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Charter schools that learn

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Title:
Charter schools that learn conditions for achieving and sustaining success
Creator:
Anderson, Amy Berk
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
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English
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221 leaves : ; 28 cm

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Charter schools -- Case studies -- Colorado ( lcsh )
Academic achievement -- Case studies -- Colorado ( lcsh )
Academic achievement ( fast )
Charter schools ( fast )
Colorado ( fast )
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Case studies. ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
Case studies ( fast )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 213-221).
Thesis:
Educational leadership and innovation
General Note:
School of Education and Human Development
Statement of Responsibility:
by Amy Berk Anderson.

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|University of Colorado Denver
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|Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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53874090 ( OCLC )
ocm53874090
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LD1190.E3 2003d A52 ( lcc )

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Full Text

CHARTER SCHOOLS THAT LEARN:
CONDITIONS FOR ACHIEVING AND SUSTAINING SUCCESS
by
Amy Berk Anderson
B.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1990
M.A., University of Colorado at Denver, 1998
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Educational Leadership and Innovation
2003
f...
i


This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
degree by
Amy Berk Anderson
has been approved
by
Date
John Augenoiick


Anderson, Amy Berk (Ph.D., Educational Leadership and Innovation)
Charter Schools That Learn: Conditions for Achieving and Sustaining
Success
Thesis directed by Professor Rodney Muth
Since the 1991 passage of the first charter school legislation in Minnesota, 39
states have enacted charter laws and nearly 3000 charter schools are operating
nationwide. The existing charter-school literature has not focused much on the
issues that charter schools face as they move beyond the start-up phase and into the
institutionalization of their programs. Using the Schools That Learn framework
(Senge et al., 2000), this study investigates the conditions necessary for achieving
success as a public school, in general, and in particular, the challenges and
opportunities that exist when striving for long-term success as a charter school. Case
studies were developed of two Colorado charter schools from the same district. A
cross-case analysis compares and contrasts the findings from the two cases and
creates a strategy for replicating the study in other settings. A combination of
qualitative and quantitative methods were used, including a survey, focus groups,
interviews, and document review. The specific research questions guiding the study
were (a) Why are these charter schools successful, (b) How are these charter
schools evolving as they mature, and (c) What are the characteristics of a Charter
School That Learns? Findings from the study indicate that both of these charter
schools reflect the majority of the attributes found in Schools That Learn; however, in
order to be a Charter School That Learns, additional conditions beyond those
identified by Senge et al. are required. A description of such conditions is included in
the studys conclusions. Findings from this study are significant because they reflect
the issues that second-generation charter schools may be experiencing and they
offer specific recommendations for charter schools interested in achieving long-term
success as public institutions. Additionally, policy recommendations are provided as
a means of improving overall public policy in order to increase the viability and
ongoing success of the charter-school movement.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
ABSTRACT
Signed
Ro ,


DEDICATION
I dedicate this dissertation to two people in my life, without whom I could
never have survived this experience or finished this document.
For Andy, my love, my anchor, my coach. Thank you for giving so much of
yourself in order to help me get this done and for being such an incredible
father to our children while I worked. I look forward to being together on the
weekends now that this is finally done!
For Margie,.my friend, colleague, and mentor. Thank you for talking me out of
quitting so many times, for listening and advising, and for showing me what is
possible in life. You are an inspiration to me and I am so lucky to have met
you.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
There are other special people who have supported me in various ways
throughout this process. I thank all of you for the many things you have done
to help me complete this degree.
My parents, Bonnie and Chuck Berk
My in-laws, Marianne and Bob Anderson
My dear friend, Gina Finney
My advisor, Rodney Muth, and committee members, John Augenblick, Bob
Palaich, and Mike Murphy
My friends and incredible caregivers to my children, Judy and Leslie Myers


J
CONTENTS
.Figures.................................................xii
Tables..............;....................................xiv
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION.......................................... 1
Background of the Problem...........................3
Conceptual Framework................................6
Research Questions..................................7
Methodology.........................................9
Surveys......................................10
Interviews...................................11
Focus Groups.................................12
Artifacts....................................13
Data Analysis................................14
Findings...........................................15
Structure of the Dissertation......................16
2. LITERATURE REVIEW.....................................17
Underpinnings of the Charter School Concept........17
vi


Birth and Evolution of Charter Schools............21
Types of Charter Schools....................24
How Charter Schools Compare to Other
Public Schools..............................25
A Review of the Research on Charter Schools.......27
Student Achievement.........................28
Access and Impact...........................29
Leadership and Accountability...............31
Finance.....................................35
Community...................................37
Areas Where Charter School Research is Lacking....38
Conceptual Framework Guiding this Study...........41
Qualities Inherent in Successful Schools....44
Summary...........................................53
3. METHODOLOGY..........................................56
Design........................................... 56
Methods of Data Collection........................60
Survey......................................61
Interviews..................................66
Focus Groups................................67
Document Review.............................71
Vll


Methods of Data Analysis............................73
Qualitative Data..............................73
Quantitative Data.............................85
Means of Displaying Data............................90
Summary.............................................91
4. CASE STUDY OF SCHOOL A.................................93
Description of the School...........................94
Teachers......................................95
Leadership....................................98
Educational Program..........................100
Student Enrollment and Demographics..........101
Student Achievement..........................103
Findings from the Data.............................106
Qualities Inherent in the Schools............106
Strengths....................................108
Challenges...................................114
Change.......................................118
Second-Generation Changes....................119
Summary............................................124
5. CASE STUDY OF SCHOOL B................................127
viii


Description of the School...........................128
Teachers......................................129
Leadership....................................131
Educational Program...........................133
Student Enrollment and Demographics...........136
Student Achievement...........................138
Findings from the Data..............................140
Qualities Inherent in the Schools.............141
Strengths.....................................142
Challenges....................................146
Change........................................152
Second-Generation Changes.....................154
Summary.............................................160
6. CROSS-CASE ANALYSIS....................................164
How the Schools Compare to One Another..............164
Findings from the Data..............................169
Qualities Inherent in the Schools.............170
Strengths.....................................173
Challenges....................................175
Change........................................178
Second-Generation Changes.....................178
ix


Summary................................................179
7. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS..............................181
Why are These Charter Schools Successful?..............181
Challenges to This Success......................183
How are These Charter Schools Evolving as
they Mature?...........................................185
School Improvement..............................187
Efficiency......................................187
Accountability..................................188
Financial Growth and Stability..................189
Leadership Transitions..........................190
Community Relations.............................191
Diversity.......................................192
What are the Characteristics of a
Charter School That Learns?...........:...............193
Limitations of the Findings and Ideas for
Future Research........................................197
Policy Implications....................................199
Accountability..................................200
Diversity.......................................201
Isolation.......................................202
Evaluation and Dissemination of Best
Practices.......................................203
x


Impact on School Districts..................204
Summary..........................................205
APPENDIX
A. Survey Instrument.............................207
B. Participant Consent Form......................211
C. UCD Human Subject Research Committee
Approval......................................212
REFERENCES........................................... 213
xi


FIGURES
Figure
2.1 Student population growth in charter schools
from 1995-2001 ..............................................22
3.1 Illustration of the approach used to develop, conduct, and
write-up case study findings.................................59
3.2 Illustration of the approach used to analyze qualitative data.74
3.3 Frequency of comments by role group in School A...............81
3.4 Frequency of comments by role group in School B...............82
4.1 Comparison of achievement data for School A from
2001-2002 in selected areas.................................105
4.2 Top ranked strengths of School A by survey respondents.......109
4.3 Top ranked challenges of School A by survey respondents......114
4.4 Influence of various stakeholder groups from School A
on the change process.......................................119
4.5 Second-generation changes in School A........................120
5.1 Comparison of achievement data in School B, 2001-2002........139
5.2 Top ranked strengths of School B by survey respondents.......143
5.3 Top ranked challenges of School B by survey respondents......147
XII


5.4 Influence of various stakeholders groups from School B
on the change process.....................................154
5.5 Second-generation changes in School B.....................155
XIII


TABLES
Table
2.1 The five key disciplines of organizational learning...........43
3.1 Survey return totals..........................................64
3.2 Survey responses by role......................................64
3.3 Total survey responses by years involved in the school........65
3.4 Key themes used to guide the collection of
focus group data.................:..........................70
3.5 Documents reviewed from each school...........................73
3.6 Final set of categories/patterns deduced from the
qualitative data.............................................78
3.7 Example 1: Variation in responses by school to the
statement, We embrace change at this school...............87
3.8 Example 2: Variation in responses by school to the
statement, The external community is supportive
of my school.............................................. 88
4.1 General information about School A............................95
4.2 Comparison of student demographics: District
and School A................................................102
4.3 School A and the State: Percentages of students scoring
proficient or above on the 2002 State Assessments...........104
xiv


4.4 Among the statements provided, the qualities that 90% or
more of survey respondents agree or strongly agree are
present in School A.........................................108
4.5 Areas where School A survey respondents were least likely
to agree or strongly agree with the statement provided.....108
4.6 Relationship of findings for School A with the
conceptual framework........................................125
5.1 General information about School B...........................130
5.2 Comparison of student demographics between
District and School B......................................137
5.3 School B and the State: Percentage of students scoring
proficient or above on the 2002 State Assessments..........138
5.4 Among the statements provided, the qualities that 90% or
more or of survey respondents agree or strongly agree are
present in School B....................................... 142
5.5 Areas where School B survey respondents were least likely
to agree or strongly agree with the statement provided.....142
5.6 Results from School Bs student survey of
social environment..........................................148
5.7 Relationship of findings for School B with the
conceptual framework........................................161
6.1 Student enrollment in Schools A and B and the district
average for all middle schools in the city..................165
6.2 2001-2002 student demographics for both schools
and the district............................................168
6.3 Percent of students scoring proficient and advanced on the
state assessment of student performance.....................168
xv


6.4 Significant differences in responses by school regarding
the qualities inherent in the schools.........................170
6.5 Variance in response by role group to statements
concerning the qualities inherent in the schools..............172
6.6 Significant differences in responses, by school, regarding
the strengths of each school...................................173
6.7 Variances in responses by role group regarding the
schools strengths.............................................174
6.8 Variances in responses by years involved regarding the
schools strengths.............................................175
6.9 Significant differences in responses, by school, regarding
the challenges of each school................................. 176
6.10 Variances in responses by role group regarding the
schools challenges............................................177
6.11 Variances in responses by years involved regarding the
schools challenges............................................177
7.1 The five key disciplines of organizational learning.............186
7.2 The characteristics of a Charter School That Learns.............194
XVI


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
Minnesota was the first state to enact charter school legislation in 1991
(Anderson, 1998). That year, the countrys first charter school opened its
doors to the public. Since then, 38 additional states and the District of
Columbia have passed charter school legislation and 2700 charter schools
are operating nationwide (Center for Education Reform, 2002a; Education
Commission of the States, 2003). Over the past decade, much has been
written about charter schools, including technical assistance documents for
those who are starting or operating charter schools (Charter Schools
Development Center, 2001; Hassel & Hassel, 1998a, -1998b; Hassel & Lin,
1999), policy and fiscal analyses on the impact of charter schools nationally
(RPP International, 2000; Murphy & Shiftman, 2002; Nelson, Muir, & Drown,
2000; Rofes, 1998) and within specific states (Anderson & Hassel, 1999;
Fitzgerald, 2001; Hirsch & Anderson, 1999; Wells, 2002), research and
opinion pieces focused on the overall benefits and disadvantages of charter
schools (Finn, Manno, & Vanourek, 2000; Fuller, 2001; Good & Braden, 2000;
Nathan, 1996; Sarason,1998), and, most recently, comparative research on
1


the success of charter schools relative to other public schools (Bulkley &
Fisler, 2002; Center for Education Reform, 2001; Loveless, 2002; Schroeder,
2002).
This existing literature is important for a few reasons. First, it provides
timely information and recommendations geared towards improving state and
federal charter- school policies. Second, it offers strategies to help new
schools navigate their way through the early years of operating a charter
school by learning from those that have done it previously. And finally, it
provides informative lessons for public education in general, because
characteristics associated with the success and challenges of charter schools
parallel many experiences of any school that is undergoing transformation.
However, for charter schools that have been paving the way (have
existed for several years and typically are the subjects of the aforementioned
research), few resources exist to help them as they move beyond the start-up
years and into the institutionalization phase (or the second-generation phase)
of operating a charter school. What are the issues that these older charter
schools are facing? How does a successful charter school (e.g., a school
that, among other things, has high student achievement, effective leadership,
and committed stakeholders) maintain its success and improve as it matures?
And finally, is being a charter school critical to the success of these schools,
2


or could they continue to do what they are doing as well within the regular
public school system?
The charter school movement is not just about the passage of new
laws and the opening and success of new schools, as has been the primary
focus of the literature to date. If this movement is to succeed, charter schools
need to demonstrate that they have the capacity and drive to succeed for
generations to come. Research focused on these second-generation years is
needed in order to inform policy as well as to help these charter schools
evolve most effectively and efficiently.
Background of the Problem
A decade into the charter school movement, veteran charter schools,
defined as those that have been operational for about five years or more, are
facing a new set of challenges (Anderson & Myers, 2001; Lin, 2001).
Typically, the preoccupation of the first few years of a charter schools
existence is issues of start-up (e.g., establishing a governance structure,
recruiting students, ensuring financial stability, finding a permanent home,
and implementing and staffing the educational program) (Anderson, 1998;
Finn, Manno, & Vanourek, 2000; Fitzgerald, 2001; Nathan, 1996; RPP
International, 1997). However, once a school has been operational for a few
years and has these basic systems in place, what does it do next? My
3


assumption, and the focus of this research, is that the school now can focus
more time on internal improvements, like adjusting policies based on the
growing needs of the school and improving the quality of its educational
program.
In addition to internal change, charter schools are experiencing more
external demands for information that might lead to changes being made
within the schools. In this new higher stakes educational policy environment,
led nationally by President George W. Bush, the public is becoming
increasingly interested in charter schools performance, academically and
otherwise, as compared to other public schools (Anderson & Myers, 2001;
Ziebarth, 2003). As is the case with most public schools, increased pressure
from these external government entities has instigated a new set of
challenges for many charter schools, such as increased emphasis on
standardized testing than some schools may desire (Jennings, 2002).
This studys focus is on the transition that charter schools experience
as they move beyond the start-up/early implementation years and into the
second generational phase of a charter school. The study defines second
generation as the institutionalization of the educational program and overall
(and ongoing) school improvement. In addition to examining what charter
schools experience during this transition, I conclude the study with discussion
4


of a framework that is designed for charter schools and inclusive of strategies
and opportunities for achieving long-term success of such schools.
Given the relative infancy of charter schools and the lack of research
focused on this phase of existence within the charter schools research (as
discussed above), I have relied heavily on external (non-charter school)
literature on school reform, school change, successful schools and school
improvement to guide the data collection and overall study design, including
the qualities and attributes inherent in successful schools (Boyer, 1995;
Fullan, 1993; Ginsberg & Wlodkowski, 2000; Sarason,1990; Senge,
Cambron-McCabe, Lucas, Smith, Dutton, & Kleiner, 2000), such as the two I
am studying herein. Moreover, I have examined research from the private
sector on such topics as entrepreneurs, small business development, and
organizational change (Collins & Porras, 2002; Drucker, 1990; Fullan, 2001;
Senge, Ross, Smith, Roberts, & Kleiner, 1994). From this research, I have
been able to apply lessons learned in the private sector to charter schools
how entrepreneurs evolve as their businesses change and grow and
attributes that are found in visionary and successful companies. Such
information is especially informative as charter schools seek to evolve from
exciting ideas to viable, long-term enterprises.
5


