Learning How to Grow: a Case Study of School Renewal in One Elementary and Middle School

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Virginia Tech

School Renewal is a broadly defined process used as an alternative route to school improvement and regional accreditation. However, there is no direct evidence to support its use. To date, there have been no systematic inquiries to document the regional accreditation process of improving an elementary and middle school through the School Renewal process. This study was an inquiry into the School Renewal accreditation process in an elementary and middle school.

The study focused on the structure of the School Renewal process, the processes in which participants engaged, and the outcomes of the School Renewal process as related to planning, climate, communication, curriculum and instruction, and staff development.

The design included a case study with a rich, descriptive, narrative format for reporting. The participants included the principal, assistant principal, all faculty and staff members, parents and community members of Honaker Elementary and Middle School who were members of one of the School Renewal committees. Data from documents, observations and interviews of participants, and the researcher's journal were analyzed to build a complete case narrative. The findings were organized into three major themes from the School Renewal process: the structure of school renewal; the processes of leadership including communication and involvement of participants in the School Renewal process; and the outcomes of School Renewal.

A number of major understandings emanated from the study that help to elaborate existing descriptions of the School Renewal process. Planning and structuring the process created the framework and foundation from which to begin the School Renewal process. A democratic, supportive principal and a strong teacher leader emerged as key participants at the school level. School-wide communication was a vital component. The roles of participants, representation of stakeholders, and active involvement helped facilitate participant motivation that bound the participants together throughout the renewal process.

Regional accreditation process, School renewal, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools