The purpose of this paper is to present the author's commentary on the special issue of Journal of Educational Administration entitled “Systemwide reform: examining…
The purpose of this paper is to present the author's commentary on the special issue of Journal of Educational Administration entitled “Systemwide reform: examining districts under pressure”.
The major thesis of this commentary and reflection on the preceding papers is that there is a need to recognize that “school districts” as known in the USA are examples of a more general phenomenon of intermediary organizational entities in education systems in North America and elsewhere in the world and that there is a need to problematize, not take for granted, the form, purpose, and influence of these mediating layers of the school system on the quality and improvement of schools, and on the implementation of government policies that are intended to regulate and support education in schools.
This issue of the Journal of Educational Administration presents a series of papers that highlight different aspects and contemporary trends in school district practice and research – organizational characteristics associated with district effectiveness (see Trujillo this issue), how districts are responding to political and public demands for accountability (see Hamilton et al., this issue), the invention of school district authorities as portfolio managers of diverse school provider systems (see Marsh et al., this issue), and how social communication networks linking school and district staff interface with the use of evidence to support school improvement (see Finnigan and Daly, as well as Wohlstetter and Smith this issue).
The simple thesis of this commentary is to argue that school districts function as an intermediate level of education governance, management, and support within national and state education systems, and that current research and discussion on the school district role in improving and sustaining the quality of education would be strengthened by broadening the scope of research and discussion to alternative kinds of intermediate level governance and support systems that exist in North America and in other regions of the world.
This study is based on the earlier work of Iannaccone and Lutz, Kirkendall and Le Doux and Burlingame and uses socio‐economic data obtained from 77 school districts in…
This study is based on the earlier work of Iannaccone and Lutz, Kirkendall and Le Doux and Burlingame and uses socio‐economic data obtained from 77 school districts in Massachusetts through the period 1963–1972. The study examines a series of hypotheses related to the “gap” that may develop between community demand and school board response. Some of the findings are (i) the Iannaccone‐Lutz model of school board member incumbent defeat is valid and the “gap” between community demands and the school board's response is an important factor in the operational model; (ii) the school board's response to community's demands (tax rate) is an important variable in determining the “gap” resulting in incumbent defeat and in predicting the variance in this political phenomenon in school districts; (iii) socio‐economic‐political indicators of school district change selected by Kirkendall are related to school board member incumbent defeat.
The LAUSD is the largest school district in the State and is charged with the responsibility of educating over one‐fifth of the children in California. Taken individually…
The LAUSD is the largest school district in the State and is charged with the responsibility of educating over one‐fifth of the children in California. Taken individually, each of the LAUSD’s eleven local districts would rank in the top twenty in the State in terms of student population. The District is LA County’s second largest employer, and with an annual operating and capital budget of over nine billion dollars, it brings together a diverse range of active and dynamic stakeholders. In 2000 the LAUSD found itself at a crossroads. In response to growing criticism and the threat of a State‐mandated break‐up due to the poor performance of their schools, the District created eleven mini‐districts to improve accountability and take instructional programs closer to the people who use them. This paper provides background on the LAUSD’s decentralization effort and power sharing aspects of the District’s self‐imposed break‐up, and recommendations for addressing these issues are postulated.
Title I programs provide extra funding for disadvantaged students by the federal government under the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act and reauthorized under…
Title I programs provide extra funding for disadvantaged students by the federal government under the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act and reauthorized under the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Title I continues to be the largest funded component of NCLB. I discuss the NCLB stated goal of closing the achievement gap between poor and minority students and their more advantaged peers. Given the modest level of Title I funding in terms of need, local school districts are only able to provide Title I services to those schools that enroll the highest percentages of disadvantaged students, leaving many disadvantaged students without Title I compensatory services. NCLB calls for funding equity between Title I and non-Title I schools, but this goal is rarely achieved. I also discuss the history of funding under ESEA of 1965 and the 2001 NCLB Act.
This chapter analyzes 2011 survey data from a sample of Texas principals who were asked about their perceptions of their working conditions such as: support and…
This chapter analyzes 2011 survey data from a sample of Texas principals who were asked about their perceptions of their working conditions such as: support and facilities; salary; resources; autonomy to make decisions; testing and accountability pressures; and relationships with supervisors. Respondents were also asked about their intentions to stay or leave their particular school. Researchers and policymakers agree effective and stable school leadership is critical to school improvement efforts, but we know little about how various working conditions impact principal effectiveness and turnover. This work is important because in-depth knowledge of the causes of principal turnover in general and how principal working conditions impact turnover in particular is a pre-requisite to creating policies and support mechanisms to support principals in small and mid-sized districts.