Conceptual Framework
Schools That Learn, a framework developed by Senge et al. (2000),
was the most comprehensive of the school reform models that I examined.
After reviewing the research on successful schools and school change, I
identified several common areas across all of the literature, including (a) the
importance of all stakeholders having a shared vision and aligning their
practice with the overall mission and goals of the school; (b) how reflection,
evaluation, and inquiry fit into school improvement; (c) the necessity to
recognize and make choices, both based on what is relevant for the individual
(e.g., student, parent, teacher) while also remembering what is best for the
school as a whole (e.g., stewardship); and (d) specific qualities inherent in
successful schools (e.g., effective leadership, high quality faculty, engaging
and challenging curriculum, meaningful parent involvement, community
partnerships, collaboration and communication across stakeholder groups,
etc.).
Senge et al. (2000) brought its five disciplines of organizational
learning (personal mastery, shared vision, mental models, team learning, and
systems thinking) from the business sector to school settings as a means of
engaging participants in the renewal experience and encouraging them to
institutionalize processes for ensuring a continued focus on mission and
vision, reflection and evaluation, training, and organizational change. Out of
6


that experience evolved the Schools That Learn framework, a design that
incorporates the use of the five disciplines for organizational learning (see
Chapter 2, Table 2.2) in schools and that identifies the specific qualities
inherent in Schools That Learn (see chapters 4 and 5, Tables 4.6 and 5.7).
In addition to capturing the key qualities of successful school reform,
this design works well for charter schools because of the explicit emphasis
and extensive discussion in the book on the roles of and relationships
between the key participants in a school that learns (parents, teachers,
community, administrators, school board, students). Typically, charter schools
are started by parents, teachers, and community members, and part of the
design and evolution of the school involves defining the roles and
responsibilities of these stakeholders. In this study, I bring together the
literature on charter schools and the Schools That Learn framework in order
to identify the characteristics necessary for achieving long-term success as a
school, and as a charter school, in particular. As an outcome of this study, I
discuss a revised framework that links practice with research in a way that is
geared towards charter schools unique needs.
Research Questions
The following are the specific research questions guiding this study.
1. Why are these charter schools successful?
7


2. How are these charter schools evolving as they grow in age and
experience?
3. What are the characteristics of a Charter School That Learns?
I chose these questions because I wanted to first determine what
made a charter school successful and how the success of a charter school
compared with the success of any school. Once I had identified what
made a charter school successful, I wanted to examine whether barriers to
its ongoing success were identifiable, and if so, what those were. Again,
the purpose here was to identify the challenges while also recognizing
when the challenges were unique to a charter school versus issues any
school faces as it matures. Finally, following the collection and analysis of
data related to the first two questions, I could answer the third question
and specifically discuss the qualities that a charter school needs in order
to be successful as well as ongoing strategies and- systems that need to
be in place for a charter school to achieve long-term success as a
community institution. By identifying this third step as the creation of a
Charter School That Learns framework, it suggests that differences do
exist between a school that learns, as identified by Senge et al. (2000),
and a charter school that learns. Chapter 7, the studys conclusions,
discusses these differences along with the relationship of the findings to
the research questions.
8


Methodology
This study examines two charter schools, both located in the same
school district in Colorado. Senge et al.s (2000) Schools That Learn
framework informs the overall methodological design of the study. In addition,
I draw on Ginsberg and Wlodkowskis (2000) expertise in adult learning and
school renewal, especially with the design of the focus groups, and I utilize
strategies from Miles & Huberman (1994), Morgan (1997), and Yin (1994) in
case study design and qualitative data collection and analysis. The
combination of these approaches provides a structure within which to shape
my questionnaires, interviews, and focus groups and a mechanism within
which to organize and analyze my data. A multiple-case design is most
appropriate, as I examine two charter schools (Yin). Each site is an individual
case. I chose two sites, and therefore two cases, because I felt that this
would make my study more compelling and credible. While both sites are
charter schools serving the same community, they offer different educational
programs, have different board structures, and serve slightly different
constituents.
In addition to studying the individual experiences of each school as a
case in its own right, I examine whether the somewhat varied structures of
these entities makes a difference in how they tackle issues. I also spend time
9


comparing data between the two sites. Each case contains multiple units of
analysis, all tied back to the research questions and conceptual framework,
including the various participants engaging in school reform/change (parents,
students, teachers, administrators, board, community), the critical policies and
activities that influence their experiences, and how the findings from this study
(and the experiences of these two schools) can inform the educational
community. As necessary, I draw on tools and information from the
educational and private sector research in order to further understanding and
analyze the change process, including the themes and issues that emerge in
the data. Finally, I compare findings from this study with the experiences of
other charter schools in the broader community.
This exploratory case study (Yin, 1994) utilizes both qualitative and
quantitative data collection strategies, including a survey, interviews, focus
groups, and artifact collection (documents and archival records). Research
subjects include parents, teachers, board members, school administrators,
paraprofessionals, other school staff members, and selected members of the
states charter school resource center.
Surveys
A closed-ended survey (that did contain a couple of spots where
people could insert an open-ended answer to an other choice) was
10


distributed to all the staff members and parents at each school (see Appendix
A). The survey captured participants perceptions about the school, in
general, and specifically in areas related to the Schools That Learn
framework, such as the mission/vision (shared, alignment with school
activities), collaboration across stakeholder groups, and reflection and
evaluation. Additionally, the survey included questions related to being a
charter school. I used SPSS (Version 9.0) to analyze these data. In
conducting this analysis, I identified several areas where both schools shared
similar views. I also discovered places where differences in opinions existed,
either by school or role group (parents views versus those of staff members)
or based on the number of years one had been involved in the school (people
newer to the school having a different opinion than those who had been
involved for several years). Findings from the survey are presented in each
schools case study (Chapters 4 and 5) and in the cross-case analysis
(Chapter 6).
Interviews
Four one-on-one principal interviews were conducted (two per school)
in the beginning of data collection and again after an initial analysis of the
survey and focus group data. The purpose of the first interviews was to gain
some familiarity with the schools, including their strengths and challenges,
11


prior to developing the survey or designing the focus groups. The purposes of
the second set of interviews were (a) to ask for clarification around certain
items (e.g., issues/items that had surfaced in the various data collection
strategies of which I was unfamiliar and needed clarification in order to best
interpret the data) and (b) to share some initial findings with the principals for
their reaction and input. All interviews were taped and transcribed.
I conducted one-on-one interviews with two well-respected and
experienced charter-school leaders following the collection and initial analysis
of all other data to determine whether the experiences of these two schools
are comparable to those of other similarly situated charter schools in the
state.
Focus Groups
I conducted six focus groups, including a parent focus group, a teacher
focus group and a board focus group at each of the two schools. I utilized
strategies from Ginsberg and Wlodkowski (2000) when designing and
facilitating the focus groups and from Morgan (1997) for the analysis and
reporting of the data. The focus groups provided an opportunity to explore
issues in depthsomething that I was unable to do with the survey.
Moreover, it gave individual stakeholder groups the opportunity to talk about
their schools with their peers; an exercise that most stated that they enjoyed
12


and from which they learned a lot. This, too, allowed me to determine
whether differences in opinions existed across stakeholder groups and across
schools. Further discussion of the focus groups and the data from these
groups is found in Chapter 4.
Artifacts
For case studies, the most important use of documents is to
corroborate and augment evidence from other sources (Yin, 1994, p. 81).
Various documents and archival records were collected, including district and
school level data on student and school characteristics and achievement,
products created by the schools (e.g., standards, benchmarks, annual
reports, sample lesson plans, school improvement plans, etc.); surveys,
studies or evaluations of or about the schools; and other items that emerged
during the course of study. These data provided a level of detail about the
schools that went beyond what I could capture in a survey or hour-long focus
groups and interviews. Specifically, I gained insight into the history of the
schools, read detailed information about their curricula and other aspects of
their educational programs, examined, and was able to compare within and
across schools, data on student achievement and demographics, and learned
about other areas of importance, such as stakeholder satisfaction, discipline
policies, and expectations, roles, and responsibilities of the various
13


stakeholder groups. Data from these sources are incorporated into the school
case studies presented in Chapters 4 and 5.
Data Analysis
As a means of strengthening the reliability of the study, I have chosen
to use multiple sources of data. The advantage of this approach, data
triangulation, is that any finding or conclusion is likely to be much more
convincing and accurate if it is based on several different sources of
information (Yin, 1994, p. 92). The overall analytic strategy guiding my data
analysis is pattern-matching logic. Such a logic compares an empirically
based pattern with a predicted one. If the patterns coincide, the results can
help a case study strengthen its internal validity (Yin, p.106). Based on the
research guiding the empirically-based Schools That Learn (Senge et al.,
2000) framework, I was able to examine how closely the schools in my study
reflected the characteristics of those in schools that learn. Additionally, I
looked for additional emergent patterns that fell outside of the conceptual
framework, specifically those that I found to be relevant to charter schools in
this particular phase of their existence. I decided against using a qualitative
software package to analyze the focus group and interview data. Instead, I
used Microsoft Word to store the qualitative data and coded the old
fashioned way (cutting and pasting). I relied on Miles and Huberman (1994),
14


Morgan (1997), and Yin (1994) for guidance on effective strategies for
analyzing and coding qualitative research. Chapter 3 discusses the studys
methodology in detail, including the strategies used to design, collect, and
analyze the data.
Findings
Chapters 4-6 discuss the studys findings. Case studies of each school
are presented in Chapters 4 and 5. These studies provide descriptive
information about each school (e.g>, educational programs, student
demographics, grades served, governance structure, student achievement
scores) and synthesize the findings from the various data sources (survey,
focus groups, interviews, and documents). Chapter 6 discusses how the two
schools compare to one another and identifies other findings from the data,
including areas where differences in opinions (i.e., based on responses to
survey questions) were significant across role groups and based on the
number of years involved in the school. While there are many similarities
between the two schools, after reading these chapters you will find that
differences (including significant ones) exists as well.
15


Structure of the Dissertation
This dissertation is organized according to a traditional format. This
first chapter, Chapter 1, provided an overview of the dissertation report,
including summaries of what one will find in subsequent chapters. Chapter 2
provides a thorough review of the literature related to the issues and
problems I am exploring herein, including a discussion of the theoretical
framework guiding the study. Chapter 3 describes the studys methodology,
including all instruments and methods of data analysis used during the course
of the research. Chapters 4 and 5 present the data findings in the form of
each schools case study. Chapter 6 compares and contrasts the data from
both schools in the form of a cross-case analysis. Chapter 7 summarizes the
dissertation report, discusses the Charter Schools that Learn framework, and
assesses the implications of the study for policy, practice and future research.
16


CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW
At the close of this chapter, you should have a good understanding of
charter schools, including the underpinnings of the charter-school movement,
the birth and evolution of charter schools, and a review of existing literature
on charter schools. Due to the relative newness of charter schools, other
educational and private-sector research on organizational growth, success
and change is examined, followed by a discussion of the relationship
between this literature and the overall study, including where the gaps exist in
the charter school literature, how the other literature fills in those gaps, and
the conceptual framework guiding the study.
Underpinnings of the Charter School Concept
An educator named Ray Budde introduced the idea of charter schools
when he recommended that schools give teachers charters. Similar to
sailors of previous days, exploring un-chartered territories and then reporting
back to their communities about what they found, these teacher charters
17


would give educators opportunities to create innovative programs within
schools and districts and report back their findings from these efforts to their
respective communities (Nathan, 1996). Chartering, therefore, became an
opportunity to pilot teaching and learning reforms that, if successful, might be
used to benefit other schools within the district. In 1988, the late Albert
Shanker, former President of the American Federation of Teachers, took
Buddes idea one step further, recommending that entire schools be
chartered, not just individual, independent pilot programs (Anderson, 1998).
The concept of charter schools evolved out of numerous educational
reform efforts of previous decades geared towards providing choices, and
thus expanding educational opportunity, and giving schools greater control
over day-to-day operations and decisions. In the late 1960s, parents,
teachers, and community members created the St. Paul Open School and
other innovative public schools. These schools pioneered ideas like
internship programs, site-based decision-making, and family involvement.
The federal magnet program of the 1970s allocated funding to states to
create schools of choice within districts as a means of promoting racial
integration and choice within and across communities. And, following
Minnesotas lead (in the late 1980s), many states enacted statewide choice
programs, such as open enrollment (allowing students to attend a school
18


other than their neighborhood school) and postsecondary options
(opportunities for students to take college-level courses while still enrolled in
high school) (Anderson, 1998; Nathan, 1996).
The core beliefs of those advocating for greater school choice and
educational opportunity, and thus influencing the charter-school movement in
such ways as those discussed above, are that school choice will liberate
American elementary and secondary education from bureaucracy and foster
the necessary conditions for greater student satisfaction and learning while
giving parents greater control over their childrens learning. Arguments in
favor of school choice generally fall within four distinct areas: (a) education,
(b) economics, (c) policy, and (d) governance (Murphy & Shiftman, 2002;
Raywid, 1992). As proposed by Mario Fantini (1973), the core belief of
education-driven choice advocates is that differences exist among children,
as well as among teaching styles, and that a standard, one best educational
system is inappropriate and insufficient to meet all students unique learning
needs and interests. Children will learn more and perform better in learning
environments they have chosen than in those that have simply been
assigned to them. Moreover, parents are likely to be more involved when they
have been involved in selecting schools for their children (Raywid, 1989;
Tyack, 1974). Economics-driven choice proponents stress the importance of
19


