Educational policy analysis archives

Educational policy analysis archives

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Educational policy analysis archives
Arizona State University
University of South Florida
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Educational policy analysis archives.
n Vol. 7, no. 14 (April 13, 1999).
Tempe, Ariz. :
b Arizona State University ;
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida.
c April 13, 1999
Supporting community-oriented educational change : case and analysis / Linda Mabry [and] Laura Ettinger.
x Research
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2 710
Arizona State University.
University of South Florida.
1 773
t Education Policy Analysis Archives (EPAA)
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1 of 19 Education Policy Analysis Archives Volume 7 Number 14April 13, 1999ISSN 1068-2341 A peer-reviewed scholarly electronic journal Editor: Gene V Glass, College of Education Arizona State University Copyright 1999, 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 Supporting Community-Oriented Educational Change: Case and Analysis Linda Mabry Indiana University Laura Ettinger Indiana UniversityAbstractA study of a federally funded program to develop an d implement community-oriented social studies curricula and cur riculum-based assessments grounds cautions for educational change initiatives. In this case, despite the project director's stated intent to support teachers' desire for instruction regarding local culture and history top-down support for classroom-level change evidenced insensitivity. Pro duction and implementation of the planned curricula and assessm ents was obstructed by teacher's lack of cultural identification with t he targeted community groups, workload, competing instructional prioritie s, inadequate communication, and organizational politics. Profess ional development was sometimes beneficial but more often ineffective —either perfunctory, unnecessary, or disregarded. The findings offer ins ight regarding educational change and a systemic analysis. An evaluation study of a federally funded program offered an appealing


2 of 19opportunity to study an instance of community-orien ted educational change in a project to develop and implement social studies curricula rela ted to the local history and cultural traditions of school children in three regions of t he country (Note 1). Anticipating that the study would provide empirical support for conceptua lizations of successful school reform as emanating from local decision-makers and impleme nters, we were surprised to learn instead some sobering lessons about limitations inh erent in policies and practices intended to support school-based education efforts emphasizing communities. Top-down reform has been criticized as in sensitive and unrealistic, but how should policy-makers and funders encourage and support com munities and their educators? After a description of the project and the evaluati on, findings will be organized according to emergent issues and then by Bronfenbrenner's (19 79) levels of ecological analysis. It is not the notions of community-oriented education or teacher-designed reform which cause concern but a complex of implementation motives and issues. This case study is offered to deepen through vicarious experience the understa nding of educators and others interested in sophisticating efforts to improve edu cation.The Heritage Project The Heritage Project was a three-year fed erally sponsored program to develop and implement social studies curricula based on local h istory and cultural traditions in rural public schools in three culturally diverse regions of the country. The stated intention of the project director, a university professor, was t o support practitioners in developing and implementing communityoriented social studies cur ricula. The idea resonated with Fullan's (1991) and Sarason's (1990) contention tha t fundamental educational change requires the involvement of practitioners and with the groundswell for teacher empowerment (see Astuto, Clark, Read, McGree, & deK oven Pelton Fernandez, 1994). At each school, Heritage Project teachers were to create social studies curricula focused on local communities in year 1, implement c urricula in year 2, and develop and implement curriculum-based assessments in year 3. T he project director and a central office coordinator were to support these efforts by arranging professional development, facilitating networking among sites, and distributi ng funds for materials and other needs. A local site coordinator in each state was to ensur e smooth interface, focus on program objectives, and provide assistance to teachers. At historically and culturally distinct sites in the Southeast, Midwest, and Southwest, fourteen teachers and approximately 200 students participated. Each site was unique and com plex. Contextual issues at each site played a major role in the life and success of the project.Table 1 The Heritage Project: Sites and Personnel Heritage Project Central Office Project director—university professor Central office coordinator—graduate studentMidwest siteSoutheast siteSouthwest siteSite coordinator : yr. 1: graduate Site coordinator : college Site coordinator : university


3 of 19studentyr. 2-3: central office coordinator professor professor School 1 Caucasian (3 teachers*)(43 students) School 1 African American (2 teachers)(29 students) School 1 Hispanic (1 teacher*)(36 students) School 2 Caucasian (4 teachers*)(10 students) School 2 African American (1 teacher)(30 students) School 2 Native American (2 teachers)(25 students) School 3 mixed ethnicity (1 teacher)(30 students) Schools were in 2 school districts. All schools were in 1 school district. Both schools were in 1 school district. Number of teacher-participants fluctuated from ye ar to year. The number listed indicates those who were participating at the end o f the project. Numbers of student-participants fluctuated from year to year a t all schools.Midwest site In the Midwest, where the project was imp lemented in two elementary schools in non-adjacent school districts, significant issues r egarding teacher ideology and autonomy clouded progress. The lead teachers at eac h school, former students of the project director, were confident of their training and experience. Their self-directedness in the face of historically high principal turn-ove r in rural schools helped assure program continuation in an environment of fluctuating atten tion and support. But because of their confidence and autonomy, they felt free to follow t heir own ideas, including those which conflicted with program goals. Although they had ex pressed eagerness regarding community-oriented learning, they chose to thwart t he program by merely extending their existing social studies curricula rather than developing new curricula emphasizing local history and culture. Their resistance to comm unity-oriented curricula manifested conflict between their beliefs about their communit ies as cultural microcosms appropriate instructional goals and project philoso phy. Although they preferred rural life, these teachers viewed their all-white communi ties as threads in the national fabric, not culturally or historically distinct. They belie ved it more important to introduce their students to the wider world than to the local histo ry and culture of their remote communities. Teacher acceptance of the foundational principles of the program did not occur until, at the close of year 2, they bent to p ressure from the program central office. It was not quite a game of musical chairs but there were a number of personnel


