LOOSE COUPLING: THE "CONDITION" AND ITS SOLUTIONS?

WILLIAM A. FIRESTONE

Abstract


This paper describes conceptualizations of loose coupling developed in the 1970s and uses them to trace the tightening of two coupling mechanisms in the succeeding decades. Advocates for both kinds of tightening saw them as ways to increase student achievement overall and reduce achievement gaps in particular. The first is increase in both research and interventions to tighten cultural couplings in ways that were expected to create more collaborative, learning focused schools for both teachers and students. This approach does seem to contribute to student learning where it happens, but--for all the advertising of programs to create professional learning communities--its application is uneven at best. The second was the increase in (usually testing-based) external accountability, often linked to increased sanctions and rewards. Increasing accountability is more extensive, but its effects appear to be mixed. My own research has contributed to understanding how both these trends have manifested in schools and districts.

Full Text:

FIRESTONE - 005

References


Baker, E. L., Barton, P. E., Darling-Hammond, L., Haertel, E., Ladd, H. F., Linn, R. L., Shepard, L. A. (2010). Problems with the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers. Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute.

Berman, P., & McLaughlin, M. W. (1977). Federal programs supporting educational change, v. VII, factors affecting implementation and continuation. Santa Monica: RAND.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (2013). Ensuring fair and reliable measures of effective teaching: Culminating findings from the MET Project’s three-year study. Seattle,

WA: Author.

Booher-Jennings, J. (2005). Below the bubble: "educational triage" and the Texas accountability system. American Educational Research Journal, 42(2), 231-268.

Borko, H. (2004). Professional development and teacher learning: Mapping the terrain. Educational Researcher, 33(3), 3-15.

Bryk, A. S., Camburn, E., & Louis, K. S. (1999). Professional community in Chicago elementary schools: Facilitating factors and organizational consequences. Educational Administration Quarterly, 35(Supplement), 751-781.

Bryk, A. S., & Schneider, B. (2002). Trust in schools: A core resource for improvement. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Bryk, A. S., Sebring, P. B., Allensworth, E., Luppescu, S., & Easton, J. Q. (2010). Organizing schools for improvement: Lessons from Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Coleman, J. S., Campbell, E. C., Hobson, C., McPartland, J. M., Mood, J., Weinfield, F., & York, (1966). Equality of educational opportunity. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Daly, A. J., Der-Martirosian, C., Ong-Dean, C., Park, V., & Wishard-Guerra, A. (2011). Leading under sanction: Principals' perceptions of threat rigidity, efficacy, and leadership in underperforming schools. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 10, 171-206.

DiMaggio, P. J., & Powell, W. W. (1983). The iron cage revisited: Isomorphism, and collective rationality in organizational fields. American Journal of Sociology, 48, 147-160.

Edmonds, R. R. (1979). Effective schools for the urban poor. Educational Leadership, 37(1), 15-24.

Firestone, W. A. (1980). Great expectations for small schools: The limitations of federal projects. New York: Praeger.

Firestone, W. A., Blitz, C. L., Gitomer, D. H., Gradinarova-Kirova, D., Shcherbakov, A., & Nordin, T. L. (2013). Year 1 report: New Jersey teacher evaluation pilot program. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Graduate School of Education.

Firestone, W. A. (1989). Using reform: Conceptualizing district initiative. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 11(2), 151-165.

Firestone, W. A., Mangin, M. M., Martinez, M. C., & Polovsky, T. (2005). Leading coherent professional development: A comparison of three districts. Educational Administration Quarterly, 41(3), 413-448.

Firestone, W. A., Schorr, R. Y., & Monfils, L. (2004). The ambiguity of teaching to the test. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum and Associates.

Firestone, W. A. (1989). Educational policy as an ecology of games. Educational Researcher, 18(7), 18-24.

Firestone, W. A. (1990). Continuity and incrementalism after all. In J. Murphy (Ed.), The educational reform movement of the 1980s: Perspectives and cases. (pp. 143-266). Berkeley, CA: McCutchan.

