PMSU/Cabinet Office. (2008). Excellence and fairness. London: Crown copyright. Rutter M., Maughan, B., Mortimore, P., & Ouston, J. (1979). Fifteen thousand hours. London: Paul Chapman Publishing Ltd.

Educational Change and Demographic Change: Immigration and the Role of Educational Leadership Pedro A. Noguera

Although the United States is a nation of immigrants, having been populated largely through waves of migration by people from nations and territories throughout the world (people of African and indigenous descent being the most notable exceptions to this pattern), immigration has historically been a source of controversy and conflict. Throughout American history, each wave of immigration has been greeted by hostility, discrimination, and, in some cases, fierce opposition from groups who arrived not long before. In each case, the right of new migrants to settle and reside in the United States has been challenged both on the basis of the perceived threat they posed to the economic security and well-being of those who came before and on the basis of their presumed cultural incompatibility with American social norms (Roediger, 1991). Ironically, even groups that today seem to be completely accepted and integrated within the social fabric of American society – Germans, Italians, Irish, and Jews – were once subjected to attacks and concerted opposition to their entry and settlement by others that charged they were unwanted and “unassimilable” (Brodkin, 1992; Takaki, 1989). This chapter examines the factors influencing how schools are responding to the demographic changes that are being brought about as a result of immigration. It focuses upon what educational leaders can do to address some of the educational controversies that often accompany demographic change. It will show that while many of the controversies that schools find themselves confronting are framed around questions related to language acquisition (English immersion vs. bilingual education) and to a lesser degree tracking (due to the tendency to place Englishlanguage learners (ELLs) in non-college prep classes) and student achievement, concerns and unease related to the changing nature of the American population are often at the root of these conflicts. Current trends suggest that as immigrants settle in communities throughout the United States and begin to transform the social landscape of American society, controversies over what role schools should play

P.A. Noguera (B) New York University, New York, NY, USA e-mail: [emailprotected]

A. Hargreaves et al. (eds.), Second International Handbook of Educational Change, Springer International Handbooks of Education 23, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-2660-6_16, C Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010



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in integrating the children of immigrants and shaping the future of American society will become increasingly intense. Educational leaders who understand how to address the educational needs of immigrant students will be in a better position to respond to these controversies, and their leadership may prove to be extremely important to communities that are grappling with the changes that result from the arrival of new immigrants. Many of the approaches described in this chapter for addressing the needs of immigrant students are entirely unaddressed by the predominant theories of educational change that are promulgated by mainstream educational researchers. In a departure from these technical approaches to leadership, the ideas presented here are part of a growing body of the theories-in-action literature which advocate an approach to narrowing of achievement gaps, examining achievement data, structuring literacy strategies, and employing various combinations of pressure and support to immigrant students in a manner that takes account of the dynamic nature of change in the social context that impacts schools and student learning (Bryk & Schnieder, 2003; Lipman, 2002; Noguera, 2004). Unlike educational theories that ignore ethnic, socio-economic, and linguistic differences among students, this chapter was written with the explicit purpose of providing concrete recommendations to educational leaders regarding what they can do to play a positive and supportive role in helping their schools and the larger society adjust to and capitalize on inevitable demographic change.

Understanding the New Immigration Most demographers and economists predict that no matter how many guards are deployed at the southern border or how high the fences are erected, immigrants, both legal and undocumented, will continue to find ways to enter the United States.1 As my colleague Marcelo Suarez-Orozco has put it, “[I]mmigration is not only our past, it is our destiny”.2 Since 1990, the United States has experienced the greatest influx of immigrants in its history (Suarez-Orozco & Suarez-Orozco, 2001), and once again, it finds itself embroiled in a bitter conflict over whether or not the new arrivals, particularly the undocumented, have a right to remain. Public schools find themselves at the center of the nation’s controversy over the rights of immigrant children because unlike other institutions that can deny undocumented immigrants access to services, the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that public schools cannot (Fass, 2007; Rothstein, 1994). Historically, public schools in the United States have served as the primary institution responsible for integrating and assimilating waves of immigrant children (Fass, 1989; Olsen, 2000). Once again, they have been

1 For

an example of such a prediction, see Clark (1998). and Carola Suarez-Orozco (2001) are some of the leading scholars on the education of immigrant children. For a discussion of how immigrant children are faring in the nation’s public schools, see Kao and Tienda (1998) and Olsen (2000). 2 Marcelo

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called upon to carry out this important task, particularly with respect to ensuring that immigrant children learn the English language. During the current period, schools must figure out how best to serve the needs of immigrant children within an increasingly hostile political climate. In such a context, educating a new generation of immigrant children has become a highly politicized project in many communities, and not surprisingly, many schools find themselves at a loss for how best to meet the educational needs of the immigrant children they serve. Economic forces are largely responsible for driving the current influx of immigrants, and these forces work in two different directions. South of the border there is the ongoing reality of widespread poverty, gross inequity, unemployment, and underdevelopment in the Caribbean and Latin America, most especially Mexico, that serves as the primary push factor prompting migration. Liberalized trade policies such as NAFTA have in some cases contributed to economic hardships in the region and prompted large numbers of displaced farmers to migrate north.3 Others have been prompted to leave their home countries by war, natural disasters, and political unrest. Even in nations like Mexico, Columbia, Peru, and Trinidad where economic growth has occurred, the inequitable distribution of resources and wealth has driven the poor to find ways to migrate to the United States in pursuit of economic opportunity. Undoubtedly, for as long as imbalances in wealth and living standards between rich and poor regions of the world remain unaddressed, it appears unlikely that current trends will reverse.4 On the other side of the immigration equation lie the pull factors that draw immigrants to the United States, and for that matter other wealthy nations. First and foremost are the insatiable demands of the US economy for cheap labor. Several sectors of the US economy including agriculture, construction, food processing, hotels and restaurants, and healthcare are highly dependent upon legal and undocumented immigrant labor. The unwillingness of the US Congress to adopt laws that would legalize the movement of labor across borders has not prevented foreign workers from finding ways to secure jobs in industries desperate for their services. It is for this reason that some of the strongest proponents of a more liberal immigration policy have come from business organizations in the private sector. In addition to the search for jobs, once immigrants settle in an area their presence creates its own dynamic. Family unification is another major factor prompting immigration, as is news of opportunity in a new land in communities of origin (Valdez, 1999). The settlement of immigrants is never a random process. When immigrants move into a community, it is almost always because they have followed a path, a network, or

3 For a discussion of how liberal trade policies such as NAFTA have contributed to migration from Latin America to the United States, see “Immigrants Come Here Because Globalization Took Their Jobs Back There” by Jim Hightower in Lowdown, February 7, 2008. 4 Imbalance in wealth and the lack of economic opportunity in other parts of the Third World are also responsible for migration to Europe as well as internal migration in nations such as China and Russia. See Many Globalizations by Peter Berger and Samuel Huntington (London: Oxford University Press, 2002).


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a channel created by those who arrive first or the employers who have drawn them there. The current backlash against immigrants ignores the push–pull factors that drive demographic change. Instead, it appears that much of the opposition to immigration is due to two other significant considerations: (1) the greatest number of immigrants coming to the United States today are non-white and do not speak English as their first language. Their presence is transforming the racial and ethnic makeup of several communities (Suarez-Orozco & Suarez-Orozco, 2008); and (2) in some sectors, immigrant labor is being used to displace US-born workers because they can be paid substantially less (Valenzuela, 1999). Television commentator Lou Dobbs has emerged as one of the leading spokespersons of the backlash against immigration, and though he and other opponents of immigration often claim that their hostility is directed at illegal immigration and not immigrants generally, they typically refuse to acknowledge that the hostility is increasingly directed at foreigners generally. In fact, many of the punitive laws adopted by local governments and much of the harassment and even overt violence carried out by vigilantes have been directed at Latinos.5 In an act of remarkable hypocrisy, several prominent figures in both major political parties have attempted to curry favor among anti-immigration groups and have used rhetoric that has contributed to the attacks upon immigrants, even as they have also courted Latino voters. Similarly, no one within the federal government has publicly acknowledged the duplicity of the preoccupation with border security as it proceeds with the construction of a fence on the Mexican border while the longer Canadian border remains largely open and unobstructed. Lurking in the background of the political debate over immigration is the growing awareness that by the year 2050 individuals regarded as “white” will no longer constitute the majority of US population.6 While a small number of racist organizations openly express alarm over this impending transformation, most mainstream politicians and civic groups generally do not. Instead, leaders like US Congressman Tom Tancredo, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, and Lou Dobbs frame their opposition to illegal immigration as a matter of national security, as a concern that immigrants are taking jobs from American citizens, and as an alarm that American identity and the English language are threatened by immigrants who refuse to assimilate. While some of those expressing such concerns may legitimately fear the changes brought about by immigration, it is also true that the new immigration has evoked a backlash because it differs from previous patterns in two important respects. First, prior to the Immigration Act of 1965, the majority of immigrants settling in the United States came from Europe, and while many European immigrants experienced 5 For a discussion of some of the attacks against new immigrants, legal and undocumented, by local governments and vigilante groups such as the Minute Men, see Chavez (2008) 6 For a discussion of demographic trends and the emerging non-white majority, see the California Cauldron by Clark (1998). I use the term “regarded as white” because these racial classifications are not universally accepted and are subject to change over time. For a discussion of race as a social and political category, see Racial Formation in the United States by Omi and Winant (1986).

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hostility and discrimination, today, few question their claims to citizenship in the United States. Since 1965, the overwhelming majority of new immigrants have been from Latin America and Asia, and though many Asians and Latinos have resided in the United States for generations, it is not uncommon for their citizenship to be questioned. As historian Ron Takaki has said with reference to Asian Americans, many are treated as though they are “forever foreign” (Takaki, 1989) because of a pervasive assumption that a person of Asian origin cannot be an “American”. A similar argument could be made regarding dark-skinned Latinos, who often experience a greater degree of discrimination and racial bias in schools and the workplace due to their phenotype (Fergus, 2004). Additionally, whereas the settlement of new immigrants was once largely confined to the major cities on the east and west coasts, today immigrants are settling throughout the nation, in small towns, suburbs, and rural areas, wherever the demand for their labor is greatest. As they arrive in large numbers, immigrants invariably change the character of the communities, schools, churches, and workplaces where they reside. Even when they settle in communities where their labor is needed, in many cases their presence still generates conflict and tension with those who feel threatened or displaced by their presence. In many communities, older residents resent the changes that occur as immigrants who speak different languages and practice different customs transform the environment and local institutions. Even though there is considerable evidence that immigrants generally contribute more to local economies than they take and have been responsible for revitalizing a number of depressed cities and towns, many Americans still express opposition to allowing them to settle in this country.7 Though it is rarely discussed publicly, much of this backlash appears to be related to race, or more precisely to racism. Though there is ample evidence that a number of undocumented immigrants from Ireland and Canada reside in the United States, there have been no reports of immigration raids targeting these groups. Instead, in communities throughout the United States, Latinos have been the primary targets of political attacks against illegal immigration (Lovato, 2008). Documenting recent attacks against Mexican immigrants in Georgia and the complicity in these attacks by elected public officials, journalist Roberto Lovato writes, . . . the surge in Latino migration (the Southeast is home to the fastest-growing Latino population in the United States) is moving many of the institutions and actors responsible for enforcing Jim Crow to resurrect and reconfigure themselves in line with new demographics. Along with the almost daily arrests, raids and home invasions by federal, state and other authorities, newly resurgent civilian groups like the Ku Klux Klan, in addition to more than 144 new “nativist extremist” groups and 300 anti-immigrant organizations born in the past three years, mostly based in the south, are harassing immigrants as a way to grow their ranks. (2008, p. 33)

While much of the hostility toward immigrants has been manifest in white communities, there have also been sporadic acts of violence directed at immigrants in 7 For a discussion of how immigrants contribute to local economies, see Portes and Rumbaut (2002) and Riech (1992).


