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Abstract

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Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 52 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 5 April 2021

Susanne Böse and Stefan Brauckmann-Sajkiewicz

This study aims to explore the extent to which schools principals serving disadvantaged communities in Germany are able to set appropriate goals and choose suitable…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to explore the extent to which schools principals serving disadvantaged communities in Germany are able to set appropriate goals and choose suitable measures for improving their schools according to the specific challenges they face. The authors determine whether principals are able to identify their schools' challenges or whether they merely follow “universal recipes” of the school effectiveness research paradigm regardless of their particular school context. This effectiveness-driven accountability approach requires an in-depth evaluation of the school and its stakeholders and might lead to a new attitude toward failure that sees it as an essential part of developing effective school improvement plans.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors conducted descriptive and correlative analyses as well as exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses using longitudinal data of 164 school principals. Through cross-sectional analyses, the authors investigated the connection among challenges, goals and measures and how they correlated with (self-reported) improvements.

Findings

From a leadership perspective, priorities for school improvement should be aligned with the school-specific challenges they identify and the goals they set to address them.

Research limitations/implications

The extent to which legislation concerning individual school quality development programs can translate into feasible and effective actions is unclear. Caution should be taken when interpreting the findings of this study, as they reflect school principals' self-selected evaluation measures and therefore might be biased.

Practical implications

In future research, emphasis should be placed on school management processes, in particular, the development of strategic decision-making, structuring of target perspectives and derivation of steps in school improvement and instructional development. The authors recommend the government offer school principals appropriate and adequate training and support services to prevent them from overburdening their staff.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to a deeper understanding of processes concerning strategic leadership, as opposed to operative management, of schools by revealing context-sensitive considerations.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 59 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 3 May 2013

Joseph Murphy

The aim of this paper is to present a comprehensive framework for capturing the complex concept the authors call school improvement.

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to present a comprehensive framework for capturing the complex concept the authors call school improvement.

Design/methodology/approach

The author begins by anchoring that framework on an historical understanding of school improvement. The framework itself is then presented. Five dimensions are described: the essential equation, building material (content), guiding principles, supports, and integrative dynamic.

Findings

The construct of school improvement has varied over time. The paper articulates the seedbed from which current efforts at school improvement grow – and why those efforts look the way they do. It then reviews what the author has uncovered about how to build productive schools in the post‐industrial world by exposing and populating the key dimensions of the school improvement framework.

Originality/value

The paper draws on the author's research legacy to develop a framework for analyzing school improvement efforts.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 51 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 29 July 2014

Peter J.C. Sleegers, Eric E.J. Thoonen, Frans J. Oort and Thea T.D. Peetsma

Elementary schools have been confronted with large-scale educational reforms as strategies to improve the educational quality. While building school-wide capacity for…

Abstract

Purpose

Elementary schools have been confronted with large-scale educational reforms as strategies to improve the educational quality. While building school-wide capacity for improvement is considered critical for changing teachers’ classroom practices, there is still little empirical evidence for link between enhanced school capacity for improvement and instructional change. In this study, the authors examined the impact of school improvement capacity on changes in teachers’ classroom practices over a period of time. Leadership practices, school organizational conditions, teacher motivation and teacher learning were used to measure school-wide capacity for improvement. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

Mixed-model analysis of longitudinal data over a four years (2005-2008) period of time from 862 teachers of 32 Dutch elementary schools were used to test the impact of school improvement capacity on changing teachers’ instructional practices.

Findings

The results showed that organizational-level conditions and teacher-level conditions play an important, but different role in changing teachers’ classroom practices. Whereas teacher factors mainly affect changes in teachers’ classroom practices, organizational factors are of significant importance to enhance teacher motivation and teacher learning.

Research limitations/implications

More longitudinal research is needed to gain better insight into the opportunities and limits of building school-wide capacity to stimulate instructional change.

