Change and Effectiveness in Schools

A Cultural Perspective

Edited by Gretchen B. Rossman, Dick Corbett, and William A. Firestone

Subjects: Teacher Education
Series: SUNY series, Frontiers in Education
Paperback : 9780887067266, 173 pages, August 1988
Hardcover : 9780887067259, 173 pages, August 1988

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Table of contents



1 Introduction

The Central Argument

School Cultures

Change: Cultural and Planned


2 Monroe High School: The Comprehensive Ideal and Basic Skills Improvement

Monroe High School

Perspectives on Purpose

The Basic Literacy Program and Teacher Responses


3 Westtown: Improvement Efforts in a Good School

Westtown High School

The Faculty Talks

Westtown's Ethos

Change at Westtown

The Sacred and Change


4 Somerville High School: A School for Good Citizens

The Setting

Historical Background

The Inner Circle

Discipline and Order

Education for Tomorrow: Work and the Individual

Challenges to Autonomy

5 Culture and Change

Variations in Local School Cultures

Faculty Responses to Change

Observations on Behavioral and Cultural Change

6 Culture and Effectiveness

Definitions of Effectiveness

Appropriate Definitions of Effectiveness




The quest for more effective schools has perhaps never been more challenging than it is today. Here, the authors consider and investigate that challenge from the cultural perspective.


Rossman, Corbett, and Firestone examined three high schools in the midst of change. Teachers and administrators consented to grant the authors a year in each of their respective settings in order to understand better their unique system of norms, beliefs, and values as well as to track their reactions to events. The ensuing observations and interviews reveal a rich and detailed picture of the efforts to accommodate new policies and practices as well as some of the sources of resistance to change in the schools. The record of the authors' journeys with these schools provides educators, policy makers, and researchers--all those interested in school change and renewal as well as staff development in the schools--with a better understanding of the complex texture and meaning of educational refor

Gretchen B. Rossman is Associate Professor of Education and Director of the Leadership and Administration Program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. H. Dickson Corbett is the Director of Improvement Studies at Research for Better Schools, Inc. in Philadelphia. William A. Firestone is Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Education, and Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Policy Research in Education at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.


"The authors establish a clear framework and move effectively between the general framework and the case studies. The book focuses on a major, neglected topic and does it well. " -- Michael G. Fullan, The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

"I like the authors' approach--the attempt to join description with theory--and the successful outcome. Their effort and their results make sense. "-- Philip A. Cusick, Michigan State University