Loretta A. Terry & William Allan Kritsonis, PhD


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Loretta A. Terry & William Allan Kritsonis, PhD

  1. 1. A New Paradigm for Educational Reform: Implementing Organizational Change for 21st Century Schools EDUL 7043 Organizational Development and Change in Education Loretta A. Terry PhD Student in Educational Leadership College of Education Prairie View A & M University November 12, 2009 William Allan Kritsonis, PhD, Professor PhD Program in Educational Leadership Prairie View A& M University Member of the Texas A &M University System Visiting Lecturer (2005) Oxford Round Table University of Oxford, Oxford, England Distinguished Alumnus (2004)
  2. 2. 2 A New Paradigm for Educational Reform: Implementing Organizational Change for 21st Century Schools Abstract The traditional top-down approach to educational change ignores innovate methodology used to implement the complex change concept. Twenty first century school leaders must become the skilled change agents pushing for change around them and intersecting with other like mined individuals and groups to form the critical mass necessary to bring about continuous improvement (Fullan, 1993, 2001). Instead of engaging experts to implement change strategies at their schools, twenty first century school leaders must become the expert change agents. Introduction “If it‘s not broken, why fix it?” This old adage reflective of people with fear of the unknown is simply insufficient to address the pressing need to renovate, innovate, and reform the American approach to educating students in the twenty-first century. Elevating schools to exemplary levels of academic performance is the prevailing discussion that pervades educational conferences, professional development sessions, and pedagogic institution’s dialogue. The proficiency of educational leaders in understanding the dynamics of organizational development and change within school systems, school districts and schools can significantly impact the academic success of all students. Inherent in leadership is the ability to accomplish significant change within an organization that will impact its central core and mission positively. Do American schools need education reform to produce successful students prepared to compete in our global society? This is a question that has continued to emerge since the beginning of the study of educational change and large scale reform that started in earnest in the sixties (Fullan1993, 2001). Schools are plagued with a myriad of issues that originate from social, economic, the achievement gap, lack of parent involvement, governmental policy interveners and escalating violence that are consuming the attentiveness and progress of teachers and students. Current data from a 2009 report presenting the national dropout rate of students attending schools in the United States recorded that three and one-half of every 100 students
  3. 3. 3 enrolled in public or private high schools in the later part of 2006- left school before 2007 (Cataldi, Laird, KawalRamani, 2009). The same report documented that approximately 3.3 million 16-24 year –olds in 2007 who were not enrolled in high school and had not earned a high school diploma or alternative credential (Cataldi et al., 2009). This alarming data amplifies the reality that reform in the American education system is imperative and needs to embrace a new paradigm that will avail educators to become skilled agents of change instead of victims of change (Fullan, 1993). There is also disparity in earning capacity of dropouts and high school graduates that points to the need for education reform. Additionally, as the evolving era of technology empowers and magnetizes children at young ages, schools are competing with technology to maintain an academic focus in classrooms. Computer games, broadband internet, iPods, blue-ray, Skype, Tweeter, text messaging, cellular phones and other technical devices captivate the attention of the students more quickly than the curriculum agenda and high stakes test practices. Students who have access to technology at home are often more advanced in some subject areas than teachers leading to off task behavior and lack of motivation. Students who do not have additional access to technology are often left behind their peers and become disinterested, at-risk of failure or dropping out of school. In order to compete with technology, organizational change must shift the inevitable forces of change. Fullan (1993) developed eight basic lessons of change that work in concert as a set to overhaul the systematic complexities and tradition complexity of the change a new paradigm. The new paradigm will require education reformers to approach change implementation from the perspective of building a learning organization (Senge, 2006) to harness understanding and develop the change process. Purpose The purpose of this article is to discuss the implementation of Fullan’s eight lessons of change in an educational organization. Change is dynamic, vigorous, brisk, futuristic,
  4. 4. 4 revolutionary and it has the power to yield new outcomes if embraced as a non-linear system of operation. Only principals who are equipped to handle a complex, rapidly changing environment can implement the reforms that lead to sustained improvement in student achievement Fullan, 2002). Each of Fullan’s eight lessons of change is interconnected and benefits from the wisdom of the other seven (Fullan, 1993). Diagram I depicts the lessons of change connections. Diagram I. Fullan’s Change Education Reform Model Lesson I: You Can’t Mandate What Matters (The more complex the change the less you can force it.) 20th Century Federal Mandates Fullan’s (1993) first lesson in the educational change model asserts “You can’t mandate what matters” is the polar opposite of the systemic change that has occurred in the United States’ educational system. Mandates designed by the federal government have been the Lesson I Can't Mandate what matters. LessonII Change is a journey not a blueprint Lesson III Problems areour friends Lesson IV Vision and Strategic Planning Come Later Lesson V Individualism and Colectivism Must have Equal Power Lesson VI Neither Centralization or Decentralization Works Lesson VII Connection with the Wider Environment is Critical LessonVIII Every personis a change agent
