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Educational policy analysis archives.
n Vol. 11, no. 37 (October 10, 2003).
Tempe, Ariz. :
b Arizona State University ;
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida.
c October 10, 2003
Systems of practice : how leaders use artifacts to create professional community in schools / Richard R. Halverson.
Arizona State University.
University of South Florida.
t Education Policy Analysis Archives (EPAA)
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1 of 34 A peer-reviewed scholarly journal Editor: Gene V Glass College of Education Arizona State University Copyright is retained by the first or sole author, who grants right of first publication to the EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES EPAA is a project of the Education Policy Studies Laboratory. 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 Volume 11 Number 37October 10, 2003ISSN 1068-2341Systems of Practice: How Leaders Use Artifacts to C reate Professional Community in Schools Richard R. Halverson University of Wisconsin MadisonCitation: Halverson, R., (2003, October 10). System s of practice: How leaders use artifacts to create professional community in schools. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 11 (37).Retrieved [Date] from http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v11n37/.AbstractThis article explores how local school leaders cons truct the conditions for professional community in their scho ols. This paper argues that professional community is a special for m of social capital that results, in part, from the design and implementation of facilitating structural networks by instructional l eaders in schools. The structural aspects of a school community can be conceived as a system of practice that is, a network of structures, tasks and traditions that create and facilitate complex webs of practice in organizations. Systems of practice are composed of networks of artifacts such as policies, programs and procedures, which can be seen as powerful tools used by local leaders to influence local instructional practices. The system of practice fra mework suggests that leaders use artifacts to establish st ructures that facilitate the closure of professional networks amo ng teachers, which in turns builds professional community. The l eadership
2 of 34 practices of an urban elementary school are used to illustrate how professional community has been developed through t he selective design and implementation of artifacts in order to reshape the local system of practice. Professional community is widely recognized as a va luable quality of local school contexts (Lee and Smith 1996; Little 1982; S eashore Louis and Marks 1996; Newmann and Wehlage, 1995). This paper argues that professional community is generated by networks of trust and obl igation developed among teachers and school leaders around shared instructi onal practices in schools. Social capital is the accumulation of social values such as trustworthiness and respect as a result of participation in networks of social interaction, and Â“resides in the relationships within an organization and bet ween individuals (Driscoll and Kerchner 1988, 387-388). I argue that professional community is a form of social capital that results, in part, from the work of school leaders to design and implement facilitating structural networks among te achers. The research presented here develops both conceptual tools to ma ke relevant leadership practices visible and analytical tools to show how these practices, taken together, build this special form of social capital in schools. The paper is organized into two main parts: a theor etical framework designed to capture the coherence and evolution of structures t hat result in professional community, and an illustration of how the framework is used to analyze leadership practices that developed social capital in an urban elementary school with a demonstrated high level of professional comm unity. The theoretical framework proposed here explores ho w the structural aspects of a school community can be conceived as a system of practice A system of practice is the complex network of structures, task s and traditions that create and facilitate practice in organizations. Systems o f practice refer to the structural constraints through which leadership, te aching and learning Â“flowÂ” in a given school context (Ogawa and Bossert 1995). As o pposed to teachers, school leaders often introduce and maintain instruc tional change in schools through indirect means, such as the development and implementation of programs and policies, rather than through direct e ngagement with students. Here I describe this indirect influence of leaders on the local system of practice through the design and implementation of artifacts The term artifact, borrowed from human-computer interaction research (c.f. Norm an 1988; 1993), refers to entities designed to shape and enable organizationa l practices. When applied to understanding school leadership, artifacts such as policies, programs and procedures can be seen as powerful tools used by lo cal leaders to influence and maintain instructional practices in schools. A local system of practice refers to the network of artifacts, taken together, that b oth shape the given context of instruction and point toward opportunities for scho ol leaders to alter instructional practices. A system of practice provides a conceptu al framework to explain how leaders use, develop and selectively implement arti facts to influence the practices of teaching and learning in schools.The study that comprises the second part of the pap er profiles an urban school rated to have a high measure of professional commun ity, and asks: 1) what are some of the key artifacts that helped to shape the local system of practice? 2)
3 of 34 how did these artifacts evolve together, either by design or by coincidence, to shape the system of practice? and 3) how did the sy stem of practice shape the professional community of the school?After identifying and discussing the development of three key artifacts, I then use ColemanÂ’s (1988) concept of the closure of soci al systems to show how these artifacts, taken together, create the conditi ons for professional community in the school. While qualitative data often serve t o develop new theories (e.g. Strauss and Corbin 1997), the data discussed here s erve as an illustrative example of the theoretical framework described abov e. The analysis of how leaders in a particular school developed, implement ed and used artifacts offers an interesting glimpse into how leaders can create systems of practice that generate professional community, and how researcher s and school leaders can re-think their efforts to study and create professi onal community in schools.Professional CommunitiesProfessional community provides a model for creatin g the conditions for their teachers to hear, share and experiment with new ide as about practice. There has been considerable research on the character and effects of professional communities in schools (e.g. Louis, Kruse and Bryk 1995; Bryk, Camburn and Louis 1997; Newmann and Wehlage 1995, Youngs and Ki ng 2000; Supovitz and Poglinco 2000). This research indicates that ch aracteristics of schools with strong professional communities include: a clear sense of shared purpose and collective resp onsibility for student learning; professional inquiry among staff to achieve that pu rpose, including opportunities for sustained collaboration and refle ction on practice; deprivatization of teaching practice; norms of collegiality among teachers and leaders; opportunities for staff to influence school activit ies and policies. Strong professional communities in schools that pro mote collective responsibility for student learning and norms of co llegiality among teachers have been associated with higher levels of student achievement (Lee and Smith 1996; Little 1982; Louis, Marks and Kruse 1996; New mann and Wehlage 1995). The concept of Â“professional communityÂ” is a member of the larger conceptual family Â“communities of practice.Â” A community of pr actice builds and relies upon a shared core of knowledge through mutual engagemen t, joint enterprise, and a shared repertoire of skills and abilities (Wenger 1 998). In a community of practice, members interact, learn and work through participation in complex networks of shared expectations and norms. Communit ies of practice include structures and roles that induct new members into c ore practices through legitimate peripheral participation (Lave and Wenge r, 1991). These induction and mentoring structures afford the development of a sophisticated social network to parallel the task networks. While commun ities of practice often rely on informal structures to facilitate practice, over time, these structures can form institutionalized routines and roles that shape the practice of subsequent members. In more complex organizations, separate co mmunities of practice
4 of 34 evolve around common task networks, and can isolate certain groups in the organization from others (Wenger, McDermott and Sny der, 2002). In these cases, community members can find it difficult to t ranscend established institutional boundaries in order to widen their co mmunity of practice. When left unattended, schools and school faculties can fall v ictim to the peril of institutionalized isolation. Departmental and disc iplinary boundaries among teachers (McLaughlin and Talbert 1993; Stodolsky an d Grossman 1995) and boundaries between administrative and instructional practice (Rowan 1990; Weick 1976), provide significant obstacles for prac titioners to establish common communities of practice across schools. Creating co mmunities of practice that reach across the school provides a considerable cha llenge for many school leaders.It is important to note that a community takes on i ts character from the nature of the practice around which it is organized. While ma ny schools have developed a sense of community among the adults, not all comm unities can be described as professional. The nature of the practice around which the community is formed proves a key distinction, for example, betwe en a school faculty and a professional community. A professional community is shaped around the goals that define teachers as members of a profession ded icated to promoting student learning, as opposed, for example, to commu nities organized around student discipline or teacher social interaction (G rossman, Wineburg and Woolworth 2001). Professional communities develop i nternal practices and expectations to coordinate the non-routine nature o f teaching practice through self-regulation and the development of information feedback systems to correct the direction of the community (Louis, Kruse and Br yk, 1994; Huberman 1995; Little and Bird 1987; Argyris 1990). In professiona l communities, teachers have the opportunities to break down the isolation of cl assroom in collaborative, problem-setting and -solving activities with collea gues (Halverson 2002; Hargreaves 1994; Huberman 1995; Miller, Lord and Do rney 1994; Rosenholtz 1989). These activities could include collaborative curriculum design, instructional evaluation, interdisciplinary teaming and curriculum development, textbook and course material review, or school impr ovement planning (Bryk, Rollow, and Pinnell, 1996). Networks of such activi ties help to create and sustain the conditions for strong professional comm unities in schools. Although the value of professional community in sch ools is widely recognized, knowledge about how individual leaders create and s ustain professional communities is not as widely understood. Grossman, Wineburg and WoolworthÂ’s experience with developing professional community in a high school led them to comment: We have little sense of how teachers forge the bond s of community, struggle to maintain them, work through the inevita ble conflicts of social relationships, and form structures for socia l relationships over time. Without such understanding, we have little to guide us as we create community (2000, 6). We do have some understanding, however, of what lea ders do in schools with strong professional communities. Louis, Kruse and B ryk (1995) conclude that the most important task for school leaders is to cr eate meaningful opportunities