4 of 19changes at the Midwest site in the three-year life of the project. Some were initiated by the project director in response to teacher unwilli ngness to work toward project goals. Others were initiated locally as teachers objected to unexpected project workloads. The site coordinator left the program at the end of yea r 1, and the unpopularity of the insistent central office coordinator who doubled as her replacement added irritation to discontinuity. At the conclusion of the project, on ly two teachers remained of the original personnel. Although the project director e ventually touted the development of working relationships among these teachers as an im portant project achievement, in fact personnel changes diverted attention from project g oals and undercut the development of working relationships, as new people constantly nee ded orientation. Southeast site Three schools in one district were involv ed in the Southeast. Formidable difficulties arose because the Heritage Project tea chers were not self-selected but reluctant participants in the program, identified b y a school district coordinator who intended to use the program as a means to upgrade t heir skills. Luckily, two teachers were members of the local African American communit y whose culture and history were the focus of the program at that site. But a third teacher resisted inclusion of African American culture in the curriculum, and a fourth re sisted the considerable extra effort required in curriculum development. Professional de velopment and the urging of the site coordinator eventually led to a shift in favor of t eaching local history, and some teachers eventually described their participation in the pro gram as transformative. But during much of the three years of the Heritage Project, ha lf of the teachers exhibited strong passive resistance. The site coordinator complained that proj ect expectations were out of line with actual possibilities and cited the director's lack of appreciation for local culture, expectations, relationships, and working styles as the heart of the problem. Urging the teachers toward project goals, she exercised a stro ng management style ultimately pivotal in producing what the project director call ed the strongest curriculum in the three states although, at the end of year 2, he conceded that it was "wholly inadequate." The site coordinator's insistence resulted in teacher d istrust bordering on hostility, relieved somewhat through the intervention of the school dis trict coordinator. The two of them ultimately developed a variant of a "good cop, bad cop" strategy that proved fairly effective. But, the project director so opposed the site coordinator's "directiveness" that the site coordinator believed in the end that he ha d punished her by withholding funds for her site, in effect, penalizing her site for ac tually managing to produce the required products. At this site, the program's teacher-devel oped curriculum enhanced history courses in the participating schools, including regular his tory classes the Heritage Project teachers offered to students not participating in t he program. Program-funded professional development and field trips introduced students and teachers to historic and cultural sites and other local resources. Among the three state sites, the strongest probability of continuation of project initiatives beyond the grant-funded period was apparent here, where the site coordinator and the s chool district coordinator organized a formal presentation to the local school board for t hat purpose. Southwest site


5 of 19 In the Southwest, two participating schoo ls within one school district were located in two culturally and historically unique communiti es, one predominantly Hispanic, the other entirely Native American. The Caucasian teach ers at the Hispanic school, although they were voluntary participants in the program, we re described by the site coordinator as inexpert and unenthusiastic, resistant to both p rogram goals and professional development. In order to produce a curriculum docum ent, the site coordinator, after a long struggle, resorted to writing out teachers' or ally communicated ideas which, she reported, the teachers were then unwilling to imple ment. In contrast, the two teachers at the Native American school responded to the opportu nity provided by the program with enormous energy and initiative. One teacher assumed responsibility for the program at the school when the long distance between the schoo ls and the site coordinator created a gap in local leadership. New principals at both schools in year 2 caused consternation. At the Hispanic school, the new principal ultimately proved support ive of the program, but he was initially viewed warily by teachers. At the Native American school, the new principal instituted sweeping school-wide changes not favorab ly received by the faculty. During the principal's first year, year 2 of the program, teachers filed three class action lawsuits against her. Among the plaintiffs was the quietly a ssertive Heritage Project lead teacher. The following year, the principal reassigned Herita ge Project teachers to positions in which they could not discharge their programmatic r esponsibilities. But at this site—and only this site—proje ct personnel had forged explicit connections to the community that was the focus of the new curriculum. These teachers were supportive of and supported by the reservation community. One was a Native American, son of a tribal leader. With support of t he tribe, he was reinstated to a position in which he could continue to offer the ne wly developed curriculum to students. But by the end of year 3, the teachers were under t hreat of reassignment or firing by the superintendent, to whom the principal successfully appealed. The following year, the lead teacher was reassigned off the reservation (Ma bry, 1999). The site coordinator and the teachers at the Native American school complained of the project director's lack of appreciation for local culture and context. The site coordinator also reported the project director misu nderstood relative project achievement at the two schools, thinking the program at the His panic school stronger than that at the Native American school because of the furor at the latter, when the reverse was more accurate.Methodology We (Note 2) conducted an external evaluat ion of the program throughout years 2 and 3, 1994-96. The evaluation featured a naturalis tic (Guba & Lincoln, 1989; Lincoln & Guba, 1985), responsive (Stake, 1973) approach wi th attention to stated project goals. Some data was collected by site coordinators, suffu sing the inquiry with a participatory (Greene, 1997) combination of internal and external perspectives and improving the evaluation's potential utility (Joint Committee, 19 94; Patton, 1997). Data collection involved interviews of th e project director, the central office coordinator, all site coordinators, the teachers in each participating school, and the school and district administrators. Relevant classr oom activities were systematically observed and documented in all but one of the seven participating schools. (Note 3) Observation and interview data were comprehensively validated (Mabry, 1998). An extensive variety of documents was analyzed includi ng the program proposal and interim reports to the federal funding agency, annu al reports from site coordinators,


