Author: Rochelle Abramowitz
Title: A Case Study of Planning and Implementing Whole-School Reform
Institution: Florida Atlantic University
Dissertation Advisor: Dr. Patricia Maslin-Ostrowski
Degree: Doctor of Education
Month / Year: December 2002
This case study investigated the dilemmas of planning and implementing whole-school reform from the perception of administrators, teachers, and parents in one south Florida public middle school. School M was a sixth through eighth grade middle school located in an urban, high–poverty, and high minority zone. The school was severely overcrowded with a student population of 2,081 in a school built for 1,730 students. In the 2001-2002, and the 2002-2003 school years, School M received a grade of A from the State of Florida’s School Accountability Report.
The total sample of 28 consisted of 9 administrators, 15 teachers and 4 parents. Analysis was based on data collected from approximately 40 hours of interviews, 400 hours of observations, and 72 documents over an 8-month period.
The analysis manifested three major findings: the principal enhanced the learning organization’s capacity for whole-school reform by balancing tensions and conflicts; implementing a high-stakes testing regime and reform design simultaneously contributed to teacher overload and reduced the capacity of teachers to Implement whole-school reform; and learning communities had a pivotal role in fostering collaboration for whole-school reform. Based on the above findings, the following three major conclusions were drawn from this study: principal leadership is vital to successful whole-school reform implementation, the crucial challenge of principals in whole-school reform is forging a network of strong relationships within and across staff work teams and the community through the development of learning communities and professional development, and, whole-school reform must be balanced with and adapted to the accountability system if it is to have a chance of succeeding.
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