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Educational policy analysis archives.
n Vol. 9, no. 32 (August 27, 2001).
Tempe, Ariz. :
b Arizona State University ;
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida.
c August 27, 2001
Autonomy and accountability in the context of standards-based reform / Susan Watson [and] Jonathan Supvitz.
Arizona State University.
University of South Florida.
t Education Policy Analysis Archives (EPAA)
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1 of 21 Education Policy Analysis Archives Volume 9 Number 32August 27, 2001ISSN 1068-2341 A peer-reviewed scholarly journal Editor: Gene V Glass, College of Education Arizona State University Copyright 2001, the EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES. Permission is hereby granted to copy any article if EPAA is credited and copies are not sold. Articles appearing in EPAA are abstracted in the Current Index to Journals in Education by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation and are permanently archived in Resources in Education .Autonomy and Accountability in the Context of Standards-Based Reform Susan Watson Consortium for Policy Research in Education University of Pennsylvania Jonathan Supovitz Consortium for Policy Research in Education University of PennsylvaniaCitation: Watson, S. and Supovitz, J. (2001, August 26). Autonomy and Accountability in the Context of Standards-Based Reform. Education Policy Analysis Archives 9 (32). Retrieved [date] from http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v9n32.html.AbstractIn this article we discuss the effects of one urban school district's efforts to increase the autonomy and accountability of scho ols and teams of teachers through a standards-based reform known as teambased schooling. Team-based schooling is designed to devo lve decision-making authority down to the school level by increasing teachers' autonomy to make decisions. Increased acc ountability is
2 of 21enacted in the form of a state-level standards-base d initiative. Based on our evaluation over a two-year period involving ext ensive fieldwork and quantitative analysis, we describe the ways that te achers, teams and school administrators responded to the implementati on of team-based schooling. What are the effects of increasing schoo l-level autonomy and accountability in the context of standardsbased r eform? Our analysis highlights several issues: the "lived reality" of t eaming as it interacts with the existing culture within schools, the ways that teachers respond to the pressures created by increased internal and external accountability, and the effects of resource constraints on the effe ctiveness of implementation. We conclude by using our findings t o consider more broadly the trade-off between increased autonomy an d accountability on which standards-based reforms like team-based schoo ling are based.I. Introduction The standards movement was one of the key reform st rategies developed in the 1990's as states and districts sought ways to raise student achievement. The essential elements of reforms in this paradigm are threefold. First, a set of clearly defined student performance goals for schools to strive towards (us ually content standards). Second, an accountability system comprising a set of incentive s for schools or districts to achieve the standards and accompanying penalties for failin g to move towards them (rewards and sanctions). And third, greater autonomy for dis tricts and schools make decisions that will enable them to improve instruction and achieve the standards (Fuhrman, 1999; CPRE, 1996; Fuhrman & O'Day, 1996). While earlier reforms were characterized by either a "top-down" (i.e. mandates) or "bottom-up" (i.e. local control) approach, stand ards-based reform combines both approaches to enable states and districts to define the focus and expectations for educational outcomes and to hold educators accounta ble for meeting these aims (Fullan, 1994). At the same time, policy makers recognise th at instructional improvement needs to be motivated and developed at the school and cla ssroom level and they are developing ways to give schools and teachers increased autonom y to make decisions that affect student learning. In this article we ask the question: What are the effects of increasing school-level autonomy and accountability in the context of stand ardsbased reform? We investigate this question by exploring the experience of the sc hool district of Cincinnati, Ohio's efforts to expand the autonomy of schools and teach ers and construct a framework of accountability within the context of a broader stan dardsbased reform initiative. The district's efforts to increase autonomy at the scho ol and classroom-levels is focused around a reform called team-based schooling in whic h teachers are organized into teams of three to five teachers who take responsibility f or a group of students over multiple years. The expectation is that teachers know best h ow to serve the needs of their students and should therefore be given greater flexibility a nd authority to make decisions that affect their students' learning. Teaming is part of a broader standards-based reform movement in the district featuring an explicit set of achievement targets for schools and rewards and sanctions tied to a school's success or failure in achieving their goals. In this article we describe some of the consequences, both intended and unintended, which arise as the theory of increased authority and accountabi lity plays out in the classrooms of Cincinnati's public schools. In section II, we set the context for our analysis by briefly describing the track
3 of 21record of site-based management in general and team -based schooling in particular. In section III we describe the design of Students First the Cincinnati Public Schools' ambitious standards-based reform initiative designe d to increase local autonomy within a framework of accountability. In section IV we ana lyze the consequences, both intended and unintended, of increasing local autonomy. Secti on V explores the effects of expanded accountability, both internal and external We conclude by summarizing the findings of our research and discussing the implica tions in relation to the trade-off between increased accountability and increased auto nomy on which standards-based reforms like teaming are based.Method The source of the data for this article come from an evaluation of team-based schooling in Cincinnati, Ohio being conducted for t he Cincinnati Public Schools by the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) at the University of Pennsylvania. Since 1997, CPRE has been documenting the evolution and effects of team-based schooling in Cincinnati. This article draws primari ly from the first two years of our evaluation and is based on five data sources. First the CPRE research team conducted extensive fieldwork in the district. During the fir st year of the evaluation we visited all of the eight team-based schools and interviewed adm inistrators, members of the Instructional Leadership Team, and the full members hip of a sample of 16 teams. In 1998-99, the second year of teaming, the research t eam spent four to five days in each of the 20 team-based schools and interviewed the full membership of a sample of 41 teams. The second data source for this article is the sur vey we conducted each year with all faculty in both team-based and non-team-based s chools. The response rate varied from 81 to 87 percent each year respectively out of a total of approximately 2,500 faculty. Survey results enabled us to compare teambased with non-team-based schools and has allowed us to examine the longitudinal effe cts of teaming. Third, we conducted interviews with the leaders of the Cincinnati education community including leaders of the Cincinnati Publi c Schools (CPS), the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers, CPS school board, and the M ayerson Academy which is the key provider of professional