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Using Evidence for Instructional Improvement: Insights from Establishing School Inquiry Teams in New York City, 2007-08.

by admin last modified 2009-05-20 15:58

Marian A. Robinson's abstract for the international seminar "What are the strategic challenges behind the implementation of accountability in education policies?"

Marian A. Robinson
Teachers College
Columbia University, CPRE

This presentation examines findings from the first-year implementation of a promising new data-informed improvement process known as the Inquiry Team process in 1,450 New York City schools in 2007. This process aimed to offer schools an improvement strategy that generated new knowledge within each school about teaching and learning and encouraged school-based educators to take action based on that new knowledge to address barriers to student learning. Specifically, each school established a small Inquiry Team of teachers, coaches, and/or administrators charged with examining the performance problems of a small population of students (~15) they selected. Their goal was to test instructional “change strategies” that would help close the achievement gap for their low-performing students. Inquiry Teams were expected to make use of performance data and other information to diagnose and monitor the learning of these students and make recommendations for needed changes in related aspects of their schools. The research design for this qualitative study included one-day site visits to 41 schools, including team meeting observations and 300+ interviews with principals and inquiry team members and affiliated external support staff in the spring 2008.   The Inquiry Team process was a key component of the city’s broader restructuring initiative, called Children First, driven by core principles of leadership, empowerment, and accountability.

The presentation will begin with a description of the design and goals of this improvement process and the new information and resources available to new teams to guide their inquiry in 2007. The main portion of the presentation will examine team member views and experiences implementing the new process and the value they found in the process for improving instruction and for their own professional growth. Of interest will be understanding the kinds of data teachers found most valuable, the quality of the instructional change strategies teams designed and tested, and the limited efforts by teams to share their learning with the broader school community.   Although only a little more than half of study schools were able to implement key features of the inquiry cycle, there was strong support for continuing the process into year two. Key factors facilitating teams’ work centered on their access to new support roles, such as school-based “data specialists” and external “achievement specialists”, the small-scale elements of the inquiry process itself (a small team, working with a small group of students, studying a small but important problem of learning), the role of the principal as team member, and the clear alignment of the process with other accountability tools that provided teams with both qualitative and quantitative data analysis about school conditions and student performance.  

The full report is available online at CPRE:
Education et sociétés
Numéro 21
Former des élites dans un monde incertain
Coordonné par Yves Dutercq
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Association internationale des sociologues de langue françaiseComité de recherche n °7 Éducation, Formation, Socialisation
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  • Membres du comité
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