Firestone, W. A. (1991). Merit pay and job enlargement as reforms: Incentives, implementation, and teacher response. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 13(3), 269-288.

Firestone, W. A., Broadfoot, P., & Fitz, J. (1999). Power, learning, and legitimation: Assessment implementation across levels in the US and the UK. American Educational Research Journal, 36(4), 759-796.

Firestone, W. A., Fuhrman, S. H., & Kirst, M. (1989). The progress of reform: An appraisal of state education initiatives. CPRE research report series RR-014. New Brunswick, NJ: Center for Policy Research in Education.

Firestone, W. A., & Martinez, M. C. (2007). Districts, teacher leaders, and distributed leadership: Changing instructional practice. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 6(1), 3-35.

Firestone, W. A., Mayrowetz, D., & Fairman, J. (1998a). Performance-based assessment and instructional change: The effects of testing in Maine and Maryland. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 20(2), 95-113.

Firestone, W. A., & Pennell, J. R. (1997). Designing state-

sponsored teacher networks: A comparison of two cases. American Educational Research Journal, 34(2), 237-266.

Firestone, W. A., & Rosenblum, S. 1988). Building commitment in urban high schools. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 23(4), 285-300.

Firestone, W. A., & Wilson, B. (1985). Using bureaucratic and cultural linkages to improve instruction: The principal's role. Educational Administration Quarterly, 21(2), 7-30.

Garet, M. S., Porter, A. C., Desimone, L., Birman, B. F., & Yoon, K. S. (2001). What makes professional development effective? Results from a national sample of teachers. American Educational Research Journal, 38(4), 915-946.

Goddard, R. D., Hoy, W. K., & Woolfolk Hoy, A. (2000). Collective teacher efficacy: Its meaning, measurement, and impact on student achievement. American Educational Research Journal, 37(2), 479-507.

Goertz, M. E., Duffy, M. C., & Consortium for Policy Research,in Education. (2001). Assessment and accountability systems in the 50 states, 1999-2000. CPRE research report series.

Hallinger, P. (2005). Instructional leadership and the school principal: A passing fancy that refuses to fade away. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 4(3), 221-239.

Hamilton, L. S., Stecher, B. M., & Yuan, K. (2008). Standards-based reform in the United States: History, research, and future directions. Santa Monica, CA: Center on Education Policy. RAND Corporation.

Herman, J. L., & Baker, E. L. (2009). Assessment policy: Making sense of the babel. Handbook of education policy research (pp. 176-190). New York, New York: Routledge.

Herriott, R. E., & Firestone, W. A. (1984). Two images of schools as organizations: A refinement and extension. Educational Administration Quarterly, 20(4), 41-57.

Hess, F. W. (2013). Cage-busting leadership. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

Heyburn, S., Lewis, J., & Ritter, G. (2010). Teacher incentive fund grantees. Nashville, TN: National Center on Performance Incentives, Vanderbilt University.

Kelley, C., Odden, A., Milanowski, A., Heneman,H. I., & Consortium for Policy Research in Education. (2000). The motivational effects of school-based performance awards. CPRE policy briefs.

Leithwood, K., & Sun, J. (2012). The nature and effects of transformational school leadership: A meta-analytic review of unpublished research. Educational Administration Quarterly, 48(3), 387-423.

Levitt, S. D., & Dubner, S. J. (2005). Freakonomics: A rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything. New York, NY: Harper-Collins.

Little, J. W. (1982). Norms of collegiality and experimentation: Workplace conditions of school success. American Educational Research Journal, 19(3), 325-340.

Lortie, D. C. (1969). The balance of control and autonomy in elementary school teaching. In A. Etzioni (Ed.), The semi-professions and their organization. New York, NY: Free Press.