5 of 34 for teachers across the school to work together on pressing issues of common interest. Other key leader behaviors include being physically present in the school, creating networks of conversation among fac ulty; making resources available to support individual teacher development ; building bridges to networks practice and knowledge outside the local s chool; and fostering a school community in which instruction is viewed as problematic. In many cases, these behaviors both lead to and req uire structural supports for successful results. Making successful leadership pr actice accessible means, in part, creating representations of practice to be ab le to go beyond how leaders create structures to get at how these structures Â“h ang togetherÂ” in practice. If we assume that professional community is an effect of how these practices together shape a school culture, then we are faced with the need to develop both conceptual tools and practical examples that s how both how practices support one another and how aspiring leaders can fa shion similar systems in their schools. The knowledge garnered needs to inte grate what is known about the what of professional community with a framework to show how a network of practice can be developed to support such practices Distributed Leadership, Artifacts and TasksProfessional communities do not generate spontaneou sly in schools (c.f. Grossman, Wineburg and Woolworth, 2000). Rather, sc hool-wide professional community emerges through participation in the acti vities mentioned above. Much of the responsibility for designing and establ ishing these activities rests with local school leaders. As discussed above, we k now something about the kinds of conditions that both result from and promo te professional community, but we do not know as much about how leaders establ ish these practices in existing school contexts. A distributed perspective on leadership helps to identify and understand the practices that establis h the conditions of professional community in schools (Spillane, Halver son and Diamond 2001). A distributed perspective defines instructional leade rship as the establishment and maintenance of the conditions for improving teachin g and learning in schools (Spillane, Halverson and Diamond 2001, 23). The foc us for understanding how leadership is distributed through an organization i s to focus on the leadership tasks These tasks are distributed across two primary di mensions in schools: the social distribution refers to the network of people engaged in leaders hip tasks, while situational distribution refers to how tasks are constrained and afforded by the context within which leaders work.I suggest that professional community is an outcome of certain configurations of social networks in a school. Leaders influence the development of social networks not only through direct participation, but also indirectly through the formation of task networks shaped by the design and implementation of artifacts. The concept of artifact plays a main role in this argument how leaders build the conditions for professional community in schools. As used in research in human-computer interaction, computer sc ience and cognitive psychology, artifacts are entities intentionally de signed to interact with, aid or alter the practices of people (c.f. Norman 1988; Si mon 1996; Wartofsky 1979). With respect to schools and leadership, artifacts refer to the programs, procedures and policies designed to shape or reform existing practices in the
6 of 34 institutional context (Halverson and Zoltners 2001) This account of artifacts and leadership relies upo n a significant history of research on the institutional and professional stru ctures that frame and enable leadership agency. Early research guiding the Ohio State Leadership Scales, for example, contrasted the concept of Â“initiating structures,Â” such as schedules and procedures with Â“consideration,Â” or supportiven ess and compassion, to describe how leaders guide the work of followers (H alpin & Winer 1957). The range of initiating structures available to leaders is determined, in part, by the institutional and the culture context of work. Inst itutional theorists suggest that initiating structures are embedded in institutional routines, and come to constitute the background, framing expectations for work in an organization (Rowan and Miskel 1999). Organizational researchers emphasize how such structures both rely on and help to shape culture. Schein (1992) describes how as organizations grow, they rely on cultural artifa cts such as architecture, rituals, stories, and formal statements to perpetuate the es tablished organizational culture. Over time, this network of artifacts comes to constraint the range of possible actions for the organization. Leaders inte rested in reopening organizational possibilities must engage in the pro cess of deconstructing and rebuilding a new set of artifacts to shape organiza tional practices. With respect to schools, Deal and Peterson (1990; 1994) consider how leaders need to balance multiple roles in order to attend to how th e symbolic and technical structures of schools influence the development of culture. Schools rely upon a network of structures, such as pervasive opportunit ies for professional development and established occasions to celebrate success in learning and in collaboration, to maintain a positive culture (Pete rson & Deal 2002). While each of these perspectives points out the val ue of how structures influence and are influenced by leaders, the concep t of artifact promises to help us understand the agency of individual leaders in d eveloping structures to influence practice in a given direction. I suggest that the structural context of a school is composed of a variety of artifacts that, over time, come to shape organizational practice. One way to categorize arti facts is according to their place of origin. For example, the situation of scho ol leadership is composed of locally designed, received, and inherited artifacts : Locally designed artifacts are designed by local actors to address emergent acute and chronic concerns in the school. Locally designed artifacts range from meeting agendas to collaborati ve curriculum design teams, from daily school schedules and attendance p rocedures to lunchroom policies. Such artifacts aim to shape pra ctice either through developing a repository of appropriate responses to emergent issues, such as artifacts as that act as precedents for ant icipated situations (fire drill policies or appropriate use policies for Inte rnet browsing) or by instituting procedures that routinize practice arou nd intended goals (such as standardized, locally designed curriculum across grade levels, or the structure of the daily school schedule). Locally de signed artifacts can, over time, come to be recognized as inherited artifacts (see below) through turnover in leadership or faculty/staff composition Received artifacts are adopted and implemented by the local school. These artifacts are received from identifiable exte rnal sources, such as
7 of 34 state and district authorities, teacher unions, tex tbook and curriculum publishers, or professional development providers. Examples of received artifacts include policies regarding assessment, bu dgeting and planning artifacts, or textbooks or curricula. Local institu tions are not responsible for the design of received artifacts, but are responsib le for artifact implementation and maintenance. The implementation of some received artifacts, such as high-stakes achievement tests an d budgeting procedures, is mandatory, in other cases, such as m any curriculum packages or student records programs, implementatio n is optional. Inherited artifacts comprise the institutional context of practice. In herited artifacts give rise to practices and routines for w hich the original artifacts, whether received or designed, have long since been effaced. For example, the nine-month school year resulted from a series of long-lost initiatives to structure the school year according to the planting season; the graded classroom resulted from similar programs designed to create access to education at scale in large urban areas. The specific initiatives that sponsored these practices have long been forgo tten-what remains are the ways the artifacts have shaped and institut ionalized practices. Local leaders may attempt to correct or mitigate th e effects of inherited artifacts either through the implementation of rece ived artifacts or the development of locally designed artifacts. Both leadership and instructional practice are dist ributed across a network of locally designed, received and inherited artifacts. Together, this network of artifacts coordinates the practices and routines th at form the instructional system of the school. A description of this network however, is insufficient to get at what leaders do to promote professional comm unity (c.f. Peterson, McCarthey and Elmore 1996). Kruse and Louis (1996) warn Â“while absence of structural supports impedes professional community; the presence of supportive structures are not sufficient to sustain the growth Â” (13). An example of the limits of a structural account is the issue of common plan ning time in school schedules. Establishing programs that build common planning time into the daily schedule is a way school leaders can alter an inherited artifact in order to shape instructional practices. Without meaningful t asks, however, planning time is often spent in non-instructional activities or p ersonal projects. In order to understand how school leaders create and sustain pr ofessional community, we must go beyond artifact description to accounts how artifact networks can come to shape school communities.Systems of PracticeA system of practice is a representation of how the local network of artifacts facilitates the flow of instructional practices of the school. The system of practice is moves beyond a mere context for practic e to describe the dynamic interplay of artifact and tasks that inform, constr ain and constitute local practice. Teachers and school leaders not only work within th e constraints of the network of artifacts in their given situation, but they thi nk about the limits and possibilities of their practice in terms of this network. A schoo l or district-mandated standardized textbook series, for example, provides artifacts that help teachers structure their lessons in certain ways, cover cert ain material, and understand