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several historically African American communities. Particularly in Los Angeles and other communities throughout southern California, there has been a significant increase in violence and tension between recent Latino immigrants and older Black residents.8 Though both groups share a history of experiencing discrimination and racial injustice, in many communities they find themselves competing for jobs, services, political office, and control over the public schools. Today, US immigration policy, or more precisely the question of how to control the borders and what to do about the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants who now reside in the United States, has emerged as one of the most potent political issues of the 2008 electoral season. Against this backdrop, how public schools will be affected and respond to the changes brought about by immigration and the backlash to it will increasingly be a subject that educational leaders will not be able to avoid.

What Schools Can Do Just as they have in the past with other immigrant groups, public schools will continue to serve as the primary institutions of socialization and support for immigrant children today (Katznelson & Weir, 1994). Given the growing hostility toward immigrants and their families (particularly the undocumented) and given the vast array of needs the poor immigrant children bring with them (i.e., they are more likely than other children to lack health insurance),9 providing immigrant students with a quality education that prepares them adequately for life in this country will require an expansive vision and commitment to enacting policies and programs that support the education and well-being of immigrant youth. The following is a brief listing of some of the strategies schools can adopt to meet the needs of the immigrant students they serve: (1) Provide Support as Students Acculturate Unlike their parents who arrived in the United States with their identities intact, immigrant youth often find themselves caught between two worlds, neither fully American nor fully part of the country of their parents (Jiobu, 1988). Many also arrive without having received formal education in their countries of origin. Such children are often not literate in their native language and, consequently, experience greater difficulty learning academic English (August & Shanahan, 2006; García, Wilksinson, & Ortiz, 1995). As they go through this

8 For a discussion of the factors influencing racial conflict between African Americans and Latino immigrants in southern California, see “Beyond the Racial Divide: Perceptions of Minority Residents on Coalition Building in South Los Angeles” in TRPI Policy Brief, June 2007. 9 For a discussion of the health challenges confronting immigrant children and their families, see Guendelman, Schauffler and Pearl (2001) and Capps, Fix, Ost, Reardon-Anderson and Passel (2004).

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difficult acculturation process, immigrant youth are often susceptible to a variety of hardships and pressures that many adults, including their parents, do not fully understand. Some of these pressures include the following: a tendency to become alienated from adults and to be drawn toward gangs or groups involved with criminal activity, teen pregnancy, or dropping out of school altogether (Garcia, 2001; Zentella, 2002). Certainly, there are many immigrant youth that manage to avoid these pressures. In fact, in some schools, immigrant students are among the highest achievers, especially if they come to the United States as literates, with several years of education in the previous country, or from highly educated parents (August & Hakuta, 1997; Cummins, 1981; Kao & Tienda, 1998). However, for those whose parents are struggling financially and particularly for children of undocumented parents, the challenges they encounter both within and outside of school can be quite formidable. Educators can respond to these challenges and mitigate the effects of hostility in the external environment in a variety of ways. For example, research has shown that one of the most effective means to counter the influence of gangs is to provide young people who may be susceptible to recruitment with a variety of extracurricular activities (that appeal to their interests to join) (Coltin, 1999). Additionally, scholars such as Ricardo Stanton Salazar (2001) and Angela Valenzuela (1999) have shown that when schools hire caring adults as teachers, counselors, and administrators – at least some of whom are from backgrounds that are similar to those of their students – they can have a positive effect on achievement, graduation, and college attendance. Such individuals can help in generating the kinds of social capital that middle-class students typically have access to by opening doors to internships, jobs, and various social services and by writing recommendations for admission to college (Bryk & Schneider, 2003). (2) Address the Needs of Transnational Families Immigration often compels families to make tough choices about who will leave and who will remain, and these choices often take a toll on families. When the decision to leave is made, some families are forced to separate and leave children or even a parent behind, often with the hope that with time, reunification will be possible. The development of transnational families, separated by borders and thousands of miles, often results in children experiencing disruptions in school attendance (Ada, 1988). To ensure that relationships are maintained, usually immigrant parents send a child to their country of origin for 6 weeks during the middle of the school year. For educators who are concerned with academic progress, such a choice might seem nonsensical and even negligent, but to a family that is coping with the hardships caused by separation, such choices may be the only way to maintain the bonds of family. Migrant workers often return to Mexico for several weeks during the winter because there is no work available during the non-growing season. Although they generally return to their jobs, it is often the case that their children lose instruction and may even lose their seats in classrooms because of adjustments that are made during their absence. Those interested in supporting immigrant


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youth and their families must at the minimum demonstrate a capacity to understand the difficult choices transnational families face (Olsen, 2000). Finding ways to help reduce the strains caused by separation, while minimizing the losses in learning associated with extended absences, is an important pedagogical consideration for schools that serve large populations of Latino immigrant youth. A growing number of schools have adopted strategies to support Latino youth who miss extended amounts of time because they are part of transnational families. For example, one elementary school in Los Angeles modified the academic year so that students could take off for 4 weeks at the end of December and beginning of January. An additional 2 weeks of school was added to the end of the year to make sure that students do not miss out on instruction (Gullatt & Lofton, 1996). A school in Texas located near the Mexican border established a cooperative relationship with a Mexican school across the border to ensure that its students received similar instruction in school while they are in Mexico. Finally, several schools in Miami and New York that serve immigrant youth, whose parents reside in the Caribbean, have hired social workers who are familiar with students’ living arrangements and who can provide additional social and emotional support to youth in need (Ada, 1988). Such measures do not eliminate the difficulties experienced by immigrant youth who are separated from their families, but they do help to lessen the hardships they endure and demonstrate that the school is not interested in punishing students for a situation they cannot control. Employing staff with language and cultural skills to work effectively with immigrant youth and their families is also of vital importance, if trust and respect between home and school are to be established (Fix & Zimmermann, 2001; Valdez, 1999). (3) Develop Full-Service Community Schools Several schools that serve low-income immigrant students have adopted a community school approach to meeting student needs. The community school approach is an idea that can be traced back to the early writings of John Dewey. It is premised on the notion that the conditions for academic learning must include attention to the cognitive, emotional, social, physical, and moral development of children (Bronfenbrenner, 1979, 1988). The current movement of community schools began in the late 1980s when various organizations (e.g., Children’s Aid Society, Communities In Schools, Beacon Schools) embarked on a reform strategy aimed at forming concrete relationships between schools and non-profit service organizations in school districts throughout the country. The initial rationale for these community school partnerships was based upon the recognition that the nutritional, mental health, and physical needs of low-income children are primary developmental issues that impact learning. In most cases, schools cannot respond to this broad array of needs without additional support (Dryfoos, Quinn, & Barkin, 2005). During the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, the unmet social needs of poor children were exacerbated by changes in state and federal policies (e.g., Welfare to Work) that had the effect of compounding many of the difficulties facing poor children and their

Educational Change and Demographic Change


families and overwhelmed community and school-based resources (HayesBautista, 2002). The combination of these trends has made it increasingly clear that high-poverty schools are in need of assistance. A number of schools serving low-income immigrant children have adopted the community school approach, sometimes called the full-service school. Schools such as Edison Elementary in Portchester, New York, and Henshaw Middle School in Modesto, California, have shown that when immigrant children are provided with access social services schools can do a better job at meeting their academic needs (Hall, Yohalem, Tolman, & Wilson, 2003). Many community schools maintain a full-time licensed social worker, and for some community schools like the ones operated by the Children’s Aid Society, mental health services or wellness centers are staffed by two to four social workers and a part-time psychologist. Community schools also enlist health professionals, such as dentists, optometrists, and nurse practitioners, which allows students to receive their annual physicals and prescriptions on the school site. Additionally, community schools provide an extensive after-school programs that include academic enrichment and recreation. Many community schools also attempt to extend their services to parents and families by providing adult education classes in the evening and weekends. All of these services occur in schools that typically operate 10–12 h per day and 6 or 7 days a week. While the overall number of community schools remains quite low, recognition of the need to address the developmental domains of children (i.e., cognitive, social, emotional, moral, and physical) in the social institution in which they are most influenced and spend majority of their developing years continues (Epstein et al., 2002). There is also evidence that addressing the social, emotional, and health needs of children can also have a positive impact on their academic performance (Coltin, 1999). Creating a community school generally requires resourcefulness and creativity on the part of the staff and administration. Principals who are entrepreneurial generally take the lead in establishing partnerships with non-profits, local government agencies and community groups to meet the needs of the students and families they serve. Additionally, community schools focus on building a sense of community by engaging parents as partners and providing workshops to them on topics that meet their needs. (4) Make Sure that English-Language Learners Are Not Prevented from Enrolling in College Preparatory Courses In many schools that serve recent immigrant students, a student’s inability to speak fluent English, or more precisely to display a command over academic literacy, is used as a justification for locating the student in courses designated for ELLs. While such placements are generally warranted to ensure that recent immigrant students learn English, in too many schools, ESL (English as a Second Language) and other language support courses serve as a means of tracking ELLs into courses that fail to prepare them for college. To make matters worse, in many cases such courses also fail to provide students with the ability to acquire proficiency in English even after several years of placement.


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Tracking on the basis of language difference is one of the factors that has been cited by researchers as contributing to the high drop-out rates that are common among recent immigrant students (Orfield et al., 2005). Educational leaders can ensure that students learning English are not denied the opportunity to enroll in rigorous college prep courses by providing the teachers in such courses with training on how to work with ELLs. Professional development in sheltered English is one strategy that schools have used to effectively address the needs of ELLs in mainstream courses (Ruiz deValasco, Fix, & Clewell, 2001). More importantly, the schools that have demonstrated the greatest success in meeting the needs of ELLs make a deliberate effort to hire staff who can speak the language spoken by their students. Obviously, many schools are unable to make major changes in personnel in the short term and even those that are able to hire new faculty may have trouble recruiting bi-lingual teachers. Still, to the degree that educational leaders recognize the importance of providing all of their students with an education that prepares them for life beyond high school, they will find ways to ensure that their staff develops the capacity to meet the educational needs of the students they serve and will not allow their inability to speak English to be a permanent obstacle.

