Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Culture and Middle School Reform: From Stalled to Cruising. A Case Study of a Leadership Team's Journey Implementing Middle School Reform
by Smith, AnneMarie Kestner, Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2016, 366; 10076078
Abstract (Summary)

Academic and behavioral success in middle school is a predictor of academic and behavioral success in high school. How best to provide a developmentally responsive education to students at the middle level is a challenge that American educators and policymakers need to address (Jackson et al., 2000). This case study provides an understanding of the unique organizational structures and school culture that contributed to a diverse school’s fostering and sustaining the goals of a middle school reform initiative designed to contribute to students’ academic and behavioral success.

Once a low-performing school with high disciplinary referrals, Crossroads Middle School is now considered exemplary because of high ratings on district climate surveys and success in increasing student achievement for all student groups since implementation of the reform strategy. Notably, during the reform implementation, three principals led the school. Given this leadership turnover, the school’s success cannot be attributed to one charismatic leader, but rather the organizational culture fostered by the instructional leadership team. Data include interviews with 19 past and present members of the instructional leadership team, meeting observations, and reviews of school documents and artifacts. This exemplary case study reveals the shared norms, values, and beliefs developed over time by the leadership team members as they designed and implemented the structures, policies, and practices needed to foster the goals of the reform.

Crossroads had and continues to have a student population that mirrors the demographics of its large diverse district. This diversity contributes to the relevancy of the findings for other school leaders in districts that have diverse student populations and who seek to improve middle level education. The results of this study may inform district leaders and school-based staff seeking to adopt a middle school model uniquely suited to developing middle school students, and seeking to develop a staff with skill sets unique to teaching students at the middle school level.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Robinson, Marian A.
Commitee: Drakeford, Jocelyn, Hill, Kimberly, Minshew, Virginia Ginger, Tekleselassie, Abebayehu
School: The George Washington University
Department: Educational Administration and Policy Studies
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 77/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Educational leadership, Middle School education, School administration, Organization Theory
Keywords: Climate, Culture, Leadership, Leadership team, Middle school reform, Organizational theory
Publication Number: 10076078
ISBN: 978-1-339-58432-4
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