8 of 34 student learning in terms of an established curricu lum. Changing the range of available instructional artifacts not only changes the context of learning, but also influences the ways that teachers understand learni ng in their classrooms. This interplay between context and constitution req uires a more dynamic, systemic perspective on the conditions leaders esta blish to shape teaching and learning. Research in activity theory (Engestrm 19 96) provides a dynamic representational model of contexts that constitute practice. Engestrm suggests Â“contexts are neither containers nor situationally created experiential spacesÂ” (67). Rather, Engestrm (1987) proposes that contex ts are better seen as activity systems that tie the actor(s), the outcomes, and mediating artifacts into a unified system of action. Engestrm claims that p eople engage in the tasks of work through participation in local activity system s. Understanding and communicating work practices requires making the es sential aspects of the activity system Â“visibleÂ” for reflection and evalua tion (Suchman 1995). In schools, the practice of teachers and students i s constituted by their participation in the activity system of teaching an d learning. While researchers have paid considerable attention to the nature of t he activity system in schools from an instructional perspective (c.f. Ball and Co hen 1996; McLaughlin and Talbert 1993), school leaders stand in a different relation than do teachers to this instructional activity system. Leaders qua leaders do not engage in the activity system of teaching and learning as much as they shape and maintain the system. Leaders are actors on, not actors withi n, the instructional activity system. This does not mean that teachers cannot be leaders, but it does suggest that as leaders, teachers take a different perspective as participants in the activity system of teaching and learning. Thus schools include at least two levels of activity systems Â– one frames the practic es of teaching and learning, the other frames the practices of school leadership (c.f. Weick 1976; 1982). A key aspect of school leadership is the ability to m anage the administrative activity system such that leaders can Â“make roomÂ” t o shape the instructional activity system in schools. The ability to engage i n both systems simultaneously points toward how management and leadership practic es might be integrated in promoting instructional improvement (c.f. Cuban 198 8; Elmore 2001). Considering the activity system of teaching and lea rning from the outside, as it were, requires that leaders consider the instructio nal system as a whole in order to understand how the different features of the sys tem interact. A system of practice is thus a representation of an external pe rspective on the instructional activity system from the perspective of leaders Â– a reification of the activity system for the purpose of identifying the key lever s for maintenance and manipulation. Systems of practice reflect leaderÂ’s perspectives on how the structure of traditions, policies, programs, resour ces and expectations fit together to shape a school culture and local practi ces. While the common inherited artifacts of schools create a high level of isomorphism among local systems of practice in ways that provide common con straints and affordances between systems, variations in received and designe d artifacts allow local systems of practice to reflect local circumstances distinct for each school. The variation in local systems of practice may explain why artifacts developed and implemented successfully in one setting may be co-o pted or marginalized when implanted in another (Powell, Farrar and Cohen 1985 ; Cuban 1986, 1990).
9 of 34 From the perspective of leaders, understanding and learning to manipulate the underlying artifact structure points to areas which can be adjusted to change the tasks of the system in order to support innovative programs. A large measure of local leadership expertise requires getting to know how the unique features of each context influence artifact design and use and understanding how to introduce and manage artifacts that will produce in tended changes (Halverson 2002).Professional Community and the Development of Socia l Capital Professional community is an outcome of certain sys tems of practice in schools. It is evidenced by the emergence of a social networ k of practice organized around sharing and developing instructional experti se and practice. One way to understand professional community as a form of capa city is to treat it as a special kind of social capital. Capital is used in contemporary economic and sociological discussions to refer to the financial, material or personal resources upon which actors and organizations can draw to mai ntain or change existing practices. Coleman (1988) developed the concept of social capital to refer to resources available to an actor or an organization by virtue of participation in certain interpersonal or institutional structures. While material and human capital are possessed by the actor personally, soci al capital Â“inheres in the structure of relations between actors and among act orsÂ” (s98). Social capital is developed through social interact ion (Wehlage 1993). Coleman describes how social capital primarily takes the fo rm of trust among members of a society and an organization. In organizations, tr ust is built through participation in networks of obligation and commitm ent, which offer opportunities for participants to rely upon one ano ther in the pursuit of common interests or for the completion of shared tasks. Pa rticipation in these networks of reciprocal obligations and commitment help actor s to develop reputation in an organization (Fowler 1999). Thus trust is developed as an actor realizes he can work or share ideas with certain colleagues, while reputation accrues when actors in an organization develop opinions about th e trustworthiness of other actors.Organizations with high levels of social capital ha ve high levels of trustworthiness between members. This establishment of trustworthy organizational practices helps people share ideas a nd abilities together, giving organizational access to resources that had been pr eviously untapped. (Bryk and Schneider 1996) Bryk and Schneider (2002) sugge st that a high level of trust among adults in schools is a critical resourc e for school leaders engaging in program reform. In their examination of Chicago Public School data from 1990 to 1996, they found that schools with high lev els of trust at the beginning of reform efforts have a 1 in 2 chance of improving student achievement scores in math and reading, while schools with low levels of trust instead faced a 1 in 7 chance of making significant gains (Bryk and Schnei der 2002). While the cause and effect relationship of trust and change is diff icult to trace, this research points toward how trust is used as a critical resou rce for school leaders in organizational change.While many schools offer ample opportunities for in teraction, not all of these
10 of 34 interactions help create professional community. So cial capital is not a generic capacity Â– it takes its character from the nature o f the interactions from which it is spawned. For example, schools in which adult int eractions focus on solving disciplinary and academic problems with individual students, designing individual education plans for special education st udents, or around teacher social interaction may create social capital, but n ot necessarily professional community. Grossman, Wineburg and Woolworth (2000) suggest that when conversations around instruction occur in schools w ith high levels of social capital, but no significant history of professional community, a sense of Â“pseudo-communityÂ” is created in which actors may i nteract but do not engage in difficult discussions about instruction. In such schools, there are few structured opportunities for interaction about the quality or the process of instruction, and thus little social capital develop ed around instruction. In the absence of structural supports, it is left to indiv idual teachers to seek out opportunities to interact around instruction. Some teachers develop close relationships with certain colleagues, or engage in professional networks outside the school (Spillane and Thompson 1997; Hub erman 1995). When these conversations are left to individual initiati ve, the social capital that contributes to professional community may be develo ped among motivated individuals but may not be distributed across the s chool. Professional community, then, is a kind of social c apital that emerges in certain systems of practice. To create professional communi ty, school leaders either shape existing artifacts or design new artifacts to create the structures that foster social capital. Artifacts that give teachers opportunities to discuss practice, develop programs, and understand assessme nt information help to create the kind of trust within the organization th at marks professional community. The resulting professional community the n becomes a form of capacity to support subsequent instructional practi ce. The next section of the paper provides a profile of the system of practice in a school with a record of strong professional community to illustrate this hy pothesis. To highlight features of how local leaders influenced the system of pract ice, I consider how three key artifacts were created and implmenented to shape th e instructional practices on the school, and then describe how these artifacts t ogether helped shape a system of practice that resulted in a strong profes sional community.Adams SchoolTo illustrate the how a system of practice yields s trong professional community, I have chosen an urban elementary school with a str ong professional community as well as a record of improved student a chievement. Adams School (a pseudonym), a preK-8 school in Chicago, h as an established record of improved student learning, a deserved reputation as a school with a well-articulated vision and record of instructional leadership and professional community, and a stable leadership team willing to grant access to the artifacts that compose the local system of practice. An exter nal report (Consortium for Chicago School Research 1998) indicated high measur es of the component aspects of professional community at Adams, includi ng a shared focus on student learning; peer collaboration among teachers and leaders; public classroom practices; reflective dialogue among teac hers; willingness for teachers to engage in innovation; and school-wide s upport for change. During
11 of 34 this time, the school also experienced increases in student test scores. Figure 1. Adams ITBS % students at/above national n orms Measures of student achievement had shown improveme nt over the period 1995-2001 on the district-wide standardized ITBS (I owa Tests of Basic Skills) as well as on the statewide assessment IGAP (Illino is Assessment Program). ITBS scores showed significant improvement in stude nt performance in math and reading (Figure 1). These improvements have occ urred in the face of annual student mobility rates of 30-40% and the cha llenge of 97% low-income student population.The Adams school leadership team was centered aroun d Principal Therese Williams (all pseudonyms). During her twelve-year t enure as principal, Williams led Adams from one of the poorest student performan ce records in Chicago to a school in which experienced yearly gains in reading and math performance. Williams assembled a leadership team from talented teachers within the building willing to contribute to the creation and implmentation of a series of innovative, locally designed artifacts intended to improve student learning. The artifacts described here guide the story of how Williams and the Adams school community created professional community and improved student learning. The research presented in here resulted f rom the collaboration of several research teams to assemble a profile of ins tructional leadership at Adams.Project researchers made 1-2 visits per week over three years (1998-2000) to record a wide variety of leadership practices. Data collected and developed included multiple structured and semi-str uctured interviews with leaders and teachers; extensive field notes reporti ng school meetings and classroom observations; a twenty-three hour video-r ecord of interviews, meeting and classroom observations, and reflective intervie ws using video as an occasion for discussion; and an extensive catalog o f artifacts including school improvement planning documents, teacher observation s, meeting agendas, program descriptions, school calendars and schedule s, and memoranda. To access and analyze how leaders used artifacts to shape the system of