Immigration and America’s Future Like many immigrants today, earlier generations of European immigrants encountered hardships and discrimination. Despite the hostility they encountered, these groups gradually improved their social conditions and experienced the social mobility promised by the American Dream. Schools played a major role in facilitating their social mobility by imparting the academic skills and the cultural competence needed to climb the economic ladder. Of course, social mobility often came with a price and some sacrifice. Many European immigrants found it necessary to abandon their native languages, to give up their cultures, and in many cases to “Anglocize” their names (Fass, 1989; Jiobu, 1988). For these groups, assimilation made social mobility possible, and over time, the early stigmas and hardships were gradually overcome (Glazer & Moynihan, 1963). Unlike many European countries where immigrants have never been fully accepted, in the United States groups that were once perceived as ethnically inferior were gradually accepted as full-fledged white Americans (Brodkin, 1999; Roediger, 1991). The situation is very different for Latino immigrants and their children. Although Latinos represent the fastest growing segment of the US population and are now the largest minority group, it is not clear that the future will be as bright and promising for them as it was for European immigrants of the past. Globalization and de-industrialization have contributed to a worsening of circ*mstances for lowskilled Latino immigrants. Ironically, Latinos now constitute the ethnic group least likely to be unemployed, but most likely to be impoverished (Smith, 2002). This is

Educational Change and Demographic Change


occurring because Latinos are generally concentrated in the lowest paying jobs and many lack the skills and education needed to seek better paying alternatives (Smith, 2002). Unlike European immigrants whose offspring reaped the rewards from the sacrifices of earlier generations, Latino immigrants are not experiencing a similar degree of success (Portes & Rumbaut, 2002). Despite having been present in the United States for centuries, Latinos are overrepresented among the ranks of the poor and low-income groups, and at least part of the reason for this is the pervasiveness of racialized inequalities, particularly within education. Today, Latino youth are more likely than any other ethnic group to be enrolled in schools that are not only segregated by race, but by class as well (Orfield & Eaton, 1996). In cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, where Latino youth comprise the majority of the school-age population, they are disproportionately assigned to schools that are over-crowded, under-funded, and woefully inadequate on matters related to educational quality (Garcia, 2001; Noguera, 2003, 2004; Oakes, 2002). Latino youth also have the highest high school dropout rates and lowest rates for college attendance (Garcia, 2001). In general, they are over-represented in most categories of crisis and failure (i.e., suspensions and expulsions, special education placements), while underrepresented in those of success (i.e., honors and gifted and talented classes) (Meier & Stewart, 1991). Yet, in my work with schools, I often hear from administrators who speak favorably of the conduct of Latino immigrant students.10 Though not all are described as studious, most are characterized as well behaved, courteous and deferential toward adults. Beyond focusing on their behavior, educators must make sure that Latino immigrant students are not over-represented in remedial classes and Special Education, nor trapped in ESL classes that bar them from courses that prepare students for college. Like their parents, many immigrant youth have the drive, the work ethic and the persistence to take advantage of opportunities that come their way (Kao & Tienda, 1998). Of course, it is risky to generalize or to overstate the importance of will and work ethic. For immigrant youth who live in communities where economic and social opportunities are limited and who have no ability to control basic circ*mstances that shape the opportunities available to them – namely, the schools they attend, the neighborhoods where they live, or the hostility of others to their presence – will and determination may not suffice. In fact, research on the socialization of immigrant youth shows that in a reversal of past patterns, assimilation no longer serves as the pathway into mainstream American culture and middle-class status as it once did for European immigrants (Portes & Rumbaut, 2002). Instead, the evidence suggests that the socialization associated with acculturation and assimilation

10 As a researcher and the Director of the Metro Center at NYU, I work with many schools through-

out the United States. For a description of my research, see City Schools and the American Dream (NY: Teachers College Press, 2003).


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often results in a lowering of the academic achievement and performance of Latino students (Suarez-Orozco & Suarez-Orozco, 2001).11 Theoretically at least, education should serve as means for immigrant children to escape poverty. For this to happen, education must serve as a source of opportunity and a pathway to a better life just as it has for other groups in the past. For this to happen, schools must not treat immigrant children as though their inability to speak fluent English is a sign of cognitive or cultural deficit. They must reach out to their parents and work with them, and they must find partners who can provide the resources and support their children need. As was true in the past, the children of the new immigrants will eventually end up in America’s public schools. How educators, parents and policy makers respond to their growing presence and the controversies that result will ultimately determine whether or not immigration will be a source of strength or lead to greater polarization and conflict in the years ahead.

References Ada, A. F. (1988).The Pajaro Valley experience: Working with Spanish speaking parents to develop children’s reading and writing skills through the use of children’s literature. In T. SkutnabbKangas & J. Cummins (Eds.), Minority education. London: Multilingual Matters, Ltd. August, D., & Hakuta, K. (1997). Improving schooling for language-minority children: A research agenda. Washington, DC: US Department of Education. August, D., & Shanahan, T. (2006). Developing literacy in second-language learners: Report of the national literacy panel on language-minority children and youth. Mahaw, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Brodkin, K. (1999) How Jews became white folk. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1988). Forward. In R. Pence (Ed.), Ecological research with children and families: Concepts to methodology (pp. ix–xix). New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Bryk, A., & Schneider, B. (2003). Trust in schools: A core resource for school reform. Educational Leadership, 60(6), 40–44. Capps, R., Fix, M., Ost, J., Reardon-Anderson, J., & Passel, J. S. (2004). The health and well-being of young children of immigrants. Washington, DC: Urban Institute. Chavez, L. (2008). The Latino threat: Constructing immigrants, citizens and the nation. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Clark, W. (1998). The California cauldron. New York: The Guilford Press. Coltin, L. (1999). Enriching children’s out-of-school time. Eric Clearinghouse on elementary and early childhood education, Champaign, IL. Cummins, J. (1981). Age on arrival and immigrant second language acquisition in Canada: A reassessment. Applied Linguistics, 2, 132–149. Dryfoos, J., Quinn, J., & Barkin, C. (2005). Community schools in action: Lessons from a decade of practice. New York: Oxford University Press.

11 In

much of the sociological literature on immigration, it has been held that assimilation would lead to social mobility for immigrants. Second- and third-generation immigrants have generally fared better than new arrivals. For Latinos, available research suggests the opposite may be true.

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Epstein, J. L., Sanders, M. G., Simon, B. S., Salinas, K. C., Joanshorn, N. R., & Van Voorhis, F. L. (2002). School, family and community partnerships: Your handbook for action(2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press, Inc. Fabienke, D. (2007) “Beyond the Racial Divide: Perceptions of Minority Residents on Coalition Building in South Los Angeles” in TRPI Policy Brief, June 2007. Fass, P. (1989). Outside in. New York: Oxford University Press. Fass, P. S. (2007). Children of a new world: Society, culture, and globalization. New York: New York University Press. Fergus, E. (2004).Skin color and identity formation: Perceptions of opportunity and academic orientation among Mexican and Puerto Rican Youth. New York: Routledge. Fix, M., & Zimmermann, W. (2001). All under one roof: Mixed-status families in an era of reform. International Migration Review, 35(2), 397–341. Garcia, E. (2001). Hispanic education in the United States. New York: Roman and Littlefield. García, S. B., Wilksinson, C. Y., & Ortiz, A. A. (1995). Enhancing achievement for language minority students: Classroom, school and family contexts. Education and Urban Society, 27(4), 441–462. Glazer, N., & Moynihan, D. (1963). Beyond the melting pot. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Guendelman, S., Schauffler, H. H., & Pearl, M. (2001). Unfriendly shores: How immigrant children fare in the US health system. Health Affairs, 20(1), 257–266. Gullatt, D., & Lofton, B. (1996). The principal’s role in promoting academic gain, RIC Document Reproduction Service. Hall, G., Yohalem, N., Tolman, J., & Wilson, A. (2003). How after school programs can most effectively promote positive youth development as a support to academic achievement: A report commissioned by the Boston after-school for all partnership. Wellesley, MA: National Institute on Out-of-School Time. Hayes-Bautista, D. (2002). The Latino health Research Agenda for the twenty-FIRST Century. In M. Suarez-Orozco & M. M. Paez (Eds.), Latinos: Remaking America. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Jiobu, R. (1988). Ethnicity and assimilation. Albany, NY: State University Press. Kao, G., & Tienda, M. (1998). Educational aspirations among minority youth. American Journal of Education, 106(3), 349–384. Katznelson, I., & Weir, M. (1994). Schooling for all. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Lipman, P. (1998). Race, class and power in school restructuring. Albany, NY:SUNY Press. Lovato, R. (2008). Juan Crow in Georgia. The Nation, May 8. Meier, K., & Stewart, J. (1991). The politics of Hispanic education. Albany, NY: State University Press. Noguera, P. A. (2003). City schools and the American dream. New York: Teachers College Press. Noguera, P. A. (2004). Social capital and the education of immigrant students: Categories and generalizations. Sociology of Education, 77(2), April. Oakes, J. (2002). Adequate and equitable access to education’s basic tools in a standards based educational system. Teachers College Record, special issue. Olsen, L. (2000) Made in America. New York: New Press. Omi, M., & Winant, H. (1986). Racial formation in the United States. New York: Routledge. Orfield, G., & Boger, C. J. (2005). Must the south turn back? Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. Orfield, G., & Eaton, S. (1996). Dismantling desegregation. New York: New Press. Portes, A., & Rumbaut, R. (2002).Legacies: The story of the immigrant second generation. Berkeley: University of California Press. Riech, R. B. (1992). The work of nations: Preparing ourselves for 21st century capitalism. New York: First Vintage Books. Roediger, D. (1991). The wages of whiteness. New York: Verso Press. Rothstein, R. (1994). Immigration dilemmas. In N. Mills (Ed.), Arguing immigration. New York: Simon and Schuster.


