in schools. I attempted to discern contradictory tendencies inherent in group>lb /> accountability, and I proposed possible scenarios of organizational response to crisis.
Summary data from the Maryland accountability system illustrated that reconstitution targets schools with arduous educational loads and challenging populations of poor and minority students. The data also suggested that realistic expectations for school improvement must be set, in all likelihood, within very modest parameters. The descriptive and interpretive analysis of events at one school out of a larger sample depicted some of the reasons that reconstitution as probation might at once have positive and negative effects on targeted schools, undercutting the full impetus of accountability. Events at the school, I suggested, demonstrate the positive impact of the external accountability agency in sending a wake-up call to the declining school organization, and in challenging teachers' professional pride and self-concept (although the risk of fragmenting the organization even further through this challenge is high). Expectation of success is a key ingredient in teachers' actions, but above all, it is the recurrence of the theme of teachers' commitment to their school and their students that is striking. In this area, reconstitution policies are weak for three reasons: they are only loosely tied to the provision of additional assistance; they tend to tap into a more rational calculation of quantitative goal, effort, and reward; and they reinforce a hierarchical management model that seems to alienate outspoken and potentially high-involvement workers. Whether and how jurisdictions modify reconstitution policies to encourage and deepen teachers' professional commitment may ultimately determine how successful these policies are in improving schools placed at risk.
Argetsinger A. ( 1998, October 28). Maryland superintendent unveils plan to lure new teachers; impending shortage prompts $50 million proposal. The Washington Post, p. B01.
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