12 of 34 practice in the school, I looked for evidence of si gnificant artifact use and development, and used the found artifacts found as occasions to analyze the instructional leadership practice in the school. Fi rst, the data were coded to identify artifacts either mentioned or apparent in the operation of the school in order to develop a map of the artifacts relevant to instructional practice at Adams school. Eight locally designed or implemented artifacts were identified as components of the local system of practice (See Appendix 1). Once identified, the data were re-considered to understa nd how the artifacts came to shape the local system of practice. The data were c oded a second time in terms of a Design Cycle Analysis Model (DCAM), an analyti c model developed to track the genesis, development, iteration and subse quent institutionalization of artifacts (Halverson 2002). DCAM (Appendix 2) was c onstructed to trace the development of artifacts as outcomes of leaderÂ’s pr oblem-setting and problem-solving practices. The model seeks to under stand how artifacts that result from a problem-setting and solving cycle can come to serve as resources for subsequent problem-setting and artifact design. Conversations with the designers, analysis of the documentary record of ar tifact development and observations of artifact use were used to explore t he component aspects of the DCAM model: the goals of the designers, the strategies used in the design and implementation of the artifact, the resources drawn upon in design and implementation, the situational constraints and affordances that effected the implementation and use, and the ways in which artif acts evolved over time to become resources for subsequent problem-setting efforts. For this paper, I chose three artifacts to illustra te how Adams leaders attempted to reshape the local system of practice: the Breakf ast Club, the Five-Week Assessment program and the School Improvement Plann ing process. These three were selected as the artifacts recognized mos t often, both by the researchers and by Adams practitioners, as key to t he Adams system of practice. The narratives that follow result from th e DCAM analysis of the three artifacts in order to illustrate the genesis and ev olution of several key features of the Adams system of practice as well as to show how the artifacts produce the conditions of professional community in the school.Breakfast ClubBreakfast Club was designed in 1995 as an opportuni ty for teachers to discuss research relevant to current instructional initiati ves and practices among pre K-3 language arts teachers at Adams. Breakfast Club inv olved monthly meetings in which a teacher led a discussion before the school day about a piece of research, usually concerning reading or writing ins truction, with group of pre K-3 teachers and administrators. During the years 19982000, there was an average of eight Breakfast Club meetings per year, with an average of fourteen pre K-3 faculty members in attendance. Principal Williams a ttended about three-quarters of the Breakfast Club meetings durin g this time period. Hard-learned experience about the perils of imposin g professional development opportunities from above led the school leadership team to consult with a number of grade-level teachers about initial progra m design. Reflective interviews with members of the design team revealed the following features to be built into the Breakfast Club design:
13 of 34 the program should not be mandatory to avoid the st ultifying atmosphere of many faculty meetings; the substance of the discussions themselves should sell the program Â— if valued information was exchanged at the meeting, wo rd would get around and people would want to come; meetings should take place in the mornings, so that teachers would be fresh and ready to entertain new ideas; readings should be kept short, so that teachers wou ld have a greater chance of reading them before coming to the session ; and teachers should be able to select the readings and lead the discussions. The administrative team thought that the readings s hould be aligned with the instructional priorities of the school, particularl y in language arts, so that teachers would be reading about issues that they sh ould be practicing in their classrooms. Williams thought that a hot breakfast, paid from her own pocket, would give a clear indication to faculty members to show that she was willing to sacrifice for the program to get off the ground.While Breakfast Club began as an artifact for teach ers to talk about research and practice, it has since evolved into a more comp lex artifact to support teacher brainstorming, experimentation, and design of curricular initiatives. Sample Breakfast Club topics from the 1998-2000 sch ool years included a review of a multiple methods approach to language a rts instruction, a conversation about the value and viability of learn ing centers in primary classrooms, discussions of the components of an ide al language arts classroom, and presentations on how various compone nts of a new school-wide language arts initiative worked out in teachers cla ssrooms. The conversations and interactions that started during Breakfast Club have become a significant organizing framework for the kinds of activities th at characterize the local professional community.Breakfast Club and professional communityThe structures and practices of Breakfast Club help ed to create some of characteristics of professional community at Adams, including 1) the establishment of teacher collaboration and curricul um design as a cornerstone of the professional development program, 2) the dep rivatization of practice and the cultivation and exploitation of in-house expert ise among faculty and staff, and 3) the creation of a sense of both vision and o wnership about the instructional program.First, Breakfast Club was originally designed to su pplement the existing professional development program at the school. The design represented both a change in degree and a change in kind for prior p rofessional development at Adams. Many externally designed professional develo pment efforts, intended to bring new ideas into the school, proved too intermi ttent and variable in quality to provide much long-lasting impact on student achieve ment scores. Early in her tenure, Principal Williams organized curriculum rev iew teams first within grade level (1990-91), then across grade levels (1992-93) to get teachers talking about the school instructional program. Williams at tributed the failure of these
14 of 34 design efforts to improve test scores to the fact t hat teachers were merely reorganizing existing ideas instead of importing ne w ideas into their classrooms and discussions. Breakfast Club extended this signi ficant history of teacher collaboration through the design of an artifact to support group consideration of new instructional ideas. The evolution of Breakfast Club to support teacher-led curriculum experimentation helped spark a change in kind from prior professional development efforts at Adams. Over tim e, the Breakfast Club discussions came to reflect a blend of reporting on best practices research and teacher reflection on the problems or possibilities offered by their daily practice. The Breakfast Club paradigm helped to change the wa y Adams leaders and teacher thought about professional development in t he school, and created systemic opportunities for teachers to reflect on t heir instructional practices in light of new ideas.Second, the opportunity for teachers to lead and pa rticipate in Breakfast Club discussions helped to deprivatize practice and crea ted substantial in-house instructional expertise. While initial meetings pro vided opportunities for interested teachers to become familiar with and dis cuss new ideas, in later meetings teachers would report on their efforts to try out these ideas in their classrooms. Creating a loop within the teacher comm unity from discussing, to experimenting, to reporting on their experience wit h new ideas helped to create a system of reflective practice in the school. This was particularly true of the teachers who initially took leadership roles in the discussion and experimentation with new language arts ideas and te chniques. The reflective loop created by the implementation of Breakfast Clu b encouraged many teachers to discuss instructional practices about l anguage arts instruction openly with one another. Deprivatizing practice als o had the effect of allowing teachers and school leaders to recognize and exploi t the considerable local instructional expertise in the design of subsequent professional development opportunities. For example, spin-offs artifacts suc h as Teacher Leader (1998) provided a half-day professional development meetin g to allow teachers to conduct workshops about the ideas developed and sha red during Breakfast Club, while Teacher Talk (1997) applied the format of Breakfast Club to the middle School faculty meetings. The cultivation of in-house expertise, through Breakfast Club and other initiatives, was an import ant source of developing internal leadership opportunities for teachers with in the school. The Adams school leaders developed artifacts such as Breakfas t Club, in part, to provide avenues for leadership and the development of exper tise, thus helping to enrich the human capital available for subsequent problemsolving opportunities. Third, Breakfast Club provided an organizing artifa ct for developing a shared sense of instructional vision and direction. Instea d of imposing a sense of direction on the language arts program, the structu res and practices of Breakfast Club allowed for the collaborative consid eration and experimentation of alternative programs. As teachers explored and r eflected upon alternative practices, they could come to realize how the propo sed practices might remedy the shortcomings of the existing instructional prog ram. In 1999, after several years of discussion and experimentation, the teache rs and school leaders selected Pat CunninghamÂ’s Four Blocks of Literacy ( Cunningham et. al. 1998) program for the cornerstone of their new language a rts program. Breakfast Club served as a foundation for teachers to come togethe r on the need for and
