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October 1, 1992
Vol. 50
No. 2


Effective Teaching and Restructuring Work Together

Statements in Richard F. Elmore's “Why Restructuring Alone Won't Improve Teaching” (April 1992) lead us to infer that Elmore is not current in his reading on management of change and on Effective Schools research in particular.
Elmore states that “behaviors prescribed by effective teaching” are often compatible with the existing structure of schools and thus “easy to understand and relatively unthreatening because they involve small changes in existing practice.” First, Effective Schools research has never prescribed anything. Second, the effective schools process turns the district on its head by advocating school-based management and shared decision making. The complete restructuring of districts and schools is indeed a threat to all involved, until practitioners are trained in team building, decision making, strategy planning, data collection and interpretation, and (on the effective teaching end) new practices and classroom procedures.
Elmore further states, “The gap between teaching practice and school organization constitutes the greatest challenge facing educational researchers.” This gap no longer exists for many practitioners. In the last 15 years, they have used effective teaching research to infer the kind of changes needed in school organization. They've devised scheduling, grouping, and assessment strategies (including curricular alignment) and have found new ways to assign staff to students. Levine and Lezotte's findings as detailed in Unusually Effective Schools: A Review and Analysis of Research and Practice (1990) are now taught in effective school training programs.
Many investigators have linked school organization with the practice of effective teaching. For example, Brookover, Lezotte, and Edmonds found that school culture and climate had to be changed before schools could be reorganized for school reform. Indeed, educators striving to create an effective school say the greatest challenge is getting the school community to agree that all children can learn. Once this new belief set is understood, the would-be effective school is on the way to school reform.
Effective schools researchers knew early on that teaching practice and organizational structure influence each other. The challenge to researchers now is to design studies that analyze the relationships.
—Barbara O. Taylor, National Center for Effective Schools Research and Development, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin

This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

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