competition, consumer satisfaction, and markets as necessary elements for
improving schools, driving bad schools out of business, and preparing
students for the workforce (Chubb & Moe, 1990; Coulson, 1999; Friedman &
Friedman, 1970; Osborne & Gaebler, 1993). Policy-driven choice initiatives
utilize choice as a vehicle for furthering other school reform initiatives, such
as equity (Coons, Clune, & Sugarman, 1970) or educational excellence
(Kolderie, 1985). And finally, governance-driven choice rests on the desire to
remove education from the arena of collective decision and return its control
to individuals, specifically parents (Chubb & Moe; Coons & Sugarman, 1978;
Coulson; Friedman & Friedman, 1970).
Those involved in designing charter-school legislation believed that
merely increasing educational opportunity via school choice was insufficient
(Anderson, 1998). Thus, in addition to choice, the concept of charter schools
draws heavily on the restructuring movement of the late 1980s/early 1990s, in
particular the emphasis on decentralization and deregulation in education
operational, programmatic, and financial autonomy, including greater control
over decisions at the school site by teachers, principals, and parents (Murphy
& Shiftman, 2002). Drawing on the successes and lessons learned from
previous eras concerning school choice, deregulation, and decentralization,
the charter-school movement represents a blending of these concepts and
20


was designed to accomplish five goals (Murphy & Shiffman, Nathan, 1996):
(a) to provide choice among public schools for families and their children; (b)
to foster entrepreneurial opportunities for educators and parents to create the
kinds of schools they believe make the most sense; (c) to make schools
explicitly responsible and accountable for improving achievement, as
measured by standardized tests and other measures; (d) to introduce
carefully designed competition into public education; and (e) to decentralize
control to the local unit of operation (the school site).
Birth and Evolution of Charter Schools
Charter schools are publicly funded schools that are freed from many
rules and regulations to which other public schools must adhere in exchange
for accountability for specific results (Anderson & Myers, 2001). The first state
to pass charter-school legislation was Minnesota in 1991. Since then, an
additional 39 states have enacted laws allowing the creation of such schools.
Now, 2,700 schools serve some 600,000 students in 34 states and the
District of Columbia (see Figure 1). This amounts to 1% of the nations total
enrollment in public schools and 3% of the total public schools operating
nationwide (National Center for Education Statistics, 2001). Two-thirds of the
nations charter schools are concentrated in six states: Arizona, California,
21


Michigan, Texas, Florida, and North Carolina. Some reasons why these
states have more schools include more charters being allowed under the law
than in other states, the size of the state, the number of entities allowed to
authorize charters, and the number of years that charter-school legislation
has been law (Anderson & Myers; Manno, 2002).
Figure 2.1. Student population growth in charter schools from 1995-2001
(Center for Education Reform, 2001).
The types of entities that are empowered by state statute to charter
schools vary. These charter-granting entities (or authorizes) include state
boards or departments of education, school districts, universities (public and
private), municipalities, and special authorizers established by legislative
action to oversee charter schools (e.g., D.C. Public Charter School Board,
Arizona State Board for Charter Schools). More than 450 authorizers provide
oversight to the nations 2,700 charter schools. The most common type of
authorizer is a local school district (because most states preferred to keep
decision making and oversight of charters in the hands of their local school
22


districtslocal controlinstead of with an external entity), and about one-
third of all the authorizers nationwide are school districts located in California
(due to the size of this stateit has more school districts than most other
statescoupled with the length of time it has had charter-school legislation
longer than most states)(National Association of Charter School Authorizers,
2000).
Given the growth in charter schools thus far, it is likely that the number
of charter schools will continue to grow (Good & Braden, 2000; Hassel,
1999). A caveat, of course, is that innovation is vulnerable to shifting political
agendas (Kingdon, 1995). Notably, however, charter schools have
consistently enjoyed strong bi-partisan support because they are widely
regarded as a compromise between controversial voucher proposals and
conventional approaches to public education (Anderson, 1998; Hassel, 1999;
Wohlstetter & Griffin, 1998). Another factor that might slow down the growth
of charter schools is the number of individuals or groups interested in starting
these schools. It takes a lot of time and commitment and vision. Some argue
that the number of passionate people willing to take on this challenge is
diminishing (Manno, 2002).
23


Types of Charter Schools
Charter schools are held to a degree of accountability previously
unseen in public education: if a school does not meet the goals set forth in its
charter (a performance-based contract with its authorizing agency), it can be
closed. To date, 194 charter schools nationwide have been closed. The
majority of these closures were due to fiscal problems or mismanagement;
however, others were closed as a result of academic failure, low enrollment,
or other problems (Center for Education Reform, 2002b). While the level of
autonomy granted to charter schools varies greatly by state legislation,
charters commonly have greater decision-making authority in such areas as
staffing, budget, educational programming, and governance. Like all public
schools, however, charters are supposed to be open to all students, non-
selective and non-discriminatory in enrollment, nonsectarian, and tuition-free.
Further, charter schools are bound by the same constitutional and civil rights
laws governing all public schools, including special education obligations
(Anderson, 1998; Finn et al., 2000; Good & Braden, 2000; Hassel, 1999;
Nathan, 1996).
Typically, the greatest differences between charter schools are seen in
philosophy, leadership, and governance. Some charter schools were once
private or public schools and have converted to charter status; however, the
24


majority of charter schools are newly created schools (RPP International,
2000; SRI, 2002). Across the country, charters have been developed in
response to community needs by a wide range of individuals and
organizationseducators, parents, educational institutions (including
colleges and universities), foundations, community-based organizations, such
as human service agencies, museums, and other cultural institutions,
businesses, and partnerships among such groups (Anderson, 1998; Gill,
Timpane, Ross, & Brewer, 2002). Additionally, a number of charter-school
boards contract with private companies to manage their schools or utilize
comprehensive school reform designs to guide their philosophy and
curriculum (Finn et al., 2000; Hassel, 1998).
How Charter Schools Compare to Other Public Schools
Most charter schools are small schools. The median enrollment is 137
students, compared to about 475 students in other public schools (RPP
International, 2000). Problems with small schools, especially high schools,
are that they are often unable to offer the amenities of a traditional school,
such as an athletic program. The advantages of small schoolsthe trend
with charter schoolsare (Medler, Hassel, & Cittone, 2002)
1. They create a sense of belonging and community; significantly
improving attendance, graduation, safety, and student participation in
25


extracurricular activities and increased rates of enrollment in
postsecondary institutions.
2. The significantly improve the academic performance of underprivileged
children, closing the achievement gap.
3. They facilitate other effective reforms. The small size of the school
creates the potential for a more personalized, professional community,
often a preface in adopting and implementing school reforms.
Studies examining the reasons why parents choose charter schools
identified educational programs, opportunities for parental involvement,
safety, better teachers, location, and dissatisfaction with the previous school
as motivating factors (Bulkley & Fisler, 2002). Approximately 70% of charter
schools nationwide were new schools (like School B in this study), 20% were
former district-run schools (like School A in this study), and 10% were former
private schools (RPP International, 1998). Charter schools grade
configurations typically differ from those of other public schools (e.g., K-8 or
K-12) that follow more traditional elementary, middle, and high school
patterns. This can be partially attributed to the number of charter schools that
have yet to reach full capacity and are currently serving only a few grades.
Often, charter schools start small and increase enrollment and grades served
over the course of a few years (SRI International, 2002). Nationally, students
in charter schools have similar demographic characteristics as students in all
public schools. However, when data are disaggregated, variations occur,
26


including increased segregation in some communities as a result of charter
schools (Good & Braden, 2000). On average, charter schools enroll a slightly
higher percentage of students eligible for free and reduced lunch than do all
public schools; however, they serve fewer students with disabilitieseight
percent served in charters versus 11 percent for all schools nationally (RPP
International, 2000).
A Review of the Research on Charter Schools
The challenges of a new charter school can be quite different from
those of a school that has been operational for several years. New charter
schools face such challenges as writing the charter application and seeking
approval from the authorizing entity, dealing with political opposition, building
a cohesive and shared vision for the school, finding and funding an
appropriate facility, hiring and securing a good principal and quality teachers,
recruiting families and enrolling sufficient numbers of students and
developing effective systems of school governance and management
(Anderson, 1998; Finn et al., 2000; Nathan, 1996). Much of the charter-
school literature to date has focused on helping newer schools anticipate,
address, and resolve these types of start-up issues (Charter Schools
Development Center, 2001; Finn et al., 2000; Hassel & Lin, 1999; Nathan,
27


1996) and on the fiscal, legal, and bureaucratic issues in the charter school
development and approval process (Wohlstetter & Griffin, 1998, p. 2).
As the charter-school movement ages and the number of students
served grows, more research examining the impacts of these schools is
emerging in such areas as: (a) student achievement, including how well
charter-school students are doing on standardized tests relative to non-
charter schools; (b) access and impact, including who is attending charter
schools, how well charter schools are doing serving the needs of all students,
and the affects of these schools on school districts; (c) leadership and
accountability, including who is responsible for the success, and lack thereof,
of charter schools; (d) fiscal issues of and implications for charter schools;
and (e) community, including how charter schools create a sense of
community and interact with their surrounding communities. A summary of
this research follows.
Student Achievement
Results about how well charter schools are doing in regard to student
achievement are mixed (Bulkley & Fisler, 2002; Gill et al., 2001). Several
statewide studies have examined the impact of charter schools on student
achievement in those states. Some have found charter-school students doing
better than their non-charter peers (Colorado Department of Education, 2001;
28


Gronberg & Jansen, 2001; Solmon, Paark, & Garcia, 2001), others have
found that charter schools are doing about the same as their non-charter
peers (Bettinger, 1999; Illinois State Board of Education, 2001), and yet
others have found charter-school students to be doing worse than their non-
charter peers (Loveless, 2002). Charter advocates argue that such studies
lump all charter schools together, are snapshots of how well charters are
doing at a given time or on a given day, and fail to examine student
achievement gains over time (Charter Friends National Network, 2002);
however, with the recent reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary
Education Act, all public schools, charter and non-charter alike, are now
required to demonstrate gains in student achievement over time (Herdman,
Smith, & Skinner, 2002). Charter-school detractors argue that charter schools
are not doing any better academically than their non-charter counterparts yet
they continue to drain resources from the regular public schools, thereby
increasing problems for all schools (Good & Braden, 2000; Wells, 2002).
Access and Impact
In general, students in charter schools reflect students in all public
schools; however, charter schools in some states serve significantly higher
percentages of minority or economically disadvantaged students (RPP
International, 2000) while those in other states serve significantly fewer or
29


serve them inadequately (Wells, 2002). About 70% of charter schools have a
student population that is similar to that in their surrounding district (RPP
International). The demand for charter schools is high, as is satisfaction from
students and parents (Finn et al., 2000; Manno, 2002; RPP International; SRI
International, 2002); however, confusion exists among authorizers and
charter schools regarding who is responsible, legally and fiscally, for special
education (and this carries over to other federal programs, such as Title I).
Variance in state charter laws and special education systems, combined with
a general lack of serious attention to this issue for the first several years
charter schools were in existence, has exacerbated the problem (Anderson &
Myers, 2001).
While charter schools have not induced drastic changes in district
policies (Teske, Schneider, Buckley, & Clark, 2000), they have had an impact
on school districts. Faced with competition from charter schools, many
districts have become more service oriented and responsive to parents and
students and have created new programs to meet parental and student
demands or to compete with the charter schools in their area (Ericson &
Silverman, 2001).
30


Leadership and Accountability
Seymour Sarason (1998) argues that one of the critical reasons for
charter school failure is the ignorance of charter-school leaders about what
creating a new system entails. By nature of the charter-school concept, and
by choice, charter-school administrators typically operate their schools
without the infrastructure and supports of the district system. However, when
they run into problems, charter schools usually look first to their district for
help (Bulkley & Fisler, 2002).
Charter-school leaders have diverse backgrounds and experiences,
including parents, teachers, business people and traditionally certified school
administrators. School leadership provides the compass for development
and sustenance of the charter school as a learning community; a key
component of leadership is negotiating many role demands (Wohlstetter &
Griffin, 1998, p. 19). Successful charter-school leaders are those who are
skilled at balancing the managerial and educational needs of the school
(Anderson & Myers, 2001). Charter schools face all the challenges of a start-
up business, in addition to the daunting responsibilities of running a public
school, and in many cases (depending on state law), a non-profit corporation
(Anderson & Myers, 2001). Unlike a principal in a district-run school, charter-
school administrators typically spend much of their time on non-educational
31


tasks (e.g., issues related to finance, governance, and facilities) in addition to
providing educational leadership (Bowman, 2000; Finn et al., 2000; Hassel,
1999; RPP International, 2000). The greater level of autonomy a school has,
the more time the school leader typically spends on managerial
responsibilities, leaving less time to focus on teaching and learning. School
leaders with previous experience in private school settings or site-based
management schools were better equipped to handle running a charter
school (Wohlstetter & Griffin).
Leadership at a charter school does not rest solely on the shoulders of
the school administrator. This responsibility is shared with the charter
schools governing board, and in some instances it is also shared with a for-
profit school management company, hired to operate certain aspects of the
school (Murphy & Shiftman, 2002). Unlike a regular public school, governed
by the district school board, charter schools have their own, on-site,
governing board, the makeup of which varies by school. Most state laws do
not impose requirements about the schools governance structure beyond
requiring a description of it within the schools charter. However, some states
do impose requirements. For example, Minnesota requires that a majority of
a boards members be certified teachers, although on a case by case basis, a
school can seek a waiver (Education Commission of the States, 2003). In
32


