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Title:Imposed reform: standards-based accountability and its impact on the principalship
Author(s):Coffey, Sarah Lynn
Director of Research:Welton, Anjale
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Welton, Anjale
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Alexander, Kern; Span, Chris; Herrmann, Mary
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Ed Organization and Leadership
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):education reform, principal leadership, CCSS
Abstract:The imposed policy reform of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) represents another attempt at an “enlightened proposal for change” currently in play at the ground level in the American education system, setting new standards for college and career readiness. This qualitative, comparative case study explored how two principals from suburban elementary schools, possessing very different demographics and state assessment achievement histories, made sense, constructed meaning and, ultimately, enacted change in their implementation of CCSS. Datnow and Castellano’s “Framework for Reform” was employed to analyze how the principals accepted, symbolically displayed or rejected CCSS reform. The contextual considerations of “structure, culture, and agency” were used to understand how the interplay among these factors and the reform itself led to variation[s] in response. The practices found at both Sunny Brook and Laguna showed evidence of degrees of implementation of CCSS, but the depth and clarity of understanding of implementation varied. Ideologies of staff respondents seemed to match those of their principals, which shaped reform, emphasizing the non-linear reality of school change. Findings suggest that the imposition of a mandate does not necessarily lead to consistent interpretation of that mandate. Rather, clarity of systems, structures, and expectations for change are critical to truly enacting reform that results in changed in learning experiences for students. Policy makers and district leaders should consider the significance of “why” through use of a co-construction approach over a technical-rational one in packaging and messaging reform. This case study suggests that technical-rational reform approaches, although successful in enacting change at operational levels, will likely continue to result in different interpretations and experiences for students.
Issue Date:2015-12-01
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Sarah Coffey
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-03-02
Date Deposited:2015-12

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