  5. 5. 5 driving force behind education reform. In this advanced era of multimedia technology it is very difficult to comprehend that education reform measures implemented in the past have not worked as the silver bullet to close the achievement gap. One of America’s abiding concerns yesterday and today is the achievement gap between rich and poor, black and white, and students are dropping out of school at unprecedented rates and failing high stakes tests necessary to graduate from high school (Rothstein, Jacobensen & Wilder, 2008). As history unfolded in the United States during the era of the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, the educational paradigm changed. Government leaders realized that education was important for every child, not just for the elite. President Lyndon B. Johnson enacted the reform legislation to declare the “War on Poverty,” and established the federal legislation with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), (Laanan & Cox, 2006). Nationally, high schools are under extreme demands to address the rising drop-out rate by increasing graduation rate. The number of students labeled at-risk of failure and dropping out of high school has escalated. According to the most current estimates in 2007, 3.3 million 16-24 year olders had not completed high school (Cataldi et al., 2007). In the 1980’s and1990’s, the national report titled “A nation at Risk” forecasted the urgency of education reform that continues to be evident today. The report called attention to the need to meet the needs of key groups of students such as the gifted and talented, the socio-economically disadvantaged, minority students and disabled students (Blake, 2008). Children who have failed the assessments requirements were minority students from lower socio-economic status homes ( Blake, 2008). Ernie Duncan, the United States Secretary of Education, in a recent report, stated that “reforming public education it is not just a moral obligation, it is absolutely an economic imperative and the foundation of a strong society” (Mc Quaid, 2009). 21st Century Federal Mandates The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation enacted under United States President George
  6. 6. 6 W. Bush is a primary example of complex mandated change. The premise of the enactment was to implement assessment and accountability standards to benefit the lowest performing students suffering from “bigotry of low expectations” by promoting high standards of accountability for all students (McBeath, Reyes & Ehrlander, 2008). The NCLB is the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (Rothstein,et al., 2008). There are many criticisms pertaining to all sections the adoption of NCLB that began at its inception and continue to persist today. The NCLB initiative came with much complexity. Education leaders must be prepared for the complexities that accompany legislative mandates and proceed from a position of understanding change themselves to facilitate change in their organizations. The initial step that twenty first century educational leaders should adhere to in order to implement change under Fullan’s (1992) Lesson I is to understand the meaning of the mandated change within the context of improvement of student learning. Developing a plan of action to facilitate the change is closely linked formalized leadership, command and control strategies (Fullan, 2006). Once the leader understands the mandated reform, he/she should explicate the reform to the school community openly and honestly to began mobilizing faculty and staff to establish a commitment to higher standards of performance (Fullan, 2002). To mobilize teachers, educational leaders should use new strategies for informing them of the changes. Next, teachers should be invited into a discourse and dialogue to express their perspectives of how mandates could be implemented in their classrooms. Empowerment an effective strategy to attain the greatest teacher mobilization results. Some community schools utilize the site-based management wherein teachers are given the autonomy to participate in shared decision by creating an opportunity for their voices to be heard. Teachers are on the front line with the students, teaching, guiding, providing practice, re-teaching and formulating strategies to strengthen the weakest students. For change to achieve effective meaning in classrooms, regarding teachers as professionals in the learning environment is a priority. In a
  7. 7. 7 professional teaching and learning environment school administrators must equitable use of power and authority among all staff. Shared decision making and responsibility are key ingredients in creating an atmosphere for change and program improvement (Lamperes, 2005). Lesson II: Change is a Journey, Not a Blueprint (Change is non-linear, loaded with uncertainty, and sometimes perverse.) Fullan (1993) advances the second lesson of change with the major argument that change is a journey, non-linear and loaded with uncertainty. Mason (2008) points out that traditional managers handle uncertainty by resisting change or by using predictions to prepare for the future. It is of paramount importance that the complexity of change be understood in order for educational leaders to know the appropriate respond to change. Analyzing change through the lens of chaos and complexity theories recognizes that change is part of an educational system that impacts other systems. When analyzing chaos in an organization, many researchers believe that human being have a natural ability to act at the edge of chaos, creating the chaos needed to cope with complex/turbulent environments (Mason, 2008). Although chaos appears to be non-descriptive of school organizations, it is a profound description. Systems thinking is a conceptual framework, a body of knowledge and tools that have been developed over the last fifty years, to make the full patterns clearer, and to help us see how to change them effectively (Senge, 2006). Most systems thinking school leaders contemplate relationships, human social systems and how one part of a system affects the other parts to achieve the results. For example, a high school principal may determine that initiating professional learning communities (PLC) will have an overriding affect on student performance and teacher collaboration, thereby establishing relationships among teachers to produce and collectively formulate strategies to improve student performance. The leader analyzes feedback from the changes to assess how student performance will affect the high stakes test scores and how the high stakes test scores affect the accountability rating of the school. Fullan offers a
