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Working Papers

Reform, Implementation, and Scale

How Ideas Spread: Establishing a Networked Improvement Community(with Christopher Redding, Stephanie Brown, Ela Joshi, and Stacey Rutledge)

Recurring challenges in scaling and sustaining educational improvement has led to new forms of educational improvement efforts. One approach is the use of improvement science and the formation of Networked Improvement Communities (NICs) to spread educational reforms. The research described here comes from a six-year partnership between our research team and two large districts to establish district NICs to improve high schools.  This paper uses social network theory to understand how these communities operated and how information spread across individuals in the network.

Continuous Improvement in Action: Educators’ Data Use for School Improvement (with Christopher Redding and Mollie Rubin)

Continuous improvement approaches to school reform involve the use of data to understand a problem and test and refine potential solutions. In this paper, we describe how educators come to understand and use data in a continuous improvement approach to school improvement within a large, urban district. We find evidence that educators are likely to draw on a mix of evidence as well as evidence substitutes when refining the innovation at their schools. While teams considered outcome data, they gravitated towards perceptual evidence to gauge the level of teacher buy-in and make modifications that would better meet teachers’ needs. Further, we find that the district culture of accountability shaped their use of data for improvement.

Exploring the Promise of Continuous Improvement Strategies Within the Bureaucratic Structure of American High Schools (with Stacey Rutledge, Stephanie Brown, Christopher Redding and Kitchka Petrova)

This paper explores the implementation of school-wide academic and social emotional reforms in two large, urban districts in Florida and Texas. Using a collaborative improvement approach, the National Center on Scaling Up Effective Schools developed and implemented reforms in three high schools in each district and scaled the reforms to additional high schools.  Using the frame of rational and organic forms of management, this study explores how continuous improvement leverages both bureaucratic and collaborative approaches to implementation.  The study finds that both districts embraced the process of improvement. Differences in rational and organic forms of management across the two districts, however, had implications for the level of initial implementation and sustainability of the innovation in the following school year.

The Influence and Development of Capital for Teacher Leadership  (with Mollie Rubin and Tuan Nguyen)

This study emerged from the collaboration of teachers, school leaders, district-level personnel, researchers, and program developers. These stakeholders have worked together within a continuous improvement framework to design, implement, and scale a school re-culturing innovation. In this paper we examine teacher leadership and participation in the design and implementation efforts. More specifically, we explore the role of existing leadership skills amongst three teams of teachers and the extent to which teachers’ participation in the process develops leadership abilities. Some of the specific issues we explore are the composition of the teams, how they were initially formed, how they saw themselves throughout different stages of the work, how leadership and possession of forms of capital changed for each of the teams, and whether or not gaps in leadership and possession of capital increased or decreased over time.

Teacher Hiring and Job Search

Paths to Leadership: Understanding Teacher Influence in Hiring  (with Mimi Engel, Tuan Nguyen, and Chris Curran)

This paper addresses questions that lie at the intersection of two research domains (teacher leadership and teacher hiring) to explore the extent to which influence over teacher hiring is distributed between principals and teachers within a school and the paths by which teachers gain influence over this leadership function. As such, this paper contributes to research in both distributed leadership and teacher hiring. We posit there are three main paths by which teachers come to exert influence over school-wide decisions such as hiring: communal, positional, and affinitive. Using data from the Schools and Staffing Survey, we find that teacher influence over hiring has increased over time, consistent evidence for the communal and positional paths to teacher leadership, and some evidence for the affinitive path.


Teacher Policy and Evaluation