Educational Change

Topic: Analyse a story about an educational reform happened in a secondary school and comment its effectiveness based on the organizational theories. ————————————————- 1. Introduction The Education Commission Report No. 7 released in September of 1997 suggested to build a quality culture in schools(EDB, 1997) . Since that, schools and education institutions of all levels experienced changes and reforms in various scale and kinds. Schools are no longer stable and predictable places.
Schools and school systems had gradually turned into a mode of modern organization: departmentalized and bureaucratized in last century. However, in last two decades, the reform in education has been launched in all over the world. It is clearly because of the needs of new millennium – we are moving or even already in the postmodern age now. The postmodern age world is fast, compressed, complex and uncertain(Hargreaves, 1994). Schools are places for preparing the generations of the future, therefore, changes are essential to all educational organizations.
In this paper, the story about the culture reform happened in a one-through school will be told to provide a case-study of how an evolution occurred in an educational system. The dimensions, type and effectiveness of reform will be discussed. 2. Literature Review We know change is essential to postmodern education system. But change for change is not help and not what we want. An educational change, is assumed to help schools to achieve their goals more effectively, theoretically. It is important to bear in mind that change is a process, not an event(Fullan & Stiegelbauer, 1991)

Literature provides the category for the change. Superficial changes , like changes in content, structure or policy, which induces improvement on something currently doing, are classified as first order change. Those changes occur on those fundamental, for example, goals and roles, are classified as second order change. (Cuban, 1988) “Educational change depends on what teachers do and think-it’s as simple and complex as that”(Fullan, 1991, P. 117). While what the teachers do and think is a reflection of their basic assumption and belief or the change is just superficial.
It is vital to understand the culture of the organization and how it affects the norms and behaviors. (Stoll & Fink, 1996). There are fundamental relationship between culture and effectiveness(Rossman et al. , 1988). Though school culture is powerful, schools are more comfortable to first order change than second order change (Cuban, 1988; Fullan & Stiegelbauer, 1991). But first order change would not be internalized without second order change(Leithwood, Aitken, & Jantzi, 2001). 3. A Story about Changing the School School X was a band three secondary school in a very new developed district in Hong Kong.
Included School X, there were two secondary schools in the district, which with population of around 60,000. In the fifth year of school X being set up, a vice-principal of another school (for convenience, we called him/her W) of the same sponsoring body was sent to this school. At this time, school X was obviously in adverse position compared with another school in the district. Almost all higher banding students chose another school, over 80% of students of School X is in band 3 while over half of these students were in territorial bottom 10%.
Most of the middle managers were not functioned. Teachers with negative attitude were majority. Some teachers had passion and willing to pay effort for students, but because of the norm and culture, what their effect was confined. Students lacked of interest and motivation in their learning, not mentioned to have any confidence and expectation on their own academic performance. The impression of School X was terrible in the community. “Fortunately”, the number of classes and teaching group of school X were small and still expanding with he increase of population size of the district. W already knew she would be vice-principal of school X for only one year and then would be promoted to be principal in the next year. W took the year of being vice-principal of school X to familiarize with the setting, the norm, the culture and social relationships in this school. The story of change began in the next year, W became principal of School X…… 4. Analysis of the changes Changes is a process, most researchers stated there are three broad phases involved: Initiation, Implementation and Continuation.
Fullan (1991) added the idea of outcome to the process to give a come complete picture. Since the progress of educational reform occurred in School X involved numerous innovations each affected different domains of the school (Surely, this is common to all educational changes), the followed analysis will be written according to the framework shown in Figure 4. 1 . This framework is modified from the simplified overview of Fullan(1991), the titles of the points I will highlight for each phase are added to the box below each phase.
Figure 4. 1 A simiplified overview for the process of change in School X No doubt, the new principal took a critical role in the initiation of change. But any educational change in school should involve all parties in school, therefore, the innovations are always not only from the principal but should be from all a stakeholders, especially from teachers and students. A group of teachers with similar belief with W were selected to act as a workforce to improve the performance and effectiveness of the school.
Three teachers from this group became the new leaders for the academic, discipline and guidance department. The replacement was a quite severe step in school system. But it was also an effective way to remove the potential resistance to the change. The concept of workforce group was a successful startup. It involved teachers, the staff that would execute the change, as McGregor (1957) argued about the Theory Y of management, innovations and motivation are present in people, the manager only needed to make it possible for eople to recognize and develop. On the other hand, only small group of teachers were included in the workforce. Huberman and Miles (1984) argued that large-scale participation at the initiation phase is not productive and too much energy would be exhausted for pre-action discussion. The new department leaders, with W, leaded the group of workforce to review the rules and regulations, and drew up some new practice, then discussed these practice with the whole teaching team.
Actually, the changes in rules and regulation were small, the focus was on the execution of these rules and regulations should be uniform and coherent. Though at this time the scale and degree of change on school was small, but it just like a pilot step for the consequence wave of reforming. Before these practices were introduced, W shared the bad news about the terrible intake of S1 in that year, over 70% of new comers are from the group of territory bottom 10%, with all teaching staff in the meeting. She also showed the data about the trend of population and development of the district in the meeting.