  8. 8. 8 systems thinking idea for effective leaders: “ If more and more leaders become systems thinkers, they will gravitate toward strategies that alter people’s system-related experiences; that is, they will alter people’s mental awareness of the system as a whole, thereby contributing to altering the system itself.” Considering the interplay between identity, information, and relationships in your setting will yield deeper sensitivities to the interconnections that are sometimes visible and invisible. Although not always apparent, these underlying threads contribute significantly to any leader’s effectiveness” (as cited in, Klimie, Ritzenhein & Sullivan, 2008). The second step in the twenty first century change process, is for leader to become system thinkers, Leaders can achieve system thinking by seeing a framework of wholes instead of separate parts, seeing interrelationships instead of disconnection (Senge, 2006). Lessons III: Problems are Our Friends (Problems are inevitable, but the good news is that you can’t learn or be successful without them.) Problems are not uncommon for implementing educational change. The issue with problems in analyzing education change is how do school leaders create opportunities from problems. According to Fullan (1993) the third lesson of change is premised on regarding problems as friends. Mason (2008) asserts that the key issues to managing complex and turbulent environments is to accept the unpredictable nature of systems, accept that they cannot be centrally controlled and accept that change is an inevitable occurrence that provides opportunities. Essential to the growth of educational leaders is the ability to manage of conflict and problem solving under extreme pressurized conditions. One of the biggest problems plaguing school reform is the absence of good data tracking the performance of students, teachers and schools over time (McQuaid, 2009). After reviewing the results of a long term study that revealed that only 3% of African Americans and Hispanic Americans male students who graduated from Chicago’s schools never attained a bachelor’s degree, Arnie Duncan, Secretary of the United States Department of Education began to focus
  9. 9. 9 on mentoring and intervention at the high schools (McQuiad, 2008). Out of the revelation of these appalling statistics about minority male students, clearly a problem and the solution emerged. Student data contributes to improving education decision-making. Data for continuous improvement alerts educators as to what is working and what should be reorganized. Educational leader of the twenty-first century must approach problems with analytic positive solution thinking. Often times, a solution lies within the problem. Lesson IV: Vision and Strategic Planning Come After (Premature visions and planning can blind.) Fullan (1993), poses the critical question of how can vision be shaped? The answer to this question is one that emerges as the implementation of change progresses in the organization. Some organizations embrace the leader’s vision or the vision of a selected group of people. This strategy does not produce commitment to the vision but instead generates compliance Fullan, 1993). Shared vision is vital for every organization, to accept ownership of the vision cannot be achieved in advance of learning something new (Fullan, 1993, p. 30). Beach (2006) clarifies what vision is not because many organizations confuse the vision and mission or presume that the mission statement is the vision of the learning organization because it provides the energy and focus for learning (Fullan, 1993). The process of how the organization arrived at the vision is called into question. This process is tense, time consuming and complex. To focus the vision of the organization to reflect ownership by the group, it should be determined whether or not the vision will shape or reshape the goals of the organization within the context of change. In other words the group must attain vision agreement. Beach (2006) stated that vision has four elements: goals, priorities, requirements and implications. These elements are not incorporated in the vision statement but rather are expounded in plans derived from the vision (Beach, 2006, p. 56). This is a key point of clarification in building vision that needs underscoring that plans come after vision. Twenty first