Colorado, most boards include parents and many schools are governed by
boards comprised exclusively of parents (Fitzgerald, 2000). The most
common leadership structure is a board with a school administrator (Murphy
& Shiftman). Board and school administrators in successful charter schools
support each other fully in their efforts to create an economically and
educationally viable school (Bowman, 2000; Finn et al., 2000; Hassel, 1999).
A challenge, however, is identifying and defining the appropriate roles of the
board, versus the administrator, and together developing the capacity to
oversee a ischools operations (requires expertise in financial and legal
issues, among others) (Fitzgerald, 2000; Nathan, 1996).
Accountability is a critical issue, as the premise of a charter school is
that in exchange for freedom from various rules and regulations, the charter
school will be held accountable for specific results (Anderson, 1998; Hassel,
1999; Nathan, 1996). However, some argue that the level of accountability to
which charter schools are held is insufficient, primarily because of the lack of
evidence required of a charter by its authorizerto demonstrate its
effectiveness in meetings the goals specified in its charter contract (Fuller,
2000). Thus, the burden of creating an accountable system does not rest
solely on the shoulders of charter schools. Charter schools are active
participants in designing the system, including the measures that will be used
33


to assess their progress. Moreover, charter schools are typically responsible
for collecting much of the data that the authorizer reviews. Ultimately,
however, it is the authorizer that is charged with evaluating the school and
making important decisions about charter school renewals (Hassel &
Herdman, 2000). New reforms take time to develop effective systems
(Sarason, 1998; Senge, 2000). As charter-school authorizers grant and work
with increasing numbers of charter schools, their systems appear to be
improving (Hassel & Herdman). This includes improved processes for
evaluating charter school applications. An increasing number of authorizers
use accountability plans to create a systematic approach to oversight during
the term of the charter. They establish a set of mutually understood
expectations in such areas as student performance, charter compliance, and
fiscal management. Additionally, authorizers are starting to develop charter-
school renewal and revocation policies and practices to provide clear
guidance and a consistent structure for evaluating school progress (Anderson
& Myers, 2001; Hassel & Herdman).
Despite progress in developing comprehensive, effective
accountability systems, challenges persist. Authorizers that are new to this
role require support, guidance and resources to develop effective systems.
In addition, many veteran authorizers are able to provide guidance; however,
34


they still struggle with holes in policies and practice in their respective
locations (Charter Schools Development Center, 2000; Hassel & Herdman,
2000), For example, it appears that it may be easier for authorizers to
develop a set of policies and criteria than it is to make a concrete decision
about whether a charter school should be renewed. Research by Bulkley
(2000) supports this notion. She found that despite differences in
accountability approaches, authorizers share similar challenges:
1. Educational performance is difficult to define and measure.
2. Teachers, parents, and students become invested in their
charter schools. In the event of a potential closure, a struggle
ensues between destroying the school community or serving
the public interest.
3. Finding the right balance between advocacy and
accountability can be difficult. Even among authorizers, some
are viewed as highly invested in the charter movement (and
may be criticized for being too lenient on charter schools),
while others are perceived as philosophically opposed (and
may be criticized for being too tough).
Finance
Two issues fall within the category of finance: general operating
funding and facilities funding. Since the inception of charter schools, many
have argued that charter schools drain resources from regular public schools
and thereby have a negative cost impact on public education (Good &
Braden, 2000; Molnar, 1996; Wells, 2002). In terms of costs to the existing
35


system, a new cost associated with charter school authorization exists
(Hirsch & Anderson, 1999). The time to develop and implement an effective
accountability system, to review charter applications, and so forth, requires
adequate resources. Authorizes are becoming aware of this need and,
where possible, are beginning to allocate resources within their budgets
accordingly (Anderson & Myers, 2001). When insufficient resources are
budgeted, problems can occur. In places where the overall funding of public
schools is in crisis, increased friction between charter schools and
authorizers abounds. However, even in the highest funded systems,
competition for resources between charter schools and districts is inevitable
due to the market-based nature of charter schools (Anderson, 1998; Charter
Friends National Network, 1999; Finn et al., 2000; Hirsch & Anderson, 1999).
In previous decades, the funding of school facilities was a local funding
responsibility with states providing the resources to support general operating
expenses. However, in recent years states have become more involved in
facilities financing largely because many local school districts do not have the
resources to sufficiently meet their facilities needs (Education Commission of
the States, 1998). The emergence of charter schools has added yet another
dimension to the already challenging issue of paying for school facilities
(Anderson, 1998). Since districts often struggle with their own facility issues,
36


it is not always possible to provide a facility for charter school use. If a .charter
school does not receive a facility from its authorizer to use, it must find a
facility elsewhere within the community and pay for this facility with its general
operating revenues and any additional funding obtained from other sources.
The biggest challenges in this area are having access to a pool of capital to
build or renovate a facility and securing an ongoing stream of revenue to pay
back a loan or initial capital investment overtime (Anderson & Hassel, 1999;
Caldwell & Arrington, 2000; Charter Friends National Network, 1999).
Community
Despite the relative growth and success of charter schools, many of
those involved in these schools feel isolated from their surrounding
communities (Fuller, 2000). The nature of charter schools encourages such
isolation (Weiss, 1997). Some charter schools have done a better job than
others in moving beyond this isolation and forming meaningful and useful
partnerships with local, state, and nationally-based individuals, groups, and
institutions (Bulkley & Fisler, 2002). And, those charter schools located in
charter friendly districts tend to feel less isolated than those located in
hostile districts. The formation of such external partnership seems to be
critical to the long-term success of a charter school and the ongoing
satisfaction of its constituents (Fuller, 2000; Weiss).
37


Areas Where Charter School Research is Lacking
As the previous section illustrates, a decent research base is emerging
on the longer-term impacts of charter schools; however, much of this
research focuses more on results from previous years and a relatively small
number of schools and less on the issues and challenges that such schools
currently face or that lie ahead for these charter schools (Fuller, 2000). For
those charter schools that have been paving the way, those that have been in
existence for several years and typically are the subjects of the
aforementioned research, few resources exist to help them navigate beyond
start-up and into the institutionalization phase (or the second generation
phase) of operating a charter school. Some of the research discussed above
might raise the issues, but only one study that I found in the literature actually
looked closely within charter schools and discussed how charter schools go
about creating and sustaining their learning communities for all students
(Wohlstetter & Griffin, 1998, p.3).
In their study, Wohlstetter & Griffin (1998) examined 17 charter
schools from three states. The schools reflected different levels of schooling,
size, and student composition. The studys authors identified four critical
components that charter schools used to create and sustain themselves as
learning communities:
38


1. School Missionwhen the mission is clear and specific, the
school is better able to translate its mission into practice.
2. Instructional Programschools with high quality instructional
programs have clear curricula and pedagogy and teachers
who support high levels of achievement among all students.
3. Accountability Systemembracing accountability and
working internally as a school and with external entities (e.g.,
the authorizer) to create clear, efficient, and tangible methods
for assessing performance, communicating results about this
performance, and making changes based on the data.
4. School Leadershipthe ability of the school leader to
negotiate the varying demands of their role, including
educational and managerial responsibilities, and creating a
system of leadership that works best for the particular school
community.
While this study provided good information about the experiences of
charter schools within each of these four areas, it did not find schools that fit
all four criteria. For example, some schools had done well with leadership, yet
they were struggling with accountability. Further, it fell short of my needs by
focusing its recommendations on strategies for helping those who were
designing new charter schools or drafting charter school legislation to create
schools from the onset that incorporated the four qualities discussed above,
thereby preventing problems down the road. Since the focus of my study is
on schools that have been operational for several years and have many of
these qualities in place already (as discussed further in Chapters 4 and 5),
what it did not provide was a discussion of the issues that older charter
39


schools face and recommendations for moving charter schools beyond start-
up and into the institutionalization of their programs.
What I examine in this study, are the issues that these older charter
schools are facing now and how they compare with the issues of newer
schools, such as those identified by Wohlstetter & Griffin (1998). How does a
successful charter school (e.g., one that already encompasses the qualities
discussed by Wohlstetter & Griffin, a school that, among other things, has
high student achievement, effective leadership, and committed stakeholders)
maintain and improve on its success as it matures? And finally, is being a
charter school critical to the success of these schools, or could they do what
they are doing as well within the regular public school system? In other
words, what, if anything, about being a charter school contributes to these
schools success?
While this study draws from and builds on the charter-school literature,
it also relies heavily on educational and private-sector research on the
change process and successful organizational growth and development. It
was necessary to look outside of charter schools at such literature in order to
create a conceptual framework for the study that could be used,-in
conjunction with the charter research, to shape my research design, data
40


collection, and analysis strategies. A discussion of this literature, along with
its application to charter schools, follows.
Conceptual Framework Guiding this Study
Senge et al. (2000) have adapted their work in business settings for
educators via a framework presented in their newest book, Schools that
Learn. I chose this as the conceptual framework for this study because after
reviewing it, along with other research on successful school reform discussed
below, it became apparent that, more than any other model, this one
contained all of the important components to successful school change and
renewal that I had identified in my research review. Among other things, it
recognizes the importance of all stakeholders having a shared vision and
aligning their practice with the overall mission and goals of the school. It
discusses the importance of reflection, evaluation, and inquiry among
stakeholders and the necessity to recognize and make choices both based
on what is relevant for the individual (e.g., student, parent, teacher) while also
remembering what is best for the school (e.g., stewardship). And by using
their model as a mechanism for change in school settings, Senge et al., have
been able to identify specific qualities inherent in schools that learn (or
schools that are successful).
41


According to the authors, schools can be re-created, made vital, and
sustainably renewed not by fiat or command, and not by regulation, but by
taking a learning orientation. This means involving everyone in the system in
expressing their aspirations, building their awareness, and developing their
capabilities together (Fullan, 1991, p. 5). By involving everyone, this
includes those participating in the three primary systems impacting schools:
the classroom, the school, and the community. Individuals within each of
these groups are often interchangeable and the three systems are mutually
influential. All three need to be working together in order for schools to learn,
and they need to believe in and adopt the five key disciplines of
organizational learning (Table 2.1) in order to be true learning organizations
engaging in continuous improvement and renewal.
The Schools That Learn framework provides a comprehensive lens
through which I can collect and analyze data from the charter schools that I
examined, as well as a vehicle through which to discuss the results. Next, I
review the broader research on school success and change. Table 2.1
identifies, in italics, where the key themes of successful school change
discussed below fall within the five learning disciplines.
In addition to capturing the key qualities of successful school reform,
this design works well for charter schools because of the explicit emphasis
42


Table 2.1
The five key disciplines of organizational learning
Personal Mastery (relevance, reflection) -practice of articulating a coherent image of your personal vision alongside a realistic assessment of the current reality of your life today -can expand your capacity to make better choices and to achieve more of the results you desire in life
Shared Vision (shared vision) -people with common vision working together to nourish an organization and to create their future creating a sense of community in organizations
Mental Models (reflection, relevance, attitudes/perception s) -reflection and inquiry among participants leading to a stronger sense of community, commitment, and improved communication among participants
Team Learning (aligning goals/practices with mission, reflection) -group interaction, collective learning in order to reach common goals within and between participant groups
Systems Thinking (reflection, evaluation) -utilizing tools and techniques that help participants understand how to embrace change in order to have growth and stability over time
and extensive discussion in the book on the roles of and relationships
between the key participants in a School That Learns (parent, teachers,
community, administrators, school board, students). Lack of clarity about the
roles and responsibilities of these stakeholders or a missed opportunity to
include an important stakeholder group in a meaningful way could tarnish the
school change effort. Since charter schools rely so heavily on various
stakeholder groups but may not know exactly how to include groups in
43


meaningful ways, or create links between stakeholder groups, I needed to
find a framework such as this one to utilize in my study. As an outcome of this
study* I plan to discuss a revised framework designed specifically for charter
schools. This framework serves an important role, as it links practice with
research in a way that is geared towards charter schools unique needs.
Since much of the research on charter schools to date has focused on the
early years of a charter schools existence (Anderson, 1998; Finn et al., 2000;
RPP International 1997; RPP International, 2000), a gap exists in the
research that this study and the resulting framework can help fill.
Qualities Inherent in Successful Schools
Serious education reform will never be achieved until there is a
significant increase in the number of peopleleaders and other participants
alikewho have come to internalize and habitually act on basic knowledge of
how successful change takes place (Fullan & Miles, 1992, p. 745). School
reform is about changing schools, and all one has to do is pick up any
educational publication to learn about the various theories and strategies that
educators, researchers, and policymakers argue need to be employed in
order to improve Americas schools. The implied theory behind many
proposals today seems grounded largely on the assumption that new
organizational structures will increase either the commitment or competence
44


of teachers and students (Newmann & Wehlage, 1995, p. 2). Often,
proponents of the charter school movement argue that the best way to solve
the problems in our schools today is to start from scratcha new school
operating within a different type of systema system structured in such a
fashion that they believe is more likely to lead to successful schools
(Anderson, 1998; Finn et al., 2000; Hassel, 1999; Nathan, 1996). This view of
starting over, shared by many policymakers and district administrators,
surfaces in other ways besides charter schools, including reconstitution of
schools and takeovers of school systems (Anderson, 1997). This upheaval of
schools and school systems is one approach to school change, and a
significant body of literature exists to help groups navigate the
implementation of such reforms, particularly for starting charter schools and
enforcing charter school policies (Anderson, 1997; Anderson & Myers, 2001;
Charter Schools Development Center, 2000; Finn et al.; Good & Braden,
2000; Hassel, 1999; Rofes, 1998; Sarason, 1998).
However, schools, similar to all organizations, are part of a system and
are influenced by internal and external forces that constantly challenge
participants in this structure to reevaluate their focus and mission. Change is
inevitable in systems, including those that have been newly created, such as
charter or reconstituted schools, or even in the private sector (Collins &
45


Porras; Drucker, 1990; Fullan, 2001; Lin, 2001; Senge at al., 2000). Because
it is not economically or realistically feasible to start over continuously, one
needs to examine the ways in which people think and interact together
before changing the rules. Otherwise, the new policies and organizational
structures will simply fade away, and the organization will revert, over time, to
the way it was before (Senge et al., p. 19). Given that change is inevitable,
what do we know from the literature about what works, and what doesnt, in
systems engaging in change? And, what do schools that have effectively
experienced change look like? The following synthesis of research discusses
the qualities inherent in successful schools (and in some cases, successful
businesses and private entities) and the school change process.
Shared Vision. Critical to successful change and thus a successful
school is a shared vision among all participantsa system void of
factionalism that is inclusive of all stakeholders, including students, parents,
teachers, and administrators. Boyer (1995) argues that a shared vision is
essential to achieving educational excellence. Without it, purposes are
blurred, miscommunication becomes the norm, and lack of involvement from
all stakeholders surfaces. A mutual or common purpose, according to Senge
et al. (2000), nourishes a sense of commitment, leads to shared ideas about
the future, and eases the implementation of principles and guiding practices.
46