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Ruiz-de-Valasco, J., Fix, M., & Clewell, B. C. (2001). Overlooked and underserved: Immigrant students in US secondary schools. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute. Smith, R. (2002). Gender, ethnicity, and race in school and work outcomes of second generation Mexican Americans. In M. Suarez-Orozco & M. M. Paez (Eds.), Latinos: Remaking America. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Stanton Salazar, R. (2001). Manufactruing hope and despair. New york: Teachers College Press. Suarez-Orozco, M., & Suarez-Orozco, C. (2001). Children of immigration. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Suarez-Orozco, M., & Suarez-Orozco, C. (2008). Learning a new land. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Takaki, R. (1989). Strangers from a different shore. New York: Penguin. Valdez, G. (1999). Con Respeto. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Valenzuela, A. (1999). Subtractive schooling. Albany: SUNY Press. Zentella, A. C. (2002). Latinos @ languages and identities. In M. Suarez-Orozco & M. M. Paez (Eds.), Latinos: Remaking America. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Probing the Limits of Systemic Reform: The English Case John Gray

In his remarkably prescient study, The New Meaning of Educational Change, Fullan and Stiegelbauer (1991) challenged policy-makers to pay more attention to the accumulated wisdom of research. “Armed with knowledge of the change process and a commitment to action,” they argued, “we should accept nothing less than positive results on a massive scale – at both the individual and organisational levels” (p. 354). It was a call to arms which the New Labour government, under Prime Minister Tony Blair, was to take very seriously. In this chapter I review some of the major developments which happened over the 10 years of the Blair administration from 1997 to 2007 and attempt to draw some broad conclusions. What were the key levers of educational change and what did they produce? Crucially, was the fabric and infrastructure of contemporary English schooling transformed in ways that have subsequently proved self-sustaining? In calling for change, however, Fullan also counselled realism. There is a “huge negative legacy of failed reforms” littering the educational change literature. To rise above this legacy policy-makers would need more than “good intentions” and “powerful rhetoric.” They would need not only to initiate reforms but to develop the capacity to learn from them.

The Commitment to a Third Way Blair had made his election mantra “education, education, education.” Consequently, many in the education professions assumed that when New Labour took office there would be a return to the values that had informed “old” Labour; although after some 17 years out of office, what precisely these values were beyond platitudes about equal opportunities and meeting the needs of the educationally disadvantaged had largely faded from memory.

J. Gray (B) University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK e-mail: [emailprotected] A. Hargreaves et al. (eds.), Second International Handbook of Educational Change, Springer International Handbooks of Education 23, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-2660-6_17, C Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010



J. Gray

New Labour’s strategic thinking has been described as the “Third Way”. Anthony Giddens, widely credited as its intellectual architect, has argued that “investing in human capital” is a central “tenet” of Third Way thinking and that the “key force in human capital development obviously has to be education. It is the main public investment that can foster both economic efficiency and civil cohesion” (2000, p. 73). In short, he suggested, there were sound economic and social reasons for prioritising expenditure on education. Giddens was dismissive of suggestions that Third Way thinking was less preoccupied with inequality than earlier Labour ideologies. It is concerned, he argued, “both with equality and pluralism, placing an emphasis on a dynamic model of egalitarianism . . . focusing primarily upon equality of opportunity but stressing that this also presumes economic redistribution” (2000, pp. 120–121). Inequality can be particularly addressed through strategies for tackling the needs of the long-term poor. “Enduring poverty,” he concludes, “is usually coupled to exclusionary mechanisms and hence affects most aspects of life.” Children from poor backgrounds get a raw deal in the womb and suffer “abuse and neglect” at home. These “disadvantages,” he suggests, “carry on through their education or lack of it.” “Schools in poor neighbourhoods are often under-funded (and) staffed by demoralised teachers, who have to concern themselves with keeping control in the classroom rather than with instruction” (op cit., p. 114). The policies can almost be read off from the diagnosis – more funding for disadvantaged schools, greater attention to the sources of teacher morale, more focus on the sources of pupil disengagement which underpin unruly behaviour and, perhaps, more support for good teaching; in short, more investment in education. Interestingly, Giddens didn’t have much to say about mechanisms for holding schools to account. Whether there is anything distinctive here in Third Way thinking as regards the education of the socially and educationally disadvantaged is a moot point. There are strong echoes of the Plowden Committee’s recommendations some 30 years earlier which lamented the fate of poor children caught up in “a seamless web of circ*mstances” in which one disadvantage was compounded by another (Plowden, 1967, para. 131). Although our understanding of what school improvement involves has moved on over the ensuing period, the underlying diagnosis is strikingly similar. Where the Third Way has differed substantially from its predecessors has been in its thinking about how school improvement might best be pursued. In seeking to mobilise the forces for change New Labour has shown itself to be very flexible in interpreting the inheritance. More autonomy has been given to schools (where they have been prepared to take it) and public–private and public–voluntary partnerships have been fostered as a means of hastening reform. At the same time there has been some recasting of the lines of communication. In the process, central government has assumed more of the roles that, under earlier divisions of labour, had been reserved for local authorities.

Probing the Limits of Systemic Reform


Five Strategic Challenges When New Labour assumed power it faced at least five strategic challenges in developing its reform programme. First, what organisational structures of schooling to maintain and promote. The Conservatives had never completed the comprehensive reforms Labour had initiated. With a view to offering parents greater “choice and diversity”, they had encouraged a range of different types of school to develop with a particularly prominent role for the grant-maintained sector. Should New Labour revisit its earlier agenda, accept the Conservative inheritance or take off in new directions? In the event, the commitments to “parental choice” and a diversity of school types were retained with the establishment of new Academies, eventually, extending the range. Second, how to improve individual schools, especially those serving socially and educationally disadvantaged populations. There were considerable differences between schools in performance and some were getting left behind. How could stronger and more robust processes of school improvement be developed that were capable of creating “continuous improvement”? And what might they cost? Through an extensive system of target-setting individual schools were put under pressure to improve their performance. At the same time they received enhanced resources and other forms of support with a view to encouraging innovation and further development. Third, how far to intervene in the ways in which schools taught the National Curriculum through national initiatives. The Conservatives had already started to pilot a National Literacy Strategy in primary schools. Should this kind of approach be extended to other core skills such as numeracy as well as to the secondary school? The decision to proceed was taken quickly; the Literacy Strategy went national, the National Numeracy Strategy started in 1999 and was followed by the Key Stage 3 (11–14) strategy in 2001. A major programme of additional funding for schools serving areas of social disadvantage was also launched under the Excellence in Cities initiative. Fourth, how to secure teachers’ commitment to the reform agenda. Teachers’ pay had fallen behind that of other professions, some schools were experiencing severe recruitment and retention problems, and relationships between at least one of the unions (the largest – the National Union of Teachers) and the government had been fraught. In response a series of workforce reforms began to be implemented with the intention of raising teachers’ pay and status and generally “modernising” the teaching profession. And fifth, how to use strategies for accountability to support the improvement process. The Conservatives had claimed that league tables of schools’ results and Ofsted inspections informed parental choice, held schools to account and encouraged them to improve their standards. Should these be maintained or modified? Again the decision was quickly reached to retain all of them, albeit with some modifications. Meanwhile a heavy programme of traditional school inspections


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was implemented until, in 2005, a so-called “self-evaluation” component was incorporated into a potentially lighter but conversely more frequent inspection regime.

Building on the Inheritance In the event, New Labour’s strategy for policy development was to build on much of the Conservative legacy that had emerged during the first half of the 1990s whilst selectively introducing new thinking. There was no radical break with the past. To the charge that such an approach simply represented a “middle way”, Giddens has argued forcibly that “a concern for the centre should not be naively interpreted . . . as a forgoing of radicalism or the values of the left.” “Many policies,” he writes, “that can quite rightly be called radical transcend the left/right divide. They demand, and can be expected to get, cross-class support – policies in areas, for example, such as education, welfare reform, the economy, ecology and the control of crime” (2000, p. 44). There were several respects however in which New Labour sounded distinctly different from its predecessors. First, and perhaps most importantly, it initially “talked tough”. Borrowing from the language of crime reduction there was to be “zero tolerance for failure” and the pursuit of higher standards was to be “relentless”. In an early move, shortly after assuming office, the secretary of state for education “named and shamed” ten of the worst-performing schools in the country, seemingly oblivious to the fact that a substantial part of the explanation for their apparent “failure” might lie in the socially blighted circ*mstances of the communities they served. Second, there was to be a much greater emphasis on results; the way to value and develop the outputs of education was to measure them. Third, there were arguments for more “joined up” thinking. And fourth, it began to talk up the case for the so-called “evidence-based” practice. In future educational policies would be researched and evaluated. In the course of these developments the rudiments of systemic thinking began to emerge.

The Court of Measurable Results Evaluating educational reforms is a potentially complex business but, under New Labour, policy-makers have usually been quick to draw attention to improvements in measurable results. Over the course of the decade the percentages of primary school pupils achieving Level 4 in English (the “expected” national level of performance for an 11-year-old) climbed from 63% in 1997 to some 80% in 2007, an overall increase of 17% (see Table 1). Similarly with respect to maths the percentage rose from 62% to 77% over a decade. These figures look impressive. However, when one tries to discern patterns and trends and offer explanations, the picture becomes more problematic. First, some

Probing the Limits of Systemic Reform


Table 1 Percentages of primary school pupils age 11 in England securing “expected level of performance” (Level 4) on headline measures at key stage 2 (1997–2007) Description of the cohort of pupils passing through the system related government in office and to introduction of major policies Cohort affected mid-way by publication of primary schools’ results Cohort still experiences predominantly Conservative policies Cohort affected mid-stream by New Labour’s policies Predominantly New Labour policies First full New Labour cohort (the national literacy strategy cohort) Second New Labour cohort (the first national numeracy strategy cohort) Third New Labour cohort Fourth New Labour cohort Fifth New Labour cohort Sixth New Labour cohort Seventh New Labour cohort

Key stage 1

Key Level 4 stage 2 English (%)

Level 4 Maths (%)

Level 4 Science (%)































1999 2000 2001 2002 2003

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007

75 77 79 79 80

73 74 75 76 77

87 86 86 87 88

comment about the timing of the changes is necessary. It takes a while for new policies to be rolled out and take effect. A new government’s inheritance in its early years is inevitably dependent on the activities of its predecessors. New Labour was powerless to do anything about the 1997 results and it was not until 2001 that the national test results were picking up the full effects of any new policy developments. Looked at from a statistical point of view, the trends in results seem to fall into three distinct phases. In the first phase, there was a 12% point increase in English over the period 1997–2000. In the second phase (2000–2003) the results plateaued with zero growth followed by a more modest phase in which over the next 4 years (2003–2007) results increased by a further 5%. Looked at another way, however, more than half the growth over the decade occurred amongst just two cohorts (1994–1998 and 1995–1999). The fact that these improvements were sustained over subsequent years suggests that they were neither illusory nor ephemeral – if they had been one might have anticipated some backward steps or a rougher ride. But drawing conclusions about the effects of policy development is more problematic. What is most notable about this period is that it was one of transition – politically from Conservative to New Labour but, perhaps more importantly, from a situation in which the nature and rules of the game were rapidly changing as schools became more and more caught up in the newly emerging “performance culture” New Labour was developing.


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Further support for this emphasis on the impact of the “transitional stages” of the reforms comes from the evidence on pupil performance in maths. Here no less than half the growth over the course of the decade came from a single cohort; the performance of the 1994–1998 cohort had dipped to 59% but the 1995–1999 cohort bounced back with an impressive increase to 69%. Over subsequent years, however, progress slowed down considerably; whilst the results continued to creep up, year on year, the overall gains were less impressive.

