ERIC Number: ED396040
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1996-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Reforming Alone: Barriers to Organizational Learning in Urban School Change Initiatives.
Useem, Elizabeth; And Others
The idea of civic engagement among school staffs is explored with the aim of understanding why reform initiatives often fail to be initiated fully in urban schools. This synthesis of findings across nine separate program evaluations conducted for the Philadelphia Education Fund (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) was prompted by the recognition that the same barriers to reform emerged repeatedly. Five of the evaluations examined change efforts aimed at whole schools or significant units within schools, and two examined reform projects with multiple components in middle schools. Two studies assessed the impact of district-wide professional development efforts in mathematics and science, and two additional evaluations examined the impact of curriculum development efforts by teachers. It is argued that the concept of social capital is fundamental to understanding why the same reform effort succeeds in some schools and not in others. Many factors explained the pattern of incomplete implementation of reforms. Among the most important, with the potential to make or break the project, were support from the principal, turnover of the principal, instability of the reform or professional development team, and teachers' work union rules. The isolation of school professional personnel undertaking reform stood out, and the prevalence of practices restricting the development of social capital was marked. An appendix lists the evaluation and documentation reports conducted for the Philadelphia Education Fund. (Contains 1 chart and 51 references.) (SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Philadelphia School District PA; Reform Efforts
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (New York, NY, April 8-12, 1996).