Practical implications

By encouraging teachers to question their own beliefs, facilitating opportunities for teachers to work together to solve problems, and through the promotion of shared decision making, school leaders can reinforce the personal and social identification of teachers with the organization. As a consequence, teachers will feel increasingly committed and are more willing to change their classroom practices. Additionally, school leaders can use the findings from this study and the related instrument as a tool for school self-evaluation.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to a deeper understanding of the nature of changes in conditions for school improvement and its influence on changes in teachers’ instructional practices over a period of time.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 52 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 11 April 2016

Tobias Feldhoff, Falk Radisch and Linda Marie Bischof

The purpose of this paper is to focus on challenges faced by longitudinal quantitative analyses of school improvement processes and offers a systematic literature review…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to focus on challenges faced by longitudinal quantitative analyses of school improvement processes and offers a systematic literature review of current papers that use longitudinal analyses. In this context, the authors assessed designs and methods that are used to analyze the relation between school improvement processes and student outcomes. Based on this the authors point out to what extent the papers consider different aspects of the complex nature of school improvement (e.g. multilevel structure, indirect and nonlinear effects, reciprocity). The choice of study designs and methods of analysis substantially determines which aspects of this complexity are taken into account.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors searched in four international high-impact journals and in ERIC for articles reporting longitudinal school improvement studies. The database of the review consisted of a total of 428 journal articles. In total, 13 of the 428 papers met the selection criteria and were analyzed in detail.

Findings

The analyzed papers use a wide range of designs and methodological approaches. They support the assumption that sophisticated quantitative longitudinal designs and methods can be applied effectively in school improvement research. However, considering the complexity of school improvement is accompanied by high demands on designs and methods. Due to this none of the papers met the standards applied in this review completely.

Research limitations/implications

In particular, further research is needed to consider a long period of observation, reciprocal indirect and nonlinear processes in a multilevel structure. Moreover, research is required for a better and unambiguous theoretical foundation and empirical validation of the number of and intervals between measurement points.

Practical implications

If more consideration is given to the complex nature of school improvement in future studies, the broader knowledge base will allow a better understanding of the dynamic relation of school improvement and student learning. It would thus be possible to make more appropriate recommendations for the support of school improvement practice.

Originality/value

The original contribution of the paper is to show which aspects of the complexity of school improvement processes – and to what extent – are currently addressed in designs and methods of analysis applied in quantitative longitudinal studies that investigate the relation between schools’ capacity to managing change and student outcomes. Additionally the authors aim at deriving need for further research and giving guidelines how designs and methods in further studies can reflect the complexity appropriately. It is highly important to consider all aspects of this complexity to describe and understand the dynamic relation of school improvement processes and student outcomes.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 54 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 18 December 2020

Dana L. Bickmore, Maria M. Roberts and Miguel M. Gonzales

School improvement planning and implementation is one organizational process by which principals may positively impact school and student outcomes. Limited research…

Abstract

Purpose

School improvement planning and implementation is one organizational process by which principals may positively impact school and student outcomes. Limited research, however, has explored how principal preparation programs prepare aspiring leaders for this common school leadership activity. This study examined aspiring principals engaged in the school improvement process by evaluating what they included in their school improvement plans (SIPs) that were developed as part of their field experience.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors examined SIPs aspiring principals collaboratively developed as part of their field experience. Using an abductive analysis method, combining both deductive and inductive coding methods, authors examined 77 SIPs in which aspiring principals used school level data in planning.

Findings

Each aspiring principal's SIP was contextually specific. No two plans were identical relative to who was targeted for improvement and how the plan was to be implemented, indicating aspiring principals can apply course-based learning and implement important data-driven decision-making skills in field-based school improvement projects.

Research limitations/implications

Findings are exploratory and limited to SIPs developed by aspiring principals in one university program in one large urban school district context. The findings that specific requirements and program structures affected the aspiring principal's school improvement planning process as did the overall school context adds to current understandings of how course-based learning is applied. However, further investigations are needed.

Practical implications

Findings provide evidence of how school leadership preparation programs may impact leadership development relative to skills associated with school improvement planning. The findings also suggest the importance of detailed analysis of aspiring principals school improvement planning as a program evaluation process.

Originality/value

This study was the first to document the content of aspiring principals' field-based SIPS and how skills in data-driven decision-making were applied in a SIP field-based activity.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 59 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 26 October 2020

Parker Morse Andreoli and Hans W. Klar

The purpose of this study is to examine how a school leadership team in a rural, high-poverty elementary school learned to lead continuous school improvement in a…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine how a school leadership team in a rural, high-poverty elementary school learned to lead continuous school improvement in a research–practice partnership.

Design/methodology/approach

This case study draws on qualitative research methods, improvement science and Deming's notion of a system of profound knowledge to identify how members of the school leadership team understood and approached their school improvement work differently as a result of engaging in continuous improvement processes in a research–practice partnership.