development to support the implementation of team-based schooling. Interviews focused on leader's perceptio ns of what team-based schooling would accomplish, the factors that influenced its i mplementation and impact, and the progress of the reform. The fourth data source was student achievement, at tendance, and discipline information provided by the district's Office of Re search. Data were analyzed using hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) to examine the r elationship between teaming and student achievement at the school and team level. F inally, we observed Interschool Council Meetings, attended team-based schooling wor kshops run by the Mayerson Academy and related initiatives produced by the dis trict and union. Our purpose is not to report in detail the finding s of CPRE's three year evaluation of the team-based schooling initiative in Cincinnat i. Those interested in further details can read the evaluation reports (Supovitz & Watson, 2000; Supovitz & Watson, 1999; Supovitz, 1998). Rather, r we focus here on the imp lications of the Cincinnati experience with respect to the trade-offs and tensi ons inherent in expanding autonomy in a tighter accountability framework within the conte xt of standards-based reform.II. The Trend Toward School-Based Management
4 of 21 Many districts have attempted to increase local au tonomy based on the theory that school personnel are most intimately knowledgeable about the best way to educate their students. Mohrman and Wohlstetter (1994) described various types of devolved management structures that have been adopted in the past under the general rubric of school-based management (SBM). SBM requires new for ms of governance and management structures within districts and schools, structures that are designed to change the decision-making processes and relations of power. This reform movement operates under the belief in the ineffectiveness of locating power at the top of a school system, where it is furthest from school faculty wh o are closest to, and therefore most able to influence students. SBM is intended to crea te structures that support site-based decision-making so that school-based administrators and teachers have greater control over the decisions that affect student learning. SB M is not a new idea, having been implemented in various guises throughout the 1980s and 1990s (Weiss, 1992). But what is different in this latest incarnation is the meld ing of local autonomy with a system of accountability (Fullan, 1994). Newmann and Wehlage (1995), in a large study of 1, 500 schools, noted that successful schools tended to create a professional community with shared purpose and high levels of collaboration. They noted that succe ssful schools required the authority to act, and had high levels of autonomy over curriculu m, school policies, hiring, and, in some cases, their budget as well. Surrounding this cocoon of autonomy, they also cited the importance of external support in the form of h igh standards for student learning. Chub and Moe (1990) argue that private school teac hers experience higher levels of autonomy than their public school peers and that this is a key reason why private schools are able to more successfully promote stude nt achievement. In a comparative study of teachers and principals in both private an d public schools that set out to test Chubb and Moe's thesis, Glass (1997) found that bot h participants said they experienced high levels of autonomy. However, they also found t hat teachers in private and public schools were also subject to a number of factors th at mitigated and shaped their autonomy in important ways. Thus, the autonomy expe rienced by teachers was more complex than typically assumed and "challenges the myth that teachers and principals in private schools enjoy autonomy and freedom from dem ocratic bureaucracy that their public school counterparts do not" (p.1). Other studies also question whether SBM actually i ncreases school and teacher autonomy. Hannaway (1993) presents a critique of th e existing assumptions on which decentralization is based, assumptions that are der ived from private sector modes of production. Hannaway argues that decentralization i s based on the assumption that teachers' work is traditionally subject to a high l evel of control and that the limited autonomy of teachers serves to limit their ability to instigate the kinds of change and innovation necessary to promote student achievement Decentralization and (so-called) greater teacher autonomy aims to give teachers grea ter control over how they teach. In contrast, Hannaway concludes that, "teachers in suc cessful decentralized districts work under conditions where organizational controls over their behaviour are in fact high relative to what we would expect in traditionally o rganized schools. Indeed, the discretion of school-level actors in many decentral ized systems may be far more restricted than the discretion of school-level acto rs in traditionally organized systems" (1993, p. 139). In other words, she contends that d ecentralization decreases the amount of autonomy that teachers have to decide what and h ow to teach and that this occurs through the increased surveillance of their work at two levels: by their peers and by the district through tighter accountability measures. M erely providing increased opportunities for interaction between teacher profe ssionals will not necessarily result in
5 of 21productive work and change. The literature that examines the development and i mplementation of various forms of SBM also points out that the key aim of su ch designs should be to improve the quality of teaching and learning within schools. In other words, for SBM to be successful, it must not be merely a structural refo rm, but one that results in instructional change at the classroom level. Darling-Hammond (199 6) described in some detail four New York schools that have successfully introduced decentralized, site-based management reforms as a means of creating more cons ensual decision-making and greater autonomy for schools and teachers with the purpose of approaching teaching and learning in distinctive ways. The success of these schools, argues Darling-Hammond, is that the primary focus of their changes is to creat e the opportunities for improved teaching and learning.Team-Based Schooling One of the particular school-based management stra tegies that have been developed in an attempt to provide an instructional focus is the use of teacher teams. Teacher teams are designed to enable teachers to ha ve greater involvement in the management and governance of their school and are a lso intended to facilitate instructional change and innovation as teachers wor k more closely together to learn from each other. Educators have been experimenting with the "bold new venture" of team teaching since the 1960"s (Thomas, 1992; Beggs, 196 4), but with little success (Thomas, 1992). The early failures of teaming were attribute d to a lack of organizational support, planning time, and role conflict (Hargreaves, 1980; Cohen, 1976). The last decade has seen a resurgence of interest in teaming largely as a result of the apparent success of production teams in private enterprise and the attempts by some administrators to apply teaming to schools (Mohrman & Wohlstetter, 1994). Darling-Hammond (1994) gives an account of a number of schools who have used teaming successfully in order to create more consen sual decisionmaking and greater autonomy for schools and teachers. More importantly however, they have used teaming to enable more inter-disciplinary learning for stud ents and to also promote teacher learning which is essential for instructional chang e. Friedman (1997) offers a detailed account of one t eacher team that developed an innovative vocational design within an urban high s chool. Friedman argues that teaming requires changes to traditional teaching roles and school structures and that these changes are more complex than those typically envis ioned by the proponents of teaming. The success of teaming therefore appears to depend on it not being merely an organizational or structural reform, but one that p romotes and supports changes in how teachers teach. Friedman's research alerts us to th e need to consider not only the assumptions and intent behind team-based schooling initiatives, but also the existing structures and cultures of schooling that they are enacted upon. Teachers are not passive recipients of reform, but they actively negotiate a nd mediate policy in a range of ways. It is not so much that policy is enforced from above, but rather that teachers enact policy in a range of ways that result in unintended and inten ded consequences. As Friedman observed: ... few advocates have inquired seriously into the team concept and exactly how it fits with school practice. This lack of conc eptualization is particularly serious in light of the failure of the initial team-teaching movement of the 1960s, which has been attributed to a lack of fit between
