Academic journal article Educational Research Quarterly

Support for Innovation in Site-Based-Managed Schools: Developing a Climate for Change

Academic journal article Educational Research Quarterly

Support for Innovation in Site-Based-Managed Schools: Developing a Climate for Change

Article excerpt

Schools that use site-based management depend on teachers to introduce and implement educational innovations. Teachers' motivation, commitment, and involvement in change-related activities are conditioned, in part, by perceptions of the school environment as supportive of innovation and creative functioning. The purpose of this study was to identify variables associated with perceived support for innovation among elementary school teachers in site-based-managed schools in an urban setting. Positive associations were found between support for innovation and communication openness, formalization, and teacher autonomy. A range of administrative interventions useful in the development of school organizations that support innovation are suggested.

Public schools are inextricably linked to larger social systems, and continually exchange inputs and outputs with varying social, political, and economic environments (Meyer & Scott, 1992). Schools are expected to be responsive, simultaneously, to the heterogeneous concerns of stakeholders including students, parents, policy makers, business leaders, and community officials. Agreement on domains of school responsibility and criteria by which schools are judged may be expected to decrease, as public interests in education become increasingly diffracted (Bauman, 1996; Ravitch, 1999).

School leaders have attempted to address conflicting demands of external publics through participatory forms of school management. Sited-based management is based on an assumption that those most closely associated with a particular school are best able to respond to the needs of its students (Cotton, 1992; Glickman, 1993). Site-based management involves shifting authorities from central offices to local schools. Management decisions are made by teams - sometimes called "site councils" - composed of school administrators, teachers, parents, community members, and, sometimes, students. Common elements of site-based management include school-based budget control, school-based determination of curriculum (within state standards), collaborative goalsetting and planning, and parental and community involvement - all enacted through team-based decision making (Bauman, 1996; Cawelti, 1989; O'Neil, 1990).

Shared decision making suggests a transformation in the roles and responsibilities of school personnel (Wood & Caldwell, 1991). Administrative roles may be expected to shift from providing direction and establishing policy, to consulting and collaborating with constituency groups. Teachers, formerly oriented toward their own classrooms and disciplines, assume new, school-wide responsibilities. They are expected to be knowledgeable about school budgets and management issues, and extend their scope of work beyond traditional parameters of subject area expertise.

Teachers, as instructional designers, play major roles in the implementation of site-based management. Their commitment is essential for effective institutionalization of education innovations and change emanating from shared decision-making processes. Teachers' attitudes, expectations, and perceptions of their school often condition responses to change initiatives (Ellis & Fouts, 1994). Research in organizational psychology suggests, moreover, that individuals who perceive high levels of organizational support for innovation are more extensively involved in, and committed to work processes and organizational change, and are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs (Eisenberger, Fasolo & Davis, 1990; Jansen & Chandler,1994) . The success of educational innovations, especially those developed through site-based, collaborative approaches to decision making, may depend, in large part, on the extent to which teachers perceive that their school is supportive of change (National Association of Secondary School Principals, 1992).

The purpose of this study was to examine levels of perceived support for innovation among public elementary school teachers in a large, urban district that emphasizes site-based approaches to school management. …

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