15 of 34 merits of instructional initiatives, and provided a structure to support inquiry and collaborative design. The value of Breakfast Club a s a structured forum for reflection on practice was shown in several 2000-20 01 meetings, as the school community reflected upon their experiences with the Four Blocks program and came to experiment with several new programs to sup plement the existing program. Breakfast Club provided a legitimate, on-g oing forum to discuss and vet proposed directions, helping to continuously te st and revamp the plan for language arts instruction in the school.The structures established by Breakfast Club helped to create practices that resulted in several of the characteristics of profe ssional community in the school. As it began to shape the local system of pr actice at Adams, local leaders and teachers tinkered with Breakfast Club i tself to support an increased range of collaborative activities and reflection on practice in addition to its original goal of bringing new research ideas to the school faculty. This generative effect of the artifact on the system of practice will be explored in the following sections.Five-Week AssessmentThe Five-Week Assessment program was designed as a means to provide meaningful formative data to teachers and leaders a bout student progress toward improved performance on the summative distri ct standardized tests. At Adams, the ITBS and, more recently, the ISAT presen ted a challenge for instructional leadership to reshape the instruction al program to aid student performance on the district-mandated tests. As a Ch icago public school, Adams teachers and leaders are held accountable for demon strating student achievement improvement as a measure of school perf ormance. The culture of professional community and collaborative design, re sulting in part from innovations such as Breakfast Club, has led Adams s chool leaders to frame the problem of reshaping the school instructional progr am in terms of collaborative artifact development.The Five-Week Assessment case offers insight into h ow the Adams community adjusted to the demands of standardized testing. Ev ery five weeks, teachers throughout the school conducted a 1-2 hour assessme nt with their students. A team of teachers and leaders collected and graded t he assessments, and consequently discussed the results to plan interven tion strategies for under performing classrooms. The team also determined the assessment topics. Each year a schedule of assessments was developed for th e upcoming school year. Initially designed to prepare students for the ITBS exam, the assessment program shifted toward testing children for the kin ds of narrative, expository and persuasive writing and open-ended questions require d by the ISAT.Five-Week Assessment and professional communityFive-Week Assessment was designed meet an emergent need for assessment information within the existing school system of pr actice. As one teacher described:
16 of 34 We realized that the (district) tests themselves di dn't give us much information about what we could do to improve our s cores Â– mainly because we received the results well after we could do anything about it. We thought that a more frequent assessmen t program, say every nine weeks, would tell us where the children were. The Five-Week Assessment began as an effort to retr ofit the specific, learning outcome demands of the standardized test, particula rly in language arts, to the existing instructional system of the school. Prior collaborative design efforts at Adams suggested that this effort too could be an oc casion for collaboration. In 1998, a small group of teachers and school leaders worked to establish developmental benchmarks for student achievement by reverse engineering the ITBS.The initial implementation of the benchmarks provid ed information about student achievement, but did not suggest what teach ers could do to improve achievement. By 2000, the re-designed Five-Week Ass essment became an effective diagnostic tool as teachers and leaders c ollaboratively used the data, through artifacts such as Breakfast Club and Teache r Leader, to shape the existing instructional program by providing intermi ttent check-points in the curriculum that teachers could use to check student progress school-wide. While high-stakes accountability systems can provid e an occasion to integrate feedback about program effectiveness into the schoo l system of practice, their introduction can also serve to threaten existing pr ofessional community in a school. School leaders who use accountability syste ms to pit teachers, grade levels and schools against one another can erode tr ust, and lead to a further insulation of practice. At Adams, school leaders re alized that using the results of the test scores at the classroom level could create competition and resentment among teachers, and discourage the formation of pro fessional community. The Language Arts Coordinator commented on the need for grade-level reporting of scores to turn accountability data into a positive force: I think Â… when the IGAP was first started it did so mething very interesting that almost forced us to work as a team Â… (Reporting at the classroom level led us to think) this one teach er over here could be a shining star, but if the other two or three we re not getting the same kinds of results then that one teacher didn't look good anymore because my score was not enough to pull up the entire grade level. So, if I want my grade level to get a good score then I need to help these other teachers pull up to where I am. The Five-Week Assessment helped to mitigate the sum mative effect of standardized test scores by providing intermittent benchmarks to gauge the projected results. Although the results of the Five -Week Assessment did not anticipate the standardized test results at first, over time, as the curriculum became more aligned with the assessments, the FiveWeek Assessment proved an effective means to point out teachers who were doing particularly well as well as a warning flag for problem classrooms. F or example, the Five-Week Assessment (since expanded to include the subjects tested on the ISAT)
17 of 34 revealed that 5th grade students in a particular cl assroom were falling behind in science. The teacher commented that: "looking at th e Five Week Assessment saved our butts because we could focus in on helpin g the students learn the science content they needed to do well on the test. In this case, teachers worked to enhance the existing language arts progra m with more science-related readings in order to supplement the existing science program. Here the Five-Week Assessment served as an alarm to bring the resources of the Adams professional community to bear in address ing instructional issues before they emerged as accountability problems.While professional community can emerge from the ex pression and sharing of common interests around instruction, the long-term viability of professional community may well depend upon the development of f eedback structures to provide information about how collaboratively desig ned initiatives are working. The Five-Week Assessment introduced a mediating art ifact between received district accountability measures and the local syst em of practice in order to make the adjustment of the instructional program tr actable, helping to both deepen the professional community and to bring the resources of the community to bear on emergent instructional issues.School-Improvement Planning ProcessUnlike Breakfast Club or the Five-Week Assessment p rocess, the School Improvement Plan (SIP) was a received artifact esta blished as a mandatory district-wide practice for all Chicago Public Schoo ls in 1989 by the Illinois legislature. In many schools, such district-designe d instructional planning processes can serve as mandated hoops through which school leaders must jump, completing forms for the sake of compliance a nd never consulted until the next round of submission is due. When treated as ex ternal interventions, such received artifacts can glance off the school system of practice, leaving core instructional practices untouched. However, savvy l eaders use features of artifacts such as the SIP to both satisfy district requirements and to stimulate desired instructional changes in the school.The district-developed school improvement planning process was an artifact designed to help school leaders coordinate budgetar y and instructional priorities with the local school councils (LSCs) and the centr al office. Adams school leaders took the SIP as an opportunity to extend ex isting collaborative planning practices. School improvement planning was intertwi ned with many of the leadership practices at Adams, reaching back to the arrival of Principal Williams at Adams in the late 1980s. She reports that instru ctional planning was one of her initial tasks at Adams: (W)e began school improvement immediately, I believ e it was 1988 when the first legislation passed that created scho ol improvement plan, and we started from the beginning having ever ybody who wanted to be involved, involved. Instructional planning, for Williams, was a way to get faculty and staff involved in conversations around instruction. By the late 19 90s, the district-received School Improvement Plan came to serve as a comprehe nsive artifact to provide
18 of 34 coherence to the school professional development an d planning processes. Each fall Williams opened the school year with a re view of the student achievement goals as specified in the current Schoo l Improvement Plan. During the fall semester, teachers would participate in th e in-service programs through artifacts such as Breakfast Club and Teacher Talk, and leaders would access the progress of instructional innovations through t he Five-Week Assessment. During the spring semester, the community would rev isit the School Improvement Plan goals and outline a new plan durin g a series of formal meetings. In March, subject-matter specific meeting s were called to hammer out program priorities and student achievement goals fo r the upcoming school year. Thus the final plan submitted in May to satisfy dis trict requirements reflected a profound local adaptation of the school improvement planning process to cultivate the local development of professional com munity.The School Improvement Plan and professional commun ityCollaborative inquiry and design are the keys for h ow the School Improvement Plan process contributed to professional community at Adams. While the School Improvement Plan was itself the outcome of a collaborative design effort, it also served as an Â“umbrellaÂ” artifact to coordinate specific instructional planning opportunities throughout the year, and as a tool to focus the vision of instructional leadership and practice. The role of the School Improvement Plan as an organizing artifact made it a powerful hub fo r professional community in the school.Adams school improvement planning provided an on-go ing, organizing occasion for collaborative design and assessment of the inst ructional program rather than an isolated task to be completed and shelved. Compr ehensive instructional planning, for Williams, was a way to get faculty an d staff involved in conversations around instruction. The School Improv ement Plan currently plays a central role in organizing multiple collaborative efforts. As described by one school leader: (e)verything is tied into in the SIP somehow, thatÂ’ s what gives it credibility in the school. Early on, when the SIP m eetings were poorly attended, people would complain about not ha ving the resources to get good work done, and the administra tors would reply that the teachers needed to come to the meetings to plan for the things they wanted. The budget, and the initiatives are all tied in, if you want to participate, you have to come early and stay late (at these meetings). Adams leaders set the problem of school improvement planning as a global process that addresses the key instructional goals of the school, and how, in turn, the instructional goals of the school are cus tomized to satisfy the requirements of the SIP. This iteration between pla n and program, between external and locally designed artifacts, shows the compounding effect of interrelated practices over time. The local emphasi s on planning also helps to give focus to a shared instructional vision in the school. The School Improvement Plan clearly states both the instructio nal goals and outlines the means of their achievement; the annual collaborativ e development of the