Rising Achievement in Secondary Schools Much of the international attention has been focused on reforms at the primary level. Table 2 reports the results of pupil performance in the national GCSE examinations taken at age 16. These are nationally examined and taken in a wide range of different subjects; pupils are entered for them according to their aptitudes and interests. The results are subsequently captured in a headline figure which reports the proportions of pupils who secured grades A∗ to C in five or more subjects. There has been a fairly inexorable trend in the percentages climbing over the 5+ A∗ –C hurdle since the previously separate examinations for more and less able

Table 2 Percentages of secondary school pupils achieving the traditional headline measure of “5 or more A∗ –C grades” in GCSE examinations at age 16 Description of the cohort of pupils passing through system related to government in office and to introduction of major policy initiatives

Percentage of pupils Year entered achieving secondary Year took 5+A∗ –C school GCSE exams grades

Percentage achieving 5+A∗ –C grades including English and Maths

Last cohort fully educated in secondary school under Conservative policies Cohort experiences predominantly Conservative policies Cohort affected mid-stream by New Labour’s policies Predominantly New Labour policies First (full) New Labour cohort Second New Labour cohort Third New Labour cohort Fourth New Labour cohort Fifth New Labour cohort (experienced both secondary and primary strategies) Sixth New Labour cohort Seventh New Labour cohort

















1997 1998 1999 2000 2001

2001 2002 2003 2004 2005

50.0 51.6 52.9 53.7 57.1

40.7 42.1 41.9 42.6 44.9

2002 2003

2006 2007

59.2 62.0

45.8 46.7

Probing the Limits of Systemic Reform


pupils were amalgamated into the national GCSE exam in 1988. The reasons for this increase are annually disputed when the results are published being variously attributed to declining standards on the part of the examiners, improved teaching methods, greater student commitment and so on. There has also been extensive use of what Gray et al. (1999) have described as “tactical” approaches. The results for the decade under review are reported in Table 2. In 1997 some 45% got over the hurdle, by 2007 62% did so – in all a considerable increase. Nonetheless, the table again reinforces the view that educational policies are typically slow to unfold and take effect. For most of New Labour’s first term in office the table simply records the results of its predecessor’s efforts. It is not until the turn of the millennium that the effects of the new regime can begin to be discerned. Over the period 1997–2000 the headline statistic improved at a rate of about 1% a year; this continued the seemingly inexorable trend launched in 1988. From 2000 onwards it improved a little faster; the figures unfortunately do not satisfactorily take account of numerous minor (but in combination important) changes in the arrangements for counting up what could contribute to the indicator these gave a particular boost to the results in 2005. The changes included such things as counting in some vocational subjects which had previously been excluded and allowing some qualifications to count as more than one grade. Concerns that schools were focusing on “easier” subjects in order to boost perceptions of their pupils’ performance led to debates in the early 2000s about the need to include passes in maths and English in the basket of subjects to be counted in the headline measure (see last column of Table 2 above). Progress with respect to this indicator seems to have been steadier over the period. In 1997 performance lagged behind by some 10% points. Unfortunately, over the course of the decade, whilst the numbers reaching this hurdle rose by some 11% points, performance on this indicator fell still further behind. By 2007 the gap between the two had widened to some 15% points. Furthermore, the rate of improvement during the second half of the decade was only a little more rapid than that pertaining in the first half. On neither indicator did the step change in performance trends that had been anticipated actually emerge.

The Arena of International Comparisons For most of the late twentieth century England was a sporadic and reluctant participant in studies based on international comparisons. It was largely content to evaluate itself in terms of its own national assessments. At the turn of the century, however, these predominantly isolationist attitudes began to change. They were reinforced, no doubt, by the impressive performance of its 9-year-olds in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS, 2001) which seemed to offer welcome confirmation of the success of New Labour’s reforms. England came third out of 35 countries, just behind the Netherlands and Sweden. But trumpeting success was possibly premature; in the 2006 survey the country slumped to 19th position


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(Baer, Baldi, Ayotte, Green, & McGrath, 2007: Table 2). And whereas in 2001 the performance of English pupils stood out, by 2006, regardless of which measure was employed, they appeared merely average. It was possibly some consolation that performance in the Netherlands and Sweden also appeared to have declined, although not to the same extent. There was some limited support for more optimistic interpretations of the performance of English pupils from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) which studied 10-year-olds. The period 1995–1999 had seen little or no change in performance levels in primary schools but between 1999 and 2003 they leapt up (Ruddock et al., 2005). The vagaries of such comparisons, however, are underlined by some of the results from the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). In science the United Kingdom’s students (not just England) performed significantly above the OECD average (OECD, 2007: Table 2). In reading the United Kingdom appeared in the upper half of the table but its performance was not significantly different from the OECD average (OECD, 2007: Table 4). Performance, meanwhile, in maths in 2006 was also not significantly different from the OECD average (Table 5). Comparisons over time were restricted to just 3 years (the changes between 2003 and 2006) but the position was broadly unchanged. This could be seen as disappointing since the 2006 cohort will have been more exposed to both the primary and secondary strategies for raising performance. The court of international comparisons provides fertile territory for those who are prepared to pick selectively over the evidence in support of their cases. The safest conclusion to be drawn, however, is that the international surveys do not as yet provide convincing evidence that England is performing at anything other than the sorts of levels one would expect a relatively well-developed and resourced educational system to produce – a good performance but not yet, perhaps, an outstanding one.

Systemic Thinking and the Search for Powerful Levers In their study of systemic reform Goertz, Floden, and O’Day (1996) refer to the growth of so-called systemic approaches in the USA during the 1990s. Systemic reforms, they suggested, “embodied three integral components”: – “the promotion of ambitious student outcomes for all students; – the alignment of policy approaches and the actions of various policy institutions to promote such outcomes; and – the restructuring of the public education governance system to support improved achievement.” The terminology was a little slower to emerge in England than the USA but New Labour’s intentions were clearly similar. At least two distinct phases of systemic thinking can be identified. During the first there was a determined edge to New Labour’s policy-making. The vision came from outside schools themselves.

Probing the Limits of Systemic Reform


Accountability in the form of inspection loomed large as did national testing, targets and league tables. Neither was school “failure” to be tolerated. The drive for higher standards in literacy and numeracy, exemplified in the National Strategies, was to the fore. Michael Fullan has always been clear that both “pressure” and “support” are needed if change programmes are to deliver. But he has also stressed that they are needed in equal measure. Broadly speaking, if the driving characteristic of the first phase had been pressure, by the early 2000s some of the rhetoric had mutated into what, retrospectively at least, can be characterised as a greater commitment to support. There was to be a New Relationship With Schools; accountability was to be more “intelligent”; there was to be a greater emphasis on supporting teaching and learning through more “personalised” approaches; and the quest for excellence was to be combined with the pursuit of enjoyment, if only at the primary stages. Importantly, some of the vision for change was to come from schools themselves. The role of school leadership was increasingly cast as one of building capacity. An arguably highly prescriptive and hard-edged vision had given way to a somewhat softer one. To deliver systemic reform government needs access to a variety of levers on the processes of change. It is beyond the scope of a short review to enumerate the wide range of reforms New Labour initiated, let alone to evaluate them all. I have therefore deliberately confined myself to considering just four developments: the use of external inspection of schools, the National Strategies, the Specialist Schools programme and the Excellence in Cities (EiC) initiative. These areas have been chosen for three main reasons: First, because they exemplify different facets of New Labour’s reform agenda to improve standards – the development of accountability, the restructuring of the teaching of basic skills, the moulding of new forms of school organisation and the creation of enhanced support for disadvantaged schools; second, because their supporters have consistently maintained that they “worked”; and third, because each, in its different way, when scaled up to the national level, represents a very substantial investment whether it is judged in terms of the consumption of educational energy or of educational finance.

The Effects of Inspection When New Labour came to power in 1997 Ofsted was still completing its first cycle of inspections. Its motto of “improvement through inspection” fitted the reform agenda and, to the dismay of many teachers and schools, its remit was expanded. In inspection government had discovered a powerful instrument for achieving compliance to its wishes. It could use inspection to shape institutions in its desired image and it was fairly ruthless in doing so. The key question for this analysis, however, is whether inspection pushes up measured results and, somewhat surprisingly, this has turned out to be a matter for debate. Most of the evidence on the effects of inspection


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was essentially anecdotal; it certainly seemed to confirm inspection “worked” but systematic research was in short supply. Three independent studies have studied the effects of inspection. They differed in their samples, time scales and the sophistication of methods. The first study, by Cullingford and Daniels (1999), claimed that “Ofsted inspections have the opposite effect to that intended.” They reported that inspected schools fell behind others. However, there were some doubts about the representativeness of their sample. A second, more sophisticated study by Shaw, Newton, Aitkin, and Darnell (2003) had similar difficulty in isolating an “inspection effect”. They found that in comprehensive schools, which made up 90% of the schools in the study, “inspection did not improve exam achievement” although, in the small minority of schools where there was formal selection, there was “a slight improvement”. A third study by Rosenthal (2004) reached similar conclusions. She found “adverse effects on the standards of exam performance achieved by schools in the year of inspection” and noted that “no offsetting later effects for inspection were discernible.” Eventually, some 12 years after its foundation, Ofsted replied to its critics (Matthews & Sammons, 2004). The results were finely balanced. The analysis spanned the period from 1993 to 2002. It found that in some years (5 out of the 9 years covered) “a higher proportion of inspected schools improved over a 2-year span than all schools” whilst in other years (4 out of the 9) the proportion was lower. A second analysis compared the results of schools that were inspected and not inspected 4 years later. Matthews and Sammons report that “the results indicated that, in general, there was little difference between those schools that were inspected and all schools.” They concluded that their analyses “failed to show any consistent evidence that results spanning the inspection event over the last 8 years are either enhanced or depressed relative to other schools” (2004, p. 37). These findings did not receive much publicity neither, for that matter, do they appear to have had much influence on Ofsted’s hegemony. But the fact that the agency felt obliged to justify its contribution to schools’ performance in such terms and that it reached such an ambivalent conclusion is of considerable relevance. Given the wide variety of states and circ*mstances of schools being inspected, it is probably unrealistic to expect some all-embracing “inspection effect”. In many schools an inspection is unlikely to add much to what is already known although it may help to catalyse matters or even, in some instances, galvanise action. But whether it will actually do so depends on many factors beyond the inspectors’ control.

