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Crafting a Performance Culture: Anxiety, Climate and School District Reform. Katharine Neem Destler University of Washington “Improving Education Through Accountability And Evaluation: Lessons From Around the World” APPAM and INVALSI Rome, Italy October 3, 2012

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Crafting a Performance Culture: Anxiety, Climate and School District Reform


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    1. Crafting a Performance Culture:Anxiety, Climate and School District Reform Katharine Neem Destler University of Washington “Improving Education Through Accountability And Evaluation: Lessons From Around the World” APPAM and INVALSI Rome, Italy October 3, 2012 Sponsored by the US Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (#R305B090012)

    2. New Zealand England Victoria, Australia U.S. Charter Schools Shifting Tides in Education Reform • Standardized Practices--> Site-based control • Instructional Practice --> Managerial Behavior • Increased Funding --> Accountability for Results

    3. A turn towards “Portfolio” School District Reform • Parental School Choice • Site-Based Decision Making • Performance Monitoring • Closure of Chronically Underperforming Schools • Aggressive Development/Recruitment of New Schools, including those run by private providers (Bulkey and Henig 2010, Hill et al. 2012)

    4. Moving too quickly? • Despite the attention to high stakes accountability reforms, research suggests that the results have been mixed: • District-wide improvement • Teaching to the test • Narrowing of the Curriculum • Focus on “Bubble” Kids (Corcoran and Beverage 2010; Jacob 2005; Kemple 2010)

    5. Reforms in Education aren’t “new” everywhere Performance Management Reform: An ongoing, systematic approach to improving results through evidence-based decision making, continuous organizational learning, and a focus on accountability for performance”(National Performance Management Advisory Commission, 2010). • Managerial Discretion • Publication of Performance Data • Accountability for Outcomes

    6. Education reflects findings in other sectors • Performance management is well-established in other sectors • The provision of data does not ensure that public leaders or policymakers will act on that data • Incentives have perverse, as well as positive, results (Heinrich and Marschke 2010; Jennings and Haist 2004; Moynihan 2008; Radin 2006)

    7. Formal Systems Change is Not Enough… Need to understand the conditions under which schools and other organizations experience a change in front line culture. Under what conditions do front-line workers and managers espouse performance management values and enact performance management values in their daily behavior?

    8. Formal Performance Management Reform: Relevant and Reliable Data Performance Accountability Managerial Discretion Learning Forums Performance- Oriented Front-Line Behavior Understanding Performance Management Behavior

    9. Formal Performance Management Reform: Relevant and Reliable Data Performance Accountability Managerial Discretion Learning Forums Performance Management Values Performance- Oriented Front-Line Behavior Performance- Oriented Front-Line Behavior Cultural Characteristics Organizational Climate Survival Anxiety Understanding Performance Management Behavior

    10. Two Alternate Paths to Organizational Change • The “Incentive” Approach • Increased performance leads to change in culture and behavior. • “Survival Anxiety” will provoke greatest need for change (Khademian and Harttman 2010; Kotter 1990; Schein 2006) • The “Internal Dynamics” Approach • Not every organization is equally “ready” to change • A positive Organizational Climate (trust, support) is an important prerequisite for cultural shift. (Bryk and Schneider 2005; Childress et al., 2011; Hou, Moynihan, & Ingraham, 2003; Schein 2006)

    11. Research Question What is the role of external incentives (in the form of organizational survival anxiety) and organizational climate in the espousal of performance management values and the adoption of performance management values-in-use in schools?

    12. Data and Methods • Sequential, Mixed-Method Study • Cross-Sectional School System Analysis • NYC Learning Environment Survey, Progress Report, Quality Review 2007-2011 • n : 115-1,153 depending on model • Analysis conducted using OLS with schools as the unit of analysis • Comparative Case Study of Four Schools

    13. New York City: A “Critical Case” for Performance Management Reform in Education • Mayoral Control, dating from 2005 • Abolishment of the internal school district structure • “Empowerment” strategy: • Devolution of decision-making power down to school principals • School-level accountability for performance

    14. Key Variables DEPENDENT VARIABLES Espoused Values: explicitly embraced by organizational members (Argyris and Schon 1974,1977; Schein 2006) Values-in-Use: tacitly revealed through organizational behavior. (Argyris and Schon 1974,1977; Senge 1990; Schein 2006. INDEPENDENT VARIABLES OF INTEREST Organizational Climate: level of organizational trust; perceptions of support and norms of open/honest dialogue (Childress et al 2011; Moynihan & Pandey, 2010; Schein, 2006; Senge, 1990) Survival Anxiety: perceived risk of inaction to organizational wellbeing (Kotter, 1996,Schein, 2006)

    15. Measurement Challenges • High Correlation between Organizational Climate and Performance Values • Construct Validity • Common Source Bias • Endogeneity Risk

    16. Hypotheses H1: Survival anxiety will have a positive and statistically-significant effect on the espousal of performance values and the adoption of performance values-in-use. H2: Organizational Climate will have a positive and statistically-significant effect on the espousal of performance values and the adoption of performance values-in-use

    17. Findings--Espoused Values • Organizational climate = strong predictor • Survival anxiety= weak but significant predictor • Limited interaction effect • Few statistically-significant formal controls

    18. Findings: Values-in-Use • Organizational climate = strong predictor • Survival anxiety= negative and significant predictor • No evidence of interaction effect • Even fewer statistically-significant formal controls

    19. Summary of Findings • Internal Dynamics Perspective • Strong support for both espoused values and values-in-use • External Dynamics Perspective • Weak support for espoused values • Contrary findings for values-in-use • Lack of support informal controls • No evidence that incentives and climate shape behavior together

    20. Why the Limited Impact of Survival Anxiety? • Inadequate Time Frame for change • High-anxiety lack capacity and control: • Policy Complexity • Political Uncertainty • Low-Anxiety schools go beyond incentives • Stewards of organizational mission • Efforts to define district mandates in line with organizational mission

    21. Conclusion • Performance incentives are, on their own, insufficient to change organizational behavior. • Organizational change--even the development of performance behaviors-- takes time. • Policymakers and school leaders need to focus less on perfecting accountability instruments and more on how to create the internal organizational conditions for change.