Solutions must evolve through the development of shared meaning. The
interface between individual and collective meaning and action in everyday
situations is where change stands or falls (Fulian, 1991, p. 5). The most
successful schools are those that have found a way to channel staff and
student efforts toward a clear, commonly shared purpose for student
learning (Newmann & Wehlage, 1995, p. 3).
Satisfaction among key stakeholders (parents, teachers, students) is
generally quite high in charter schools (Anderson, 1998; Finn et al., 2000;
Fitzgerald^ 2000; RPP International, 1998; Weiss, 1997). Because most
charter schools start from scratch, typically around a vision for a particular
educational approach (Anderson, 1998; Finn et al., 2000; Fitzgerald, 2000;
RPP International, 2000), they are uniquely positioned to launch themselves
in the direction for success because they typically have a shared vision from
the onset. However, whether in reality that vision is shared by all, or if the
commitment to that vision continues as the school evolves, is something that
is discussed further in Chapters 4 and 5.
Alignment of Goals and Practices with Mission and Vision. Its not
enough for stakeholders to state that they have a shared vision. A school
that seeks to motivate all students and achieve long term success as an
organization, aligns its goals and practices for professional development,
47


scheduling, governance, parent and community involvement, counseling and
discipline with its goals and practices for curriculum and assessment
(Ginsberg & Wlodkowski, 2000). This coordination, comprehensive
schoolwide planning, makes it possible for a schools component parts to
work in complementary ways toward common ends (p. 19). Boyer (1995)
stresses the importance of a coherent curriculum, aligned with the overall
purpose of the school. When connections fail to be made between the
curriculum and the rest of the school, and when change is not
comprehensive, reforms fail (Fullan, 1991; New American Schools, 2001;
Senge et al., 2000). It is not enough for schools to have a vision for high
)
quality student learning. Teachers must teach according to the vision, and
schools should be organized according to this vision. When necessary,
external support should be brought in where schools lack the ability to carry
out the vision themselves (Newmann & Wehlage, 1995).
According to Collins & Porras (2002), whose work focuses on visionary
companies, the specific content of the mission and vision is not necessarily
essential. It is the authenticity of the ideology and the extent to which a
company attains consistent alignment with the ideology that counts more than
the content of the ideology (p. 89). This finding is particularly relevant for
charter schools. One sees great variance across charter schools, even those
48


located within the same communities, in educational philosophies,
governance structures, school size, instructional approaches, and other areas
(Fitzgerald, 2000; RPP International, 2000). Given this variance, in order for
charter schools to achieve long-term success and viability as organizations, it
is especially important that they remain true to their core beliefs when making
important structural or organizational changes.
Charter schools have a contract with their sponsoring authority (the
school district in Colorado) that binds them to specific criteria, including
producing and implementing an educational program and addressing other
outcomes tied to the schools mission/vision (Colorado League of Charter
Schools, 2001; Hassel, 1998). Sarason (1998) argues that those starting
charter schools are clearer about what their school looks like and needs to
accomplish than they are about what they will have to do, the resources they
will need, and the actual time it will require to achieve their purposes.
Reflection and Evaluation. Dewey (1933) wrote that thinking in itself is
questioning. Reflecting on ones strengths, identifying areas of concern, and
strategizing about how to improve are essential activities to successful school
reform. Doing so regularly, argues Senge et al. (2000), leads to growth and
stability overtime. Strong mechanisms for assessing student learning,
combined with regular attention to schoolwide evaluation, are essential
49


components to The Basic School model (Boyer, 1995). Meaningful
assessment engenders competence in learners, whether these learners are
students, teachers, parents, or society as a whole, intrinsic motivation is
elicited when learning is tied to a valued goal and revisited regularly for
relevance (Ginsberg & Wlodkowski, 2000). Indeed, a visionary company
continually pursues but never fully achieves or completes its purposelike
chasing the earths horizon or pursuing a guiding star (Collins & Porras,
2002, p.77).
Charter schools are required to evaluate their success in meeting the
goals specified in their charter contracts when their charters are up for
renewal. Additionally, annual progress reports may be required by the charter
school authorizer (Anderson & Myers, 2001; Colorado League of Charter
Schools, 2001; Hassel & Herdman, 2000). Accountability (the nature in
which authorizes hold charter schools responsible for the terms of their
contracts) is central to the charter school concept. Some places are leading
the way, such as Massachusetts and Colorado. The state charter school
office in Massachusetts has a separate accountability division within its
charter school office that sends teams of people (comprised of various
experts in charter schools, school reform, and governance) to charter schools
to assess their progress in meeting their established goals and provides
50


recommendations for improvements to ensure a higher success rate when
renewing charter schools (Hassel & Herdman). In addition, the Colorado
League of Charter Schools (2001) has created an accountability program for
charter schoolsa voluntary process to help charter schools conduct self-
studies in order to improve their schools and to prepare for formal reviews,
including charter contract renewals with their school districts. It is easy for
organizations to become self-absorbed and insulated from reality, hence the
need for these types of external evaluations (Decker, 1990). While good,
such external review opportunities are not sufficient on their own. In order to
achieve long-term success, organizations, including charter schools, need to
create and foster an ongoing and systemic structure for self-reflection and
evaluation in combination with the opportunities for external evaluation
(Anderson & Myers, 2001; Collins & Porras, 2002; Hassel & Herdman).
Relevance. Students need to feel connected, as individuals and as
part of a group, to their learning experiences. Learning should matter to them
now and be purposefully connected their future. Teachers need to feel that
the educational focus of the school is important, that their experiences within
the school and classroom are personally relevant, and that they feel
connected to the bigger picturethe school and school system as a whole.
Parents need to know that their childrens needs are being met and to feel
51


part of the school community (Boyer, 1995; Davies, 2002; Senge et al.,
2000). Ginsberg & Wlodkowski (2000) stress the importance of creating
educational experiences that are personally relevant and that support
meaningful decision-making. Fullan (1991) discusses relevance as the
interaction of need, clarity of the innovation (and practitioners understanding
of it), and utility, or what it really has to offer teachers and students (p. 63).
Charter schools face the same challenges as other public schools in regard
to relevance. While more opportunities typically exist in charter schools for
stakeholders to be involved in all aspects of the school (Murphy & Shiffman,
2002; Nathan, 1996), nothing guarantees that this leads to individuals feeling
more connected and valued, or that the work that they are producing is
relevant to them personally or has genuine social merit.
Awareness of Attitudes and Perceptions. Individualism and
collectivism must have equal powerthere are no one sided solutions to
isolation and group think (Fullan & Miles, 1992, p. 746). Defined differently
by each researcher, this category refers to the need to address individual
attitudes and perceptions about the school and the change process in order
to truly experience successful reform. Mental models (Senge et al., 2000)
develop awareness of attitudes and perceptions. These models help groups
to more clearly and honestly define current reality and to develop the
52


capability to talk safely and productively about dangerous and discomfiting
subjects (p. 7). Sarason (1990) argues that successful school reform will not
happen if fundamental shifts do not occur in how people think and interact, as
well as in how they explore new ideas, particularly in regards to unseen
values and attitudes that keep systems in place and regularly prohibit
change. Change can be very deep, striking at the core of learned skills and
beliefs and conceptions of education, and creating doubts about purposes,
sense of competence and self-concept (Fullan, 1991, p. 45). If problems are
ignored, superficial change will occur at best, and at worst people will retreat
and reject further efforts towards change. Moreover, it can be challenging to
get everyone moving in the same direction over sustained periods of time.
Loss of control, doubts, concerns about competence and increasing
workloads, and other personal concerns and resentments surface and
interfere with the change process (Ginsberg & Wlodkowski, 2000).
Summary
The number of charter schools in this country continues to grow each
year, as illustrated in Figure 2.1. As the charter school movement matures
and as the numbers of students increases, the level of research on this topic
grows. To date, much of the research has focused on the early years of
53


charter school development, including the number of schools operating, the
types of students served in such schools, issues and challenges related to
start-up, early successes, and specific information directed at the policy
levels as well as technical support geared towards those working in schools.
Over the last year or two, more specific research has surfaced about student
achievement in charter schools, the impact of such schools on their
neighboring school districts, parental and student satisfaction in charter
schools, and finance. At the same time, researchers have continued to
examine what makes a school successful (not necessarily a charter school)
and have developed theories (and provided evidence to back these up) about
the characteristics of successful schools and have documented the practices
of those engaged in continuous school improvement.
A number of charter schools across the country have moved beyond
the start-up years and are beginning to develop their own strategies and
systems to ensure long-term stability and the institutionalization of their
programs. This is a perfect time for charter schools to tap into existing
resourcesto learn from and work on developing systems that reflect the
lessons learned and best practices from both the existing literature on charter
schools, as well as the research on successful schools and organizational
change. This chapter summarized these two broad literature bases. The
54


remainder of the study, and subsequent chapters, examines how two
successful charter schools reflect what is seen in the charter and successful
schools research.
55


CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY
This chapter discusses my rationale for choosing an exploratory case
study design and reviews the various qualitative and quantitative approaches
used to collect, store, analyze, and display the data.
Design
An exploratory case study design (Yin, 1994) was chosen for this study
due to its focus on identifying the emergent characteristics and experiences of
successful charter schools that have been operational for five or more years.
It is not an experimental design, so a specific hypothesis was not tested.
Instead, three broad research questions informed the design, collection, and
analysis of the data:
1. Why are these charter schools successful?
2. How are these charter schools evolving as they grow in age and
experience?
3. What are the characteristics of a Charter School That Learns?
56


As discussed in Chapter 2, the study is anchored in the Schools That
Learn framework (Senge et al., 2000). This framework describes the
characteristics of successful schools, or as the authors call such schools,
schools that learn. Since Senge et al.s work did not include charter schools, I
integrated findings from the charter-school research to help shape the study
design and data analysis. Two individual case studies were developed to
illustrate the primary unit of analysis: successful charter schools that have
been operational for five years or more. Multiple cases were examined since
the overall goal of this study is not only to inform the charter school and
school reform research, but also to provide information to help charter
schools achieve long-term success. Often, evidence from multiple cases is
seen as more compelling and robust than evidence from single cases (Herriot
& Firestone, 1983), and when multiple cases are used, more opportunities for
further research or replication of the model exist (Yin,1994).
This study examines two charter schools, both located in the same
school district in Colorado. The district is located in a relatively affluent
community and serves just under 28,000 students. Of the districts 60
schools, four are charter schools. One of the four charter schools was
developed specifically to meet the educational needs of adjudicated youth.
The remaining three charter schools serve approximately 1,100 students from
57


across the district, 600 of which are served by the two schools that are the
subject of this study.
Each of two charter schools is the subject of an individual case study.
These two schools were chosen for a couple of reasons. First, they were
among a relatively small number of charter schools in the state that had been
operational for five years or more (at the time of this study, there were 90
charter schools in the state, 20 of which were at least five years old). Second,
they were from the same district. Of the 20 schools that were old enough to
participate, only a few options existed for selecting two schools from the same
district. Finally, among the few options for selecting schools from the same
district, charter schools from only two of those districts (the one I chose and
one other) both had test scores that were well above the district and state
averages. So, when it came down to selecting schools, since charter schools
in both of the remaining two districts qualified for my study, I opted to select
the district that was more convenient to my home, thereby making it easier to
collect the data and spend time in the schools.
School A serves grades K-8 and has 300 students and School B
serves grades 6-8 and also has 300 students. Figure 3.1 illustrates the
approach used to design, implement, analyze, and present findings from
these case studies. Such an approach is useful because it can be replicated
in future research on this topic, if so desired (Yin, 1994). The initial step in
58


designing the study consists of theory development (which in the case of this
study included developing the conceptual framework and research
questions), followed by case selection and the use of specific data collection
methods. Each individual case is a study in its own right and convergent
evidence is sought regarding the facts and conclusions for each case. Both
the individual and multiple case results are the focus of the overall summary
report. When using this approach for replication, the theory or research
questions can be modified, as illustrated, and the overall approach can be
used again with a new case (Yin, Bateman, & Moore, 1983).
select
cases
develop
theory/
research
questions
design data
collection
protocol
conduct write
Incase individual
study case report
draw cross-
case
conclusions
modify
theory/
questions
(if
replicating)
Write
cross-
case
report
conduct write
2d case individual I
study case report
Figure 3.1. Illustration of the approach used to develop, conduct, and write-up
case study findings. Note. Adapted from Case study research: Design and
methods by R.K. Yin, 1994, p. 49.
59


Methods of Data Collection
The use of both qualitative and quantitative approaches was most
appropriate in this study for a couple of reasons. First, this study is concerned
with meaning and is interpretive in nature, so it requires the use of methods
that allow for meaning to be assigned by both researcher and participants,
rather than by definitions or interpretations of the researcher alone
(LeCompte & Preissel, 1993). A study that used a survey alone or examined
only existing data and did not allow participants to give meaning to their input
via focus groups or interviews, for example, would assume that meaning
would come from the researchers interpretation of the data. Second, data
triangulation makes for more comprehensive research (Yin, 1994), and some
of the most creative research uses models eclectically, combining aspects of
various models to produce more valid research designsuse of two or more
models in a kind of triangulation (LeCompte & Preissel, p. 35). Given this, a
variety of approaches were used for data collection: a survey of employees
and parents from both schools; focus groups of teachers, parents, and charter
school board members from each school; two sets of interviews with the
principals from each school; one set of interviews with two charter school
leaders from the state in which the schools are located; and a review of
60


relevant documents and data from and about each school. A discussion of
each of these items follows.
Survey
Prior to designing the survey, I reviewed research on successful
schools (as discussed in Chapter 2), and more specifically, I re-read and
synthesized key points from Schools That Learn (Senge et al., 2000) and
created a list of Overall Qualities Inherent in Schools That Learn. In addition,
I pulled data from the charter-schools research about the issues and
challenges of charter schools in various stages of their existence in order to
assess where each of these schools was at in its development (Anderson &
Myers, 2001; Bulkley & Fisler, 2002). And, I utilized findings from the
business research on entrepreneurial companies and small business growth
to determine whether theories from business growth might be consistent with
the growth of charter schools (Collins & Porras, 2002). Out of this research
review came a large list of the various issues and ideas that l wanted to
explore in my overall data collection, including the survey. As a means of
deciding what from the list to include in surveys versus focus groups or what
to elicit from documents and other data, I integrated items from the list into
the initial interviews that I conducted with the principals from each school.
61