6 of 21the team concept and the role of the teacher, the o rganizational structure, and the cultural norms of contemporary schooling (1 997, p. 335). This report enables us to undertake the kind of enq uiry that Friedman argues is necessary if we are to further our understanding of the effec ts of the implementation of team-based schooling. If teaming is to be effective, it must r esult in instructional innovation and improvement. For this to occur, such a reform needs to attend to the relations of power that operate within schools.III. Autonomy and Accountability in The Cincinnati Public Schools Cincinnati, Ohio is an urban school district with about 50,000 students in 79 schools. About two-thirds of the students in the di strict, of which 70 percent are African-American and 28 percent are White, are on l unch assistance. Cincinnati is the forty fifth largest city in the United States. In t he 1996-97 school year the Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) adopted an ambitious and broad -based reform plan called Students First The stated goals of Students First were for all students to meet or exceed high academic standards, to have safe and orderly school learning environments, and to satisfy the needs of their "customers" students, parents, and taxpayers. As a central part of its strategic plan, the CPS designed a form of s chool organization known as team-based schooling. In essence, the idea behind t eam-based schooling is that higher student achievement will result from decentralizing decision-making about instruction and resource authority to teams of academic teacher s. The teams are to focus on the district's academic and behavioural standards, to c ollaborate amongst themselves as well as with parents and community members, and to be he ld collectively accountable for their students' achievement over time. As stated in the district's strategic plan, the organization's reform goal was to become a, "high q uality education system that is decentralized and held accountable for results." The "heart of the system" according to the former superintendent, is team-based schooling. Team-based schooling is written into the contract between the CPS and the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers, ratified in Marc h 1997. The contact sets out the requirements for the composition and function of te ams, as summarized below: Teams will be comprised of 3-5 core subject academi c teachers who will stay with a group of students for at least two years. The tea ms will be organized by the gateway grades K-3, 4-6, 7-8 and 9-10. Teams will develop a curriculum and instructional m ethods and materials consistent with a school's program focus. They will also decide how to schedule and group their students. Teams will take responsibility for all students the y serve and will work to ensure that they meet the district and school learning obj ectives. Teams will control funding for instructional suppli es, materials, and personnel. Teams will stay together for several years in order to ensure maximum benefits from collaboration and longer term relations with s tudents. Team-based schools will be governed by Instructiona l Leadership Teams (ILT), comprised of team leaders, the principal, two paren ts, and two non-teaching school staff. The ILT will attend to academic decis ions and control most non-personnel budget areas. The district planned to "roll out" the team-based school concept across the
7 of 21district, beginning with the eight schools that wer e selected from a pool of those that applied in 1997-98. Twelve additional schools becam e team-based in the second year (1998-99), and twenty schools in the third year (19 99-2000). At the time of writing, in the third year of the reform, the implementation ha s proceeded as planned and approximately half of the district's schools are te am-based. It must also be noted that teaming is not a new ph enomena in the Cincinnati Public Schools. Our 1999 teacher survey data show t hat in Cincinnati 79 percent of elementary teachers, 73 percent of middle school te achers, and 45 percent of high school teachers who were not in formal team-based schools reported that they informally teamed with at least one other teacher. What is dif ferent is that team-based schooling creates a formal structure in schools that explicit ly vests power in teams of teachers to make instructional decisions for students. At the same time, the state and district had accou ntability systems in place that ranked the performance of schools and attached cons equences to their performance. In Ohio, districts are rated annually on a set of 27 i ndicators, of which 25 are student achievement tests as well as student attendance and graduation rates. Based upon these ratings, districts are put into four categories: ef fective, continuous improvement, academic watch, and academic emergency. These categ ories are highly correlated with the socioeconomic status of districts. Districts in academic emergency have five years to move out of the category or are threatened with state takeover. CPS is in the academic emergency category, but despite one of the highest levels of poverty of any district in the state, it is not the lowest performing district. The district's accountability system is called the School Accountability Plan. In it, targets are set for each school in six areas, which are very similar to the state indicator areas. Unlike the state system, targets differ by s chool, which are set based upon the results of the previous year. Targets are set so th at if all schools meet their targets, than the district will meet its target. Based on their p erformance, schools are rated as either a school incentive award winner, an achieving school, an improving school, a school in intervention, or a school under redesign. Redesigne d schools can, and have been, reconstituted. Principals' pay raises depend partia lly on the performance of their school. The theory of how teaming works In interviews conducted in the fall and early wint er of 1997 with 14 leaders of the Cincinnati education community, the leaders describ ed how they expected teaming to work. The district leaders emphasized improving stu dent achievement and the quality of the educational experience as the overall expectati on of team-based schooling. Leaders hypothesized that team-based schooling would impact the district in a variety of ways. The influences that were mentioned can be loosely o rganized around four inter-related themes: decentralized control, more focused curricu lum and instruction, a more student-focused school culture, and increased accou ntability. District leaders described how they expected teami ng to shift decision-making about curriculum and instruction from the district to schools to teams of teachers, giving school staff a greater role in critical decision-ma king about their work and greater control of their budgets. They saw this devolution of authority driving related changes in the central office while giving schools greater aut onomy from the central office. Many leaders therefore stressed that team-based sc hooling would increase teachers' focus on curricular and instructional iss ues. They felt that attention to the curriculum standards would increase, improving curr icular planning and alignment. They expected that teachers would make more fine-gr ained decisions about grouping of