6 of 19curriculum documents, student products, teacher jou rnals, assessment instruments, and materials from the project director's presentations to academic conferences about the Heritage Project. There was extensive triangulation of data by source, method, time, and observer (see Denzin, 1989). The impetus for both d ata collection and analysis was substantive rather than procedural in the manner ad vised by Erickson (1986), Lincoln and Guba (1985), Mabry (1998), Stake (1994), and Wo lcott (1994), responsive to issues which emerged from the data, including: How sensitive are the new social studies curricula to local history and culture? 1. How have teacher attitudes about local history and culture influenced the focus of curriculum and instruction? Has the professionalism of teachers been enhanced? 2. To what extent has the program been invigorated by community members and institutions? 3. How well do new assessments reveal the curriculum-r elated achievements of students? 4. What is the extent and usefulness of networking amo ng sites and with the project central office? 5. Data analysis involved review, summarizat ion, and categorization of documents; identification of themes and refinement of issues; analytic discussions within the evaluation team and also between the evaluators and the project director and central office coordinator. Analysis featured synthesis acr oss data types and sources, issue refinement through the constantcomparative method (Glaser & Strauss, 1967), attention to multiple perspectives, review by site personnel of descriptions and interpretations of data, and review by the project director of a draft of the report. In a final analytic thrust, the data was reconsidered ac cording to a comprehensive theoretical framework, Bronfenbrenner's (1979) levels of ecolog ical analysis for a system-level perspective of the ideological and practical compon ents and relationships among components of the project. Analysis strongly attended to data and co ntexts rather than to external, non-situated, general notions of program quality. F indings were emergent, thoroughly grounded in the data (Glaser & Strauss, 1967), and the data confirmed by the participants themselves as representing their exper iences. That the conclusions surprised us is an indication that analysis was truly emergen t, not an artifact of assumptions or bias. The thorny ethical dimensions of this study h ave been explored (Mabry, 1999). A formative report was submitted to the p roject director for year 2 and a summative report to the federal funding agency at t he end of year 3.Discussion This study of an initially promising, wel l-financed effort to restructure curriculum revealed unanticipated difficulties and limitations related to community-oriented curriculum and to teacher-generated educational ref orm. In a national climate of increasing attention to cultural diversity (see Ban ks, 1993), we expected to applaud efforts to teach children about their communities' history and to enhance their appreciation for their own cultures. We expected ou r results to offer empirical support for theories of educational reform which emphasize the importance of local contexts and teacher initiatives. Instead, to the project director's extrem e distress and to our personal and


7 of 19ideological dismay, what we reported to the funding agency and what we offer here is a presentation of intractable problems and interpreta tions of the nature and extent of defeating difficulties. We offer these so others ma y glean ideas through case-to-case generalizations (Firestone, 1993) relevant to progr ams of interest to them. We recognize that specific extrapolations to other cases or to t he general topics of educational reform, community-oriented education, or rural education wi ll be best made by readers who are familiar with those cases or who are experienced in those areas. We are evaluators, knowledgeable about education but not expert in eac h of these subfields. Our discussion of findings is organized in two ways: (1) interpret ations emergent from the data related to educational reform, a vehicle for specific subst antive discussion, and (2) Bronfenbrenner's (1979) levels of ecological analys is, a framework for systemic scrutiny.Emergent interpretations Findings from this study emphasized the i mportance of some difficulties regarding external support for classroom reform and for commu nity-oriented education: (1) insensitivity of central office personnel to local conditions, (2) increased teacher workloads, (3) the cultural self-identification of curriculum developers, (4) teacher readiness and training issues, (5) a short project timeline as a condition of funding. Insensitivity to local conditions. Centralization of project management and resources promoted coherence across sites but under mined sensitivity to local issues, with a negative net effect on achievement of projec t goals. The site coordinator in the Southeast, for example, complained that the project director did not (and perhaps could not) appreciate the local pace of life and educatio nal history and traditions. She noted, for instance, that he did not take into account the lack of a teachers' union in her state and its historical result: longstanding passive res istance by teachers toward any directive from the top, including the top of the project. The lead teacher at the Native American school in the Southwest accused the project directo r of outright cultural insensitivity, citing among other things materials sent to the sch ool which depicted housing and landscaping which students on the reservation were expected to understand as typical but had never experienced. In the Midwest, the relative isolation of the small towns in which the schools were located strengthened teachers' bel iefs that children there needed opportunity to connect with the outside world, rath er than to be focused inward as the project intended. The project director evidenced sincerity in statements about his desire to support teachers interested in developing community-oriente d curricula and in his early reports of the general agreement among participants on this fundamental goal and surprised disappointment in their lack of progress. If there was initial buy-in by teachers and site coordinators, then the Heritage Project is an examp le of the difficulty described by Wildavsky and Wildavsky (1984) of translating broad agreement into specific decisions involving many participants with many perspectives. The situation also bore a resemblance to the toxic discrepancy between federa l expectations and local project capabilities described by DeStefano (1992). The Heritage Project, in implementation, targeted attention more to physical artifacts of local culture, history, and traditions than to ongoing daily life. Possibly, the project director's personal interest in the sites u ndermined focus on the living present; site personnel murmured that he was interested in t heir sites for their vacation value, and the director did predict that evaluation site visit s would be enjoyable. The focus might have been corrected had the project implemented the local advisory councils composed


