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Changing Schools from the Inside Out: Small Wins in Hard Times

Overview

At any time, public schools labor under great economic, political, and social pressures that make it difficult to create large-scale, 'whole school' change. But current top-down mandates require that schools close achievement gaps while teaching more problem solving, inquiry, and research skills_with fewer resources. Failure to meet test-based standards can produce consequences such as school closure or staff replacement. With this real-world challenge to education foremost, this book presents pertinent research ...

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Changing Schools from the Inside Out: Small Wins in Hard Times

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Overview

At any time, public schools labor under great economic, political, and social pressures that make it difficult to create large-scale, 'whole school' change. But current top-down mandates require that schools close achievement gaps while teaching more problem solving, inquiry, and research skills_with fewer resources. Failure to meet test-based standards can produce consequences such as school closure or staff replacement. With this real-world challenge to education foremost, this book presents pertinent research and instructive case studies of two 'good' high schools. It advocates a proven strategy of small-scale, incremental change_small wins_which increases the likelihood that schools will improve despite a climate of 'do more with less.' Chapters describe the current societal context; the history of major change projects since the 1970s; the organizational and social characteristics of schools and classrooms; human factors that encourage and support improvement; the effects of technology; forces affecting teachers and principals; commonplace components of and vehicles for change; and practical 'levers and footings' for change that can have a high positive payoff.

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Editorial Reviews

CHOICE
Larson (emer., Univ. of Vermont) effectively and conclusively enlightens policy makers, professors, school administrators, and change agent researchers by providing an exhaustive discussion of decades of research on change. The author reviews in great detail the variables and factors associated with success or failure in making change in public schools, including his most recent study on change in two high schools. Numerous ideas are explored, such as the realization that change is complex and complicated; there are problems associated with top-down change; schools need the collaborative efforts of all to make change succeed; and the essence of long-term meaningful change should be from the "inside out." The author's experience as a professor and researcher makes this is an excellent read for anyone interested in understanding the impact of meaningful and sustained change in America's public school system.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers; upper-division undergraduate students and above.

Selected for review by the American Library Association.

Choice
Larson (emer., Univ. of Vermont) effectively and conclusively enlightens policy makers, professors, school administrators, and change agent researchers by providing an exhaustive discussion of decades of research on change. The author reviews in great detail the variables and factors associated with success or failure in making change in public schools, including his most recent study on change in two high schools. Numerous ideas are explored, such as the realization that change is complex and complicated; there are problems associated with top-down change; schools need the collaborative efforts of all to make change succeed; and the essence of long-term meaningful change should be from the "inside out." The author's experience as a professor and researcher makes this is an excellent read for anyone interested in understanding the impact of meaningful and sustained change in America's public school system.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers; upper-division undergraduate students and above.

Selected for review by the American Library Association.

Scott Thomson
If you are looking for a new perspective for positioning your school in this time of tight resources, read the third edition of Bob Larson's book. He has again produced an impressive treatise on change, grounded in the increasingly complex and technological world of public education today. With accuracy and clarity he dissects major innovative programs and projects over the past fifty years, the forces that undermined their goals, and their modest successes and frequent failures. He shows how schools grow and develop and require the cooperation of all within to effect true, substantive improvement. Larson offers to readers a mature, reasoned, and optimistic outlook, combined with practical ideas for use by educators in their local setting.
Tom Payzant
When standards-based reform emerged in the 1980's it was a radical idea. The new challenge for educators was to set high expectations for teaching and learning resulting in high student achievement for all students. The third edition of Bob Larson's book clearly shows how leaders in education and policy must refine their thinking in this new era, so that every student will graduate from high school ready for college or a career. Toward that end, the book is filled with insights and examples about the forces affecting change, types of change, and practical strategies to effect new initiatives. Larson makes the case for the need to build capacity from 'the inside out,' which is the essential factor in sustaining real school improvement.
Fenwick W. English
Bob Larson's Changing Schools from the Inside Out is a powerful antidote to the heavy-handed, top-down corporate model of schooling being dished out in Washington and by the think tank policy wonks who believe that all education needs is more centralized control and measurement precision. He shows it's time to re-examine the conventional wisdom and restore some sanity and common sense to how we work at school improvement. The book's emphasis on small-scale change is refreshingly unique. It is grounded in solid research and organizational theory that makes it applicable to practice in all school settings. Each chapter is highly readable, relevant, and timely.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781607095286
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/9/2011
  • Edition description: 3rd Edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Larson is professor of education emeritus at The University of Vermont College of Education and Social Services. He was also a high school teacher and administrator for six years prior to receiving his Ed. D. from Boston University in 1968.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Foreword George Voland xi

Preface xv

Introduction 1

1 The Current Context for School Improvement 9

2 What Research and Practice Teach Us about Change 37

3 Schools as Organizations 67

4 Bromley and Mansfield: Two Case Studies 93

5 Good Schools and Small-Scale Change 115

6 Magnifying the Innovation Map 129

7 The Potential of Small Wins and Related Strategies 151

8 Levers and Footings for Change 171

Concluding Comments 199

Bibliography 205

Index 225

About the Author 237

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