Monday, June 11, 2012

On choosing the wrong drivers for whole system reform

If you are in any way involved in education, schools, and / or professional development I would highly recommend the following paper as a 'must read'. (The paper was shared via email by Vince Ham.)

Fullan M. (2011). Choosing the wrong drivers for whole system reform (Centre for Strategic Education Seminar Series Paper No. 204). Melbourne, VIC: Centre for Strategic Education.
"In the rush to move forward, leaders, especially from countries that have not been progressing, tend to choose the wrong drivers. Such ineffective drivers fundamentally miss the target. There are four main ‘wrong driver’ culprits that I discuss with their matched pairs that refer to the more effective alternative. In all cases choosing a combination of the drivers makes matters significantly worse (or better)." (p. 5)
Fullen identifies the culprits as:

  1. accountability: using test results, and teacher appraisal, to reward or punish teachers and schools vs capacity building;
  2. individual teacher and leadership quality: promoting individuals vs group solutions;
  3. technology: investing in and assuming that the wonders of the digital world will carry the day vs instruction;
  4. fragmented strategies vs integrated or systemic strategies.
"Dominance is another word for saying what system leaders state and acknowledge as the anointed, explicitly articulated lead drivers. The encouraging news is that the judicious use of the four right drivers ends up accomplishing better the goals that those espousing the wrong drivers are seeking. And it does so in a fundamentally more powerful and sustainable manner. The right drivers – capacity building, group work, instruction, and systemic solutions – are effective because they work directly on changing the culture of school systems (values, norms, skills, practices, relationships); by contrast, the other formal attributes of the system without reaching the internal substance of reform – and that is why they fail. (p.5)"

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