This chapter explores a US state-endorsed tool for reviewing district, school, and classroom inclusive practices. The Best Practices for Inclusive Education (BPIE…
This chapter explores a US state-endorsed tool for reviewing district, school, and classroom inclusive practices. The Best Practices for Inclusive Education (BPIE) assessment tool was developed through a collaborative initiative between state personnel, University faculty, and representatives from a federally funded technical assistance project, Florida Inclusion Network. The tool supports a facilitated review and subsequent action planning for greater inclusive practices that includes learners with severe intellectual disabilities. This chapter describes the BPIE process and offers examples of its application in districts across Florida with particular reference to practices that support learners with severe intellectual disabilities.
Differences in the cost of living and the general attractiveness of communities lead to significant, regional differences in the prices school districts must pay for their…
Differences in the cost of living and the general attractiveness of communities lead to significant, regional differences in the prices school districts must pay for their most important resource – people. According to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics, labor costs differ by more than 50% from the lowest-cost district to the highest-cost district within California, Florida, New York, Texas, and West Virginia. Furthermore, all states but Hawaii and Rhode Island face at least a 7.7% internal differential in labor cost. Most states fail to account for such cost differences in their school finance formulas, leading to inequitable differences in school district purchasing power. This chapter compares and contrasts the various strategies states use to make geographic cost adjustments to their school funding formula, describes the implications of geographic adjustment for interstate and intrastate measures of school finance equity (and corresponding litigation), and discusses the impact that such adjustments could have on the distribution of federal aid for economically disadvantaged students under Title 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
For a variety of reasons, the districts, educators, and students of the largest cities in the United States garner substantial popular and scholarly attention. In the…
For a variety of reasons, the districts, educators, and students of the largest cities in the United States garner substantial popular and scholarly attention. In the discourse and debate related to urban education, policymakers and researchers often cite accounts and articles derived from these larger urban areas. Yet, we found that school districts educating 47,700 or fewer students accounted for 61 percent of students educated in urban school districts in the United States. Comparison of the composition of student populations revealed that larger urban school districts exhibited greater concentrations of students identified as non-white and receiving free or reduced lunches. Overlooking the variation among urban school districts could result in ineffective reforms, poor educator preparation, skewed funding, and irrelevant research.
We sought to identify codes and themes in the mission statements of Kentucky's school districts and examine the relationship between district characteristics and the…
We sought to identify codes and themes in the mission statements of Kentucky's school districts and examine the relationship between district characteristics and the mission statements.
We undertook a mixed methods design, specifically, a sequential transformative strategy with a theoretical lens overlaying the sequential procedures and guiding the analysis.
Analysis revealed a range of 1–7 codes per mission statement and a mean of 3.05. Generic student success and individual attention represented the most frequently occurring codes in the mission statements. Chi-square tests of bivariate association yielded no significant differences between districts by locale. Logistic regression analysis revealed that the percentage of students in the district scoring proficient or distinguished in both reading and mathematics was associated significantly (p < 0.05) with the theme of student support.
Although we cannot establish causation between mission statements content and student outcomes or vice-versa, district mission statement remain a visible and public expression of why an organization exists that should guide actions and decision-making, whether instructional, financial or otherwise.
Our study revealed shared institutional language within mission statements across Kentucky's school district, largely without regard to local context. Our analysis suggests that federal and state policy makers are influencing mission statements more so than those at the local level.
Our analysis provides further evidence that suggests that federal and state policy makers are influencing mission statements more so than those at the local level.
Do principals from small, medium, and large school districts have the same level of decision making power? Do teachers from small, medium, and large school districts have…
Do principals from small, medium, and large school districts have the same level of decision making power? Do teachers from small, medium, and large school districts have the same level of decision making power? This chapter tried to address these questions by analyzing 2011–2012 nationally representative School and Staffing Survey data. We found that comparing with large districts, teachers and principals at small and medium school districts perceived higher levels of decision making power in most school policy areas. We also found that although there were statistically significant differences among the three district sizes, practically significant differences existed in establishing curriculum for teachers and in establishing curriculum and deciding budget for principals. Implications of the findings were discussed.