A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Assessment of School-Based Management - October 1996

Section Three:
Study Aims and Study Questions


Phase I

An International Study of School-Based Management

University of Southern California

Consortium for Research in Education

The Finance Center

Purpose of Study

The purpose of this study is to advance our knowledge about how school-based management, when combined with ambitious curriculum and instruction reform, can work to improve the performance of schools. The study, which represents our second phase of research on SBM, builds on findings that were generated in phase one when we took an in-depth look at the literature regarding decentralized management in schools and the private sector. Although we found little written about how or whether SBM works to improve schools' performance, we found that companies in the private sector were able to boost productivity by decentralizing decision making including power over budget and personnel, knowledge (training and professional development), information and rewards. In the second phase, we will apply this framework to schools in order to produce practical design and management strategies to help schools increase their performance through school-based management.

What We Expect To Learn

  1. What mechanisms exist for decentralizing power, knowledge, information and rewards in schools and how do they work?

  2. How do SBM reforms combine with reforms in the areas of curriculum and instruction to improve student learning and school performance in general?

  3. What changes result from SBM and how is school performance affected?

  4. What factors are important to the successful implementation of SBM?

Study Sites

We will study school-based management in Australia and England, and in three school districts in the United States. We are most interested in sites where school-based management has been underway for three or four years; where significant budgetary authority has been devolved to schools; and where there is a strong push (either from the state, district or school) for curriculum and instruction reform.

In each site, six schools -- two elementary, two middle/junior and two high schools -- will be studied. Our intent is to examine active schools that are having a range of success in making changes and improving performance in order to determine what makes SBM work.

Study Methods

Our primary method of data collection will be on-site interviews with district officials and administrators, including the superintendent, assistant superintendents, the Union president and selected school board members. We also will visit schools to interview members of decision making councils and some additional teachers and administrators. All teachers at each of the sample schools will be asked to complete a short (10-15 minute) survey, which we plan to administer during an already-scheduled faculty meeting.

We will spend one to two days conducting interviews in the district office and one day at each school. Prior to our visit, one or more telephone interviews will be required to gather preliminary information about the district and its reform efforts.

Deliverables

All participating districts will receive all write-ups of study learnings. In addition, each school will receive summary findings from the short survey that will be administered to its teachers.

Note Regarding Confidentiality

Districts will not be identified in any write-ups unless permission is obtained or identification is requested by the district. Individual schools will not be identified at any time. Individual interview or survey data will be strictly confidential.


Phase II

An International Study of School-Based Management

University of Southern California

Consortium for Research in Education

The Finance Center

Purpose of Study

The purpose of this study is to advance our knowledge about how school-based management, when combined with ambitious curriculum and instruction reform, can work to improve the performance of schools. The study, which represents our third phase of research on SBM, builds on findings that were generated in phases one and two. In phase one, we took an in-depth look at the literature regarding decentralized management in schools and the private sector. Although there was little written about how or whether SBM works to improve schools' performance, we found that companies in the private sector were able to boost productivity by decentralizing decision making including power over budget and personnel, knowledge (training and professional development), information and rewards. In the second phase, we applied this framework to schools to develop practical design and management strategies to help schools increase their performance through school-based management. Our aim in phase three is to better understand how decentralized governance and management mechanisms can support new approaches to teaching and learning, particularly in the areas of mathematics, science and social studies, to produce high performance schools.

What We Expect To Learn

  1. What mechanisms exist for decentralizing power, knowledge, information and rewards to help schools learn and improve classroom practice?

  2. What governance and management changes are needed to support new approaches to teaching and learning, and to support the innovation process itself?

  3. What innovations in classroom practice have been introduced through school-based management and how is school performance affected?

Study Sites

We will study school-based management in six school districts in the United States, and also in Australia. In each district, two schools -- one elementary and one high school -- will be studied. We are most interested in schools where school-based management has been underway for three or four years; where schools have significant budgetary and personnel authority; and where there has been significant restructuring in the areas of curriculum and instruction. Our intent is to examine schools in site-based managed districts that are successfully restructuring to improve classroom practice, in order to determine how school-based management can support new approaches to teaching and learning.

Study Methods

Our primary methods of data collection will be on-site interviews (with principals and teachers) and classroom observation. Schools will be visited by a two-member research team with expertise in curriculum and school-based management. The team will spend two days at each school. All teachers at each of the sample schools will be asked to complete a survey and they will be paid for their time.

Prior to our visit, one or more telephone interviews will be required to gather preliminary information about the school and its reform efforts. These will include several interviews with district officials to get an overview of school-based management in the district, and of district support for restructuring curriculum and instruction.

Deliverables

All participating schools will receive write-ups of study learnings. In addition, each school will receive summary findings from the teacher survey that will be administered to all faculty members.

Note Regarding Confidentiality

Individual schools will not be identified at any time. Individual interview and survey data will be strictly confidential. Districts will not be identified in write-ups unless permission is obtained or identification is requested by the district and individual schools.
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[Section Two: Summary Review of the Literature] [Table of Contents] [Section Four: Cross-Site Analysis]