4513 Slices
Medium 9781475816068

Putting Humpty Dumpty Together Again: Order, Anxiety, and Systemic Reform

International Journal of Educational Ref Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

JAMES RYAN

Centre for Leadership Development

Department of Educational Administration

The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

252 Bloor Street West

Toronto, Ontario MSS IV6

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the King’s horses and all the King’s men,

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Many are familiar with this popular childhood riddle. We may recall the first time we heard the news about Humpty. It no doubt saddened some of us. Others were perhaps merely anxious. Yet others may have experienced both emotions, with good reason.

For here, we had what was once a vital, reasoning, functioning — albeit somewhat difficult but personable — egg, in pieces. His parts are strewn carelessly about the terrain and there appears little hope of putting them back together. What was once a smoothly functioning organism, eminently capable of conversing with Alice, fashioning meaning in unique ways, and getting to the heart of difficult riddles (Carroll, 1971), appears destined for the junk pile.

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Medium 9781475815931

A State by State Snapshot of School-Based Management Practices

International Journal of Educational Ref Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

JANICE L. HERMAN

Associate Professor, Department of Educational Leadership
The University of Alabama at Birmingham, 232G Education Building, UAB Station, Birmingham, AL 35294

JERRY J. HERMAN

Area Head and Professor, Administration and Educational Leadership
The University of Alabama, Box 870302, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487

The education reform movement of the 1980s instigated a wave of reforms, many of them originating at the state level. Twenty-three states have increased high school graduation since 1980, nearly every state has strengthened teacher certification requirements, forty-nine states have instituted some form of student assessment, and forty-seven states have underwritten new curriculum guides. State policymakers have begun to look for additional avenues to spur achievement, and efforts are beginning to focus on strengthening schools as organizations. A shift from regulation to incentives and mobilization of “institutional capacity” is beginning to occur in many states; strategies to empower are replacing program mandates (Education Commission of the States, 1989). Recommended policy options for restructuring at a state level were also the focus of the Education Commission of the States in 1991. Regarding leadership policies, the Commission proposed that “The state ensures that business leaders, teachers, principals, parents, state and local school board members, state department of education officials and others participate in creating a shared vision and becoming advocates for the future of education” (p. 22). Further state policy recommendations in the document are concerned with establishing a waiver system and with parent and community involvement. Regarding inclusion of stakeholders, the Commission recommends that states endorse shared decision making for districts and schools. Lewis (1988) also reported on restructuring state control, and quoted Michael Cohen’s (a National Governors Association policy expert) suggested steps for state leadership. The states should support restructuring by:

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Medium 9780874216424

1. Coming to Terms

Joseph Harris Utah State University Press ePub

Coming to Terms

A few weeks ago my old friend Dick Lower sent me this huge pile of paper, saying that, as I am a voracious collector of curios and suchlike, perhaps I should have it… . How is a mere chronicler such as myself to transmute the lead of inaccuracy in these papers into the gold of truth?

—Iain Pears, An Instance of the Fingerpost

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

—Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

In his short story “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote,” Jorge Luis Borges tells of an obscure modern sage from Don Quixote, the famous seventeenth-century novel by Miguel de Cervantes. What makes this goal interesting, and more than a little crazy, is that Menard doesn’t want simply to copy or transcribe the Quixote but instead “to produce a number of pages which coincided—word for word and line for line—with those of Miguel de Cervantes.” And to make matters even more difficult, he resolves to do so without referring back to the text of the Quixote or conducting any research on Cervantes.

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Medium 9781935542124

Conclusion Leading Change in Grading Systems

Reeves, Douglas Solution Tree Press ePub

The acid test for any grading system, whether or not for exceptional students, is the degree to which it is working. By “working,” I mean whether students, teachers, and parents can use the feedback from the grading system to improve performance. Students in the early primary grades can, when given the opportunity, respond to the question, “What do you think you need to do to get better?” Those whose teachers have employed standards-based assessment systems in student-accessible language can say with confidence, “I only got a 2, because I forgot to . . .” and quickly add, “but next time I’m going to get a 3 because I will . . .” The use of numbers, letters, or words is immaterial in this example. What is most important, when evaluating grading systems against the standard of effectiveness, is that students use the feedback to improve their performance.

While almost all schools have discussed reforms in grading systems, those that succeed in implementing change effectively follow some distinctive and consistent patterns. First, they do not merely announce a change in grading policy but engage in an extensive community dialogue. School leaders from Waukesha, Wisconsin to Wamego, Kansas recently wrote to me describing their careful process of deliberate, deep, and broad engagement of stakeholders, including students, parents, school board members, union leaders, and community members. They documented their own best practices and considered carefully the best available evidence from national and international sources. Their changes in grading policies, while not universally popular, were the subject of extensive collaboration and dialogue.

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Medium 9781934009727

Chapter 2 An Overview of the Audit

Robert Barr Solution Tree Press ePub

Some of us have laughed about the process as being like an “institutional autopsy,” but that doesn’t really capture what we did, because our school was far from dead. It was more like a “complete medical checkup,” where evidence was collected on every possible school function and then evaluated, discussed, and the process ended with a powerfully accurate diagnosis. When we did the audit, we “deconstructed” the school down to all of the little parts and pieces and functions. Through this process, we found all sorts of practices that were dysfunctional. Together, we were able to carefully identify the really crucial problems, and now we are focused on making corrections. Out of all of our work, a better, more effective school is emerging. Out of our work, student achievement is improving.

—Elementary school principal, Kentucky

The school audit is typically conducted by a school or district team that includes teachers, administrators, specialists, parents, community leaders, and others (for example, university professors, state education department leaders, or external consultants). The audit is designed for the local school level, although districts may also use it for a number of low-performing schools simultaneously by providing central data collection and coordination. The school or district audit process culminates in a school and community-wide consensus regarding urgent areas of needed improvement. This process involves:

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