Using Data to Assess School Culture

Authored by: Theodore J. Kowalski , Tricia Browne-Ferrigno

Handbook of Data-Based Decision Making in Education

Print publication date:  October  2008
Online publication date:  April  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415965033
eBook ISBN: 9780203888803
Adobe ISBN: 9781135890841


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Across virtually all states, policy makers have shifted from centralized change strategies to tactics intended to produce improvements at the individual school level. This adjustment has been prompted by the realization that needs and resources among schools, even within most districts, are dissimilar—a condition that largely explains why federal and state generic reforms did not achieve their objectives (Baumann, 1996). Authors who have analyzed the drift toward decentralized school reform (e.g., Hall & Hord, 2001; Sarason, 1996; Spady, 2001) caution, however, that school-based initiatives will suffer the same fate if reformers ignore or fail to improve negative school cultures. This insightful conclusion has made culture change a core reform strategy (Fullan, 2001a); and consequently, diagnosing and altering counterproductive assumptions influencing educator behavior have become imperative tasks (Schein, 1992).

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