This study examined the facilitators and barriers to the implementation of an innovative, whole-school reform model, Expeditionary Learning, within the context of the high-stakes accountability policy environment. Twenty-four teachers and four principals were interviewed across four schools, two of which were high poverty and two of which were low poverty. All schools were K-8 charter schools and located either within the urban core or in an inner-ring suburb. Educators across schools reported agreement with the tenets of Expeditionary Learning and a desire to implement the program fully. They preferred this learning model that focuses on student choice, inquiry, and experiential education over more traditional learning models. Respondents pointed to the pressure and time constraints caused by high-stakes standardized tests as barriers to their full implementation of Expeditionary Learning. They also saw the standardized tests as largely misaligned with the model. Educators in high-poverty schools reported more anxiety around the tests and their students’ performance. Respondents across schools agreed that Expeditionary Learning was a team effort that required significant time and effort to implement with fidelity. Educators at high-poverty schools reported teacher retention and hiring policies as major barriers to implementing Expeditionary Learning, largely because collaborative teams of teachers were unable to coalesce. Other factors affecting implementation of the program included curricular standards that focused on breadth and not depth, a lack of resources, and parent and community support. Overall, the study found that district and state policies served primarily as a constraint to implementation of Expeditionary Learning, and high-poverty schools were more negatively affected by external policies than were low-poverty schools. The ability to function as an Expeditionary Learning school was ultimately based on how well internal practices were able to work with or counteract external policies.
|Advisor:||Rotberg, Iris C.|
|Commitee:||Joftus, Scott, Robinson, Marian A.|
|School:||The George Washington University|
|Department:||Educational Administration and Policy Studies|
|School Location:||United States -- District of Columbia|
|Source:||DAI-A 79/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational evaluation, Education Policy|
|Keywords:||Charter schools, Expeditionary learning, Innovative education|
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