Darling-Hammond's Reframing the School Reform Agenda

Reframing the School Reform Agenda:
Developing Capacity for
School Transformation


Linda Darling-Hammond

School reform to school restructuring
We need a new kind of education and new forms of sch org

Manage complexity
find and use resources
learn new technologies, approaches, and occupations
In contrast to yesterday's workers tomorrow's workers will:
frame problems
design their own tasks
plan, construct, evaluate outcomes
cooperate in finding novel solutions to problems
Social complexity demands:
understanding and evaluating multidimensional problems & alternatives
managing demanding social systems.
  • Schools are not merely to deliver but help students construct
  • No longer cover the curriculum but be diverse, construct, develop own.
  • Change from designing controls to developing the capacity.
  • Capacity Building requires new policy tools.

    Competing Models of Policy Making

    100's of pieces of legislation has sought to improve schools:
    adding course requirements
    increasing testing requirements
    mandating new curriculum guidelines
    requiring new management processes for schools and districts
    The Behaviorist view taught isolated info in small chunks; however, we now know??, learners actively construct own knowledge. Teachers must construct experiences for this to happen. Teachers must have deep knowledge of subj matter and lots of teaching styles.
    Schools and teachers must ensure all studs learn to think critically, to invent, to produce, and to solve problems. This is not teacher proof because it requires responding to nonstandardized needs.
    The new reforms demand:
  • equity in ed resources
  • well-qualified teachers
  • adequate material
  • decent conditions (environment)
    Reform in the 1980's:
  • decentralization and professionalizing teaching
  • sbm/sdm
    problem with this is that solutions are constrained by availability of teachers, their knowledge, school conditions. You can't talk the talk unless you can walk the walk.
    American education has been down this path too many times.
    All reform has failed because it is incomplete. Some element isn't playing.
    Currently two different theories of reform are working:
  • tightening controls: standards, standardization, national testing,
  • teacher preparedness through ed, certification, workshops.

    A Collision Course for School Change

    NYState's Compact for Learning is an example of how new modes of teaching are encouraged but the Regents exams counter creative methods.
    Top-down suggests teachers can't teach. School-led innovations will: 1) enable more creative forms of educ, 2) dispel neg idea of teachers. Capacity-building mechanisms are funded much less well than activities that control curriculum. Mentor-teacher and teacher centers budgets were cut.
    Policies are hamstrung because of the tangled bureaucracies which have colliding policies. They want me to teach in a way they can't test. Teachers see the conflict, but the state doesn't fix it. That's the way it is, kid, so grow up. Students understand this better than the teachers. Students create their own policies and problem solve and learn.

    Implications of the Competing Models

    Two very different policies exist: First:
  • students are raw material, teachers administer info, and students are tested. Easy. This is done in boxes: periods, classes....
  • Individual time with kids. Because we have assembly line teaching, training teachers is easy as is the curriculum. Second:
  • new paradigm: constructivism.
    In the first instance knowledge is imparted and in the second knowledge is produced.
    Dewey was seeking the "science of teaching" so he could teach teachers. Lee Cornbach continued the research and discovered "most effects are interactive." That is the environment is constantly changing. It is protean. Teachers must adapt to new complex situations daily including accounting for student's culture, communities, etc, yet too often reform policies prevent this. Reform is formulaic, recipes...

    A 21st-Century Model of School Reform

    If we are to move to a new model of school reform, we must reframe the reform agenda.

    Professional Development

    Inservice sucks!! Support schools of education. Restructure teacher ed. Look at medicine, law...
    Support collegial discourse and inquiry: peer coaching, team planning and teaching, collaborative research, prof conferences and networking.

    Policy development

    state licensing and evaluation are needed to effect new reforms. Internship, buddy teachers etc are crucial. No more sink or swim. SBM/SDM stuff.

    Political Development

    This means the politics of the school. How are they developed? Bad communities when top down ensues. However:
  • org so kids don't fall through cracks.
  • create means for collegial inquiry
  • use authority responsibly.
    To change things we must have collegial time so we can ask:
  • What do we want kids to do?
  • How will we know if they can do it?
  • What is our assessment tool?
  • How do we develop shared views?
  • How will we help kids get there?
    This is the key to assessment reform.
    The 8 year study in 1930's was significant in community building. What we need today is a policy which encourages schools to engage in a democratic dialogue. Thus the new model of school reform must seek to develop communities of learning grounded in communities of democratic discourse.