Between 1895 and 1920, a cohort of business, philanthropic, and academic leaders wielding tremendous wealth and power sought to reshape the form and function of American higher education. Their efforts were largely unsuccessful, but studying them helps us understand the recurrent impulse to reform America’s colleges and universities.
This article uses a historical case study to consider the susceptibility to “scale-up” of education reforms that seek primarily to teach character or disposition.
In this analytic essay, the authors consider the challenges to implementing culturally relevant pedagogy in a hyper-reform urban setting. The authors use Memphis as a particular context to outline these challenges and offer a framework describing the conceptual shifts that would support culturally relevant pedagogy in this context and others like it.
This introduction frames this yearbook on high school reform, implementation, and scale, and outlines why it is important to understand these perspectives. The four main sections of the issue are introduced and situated within the existing research literature.
This paper explores a distinctive aspect of International Baccalaureate’s effort to scale up in Title I schools. The effort reflects what we call mutual adaptation in action.
Data from a 15-year, mixed-methods study of all 11 secondary schools in one British local authority demonstrate the value of adopting High Reliability Organization principles.
This analysis examines developmental evaluation as an approach to analyzing school improvement networks as “learning systems” able to produce, use, and refine practical knowledge in large numbers of schools.
This article examines the NCLB Act and its underlying reform agenda of increased “accountability” and “choice” in light of its consequences for education policymaking and democratic education.
This article evaluates the tensions with democratic education inherent in the federal School Improvement Grant program’s market-based school reforms. The paper culminates in a set of recommendations that are intended to re-center the purposes of public education for low-income students, students of color, and local communities in developing more equitable, democratic school turnarounds.
This article develops the concept and provides an illustrative portrait of teachers’ care-based resistance practices in the context of neoliberal school reform. Data presented come from a critical ethnographic study of policy enactment in an urban high school experiencing high levels of school reform.
Drawing on data from two qualitative studies, this chapter argues that both school organizations and individual students will benefit from centering youth voices in student support systems. To do this, the author shares data from adolescents’ narratives that demonstrate how young people’s voices might (re)shape the central practices of school-based support processes.
Community organizing efforts employ different types of research as they seek to address community issues. This chapter details the evolving use of research in a youth organizing effort in San Bernardino, CA that has addressed issues in schools, the educational system, and the broader community. We examine the youth organizers’ use of organizing research and youth participatory action research (YPAR) and the contributions of each form of research to the organizing effort.
This chapter explores how youth organizers have injected themselves into education policy conversations in Philadelphia, asserting their agency and using their voices to shape how policymakers view them as well as the problems that confront them.
Performance-based funding programs have become a popular state policy strategy for increasing college completions, among other things. This study asks, To what extent does the introduction of performance funding programs impact two-year degree completion among participating states? Using a difference-in-differences technique, we find that the program had no effect on average and mixed results for the individual states. We conclude that the policy is not a “silver bullet” for improving community college completions.
Using social network analysis, critical policy studies, and literacy theory, this study analyzes the network of policy actors involved in the campaign to pass a charter school initiative in the state of Washington. This study finds that through a combination individual donations and the support to key local organizations provided by their affiliated philanthropic organizations, a small group of wealthy individuals leveraged a disproportionate amount of influence over the direction and outcome of the charter school initiative in the state of Washington, particularly relative to the average Washington voter.
This paper points out that the most popular current school reforms offered have failed to accomplish their goal because they fail to understand the fundamental problem of American schools, namely, income inequality and the poverty that accompanies such inequality. Prescriptions to fix our schools cannot work if the diagnosis about what is wrong with them is in error.
This article, part of a special issue of TCR, considers the political dimensions of validity questions as raised by a keynote address and panel discussion originally held at Teachers College in March 2012.
This study addresses the question: How do educators describe their responses to standards-based reform? We draw on interview data from 60 teachers in 32 schools, in 10 districts in 5 states. Our analysis addresses the following key debates that surround standards and accountability policy: 1) the extent to which previously “left behind” students are receiving better instruction, 2) whether teachers and principals feel accountable to student achievement in a way that fosters positive behavior change, 3) how teachers describe “teaching to the test,” and when and if this is good or bad for teachers and students, and 4) the extent to which educators describe standards-based reforms as fostering desirable changes in pedagogy and/or the content of instruction.
Many attempts to reform teaching fail to be enacted in most classrooms. The purpose of this paper is to present a bridging methodology for connecting pedagogical innovations to the practical demands of teaching.
This article considers three movements across the 20th century that sought to reform schools through standards, tests, and accountability, identifies similarities in the ways in which higher status epistemic communities have been repeatedly able to purvey technocratic logics that overwhelm a weakly professionalized educational field, and suggests that educators need to organize themselves into a stronger profession if they want to improve outcomes and free themselves from the whims of external actors.
This study examines the genesis of a neighborhood educational opportunity zone: a geographically defined area where a disproportionately large population of traditionally marginalized children and families are clustered and resources are intensely focused to respond to the concomitant needs. Guided by sociocultural learning theory, we examine how communities of practice influence the learning among the adults in a neighborhood educational opportunity zone.
This article presents a case study of teacher bargaining contracts over a 30-year historical period. Examining several areas of current interest, including salary schedules, transfer and assignment policies, teacher evaluation, dismissal, and working conditions, the analysis reveals very little change in more than three decades.
From 2000 to 2002, the state of California attempted to expand access to Advanced Placement subjects for students attending public schools. This study shows this intervention succeeded in expanding the AP curricula and enrollments at disadvantaged schools; however, schools serving affluent communities broadened their AP offerings at the same (if not faster) rate, resulting in effectively maintained inequalities in AP access.
The last few decades have seen many attempts to “reform” education across the world. Those reforms have been spurred on by the perceived low standards, by the number of young people who are seen to be educational failures, and by the need for a “skilled workforce” if our respective countries are to compete successfully in an ever more global and competitive economy.
This article examines how the effects of institutions on teaching practices can be mediated by social networks within schools. The study focuses on teachers’ responses to policies developed from the National Reading Panel’s recommendations for teaching reading.
This article examines a reform effort initiated by a coalition of educational leaders and community-based organizations in Los Angeles as a means of providing high-quality public school options for students in an underserved community. Based on interviews with school district, community, union, and other educational leaders, this study explores how various political actors collaborated to bring about unprecedented education reform in the nation’s second largest school district, highlighting both the promise and challenge of community organizing for school reform.
This qualitative study, based on youth participatory action research, discusses counternarratives articulated by students in response to the closure of their low-performing urban high school.
This article takes a closer look at choice and charter school reforms as a means to addressed unresolved issues of racial segregation in urban school districts. Using the lens of critical race theory, the authors examine the outcomes of market theory reforms as solutions to inequitable schooling practices.
This chapter explains and expands on the co-construction perspective using examples from studies the authors have conducted on educational reform. They begin by contrasting the technical-rational and co-construction perspectives on school reform. They then describe how their formulation of co-construction takes into account issues of power and authority. The authors then elaborate on the perspective by presenting different cases of co-construction of reforms by actors at different levels of the educational system.