8 of 19of parents and family members promised in the propo sal. But, at only one site, was a halfhearted and short-lived attempt made to estab lish such a group. The most significant actual involvement of communities, othe r than a few isolated local presenters, came in the form of public displays of student work. Ultimately in this case, the very idea of a centralized project office and its function in policy articulation and program management milit ated against the intimate local sensitivity implied in classroom-level reform and i n communityoriented education. But funding could not have been secured without the per suasive coherence of formal aims and structures—a paradox. The dilemma in this insta nce raised the fundamental question of whether external or top-down support can enhance local or bottom-up reform more than illustrating how it might do so. If even wellmeaning support from the top obstructs change at the classroom level, then it is unclear t hat current mechanisms in governmental and foundational grant funding can be counted on to support classroom-level initiatives. If centralized or topdown assistance cannot succeed at the local level, does the enormity of local diversity e nsure that reform at the school and classroom level will exhibit inconsistency, a chaos of unrelated events, lack of capacity for large-scale cohesion? Even if we can accept the lack of national consensus regarding the purposes, processes, and content of education, the prospect of educational anarchy is unattractive. Unanticipated workloads. Particularly at the Midwest site where basic proje ct goals were resisted, teachers complained that the p roject's demands on their time and energy went not only beyond their expectations but also beyond their original intents and agreements. They did not feel that project-related benefits to them or to their students compensated for the additional work. Already overlo aded teachers ignored the more burdensome requirements of the project, the develop ment of customized curricula and assessments, choosing instead to continue using pre -existing social studies curricula which introduced their students to a larger concept ion of history and culture. They expressed frustration that the central office coord inator urged adherence to project goals and operating procedures even when these required u ncomfortable expenditures of time and disregarded their deeply felt intuitions about prioritizing instructional objectives. Further evidence of Midwest teachers' per ceptions that project demands outweighed benefits came in the form of expressed d esire for stipends. The intrinsic rewards of participation, when measured against the tolls exacted, were insufficient to secure their commitment to project goals. Feeling l ittle ownership of the project, these teachers participated only nominally until pressure d to do otherwise, causing frustration and resentment on all sides and lingering divisiven ess. Curriculum developers' cultural identific ation. At the Hispanic school in the Southwest and at the Southeast site, teachers not a ssociated with the local groups whose history was to be emphasized in the new curricula d id not exhibit the initiative to develop their own curricula. In the Southeast, the insistence of the site coordinator was sufficient to ensure the development of the require d products, although she considered the curricula developed there marginally satisfacto ry. Caucasian teachers at the Hispanic school in the Southwest made no noticeable effort t o develop or implement community-oriented curriculum. Teacher identification with local cultura l groups exerted a positive influence. At the Native American school in the Southwest, teache rs were immediately energetic in their engagement with the project. The two African American teachers at the Southeast site whose history and culture were to be highlight ed by new curricula displayed sensitivity and growing initiative. Working togethe r in the Southwest site, a Native American and a Caucasian sympathizer and activist f or tribal concerns exceeded project


9 of 19expectations by engaging in curriculum research as well as development, motivated by the opportunity to focus on the tribe's history and culture. Teacher training. At six of the seven schools, some difficulties cou ld be traced to teacher training. At each site, some training was p rovided by the project director, particularly regarding broad concepts of curriculum development and assessment, while some training was provided or arranged by the site coordinators, particularly regarding local culture and history. The latter was particula rly successful in the Southeast. But there were problems both with teachers who had long been trained regarding the project goal of communityoriented social studies teaching and with teachers who had not. The project director's former students in cluded all three site coordinators and two of the original teachers in the Midwest. Although t he project director had personally trained them and professed to have responded to the ir interest in community-oriented curricula, those teachers' responses to the project were the most counterproductive of all project personnel. Ironically, their earlier traini ng with the project director had made them confident of their skills, which led to their assertiveness regarding the sufficiency of their pre-existing minor units on local history and culture and made them unresponsive to demands to emphasize local communit ies more. In effect, their project-relevant training predisposed them to rejec t the project. Professional development provided by the Heritage Project did no t change their minds. (Note 4) There were also difficulties with many of the teachers who were relatively untrained in the concepts and rationales of the pro ject. Participating because of district directive rather than personal choice, half of the teachers in the Southeast actively resisted project goals and directives. The more rec eptive African American teachers had few curriculum development skills prior to the proj ect's training and assistance but gradually and willingly improved. At the Southwest site, resistant Caucasian teachers at the Hispanic school also lacked relevant training a nd curriculum development skills and experience, but these deficits were overshadowed by their resistance. For unwilling teachers, professional development was marginally f ruitful at best in terms of project outcomes. The only teachers who reacted to the proj ect with immediate enthusiasm were at the Native American school in the Southwest. Their positive efforts preceded professional development and were unaffected by it. Neither the teacher who was a member of the tribe nor the teacher who was an acti vist in promoting tribal issues was specifically trained in social studies teaching, bu t both were knowledgeable of local history and culture and energetic in pursuing proje ct goals. This site produced the earliest and most sustained successes. The African American teachers in the Southeast, also successful in the end, posted slower results m ore clearly derived from professional development. Mixed as these results were, in compariso n to professional development in curriculum design, assessment training was a disast er. All personnel at all sites complained that the project director had reneged on promises to provide assessment training. The project director countered that he wa s merely to begin discussion of assessment, the real training to be arranged later by site coordinators. The more successful teachers managed to develop a few credit able assessments, but most teachers (and the project director) displayed little grasp o f rudimentary measurement concepts. Among the major promises in the proposal to the fun ding agency, assessment was the worst failure. Project timelines. In the policy hysteria (Stronach & Maclure, 1996) w hich has characterized educational reform since the publicat ion of A Nation at Risk in 1983, there has been too little recognition that educational re form takes a long time, (Note 5) longer


