Browsing Educational Leadership, Administration, and Foundations by Author "Browder, Lee Shane"
Capacities facilitating school change involving project-based learning at the middle school levelBrowder, Lee ShaneWith schools continuing to fall short of No Child Left Behind standards and with future challenges just around the corner, educators must identify and make positive changes in schools. Researchers must work to recognize and exhibit how student achievement is fostered and inform educators of options on how to move in a positive direction according to research. The purpose of this qualitative, multiple-site case study was to examine what capacity-building factors were in middle schools identified as successfully implementing project-based learning. This study focused on the capacities that are consistently implemented leading to successful school change with the Schools to Watch®. The Schools to Watch® sample of three schools was purposefully selected with respect to this designation itself, as membership in that group served as a quality-assurance mechanism that participating schools strove to be high-performing, challenging to all students, infused with rigorous curriculum, imbued with rich instruction, and staffed with teachers who were trained at the highest levels with outstanding supports. These schools had completed rigorous training and development to achieve the status of being a School to Watch® member for the 2012-2013 school year. The sample schools had all addressed the issues of change as they implemented project-based learning during the past few years, since this is a focus of the Schools to Watch® program. The enrollments of these schools ranged from 255 to 915 and included Grades 5 through 8. This study focused on the capacity-building initiatives that occur within the building as a component when implementing school change. In doing so, it strived to answer the question, “What components of capacity building are essential when implementing selected school change?” Sub-questions included the following: 1.What capacities are needed to implement project-based learning at the middle school level? 2.What leadership characteristics are valuable to building capacities in implementing project-based learning at the middle school level? 3.What are the keys to sustaining successful change after implementation of project-based learning at the middle school level? This study focused on the use of interviews, observations, and document analysis to examine school capacity at the middle school level. This process created consistent results that indicated that these schools consistently focused on the personal sphere through a “we-centeredness,” through an interpersonal sphere with respect to coaching, and through the organizational sphere with respect to data, which worked together in the context of high-level school functioning.In the three conclusions, the focus was on creating better relationships that could enhance and expand upon a we-centered approach, using talent scouting and teambuilding to further the notion of leader-as-coach in school operation, and reconceptualizing the structures and operations of schools to maximize the opportunity to use data to increase the professional capacities within a school.