  10. 10. 10 leaders must be equipped to build vision. Good vision will come after, meaning that “good vision is going to spontaneously arise from within an organization, survive the political gauntlet, and achieve the consensus that is necessary for it to become the rallying point” (Beach, 2006 p. 56). Lesson V: Individualism and Collectivism Must Have Equal Power (There are no one-sided solution and groupthink.) Twenty-first century leaders must have the ability to balance individualism and collectivism. Paradoxes provide the seeds for learning under conditions dynamic complexity (Fullan, 1993). Allowing teachers to hold fast to their individualism at the same time encourage them to collaborate within groups where sharing is the norm is a paradox of major proportions. Teachers who become part of school’s learning organization need to feel that they are valued and that their contribution will make a difference. Leaders must have the ability to draw the line of balance by encouraging collaboration with group, at the same time incorporating nurturing, encouraging creativity and innovation of the individual. Groups are filled with people who are diverse with individual ideologies totally different from the consensus. Learning organizations are based on the premise that everyone is learning from each other, under change complexity theory (Fullan, 1993) people learn from others with differing perspectives. An effective organization requires new norms of collegiality. Learning organizations must have healthy respect for some degree of diversity and individualism as well as for group activity and group effectiveness (Fullan, 2006). The twenty first century leader must know how to attain the best from individuals and the group collectively. Lesson VI: Neither Centralization or Decentralization Works (Both top-down and bottom-up strategies are necessary.) Fullan (1993) argues in lesson six that control at the top as many reform-minded leaders have formed their organization, is an illusion. Senge submits the contentions that:
  11. 11. 11 While traditional organizations require management systems that control people’s behavior, learning organizations invest in improving the quality of thinking, the capacity for reflection and tem learning, and the ability to develop shared visions and shared understanding of complex business issues. It is these capacities that will allow learning organizations to be both more locally controlled and more well coordinated that their hierarchical predecessors (as cited in Fullan, p. 37). Leaders of the twenty first century should focus their energies on improvement of the practice. Improving the practice pertains to leaders descending from their ivory towers and rolling up their sleeves to investigate what is working, what needs improvement in the organization and enlisting ideals and support of faculty and staff to discover solutions. Improvement cannot be judged solely by periodic assessment of teaching and learning during a forty-five minute period. Improvement of the practice of teaching and learning is continuous. One form of leadership involving change, innovation and improvement of the practice from a decentralized position is based on the characteristics of generative leadership. Klimek et al. (2008) collectively expound on the generative leader to shape the future of schools today with their definition: Generative leadership is an approach to leading within organizations—and organization, from family to school or large corporation that recognizes and taps the collective intelligence and energy within an organization to generate productive growth and effective solutions. We see generative leadership as a fusion of three foundational elements: generativity, living systems principles, and brain/mind science. In practice, these foundational elements are woven together inseparably (p. 2). In sum, generative leaders interact with the living system stimulating its intrinsic intelligence creativity, and innovation as the cornerstones of effective school culture ( Klimek, et al., 2008). The commonality of Fullan (1993, Senge (2006) and Klimek et al. (2008) is systems philosophy. Twenty first century leaders are charged with responsibility of utilizing and decentralized management of schools from the systems perspective by viewing all parts as interrelated and needed to improve the organization.
  12. 12. 12 Lesson VII: Connection with the Wider Environment is Critical (The best organizations learn externally as well as internally.) Schools must be collaborative internally, but they also must be linked to the outside (Fullan, 2006). Internally, teachers should look for opportunities to collaborate with other teachers to develop a learning society by working with students and parents (Fullan, 1993). Leaders who are change agents advocate the school becoming the hub of teacher collaboration. For schools to became a center of inquiry and for professional community to develop, collaborative culture that supports deep change need to be created (Sergiovanni, 1998). Schools should connect with the wider external environment to establish a connectedness for the benefit of student learning. Within the external community of most schools are a myriad of resources and resourceful people. The proficiency of twenty- first century educational leaders in understanding the dynamics of the political power structures and power people within their school communities can significantly impact the academic success of all students. Sanders noted that the schools are overwhelmed by the social and emotional needs of children, need additional resources to successfully educate all students and both human and material resources are housed in students’ communities (as cited in Epstein and Associates, 2009). Commencing with the government and extending to the neighborhood community meetings, there are people who have influence, the power to change and support improvements of communities and schools. To galvanize power people to use their power and influence to provide resources, solutions to school issues there must be an understanding of (a) research to identify power people are (b) discovery of steps to win their support (c) develop strategies to work through the bureaucratic power structures to establish partnerships (d) establish forums or activities to connect power people with the schools or community organizations and (e) persistent collaboration to keep the importance issue in plain view. “Community collaborations can be developed to enhance school’s curricula, identify and disseminate
