Jump to navigation
System-wide change and the use of data to inform instructional practice
Ankeney, Kirk Steven
The promise and potential of America's schools continue to command the public's attention, perhaps now more than ever, as economic downturns have forced school systems throughout the nation to closely scrutinize their operations and determine what's most important in the education of our youth. Even as reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act (2001) remains stalled in Congress, the focus on data, assessments, and accountability at the federal, state, county, and district level remains an integral aspect of American public education. An emerging body of research suggests that system-wide change and the use of data to inform instructional practice hold the potential to improve student achievement in urban school districts. However, models for systemic reform of this kind are relatively few in the literature. This study investigated two school districts that have received awards and recognition for increased student achievement over the past 5 years. Both districts have had stable leadership in the office of the superintendent, with no turnover in the past 5 years. Research methodology included the collection and analysis of interview data, observations, and archival documents. Interview participants were drawn from district superintendents, assistant superintendents/chief academic officers, directors of leadership/ curriculum/assessment, directors of content area/professional development, and principals and lead teachers from schools in each district, all of whom had a minimum of 5 years experience in the respective district. As interviews were the primary source of data collection in this study, the researcher sought commonalities in responses in the search for themes and patterns. The researcher triangulated data derived from interviews, observations, and documents; a broad picture of the phenomenon emerged in two categories, systemic change and district culture, each with distinctive themes. Evidence drawn from the research literature and findings in the data collected in the school districts provide important lessons for districts that wish to effect system-wide change and the use of data to inform instructional practice. These findings include that leadership and an aura of accountability throughout the district matters, and that board-adopted policies and procedures must be clearly communicated, constantly referred to, and sustained over time. Strategic coherence in aligning instructional practices, assessments, and training for teachers and administrators is a necessity, as is a focus on continuous improvement, where individuals at the top and bottom of the organization are constantly seeking improvement and receiving support. Finally, the use of data as an integral, embedded, and commonplace tool in the quest to raise student achievement emerged as a significant chord resonating throughout these two school districts that achieved system-wide change.
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) San Diego State University, 2011
© 2015 SDSU Library & Information Access. All Rights Reserved.