19 of 34 School Improvement Plan helps insure that the commu nity at large is involved in both understanding and reviewing the instructional mission of the school.Professional community in action: a vignetteThe School Improvement Plan meetings provide a glim pse into the activity of professional community at Adams. In Chicago, the an nual School Improvement Plan is expected to outline how the school will sup port student achievement gains in math and language arts in the upcoming yea r. A 2000 math School Improvement Plan meeting illustrated how this colla borative planning process worked. Language arts coordinator Gwen Tracy took t he lead by instructing teachers to review the 1999-2000 Math plan. After a bout five minutes of buzzing conversation, a first-grade teacher began a discuss ion of the adequacy of the current HBJ textbook series. Tracy later explained that: The teachers have to own the meeting process becaus e the SIP depends upon their commitment to the changes we pro poseÂ…if the teachers donÂ’t take charge, the meetings donÂ’t work Â….There were a couple of times during the meeting today where (Fir st Grade Teacher Mrs.) Brown looked over at me (for some hel p at getting the meeting going). Tracy related that after many of the early SIP meet ings, people would come up to her and let her know programs or resources they wanted but didnÂ’t bring up at the meeting. At first, the teachers didnÂ’t see it this way, then they realized that all of the resources are passed out through the SIP Â– i f they weren't involved in the process, they didnÂ’t get any of the resources. As the math discussion unfolded, the five members o f the Math Committee (teachers from grades 1, 3, 5, 6 & 8) acted to coor dinate the brainstorming session. One Math committee member noted that Â“We n eed to work on the more open-ended, problem-solving aspect of mathÂ” in anticipation of the new accountability challenges proposed by the ISAT. An eighth grade Math Committee member added that Â’next yearsÂ’ (text)book has a lot of practice with open-ended questionsÂ…the middle school lessons will have an open-ended question every dayÂ…consistent with the NCTM standar ds.Â” (NCTE is the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.) Teac her perceptions seemed to be that the while the ITBS focused more on skills t esting, new ISAT would focus more on problem-setting and Â–solving issues. The ma th committee recognized that the current instructional program was well tai lored to the math problems of the ITBS, but not as well suited to the ISAT.The meeting served as an opportunity to review prev ious math SIPs plans with respect to other program initiatives. One teacher c ommented that the Five-Week Assessment program in math be expanded to provide the information generated by the language arts assessme nts: Â“I think we should make the assessments similar to how they are planne d for Language Arts, I would like to see us plan for the testing in math t he same way.Â” This lack of coordination between math and language arts pointed to how the school had
20 of 34 chosen to allocate subject-matter leadership resour ces. TracyÂ’s role in coordinating the Five-Week Assessment in language a rts had no organizational analogue in math Â— the math exams were developed an d conducted by full-time teachers and apparently had not received the same attention and review as the language arts exams. This lack of org anizational resources was now being felt as teachers faced the new instructio nal demands of the ISAT. As one teacher commented: Â“when you look at last years ISATs, (you can see) what we are doing now (for the 5 week assessments) is not working.Â” This SIP review and design meeting provides a glimp se into the collaborative planning practices at Adams. The meetings are held to provide faculty with an opportunity to shape the school instructional progr am. The design meetings rely upon considerable resources in developing problem-s olutions. Prior experiences with the Five-Week Assessment program, Breakfast Club and collaborative program design meant that teachers an d administrators could focus on program refinement rather than novel redes ign; experience with group collaboration practices meant that much of the proc ess could be simply assumed so that participants could focus on how pro grams can be coordinated into a coherent instructional program rather than o n the process of collaboration. As one school leader noted, (M)ost of the programs we bring up in the SIP are s eeded over lunch and at grade level meetings. For example, we talked about the Four Blocks program a full year before we introduced it into the SIP. (One first-grade) teacher who reads a lot presented the basic ideas of the Four Blocks at a Breakfast Club, and there were sev eral Teacher Leader meetings about the Four Blocks program. I kn ow that the program was discussed at grade level meetings, by t he time we talked about putting it into the SIP, everyone was on-board. The School Improvement Plan itself was a district-d esigned artifact that afforded certain forms of school-level planning, co ordination with student achievement outcomes, and discretion over resource allocation. In the hands of Adams school leaders, the plan became an occasion f or collaborative design of the school instructional program, and while these p ractices were not new to the Adams community, the artifact created a powerful an d legitimate opportunity for school leaders to deepen and extend the collaborati ve practices that already existed in the school.Professional Community and the Closure of Open Syst emsAdams school leaders began with a focus on improvin g student learning, and created artifacts to help teachers understand and d evelop programs to help students learn better. The intention for the design of programs such as Breakfast Club, Five-Week Assessment or School Impr ovement Plan was to improve student learning, not necessarily to create professional community. The value of professional community was initially not c lear to Principal Williams. After some time, however, she reported that: Â“we be gan to believe in the importance of professional community when we realiz ed that, it wasnÂ’t taking classes, but that it was when teachers started talk ing about their teaching that the scores started improving.Â” Professional communi ty was not created so
21 of 34 much in the design and implementation of each artif act as realized in the effects of the artifacts taken together, as a system of pra ctice, over time. If the value of creating professional community was not clear to Adams school leaders, initially the methods of creating professi onal community were vague as well. As the artifacts began to shape the system of practice at Adams, the emergent sense of professional community helped to create the conditions that helped to shape subsequent artifacts in the school. In other words, professional community was a by-product of instructional improve ment efforts that became, over time, a condition for subsequent artifact deve lopment. This next section will outline how each artifact created the social capita l of professional community within the school, and discuss how the artifacts to gether helped to for the backbone of a reformed system of practice at Adams.Coleman (1988) describes how social capital develop ed through the closure of social or information structures in organizations. Closure happens when actors have opportunities to interact, create trust and de velop reputations around selected practices. Closure involves creating feedb ack loops for information and social interaction in organization. Social capital is developed in organizations and interactions that present redundant opportuniti es for closure. Open systems, on the other hand, present little opportun ity for closure. In open systems, actors diverge from the source of informat ion or directive without structured opportunities for subsequent reconvergen ce. Trust around core practices does not develop because actors have litt le opportunity to enter into relations that create obligations or commitments. M any school instructional systems or practice are open in this fashion (Figur e 2). In order to promote professional communities in schools, leaders must c reate legitimate structures that give rise to the occasions in which teachers c an share and reflect upon their hard-won instructional expertise, question th eir own practices, and accept the suggestions of peers. From ColemanÂ’s perspectiv e, these structures need to provide closure for open social and information networks in organi zations. Closing a system means establishing feedback system s in which actors can receive information about the degree to which oblig ations have been entered into and fulfilled. The instructional systems of ma ny schools remain open as information is distributed within the school with f ew formal (or informal) Figure 2. Generic open school structures provided for actors to close the loop. A s a result of many mandates and efforts to change instruction in an open system s, teachers and leaders can become disenchanted with received reform artifacts, and quietly learn to
22 of 34 insulate their practices from external intervention Each of the artifacts described above provides a di fferent form of closure in the local system of practice at Adams. Breakfast Club p rovides a forum for teachers to reflect both on research and on each otherÂ’s pra ctice (Figure 3). As it grew to maturity, Breakfast Club added a collaborative desi gn dimension as a platform for the development and customization of the school language arts program. Over time, the communication network among teachers sparked by Breakfast Club became a legitimate venue for developing socia l capital around instruction among teachers and school leaders, helping to break the barriers among classrooms and with the main office to establish ne w forms of obligation and trust within the school. Much of the social capital developed during Breakfast Club stemmed from the conscious effort of school le aders to encourage teachers to take leadership roles in conducting and participating in Breakfast Club Figure 3. How Breakfast Club closes the system meetings. The status of Breakfast Club within the s chool community also helped give the leaders who shape of the discussion agenda and schedule social capital as instructional leaders within the school.The Five-Week Assessment provides another angle on the on-going effects of classroom practice through collaboratively develope d measures of student achievement. Interaction in Breakfast Club was base d largely on self-reports of what teachers do in their classrooms. While adminis trators conduct informal and formal assessments of class="Body" Breakfast Cl ub (Figure 4). The production and discussion of customized quantitativ e feedback to inform the evaluation of program development helped to create obligations among faculty as teacher look to one another to improve their cla ssroom practice. De facto faculty instructional leaders emerged who knew how communicate
23 of 34 Figure 4. How the Five-Week Assessment closes the s ystem new ideas with colleagues. The collaborative develo pment and implementation of the Five-Week Assessment provided needed closure among teachers in the system of practice. The Five-Week Assessment also g ave school leaders feedback on how new instructional efforts fared in classrooms. Incorporating Five-Week Assessment data into Breakfast Club discu ssions helped to preserve the tipping point (Gladwell 2000) at which professional community can sustain self-reflective assessment practices withou t imploding and fragmenting. The School Improvement Planning process augmented s ocial capital developed during Breakfast Club and Five-Week Assessment by a llowing teachers and school leaders to articulate not only what they hav e done, but also to put their ideas to the test by building them into the schoolwide instructional program. Since the school was accountable to the district an d to the Local School Council (LSC) for achieving the goals specified in the Scho ol Improvement Plan, the collaborative planning process gave participants ow nership over the direction of the instructional program. The local implementation of the School Improvement Plan at Adams created structures that encouraged mu lti-level interactions of teachers and leaders in the development of school p lans to meet instructional goals (Figure 5).