  13. 13. 13 information about community resources, and support community development efforts” (Epstein, 2009 p. 32). Twenty first education leaders must become knowledgeable about the external environment surrounding their schools and establish relationship with external people of power and influence for the benefit of their schools and students. Lesson VIII: Every Person is Change Agent (Change is too important to leave to the experts.) The snapshot of the twenty first century America reflects changing demographics that is reflected in students who are culturally, linguistically, ethnically, and economically diverse. Some may view this change as challenge rather than an opportunity. Educational leaders are change agents who are prepared to build capacity in others. Building capacity means policy, strategy, or action taken that increases the collective efficacy of a group to improve student learning through knowledge, enhanced resources, and greater motivation on the part of people working individually and together (Fullan, 2006). Educators as change agents must change their individual way of thinking and doing things to accomplish the desired result of successful schools. Radical change often involves a collective, internal, and emergent process of learning and sense of a different way of thinking and doing what matters. Radical, revolutionary change emerges when leaders empower teachers to develop professionally and collaboratively. Formal leadership generated by a system are operating under the old paradigm (Fullan, 1993). The traditional top-down approach to educational change ignores innovate methodology used to implement the complex change concept. Twenty first century school leaders must become the skilled change agents to pushing for change around them and intersecting with other like mined individual and groups to form the critical mass necessary to bring about continuous improvement (Fullan, 1993, 2001). Instead of engaging experts to and implement change strategies at schools, twenty first century school leaders must become the expert change agents at their schools engaging the school
  14. 14. 14 community in continuous improvement. The new era of change requires a new paradigm for twenty first century leaders to follow as the diagram in Figure II illustrates the relationship of all components to the central idea-- the new paradigm of change consisting of (a) building a learning community that understands the meaning of change, (b) sharing decision making (c) implementing systems thinking, (d) approaching problems from solutions thinking, (e) building vision from within the organization (f) balancing individualism and collectivism, (g) connecting the external community with the school, and (h) becoming the school expert change agent with empowerment of others. Figure II. New Paradigm of Change for 21st Century Leadership Concluding Remarks The irony of implementation of Fullan’s eight basic lessons of change is that realistically change should not be forced but the forces of change propel opponents to reach for a new way without losing the old way. Darling-Hammond eloquently summarizes the quest 21st change forces: New Paradigm for Leading Change inthe Twenty-First Century Build a Learning Community& Understandthe Meaning of Change Shared Decision Making Systems Thinking Solution Thinking Vision from within the Organization Balanceof Individualism & Collectivism External Community Connection Expert Change Leading & Empowering Others
  15. 15. 15 “I argue that reforms that rely on the transformative power of individuals to rethink their practice and resign their institutions can only be accomplished by investing in individual and organizational learning- in the human capital of the educational enterprise: the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of teachers and administrators, s well as parents and community members (Darling, 1998 p. 675) There are opponents to change in every organization who want things to remain the same. To move an organization to the forefront of success, the ideology of the keeping things the same must be abandoned. Systems thinking and viewing organizations from within and the interconnectedness of all components as comprising the whole will have overreaching impact. References Beach, L. R. (2006). Leadership and the art of change: A practical guide for organizational transformation. Sage Publications, California. Cataldi, E. F., Laird, J., and KewalRamani, A. (2009). High School Dropout and Completion National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Rates in the United States: 2007 (NCES 2009-064), Washington, DC. Retrieved from: http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2009064 Darling-Hammond, L. (1998). Policy and change: Getting beyond bureaucracy. The International Handbook of Change: Part One. Kulwer Academic Publishers, The Netherlands. Epstein, J. (2009). School, family, and community partnerships: Your handbook for action. (3rd ed.), California: Corwin Press. Fullan, M. (1993) Change forces. The Falmer Press, London. Fullan, M. (2001) The new meaning of change. Teachers College Press, New York. Fullan, M. (2006). Turnaround Leadership. Jossey-Bass & A Wiley Imprint, California. United States Department of Education Retrieved from: http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2009/10/10012009.html Laanan, F. S. & Cox, E. M.(2006). Political and structural divide: A holistic approach o family literacy programs at community college. Community College Journal of Research and Practice 30, 359-57.).
  16. 16. 16 Lamperes, B. (2005) Making change happen: Shared vision, no limits. Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. Marlyand. McQuaid, J. (2009) Will obama’s choice change education in America? Retrieved from http://www.gse.harvard.edu/blob/news_featire releases/2009/09will-obamas-choice- change education-in-america.html Rothstein, R., Jacobsen, R. & Wilder, T., (2008). Grading education: Getting accountability right. Teachers College Press, Washington, D. C. Senge, P. M. (2006). The fifth discipline: The art of practice of the learning organization. Random House, Inc., New York. Sergiovanni, T. J. (1998) Organization, market and community as strategies for change: What works best for the deep changes in schools. The International Handbook of Change: Part One, Kulwer Academic Publishers, The Netherlands.