Following these interviews, I developed the survey and the focus group data-
collection strategy.
Before distributing the survey, I asked a handful of people (teachers
and parents not related to either school) to review it and give me feedback
about its content, estimated completion time, and the clarity of the directions.
The final survey instrument was primarily closed-ended, consisting of
questions using Likert-type scales, ranking, and selecting all that apply (see
Appendix A). In addition, a couple of other questions allowed for open-
ended responses. The instrument was four pages long, took about 15
minutes to complete, and contained 9 questions. A few questions sought to
identify respondent characteristics: the school with which they were affiliated,
what their role was in the school, and how long they had been involved with
the school. The bulk of the survey was designed to capture respondents
perceptions about their school (e.g., whether or not key characteristics from
the successful schools research, including the Schools That Learn
framework, were present in their school, and their opinions concerning the
strengths and challenges of their schools). Finally, a few questions focused
on issues specific to charter schools and organizational change, including
who the key decision-makers were at the school and what changes
respondents were noticing as the school matured and moved beyond its start-
up phase.
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Distribution and Return. Surveys were distributed to all employees and
families from both schools. The schools distributed the surveys on my behalf.
Parent surveys were sent home with the children in folders that go home with
the students periodically. Staff surveys were distributed to all the teachers,
administrators, and other staff members at each school. At one school, the
principal distributed the staff surveys at an all-staff meeting. At the other
school, staff surveys were distributed via the staff mail-boxes in the school
office. Surveys were returned to me directly via a postage-paid, return-
addressed envelope that was attached to each survey. As an incentive to
encourage a higher return, I included a raffle post card with each survey. The
postage paid post card was sent directly to a local spa where a respondent
from each school was randomly selected to win a gift certificate for massage
or skin care.
The SPSS (version 9.0) statistical software program was used to
analyze the survey data. Of the 580 surveys distributed (while 600 students
attend both schools, some of these are siblings, so the survey went home to
families instead of with each student), a total of 228 or 39% were returned
(Table 3.1). School A had a slightly higher return of 40% as compared to
School Bs 38% return.
A higher percentage of staff members responded to the survey (65%)
than parents (36%); however, as Table 3.2 illustrates, the majority of surveys
63


received were from parents (189) because more parents received the survey
(520) than employees (60) who worked in the schools.
Table 3.1
Survey return totals
School Total Distributed Total Returned Percent of Total
Returned
School A 275 111 40%
School B 305 117 38%
Total 580 228 39%
Table 3.2
Survey responses by role
School Total distributed to parents Total received from parents Percent of total received from parents Total distributed to staff Total received from staff Percent of total received from staff
School A 245 90 37% 30 20 67%
School B 275 98 36% 30 19 63%
Total 520 189 36% 60 39 65%
As illustrated in Table 3.3, nearly half of all responses (111 or 48%)
were from those with 2 or fewer years of involvement with the schools.
However, the majority of these 111 responses (74) were from School B,
whereas School A had 36 responses from those with two or fewer years of
experience. The primary reason for this difference is that School B is a
middle school only, unlike School A, a K-8 school. This means that one-third
of the school turns over each year in School B, mostly with new families
(some siblings attend, but fewer than in School A which spans more grades).
While a few kids come and go each year due to normal circumstances at both
64


schools (e.g., moving, switching schools, etc.), School A really only
experiences turnover of one-ninth of the school population each year (eighth
graders leave, kindergartners come in). Thus, parents have been with the
school for a longer period of time, on average, in school A than in school B
which explains why so many responses were from newer families in School
B. Seven percent of responses (16 surveys) were from those with nine or
more years of experience/involvement with the school. All of these were from
School A. This is because, prior to becoming a charter school, School A had
been a school within the school district for a few years. A number of staff
members who were with the school then were still with it during this study.
Table 3.3
Total survey responses by years involved in the school
School 2 or fewer years 3-5 years 6-8 years 9+
School A 36(32%) 35 (32%) 24 (22%) 16 (15%)
(n = 111) School B 74 (63%) 28 (24%) 14(12%) 0
(n = 117) Total (n = 228) 111 (48%) 63 (28%) 38(17%) 16 (7%)
Chapters 4-6 contain more information about survey respondents and
about the survey itself, including responses to the various content-related
questions about the qualities of each of these schools, their strengths and
challenges as successful charter schools, and perceptions about changes
occurring within the schools as they mature.
65


Interviews
One-on-one interviews were conducted with the principals at each
school, once in the beginning of the data collection process and then again
after all data were in and an initial analysis of the data was complete. The
purpose of the first set of interviews was to gain some familiarity with the
schools, including the principals perceptions of the schools strengths and
challenges, prior to developing the survey or designing the focus groups. The
second set of interviews provided an opportunity to receive more information
about issues or items that had surfaced over the course of the data collection
and analysis. During the second interviews, I also shared drafts of each
schools case study and selected cross-case findings for their reaction and
input.
Following the collection and early analysis of the data, two additional
interviews were conducted with two well-respected and experienced charter
school leaders from the state in which the schools are located. The purpose
of these interviews was to determine how the experiences of the two schools
in this study compared with those of similarly situated charter schools in the
state. One interviewee had been the principal of a successful charter school
for many years. Prior to that position, he had worked as a principal and
teacher in regular public schools and for the state department of education.
66


The second interviewee is the director of the state charter school association
and has provide technical support and guidance to all of the charter schools
in the state, including those that have been operating for several years. Each
of these two interviewees has a good understanding of the issues that a
charter school encounters as it moves beyond start-up and into the
institutionalization of its program. Moreover, the principal has years of
experience as an educator, including leading a successful school, and
understands the strengths and challenges of maintaining that success,
especially in a charter setting. The director has worked with multiple schools
and has a good perspective on what charter schools are experiencing across
the board. Therefore, the principal was able to give me some depth and the
director some breadth that could then be compared with the rest of the data
findings.
As per UCDs protocol, interviewees were required to sign an informed
consent form prior to talking with me (see Appendix B). All interviews were
audio-taped and transcribed. Techniques used for data analysis of the
interview data are discussed below in the Data Analysis section.
Focus Groups
Focus groups with parents, teachers, and the governing board were
conducted at each school for a total of six focus groups. Subjects were
67


chosen based on a theory consistent with multiple case design for
replication, not sampling logic (Yin, 1994, p. 51). I chose such segmentation
by role group in order to promote free-flowing conversations among
participants within groups and to facilitate examinations of differences in
perspectives between groups (Morgan, 1997). In order to have a cross-
representative sampling of participants, I asked the principal, a board
member, and a parent from each school to help me identify potential focus
group subjects. Within each role group, I wanted people with a range of years
experience with the school in order to capture potential differences in
perceptions about the school based on years involved. I organized the lists of
names that I received from principals, parents, and board members according
to role group and years involved and then made phone calls to potential
participants. Out of this process emerged the groups. Actual participants
reflected those who could attend and who fit the criteria. Each focus group
had about five participants (with the exception of the board focus groups
which were larger, reflecting the actual sizes of each board of 7 people) and
lasted about one-hour.
The focus groups allowed me to follow-up on survey and interview
data and to gather opinions and perceptions about the school from various
individuals, within their role groups, that I could than use to supplement and
compare to the data collected via other means. Such group discussions
68


provide direct evidence about similarities and differences in the participants
opinions and experiences as opposed to reaching such conclusions from
post-hoc analysis of separate statements from individual interviewees.
However, focus groups, as compared to interviews, provide less depth and
detail about the individual experiences of any given participant, and subjects
may be unwilling to expose controversial or politically charged information in a
focus group due to the presence of their peers (Morgan, 1997).
The same format was used for each focus group. This data collection
strategy was adapted from one created by Ginsberg and Wlodkowski (2000,
p. 111) that the authors use in their school improvement work in high poverty
schools. The purpose of this strategy is to create a set of themes to guide the
discussion, with the goal of capturing what is happening within the schools in
each of those theme areas, along with ideas or suggestions for improvement.
Prior to designing the focus groups, I had already created the survey,
reviewed additional information about the schools (e.g., Annual Report,
School Handbook, achievement data), reviewed the research syntheses/lists I
had developed (as discussed in the interview section above), and conducted
interviews with the principals. This initial data collection and analysis made it
possible to determine the key themes, specific to the schools, or charter
schools in general, that I wanted to include in the focus groups. Out of this
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process emerged a list of key themes that were used to shape the overall
discussion and content of the focus groups (see Table 3.4).
Table 3.4
Key themes used to guide the collection of focus group data
1. Effective and visionary leadership.
2. Shared vision for school among all stakeholder groups.
3. Parents/families are highly committed partners in their childrens learning.
4. Stewardship (commitment to school extends beyond my child, classroom,
grade, friend, etc.).
5. Ongoing reflection, inquiry and collaboration among teachers and as part of
professional development.
6. Highly motivating and challenging curriculum for all students.
7. School/community interdependence (meaningful partnerships with the
surrounding community).
8. School is a safe and healthy place.
Using flip-chart paper, each theme was listed on a separate page and
hung on the wall. At the beginning of the focus group, participants were given
a marker and asked to go around the room to write down what, if any,
strategies or programs their school had in place within each of the themes.
Participants were allowed to talk with each other as they worked on this
project. Following this activity, the group came together, and I facilitated a
discussion that incorporated the key themes. Participants were asked four
questions during the course of this discussion:
1. Of the themes presented on these pages, which are the ones that you
think are your schools strengths?
2. Of the themes presented on these pages, which are the ones that you
think are areas where your school needs to improve?
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3. Are there areas that are missing from these themesadditional areas
of strength or opportunities for improvement?
4. How does being a charter school help or hinder your schools
success?
The benefit of organizing the focus group this way was that it gave
participants the opportunity to express their individual beliefs and opinions in
writing, while also providing a structure that allowed them to talk as a group
and build on each others ideas and perceptions during the group discussion.
As described by Morgan (1997), focus groups allow for the collection of data
through group interaction on a topic determined by the researcher. The
researchers interests provide the focus, while the data themselves come
from group interaction.
As per UCDs protocol, all focus group participants were required to
sign an informed consent form prior to talking with me (see Attachment B). All
focus groups were audio-taped and transcribed. Techniques Used for data
analysis of the focus group data are discussed in the Data Analysis section
below.
Document Review
Various documents and supplemental data were collected and
reviewed from each school. The purpose of this review was to corroborate or
enrich findings from other data sources. A document summary form (Miles &
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Huberman, 1994), completed for each item reviewed, provided a means of
capturing the key ideas and purpose for each document, as well as a
structure within which to keep track of the data. While it would have been
ideal if each school had the exact same type of documents that I could
review, this was not always the case. For example, one school prepares a
comprehensive annual report each year while the other does not. However,
the other school had a very complete handbook that it updated and
distributed annually to its constituents containing much of the same
information as an annual report. So, given these differences, I was able to
state the type of information for which I was looking (e.g., student
achievement data, data on student demographics, overview of educational
program, written information about the curriculum, instructional strategies,
and decision-making, and other items related to the schools culture,
management, and school improvement) and collect the appropriate
documents from each school containing such information. Student
demographic data were collected from the school district web-site. Table 3.5
lists the documents reviewed from each school.
Data from these documents were useful because they provided a level
of depth that one could not capture in an hour-long focus group or interview.
For example, the Annual Report from School B and the Handbook from
School A both contained detailed information about their educational
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programs, including curriculum content and development and the instructional
practices used at their respective schools.
Table3.5
Documents reviewed from each school
School A School B
School handbook 2002 annual report
2002 School Improvement 2002 school improvement
Plan plan
2002 Stakeholder satisfaction School Accountability Report
surveys
School Accountability Report
Financial statements
Annual budget
Note. School Bs annual report contained financials, survey results, and other
areas that were separate documents at School A.
Also, the information from the School Accountability Reports and the
school district web-site enabled me to make comparisons across schools as
well as demonstrate how these schools compared with the district as a whole.
Further discussion about these documents, including their relationships to the
other data, is found in Chapters 4 and 5. In addition, details about the
analysis of these data are found below in the Data Analysis section.
Methods of Data Analysis
As discussed above, a combination of qualitative and quantitative
research methods were used in this study. This section describes the
separate analyses used for the quantitative and qualitative data, followed by a
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discussion of the cross-analysis utilized to bring together findings from these
approaches.
Qualitative Data
As illustrated in Figure 3.2, the approach used for qualitative data
analysis was modeled after one developed by Miles & Huberman (1994).
Their process involved three steps (data reduction, data display, and
conclusion drawing and verification). I added a fourth, data preparation. This
revised approach involved completing the following steps:
1. Data preparationthe act of getting your data into a format that can be
analyzed, such as transcribing interview and focus group data from
audio tapes and creating document summaries to organize and
prioritize artifacts.
2. Data reductiona process of selecting, focusing, simplifying,
abstracting, and transforming the data from transcriptions and notes to
writing summaries, coding, teasing out themes, and making clusters.
3. Data displayan organized, compressed assembly of information that
permits conclusion drawing and action utilizing a combination of text,
matrices, charts, and networks designed to assemble information into
a form that is easy to understand and from which justified conclusions
can be drawn.
Figure 3.2. Illustration of the approach used to analyze qualitative data.
Adapted from Qualitative data analysis by M.B. Miles & A.M. Huberman,
1994, p. 12.
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4. Conclusion drawing and verificationincluding finding meaning in the
data, testing draft conclusions for validity, and writing the final report.
Data Preparation. All interview and focus-group tape data were
transcribed and saved as Microsoft Word documents. Document summary
forms (Miles & Huberman, 1994) were created for each artifact in order to
keep track of the document, including the school from which it was received,
and in order to organize them by the type of data they contained. The
completion of these two tasks took considerable time; however, despite the
lengthy process, it was a necessary step toward getting the data into a format
that could then be reduced and analyzed.
Data Reduction. The primary step in data reduction involved coding.
Codes are tags or labels for assigning units of meaning to the descriptive or
inferential information compiled during a study. Codes usually are attached to
chunks of varying sizewords, sentences, phrases, or whole paragraphs
(Miles & Huberman, 1994, p. 57). Typically, one can use two different
approaches to coding. The first involves developing a pre-defined set of
codes (Miles & Huberman) while the second allows the codes to emerge from
the data (Morgan, 1997). Initially, I considered using a pre-defined set of
codes, pulled from my theoretical framework. As discussed above, when
designing the survey and data collection strategies for the interviews and
75