The Impact of the National Strategies The decision to go nationwide with the National Literacy Strategy (NLS) was made soon after New Labour took over and whilst the pilot was still underway. They had

Probing the Limits of Systemic Reform


committed themselves to ambitious targets – in due course 80% of primary pupils would be expected to reach Level 4 compared with the 63% that were achieving this when they took over. In the event the gamble paid off. The pilot showed significant improvements in children’s test scores (Sainsbury, 1998). Nonetheless going to scale was expensive and brought problems. Many primary teachers felt they already understood how to teach reading and that they did not require further assistance; consequently there was some resistance. The National Numeracy Strategy (NNS), on the other hand, did not encounter the same problems. Teachers were generally less confident about their ability to handle maths and some of the “mistakes” made during the implementation of the NLS were avoided. The team commissioned to evaluate the programmes were enthusiastic about what had been achieved in the early stages. “The Strategies,” they reported, “have had an impressive degree of success, especially given the magnitude of the change envisaged; in many ways they have succeeded in transforming the nature of the country’s primary schools” (Earl et al., 2003, pp. 127–128). Their observations, however, were mainly based on the ways in which classroom practice had been influenced. “It was more difficult,” they felt, “to draw conclusions about the effects of the Strategies on pupil learning than on teaching practice.” Understanding the contribution of the National Strategies to enhancing pupil performance is problematic. Research on the implementation of educational reforms might lead one to expect that the reform dividends would emerge slowly over time – the major rewards would begin to flow when the changes were fully bedded down. The English experience, however, belies this expectation. The most remarkable thing about the NLS is, perhaps, that most of the changes took place during the early stages of its development; between 1997 and 2000 performance rose from 63 to 75% (see Table 1). Somewhat surprisingly, the first cohort to experience the strategy in its entirety did not improve on this position neither did the second. In fact, across four successive cohorts standards of performance stood still. The NNS produced equally conflicting results. After initially promising developments, the pace of improvement slowed dramatically; again standards essentially plateaued across four cohorts (2000–2003) before resuming a slower upward trend. In science, meanwhile, results rose from 69% in 1997 to 88% in 2007. Yet this was an area in which there had been no National Strategy at all; teachers had been largely left to their own devices. As with the GCSE results discussed earlier, possible changes in the performance metrics have made interpretations of trends over time more difficult. A detailed but little-publicised report for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, for example, concluded that, “around half of the apparent improvement in national results (between 1996 and 2000) may have arisen from more lenient test standards” (Massey, Green, Dexter, & Hamnett, 2002, p. 224). Other researchers have also questioned the extent of improvement. Tymms (2004) sought support from the independent Statistics Commission (2005) for validation of his claims that the gains had been overstated. Their conclusion provided some support for both sides. “It has been established,” they concluded, “that the


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improvement in Key Stage 2 test scores between 1995 and 2000 substantially overstates the improvement in standards in English primary schools over that period” but added that “there was nevertheless some rise in standards.”

Renewing the Comprehensive School The idea that there should be “diversity and choice” in the educational market place was already firmly established by the mid-1990s. New Labour launched the Specialist Schools programme as an important strategy for revamping the somewhat jaded ideals of the comprehensive school. By 2005 some two-thirds had been given this status. Applicants were expected to raise some external sponsorship and to present a convincing case for being given specialist status in one (or possibly two) areas of the school curriculum. In exchange they were offered additional funding (up to 5% per pupil). In their 5 Year Strategy the DfES maintained that “specialist schools have improved faster than the average and add(ed) more value for pupils, regardless of their prior attainment” (DfES, 2005, 4: 15). A report by the Specialist School Trust claimed, furthermore, that “the longer that schools are specialist, the greater the specialist school dividend” (Jesson, Crossley, Taylor, & Ware, 2005). Other researchers have been more skeptical about the extent of this premium. An early analysis by Schagen, Davies, Rudd, and Schagen (2002), for example, found very little edge in favour of specialist schools once differences in intakes were tightly controlled for. This general picture was confirmed in a later analysis by Levacic and Jenkins (2006). They reported, at best, a very small edge for the specialist sector. Did this performance edge for the sector result from the schools’ new status as specialist institutions, as the government claimed, or from other related factors? Schagen and colleagues have pointed out that early recruits to the programme had to demonstrate that they were already performing at “acceptable levels” in value-added terms. The Select Committee on Education and Skills (2005, para. 11) also drew attention to fact that the schools needed “school management and leadership competencies” in place before they sought specialist status and that they got extra funding as a result. Might not better funding and superior management be responsible for the differences? The suggestion that the specialist dividend flowed from schools’ established characteristics rather than added to them was underlined, albeit indirectly, by Ofsted (2004, p. 3). They identified a range of pre-existing factors contributing to these schools’ success including “working to declared targets, dynamic leadership by key players, a renewed sense of purpose, the willingness to be a pathfinder, targeted use of funding and being part of an optimistic network of like-minded schools.” Doubts were also expressed about whether the requirement for private sponsorship biased take-up in the direction of schools which had historically commanded parental support. And, related to this was the finding that schools with such strong ‘parental support’ tended to be located in more middle-class areas.

Probing the Limits of Systemic Reform


Spending More on the Educationally Disadvantaged The EiC initiative, in various ways, embodied five key tenets of New Labour’s policy discourse (Power, Whitty, Dickson, Gerwitz, & Halpin, 2003): First, that improved educational provision could combat social disadvantage; second, that good leaders could improve schools in any kind of context; third, that “joined-up problems require joined up solutions” through the development of multi-agency partnerships; fourth, that improvement is best secured by tying resources to outcomes; and fifth, that private sector involvement can help in securing change. In seeking to tackle the causes of educational disadvantage New Labour faced one of its stiffest challenges. Furthermore, some of its early forays into this field had proved problematic. When Ofsted had looked at Education Action Zones it had provided a fairly cautious endorsem*nt. “Some zones,” they reported, “have made more consistent progress and had a greater impact than others” (Ofsted, 2001, para. 10). And, they added, “they have not often been test-beds for genuinely innovative action. More often, they have offered programmes which enhance or intensify existing action.” When the EiC programme was launched it represented the largest single investment ever made in tackling educational disadvantage. There were seven major strands. These included programmes to support “gifted and talented” children, the provision of learning mentors; the establishment of Learning Support Units for children with special needs and City Learning Centres to provide ICT resources for groups of schools and their communities; Action Zones which sought to link primary and secondary schools to address local priorities; and an expansion of the existing Specialist and Beacon school programmes. Opinions varied about whether this menu of activities amounted to a coherent, “joined-up” strategy. When the programme came to be evaluated there were lots of outcomes, mostly worthwhile and predictable but none in themselves very dramatic. The evaluators commented that “most of the teachers and senior managers taking part . . . were very positive about the policy.” They added tellingly that “although only a minority directly linked EiC with raised attainment, many noted the ways in which EiC was creating a better environment for learning, improving pupils’ motivation and raising their aspirations and contributing to improved teaching and learning, all of which would lead in the longer term to improved levels of attainment” (Kendall et al., 2005, p. 16). Regrettably, the desired improvements in measured results proved more elusive. Pupil attendance had improved amongst EiC schools, but only by “slightly more than 1 day per pupil.” Some modest gains in pupil performance amongst 14-yearolds in maths received some publicity as did improvements in the proportions of pupils achieving the GCSE hurdles in some of the lowest-achieving schools. But the more the evaluators were able to compare like with like, the more modest the outcomes appeared to be. “Taken together,” they concluded, “these findings do not support the hypothesis that pupils in EiC areas were, overall, making greater progress than those in non-EiC areas” (op. cit., 2005, p. 16). Given the social and educational importance of the EiC agenda, this conclusion was disappointing.


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Changing Tack In the early years of the Blair administration every problem seemed to generate a new solution. Policies of one kind or another flowed from the centre with impressive regularity. Some schools rose to the new challenges and exploited the opportunities but others, lacking a clear sense of their own identities, became embattled. On the surface there was a great deal of change but not all of it took root. The majority of schools committed themselves fairly wholeheartedly to the central agenda of raising measured attainment but even here the more successful found it difficult to keep going for long. Improvement was often rapid but soon tailed off. It was unusual for a school to boost pupils’ attainment for more than 3 years at a time; only a minority managed it a second time over the course of a decade (Mangan, Gray, & Pugh, 2005). Not surprisingly, “sustainability” became the watchword and, to its credit, New Labour learnt from some of the bruises it had received in the battle for educational change. As it entered its third term of office there were perceptible signs that some of the tougher messages had been absorbed. Crucially, there was a shift away from some of the grander schemes, driven from the centre, towards more localised and contextualised approaches in which, ostensibly, schools were to be given a greater say in how they would direct their energies. As Hopkins (2007, p. 171) has put it, schools need incentives rather than legislation and a greater sense of their own agency if they are to see themselves as test-beds for their own improvement. Central to this revised vision was the realisation that the strongest educational reform is built, both in practice and in theory, institution by institution. How this change of strategy will play out remains, at the time of writing, to be seen. Fostering educational change is, by its nature, a highly risky enterprise. Governments that commit themselves to ambitious targets must expect, at times, to stumble. Some of New Labour’s policies were successful, others less so; nearly all of them were ambitious but regrettably the returns were rarely as high as the expectations. The readers of this volume will not need much reminding that where changing schools is concerned there are few “easy wins”.

References Baer, J., Baldi, S., Ayotte, K., Green, P., & McGrath, D. (2007). The reading literacy of US fourth-grade students in an international context: Results from the 2001 and 2006 progress in international reading literacy study (PIRLS). Washington DC: National Centre for Education Statistics, US Department of Education. Cullingford, C., & Daniels, S. (1999). The effects of Ofsted inspections on school performance. In C. Cullingford (Ed.), An inspector calls. London: Kogan Page. DfES (2005). Five year strategy. London: Department for Education and Skills. Earl, L., Watson, N., Levin, B., Leithwood, K. et al. (2003). Watching and learning 3: Final report of the external evaluation of England’s national literacy and numeracy strategies. Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/DfES. Fullan, M. & Stiegelbauer, S. (1991). The new meaning of educational change. London: Cassell Educational.

