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ERIC Number: ED499088
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003-Sep
Pages: 76
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Building Instructional Quality: "Inside-Out" and "Outside-In" Perspectives on San Diego's School Reform. A Research Report
Darling-Hammond, Linda; Hightower, Amy M.; Husbands, Jennifer L.; LaFors, Jeannette R.; Young, Viki M.; Christopher, Carl
Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy
During the 1990s, a new policy hypothesis focusing on the quality of teaching to provide a high-leverage means for improving student achievement began to gain currency. Based on interview, observation, survey, and record data collected at the state, district, and school levels over a five-year time period, the study offers a look at how the San Diego school district developed an aggressive set of policies to improve instruction. The research examines how the district consolidated and redirected resources, redesigned the district office as well as work in schools, and mediated and leveraged state policy to further its reform agenda. Among key reform strategies were: (1) Overhaul of recruitment, hiring, placement, and evaluation to recruit and retain high-quality teachers and principals in the district, while weeding out weak staff members; (2) Significant investment in intensive professional development, including institutes, workshops and on-site coaching in every school, focused initially on developing teachers' and principals' expertise in literacy instruction, and later branching out into mathematics, science, and other subjects; (3) Redesign of administration, replacing area superintendents with Instructional Leaders working closely with principals on improving the quality of teaching in each building and charging principals with focused evaluation and support of instruction; (4) Reallocation of resources to downsize the central office, consolidate fragmented programs and pots of money, and focus resources on classroom work; (5) More centralized approach to providing curriculum and teaching guidance based on research on learning and teaching, including the development of special courses and district-wide strategies for literacy development as well as aspects of mathematics and science instruction; and (6) Effort to develop a culture and shared expertise to enable professional accountability and to redefine the state's accountability processes to support instruction without punishing students. The study documents gains in student achievement and transformations of teaching practices, especially in San Diego's elementary and middle schools in association with these policies. Schools and students that benefited most from the changes were often those that were previously lowest-achieving. Schools that were most bureaucratically organized with the fewest opportunities for collaboration among faculty had more difficulty using new resources to transform instruction. The study also documents the difficulties of managing the politics and implementation of a coherent approach to change in a large district with an established culture of decentralization located in a state with a piecemeal, sometimes conflicting, menu of reforms. Looking at the process of school change from both the "outside in" and the "inside out," the study details how the district and individual schools initiated, coped with, and transformed the many competing policies in the school environment. Finally, the district's more difficult process of seeking to improve high schools and its new round of reforms, just launched as the research was ending, is documented. The report concludes with evidence of substantial transformation in the culture, organization, instruction, and outcomes of San Diego's schools but also with the changing of many members of the leadership team. The future will reveal whether the reforms with be sustained. Four appendixes include funding information, organization charts, student performance information, and school-by-school comparison data (Contains 29 endnotes, 1 figure and 6 tables.)
Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy (CTP). University of Washington, Box 353600, Seattle, WA 98195-3600. Tel: 206-221-4114; Fax: 206-616-8158; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Education; Elementary Secondary Education; High Schools; Middle Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Inst. on Educational Governance, Finance, Policymaking, and Management (ED/OERI), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy, Seattle, WA.
Identifiers - Location: California