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Theories of School Improvement – Introduction to School Improvement Theory

Theories of School Improvement – Introduction to School Improvement Theory


Part 11
Theories of School Improvement

Introduction

Our ambition in this section is to set forth theories that we believe represent important contributions to our understanding of how schools improve, and how systems change. School improvement studies have been going on for more than 50 years. If we include the studies of organizations and management as a necessary theoretical base for understanding change in organizations, this represents about 100 years of research.

Although it is, of course, important to include contemporary research in this section, it is equally important to include earlier work that has proved useful to our understanding of school improvement. The reader will find, in chronological order, models of thinking, perspectives on change and on organizations as these have grown out of various research traditions over time.

Theories of organizations and theories of leadership and management are fundamental to our understanding of change. Much of the way schools are organized has its roots in early industrialization and the organization that was seen as 'productive'. Many schools are still striving to 'get restructured'! Other school systems are toying with new management concepts, sometimes with an insufficient understanding of what that implies, where the models come from, and what they normally produce. But it is important that we raise the question of what constitutes a good learning organization, or more fundamentally, what constitutes productive learning (Dalin and Rust 1996; Sarason 1998), through the presentation of various models of organization and management.

The last chapter deals with change theories and, more specifically, school improvement theories. The research tradition here is younger and based primarily in North America and (partly) in Europe. Our aim is to present the main theoretical schools of thought and relate them to theories of organization and management.

Owing to the volume of research that is relevant to this section, we have been forced to limit the items of research that we can report. We have, however, included a full list of references which, hopefully, will prove useful for those who would like to study a particular theory in greater detail.

Theories of School Improvement – Introduction to School Improvement Theory
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