8 of 21students, resulting in more individualized instruct ion. They also expected that looping (teachers staying with the same group of students o ver multiple years) would push teachers to expand their curriculum knowledge. In t hese ways decentralization, along with increased accountability, would lead schools a nd teams to allocate their resources more productively. Leaders also envisioned a series of influences tha t can loosely be called a more student-focused school culture. Under this element of their vision, a series of new relationships and norms would develop in team-based schools. Teachers would get to know students better, would analyze student achieve ment data and would be better informed as they designed instruction to more effec tively meet students' needs. One leader stressed that the teams would form communiti es, providing a greater reflection of the democracy we live within. The local leaders also felt that team-based school ing would increase the accountability of teachers. They described how the new teams would give teachers a greater sense of students' accomplishments and enco urage them to take more responsibility for the progress and success of indi vidual students. Since each of the teams would be responsible for preparing students f or one of the gateway grades at which promotion benchmarks must be met, all teacher s would share the responsibility that had previously rested more heavily on those te achers assigned to the gateway grades. Further, it was envisioned that a culture o f competition would emerge in the effective team-based schools, propelling teachers t o higher quality instructional levels. Teaming therefore has the potential to meet the dem ands of increased autonomy and accountability at the school level through decentra lization, rather than through increased centralization as has been a feature of earlier ref orms. Reforms are seldom implemented in isolation and ot her initiatives and events often have unintended effects. The implementation o f team-based schooling in Cincinnati was no exception. Three events occurred in Cincinnati which both directly altered the implementation of Students First and more subtly influenced the environment within which the reform was unfolding. First, one of the major architects of Students First J. Michael Brandt, retired as Superintendent afte r the first year of team-based schooling and was replaced by Dr. Steven Adamowski, although the Board restated its commitment to Students First Second, the district experienced severe budget cuts and schools were forced to reduce staff and re sources. Third, in the 1999-2000 school year, the district and union went through a prolonged contract renegotiation. Additionally, during the time of the initiative, th e district announced major organizational changes, including a reorganization to K-8 schools, a plan to shift to open enrollment for high schools, the adoption of a new facilities plan which targeted which targeted some schools for eventual closure, the exp ansion of charter schools. This confluence of events and developments generated con siderable anxiety and undermined morale among teachers. The overall climate of rapid change and uncertainty disturbed some teachers' confidence in the stability of their teams and in the future of the team-based reform.IV. Expanding the autonomy of teachers in schools As we have discussed, the team-based schooling ref orm envisages that schools, teams and individual teachers will have greater con trol over how they teach while also being held increasingly accountable for the achieve ment of their students. This notion of increased autonomy raises a series of important iss ues that concern the definition and limits of autonomy and the authority that resides a t different levels within schools
9 of 21including teachers, team leaders, and the principal These issues also played out between schools and the district. That is, the increased au tonomy of teaming created a whole new set of relationships within schools that implicitly modified the existing traditional hierarchy. The traditional hierarchy of schools has a princip al (and vice-principal in larger schools) sitting on top of a traditionally flat org anizational structure. Schools often have a large number of committees to make instructional decisions, but formal authority is vested in the principal. Team-based schooling chang ed the arrangement such that teams of teachers are formally made responsible for instr uctional decisions about their students. Teams are led by team leaders while the s chool is led by the Instructional Leadership Team (ILT), comprised of team leaders an d led by the principal. The ILT is officially responsible for making school-wide instr uctionally related decisions. This new, more multi-faceted organizational structure cr eated uncertainty as the members sought to clarify the extent and limits of their au tonomy and authority. In the course of our fieldwork these concerns were at the forefront for school faculty as they struggled to implement team-based schooling. In this next sectio n, we explore in some detail the issues around autonomy and authority that arose in schools as their faculty implemented the reform.The role of the team leader The key purpose of teams is to establish a structu re that provides teachers with increased opportunities to work together to improve instruction. The collective bargaining agreement between the teacher union and the district states that each team shall have a paid team leader and describes the pro cedures for their selection. However, there is little specification about the team leader 's role or the authority they have to make decisions that affect the members of their team. In some teams, members naturally deferred to their team leader to organize the time and resources of the group while in others this process was collaborative. There were a small number of teams in which the team leader's efforts to exercise authority created friction amongst the team members. In our interviews with a sample of members of 41 t eams in the second year of teaming (1998-99), a number of team members and lea ders discussed the problems caused by the unclear responsibilities of team lead ers. For example, in a team in a K-8 school, some team members did not accept the team l eader's authority, especially the teachers who knew they would not be returning to th e school the following year. Two of the four teachers had requested and received a tran sfer to another school and a third did not have his contract renewed. As a result, the tea m leader said the team was dysfunctional. "The only part where there is really teaming academically is with [the special education teacher]. We share responsibility for his developmentally handicapped kids and my grade 7 to 8 kids. That works great, bu t it isn't any different from what I was doing before teaming." In another elementary school, there was a serious conflict between the team leader and one of the team members. The team leader said the conflict was caused by a personality issue, but the teacher said it was due to their different teaching styles. The teacher did not want to follow the team leader's ad vice on instruction and she said, "The team leader always wants things her way." The team leader commented, "Lots of teachers have different visions but teams need to h ave a united vision. We don't talk about a philosophy or teaching styles as a team." T hese examples raise important questions about team leaders' capacity and authorit y to propel their teams to higher functioning levels.