Findings

The findings illustrate how engaging in continuous improvement processes in the research–practice partnership enhanced the leadership team members' capacities to prioritize and solve problems, incorporate multiple and diverse perspectives in problem-solving efforts and establish a culture of increased risk-taking and ownership of teaching and learning outcomes. In sum, the members of the leadership team became the drivers of their own change processes.

Originality/value

The findings provide insight into how leaders in rural, high-poverty schools can build capacity within their schools to meet the demand for increased student achievement by leading collaborative, continuous improvement processes grounded in improvement science in research–practice partnerships.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 59 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article
Publication date: 29 July 2014

Pamela Sammons, Susila Davis, Christopher Day and Qing Gu

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the use of mixed methods research in a major three year project and focuses on the contribution of quantitative and qualitative…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the use of mixed methods research in a major three year project and focuses on the contribution of quantitative and qualitative approaches to study school improvement. It discusses the procedures and multiple data sources used in studying improvement using the example of a recent study of the role of leadership in promoting improvement in primary and secondary schools’ academic results in England. Although the definition of improvement used was based on robust analyses of data on students’ academic outcomes, the mixed methods design enabled a broader perspective to be achieved.

Design/methodology/approach

The study illustrates how the multilevel analysis of students’ national assessment and examination results based on national data sets for primary and secondary schools in England were used to investigate the concept of academic effectiveness based on value-added methodology. Using three successive years of national results a purposive sample of schools were identified that could be classified as both effective and improving over the period 2003-2005. In addition, surveys and interviews were used to gather evidence of the role of stakeholder perceptions in investigating school improvement strategies and processes.

Findings

National student attainment data sets were used for the identification of improving and effective schools and revealed the importance of considering their different starting points in their classification of three distinctive improvement groups. The combination of quantitative survey data from headteachers and key staff with qualitative case study data enabled a range of analysis strategies and the development of statistical models and deeper understanding of the role of leadership.

Research limitations/implications

The limitations of a focus on only academic outcomes and “value-added” measures of student progress are discussed. The challenges and opportunities faced in analysis and integration of the different sources of evidence are briefly explored.

Practical implications

The study contributes to the knowledge base on the identification of school improvement and use of performance data. The findings on strategies and processes that support improvement are of relevance to policy makers and practitioners, especially school leaders.

Originality/value

The mixed methods design adopted in the study enabled the research to combine rigorous quantitative and in-depth qualitative data in new ways to extend and make new claims to knowledge about the role of school leadership in promoting school improvement based on the study of effective and improved schools’ experiences.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 52 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Abstract

Details

School-Based Evaluation: An International Perspective
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-143-9

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Article
Publication date: 24 August 2020

Linda Bendikson, Mark Broadwith, Tong Zhu and Frauke Meyer

This article investigates goal pursuit practices in a sample of 31 New Zealand high schools. It examines goal knowledge of middle and senior leaders, the alignment of this…

Abstract

Purpose

This article investigates goal pursuit practices in a sample of 31 New Zealand high schools. It examines goal knowledge of middle and senior leaders, the alignment of this knowledge and factors related to improvement.

Design/methodology/approach

Goals from schools' annual improvement plans were identified and counted at the beginning of the academic year. Senior and middle leaders were asked to recall their school's academic goals from memory. Responses were scored against the goals in the schools' plans to produce an accuracy score for each leader and for each middle and senior leadership team (SLT). At the end of the academic year, leaders recounted their goals and rated and commented on their SLT’s goal focus. Data analysis examined goal knowledge, alignment of middle and senior leaders' goal knowledge and SLT's goal focus. Comments were analyzed thematically in regard to the number and clarity of the goals and how goals were communicated, enacted and monitored.

Findings

Our findings show a lack of goal clarity, persistence across the year and effective strategy hampered the majority of schools in their goal pursuit. Only a few schools had a strong and aligned goal focus. Factors influencing perceived improvement included: fewer and greater clarity of goals, engagement of middle leaders in setting goals, establishing sound supporting structures and regular monitoring of progress.

Originality/value

While annual improvement plans outlining multiple goals are often compulsory for schools, little is known about their impact on practice. This research clarifies the state of goal pursuit in a sample of high schools.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 58 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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