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Week 11: Implementing Social Change in Schools

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  1. Week 11:Implementing Social Change in Schools April 24, 2007 A-117: Implementing Inclusive Education Harvard Graduate School of Education Dr. Thomas Hehir

  2. Case Study Prompts • Groups 1 & 5: You are the principal of the school in question. How would you handle this situation? • Groups 2 & 6: You are a teacher at the school in question. How would you handle this situation with your students? • Groups 3 & 7: You are the special education director for the district. What could you have done to prevent this or similar incidents from happening? • Groups 4 & 8: You are an advocate for students with disabilities. You receive a call from a reporter; she wants your reaction to the incident and asks you if this is a failure of inclusion. How do you respond?

  3. Previous Learning Relevant to Today’s Discussion • Inclusive education is part of broader movement of societal change for people with disabilities • Population of students with disabilities is highly diverse • Students outcomes are often unacceptable • Innovative educators and researchers have demonstrated that outcomes can be improved • In order to improve the status of education for many students with disabilities, significant change must occur • Implementation of public policy is complex and difficult

  4. Overview • This weeks readings are designed to show both complexity of social policy implementation as well as provide guidance to those interested in promoting change • O’Day– Study of implementation of standards based on reform in Chicago • Elmore– Problems with current NCLB model (incentives, lack of consonance with whtat we know about school change) • Skrtic– Special Education as an organizational practice (need for adhocratic problem solving organizations. • Weatherly & Lipsky– The importance of street level bureaucrats

  5. O’Day (2002) / Elmore (2004) SBR, Specifically Chicago Bureaucratic model • School is unit of intervention (Elmore – incentive problems with lowest performing schools) • Data-based determinations (Elmore– assumption of continuous improvement) • Oriented toward sanctions (Elmore– moving the problem around)

  6. Problems Problem 1: The school is the unit of intervention, yet the individual is the unit of action. Problem 2: External control seeks to influence internal operations. Problem 3: Information is both problematic in schools and essential to school improvement.

  7. Complexity Theory Complexity theory- Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) • Interaction and independence • Stability and change • Information and learning • Learning and improvement (learning organizations) - competency traps (Elmore)

  8. Barriers to Improvement • Information • Egg crates • Attribution • Incentives and resource allocations • Lack of reciprocity

  9. Study Results Elements of policy design • Attention • Motivation • Knowledge Development • Resource allocation

  10. Higher and Improving Schools • Higher SES • Less egg crate • More collaborative • Higher teacher to teacher trust • Collective responsibility for student learning

  11. Lower or Non-Improving Schools • Weak information systems • External collaborators more apt to mandate than help in problem solving • Compliance oriented • Get tough approach • Maladaptive incentives -teach to test -get those closest to bar over -drill and kill -unbalanced collective incentives • Weak resource allocation and knowledge development strategies

  12. Possible Solutions Professional Accountability Professional and bureaucratic mix What are implications of O’Day’s work for Inclusive Education?

  13. Skrtic “From an organizational perspective, the basic problem with the EHA is that it attempts to force an adhocratic value orientation on a professional bureaucracy by treating it as if it were a machine bureaucracy. The EHA’s ends are adhocratic because it seeks a problem-solving organization in which interdisciplinary teams of professionals and parents collaborate to invent personalized programs, or, in the language of the EHA, individualized education plans (IEPs). But this orientation contradicts the value orientation of the professional bureaucracy in every way, given that it is a performance organization in which individual professionals work alone to perfect standard programs.” (p. 231)

  14. Skrtic (1991) EHA (IDEA) Policy Revolution required Implementation Revolution. Did it occur? • “Deconstructs” Special Education through critical pragmatism (as opposed to naïve pragmatism). • Situates his analysis in three discourses: • REI debate • School organization and adaptability • Failure of public education