10 of 19than the three years of funding granted to the Heri tage Project. The project director observed that most of the first year of the project was needed for developing trust and working relationships; data suggested that a full y ear was not long enough for these pre-processes. At the Southeast site and at the Hispanic school in the Southwest, community-oriented curriculum documents were create d by the end of the first year, as required, only because a site coordinator wheedled or threatened teachers and, in one case, wrote the curriculum herself. At the Midwest site, curriculum documents were created by the end of the second year only because the central office coordinator demanded it, so much so that teachers complained to the project director. Most of the curriculum-based assessment instruments submitted a t the end of year 3 were developed in the closing hours of the project and under dures s. Few could be described as truly curriculum-based or authentic (Wiggins, 1993); most appeared unlikely to support strong inferences of student achievement as a resul t of the program; some were not assessments of student achievement at all, but rath er instruments to evaluate instruction. Late and marginal as many curriculum docu ments and assessment instruments were, it is nevertheless reasonable to ask whether too much effort was expended trying to develop them on schedule. Did personnel need the urgency of deadlines to do what they did, or would stronger curricula have been dev eloped had they had more time? The project timeline proved to be a significant factor in ensuring that these products would be superficial and underdeveloped, artifacts provid ing stronger evidence of the project's failure than of its success. Here as elsewhere, the annual evaluations and interim project reports commonly expected of externally sponsored p rojects may actually hinder the changes funders intend to support. Premature report s document the difficulties which precede resolutions, and public exposure of growing pains demoralize program personnel. Funders' requirements for evaluations, s uch as ours, ensure that project personnel will be vulnerable to criticism during te nder, formative periods. An ecological analysis Bronfenbrenner's (1979) levels of ecologi cal analysis offer a framework for a cross-site discussion of findings in four areas: (1 ) macrosystem, the ideological context of the Heritage Project; (2) exosystem, the organiz ational and policy context; (3) mesosystem, professional interactions and relations hips; and (4) microsystem, classroom interactions, practices, and relationships. Ecologi cal analysis offers a systemic view which incorporates both beliefs and practices. From this more etic (Note 6) and abstracted perspective, the portrait of the project emanating from description at each level and from the interactions among levels highli ghts the conflicts which arose in the fissures between concept and implementation. Macrosystem, the ideological context. The most significant barrier to the project's achievement of its stated goals in the Midwest was the deep but unexpected rift between project emphasis on local history and cultural trad itions and teachers' beliefs about the importance of broad content for social studies inst ruction. Believing their students needed broader horizons, an expansive view of histo ry, these teachers opposed a parochial approach to curriculum. Prior to their participation in the progr am, the Midwest teachers had offered students a unit or two on topics such as community architecture and nearby battlefields. More concentration on local color, in their view, w ould have limited student learning by neglecting grand historical topics unjustifiably. T his ideological conflict set the teachers against the policies and procedures emanating from the central office, adversely affected


11 of 19working relationships between teachers and the site coordinator, and foreclosed until the final year of the project on offering students a cu rriculum rich in local history and culture. Teacher resistance to externally imposed c urricular change, not teacher empowerment, characterized the Heritage Project at the Midwest site for two of the three years of the project, a refusal broken during the f inal year only by the strong-arm tactics of the central office coordinator. Thus, conflict i n the macrosystem obstructed change and also had adverse effects in all the other ecolo gical levels. Teachers' counter-beliefs affected local policy and practice and working rela tionships, delaying and diminishing planned outcomes. Exosystem, the organizational and policy context. Conflict between the central project office and every regional site seemed predi ctable only in hindsight. It was not initially apparent that a central structure would i nhibit more than enhance classroom-level curricular reform but, in the end, the Heritage Project illustrated an inherent tension between centralized management and decentralized reform. Goals, policies, procedures, fiscal regulations, and other matters had to be formulated by the project director to exhibit the cohesion necessary to win grant funding from the federal agency and then had to be imposed on teachers in or der to fulfill promises—the antithesis of teacher empowerment, local control, b ottom-up strategies. Consequently, site personnel complained o f the insensitivity, even cultural insensitivity, of the project director; of being fo rced to do things they didn't want to do or consider appropriate; of lack of consideration o f their regular teaching responsibilities; of receiving parcels of supplies so inappropriate as to be nearly unintelligible in their contexts, supplies purchase d by central office personnel; of embarrassingly long delays in paying local supplier s; of broken promises regarding stipends; of their perceptions that one site was fi nancially favored at the expense of another. These difficulties undermined trust and wo rking relationships, with spill-over effects in terms of willingness to try the project director's ideas regarding curriculum and in terms of the nature of the delivered curriculum. There was also conflict at the site level regarding policy and organizational practice at the Native American school in the South west. It appeared to the superintendent and principal that Heritage Project teachers refused to follow school and district policy, especially regarding expenditures; it appeared to the teachers and site coordinator that school and district policy and pro cedures were manipulated to intimidate and undermine them. It appeared to us th at some simple misunderstandings might have been resolved by frank and friendly disc ussion, which never happened. (Note 7) These difficulties adversely affected working re lationships, and teacher reassignment sharply limited student exposure to a painstakingly developed curriculum. Thus, at both the site level and the program level, conflict in t he exosystem—both program policy and local policy—obstructed change and also had adverse effects in all the other ecological levels. Working relationships, confidence, and clas sroom practice were all undermined. Mesosystem, professional interactions and relations hips. At every regional site, site coordinators lived between one and four hours away from the schools. The project director and central office administrator were even farther away. Most participating teachers worked singly rather than as teams because their positions were in different schools and communities, no cadre or critical mass offered reinforcement or a sufficient base for secure establishment of ideas and practice s. Logistically, it was difficult to bring project personnel together enough to forge strong, trusting relationships. Attempts were made: teleconferences, newsletters, site visits, st udent pen pals, shared videos and curriculum documents, regional professional develop ment sessions. Networking was not a total failure, and t he second central office coordinator was


