ONE SCHOOL DIVISIONâ S EXPERIENCES IN DEVELOPING AND SUSTAINING CAPACITY FOR SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT
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All states and the District of Columbia have embraced academic standards as a primary means for improving public education (Manzo, 2001). Virginia implemented the Standards of Learning assessments in 1998. These assessments are based on a set of standards set forth by the Virginia Board of Education, and as of 2004, these assessments played a role in determing whether students received a high school diploma and whether a school received accreditation.
The purpose of this study was to review the efforts of one Virginia school system to develop and sustain its capacity to improve student achievement in response to increased accountability. Bronfenbrenner's (1979) ecological system framework provided a lens through which to study building capacity and improving a school system, a school, and individual classrooms. This multi-level perspective provided a means to study various aspects of school improvement in response to federal, state, and local policies. This researcher utilized qualitative research methods to investigate a school division that has been successful in building and sustaining capacity to improve its schools.
The findings are presented in six major themes that describe how this system built and sustained the capacity to achieve state accreditation. These themes are (a) aligning curriculum to the state standards, (b) providing professional development, (c) fostering relationships, (d) promoting the use of technology, (e) building on strengths, and (f) sharing leadership. The six themes were evident across every subsystem n this school division, from classroom, to schoolhouse, to central office in response to state and federal policies of accountability.
- Doctoral Dissertations