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Payne's So much reform, So little change


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  • 1. Chapter 6 – Charles Payne’s So Much Reform, So Little Change Missing the Inner Intent: The Predictable Failures of Implementation
  • 2. How Can We Know It’s Right?
    • “ It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye .” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • 3. Facets of Reform Complexity
    • Disconnect Between Policy Makers and Reformers
    • Toxic Urban School Environment
    • Low Quality Implementation of Policies*
    • Difficulty Learning from Practice
  • 4. Historical Aspects of Reform
    • The most important initiatives have been Whole-School + Standards-Based reform, including No Child Left Behind
    • The popularity of comprehensive reform resulted in part from the perception that reform initiatives which addressed only a particular grade or a particular subject matter or particular students seldom lead to sustained change
    • In the 1990s the whole-school reform movement generated new models as quickly as Baskin-Robbins produced new flavors. By the end of the decade there were at least 40 models nationally
  • 5. The Political Context of Reform
    • Unfortunately school reform does not happen in political vacuum!
  • 6. What Was Happening
    • Partisans of different programs would not cooperate because they were more concerned with demonstrating the superiority of their program;
            • And
    • They were not asking the right kinds of questions!
  • 7. What Should Have Happened
    • The question being asked throughout the 1990s was “What Works?”
    • A more important question would have been , “Do schools have the capacity to implement the inner intent of reform?”
  • 8. Examples of Comprehensive Reform Implementation
    • The wholesale conversion of the Memphis school system to whole-school models
    • The New Jersey’s court-mandated effort to provide whole-school models
  • 9. Reform in Memphis
    • In 1992 the city’s 163 schools were required by then superintendent Gerry House to adopt a comprehensive model from a list of 18 models approved by the district
    • An evaluation showed a pattern of improving test scores in the restructuring schools
    • After House left the district, test scores stagnated*
    • Impression
    • Whole-school reform model had failed in Memphis.
  • 10. Reform in New Jersey
    • In 1998 the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the state was underfunding urban school district (the Abbott districts) and ordered more support for those districts
    • The financial resources made available were not trivial
    • The Abbott districts were spending on average $2,500 more per child than the well-to-do districts
    • Result
    • Despite all the resources the Abbott districts ran into problem trying to implement whole-school reform.
  • 11. Analysis of Failure
    • After two years a study reported that many Abbott
    • schools were bedeviled by:
    • Inadequate support from the program developer
    • Inadequate support from the state department of education
    • Burdensome paperwork
    • Staff turnover in both department of education and among the model providers
  • 12. Effects of Whole-School Models
    • A significant body of evidence points to the effects of whole-school models
    • An authoritative study by Borman at al. (2002) reanalyzed 232 studies of 29 comprehensive school reform (CSR) programs and found that the overall effects are “statistically significant, meaningful and appear to be greater than the effects of other interventions that have been designed to serve similar purposes.”
    • The data also suggested that the best rewards come to those who wait.*
  • 13. Analysis of Failure of Standards-Based Movement
    • The usual environmental turbulence – changes in top leadership, shifts in state policy.
    • Difficulties creating appropriate assessments.
    • Providing support for improved teaching which meant major shifts in budgets and staffing.
    • All of the above problems were complicated by the hard rock of teacher belief.
    • Promoting teaching practices designed to help all students reach ambitious standards runs counter to widely shared beliefs about the nature of learning and about the abilities of many students, especially poor and minority students.
  • 14. Impediments to Implementation
    • Tendency to discount the social, political environment
    • Time demands
    • Inappropriate pace and scale of change
    • Not enough leadership
    • Narrow base of support; lack of ownership /false buy-in
    • Generalized belief in program failure; tendency of teachers to comply in minimal ways
    • Absence of realistic assessment, consequent inability to make midcourse corrections
  • 15. Impediments to Implementation
    • Ambiguity of roles introduced by new programs
    • Leadership’s lack of deep understanding of particular innovations
    • Instability of key personnel
    • Interference / lack of support from district offices
    • Lack of program coherence
    • Absence of follow-through
  • 16. Are the Children or the Adults Unable to Learn?
    • The list of impediments to implementation from the last two slides is embarrassingly similar to the 1978 Bergman and McLaughlin findings about factors determining the success of educational innovations
    • After more that a quarter century later, their examination of nearly 300 federally funded educational innovations stands up very well against contemporary experience
  • 17. Implementation Standards
    • Different kinds of reforms require different kinds of standards
    • Formalize clinical knowledge by bringing together a group of experienced practitioners for extended conversations about the commonalities and differences in their experience
    • Whatever guidelines emerge from these discussions they would have to be adapted to each local context
  • 18. Final Words
    • The BIG MAGIC isn’t in the programs themselves so much as in the thinking and understanding of the people who implement them, in the approach they take, in the values they hold dear .
    • When Jerome Smith a hero of the Civil Rights movement, a longtime community activist and educator was asked what he thought of the plan of making New Orleans an all-charter-school city his response was, “ Depends on the hearts of the people running it.”
  • 19. Questions for Discussion
    • One important obstacle to successful implementation of reform models has been teacher resistance. What might be some other reasons for such resistance beyond those highlighted by Payne?
    • To what extent has the social capital of the business world been valuable in facilitating change in the world of education?
    • Is the spirit of Payne’s So Much Reform, So Little Change similar or dissimilar to David & Cuban’s Data Driven Instruction? Explain your position.