12 of 19particularly praised by some site personnel for her responsiveness. But every site coordinator expressed frustration with the central office. Two lamented that their difficulties with teachers were exacerbated by dist ance which limited site visits and support. Lack of trusting relationships inhibited a dherence to project goals and directives in all but the Native American school where, analog ously, lack of trusting relationships within the school district inhibited implementation of the new curriculum. Movement toward ideological and organizational harmony was a s elusive as curricular change. So, conflicts in the mesosystem at the pr oject level and at the site level obstructed change and also had adverse affects in all the othe r ecological levels. Without frequent contact or strong working relationships, partnershi ps among site personnel, among sites, and between sites and the central office were shaky and rattled the other layers of the system. Microsystem, classroom interactions and relationshi ps. Fewer difficulties originated in the microsystem as the effects of dif ficulties in the other ecological levels ultimately struck home in classrooms. Still, at the classroom level, in about three-quarters of the schools, instructional habits prior curricula, and entrenched pedagogies--that is, inertia--inhibited development of new curricula. Resistance to new ideas and policies put teachers at odds with projec t administrators. One anomaly: At the Native American school, teachers' enthusiastic deve lopment and implementation of a new curriculum initially made them the darlings of the project administrators (but not school or district administrators), admired for the ir ideology and for their responsiveness to project goals. Inertia was common in the microsy stem, and it hindered change. Primarily, however, the microsystem, the arena in w hich project outcomes culminated, was adversely affected by problems in the other eco logical levels.Conclusions As the grant period ebbed, the Heritage P roject left a wash of positive effects: kids had fun and learned some worthy things about their communities which they would not otherwise have been offered; teachers got professio nal development and classroom materials, some of which they very much appreciated ; some new working relationships were forged; some program emphases appeared sustain able at some sites. But the tide also left a disturbing debris of disappointing outc omes: primary goals perfunctorily addressed, secondary goals neglected or not attempt ed, curriculum and assessment products superficial or confused, feelings of frust ration and resentment, and professional devaluation of an outstanding teacher. An explicit attempt to support local teachers and their desire to orient their teaching to their comm unities had faced and not always surmounted formidable difficulties. Embarrassed and hurt when this was reported in the final evaluation document, the project director wor ked determinedly to suppress and discredit the evaluation, deriding interview data—i ncluding his own—as "hearsay and innuendo." This study shows that community-oriented education can generate teacher enthusiasm and skill development, and it can motiva te student interest and learning. But our data also indicate that centralized or external support, if not carefully managed and minutely sensitive to local conditions, may poison rather than feed community-oriented educational change. Clearly, a good idea is not eno ugh. The charm of the Heritage Project's generative notion attracted but did not s ustain personnel commitment. If community-oriented curriculum was truly the desire of the teachers, a claim made by the project director but not universally confirmed by o ther personnel, then teachers' own ideas may not be enough to preserve the momentum fo r change. In the end, none of the


13 of 19teachers who were active in development and impleme ntation of the new curricula were among the program conceptualizers. In contrast to t he literature which favors teacher-generated or bottom-up strategies, in this case, teacher investment was unrelated to their ownership of project ideas and objectives. Teacher commitment depended instead on a variety of factors, two of which were particularly important. One, teachers tended to be motivated by their own predictions and perceptions of benefits to students, regardless of whether the benefits devolved from an external idea. The teachers on the reservation, sure their Native American students would benefit from knowing and appreciating more ab out the culture and history of their tribe, engaged with enthusiasm and dedication. The teachers in the Midwest, sure their students needed to know about the wide world rather than their small towns, resisted community-oriented curricula. Two, the cultural self-identification—or lack of it—of the curriculum developers with targeted communities proved important. African American teachers in the Southeast, whose own culture was to be celebrated i n the new curricula, made more progress than their Caucasian colleagues. The Nativ e American sympathizer and the member of the tribe performed admirably in the Sout hwest, but not their Caucasian counterparts in the neighboring Hispanic school. Cu ltural identification generated momentum and sensitivity in community-oriented curr iculum development and sustainability in implementation. An important cave at: Cultural identification and investment do not automatically accompany residency In the Midwest, where active resistance was strongest, many teachers were longst anding members of their communities. Professional development is a politically and professionally attractive concept in the current reform climate, despite recognized limi tations of professional development to effect intended change (see Little, 1994). But t his study shows that professional development can bite back. The teachers most extens ively trained in community-oriented education, those in the Midwest, were also most resistant to developing and implementing community-oriented educ ation. Important as the project's ideas may have been to them, other ideas were more important. Training gave them confidence; confidence promoted autonomy; in this c ase, they exercised autonomy in contradiction to the program. Teacher empowerment c an strengthen programs or can strengthen opposition. This study also found professional develo pment which was irrelevant. The reservation teachers learned what they needed on th eir own initiative before the project's professional development was made available; when t raining was offered, they found little worthwhile. The teachers most in need of tra ining, those in the Southeast and in the Hispanic school in the Southwest, responded to it s lowly or not at all. As in other human endeavors, communication proved crucial. In this ca se, there was a reciprocal relationship between communication and trust and pr oblem-solving. Encumbered by logistically difficult distances, communication amo ng far-flung partners was inadequate. Lacking frequent face-to-face contact, familiarity and trust eluded them. Also, lacking frequent faceto-face contact, problems at schools were not apprehended quickly enough by site coordinators or the project director Small problems grow fast and unpredictably. There is a better chance of defusing irritants while they are minor, before they explode. In the Heritage Project, failure to n ip unrecognized problems early undermined trust, which discouraged communication a nd candor in communication, which diminished the opportunity to recognize and a ddress problems. A version of this vicious cycle was found at every site. Our data suggest a need for much more loc al sensitivity and adaptability by