  15. Skrtic • Universal compulsory education lead to the establishment of special education as an organizational practice that helped explain and address school failure. • Within the context of scientific management and modern psychology special education emerged as a practice that was based on four mutually reinforcing suppositions: • Disabilities are pathological conditions that students have, • Differential diagnosis is objective and useful, • Special education is a rationally conceived and coordinated system of services that benefits diagnosed students, and • Progress results from rational technological improvements in diagnostic and instructional practices.” (from Skrtic, p. 208)

  16. Machine Bureaucracies and Professional Bureaucracies • Schools as machine bureaucracies. • Schools as professional bureaucracies. (Lipsky & Weatherley) • School systems are professional bureaucracies. • Specialization and professionalization create a loosely coupled form of interdependency. • Both machine bureaucracies and professional bureaucracies are inherently non-adaptable. • “…teachers, whether in regular or special class environments, cannot escape the necessary choice between higher means [that is, maximizing mean performance by concentrating resources on the most able learners] and narrower variances –that is, minimizing group variance by concentrating resources on the least able learners] as long as resources are scarce and students differ.” (Skrtic, p. 207)

  17. Uncertain Work • Specialization and professionalization unite theory and practice in individual professional. • In practice a professional has a finite repertoire of standard programs. • In practice schools are performance organizations though they need to become problem solving organizations. (Think about Peter or Melvin)

  18. Schools as Cultures • Underorganized systems shaped and reshaped by values. • “Schools change when apparently irresolvable ambiguities are resolved by confident, forceful, persistent people who manage to convince themselves and others to adopt a new set of presuppositions, which introduces innovation because the values embedded in these presuppositions create a new set of contingencies, expectations, and commitments.” (p. 227) • Apollo mission

  19. The Need for More Adhocratic Approaches • “Given the inevitability of human diversity, a professional bureaucracy can do nothing but create students who do not fit the system. In a professional bureaucracy, all forms of tracking – curriculum tracking and in-class ability grouping in general education, as well as self-contained and resource classrooms in special, compensatory, remedial, and gifted education – are organizational pathologies created by specialization and professionalization and compounded by rationalization and formalization.” (pp. 237-238) • “Regardless of its cases and its extent, student diversity is not a liability in a problem-solving organization; it is an asset, an enduring uncertainty, and thus the driving force behind innovation, growth of knowledge, and progress.” (p. 238) • “From an organizational perspective, professional innovation is not a solitary act; when it does occur, it is a social phenomenon that takes place within a reflective discourse.” (p. 239) • The organizational pathology of the classroom as a vehicle for assuring equity and excellence. • Relevance of this to O’Day? • Is Skrtic’s piece practical?

  20. Structural Frame • Take-aways from implementation theory and research • The importance and limits of the machine, or structural frame • Dominant mode of policy development • Can focus attention and resources to problems • Assure level of equity • Can interact with culture to establish organizational ambiguities • Any examples of structural frame having positive influence on education of children with disabilities? However… • Is not determinative. • Can reduce necessary discretion • Can create inefficiencies • Can create false impression problem has been solved.

  21. Human Resource Frame • The importance of paying attention to implementers. (Weatherly & Lipsky) • An element of professional bureaucracy is necessary and important. (Hehir) • Opportunities for adhocratic approaches to problem solving and service delivery is essential for implementing inclusive education and promoting more equitable results.

  22. Political Frame • Opinion leaders are essential elements of promoting change. (Skrtic) • Political support can help secure necessary resources. • Political support needs to be both vertical and horizontal. • Implementers and clients matter.

  23. Symbolic Frame • Value and culture matter • Inclusive education carries symbolic messages • Inclusive education explicitly seeks to change culture and values

  24. Conclusions • IDEA and NCLB an opportunity for change • Significant shift in paradigms • In order for schools to become more equitable and more effective significant change must occur. • Improving education for students with disabilities is consistent with improving education for all that are not profiting fully from current approaches. • A sophisticated understanding of the complexity of organizational change and the opportunities it presents. THIS IS ROCKET SCIENCE!