focus groups, I had done an extensive synthesis of the research, including the
creation of key characteristics (or categories) of schools that learn (Table
3.4). .1 considered using these categories as my initial set of codes but opted
for a different approach. Instead, I allowed the codes to emerge and then, as
will be discussed in the Data Display section below, I compared the schools
that learn categories with the new set of codes that I had generated in my
review of the data.
Using an inductive coding technique (Strauss & Corbin, 1990), focus
group and interview transcription, and the contents of each document
collected from the schools, were reviewed line by line. Beside paragraphs of
text, I created categories/labels, thereby generating my first set of codes. This
first set of codes was a very long list of approximately 80 labels. Upon review
of the data for frequency of responses and content, and the labels another
time, I was able to reduce the number of codes in half by creating more
abstract categories encompassing two or more codes. Chunks of data were
then pasted within each of these revised categories within Microsoft Word. A
third review of the data, again checking for frequency of responses, within
and across data sources, combined with the content of the individual codes,
prompted me to reduce the number of codes yet another time. Finally, after
reviewing the data again and redefining and grouping the categories once
more, based primarily on content at this point, I ended up with a final set of
76


codes. It was at this time that I felt that coding was complete. The analysis
itself seemed to have run its courseall incidents were classified, categories
saturated, and sufficient regularities had emerged (Miles & Huberman,1994,
P-62).
Coding on its own does not provide sufficient information to draw
conclusions. One needs to look deeper within the codes and across the data
to find meaning and begin to identify patterns or commonalities across the
data. This process, termed pattern coding by Miles and Huberman (1994) or
pattern matching by Yin (1994), involves explaining the patterns occurring in
the research study by grouping the data into more meaningful categories and
making comparisons across groups, similar to factor-analysis in statistical
research (Miles & Huberman).
Prior to making comparisons across groups, from the list of codes that
I had generated during the aforementioned analysis, I created a list of
categories (pattern codes)issues and characteristics emerging in the data
within and across schoolsand provided a description for each item (Table
3.6). Thus, across all qualitative data sources, there were frequent mentions
of the quality of the curriculum and instruction, the types of systems in place
and procedures for reflecting on their successes as a school and making
changes based on lessons learned, the intense involvement of parents in
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Table 3.6
Final set of categories/patterns deduced from the qualitative data
Category Description
High quality curriculum & instruction Instructional staff is collaborative, motivated, engaging, and deliberate. Curriculum is challenging, comprehensive, purposeful, fun, and relevant.
Ongoing process for reflection, evaluation, and change Culture in place within school to continuously reflect on its strengths, address its challenges, implement appropriate measures to assess progress, and make changes based on assessments and feedback from the school community.
Intensive parental involvement Parents are involved in all aspects of the school, including governance, classroom support, facility operations & maintenance, public relations, and program evaluation.
Changes in enrollment Concerns about changing student population as founding families children graduate, fewer siblings attend, and new enrollment policies at the district-level lead to perceptions that a higher number of new families are selecting school for reasons other than its mission, vision, and goals. Additional concerns focus on issues of diversity and inclusiveness.
Sacrifices made in exchange for charter status By choosing to attend a charter, one loses some benefits that s/he may have received in a neighborhood school, such as transportation, food service, school peers living nearby, and a facility that is comparable to a district school serving the same number/age span of students.
Safe & healthy school environment The facility is clean and safe, behavior problems are minimal, students and adults treat each other with respect, trust one another, and enjoy spending time together.
Responsive and committed leadership The administration and governing board effectively manage the schooloperationally and educationally, are responsive to the school community, and include stakeholders (parents, students, teachers) in decision-making about school policies and activities.
Isolation from the district & community This includes the struggle to be accepted by the community, build relations with the district, and still hold on to the autonomy that drove them to become a charter school in the first place.
Autonomy Various items fall within this category, including the freedom to create the school's curriculum, establish its own practices for hiring, firing, and evaluating staff members, using .its financial resources to further its overall mission and goals, having an on-site governing body, being buffered from district requirements, rules, and regulations.
Effective communication Systems are in place to encourage appropriate and effective communication between and across stakeholder groups and to share important information about the school internally and with the external community.
Shared vision Mission, vision and goals of school are clearly communicated and understood. All stakeholders work together to carry out the mission, vision and goals and are able to look beyond their own personal interests and work for the overall good of the school.
Stakeholder development and training Systems in place to encourage, support, and provide appropriate training and development in order to increase the skill sets and competencies of parents, staff, and board members.
78


different and meaningful ways, the importance of having a shared vision, the
role of communication, and how much they could do as a school as a result of
being autonomous from the district. Discussions about the school
environment were lumped primarily into the safe and healthy category. Due to
the nature of charter schools being led by their own governing board, there
was much discussion about the schools leadership, including the roles of the
board versus those of the school administrator. The downsides or emerging
issues associated with being a charter school fall primarily within the
categories discussing the sacrifices of being a charter, the isolation some feel
from the district and community, and the level of resources committed to
training and development.
Data Display. The next step in data analysis involved taking the key
categories and making comparisons across data sets. To accomplish this
task, I used methods for displaying and comparing the data across categories
(e.g., by schools and role groups). Displaying the data, instead of relying
solely on text, is a more effective way of seeing patterns and counting
responses across categories (Miles & Huberman, 1994). In addition to seeing
the data in a different format, this step was necessary for other reasons. First,
since an individual case study was being created for each school, and a
cross-case analysis reflecting both, it was important to sort out how the items
79


identified as pattern codes above were playing out within each school and
across both schools.
Second, the study was purposefully set up to include opportunities for
teachers, parents, principals, and board members to have time within their
respective role groups to share their opinions and ideas.
One issue that needed to be explored was whether variance existed
across these groups. Such group-to-group validation is a way of measuring
consistency across groups, around a given topic, both within individual groups
and across groups as a whole (Morgan, 1997, p.63). Third, it was important to
determine the relationship between the data, as collected and defined thus
far, and the overall research questions and conceptual framework guiding the
study.
A role-ordered matrix (Miles & Huberman, 1994) was created for each
school. Columns were created for each role group and rows for each of the
pattern codes identified in Table 3.6 above. The benefit of organizing the
data in this fashion was that it allowed me to see how comments varied for
each category by role group and to measure the frequency of comments by
role group.
Figures 3.3 and 3.4 illustrate the frequency of comments for each
category by role group. The data sources for these figures were the focus
groups with teachers, parents, and board members and interviews with
80


principals. The figures illustrate how often participants made comments that
pertained to each of the key categories. In both schools, parents made more
comments regarding curriculum and instruction and board members about
district and community relations more than any of the other categories.
(A
O
(A
C
o
a
(A
£
o
%
rSv0<> ^ ^ r^" ^
# ^ ^ ^
rf'
b- .
s? ^
ST .Jb

/
<5*

rcT ^
o vl#
Categories
Parents
1 Teachers
I Board
D School
leader
Figure 3.3. Frequency of comments by role group in School A
It was not surprising that the school leaders spoke most often about
leadership since a large part of the interviews focused on their role as leaders
of the school. However, in school B, the school leader spoke as often about
leadership as he did district and community relations. Finally, the most often
discussed issue for teachers in School A was district and community relations
while in School B the most frequently mentioned area was the safe and
81


healthy school environment. A discussion of how these data compare with
other data from the survey and documents follows in Chapters 4-6.
Mind mapping (Senge et al.,1994) or cognitive mapping (Miles &
Huberman, 1994), is a process where one makes connections between
words, concepts, and ideas via visual images. This is a free-flowing exercise
Figure 3.4. Frequency of comments by role group at School B.
whereby lines, circles, and arrows are drawn connecting words and concepts
together. In the end, one has visual depiction of the relationships between
these various ideas and concepts. The benefit of such an approach is the
simple and holistic nature of it, the ability to see ones data (as an alternative
to pure textual analysis and discussions of the data) laid out in a single
image, and as an analysis tool to begin to see connections between the data
(Miles & Huberman; Senge et al., 1994).
82


I created several mind maps for each school in order to explore the
connections between the data that I had gathered with (a) the research
questions guiding the study, and (b) the conceptual framework. For example,
one mind map focused on which findings from the data could help answer the
three research questions while another explored the relationship between the
common characteristics of schools that learn and those of the schools in this
study. Finally, a third took the key issues from the charter school research
review presented in Chapter 2 and drew comparisons between these findings
and the study data. Information from these maps was used to create the case
study outlines that were shared with charter school leaders and the school
principals. A further discussion of these data, including the relationships
between the data and the research questions, conceptual framework, and so
forth, is presented in Chapters 4-6.
Conclusion Drawing and Verification. After reducing the data, and
using several means of visualizing and analyzing the data across key
categories, the next step involved validating the findings and then forming
conclusions. The second interviews with principals, and the interviews with
the charter school leaders, provided an opportunity to have peers and study
subjects review draft case studies and initial findings in order to corroborate
the essential facts and evidence (Yin, 1994, p.144). Corrections made via
this process of review increase the construct validity of the study (p.146).
83


Each school principal reviewed the case study draft for her/his school, and a
summary of the key findings across both schools (keeping the names and
locations of the schools anonymous) was shared with the charter school
leaders. Input from these interviewees reflected changes to the final case
studies and overall study conclusions, as discussed in Chapters 4-6.
Another means of verifying or validating the findings involves
triangulating the data (LeCompte & Preissle, 1993; Miles & Huberman, 1994;
Yin, 1994). This means comparing findings from one type of data (e.g., focus
groups) with those from another set (e.g., survey) in order to identify
commonalities or differences. If similar findings occur across the data, the
conclusions drawn are more credible and the potential for replication of the
study to test the theory in different settings increases (Yin). An explanation
about how the data from these various sets compare to one another is
provided in case analyses and cross-case analysis presented in Chapters 4-
6.
Following the verification of the qualitative data, I was able to begin to
develop explanations or theories. According to Miles & Huberman (1994), one
can begin this process if he/she can say (a) we have evolved, or tested a
theory; (b) we have stuck to all of the available, relevant data; (c) there has
been a steady dialogue between our ideas (the theory) and the evidence
(data) (p. 144). Given the various steps taken to analyze the data, including
84


Full Text

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CHARTER SCHOOLS THAT LEARN: CONDITIONS FOR ACHIEVING AND SUSTAINING SUCCESS by Amy Berk Anderson B.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1990 M.A., University of Colorado at Denver, 1998 A thesis submitted to the University of Colorado at Denver in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy I. Educational Leadership and Innovation 2003

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This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy degree by Amy Berk Anderson has been approved by Rodney Muth :l, ZD03 Date

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Anderson, Amy Berk (Ph.D., Educational Leadership and Innovation) Charter Schools That Learn: Conditions for Achieving and Sustaining Success Thesis directed by Professor Rodney Muth ABSTRACT Since the 1991 passage of the first charter school legislation in Minnesota, 39 states have enacted charter laws and nearly 3000 charter schools are operating nationwide. The existing charter-school literature has not focused much on the issues that charter schools face as they move beyond the start-up phase and into the institutionalization of their programs. Using the Schools That Learn framework (Senge et al., 2000), this study investigates the conditions necessary for achieving success as a public school, in general, and in particular, the challenges and opportunities that exist when striving for long-term success as a charter school. Case studies were developed of two Colorado charter schools from the same district. A cross-case analysis compares and contrasts the findings from the two cases and creates a strategy for replicating the study in other settings. A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods were used, including a survey, focus groups, interviews, and document review. The specific research questions guiding the study were (a) Why are these charter schools successful, (b) How are these charter schools evolving as they mature, and (c) What are the characteristics of a Charter School That Learns? Findings from the study indicate that both of these charter schools reflect the majority of the attributes found in Schools That Learn; however, in order to be a Charter School That Learns, additional conditions beyond those identified by Senge et al. are required. A description df such conditions is included in the study's conclusions. Findings from this study are significant because they reflect the issues that second-generation charter schools may be experiencing and they offer specific recommendations for charter schools interested in achieving long-term success as public institutions. Additionally, policy recommendations are provided as a means of improving overall public policy in order to increase the viability and ongoing success of the charter-school movement. This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's thesis. I recommend its publication. Q Signed .__ Rodney Muth ll1

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DEDICATION I dedicate this dissertation to two people in my life, without whom I could never have survived this-experience or finished this document. For Andy, my love, my anchor, my coach. Thank you for giving so much of yourself in order to help me get this done and for being such an incredible father to our children while I worked. I look forward to being together on the weekends now that this is finally done! For Margie,,my friend, colleague, and mentor. Thank you for talking me out of quitting so many times, for listening and advising, and for showing me what is possible in life. You are an inspiration to me and I am so lucky to have met you.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT There are other special people who have supported me in various ways throughout this process. I thank all of you for the many things you have done to help me complete this degree. My parents, Bonnie and Chuck Berk My in-laws, Marianne and Bob Anderson My dear friend, Gina Finney My advisor, Rodney Muth, and committee members, John Augenblick, Bob Palaich, and Mike Murphy My friends and incredible caregivers to my children, Judy and Leslie Myers

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CONTENTS .Figures .......................................................... : ................................ xii Tables .......................... ; ................................................................ xiv CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION .................. : ..................................................... 1 Background of the Problem ................................................... 3 Conceptual Framework ......................................................... 6 Research Questions .............................................................. 7 Methodology ......................................................................... 9 Surveys .................................................................... 10 Interviews ................................................................. 11 Focus Groups ........................................................... 12 Artifacts .................................................................... 13 Data Analysis ........................................................... 14 Findings .............................................................................. 15 Structure of the Dissertation ................................................ 16 2. LITERATURE REVIEW ............................................................ 17 Underpinnings of the Charter School Concept.. .................. 17 VI

