Shaping School Culture: To Support Moving from a Targeted-Assistance to Schoolwide Title I Program
As budget belts tighten in the public schools today, more and more schools are moving toward participation in federal Schoolwide Title I Programs to most effectively meet the needs of struggling students. This study seeks to inform school administrators how best to approach this yearlong change initiative by both meeting the needs of the rigorous federal standards and facilitating a positive school climate for staff, students, and community. Using a Problem-Based Learning method, the purpose of
... this study was to research, develop, and validate a handbook for shaping school culture during a major school change project while creating or maintaining a positive school culture. The handbook was developed as a resource for principals, and will ultimately be disseminated to Oregon school leaders with the goal of improving the transition process from a Targeted-Assistance Program (TAP) to a Schoolwide Title I Program (SWP). Research and development (R&D) methodology (Borg & Gall, 1989 ) was used to develop and validate Moving to a Schoolwide Title I Program: The Path Principals Should Follow to Maintain a Healthy School Culture. The literature review and the researcher's experience in Title I schools provided the necessary information to build the preliminary product (prototype). Field-test reviewers used an evaluation rubric to measure efficacy, practicality, effectiveness, and impact on school climate for each section of the handbook. The handbook was reviewed by three groups: principals of Title I schools, Title I directors and coordinators, and Title I compliance officials. The handbook was then piloted by the principal of an elementary school that is currently making the transition from a TAP to a SWP. Changes in the school's curriculum and innovations in the classroom, even if they are beneficial to student learning, can be challenging to the health of the school culture. Research suggests that school culture is defined by rituals, expectations, relationships, curricular focus, co-curricular activities, decision-making processes, school requirements, and a sense of the "way we do things here" (Bower, 1966, p. 22). School culture directly impacts a school's social, emotional, and academic end results. Through conversations with educators across the state, it is evident that the transition is not always sustainable or fully implemented by all staff, and many times the efforts for change are overcome by resistance, and the momentum toward change is abandoned. The handbook promotes the idea that though collaboration, shared leadership, data driven instruction, and staff buy-in, the yearlong transition process is not only possible, but it can also positively impact a variety of aspects which make up the school culture in hopes of creating a sustainable change. iii Dedication I dedicate my dissertation work to students of all backgrounds who attend Title I schools across the US, and the educators who work tirelessly each day to provide a quality education for the students that they serve. Moreover, I dedicate this work to the educators who have enriched my research by sharing their stories, strategies, expertise and experiences. Your passion, commitment, and leadership are embodied in these words from John F. Kennedy: Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength of the nation. (Kennedy, 1961, p. 1) This dissertation is also dedicated to my daughter Azaria and my son Paul Jr. Azaria, you can do anything that you put your mind to. I am proud of the person that you are growing to be. Keep up your work ethic, positive attitude and drive to never give up. You are a superstar! Paul, I want you to know that every time I thought about giving up on this process, I looked at you and changed my mind. You can do anything, be anything, and achieve anything that you want. Set your goals high and don't let anyone tell you that you can't! One day you will surpass all that I have ever accomplished. I love you both with all my heart.