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Giddens, A. (2000). The third way and its critics. Cambridge: Polity Press. Goertz, M., Floden, R., & O’Day, J. (1996). Systemic reform. SysReform/index/html. Gray, J., Hopkins, D., Reynolds, D., Wilcox, B., Farrell, S., & Jesson, D. (1999). Improving schools: Performance and potential. Buckingham: Open University Press. Hopkins, D. (2007). Every school a great school: Realising the potential of system leadership. Maidenhead: Open University Press. Jesson, D., Crossley, D., Taylor, C., & Ware, C. (2005). Educational outcomes and value added by specialist schools: 2004. London: Specialist Schools Trust. Kendall, L, O’Donnell, L., Golden, S., Ridley, K., Machin, S., Rutt, S., et al. (2005). Excellence in cities: The national evaluation of a policy to raise standards in urban schools 2000–2003: Report summary. London Department for Education and Skills, Research Report 675B. Levacic, R., & Jenkins, A. (2006). Evaluating the effectiveness of specialist schools in England. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 17(3), 229–254. Mangan, J., Gray, J., & Pugh, G. (2005). Changes in examination performance in English secondary schools over the course of a decade: searching for patterns and trends over time. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 16(1), 29–50. Massey, A., Green, S., Dexter, T., & Hamnett, L. (2002). Comparability of national tests over time: KS1, KS2 and KS3 standards between 1996 and 2001, Report to the QCA. Cambridge: University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate. Matthews, P., & Sammons, P. (2004). Improvement through inspection: An evaluation of the impact of Ofsted’s work. London: Office for Standards in Education. OECD. (2007). The programme for international student assessment (PISA) 2006: Science competencies for tomorrow’s world (executive summary). Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Ofsted. (2001). Education action zones: Commentary on first zone inspections – February 2001. London: Ofsted. Ofsted. (2004). Specialist schools: A second evaluation. London: Ofsted. Plowden Committee. (1967). Children and their primary schools. London: HMSO (Advisory Council for Education). Power, S., Whitty, G., Dickson, M., Gerwitz, S., & Halpin, D. (2003). Paving a ‘Third Way’? A policy trajectory analysis of education action zones. Final Report to the ESRC. London: Institute of Education. Rosenthal, L. (2004). Do school inspections improve school quality? Ofsted inspections and school examination results in the UK. Economics of Education Review, 23(1), 143–151. Ruddock, G., Sturman, L., Schagen, I., Styles, B., Gnaldi, M., & Vappula, H. (2005). Where England stands in the trends in international mathematics and science study (TIMMS) 2003: National Report for England, Slough: NFER. Sainsbury, M. (1998). Evaluation of the national literacy project: Summary report. Slough: NFER. Schagen, S., Davies, D., Rudd, P., & Schagen, I. (2002). The impact of specialist and faith schools on performance. Slough: NFER. Select Committee on Education and Skills. (2005). Fifth report, United Kingdom Parliament, ( Shaw, I., Newton, D., Aitkin, M., & Darnell, R. (2003). Do Ofsted inspections of secondary schools make a difference to GCSE results? British Educational Research Journal, 29(1), 62–75. Statistics Commission. (2005). Measuring standards in English primary schools: Report by the statistics commission on an article by Peter Tymms. London: Statistics Commission. Tymms, P. (2004). Are standards rising in English primary schools? British Educational Research Journal, 30(4), 477–494.

How to Change 5,000 Schools Ben Levin

This chapter describes the large-scale education improvement strategy implemented in the province of Ontario, Canada, from 2004 until the present, as a case of capacity building in education. While many education reforms around the world have focused on issues of structure and governance, the Ontario strategy aimed to make a difference for students by changing school and classroom practices across the province while also generating public support and engaging teachers and other education staff in a positive way. Capacity building does not happen in a vacuum, so the chapter places the case in the larger framework of vision, political leadership, and respectful dialogue that have also been central to Ontario’s ability to improve student outcomes substantially while maintaining public confidence and stability in the education sector. The Ontario strategy has focused on changing the experience of students. As Levin and Fullan (2008) put it: The central lesson of large scale educational change that is now evident is the following: Large-scale, sustained improvement in student outcomes requires a sustained effort to change school and classroom practices, not just structures such as governance and accountability. The heart of improvement lies in changing teaching and learning practices in thousands and thousands of classrooms, and this requires focused and sustained effort by all parts of the education system and its partners.

As Elmore (2004), Fullan (2007), and others have pointed out, there is no way to change classroom practices across an entire system without significant investment and work to improve the skills of teachers and principals as well as the support they receive from the wider system. This is what is meant by capacity building, and it takes a sustained effort well beyond what occurs in most education reforms. Ontario’s change process focused on a small number of key goals while still paying attention to a broad range of student outcomes. The overall approach has been respectful of professional knowledge and practice. Change strategies are B. Levin (B) OISE/University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada e-mail: [emailprotected]

A. Hargreaves et al. (eds.), Second International Handbook of Educational Change, Springer International Handbooks of Education 23, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-2660-6_18, C Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010



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comprehensive with an emphasis not only on professional capacity building and strong leadership, but also on targeted resources and effective engagement of parents and the broader community. A substantial effort has been made to make main elements of change coherent and aligned at the provincial, district, and school level. Key partners – the provincial Ministry of Education; school boards; schools; and provincial and local organizations of teachers, principals, and other partners – work together even though they do not agree on every aspect of the changes. Of course the process has had its struggles and imperfections, described later. Readers should be aware that the author was a principal actor in these events, as deputy minister (chief civil servant) responsible for education and therefore for these policies from late in 2004 until early in 2007.

Context: The Ontario Education System Ontario has about 2 million children in its publicly funded education system, which is organized into four sets of locally elected school boards with overlapping boundaries, reflecting Canada’s constitutional requirement for public support of minority language and Catholic schools. Thirty-one English public school boards serve about 1.3 million students; 29 English Catholic boards serve about 560,000 students; 8 French Catholic boards have some 60,000 students; and 4 French public boards have 13,000 students. School boards range in size from a few hundred students to about 250,000 students in the Toronto District School Board – one of the largest in North America. In total there are nearly 5,000 schools extending across a huge geographic area – Ontario is 415,000 square miles, or about the size of the combined states of North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana, or somewhat larger than France, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, and the Netherlands put together. The population is about 80% urban with most people living in the very south of the province. The six largest school districts have about a third of all the students in the province. However many Ontario schools are small, with the average elementary school enrolling about 350 students and the average secondary school having fewer than 1,000. Ontario also has a very diverse enrolment, with 27% of the population born outside of Canada (1/3 of whom have arrived in the last 10 years), and 20% visible minorities. The Greater Toronto Area, which has nearly 40% of the province’s population, is one of the most diverse urban areas in the world and receives more than 125,000 new immigrants each year. The provincial government provides 100% of the funding to school boards using a formula that is always controversial but attempts to allocate money on a combination of per pupil or school amounts and elements that recognize differing needs across the province (Levin & Naylor, in press). Ontario’s 120,000 teachers are organized in four unions that roughly correspond to the four school systems. Most of the 70,000 support staff – caretakers, secretaries,

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maintenance staff, education assistants, and professional support workers such as social workers – are also unionized. School principals and superintendents must have specific Ontario qualifications. These, as well as teacher qualifications, are controlled under law by the Ontario College of Teachers, which is governed by its own council elected primarily by teachers. Education in Ontario has all the challenges one might anticipate – large urban areas and very remote rural areas; significant urban and rural poverty levels; high levels of population diversity and many English as a Second Language (ESL) students; areas with sharply dropping enrolment and others with rapid growth. Prior to 2004, Ontario education had experienced a decade of problems (Gidney, 1999). Two successive governments introduced measures that deeply offended teachers, including reductions in staffing levels and increased workloads. These led to substantial labor disruption including many strikes and sustained “work to rule” campaigns as well as lower morale and higher teacher turnover. In 1997 the governance system was changed dramatically, including a reduction in the number of local school districts from about 140 to 70, removal of all taxation powers from local districts coupled with 100% provincial financing, and removal of school principals from the teacher unions. Funding was cut significantly in the mid-1990s, leading to the reduction or elimination of many programs and services, often with the worst consequences for the most vulnerable students, such as recent immigrants. An entirely new and supposedly more rigorous curriculum was introduced in every grade and subject. A provincial testing agency was created and provincial testing of all students began. Many other changes were also introduced including compulsory pencil-andpaper tests for new teachers, compulsory professional development requirements for all teachers, and a more intensive program of teacher evaluation. Perhaps most importantly, the government was vigorously critical of schools and teachers in public, including at one point broadcasting television ads that portrayed teachers as overpaid and underworked. Years of this environment led to significant public dissatisfaction, increasing private school enrolment, and poor morale among teachers. In short, nobody was happy with the state of public education (Hargreaves, 2003; Leithwood, Fullan, & Watson, 2003). In October 2003, the Liberal opposition won the provincial election with the renewal of public education as one of its highest priorities and an ambitious set of policy commitments around improving education. Their platform was developed through intensive discussion with many stakeholder groups and through analysis of efforts in other jurisdictions. Michael Fullan also played an important role in advising the Liberals as they developed their plans. A premier and ministers (Ontario follows the British parliamentary system in which ministers responsible for a portfolio are appointed by the premier from among those elected to the Legislature) with a deep commitment to public education brought strong political leadership. The importance of strong and effective political leadership is underestimated in the literature on education reform.


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The Strategy The new Ontario government understood clearly that public education can only thrive if citizens have confidence in the public school system so that they are willing to send their children and provide their tax support. The crafting of the platform reflected the political reality that to generate public attention, policy goals have to be few in number and relatively simple in expression (Levin, 2005). One major commitment was to reduce class sizes in primary grades to a maximum of 20 students. Two other key promises were made around student achievement: to improve elementary school literacy and numeracy outcomes and to reduce high school dropout rates. These priorities reflected public concern about student performance in the province (Livingstone & Hart, 2005). Elementary literacy and numeracy skills as measured by curriculum-linked provincial tests had been roughly static over the previous several years (EQAO, 2006), while high school graduation rates had actually decreased following major changes to the high school program and curriculum in the late 1990s (King, Warren, Boyer, & Chin, 2005). The three core priorities were complemented by a range of other commitments. Some of these, such as strengthening school leadership or changing curricula, were necessary to achieve the two key goals. Other initiatives, including unprecedented provincial involvement in 2005 in the negotiation of 4-year collective agreements with all Ontario’s teachers, were essential so that all parties could focus on improving student outcomes instead of being consumed by labor issues. Still other initiatives, such as strategies to support safe and healthy schools, were necessary to sustain public support for improved outcomes by letting people know that the basic needs of students were also being attended to. Even where there is a strong focus on a small number of key goals, ancillary and potentially distracting issues still require attention. Indeed, the literature on school change gives insufficient attention to the challenge of focusing on teaching and learning while still managing a complex and diverse set of other issues in a volatile and highly political environment (Levin, 2005; Levin & Fullan, 2008).

Elementary School Literacy and Numeracy Ontario’s Literacy and Numeracy Strategy is aimed at improving literacy and numeracy skills for elementary school students. The government set a goal, as part of their election platform, of having at least 75% of grade 6 students able to read, write, and do mathematics at the expected level for grade 6 by the spring of 2008 – a 4-year time frame. The Strategy assumes that improving student learning requires significant and sustainable change in teaching and learning practices in all of Ontario’s 4,000 elementary schools (Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat, 2007). To achieve this, a multielement strategy was put in place. Main elements of the strategy include:

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• creating the position of chief student achievement officer, filled by an outstanding Ontario educator, to bring constant attention to student achievement issues; • creating a dedicated Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat to implement active and extensive capacity building around literacy and numeracy through a variety of means described below; • adding some 5,000 new teaching positions over 4 years to reduce class sizes from junior kindergarten (age 4) to grade 3 to a maximum of 20 students in at least 90% of classrooms while also providing support to teachers to adopt instructional practices to take advantage of these smaller classes; • adding about 2,000 specialist teachers to enrich teaching in areas such as art, music, and physical education while also providing more preparation and professional learning time for classroom teachers; • implementing a voluntary “turnaround” program that provides additional support and expert advice for schools facing the most significant challenges in improving achievement; and • supporting ancillary practices such as an expansion of tutoring (often by students in faculties of education) and a fuller engagement of parents and communities. As a further measure, the provincial tests in grades 3 and 6 language and mathematics, which are closely linked to the Ontario curriculum, were changed in 2005 to take less time and give quicker results to schools. Although many teachers continue to have concerns about provincial testing, this is now a rather minor issue in Ontario education because of the increased support for improved teaching and learning including for using a range of student achievement data to support school improvement. The test results are the main indicator of the success of the government’s plan, but they have not been treated as the only significant measure of progress. Ontario has adopted a broader strategy for public accountability, in which the province and school districts report publicly on a variety of indicators of student progress. For example, the Ministry issues an annual report that provides information about all 72 school districts on 8 key indicators ( All of this is intended to foster and support public confidence in the quality of public education.

