Monitoring School Performance: A Guide for Educators

By J. Douglas Willms | Go to book overview

Chapter 10

A Research Program
This chapter demonstrates how a monitoring system can be used to establish an ongoing research program at the district level. A research program is a systematic inquiry into a set of related questions. Researchers and practitioners adopting a research program usually share assumptions about the underlying theory, methods, and styles of inquiry. They tend to agree about the starting points for inquiry, the key topics, the implicit definitions, the unit of analysis, and the methods of investigation (Shulman, 1986). Hammersley (1985) contends that successful research programs are based on a theory that promises to be true. A central concern is to specify the conditions under which the theory does or does not hold. A successful program is also productive: it generates findings relevant to policy or to the development of theory. This chapter sets out four basic questions that can be addressed with indicator data, describes some proto-typical designs that can be used with the first three years of indicator data, and provides examples of the types of findings that a district research program can generate.
Research Questions Based on the Input-Process-Output Model
Nearly all research on school effectiveness has been directed at answering four principal questions:
• To what extent do schools vary in their outcomes?
• To what extent do outcomes vary for pupils of differing status?
• What school policies and practices improve levels of schooling outcomes?
• What school policies and practices reduce inequalities in outcomes between high- and low-status groups?

The first two questions concern quality and equity; the last two concern their causes. The same set of questions can be asked of other organizational units, such as the school district or classroom. Indeed, the large body of research on teacher effectiveness attempts to address these questions as they pertain to

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Monitoring School Performance: A Guide for Educators
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Tables and Figures viii
  • Preface x
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 1
  • Chapter 2 - The Social and Political Context of Monitoring Systems 12
  • Chapter 3 - Monitoring Systems and the Input-Output Model 28
  • Chapter 4 - The Estimation of School Effects 38
  • Chapter 5 - Measuring Pupil Inputs 50
  • Chapter 6 - Schooling Processes 64
  • Chapter 7 - Schooling Outcomes 82
  • Chapter 8 - Design of a Monitoring System 91
  • Chapter 9 - Analyses for an Annual Report 103
  • Chapter 10 - A Research Program 120
  • Chapter 11 - Conclusions 143
  • Technical Appendix 157
  • References 163
  • Index 175
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