A case study of teachers' reactions to their school district's effective schools project

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching and Leadership


Arthur Blumberg


Effective schools project, Teacher reactions, Public school, Student achievement

Subject Categories

Educational Administration and Supervision


The purpose of this case study was to describe and understand teachers' reactions to their public school district's effective schools project. The project defined an "effective" school as one in which ninety-five or greater percent of all students regardless of socio-economic status demonstrated minimum academic master on selected standardized achievement tests for a minimum of three consecutive years. To improve student's achievement, the project required teachers and principals of each school to collaborate in the development of annual improvement plans focused on developing schools described by the effective schools correlates. This district developed one of the first district-wide effective schools projects in a suburban setting.

The primary source of data was interviews with one-third of the district's teachers during fifteen months in the fifth and sixth years of the project. Interviews with administrators, observations, and documents provided secondary sources of data. Thirteen days were spent in the district's five schools. Teacher leaders of the project were interviewed first, and they suggested other teachers with varied points of view. Unstructured interviews allowed teachers to discuss their feelings, opinions, and perceptions about the project.

Teachers' positive reactions suggest that this project was implemented successfully. Teachers who helped plan the project were more positive initially, but as implementation progressed most teachers became involved. Teachers understood the effective schools correlates and accepted the district's use of tests to define and measure their effectiveness. They liked their involvement in decisions outside their classrooms and the increased communication.

Teachers anticipated that the project would continue indefinitely. The project's processes for solving problems seemed incorporated in district routines. The general effective school correlates and the decentralized implementation model allowed each school to adapt the project to its own culture. Initial implementation was slowed by not involving all teachers in the planning and by not providing training in problem solving in groups. Successful implementation seemed related to (a) the combined leadership of administrators and teachers in various roles, (b) the stability provided by this leadership and the project's unchanging focus on improvement, and (c) motivations of veteran personnel for harmony and new career directions.


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