10 of 21 This lack of definition of the team leader's autho rity was of concern because in some cases it prevented teams from engaging in inst ructional change, a central aim of team-based schooling. An elementary school team lea der described how the team members found it hard to share student work samples and resisted doing this even though they agreed, in theory, that it was an impor tant practice. One team leader had asked to observe another teacher's class, but it di d not happen. "I could have insisted on certain things, like sharing examples of students' work, but I don't see that as my role. I don't feel I have the right to challenge teachers a bout their practice. My role is to set a tone, an expectation of being professional." Thus, in theory, while the teams were given autono my to make decisions about instruction, in practice, the decision-making proce ss required someone with institutional authority to facilitate the process. This lack of d efinition of autonomy and authority was also evident within the Instructional Leadership Te ams (ILT). The role of the ILT and the principal The role of the ILT in each team-based school is t o develop, review and evaluate the instructional program and to monitor and improv e school operations and procedures that impact on instruction. The ILT is also to deve lop and monitor the school budget and to oversee the formation of teams and can decide on the process by which it makes decisions, for example by vote or consensus, and fa culty will also be required to approve the ILT recommendations by majority vote. The ILT t herefore, as its nomenclature implies, is to provide a forum for decisions to be made about instruction and those decisions are then to be disseminated and implement ed at the team-level. Our observations of ILT meetings and interviews with IL T members and principals in the second year of teaming highlighted the difficulties in implementing a devolved leadership structure. The design structure of the ILT represents a signi ficant shift in the way decision-making power is distributed within a schoo l. Authority for the overall direction of the school traditionally resided with the princi pal but the team-based model is intended to shift authority for making some decisio ns down to the team level. The introduction of the more democratic decision-making through the ILT represents a major change from more hierarchical school power structur es. Although the ILT is intended to be run in a consen sual way so all members are able to make an equal contribution to the decisionmaking process, the reality is that the differential power relations among the various memb ers can undermine the decision making process. We found that the principal (or som eone else on the ILT) had to actively push for shared decision-making because th e traditional hierarchical culture of schooling predisposes teachers to defer to the prin cipal. For some principals, moving toward more consensual decision-making processes was a difficult transition to make. The principal, in theory, is an equal member of the ILT with no more authority than anyone else, but th e principal's role in monitoring and evaluating staff performance may make teachers relu ctant to challenge the principal on an issue. Principals can exercise their power advan tage or may suppress differing views from being expressed during ILT discussions. Some p rincipals were described as effective at encouraging consensual processed while others were described as being adept at ensuring their ideas were prioritized and implemented. Principals promoted their own agendas in direct wa ys, including actually setting the agenda and facilitating the ILT meetings, and i n indirect ways, which some faculty members described as manipulation behind the scenes In our interviews in the second
11 of 21year of teaming, one ILT member stated, "The princi pal stonewalls and dominates the conversation." Furthermore, while most principals p aid lip service to the notion of consensual decision-making, there were some whose l eadership styles were in direct and stated opposition to this. One principal rarely att ended the ILT meetings and made some decisions without consulting the ILT at all. As a r esult, several ILT members said they would be stepping down as team leaders because they no longer wanted to be part of the ILT. In several schools, principals made decisions that undercut ILT consensus. Faculty and administrators in the team-based schoo ls were adopting a range of relationships as they sought to navigate the transi tion from a traditional hierarchical culture to the more democratic culture reflected in teaming. School leaders at one end of the spectrum were remaining traditional. As one tea m leader described, "A TBS [team-based school] principal needs to understand, explain, share. They need to be willing to let go. [Our principal] doesn't share wi th us what we need to know and it leads to frustration." At the other end of the spectrum, a principal at another school was adopting democratic decision-making to the extent t hat he was not willing to make any decisions himself. A team leader in the school comm ented, "The principal is delegating everything and not being a leader." Most principals were seeking a middle ground. As one principal described, "I try to empower people b ut they have to understand that this is a hierarchy and I am the principal." Ideally, the ILT is designed to ensure that decisi on-making authority does not reside solely with the principal. However, given th e complex power relations that operate within schools and the control that the pri ncipal has over the retention and promotion of staff, the reality is that most princi pals still maintain a high degree of control. Some teachers seemed pleased to have a pri ncipal they perceived as a "strong" leader who could maintain control of the school. Ot her teachers questioned whose responsibility it was to ensure that principals in teambased schools operated in ways consistent with the team-based philosophy.Role of the team vis--vis the ILT While there were issues of authority within the IL T and between the ILT and the principal, there were also issues of authority rais ed in relation to the decisions being made by the ILTs concerning the division of authori ty between the ILT and the teams. When interviewed during the second year of teaming, some teachers said they were confused about the role of the team compared to the role of the ILT. In several cases, team leaders felt that the ILT was overriding decis ions that had been made by teams, decisions that they felt the teams should have been able to make. This was exemplified by an elementary school where there were a range of opinions about the benefits of multi-age classes and looping (the practice of stud ents remaining with a teacher for more than one year). A team leader in the school comment ed, "We are still trying to work out the mechanics as far as what teams can or cannot do This year, the ILT decided either looping or multi-ageÂ—one or the other. The majority of the school doesn't want to do either one." This example raises the question of wh ether there should be some limitations on what teams can decide and what the I LT has the authority to decide. Differences of opinion about the levels of autonom y and authority within a school need to be discussed and resolved if team-based sch ools are to function effectively. A team leader in another school commented, "There are some rumbles that the ILT is trying to run everything but teams should be repres ented by team leaders so this shouldn't be the case." An ILT member in the same s chool commented, "The ILT makes decisions about programs, budget items, etc. Teams can make decisions within their
12 of 21teams. Yet for discipline, the encouraged school wi de policy is what is best for children."The role of the district in relation to the school The lack of clarity within team-based schools abou t the limits of their authority and autonomy was also reflected at the district lev el. It was apparent from our interviews with leaders in the Cincinnati education community in 1998-99 that the district had not yet worked out what decisions the school should hav e the authority to make, and which decisions were the purview of the district. For exa mple, there were a number of examples of the district encouraging schools to mak e their own decisions about school reform models or curriculum resources and then tell ing the school that their decision was not acceptable. We also noted some differences emerging in distric t leaders' views about how much autonomy should be given to schools. While the y generally agreed at a conceptual level that schools and teachers should be given inc reased autonomy to make decisions aimed at improving student achievement and should b e held more accountable for the results obtained, there were important differences of opinion about what this meant in practice. Our interviews suggest that the views of district policymakers on this issue fall along a continuum. At one end of the continuum are those who believe that schools should be given as much autonomy as possible to dec ide what and how students should be taught, and which reform models to use. In this view, autonomy should be constrained only by the standards (promotion standa rds and proficiency tests) that are mandated by the state and the district. How school staffs reach these standards is up to them. One leader in the district summed up this pos ition, "Let the standards shape what schools do, but let them find their own way." Furth ermore, some of these proponents of increased school autonomy would like to see schools freed from some of the current contract requirements, such as those that limit mee ting times and require vacancies to be filled from the surplus pool instead of allowing sc hools to recruit their own staff. At the other end of the continuum are those who fa vor granting less autonomy to schools and teachers. For example, they believe tha t schools should choose only those whole school reform models previously approved by t he district and that teachers should not be allowed to adopt curricular materials that h ave been tried and failed in several other places in the district. Those in favour of co nstraining autonomy at the school level believe that setting academic standards for schools is not sufficient, and contend that schools should teach a district-approved curriculum and that students in all schools should follow a core academic program. These differing views of autonomy are associated w ith different views of team-based schooling. Those favoring maximum autono my are content to permit more variation in how ILTs function, how teams are struc tured, and how resources are allocated by the schools. Those who favor some cons traints believe that the district should ensure that team-based schooling is correctl y implemented and that the structures are faithful to the original design. In practice, t his has raised a number of questions of how the district should respond to issues. For exam ple, a middle school team of a dozen teachers who want to stay together as a team, regar dless of the suggested team size of 3-5 teachers; or a principal who ignores the unanim ous recommendations of the school's ILT. As teachers and school administrators sought to de fine the limits of their authority, they were doing so in the context of a h igh-stakes accountability framework at both the state and district level. In the next sect ion we discuss the issues that arose in
13 of 21response to increased accountability in the context of team-based schooling.V. Increasing accountability As previously described, the district's reform ini tiative, Students First contains a school accountability plan in which targets are set for each school based upon indicators of progress, primarily achievement scores in the fi ve core subjects, as well as student attendance, dropout rates, and graduation rates. Pr ogress is defined differently for each school, depending on its previous year performance on these indicators. Rewards and sanctions are meted out based upon school performan ce each year. Thus the "teeth" of the accountability system are at the school, rather than the team-level. But this does not mean that teams do not feel the bite of accountabil ity. The pressures of internal accountability Abelmann and Elmore (1998) make the distinction be tween systems of accountability that are external and internal to sc hools. In their conceptualization, state and district accountability systems are external. B ut internal accountability systems operate in equally powerful ways and are made up of individual responsibility and collective expectations that together shape they wa ys that people account for their actions. They found that, "strong expectations can influence and shape what a teacherÂ…feels responsible for in his or her work (p. 17). Similarly, our survey research found that teachers in team-based schools had signi ficantly higher levels of collective responsibility and reported higher levels of involv ement in school-related decision-making (Supovitz & Watson, 1999). Survey data from the second year with all faculty in team-based schools revealed that teachers were overwhelmingly positive about wo rking together on teams. Over 90 percent of team members reported that they worked w ell together as a team to do what was "best for kids." A similar percent felt comfort able voicing concerns with team members. In interviews, several teachers described how they valued the relationships they were able to develop with other team members. A team member in an elementary school explained, "I like the concept of team-based You are working with the same group of kids. I like the communication and feedbac k you get." In a middle school, a team member commented that teams enabled improved c ommunication that helped them to better address the needs of students. "We have m ore adult communication via teaming. The team spends a lot of time brainstormin g on how to mix and match kids." Teaming also tended to increase the pressure that teachers put on each other. In some cases this was a constructive force, but in ot hers it served to undermine working relationships between teachers. This resulted in hi gher levels of stress and increased tensions between teachers in team-based schools. Su rvey results from the first two years of CPRE's evaluation indicated that trust levels be tween teachers were significantly lower in team-based schools in comparison to non-te am-based schools, and that trust levels declined from the year before schools implem ented teaming to the end of their first full year in the initiative (Supovitz & Watso n, 1999). These results suggest that the introduction of the formal mechanisms of teaming ha d surfaced issues which were avoidable when teachers did not have to work so clo sely together. As one team leader commented in the second year of teaming, "There is a cultural shift going on in the school. Teams are more vocal than before and people that used to be passive are more assertive."
14 of 21 Another consequence of increased interactions betw een teachers around instructional issues was higher levels of conflict. For teachers who may be used to working with other teachers on discipline or curric ulum committees, but who are none-the-less used to closing their classroom doors for instruction, teaming can increase opportunities for disagreement. On our survey in th e second year of teaming, over half (53%) of the team members reported conflict between members of their team. Personality clashes were the greatest sources of co nflict, accounting for 67 percent of the conflicts. Disagreements over the equitable distrib ution of work, student discipline procedures, educational philosophy, and disagreemen t over curriculum and assessment issues were also common. Of course, conflict in itself is not necessarily n egative because it may be the product of increased communication among teachers a nd more engagement in critical discussion of practice and philosophy. Our intervie ws with team members suggested that conflict was a problem only when it remained unreso lved and, therefore, undermined the relationships within teams. Our survey also include d a series of questions for the team members who reported having conflict in their teams about how they attempted to resolve it. Over half (57%) of the teams reported t hat they resolved the conflict amongst themselves but, of the 53 percent of team members w ho said they experienced conflict, 30 percent said that the conflict remained unresolv ed. Overall, this means that approximately 15 percent of the teachers were exper iencing unresolved conflict on their teams, a percentage that corresponded closely to ou r interview data. While team relationships are something that, with the appropriate support and skills, can be improved and strengthened, there are other factors that affect the operation of teams and student achievement which teams have l ittle or no control over. In the course of our research, teacher and student turnove r emerged as significant factors affecting teams.External accountability In general, there was a certain amount of resistan ce from teachers to being held accountable for the performance of their students. In our 1998-99 survey of school faculties, over 50 percent of the teachers in the t eam-based schools did not believe it was fair to hold teams accountable for the achievement of their students. Our fieldwork helped us to understand some of the reasons why tea chers felt uncomfortable with this responsibility. One reason that teachers resisted accountability w as high rates of both student and teacher mobility. The design of team-based scho oling states that teams will be composed of groups of teachers who will be held joi ntly accountable for the achievement of a group of students for at least two years. This model assumes that the composition of the teams, in terms of students and teachers, will remain stable to ensure maximum benefits from collaboration and longer-term relationships with students. But teachers were quick to point out the high mobility of their student populations and that high student mobility rates made it unreasonable fo r them to be held accountable for student achievement. How could they be held respons ible when many of their students were with them for relatively little time? Second, teachers felt that teacher mobility impede d their ability to work together to meet the needs of students. Our survey with facu lty in teambased schools in the second year asked teachers if the membership of the ir team had remained the same over the school year. Less than one-third of teams repor ted stability (in terms of their teacher composition) from the first to the second year as t eam-based schools. Of the teams that
15 of 21did change, about one-third changed significantly a nd two-thirds experienced minor changes. The reasons for the turnover among team me mbers varied. In some cases they were due to decisions made by team members to leave the teaching field, take long-term leaves, or transfer to other schools or positions. But in many cases, team instability was due to decisions made at the district and school le vel that affected the school's staffing and resulted in changes to team composition. We also found that while most teachers felt their autonomy has increased, at the same time, teachers also reported that they experie nced significant restraints on their autonomy caused by the introduction of standards-ba sed accountability. Our work suggests that the requirements of standards-based a ccountability, which brought with it performance standards, pacing guides, curriculum ma terials and "standards into practice" protocols for those schools that failed to meet the ir targets may counteract efforts to increase local autonomy.How were teachers using their increased autonomy an d accountability? The litmus test for the effectiveness of the teambased schooling reform is whether increased autonomy and greater accountabili ty have resulted in the kinds of instructional improvement that leads to increased s tudent achievement. The results of our evaluation show that when teams are structured in ways envisaged by the reform, and when they are engaging in practices that teamin g was designed to enable such as planning lessons together, reviewing student work t ogether, co-teaching classes and observing each other teach, then there is a positiv e impact on student achievement (see Supovitz & Watson 2000 and Supovitz & Watson 1999 f or more detailed discussion of the methodology used). However, we also found that implementation varied and there were very few teams that were using the kinds of pr actices that were positively associated with student achievement. Even when team s were functioning well in terms of team meetings and team relationships, very few t eams had begun to engage in instructional improvement by changing the way they were teaching. While our research has shown that there were a number of factors such as resource constraints, lack of definition of authority, and student and teacher mo bility that undermined the effectiveness of team-based schooling, the small nu mber of teams that were responding to increased autonomy and greater accountability by attending to instructional improvement is a significant concern.VI. Discussion The purpose of this article has been to explore th e "lived reality" of team-based schooling--a standards-based reform that aims to in crease autonomy and accountability at the school-level. Increased autonomy is to be pr ovided by giving schools and teams of teachers increased control over how they teach and over other factors that influence student achievement such as scheduling, curriculum and grouping of students. Increased external accountability is enacted in the form of s tate and district level performance targets. Internal accountability is enacted in the form of increased peer accountability within teams. This design assumes that holding scho ols and teams more accountable for student achievement, while at the same time giving them more autonomy, will enable them to promote student achievement. Our research e nables us to make the following observations. First, implementing any reform requires the recogn ition that it is enacted into an
16 of 21existing culture. In this case, team-based schoolin g did not replace the existing culture and relations of power within schools. Rather, facu lty both accommodated and resisted various aspects of the reform so that the "new real ity" in schools became a hybrid of both of these at times contradictory schooling stru ctures. Although unarticulated, the success of the teaming design is predicated on a si gnificant shift in relations at every level of schooling and this kind of shift, by neces sity, will involve a change in the traditional relations of power by which the daily l ife of the school is structured. If not made explicit and attended to, these forces have th e potential to subvert the kinds of changes on which teaming depends. Second, the lack of definition and clarity in the reform design about the limits of authority and autonomy that operate at various leve lsÂ—from the district through to individual teachersÂ—hinders the ability of teachers teams and schools to exercise the increased autonomy that team-based schooling was in tended to provide them with. As our research has shown, this lack of clarity has so metimes resulted in conflict and/or in an inability to focus on the challenging work of in structional improvement. We recognize, however, that the reform process is a "w ork in progress" and through our research and through its own mechanisms, the distri ct has been closely monitoring the reform and attempting to provide the kinds of guida nce and resources that teachers are saying they need. Third, internal accountability is a powerful force The pressures of collective responsibility unleashed by placing the responsibil ity for student achievement on teachers works in both constructive and destructive ways. On the one hand, teachers are forced out of isolation and are held increasingly a ccountable by their peers for their role in contributing to instructional improvement. On th e other hand, as Cohen (1976) and Hargreaves (1980) have pointed out, expanding local responsibility is often accompanied by increased conflict. Our research ind icates that conflict can have both productive outcomes, for example when it forces tea chers to confront issues that impede instructional coherence, and unproductive outcomes, when conflict is left unresolved and corrodes interaction and trust. Fourth, while external accountability mechanisms a re premised on the assumption that teachers, teams and schools can be held directly accountable for student achievement, in reality there are a large number of factors over which they have very little control but which impact negatively on stude nt achievement. These include such factors as student and teacher turnover caused by d ecisions made at the district-level in response to resource constraints and school restruc turing. As Elmore (2000) argues, if policy makers and administrators are going to hold teachers accountable for certain outcomes, then they need to ensure that teachers ha ve the capacity and resources to achieve those outcomes. Furthermore, while the desi gn of team-based schooling promotes greater school and team-level autonomy, ex ternal accountability mechanisms constrain autonomy in very real ways. Thus far we have focused on highlighting the pract ical and relational issues that have arisen as teaming was implemented. But in the final part of this article we want to broaden the discussion to consider the trade-off be tween increased accountability and increased autonomy on which standards-based reforms such as team-based schooling are based. The assumption behind this trade-off are tha t teachers, teams and schools will respond to greater accountability by using their in creased autonomy to engage in instructional improvement. Our research has highlig hted some of the very real constraints that serve to limit autonomy and that a lso raise concerns about the extent to which teachers can be held directly accountable for student achievement in the way that standards-based reforms are designed to do. We have shown how these constraints
17 of 21hinder the ability of teachers and teams to engage in the challenging work of instructional reform. However, the question we want to raise here is whetherÂ—resource constraints and design problems asideÂ—increasing th e autonomy of teachers within the context of an external accountability system is the way to improve instruction. Or, to put it another way, do we have evidence that teachers w ere using their increased autonomy to engage in instructional improvement in order to meet the demands of the external accountability system? Our research shows that most teachers and teams were not. For the majority of teams, teaming is a structural, rat her an instructional reform. That is, teaming can facilitate improved communication betwe en teachers and allow them greater decision-making power over certain areas, b ut most teams do not use their increased autonomy and greater accountability to en gage in instructional reform. Our research suggests that modifications need to b e made to the ways in which autonomy and accountability are used within the con text of standardsbased reforms. Thus, the question is not so much whether teachers should be given more or less autonomy, or should be held more or less accountabl e. A more important question is how might autonomy and accountability be used to cr eate incentives for teachers to engage in instructional improvement? One of the way s that this might occur is by modifying the accountability system. At the present time, schools and teams are primarily held accountable for the achievement of t heir students on standardized tests. However, as we have shown, there are some very real concerns about the fairness of holding teams and schools accountable on such a lim ited measure of school effectiveness. An alternative would be to hold scho ols, teams and teachers accountable for their instructional practice so that they are r ewarded for those aspects of their work over which they have direct control. In this way, t he accountability system would encourage teachers and teams to focus on instructio nal improvement. A second way that teachers might be encouraged to engage in instructional improvement is by constraining teachers' autonomy i n strategic ways. As we cited in the introduction, Hannaway (1993) pointed out that teac hers in successful decentralized districts actually have less autonomy than teachers in traditionally organized schools. That is, while decentralization is typically seen a s a means of increasing teacher autonomy, in fact, it constrains teacher autonomy b y exposing teachers' practice to increased surveillance by their peers and by the di strict through the increased accountability measures. Our research shows that th is is the case in team-based schools, but that increased surveillance leads to instructio nal improvement in very few teams. The challenge is to use increased autonomy and surv eillance productivelyÂ—in ways that result in instructional improvement. This is an imp ortant observation because while standards-based reforms are designed to trade-off i ncreased autonomy with greater accountability, our research suggests that increasi ng autonomy and accountability per se may not result in instructional improvement. Instea d, it may be more constructive to design reforms that constrain autonomy and accounta bility in ways that require and enable teachers to engage in instructional improvem ent.ReferencesAbelmann, C. and Elmore, R. (1998). When accountability knocks, will anyone answer? Consortium for Policy Research in Education Researc h Report RR-42. Philadelphia: Consortium for Policy Research in Education, Univer sity of Pennsylvania. Beggs, D.W. (Ed.) (1964). Team teaching: Bold new venture Indianapolis: Unified College Press.
18 of 21Chubb, J. and Moe, T. (1990). Politics, Markets, and America's Schools Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institute.Cohen, E.G. (1976). Problems and prospects of teami ng. Educational Research Quarterly 1(2), 49-63. Consortium for Policy Research in Education (1996). Public policy and school reform: A research summary Philadelphia: Author. Darling-Hammond, L. (1996). Restructuring schools f or high performance. In S. Fuhrman and J. O'Day (Eds.), Rewards and reform. Creating educational incentives that work San Francisco: JosseyBass Publishers. Friedman, V. (1997). Making schools safe for uncert ainty: teams, teaching, and school reform. In Teachers College Record 99, (2), 335-370. Fuhrman, S. and O'Day, J. (Eds.) (1996). Rewards and Reform. Creating Educational Incentives That Work San Francisco: JosseyBass Publishers. Fuhrman, S. (1999). The new accountability. Consortium for Policy Research in Education Policy Brief Philadelphia: Consortium for Policy Research in E ducation University of Pennsylvania.Fullan, M. (1994). Coordinating top-down and bottom -up strategies for education reform. In Elmore, R. and Fuhrman, S. (Eds.), The Governance of curriculum. Yearbook of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum D evelopment Virginia: ASCD. Glass, S. (1997). Markets and myths: autonomy in pu blic and private schools. In Education Policy Analysis Archives 5, (1). Hannaway, J. (1993). Decentralization in two school districts: challenging the standard paradigm. In J. Hannaway and M. Carnoy (Eds.), Decentralization and school improvement San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Hargreaves, D.H. (1980). The occupational culture o f teachers. In P.Woods (Ed.), Teacher strategies: Explorations in the sociology o f school London: Croon Helm. Mohrman, S. and Wohlstetter, P. (Eds.) (1994). Organizing for high performance San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.Newmann, F. and Wehlage, G. (1995). Successful school restructuring. A report to the public and educators by the Center on Organization and Restructuring of Schools Madison, Wisconsin: Board of Regents of the Univers ity of Wisconsin. Supovitz, J. and Watson, S. (2000). Team-based schooling in Cincinnati: the third year Philadelphia: Consortium for Policy Research in Edu cation University of Pennsylvania. Supovitz, J. and Watson, S. (1999). Team-based schooling in Cincinnati: the second year Philadelphia: Consortium for Policy Research in E ducation University of Pennsylvania.
19 of 21 Supovitz, J. (1998). Team-based schooling in Cincinnati: the first year Philadelphia: Consortium for Policy Research in Education University of Pennsylvania. Thomas, G. (1992). Effective classroom teamwork: Support or intrusion London: Routledge.Weiss, C. (1992). Shared decision making about what? A comparison of schools with and without teacher participation Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Fran cisco. Loup, K. and Blas, J. (1999). Political forces in education: bright prospects in the shift to systemic reform. In National Association of Secondary School Principals Association Bulletin April, 39-47.About the AuthorsSusan Watson was a Research Associate at CPRE, University of Pe nnsylvania while contributing to the evaluation of team-based school ing. She has recently returned to New Zealand where she works an independent education co nsultant and visiting lecturer in the School of Education at Victoria University of W ellington. Her research interests include monitoring the effects of market-style poli cies in education, international comparative research and research on the social con texts of schooling. Susan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.Jonathan Supovitz is a research assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a senior researcher at the Consortium for Polic y Research in Education. At CPRE he is the principal investigator and a team member of a number of evaluations, including the evaluation of team-based schooling in Cincinnat i, the national evaluation of the America's Choice comprehensive school reform design and the evaluation of a partnership between the Merck Institute for Science Education and school districts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. At the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania he teaches about the instructional and policy uses of assessment. Jon can be contacted at email@example.com.Copyright 2001 by the Education Policy Analysis ArchivesThe World Wide Web address for the Education Policy Analysis Archives is epaa.asu.edu General questions about appropriateness of topics o r particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, firstname.lastname@example.org or reach him at College of Education, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 8 5287-0211. (602-965-9644). The Commentary Editor is Casey D. C obb: email@example.com .EPAA Editorial Board Michael W. Apple University of Wisconsin Greg Camilli Rutgers University
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