What she pointed out was : more and more secondary schools were setting up in the district, all of them would be competitors of their school; the worst thing was, though the student population was going up that time, but it was not a long story, the population would decline after several year; they would finally face the crisis of shrink in number of classes, even being forced to close. W had capitalized on propitious moments for the change. The circumstances that call for change was dramatized to win the support and cooperation of teachers (Trice & Beyer, 1993). The results of pilot trial were satisfied.
Though everything still had great room for improvement, but all of them seemed to be in progress. W celebrated the success with all staff (both of teaching and non-teaching). In the next year, some changes induced ‘externally” happened: Regional/national level: The ECR no. 7 recommended the idea of using performance indicators to assess the quality of school. This aroused the concern about effectiveness and quality of schooling in society. Local level: * School X moved to a brand-new campus equipped with extra facilities. * School X was changed from a traditional secondary school to a one-through school.
School X now had its first class of primary one. These “external factors” provided good ground to fertilize the consequence changes,. Among various of innovations, the setting up of first quality circle took a critical role in the reform of School X. The quality circle was formed by a group of ten young and passionate teachers. Teachers in the circle were assigned to be the class teachers of S2 classes (the form with terrible S1 intake). They were empowered to design and execute the setting and rules (academic and discipline aspects) work on the whole form.
Recalled the organization Y described by McGregor (1957), this was another example about “using” the motivation and potential for development already in people to direct behavior toward the organizational goal. The outcome of implementation of quality circle was inspiring. The success of the quality circle was originated from it decentralized the power to and enlarged the job of some staff in relative low position of the school hierarchy (by experience, status and responsibility), and caused a sense of satisfaction in their social and egoistic needs. The success of quality circle created a dramatic change in the belief of teachers.
After that, quality circles were set up for each form. It was institutionalized as a school policy and long term practice. After years of implementation, the behavior and academic performance of students had obvious improvement. The job satisfaction of teachers was greatly improved. Most items in the APASO and KPM, especially those related with the teacher and students relationship, have index better than the territory norm. Now, School X is categorized in band 2. Fullan(1991) listed 9 critical factors organized into 3 main categories affecting implementation. Figure 4. shows the interactive relationship of them: In the case of School X, for the characteristic of change: the need of change was obvious, the goal of change was clearly explained to all staff, the individual complexity on most staff was not too high to create resistance. In addition, as most rules and regulations remained the same, the practicality was acceptable. For the local characteristics, though the district and community factors could not be examined, but the principal and teachers showed positive attitude to the implementation, especially after the success of trial done in the first year.
By cultural perspective, Rossman et al. (1988) identified the culture change processes to three types: Evolutionary, Additive and Transformative, depended on the degree of explicit, conscious focus on cultural change. The change in School X involved explicitly implementation of policies and practices, it should belonged to additive or transformative. While as the cultural norm was changed in a quite big scale with some severe means (replaced the heads, restructured the school system, etc. ), the reform of School X was classified as transformative.
The developmental age of School X affected the cultural change in it as well. Stoll and Fink (1996) described the mechanisms likely to bring about change in three developmental age of school: Birth and early growth, Midlife, Maturity and /or stagnation and decline. School X should belong to Midlife stage, and the description about change through explosion of myths, quality circle was an exact example of this. The idea about creating new myth also echoed by(Trice & Beyer, 1993), the effectiveness of myth to change cultures was affirmed in his article. 5. Comment on its effectiveness 5. Classical theory vs. Human resources theory The definitions of effectiveness of the change/reform were varied. The implementation of change in School X relied on application of human resources theory mostly. Compared with the classical theory, human resources theory took much more time and sometimes the outcome may be misled to be deflected from the organizational goal as it emphasized on the managing by objective instead of control with assumption about people had motivation already inside(McGregor, 1957). However, for the setting of school, human resources theory is much more appropriate.
Though in earlier of this paper, the characteristic of schools in postmodern age was subjected to change; on the other hand, schools should be stable enough to let the teachers and students feel safe and secure. The scientific management emphasizes on selecting themost qualified employees to perform the job, this may not fit for the situation of school. Furthermore, the classical theory also included sense of bureaucracy. Bureaucracy was a common practiced in modern school for many years. However, this perspective may not suitable for the postmodern age school nowadays.
Bureaucratic schools are close-ended, static and balkanized, in contrast, what we need now are open-ended, evolving and collaborative learning organizations. 5. 2 Cultural perspective Rossman(1988) argued culture defines effectiveness. In this part, I will comment on the effectiveness of the change in School X by cultural perspective. 5. 2. 1The classification of change by levels of culture The culture can be distinguished to three levels , on the base of basic assumptions, values and behaviours are observable manifestations (Schein, 1985). In Table 5. 1, the change of School X in each level of culture was described.
Table 5. 1. Description on the change of School X by levels of culture. Level| Description| Artifacts and creations| The appearance of students was improved. The behavior of students inside and outside the classroom was improved. The academic performance of students improved. The intake of the school improved. | Values| The senses of belonging of students increase. The self-esteem and confidence of students improved. The satisfaction of teachers about the job improved. | Basic assumptions| The impression of community on School X changed to be more positive. The mission and goal of the school became clear and evolving.