14 of 19policy-makers and educationists in colleges and uni versities who are interested in assisting school improvement. This study indicated that there is potential for successful initiatives originating with folks other than local implementers but also some early red flags which went unrecognized in this project: weak initial interest of some teacher-implementers, centralized rather than local ized directives and decisions, logistical difficulties regarding communication and coordination, and distrust and insensitivity (often unintended). As in this case, initial levels of enthusiasm by prospective personnel may appear sufficient to just ify a new initiative but may over represent their long-term commitment and fail to su stain their efforts over time. The concepts of teacher-designed change a nd communityoriented education retain appeal despite the mixed results in this cas e. The likelihood of unintended heavy-handedness in centralized support, the diffic ulties of generating and maintaining personnel commitment, and the importance of enthusi asm and sensitivity emanating from teacher identification with communities sugges t important considerations for these approaches. We offer this cautionary portrait to en courage rumination, discussion, and the development of increasingly sophisticated appro aches to improving education in the many continuing initiatives across the country.ReferencesAstuto, T., Clark, D., Read, A., McGree, K., & deKo ven Pelton Fernandez, L. (1994). Roots of reform: Challenging the assumptions that c ontrol change in education Bloomington: Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation Banks, J. (1993). Multicultural education: Developm ent, dimensions and challenges. Phi Delta Kappan 75 (1), 22-28. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Darling-Hammond, L. (1990) Instructional policy int o practice: "The power of the bottom over the top." Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 12 (3), 339-347. Denzin, N. K. (1989). The research act: A theoretical introduction to soc iological methods (3rd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. DeStefano, L. (1992). Evaluating effectiveness: A c omparison of federal expectations and local capabilities for evaluation among federal ly funded model demonstration programs. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 14 (2), 157-168. Erickson, F. (1986). Qualitative methods in researc h on teaching. In M. C. Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook of research on teaching (3rd ed., pp. 119-161). New York: Macmillan. Firestone, W. A. (1993). Alternative arguments for generalizing from data as applied to qualitative research. Educational Researcher, 22 (4), 16-23. Fullan, M. (1991). The new meaning of educational change New York: Teachers College Press.Glaser, B. G. & Strauss, A. I. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory Chicago, IL: Aldine.


15 of 19Greene, J. G. (1997). Participatory evaluation. In L. Mabry (Ed.), Advances in program evaluation: Evaluation and the post-modern dilemma Greenwich, CT: JAI Press. Guba, E. G. & Lincoln, Y. S. (1989). Fourth generation evaluation Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evalua tion (1994). The program evaluation standards: How to assess evaluations of educational programs (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.Lincoln, Y. S. & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry Newbury Park, CA: SAGE. Little, J. W. (1994). Teachers' professional develo pment in a climate of educational reform. In R. J. Anson (Ed.), Systemic reform: Perspectives on personalizing educ ation Washington, D. C.: U. S. Department of Education Of fice of Educat ional Research and Improvement. Mabry, L. (1998). Case study methods. In H. J. Walb erg & A. J. Reynolds (Eds .), Advances in educational productivity: Vol. 7. Evalu ation research for educational productivity (pp. 155-170). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press. Mabry, L. (1999). Circumstantial ethics. American Journal of Evaluation, 20 (2). National Commission on Excellence in Education (198 3). A nation at risk: The imperative for educational reform Washington, D. C.: U. S. Government Printing Office.Patton, M. Q. (1997). Utilization-focused evaluation (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.Sarason, S. B. (1990). The predictable failure of educational reform: Can we change course before it's too late ? San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Seymour-Smith, C. (1986). Dictionary of anthropology Boston: G. K. Hall. Stake, R. E. (1973). Program evaluation, particular ly responsive evaluation. Paper presented at conference on New Trends in Evaluation Goteborg, Sweden. Reprinted in G. F. Madaus, M. S. Scriven & Stufflebeam, D. L. (1 987), Evaluation model s: Viewpoints on educational and human services evalua tion (pp. 287-310). Boston: Kluwer-Nijhoff.Stake, R. E. (1994). Case studies. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 236-247). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Stronach, I. & Maclure, M. (1996). Mobilizing meani ng, demobilizing critique? Dilemmas in the deconstruction of educational disco urse. In Cultural Studies (vol. 1, pp. 259-276). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.Wiggins, G. (1993). Assessing student performance San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Wildavsky, J. L. & Wildavsky, A. (1984). Implementation Berkeley: University of