Lortie, D. C. (1975). Schoolteacher: A sociological analysis. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Louis, K. S., Kruse, S. D., & Marks, H. M. (1996). Schoolwide professional community. In F. M. Newmann (Ed.), Authentic achievement: Restructuring schools for intellectual quality (pp. 179-203). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Louis, K. S., & Marks, H. M. (1998). Does professional community affect the classroom? Teachers' work and student experiences in restructuring schools. American Journal of Education, 106, 534-575.

Meyer, J. H., & Rowan, B. (1977). Institutionalized organizations: Formal structure as myth and ceremony. American Journal of Sociology, 83, 340-363.

Meyer, J. H., Scott, W. R., & Strang, D. (1994). Centralization, fragmentation and school district complexity. In W. R. Scott, & J. H. Meyer (Eds.), Institutional environments and organizations: Structural complexity and individualism (pp. 160-178). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

National Commission on Excellence in Education. (1983). A nation at risk: The imperative for educational reform. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics,(NCTM)(1989). Curriculum and evaluation standards for school mathematics. Reston: VA: NCTM.

New Jersey Department of Education. (2004). New Jersey professional standards for teachers and school leaders. Trenton, NJ: New Jersey Department of Education.

Resnick, D. P. (1980). Minimum competency testing historically considered. In D. C. Berliner (Ed.), Review of research in education (Vol 8 ed., pp. 3-29). Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association.

Robinson, V. M. J., Lloyd, C., & Rowe, K. (2008). The impact of leadership on student outcomes: An analysis of the differential effects of leadership types. Educational Administration Quarterly, 44(5), 635-674.

Rosenholtz, S. J. (1989). Teachers' workplace: The social organization of schooling. New York, NY: Longman Inc.

Rowan, B. (1982). Organizational structure and the institutional environment: The case of public schools. Administrative Science Quarterly, 27(2), 259-279.

Sanders, W. L., & Horn, S. (1994). The Tennessee value-added assessment system (TVAAS): Mixed-model methodology in educational assessment. Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education, 8, 299-311.

Sawchuck, S. (2013, February 6). Teachers' ratings still high despite new measures: Changes to evaluation systems yield only subtle differences. Education Week, pp. 1-19.

Spillane, J. P., Camburn, E., & Pareja, A., S. (2009). School principals at work: A distributed perspective. In K. Leithwood, B. Mascall & T. Strauss (Eds.), Distributed leadership according to the evidence (pp. 87-110). New York, NY: Routledge.

Tschannen-Moran, M., & Hoy, W. K. (2000). A multidisciplinary analysis of the nature, meaning, and measurement of trust. Review of Educational Research, 70(4), 547-593.

Tyack, D. B. (1974). The one best system. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

US Department of Education. (2009). Race to the top program: Executive summary. Washington, DC: Author.

Wahlstrom, K. L., Louis, K. S., Leithwood, K., & Anderson, S. E. (2010). Learning from leadership project: Investigating the links to improved student learning. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement.

Waters, J. T., Marzano, R. J., & McNulty, B. (2003). Balanced leadership: What 30 years of research tells us about the effect of leadership on student achievement. Denver, CO: McREL.

Weick, K. (1976). Educational organizations as loosely coupled systems. Administrative Science Quarterly, 21(1), 1-19.

Wilson, B. L., Herriott, R. E., & Firestone, W. A. (1991). Explaining differences between elementary and secondary schools: Individual, organizational, and institutional perspectives. In P. W. Thurston, & P. P. Zodhiates (Eds.), Advances in educational administration V. 2. (pp. 131-157). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Wright, S. P., Horn, S. P., & Sanders, W. L. (1997). Teacher and classroom context effects on student achievement: Implications for teacher evaluation. Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education, 11, 57-67.

Yuan, K., Vi-Nhuan, L., McCaffrey, D. F., Marsh, J. A., Hamilton, L. S., Stecher, B. M., & Springer, M. G. (2012). Incentive pay programs do not affect teacher motivation or reported practices: Results from three randomized studies. Educational Evaluation & Policy Analysis, online version doi:10.3102/016237371246262


Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.