Senses of collaboration and cooperation were developed among teachers and students. Teachers’ belief migrated from “students cannot be changed” to “students can be changed through education, it just needs time and effort”. | 5. 2. 2Assessing Amounts of Change To understand the amount of change, the process can be described along four dimensions: Pervasiveness, Magnitude, Innovativeness, and Duration (Trice & Beyer, 1993). The pervasiveness in change of culture was high. All the main business within the school was affected. The behavior of majority of teachers and students were changed.
Surely, some of them tried to ignore the change, but the proportion was small. The magnitude of the change was high. The old negative values and belief evolved to much more positive ones. The innovativeness was not very varied in this case. Actually, the change in rules, rites and regulation were limited. The practices implemented were also common in other schools. But the idea of decentralization of power with quality circle was innovative among Hong Kong schools. Finally, the duration, it was high and actually, School X is still evolving even now, as a culture of evolving was developed. 5. 2. 3Definitions of effectiveness
According to the research work of Rossman et al. (1988), from the cultural perspective, the definitions of effectiveness changes refer to the norms, beliefs and values of organizations. Took Rossman ‘s suggestion, I tried to analysed the effectiveness of reform in School X by five criteria. Firstly, the definition should be multisided; Both of the academic and the non-academic achievement should be considered. The academic performance of School X was improved and the band of it was promoted. On the other hand , the sports teams and volunteer team had outstanding performance in region. Second, the concern for order is essential to all schools.
Ordered environment facilitate learning and teaching, it also brought about the sense of respect. The behavior of students was improved. The lesson time spent on dealing with the problem of classroom management was greatly reduced. It brings about the achievement of the third criterion – the quality of teaching; as teachers had more time for preparing teaching activities with higher quality. The focuses of professional training activities included the new teachers training programs and school-based training activities were migrated from classroom management to some more academic purpose.
The fourth one is to establish appropriate expectations for intellectual outcomes. Except the first two years of implementation, the main concerns of School X in the followed six years all about enhancing the learning and teaching effectiveness. The performances of students in public examination also have been evaluated and discussed both in the meeting at subject levels and school level. Finally, value the diversity. School X developed teams for students with different education needs, for example, special education needs, non-native Chinese speakers, gifted, etc. 6. 2. Three perspective of culture The culture strength can be described by three perspectives: Integration, Differentiation and Fragmentation(Martin, 1992). Before the implementation of change, School X should be described as differentiation, teachers , those willing to pay effort and those not, worked on their own style, belief and goal. Conflicts between colleagues happened frequently. The reform caused the culture of School X evolved much more coherent, but the characteristics of sub-groups were still kept, so it is much more likely to be fragmentation rather than integration. . 2. 5Limitations of the cultural perspective on evaluating the effectiveness of change Culture is powerful, it affects the whole setting and every members of the organization. But the cultural perspective is only a way to give better insight of the organizational culture and also about the change. It never gives any fast and promising way for change. One can have a better planning and more precise expectation on the response of the members of organization to the implementation of change. 6. End of story? Never ended….
As we said in the start of this paper, schools nowadays are providing training to people who will deal with the fast, complex and mercurial life in the postmodern age. Schools that keep static and satisfy with their past achievement are no longer good schools. The senses of changes should be rooted within every stakeholder of the schools and education system. The cycle of planning, implementation and evaluation now was very familiarized by each educators in every levels of institutions, it is not just for documentary purpose and dealing with school external review, it is also a key for the keeping the schools change to right way.
References Cuban, L. (1988). A Fundamental Puzzle of School-Reform. Phi Delta Kappan, 69(5), 341-344. EDB. (1997). Education Commission Report No. 7. Fullan, Michael, & Stiegelbauer, Suzanne M. (1991). The new meaning of educational change (2nd ed. ). Toronto? New York, NY: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education : Teachers College Press, Teachers College, Columbia University. Hargreaves, Andy. (1994). Changing teachers, changing times : teachers’ work and culture in the postmodern age. London: Cassell. Huberman, A. M. , & Miles, Matthew B. 1984). Innovation up close : how school improvement works. New York: Plenum Press. Leithwood, Kenneth A. , Aitken, Robert, & Jantzi, Doris. (2001). Making schools smarter : a system for monitoring school and district progress (2nd ed. ). Thousand Oaks, Calif. : Corwin Press. Martin, Joanne. (1992). Cultures in organizations : three perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press. McGregor, Douglas Murray. (1957). The Human Side of Enterprise (4th ed. ). Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers. Rossman, Gretchen B. , Corbett, H.
Dickson, & Firestone, William A. (1988). Change and effectiveness in schools : a cultural perspective. Albany: State University of New York Press. Schein, Edgar H. (1985). Defining Organizational Culture (4th ed. ). Belmont: Wadsworth Pub. Co. Stoll, Louise, & Fink, Dean. (1996). Changing our schools : linking school effectiveness and school improvement. Buckingham England ; Philadelphia: Open University Press. Trice, Harrison m. , & Beyer, Janice M. (1993). Changing Organizational Culture (4th ed. ). Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.

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