24 of 34 Figure 5. How the School Improvement Plan closes th e system While these meetings created obligations among comm unity members to draft and implement viable plans, the successful completi on and execution of the plan created trust among members that their work wa s not in vain. Separately, the artifacts described here provided s tructures to support the creation of obligations and trust around instructio nal issues. Analyzing the function of each artifact in isolation misses the s ystemic nature of the way the system of practice has evolved at Adams. A school i mprovement plan, for example, creates neither an atmosphere of innovatio n nor the means for formative assessment and periodic assessment of pra ctice. Similarly, a five-week assessment that attempts to measure teach er instructional performance progress alone can splinter professiona l communities because of the threat that comparing teachers to one another m ake them less likely to collaborate on instructional matters. Together, how ever, these artifacts helped to create a coherent system of practice that brough t closure across the separate artifact-based sub-systems (Figure 6). Professional community is the cumulative product of these redundant efforts to close the loc al system of practice at Adams.
25 of 34 Figure 6. How system of practice closes the systemDiscussionSeveral interesting issues arise in this analysis a bout the relation of systems of practice to leadership practice and professional co mmunity. First, do artifacts rely on or create professional community? It might be argued either that there was a strong pre-existing sense of professional com munity at the school upon which these artifact depend for their subsequent su ccess in framing instructional practices at their school. Bryk and S chneider (2002) suggest that existing high levels of trust provide a key resourc e for school leaders in facilitating school change. Our research showed tha t there seemed to already have been a pre-existent strong sense of community and shared vision among a tight group of Adams leaders at the school who pe rceived their responsibility to improve student learning in the school. Perhaps there already also existed a strong sense of professional community among teache rs that, when tapped by designed artifacts, blossomed into school-wide prof essional community. If professional community can be measured in terms of student learning, however, the effects of the pre-existent profession al community were not supported by increases on student test scores. Inde ed, in the early 1990s, Adams ranked among the poorest performing schools i n the district. One administrator recalled that before Principal Willia ms, there were strong teachers in the school, and a strong sense of social communi ty among teachers and leaders, but those teachers who initiated discussio ns about instructional issues felt stigmatized and silenced. While the model prov ided here cannot conclusively demonstrate causality between artifact s and professional community, it does suggest that the artifacts descr ibed above were the key instruments used by school leaders to create trust and open discussions of instructional practice among teachers.
26 of 34 The artifacts themselves, however, do not seem to b e easily separable from the context in which they were created. Anecdotal evide nce about how other schools that experimented with Breakfast Club-like artifacts felt little impact on the development of professional community suggests that the artifacts themselves are not the answer; rather it is how the artifacts interact with each other and with the existing system of practice to g ive rise to strong professional communities. Further investigation is required into schools just embarking on the creation of professional community as a avowed outcome to explore the relation between artifact construction and the unde rlying forms of human and social capital that make professional community pos sible. Second, does reliance upon the analysis of artifact s as components of a system of practice give short shrift to the importance of interpersonal and spiritual leadership practices in schools? The analysis of sy stems of practice offered here is certainly not intended as a comprehensive a pproach to understanding school leadership practice. Artifacts merely establ ish the conditions for practice in organizations Â– the actual practices of teaching and learning involve levels of agency well beyond the determining structures of ar tifacts. The moral leadership and interpersonal skills required to bui ld consensus, establish vision and give hope in schools transcend the structural c omponents of the instructional context. Still, artifacts provide pow erful tools and symbols to convey moral and interpersonal leadership, and the system of practice framework provides a way to understand and access t he constraints and affordances that determine what is possible in a gi ven school context. The ability of leaders to create and use artifacts is a powerful capacity not only to shape the practices of teaching and learning but al so to provide inspiration through symbolic leadership. The analysis of the ar tifacts that compose the system of practice by itself may not tell the whole story of instructional leadership, but it does point to a valuable place t o start making successful leadership practices accessible to interested other s.ConclusionThis account of how a system of designed and implem ented artifacts helped to create a vibrant professional community at Adams pr ovides a vantage point for understanding the nature of professional community as a form of social capital in schools. Looking at systems of practice and the tasks they shape is an important way to consider questions of structure an d leadership agency in local schools. Here I have identified a school with a str ong sense of professional community, and have attempted to identify contribut ing artifacts that leaders have used to generate and shape the system of pract ice in the school. These artifacts taken together help to enable tasks which create and sustain intentional interpersonal relations in schools. Sch ool leaders created professional community by using artifacts to shape the local system of practice Â– creating simultaneous instances of levels of clos ure that consequently help to form a special kind of social capital. Instructiona l leadership practice is in part constituted by the ways leaders seek to develop and manipulate the artifacts available within the system of practice. Mapping th e artifacts that local leaders create and adapted to shape instruction is an impor tant way to understand the development of professional community. Communicatin g what these artifacts
27 of 34 are and the ways they fit together in practice offe rs insight of the kinds of situational constructs local leaders build and rely upon in developing local professional communities in their schools.AcknowledgementWork on this paper was supported in part by the Nat ional Science Foundation and the Spencer Foundation for grants to James P. S pillane for the Distributed Leadership Project, and in part by the National Sci ence Foundation grant to Louis M. Gomez, Daniel C. Edelson and James P. Spil lane for the Living Curriculum Project. Additional support was received from a dissertation year fellowship from the Spencer Foundation, from the Sc hool of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University and from t he Educational Administration Department at the University of Wisc onsin-Madison. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do n ot necessarily reflect the views of the supporting agencies and institutions. The author wishes to thank Erica Rosenfeld, Louis Gomez, James Spillane, Carol yn Kelley, Allan Odden and Ronald Halverson for their thoughtful comments, and R. Michelle Greene for her research assistance. The author is grateful to the school leaders and teachers who participated in the research.ReferencesArgyris, C. (1990). Overcoming organizational defenses: Facilitating or ganizational learning Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Ball, D. & Cohen, D. K. (1996). Reform by the book: What is Â— or might be Â— the role of curriculum materials in teacher learning and instructional ref orm? Educational Researcher, 25 (9): 6-8. Bryk, A. S., Sebring, P.B., Kerbow, D., Rollow, S., & Easton, J.Q. (1996). Catalyzing basic organizational change at the building level. In Charting Chicago School Reform ,: Westview Press: Chicago. 93-129 Bryk, A. S., Camburn, E. & Louis, K. S. (1997). Pro fessional community in Chicago elementary schools: Facilitating factors and organizational co nsequences. Madison, WI: Center on Organization and Restructuring of Schools. Bryk, A. S. & Schneider, B. (1996). Social trust: A moral resource for school improvement. Chicago: Consortium on Chicago School Research. Bryk, A. S. & Schneider, B. (1996). Trust in schools: A core resource for improvement New York: Russell Sage. Bryk, A. S., Rollow, S. G., & Pinnel, G. S. (1996). Urban school development: Literacy as a lever for change. Educational Policy, 10 (2), 172-201. Coleman, J. S. (1988). Social capital in the creati on of human capital. American Journal of Sociology, 94 95-120. Consortium for Chicago School Research (1998). Improving Chicago's schools: (Adams) School Chicago: Consortium for Chicago School Research. Cuban, L. (1988). The managerial imperative and the practice of leade rship in schools Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Cuban, L. (1986). Teachers and machines: The classroom use of technol ogy since 1920 New York: Teachers College Press. Cuban, L. (1990). Reforming again, again, and again Educational Researcher, 19 (1): 3-13.
