26 SES 13 A, Women Principals, Improving Teacher Quality and Leading Schools in Challenging Circumstances
This paper explores school leadership and school development in schools in challenging circumstances. Practices, processes, conditions, prerequisites, output and outcomes are investigated in 150 schools (in Germany) over three years. Half of the schools (75 schools) experienced further measures of professionalisation of school leadership (e.g. coaching of school leaders, continuous professional development programme) and support for school development (additional financial resources and process consultancy for school development activities to serve the individual school strategy and fit to needs of the local school context) over a period of three years. The paper also focusses on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic presenting additional findings from a sub-study from nine case studies elaborating on challenges but also chances through the crisis experiences.
This longitudinal mixed-method study analysing qualitative and quantitative data shows the contribution of different interventions on school leadership and school development, the role of school leadership for school development and how school leadership and school development impacts the quality of the school.
This research draws on several lines of literature. First, it builds on research on school effectiveness, which since the 1970’s has focused on the influence of various school related factors on student academic outcomes. During the last decade increasing attention has been paid towards schools which in the English speaking context are defined as “ineffective”, “in decline”, “failing” or “low performing” – or “underperforming” (cf.), and “schools in challenging circumstances”, which also includes a focus on the school context in terms of low SES, high degree of migration etc., which often appear in combination with dysfunctional characteristics of the school organisation (e.g. Baumert, Stanat & Watermann, 2006;). Second, the paper builds on research on school improvement and change with a particular focus on “school turnaround”, which can be seen as an educational policy initiative aiming to change and improve the performance of those schools (Murphy & Meyers, 2008; Peck & Reitzug, 2014; Author, 2012, 2019, 2020). One of the key findings of research is that the improvement initiatives must be differentiated and adapted to the needs and challenges of the individual schools (e.g. Reynolds et al, 1996; Hopkins et al, 1996). With regard to the selection of strategies, different concerns have to be addressed, such as decisions on the number and size of prioritized areas, where to set the focus, the use of data, and assessments related to the capacity of the school to change as well as the degree of external support needed (Meyers & Smylie, 2017). Different models for “School Turnaround” have been tried out in the US and in England. While some models include radical approaches such as school closure and retention of staff, others concentrate on professional development (e.g. courses, peer-teaching, coaching) focusing on improving the quality of teaching and school management, establishing cooperation or even initiating school fusion between a “failing” school and a school characterised as “successful”, and improving the coordination between the school and the local authorities. The last type of model is more evident in the German speaking context (Author, 2018; Racherbäumer et al., 2013).
This three-year longitudinal mixed-method study is based on a sample of around 150 schools. For the qualitative analysis, the analysis includes documents of the school (e.g. inspection reports, school strategy documents, other reports), semi-structured interviews with different actors in the schools (eg. school leaders on various levels, teachers and educators), twice at the beginning and the end of the three-year period, as well as logs of coaches and logs of the school development consultants, each ten times over the three-year period. For the quantitative analysis six surveys are conducted among staff and school leaders – three regarding the working situation, three regarding the various interventions over the three-year period. Moreover, statistical data from government and authorities and student achievement data is analysed.
Selected results will be presented on the perception of the quality and the benefits of the various interventions for school leadership and school development. Through the comparisons of schools using quantitative and qualitative data we identified utilization and benefits of the interventions. Based on the findings, the paper discusses the interventions related to context characteristics. By doing this, conditions for successful implementation can be identified. Furthermore, the perception of quality of leadership, development and quality will be presented. By doing this, we demonstrate how different actors systematically judge the quality differently. For instance, we can show that depending on a profile analysis developing different types of schools and their quality (in terms of means and standard deviation), principals tend to more extreme judgements than their staff. Lastly, this presentation tries to demonstrate first models to include school characteristics in longitudinal modelling to measure the impact of interventions being self-critical to these attempts. While the goals of the school management's coaching primarily focus on the individual and personal level, the establishment of structures of coordination of action that lead to improved processes of school and teaching development could be identified with the school development support. Overall, it was found that there were both positive and negative changes in different forms at the schools in the course of the three years, which are related to specific school feature configurations, but also with contextual non-organizational features, such as the actions of the school supervising and/or the school authorities. The overall findings show that there is a need for a differentiated approach to measure progress related to the interventions as well as the intended impact logic underlying this school improvement project. Finally, this paper shows the importance of national and local contexts when adapting project ideas and logics borrowed from other countries.
Author (2012, 2018, 2019, 2020) 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 Fend, H. (1981). Theorie der Schule (2. Aufl.). München: Urban & Schwarzenberg. Peck, C., & Reitzug, U. C. (2014). School turnaround fever: The paradoxes of a historical practice promoted as a new reform. Urban Education, 49, 8-38. doi: 10.1177/0042085912472511 Meyers, C.V. & Smylie, M.A. (2017). Five Myths of School Turnaround Policy and Practice, Leadership and Policy in Schools, 16:3, 502-523, DOI:10.1080/15700763.2016.1270333 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. Reynolds, D., Bollen, R., Creemers, B., Hopkins, D., Stoll, L. & Lagerwej, N. (1996): Making Good Schools: Linking School Effectiveness and Improvement. London: Routledge/ Falmer.
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