ERIC Number: ED412633
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1996-Aug
The Response to Student Diversity in Restructured Elementary Schools. Final Deliverable to OERI.
Secada, Walter G.; Harris, Donna; Berman, Patricia; Wright, Carol
One of the most persistent challenges facing schools is how to respond to diversity as reflected in student race, gender, ethnicity, language, social class, and ability. This paper presents findings of a study that investigated how eight elementary schools undergoing restructuring responded academically to student diversity and how a school's normative beliefs and structural characteristics influenced its responses. Data are from the Center on Organization and Restructuring of Schools' school-restructuring study. Methods included observation of six teachers at each school and interviews with teachers, administrators, parents, community members, and representatives of external agencies. The results suggest that even though elementary schools try to balance between differentiation and the provision of common experiences as an academic response to student diversity, the balance often tilts in one or another direction. Moreover, the balance will tilt to create a dominant response that supports providing common experiences to all students when the school adopts pedagogical practices that, to some extent, depart from conventional practice; when school staff share values about pedagogy and about the student as a whole person; when the school's leadership supports those values; and when the school engages in capacity-building efforts to address student diversity among its regular education programs. The findings also suggest that schools that lack any of these conditions or that are focused on what makes students different from one another are likely to tilt in the direction of providing programs that differentiate student experiences. Three tables are included. (Contains 33 references.) (LMI)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Center on Organization and Restructuring of Schools, Madison, WI.; Wisconsin Center for Education Research, Madison.
Note: Earlier version of a paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (San Francisco, CA, 1995).