26 SES 08 A, Leadership and School Development in Diverse, Underperforming Contexts: Evidence-based policies, values and practices in the U.S., Sweden, Germany and Australia
This paper explores development processes in ten schools in difficult circumstances, located in a large city in Germany, which took part in a school turnaround project initiated as a public-private partnership between the school authority and the Foundation. The paper focuses on identifying positive changes over a five-year period which is the lifetime of the project as well as development models. The paper discusses interventions and conditions for school improvement and challenges with respect to applying the intended impact logic underlying prevailing school turnaround approaches in Germany. During the last decade, increasing attention has been paid towards schools defined as “failing”, “underperforming”, or “schools in difficult circumstances”, which often includes a focus on the school context in terms of low SES, high degree of migration etc. in combination with dysfunctional characteristics of the school organisation, weak student outcomes as measured by standardised testing (e.g. Baumert et al., 2006; Murphy & Meyers, 2008). The paper builds on research on school improvement and change with a focus on “School Turnaround”, an educational policy initiative aiming to rapidly change and improve the performance of schools (e.g. Reynolds et al, 1996). The project draws on a mixed methods and longitudinal design, which included three rounds of semi-structured interviews with actors in the participating schools (principals, teachers, support staff, students), school authorities and school development coaches. Three surveys were conducted among school staff (response rates: 44-48%). For the quantitative analysis, we examined changes in results on different scales over time as measured by Cohen’s d. Pro measurement point we looked at the partial correlation network with lasso between different scales to identify stable correlation patterns. Moreover, we analyzed differences in the correlation patterns between different scales over time. The qualitative analysis focused on creating meanings and structures of organizational realities seen from multiple perspectives in the school system (Connelly et al, 1999). We identified several positive changes with respect to strengthened strategic school leadership and intensified cooperation among staff and with external partners – results which align with the interventions in the project. Findings demonstrate how a model of school turnaround is influenced by school governing approaches, traditions and culture in a specific country which may go against prevailing evidence-based logics of school turnaround approaches. Instead, the findings reflect the importance of project organisation, planning, timeline and involvement of stakeholders for the implementation process and project results.
Baumert, J., Stanat, P. & Watermann, R. (2006): Herkunftsbedingte Disparitäten im Bildungswesen. Vertiefende Analysen im Rahmen von PISA 2000. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Connelly, F.M., Clandinin, D.J. & Applebaum, S.D. (Eds) (1999): Shaping a Professional Identity: stories of educational practice. London: Teachers College Press. Eisenhart, M. (2000) Boundaries and Selves in the Making of ‘Science’, Research in Science Education, 30(1), 43-55. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF02461652 Reynolds, D., Bollen, R., Creemers, B., Hopkins, D., Stoll, L. & Lagerwej, N. (1996): Making Good Schools: Linking School Effectiveness and Improvement. London: Routledge/ Falmer. Murphy & Meyers, (2008): Turning Around Failing Schools: Leadership Lessons From the Organizational Sciences. Thousands Oak, California: Corwin Press. Racherbäumer, K./Funke, C./Ackeren, I. van/Clausen, M. (2013): Datennutzung und Schulleitungshandeln an Schulen in weniger begünstigter Lage. Empirische Befunde zu ausgewählten Aspekten der Qualitätsentwicklung. In: Die Deutsche Schule 13, Beiheft 12, S. 226-254. Münster: Waxmann.
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