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30 of 34 Spillane, J. P. Halverson, R & Diamond, J. B. (2001 ). Investigating school leadership practice: A distributed perspective Educational Researcher, 30 (3), 23-27. Stodolsky, S. S. and Grossman, P. L. (1995). The im pact of subject matter on curricular activity: An analysis of five academic subject. American Educational Research Journal, 32 (2), 227-249. Suchman, L. (1995). Making work visible. Communication of the ACM, 38 (9), 227-239. Supovitz, J. A. & Poglinco. S. M. (2001). Instructi onal leadership in a standards-based reform. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Consortium for Policy R esearch in Education. Strauss, A. and Corbin, J. (1997). Grounded theory in practice Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Wartofsky, M. W. (1979). Models: Representation and scientific understanding Boston: Reidel. Wehlage, G. G. (1993). Social capital and the rebui lding of communities: Issues in restructuring schools, Madison, WI: Center on Organization and Re structuring of Schools. Wenger, E. McDermott, R. & Snyder, W. M. (2002). Cultivating communities of practice: A guide to managing knowledge Cambridge: Harvard Business School Press. Weick, K. E. (1976). Educational organizations as l oosely coupled systems. Administrative Science Quarterly, 21 (1), 1-19. Weick, K. E. (1982). Administering education in loo sely coupled schools. Phi Delta Kappan, 63 (10), 673-76. Youngs, P. & Kings, M. B. (2000). Professional deve lopment that addresses professional community in urban elementary schools. Madison, WI: Center on Organization and Restructuring of Schools.About the AuthorRichard HalversonSchool of EducationUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonEmail: firstname.lastname@example.org Richard Halverson is an Assistant Professor in Educational Administra tion at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His work aims to bring the research methods and practices of the learning sciences to t he world of educational leadership. His research focuses on the ways in whi ch people access, learn and teach sophisticated, situated practices such as sch ool leadership. He builds on-line, multimedia technologies to access and docu ment successful school leadership practice, and to develop ideas that can capture the complexity, expertise and situated nature of leadership practic e. His recent research interests involve the representation of leadership practices in developing professional community in schools, understanding ho w local school leaders make sense of and implement teacher-evaluation syst ems, and representing the ways in which leaders move beyond inclusion to improve learn for all students in their schools.AppendicesAppendix 1: Adams Artifacts
31 of 34 ArtifactPurposeDescriptionDesigners Duration ofService 1. Breakfast Club To provide in-houseprofessional development for and by Adams faculty Monthly meetings beforeschool at which faculty members make anddiscuss presentations on research relevant to current instructionalprograms Language ArtsCoordinator, Principal, Teachers 1995-current 2. School Improvement Plan (SIP) To create annual localschool plan to aligns instructional andbudgeting priorities for the upcoming school year. District designed artifactthat acts as a catalyst for local planning efforts asleaders and teachers develop instructionalprogram to meet mandated student test performance targets District, Principal,Administration, Teachers (approved byLocal School Council) 1989-current 3. Five-Week Assessment Locally-designedtesting program to provide formative datato complement summative standardized testing data Testing program basedon reverse engineering summative tests to giveteachers and leaders a sense of progress toward improved standardizedtest achievement Language ArtsCoordinator, Assistant Principal, Principal,Teachers 1995-current 4. Teacher Observation Process Process to provideformative and summative evaluation of teachers accordingto union guidelines and district polices District and locallydesigned forms used to make sense ofprincipal-teacher observation session. Evaluations based ondistrict and guidelines local instructional program priorities. District, Principal,Assistant Principal 1989-current 5. Real Men Read Annual eventdesigned to bring male African American role modelsinto the school to read to the students An annual breakfast andschool wide program in which African-Americanmen gather to eat and read to children throughout the school Language ArtsCoordinator, Assistant Principal, Principal 1998-current 6. Career Day Annual eventdesigned to offer Adams students an opportunity to surveycareer possibilities. A two-part annualassembly for middle school students to listento African-American speakers, then meet withAfrican-American professionals in a variety of career fields. Guidancecounselor, principal, teachers 1999-current 7. Chicago Annenberg Challenge Curriculum PlanningProcess (CAC) Year-long curriculumplanning process to documentcollaborative design efforts in building multidisciplinarycurricula Collaborative curriculumdesign effort using LeTUS project-basedscience curricula as a seed for buildingmiddle-school cross-disciplinarycurriculum. Sciencecoordinator, Teachers, Northwestern and RooseveltUniversity Researchers 2000-2001 8. Science Coordinator Position Position establishedto design scienceprogram for AdamsÂ’designation asMath-ScienceAcademy Promotion of 6th gradeteacher Tim Zacharias to renovate scienceprogram and to design and teach middle school science curriculum incollaboration with Sciencecoordinator, Principal, Assistant Principal 1999-2000
32 of 34 classroom teachersAppendix 2. Design Cycle Analysis Model (Halverson 2002) The World Wide Web address for the Education Policy Analysis Archives is epaa.asu.edu Editor: Gene V Glass, Arizona State UniversityProduction Assistant: Chris Murrell, Arizona State University General questions about appropriateness of topics o r particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, email@example.com or reach him at College of Education, Arizona State Un iversity, Tempe, AZ 85287-2411. The Commentary Editor is Casey D. Cobb: firstname.lastname@example.org .EPAA Editorial Board Michael W. Apple University of Wisconsin David C. Berliner Arizona State University Greg Camilli Rutgers University Linda Darling-Hammond Stanford University Sherman Dorn University of South Florida Mark E. Fetler California Commission on TeacherCredentialing Gustavo E. Fischman Arizona State Univeristy Richard Garlikov Birmingham, Alabama Thomas F. Green Syracuse University Aimee Howley Ohio University
33 of 34 Craig B. Howley Appalachia Educational Laboratory William Hunter University of Ontario Institute ofTechnology Patricia Fey Jarvis Seattle, Washington Daniel Kalls Ume University Benjamin Levin University of Manitoba Thomas Mauhs-Pugh Green Mountain College Les McLean University of Toronto Heinrich Mintrop University of California, Los Angeles Michele Moses Arizona State University Gary Orfield Harvard University Anthony G. Rud Jr. Purdue University Jay Paredes Scribner University of Missouri Michael Scriven University of Auckland Lorrie A. Shepard University of Colorado, Boulder Robert E. Stake University of IllinoisÂ—UC Kevin Welner University of Colorado, Boulder Terrence G. Wiley Arizona State University John Willinsky University of British ColumbiaEPAA Spanish Language Editorial BoardAssociate Editor for Spanish Language Gustavo E. Fischman Arizona State Universityfischman@asu.eduAssociate Editor for Portuguese Language Pabli Gentili Laboratrio de Polticas Pblicas Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro email@example.comFounding Associate Editor for Spanish Language (199 8-2003) Roberto Rodrguez Gmez Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mxico Adrin Acosta (Mxico) Universidad de Guadalajaraadrianacosta@compuserve.com J. Flix Angulo Rasco (Spain) Universidad de Cdizfelix.firstname.lastname@example.org Teresa Bracho (Mxico) Centro de Investigacin y DocenciaEconmica-CIDEbracho dis1.cide.mx Alejandro Canales (Mxico) Universidad Nacional Autnoma deMxicocanalesa@servidor.unam.mx
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