26 SES 04 A, Underpreforming Schools and School Evaluation
In a time of the constant change people still understand every innovation as a rational action focused on one or two logical elements while instead they should try to see the impact on every sphere of their lives. Educational reforms suffer because of the leaders' narrow perspective and focusing only on the pieces of reform. I will try to draw the broad picture of systemic reform of implementing evaluation into school supervision system as seen in Poland since 2009. I will discuss critical factors influencing attempts of change, emerged from reflection on the systemic reform of the school supervision system in Poland. I will postulate the leadership approaches critically important during any systemic change.
Although the metaphor of the knight fighting the hydra/dragon may not be suitable for the educational context and democratic values implied in our systems, it may point to the limited or restrictive practice of focusing on one aim at a time. It would be terrible for a knight to fight only one head of the dragon while its others could lethally attack. Similarly in systemic educational reform efforts, multiple challenges must be tackled at once.
The main objectives are to create an open list of factors impacting reform initiatives in education and to discuss the direction and nature of that impact. That opportunity appeared from reflection on the systemic reform of the school supervision system in Poland and from research focused on those different factors.
I will use Williams’ and Hummelbrunner’s framework for understanding of complex systems and their systemic approach, which includes three assumptions:
- It is important to understand what elements operate within the system and what kind of relations tie them together,
- It is needed to use and understand diverse perspectives and lenses while observing one phenomenon,
- It is useful to be aware of the borderlines between elements of the system because looking at the system as one whole thing disturbs noticing all important elements and understanding the structure (Williams, Hummelbrunner, 2011).
The research questions allow exploring multiple issues connected with different elements of the system (factors influencing the systemic change), like leadership, organization and administration, organizational culture, awareness of participants, procedures, involvement of different actors, human capital, values and accepted rules. How are particular factors built, understood and defined? What is the role of the different factors in the system? How is particular factor influencing a decision making and implementation processes?
While discussing implementation of any project what it is important to understand what influences the process of implementation and decides about quality of undertaken actions. This is a main scientific outcome of the presented reflection. The number and variety of factors impacting reforms decrease significantly the possibility to control them but without awareness and mental alertness it is possible to commit mistake of narrow intervention. For leaders of the every process of change it is important to understand complexity and richness of the educational environment. Only understanding of the situation allows operating sensitively to the cultural context.
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