The Roles Of Instructional Improvement

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Sykes, G., O’Day, J. & Ford, T. (2009). The district role in instructional improvement. Handbook of Education Policy Research, G. Sykes, B. Schneider & D. Planks (Eds.) New York: Routledge. The purpose of the chapter “is to set an agenda for policy research focused on the role of districts in instructional improvement, with particular attention to large minority and high poverty districts where improving student learning is perhaps most challenging (Sykes, 2009 p. 767). Systems theory is the framework the authors propose to achieve improvement (learning) throughout the district (whole system) and not just on individual units within the system. They describe districts as being nested within larger policy systems receiving pressure from above as well as below. The authors assert the complexity of this policy environment and the gravity of the consequences are an “important subject for research” (p.767). They provide a historical view of districts to shed light on how the past has influenced the current state of districts. “Managing growth, not performance, was the main preoccupation of communities and their schools over the founding and successive decades” (p.770). Districts have been seen as representatives of democracy from their genesis. The democratic system caused the districts to be vulnerable to the pressures from federal, state, and local politics. “The great promise of efficiency and effectiveness that bureaucracy once promised has left a legacy, especially in
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