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No one way: Differentiating school district leadership and support for school improvement

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Abstract

This article examines findings from a qualitative investigation of how school district administrators in four mid to large sized urban school districts (10,000–50,000) identify and address differences in school performance. The analysis explores the interaction between district policies and actions that centralize and standardize expectations for teaching, learning, and leadership, and those that lead to the differentiation of district support to schools depending upon their identified needs. The findings demonstrate variability in district orientation and capacity to understand school needs to improve performance, as well as in district strategies for actually differentiating support to schools. Differentiated assistance can focus both on strengthening implementation of district expectations in order to improve school performance, and on supporting experimentation with non-standard solutions to performance challenges that are not solvable through use of established programs and practices.

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Notes

  1. In January 2007, the U.S. Secretary of Education announced Building On Results: A Blueprint for Strengthening the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). As part of this blueprint, the Department of Education called for differentiated accountability to allow states to vary the intensity and type of interventions to match the academic reasons that lead to a school’s identification as in need of improvement (Center on Education Policy 2009).

  2. Funding for this study was provided by a grant from the Wallace Foundation.

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Correspondence to Stephen E. Anderson.

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Anderson, S.E., Mascall, B., Stiegelbauer, S. et al. No one way: Differentiating school district leadership and support for school improvement. J Educ Change 13, 403–430 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10833-012-9189-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10833-012-9189-y

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