16 of 19California Press.Wolcott, H. (1994). Transforming qualitative data: Description, analysi s, and interpretation Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.NotesInformation about the program has been anonymized r egarding title, subject area, personnel, and sites. 1. The authors were assisted with data collection by d octoral students Tracy Cronin, Jeff Davis, and Sharifah Shakirah Syed Omar. 2. In year 3, one participating teacher was attending a conference at the time of an evaluation site visit. 3. The project director disputed this, claiming that c ommunity-oriented education was initially resisted but later fully embraced by the Midwest teachers. However, seven months of classroom observations by a differe nt researcher the following year revealed not a single creditable lesson about the local communities (anonymous, personal communication, 1998). 4. Recognition that change is slow has, of course, app eared in the literature of educational reform (see, for example, Darling-Hammo nd, 1990), but full understanding of the time typically needed for prog ram development is not evident in most Requests for Proposals (RFPs). 5. An outsiderÂ’s perspective based upon external categ orization and structuring, as opposed to an emic approach based upon insidersÂ’ vi ewpoints and constructions of meaning (see Seymour-Smith, 1986, p. 92) 6. We did, however, recommend such discussion and inte nded to support it with our data until forbidden by the project director to do more than "watch this play out" (see Mabry, 1999). 7.About the AuthorsLinda MabryIndiana University4002 Wright Education Building201 North Rose AvenueBloomington, IN 47405-1006Telephone (812)-856.8317fax (812)-856.8440Email lmabry@indiana.eduPh.D. University of Illinois, 1995M.S. University of Illinois, 1986B.S. University of Houston, 1972Linda Mabry is an assistant professor of education at Indiana University where she teaches courses in program evaluation, performance assessment, and qualitative research methodology.Laura Ettinger


17 of 19 Educational Leadership & Policy StudiesIndiana University(812) 333-8097 Email: lwoodbur@indiana.eduPh.D. in progress, Indiana UniversityM.S. Indiana University, 1993 B.A. University of Virginia, 1986Laura Ettinger is a doctoral student in Educational Policy Studies at Indiana University where she is researching the appliation of complex adaptive systems theory to public school change. She has taught courses in the founda tions of education and combines interests in education policy and school reform wit h program evaluation.Copyright 1999 by the Education Policy Analysis ArchivesThe World Wide Web address for the Education Policy Analysis Archives is General questions about appropriateness of topics o r particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, or reach him at College of Education, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-0211. (602-965-96 44). The Book Review Editor is Walter E. Shepherd: The Commentary Editor is Casey D. Cobb: .EPAA Editorial Board Michael W. Apple University of Wisconsin Greg Camilli Rutgers University John Covaleskie Northern Michigan University Andrew Coulson Alan Davis University of Colorado, Denver Sherman Dorn University of South Florida Mark E. Fetler California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Richard Garlikov Thomas F. Green Syracuse University Alison I. Griffith York University Arlen Gullickson Western Michigan University Ernest R. House University of Colorado Aimee Howley Ohio University Craig B. Howley Appalachia Educational Laboratory William Hunter University of Calgary Richard M. Jaeger University of North Carolina--Greensboro Daniel Kalls Ume University Benjamin Levin University of Manitoba


18 of 19 Thomas MauhsPugh Green Mountain College Dewayne Matthews Western Interstate Commission for HigherEducation William McInerney Purdue University Mary McKeown-Moak MGT of America (Austin, TX) Les McLean University of Toronto Susan Bobbitt Nolen University of Washington Anne L. Pemberton Hugh G. Petrie SUNY Buffalo Richard C. Richardson Arizona State University Anthony G. Rud Jr. Purdue University Dennis Sayers Ann Leavenworth Centerfor Accelerated Learning Jay D. Scribner University of Texas at Austin Michael Scriven Robert E. Stake University of Illinois--UC Robert Stonehill U.S. Department of Education Robert T. Stout Arizona State University David D. Williams Brigham Young University EPAA Spanish Language Editorial BoardAssociate Editor for Spanish Language Roberto Rodrguez Gmez Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mxico Adrin Acosta (Mxico) Universidad de J. Flix Angulo Rasco (Spain) Universidad de Teresa Bracho (Mxico) Centro de Investigacin y DocenciaEconmica-CIDEbracho Alejandro Canales (Mxico) Universidad Nacional Autnoma Ursula Casanova (U.S.A.) Arizona State Jos Contreras Domingo Universitat de Barcelona Erwin Epstein (U.S.A.) Loyola University of Josu Gonzlez (U.S.A.) Arizona State Rollin Kent (Mxico)Departamento de InvestigacinEducativaDIE/ Mara Beatriz Luce (Brazil)Universidad Federal de Rio Grande do


19 of 19 Javier Mendoza Rojas (Mxico)Universidad Nacional Autnoma deMxicojaviermr@servidor.unam.mxMarcela Mollis (Argentina)Universidad de Buenos Humberto Muoz Garca (Mxico) Universidad Nacional Autnoma deMxicohumberto@servidor.unam.mxAngel Ignacio Prez Gmez (Spain)Universidad de Daniel Schugurensky (Argentina-Canad)OISE/UT, Simon Schwartzman (Brazil)Fundao Instituto Brasileiro e Geografiae Estatstica Jurjo Torres Santom (Spain)Universidad de A Carlos Alberto Torres (U.S.A.)University of California, Los


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