Increasing High School Graduation Rates As of 2003–2004 only about 60% of Ontario students were graduating from high school in the normal 4 years, and only about 70% were graduating even after taking an extra year (King et al., 2005). These are clearly unacceptable levels in a knowledge society and are well below those of other Canadian provinces and many other comparable countries (OECD, 2005, p. 39). Within a year of being elected, the government set a target of having at least 85% of entering grade 9 students graduate from high school in a timely way by 2010. Although originally framed as


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a commitment to reduce dropout rates, Ontario’s strategy was reframed to have a positive emphasis on improving high school graduation rates. Many of the elements of this strategy are the same as those in the Literacy and Numeracy Strategy and are discussed below under the heading of “capacity building”. However the high school strategy also had elements that take account of the specific challenges facing high school education, which has historically been harder to change than have elementary schools (World Bank, 2005). Specific components of the high school graduation strategy beyond those just noted (Zegarac, 2007) include: • building stronger transition models between elementary and secondary schools and paying attention to good transitions into high school for grade 9 students; • developing a focus on and resources for literacy and numeracy in all areas of the high school curriculum; • revising curricula in some key areas such as mathematics and career education; • expanding program options through more cooperative education, credits for appropriate external learning, and dual credit programs with colleges and universities; • creating a “high skills major” that allows school boards to work with employers and community groups to create packages of courses leading to real employment and further learning; and • passing legislation to require students to be in a learning situation (school, college, apprenticeship, work with training, and so forth) until high school graduation or age 18. Another noteworthy feature of the high school success strategy is the creation of a Student Success Commission, which brought together teacher unions, principals, and superintendents to support effective implementation of the strategy in schools so as to prevent disputes at the local level.

Capacity Building as a Central Focus The most important element of each strategy involved measures to build the capacity of schools and educators to support improved student outcomes. The strategies assumed that outcomes would only improve if people in the schools were helped and supported in changing their practices to create and sustain student success. In both strategies, the focus was on raising the bar and closing the gap – on improving overall levels of achievement and on reducing gaps in achievement for key target groups who were underperforming. In each case the Ministry of Education created structures to lead the capacity building. A new Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat was created headed by the chief student achievement officer (a new position for Ontario) and staffed by outstanding educators seconded from around the province to lead and guide the overall initiative. For high schools, the Ministry had begun funding, in 2003, a student success

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leader in each school district. An expanded secondary schools branch of the Ministry provided leadership and coordination at a provincial level. The capacity-building strategy in Ontario was extensive. It focused on six interrelated elements: • supporting effective planning for improvement in every school and board; • supporting effective leadership for improvement in every school and board; • developing specific approaches to reduce achievement gaps for target groups including boys in elementary schools, recent immigrants, visible minorities, Aboriginals, and students in special education; • extensive, carefully designed professional development for educators, focused on key areas related to improvement; • providing high quality, relevant materials to teachers and schools; and • supporting use of data and research to inform school, district, and provincial policy and practice. While the descriptions below may give the sense of a long list of separate initiatives, in fact all aspects of capacity building were connected through district leadership teams, through the provincial management structures, and through ongoing communication that kept front and center the overall goal around improving student learning. These efforts were led and coordinated by the Ministry, but at all times had high levels of input and participation from all parts of the education system. The programs were designed to recognize and build on existing good practice in Ontario schools. Schools and districts were also invited to find their own ways to move forward on the agenda; while every school and district had to pay attention to issues of improvement, the Ministry did not impose mandatory strategies as to how this should be done. The provincial plan assumed that lasting results could only be obtained by building the commitment of local educators, and this cannot happen through mandating professional practices. Planning for improvement. Every school district and school in Ontario was asked to develop a plan for improvement. However, the point of this work was not to produce a document but to create a real framework for the ongoing work of improvement. Planning was not mandated through a template or form but was led collaboratively by school district and Ministry staff. Plans could look different in each school, as long as they addressed real ways of improving teaching and learning and student outcomes. The staff of the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat and the student success leaders worked closely with boards, reviewed many plans, and gave feedback around how these could be sharper and better grounded in evidence. People also came together across districts to share their ideas and learn from each other. Closing gaps. The Ontario strategies were based on improvement occurring in every school, but they also recognized that some groups required additional particular attention. Special strategies were put into place to improve supports for Aboriginal students, English-language learners, French-language students, and


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students in special education by recognizing their particular needs and situations, including specific training, materials, policies, and stakeholder engagement. Leadership for improvement. There can be no sustained improvement without effective leadership. The capacity-building work around leadership included extended training and learning opportunities for school principals (done in conjunction with the three provincial associations of principals), building of leadership networks within and across districts, the development of a provincial infrastructure for shared and coordinated leadership development, inclusion of principals in much of the training for teachers around literacy and numeracy, and, as noted below, efforts to address some of the workload pressures on principals in Ontario to allow them to focus on instructional leadership. Professional development. The Ontario strategies recognized that one-shot workshop approaches to professional development would be insufficient. Instead, a whole range of approaches to learning and development have been implemented in various boards and schools across the province. These include use of literacy and numeracy coaches or lead teachers, a whole range of different forms of “learning communities” focused on literacy and numeracy, staff meetings keyed to provincial Webcasts, inter-school visits to study alternative practices, and many others. At all times the intent has been to embed professional learning in the ongoing work of teachers and schools. Professional development emphasized key areas such as differentiated instruction, use of data, and use of shared and guided reading. As well, the Ministry provided funds to the provincial teacher organizations to allow them to increase their professional development work. Materials. The Ministry commissioned and produced a variety of documents and materials to support effective teaching and learning in priority areas, as well as making some revisions to key curriculum documents. Expert panels on literacy and numeracy produced detailed guidance for teachers, principals, and school boards around research implications for effective practice. All schools received copies of or online access to a whole range of materials for teachers, including teaching guides, videos, Webcasts for download, and others, all of which were tied to professional development priority areas. Use of data and research. The Ontario plan emphasized policies and practices that are supported by research evidence while encouraging schools and districts to use their own data and action research as well as the broader research literature to inform their work. A provincial education research strategy was developed, universities were contracted to write short “what works” papers for schools, external evaluations of the main provincial strategies were commissioned, and schools and districts were supported in improving their use of data to guide their own improvement plans. Data use has actually had its own capacity-building strategy within the larger effort.

Sustaining Elements Capacity building can only be successful in a stable education system, which means one that is respectful of all participants, comprehensive, coherent, and aligned.

How to Change 5,000 Schools


Respect for Staff and for Professional Knowledge The Ontario change strategy has consistently recognized and supported professional knowledge and skill. In addition to those elements already mentioned: • The public statements of the government and ministry are supportive of public education and the work of educators and support staff. • The government abolished some policy elements (such as paper-and-pencil testing of new teachers) which were seen by teachers as punitive and replaced them with policies (such as induction for new teachers and changes to teacher performance appraisal) that are seen as supportive of professionalism. Staffing levels have increased despite declining enrolment, while teacher workload has been reduced and preparation time increased. • As noted already, the strategies build on successful practices in Ontario schools and involve extensive sharing of good practice. Almost everything that is happening at the provincial level draws on good practices that were already underway in schools somewhere in the province. Every effort is made to acknowledge publicly the good work of schools and districts.

Comprehensiveness The Ontario strategy, while centered on these key student outcomes, is not limited to those. The focus on literacy and numeracy in elementary schools is complemented by strong support for other curricular areas such as physical activity and the arts, both of which have been expanded in the last 3 years. The strategy explicitly rejects narrow views of teaching and curriculum. The Ontario theory of improvement recognizes schools as ecologies (Fullan, 2006, 2007), so gives attention to building capacity among teachers, to improving leadership, to involving parents, to changing policies, and to adding resources – all at the same time. It is also important to pay attention to the issues that could turn into huge distractions – such as having collective agreements in place with teachers and support staff, dealing with safety issues such as bullying, and ensuring that school buildings are in good repair. There has been action in each of these areas. The effort to be comprehensive, however, creates the challenge of overload, discussed a little later.

Coherence and Alignment Through Partnership The nature of politics is that government directions can change quickly. Sustainable improvement in schools therefore requires real commitment and participation by all the partners – teachers, administrators, boards, and the broader community. Changing the negative and combative public discourse around education in order to build public confidence was itself an important policy goal of the government. However the efforts to build and sustain strong partnerships all take place within the common emphasis on improving student outcomes.


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The Ontario approach built on Fullan’s (2006) “trilevel solution,” in which governments, school districts, and schools work together on common approaches and strategies. An explicit part of the strategy involves building strong relationships and close connections with boards, schools, and other organizations. Careful and explicit attention was given to building strong positive connections with every part of the education system. The Ministry of Education implemented new mechanisms for consultation with partners on virtually all programs and policies. A Partnership Table brings the Minister of Education together with all the major stakeholders on a regular basis. The Minister and senior ministry staff meet regularly with the main provincial organizations, including teachers, principals, and superintendents. There is extensive consultation and ongoing communication with school boards. The government took particular steps to involve teachers and their organizations in the development of policies and programs. In 2005, then-Minister Gerard Kennedy played a vital role personally in ensuring that 4-year collective agreements were put in place for all teachers across the province, giving teachers, students, and the public a multiyear assurance of stability. Steps have also been taken to work more closely with support staff groups and to recognize their need for involvement and for professional development. Principals are widely recognized as playing key roles in school improvement. In 2005, the Ministry issued a paper on “role of the principal” that outlined a number of steps to support principals in focusing on leading improvement in student outcomes. Professional development for principals has been expanded, and efforts are being made to improve some of their key working conditions, though the job of principal remains a challenging one.

Targeted Additional Resources The government has recognized that significant education renewal does require resources. From 2003 to 2007 funding for public education increased by 24%, or 28% on a per pupil basis. These funds have been allocated carefully to support the student achievement agenda. The largest single portion has gone to salary increases so that schools can attract and retain good staff. Another very significant amount has been used to expand staffing in key areas, such as smaller classes, student success teachers, specialist teachers in elementary schools, more support staff in key areas, repairs to aging buildings, antibullying programs, and the various other elements of the strategies. Additional funding has also gone to small and isolated schools to expand the services they can offer. The poin