Beyond the Policy Memo: Designing to Strengthen the Practice of District Central Office Leadership for Instructional Improvement at Scale
by Meredith I. Honig - 2013
This chapter argues for the importance of design-based leadership research (DBLR) for advancing the research and practice of educational leadership, with a focus on school district central offices. DBLR, like other design-based research, calls on researchers to develop designs for practice. Unlike other such research in education that calls for designs for classrooms, DBLR focuses on designs for leaders. Researchers working in this mode develop designs for leadership practice that reflect the latest knowledge about how leaders matter for improved student results; they work alongside leaders to use that knowledge to design and engage in new forms of their own practice consistent with the knowledge and appropriate to their settings. Participants study the process to feed new knowledge into the partnership sites and the field. This chapter elaborates how such research differs from traditional scholarship on district central offices and forms of action research. Challenges to conducting DBLR include focusing practitioners on central offices (especially in tough budget times), capturing central office practice in DBLR knowledge-building activities, and growing and sustaining the work. Early experience illuminates how to address those challenges and advance DBLR partnerships that promise to significantly strengthen leadership practice in support of improved results for all students.
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