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Birth and Evolution of Charter Schools ............................... 21 Types of Charter Schools ......................................... 24 How Charter Schools Compare to Other Public Schools .......................................................... 25 A Review of the Research on Charter Schools ................... 27 Student Achievement ............................................... 28 Access and Impact ................................................... 29 Leadership and Accountability .................................. 31 Finance ..................................................................... 35 Community ............................................................... 37 Areas Where Charter School Research is Lacking ............. 38 Conceptual Framework Guiding this Study ........................ .41 Qualities Inherent in Successful Schools ................. .44 Summary ............................................................................. 53 3. METHODOLOGY ..................................................................... 56 Design ................................................................................. 56 Methods of Data Collection ................................................. 60 Survey ...................................................................... 61 Interviews ................................................................. 66 Focus Groups ........................................................... 67 Document Review .................................................... 71 Vll

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Methods of Data Analysis ................................................... 73 Qualitative Data ........................................................ 73 Quantitative Data ...................................................... 85 Means of Displaying Data ................................................... 90 Summary ............................................................................. 91 4. CASE STUDY OF SCHOOL A ................................................. 93 Description of the School .................................................... 94 Teachers .................................................................. 95 Leadership ................................................................. 98 Educational Program .............................................. 1 00 Student Enrollment and Demographics .................. 1 01 Student Achievement ............................................. 1 03 Findings from the Data ...................................................... 1 06 Qualities In he rent in the Schools ............................ 1 06 Strengths ................................................................ 1 08 Challenges ............................................................. 114 Change ................................................................... 118 Second-Generation Changes ................................. 119 Summary ........................................................................... 124 5. CASE STUDY OF SCHOOL B ............................................... 127 vm

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Description of the School .................................................. 128 Teachers ................................................................ 129 Leadership .............................................................. 131 Educational Program .............................................. 133 Student Enrollment and Demographics .................. 136 Student Achievement ............................................. 138 Findings from the Data ...................................................... 140 Qualities Inherent in the Schools ............................ 141 Strengths ................................................................ 142 Challenges ............................................................. 146 Change ................................................................... 152 Second-Generation Changes ................................. 154 Summary ........................................................................... 160 6. CROSS-CASE ANALYSIS ..................................................... 164 How the Schools Compare to One Another ...................... 164 Findings from the Data ...................................................... 169 Qualities Inherent in the Schools ............................ 170 Strengths ................................................................ 173 Challenges ............................................................. 175 Change ................................................................... 178 Second-Generation Changes ................................. 178 lX

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Summary ........................................................................... 179 7. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS .................................. 181 Why are These Charter Schools Successful? ................... 181 Challenges to This Success ................................... 183 How are These Charter Schools Evolving as they Mature? ..................................................................... 185 School Improvement .............................................. 187 Efficiency ................................................................ 187 Accountability ......................................................... 188 Financial Growth and Stability ................................ 189 Leadership Transitions ........................................... 190 Community Relations ............................................. 191 Diversity .................................................................. 192 What are the Characteristics of a Charter School That Learns? ................. : .......................... 193 Limitations of the Findings and Ideas for Future Research ............................................................... 197 Policy Implications ............................................................. 199 Accountability ......................................................... 200 Diversity .................................................................. 201 Isolation .................................................................. 202 Evaluation and Dissemination of Best Practices ................................................................. 203 X

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Impact on School Districts ...................................... 204 Summary ........................................................................... 205 APPENDIX A. Survey Instrument. ...................................................... 207 B. Participant Consent Form ............................................. 211 C. UCD Human Subject Research Committee Approval ...................................................................... 212 REFERENCES ........... ; ............................ : ................................. 213 XI

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FIGURES Figure 2.1 Student population growth in charter schools from 1995-2001 ............................................................................. 22 3.1 Illustration of the approach used to develop, conduct, and write-up case study findings .......................................................... 59 3.2 Illustration of the approach used to analyze qualitative data .......... 7 4 3.3 Frequency of comments by role group in School A ....................... 81 3.4 Frequency of comments by role group in School 8 ....................... 82 4.1 Comparison of achievement data for School A from 2001-2002 in selected areas ........................................................ 1 05 4.2 Top ranked strengths of School A by survey respondents ........... 1 09 4.3 Top ranked challenges of School A by survey respondents ........ 114 4.4 Influence of various stakeholder groups from School A on the change process ................................................................. 119 4.5 Second-generation changes in School A ..................................... 120 5.1 Comparison of achievement data in School 8, 2001-2002 .......... 139 5.2 Top ranked strengths of School 8 by survey respondents ........... 143 5.3 Top ranked challenges of School 8 by survey respondents ........ 147 xii

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5.4 Influence of various stakeholders groups from School B on the change process ................................................................. 154 5.5 Second-generation changes in School B ..................................... 155 xiii

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TABLES Table 2.1 The five key disciplines of organizational learning ........................ .43 3.1 Survey return totals ........................................................................ 64 3.2 Survey responses by role .............................................................. 64 3.3 Total survey responses by years involved in the school ................ 65 3.4 Key themes used to guide the collection of focus group data ............ ................. : ............................................. 70 3.5 Documents reviewed from each school ......................................... 73 3.6 Final set of categories/patterns deduced from the qualitative data ............................................................................... 78 3.7 Example 1: Variation in responses by school to the statement, "We embrace change at this school" ........................... 87 3.8 Example 2: Variation in responses by school to the statement, "The external community is supportive of my school" .................. ............................................................... 88 4.1 General information about School A .............................................. 95 4.2 Comparison of student demographics: District and School A ............................................................................... 1 02 4.3 School A and the State: Percentages of students scoring proficient or above on the 2002 State Assessments .................... 1 04 xiv

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4.4 Among the statements provided, the qualities that 90% or more of survey respondents agree or strongly agree are present in School A ...................................................................... 1 08 4.5 Areas where School A survey respondents were least likely to agree or strongly agree with the statement provided ............... 1 08 4.6 Relationship of findings for School A with the conceptual framework .................................................................. 125 5.1 General information about School B ............................................ 130 5.2 Comparison of student demographics between District and School B ................................................................... 137 5.3 School B and the State: Percentage ofstudents scoring proficient or above on the 2002 State Assessments .................... 138 5.4 Among the statements provided, the qualities that 90% or more or of survey respondents agree or strongly agree are present in School 8 ...................................................................... 142 5.5 Areas where School B survey respondents were least likely to agree or strongly agree with the statement provided ............... 142 5.6 Results from School B's student survey of social environment ....................................................................... 148 5. 7 Relationship of findings for School B with the conceptual framework .................................................................. 161 6.1 Student enrollment in Schools A and Band the district average for all middle schools in the city ..................................... 165 6.2 2001-2002 student demographics for both schools and the district ............................................................................. 168 6.3 Percent of students scoring proficient and advanced on the state assessment of student performance ................................... 168 XV

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6.4 Significant differences in responses by school regarding the qualities inherent in the schools ............................................. 170 6.5 Variance in response by role group to statements concerning the qualities inherent in the schools .......................... 172 6.6 Significant differences in responses, by school, regarding the strengths of each school ........................................................ 173 6.7 Variances in responses by role group regarding the schools' strengths ....................................................................... :17 4 6.8 Variances in responses by years involved regarding the schools' strengths ........................................................................ 175 6.9 Significant differences in responses, by school, regarding the challenges of each school. ..................................................... 176 6.10 Variances in responses by role group regarding the schools' challenges ... 6.11 Variances in responses by years involved regarding the schools' challenges ...................................................................... 177 7.1 The five key disciplines of organizational learning ....................... 186 7.2 The characteristics of a Charter School That Learns .................. 194 xvi

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Minnesota was the first state to enact charter school legislation in 1991 (Anderson, 1998). That year, the country's first charter school opened its doors to the public. Since then, 38 additional states and the District of Columbia have passed charter school legislation and 2700 charter schools are operating nationwide (Center for Education Reform, 2002a; Education Commission of the States, 2003). Over the past decade, much has been written about charter schools, including technical assistance documents for those who are starting or operating charter schools (Charter Schools Development Center, 2001; Hassel & Hassel, 1998a, b; Hassel & Lin, 1999), policy and fiscal analyses on the impact. of charter schools nationally (RPP International, 2000; Murphy &Shiffman, 2002; Nelson, Muir, & Drown, 2000; Rofes, 1998) and within specific states (Anderson & Hassel, 1999; Fitzgerald, 2001; Hirsch & Anderson, 1999; Wells, 2002), research and opinion pieces focused on the overall benefits and disadvantages of charter schools (Finn, Manno, & Vanourek, 2000; Fuller, 2001; Good & Braden, 2000; Nathan, 1996; Sarason, 1998), and, most recently, comparative research on 1

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the success of charter schools relative to other public schools (Bulkley & Fisler, 2002; Center for Education Reform, 2001; Loveless, 2002; Schroeder, 2002). This existing literature is important for a few reasons. First, it provides timely information and recommendations geared towards improving state and federal charterschool policies. Second, it offers strategies to help new schools navigate their way through the early years of operating a Gharter school by learning from those that have done it previously. And finally, it provides informative lessons for public education in general, because characteristics associated with the success and challenges of charter schools parallel many experiences of any school that is undergoing transformation. However, for charter schools that have been paving the way (have existed for several years and typically are the subjects of the aforementioned research), few resources exist to help them as they move beyond the start-up years and into the institutionalization phase (or the second-generation phase) of operating a charter school. What are the issues that these older charter schools are facing? How does a "successful" charter school (e.g., a school that, among other things, has high student achievement, effective leadership, and committed stakeholders) maintain its success and improve as it matures? And finally, is being a charter school critical to the success of these schools, 2

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or could they continue to do what they are doing as well within the regular public school system? The charter school movement is not just about the passage of new laws and the opening and success of new schools, as has been the primary focus of the literature to date. If this movement is to succeed, charter schools need to demonstrate that they have the capacity and drive to succeed for generations to come. Research focused on these second-generation years is needed in order to inform policy as well as to help these charter schools evolve most effectively and efficiently. Background of the Problem A decade into the charter school movement, veteran charter schools, defined as those that have been operational for about five years or more, are facing a new set of challenges (Anderson & Myers, 2001; Lin, 2001 ). Typically, the preoccupation of the first few years of a charter school's existence is issues of start-up (e.g., establishing a governance structure, recruiting students, ensuring financial stability, finding a permanent home, and implementing and staffing the educational program) (Anderson, 1998; Finn, Manno, & Vanourek, 2000; Fitzgerald, 2001; Nathan, 1996; RPP International, 1997). However, once a school has been operational for a few years and has these basic systems in place, what does it do next? My 3

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assumption, and the focus of this research, is that the school now can focus more time on internal improvements, like adjusting policies based on the growing needs of the school and improving the quality of its educational program . In addition to internal change, charter schools are experiencing more external demands for information that might lead to changes being made within the schools. In this new higher stakes educational policy environment, led nationally by President George W. Bush, the public is becoming increasingly interested in charter schools' performance, academically and otherwise, as compared to other public schools (Anderson & Myers, 2001; Ziebarth, 2003). As is the case with most public schools, increased pressure from these external government entities has instigated a new set of challenges for many charter schools, such as increased emphasis on standardized testing than some schools may desire (Jennings, 2002). This study's focus is on the transition that charter schools experience as they move beyond the start-up/early implementation years and into the second generational phase of a charter school. The study defines "second generation" as the institutionalization of the educational program and overall (and ongoing) school improvement. In addition to examining what charter schools experience during this transition, I conclude the study with discussion 4

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of a framework that is designed for charter schools and inclusive of strategies and opportunities for achieving long-term success of such schools . Given the relative infancy of charter schools and the lack of research focused on this phase of existence within the charter schools research (as discussed above), I have relied heavily on external (non-charter school) literature on school reform, school change, successful schools and school improvement to guide the data collection and overall study design, including the qualities and attributes inherent in successful schools (Boyer, 1995; Fullan, 1993; Ginsberg & Wlodkowski, 2000; Sarason,1990; Senge, Cambron-McCabe, Lucas, Smith, Dutton, & Kleiner, 2000), such as the two I am studying herein. Moreover, I have examined research from the private sector on such topics as entrepreneurs, small business development, and organizational change (Collins & Porras, 2002; Drucker, 1990; FLillan, 2001; Senge, Ross, Smith, Roberts, & Kleiner, 1994). From this research, I have been able to apply lessons learned in the private sector to charter schoolshow entrepreneurs evolve as their businesses change and grow and attributes that are found in visionary and successful companies. Such information is especially informative as charter schools seek to evolve from exciting ideas to viable, long-term enterprises. 5

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Conceptual Framework Schools That Learn, a .framework developed by Senge et al. (2000), was the most comprehensive ofthe school reform models that I examined. After reviewing the research on successful schools and school change, I identified several common areas across all of the literature, including (a) the importance of all stakeholders having a shared vision and aligning their practice with the overall mission and goals of the school; (b) how reflection, evaluation, and inquiry fit into school improvement; (c) the necessity to recognize and make choices, both based on what is relevant for the individual (e.g., student, parent, teacher) while alsoremembering what is best for the school as a whole (e.g., stewardship); and (d) specific qualities inherent in successful schools (e.g., effective leadership, high quality faculty, engaging and challenging curriculum, meaningful parent involvement, community partnerships, collaboration and communication across stakeholder groups, etc.). Senge et al. (2000) brought its five disciplines of organizational learning (personal mastery, shared vision, mental models, team learning, and systems thinking) from the business sector to school settings as a means of engaging participants in the renewal experience and encouraging them to institutionalize processes for ensuring a continued focus on mission and vision, reflection and evaluation, training, and organizational change. Out of 6

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that experience evolved the Schools That-Learn framework, a design that incorporates the use of the five disciplines for organizational learning (see Chapter 2, Table 2.2) in schools and that identifies the specific qualities inherent in Schools That Learn (see chapters 4 and 5, Tables 4.6 and 5.7). In addition to capturing the key qualities of successful school reform, this design works well for charter schools because of the explicit emphasis and extensive discussion in the book on the roles of and relationships between the key participants in a school that learns (parents, teachers, community, administrators, school board, students). Typically, charter schools are started by parents, teachers, and community members, and part of the design and evolution of the school involves defining the roles and responsibilities of these stakeholders. In this study, I bring together the literature on charter schools and the Schools That Learn framework in order to identify the characteristics necessary for achieving long-term success as a school, and as a charter school, in particular. As an outcome of this study, I discuss a revised framework that links practice with research in a way that is geared towards charter schools' unique needs. Research Questions The following are the specific research questions guiding this study. 1. Why are these charter schools successful? 7

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2. How are these charter schools evolving as they grow in age and experience? 3. What are the characteristics of a Charter School That Learns? I chose these questions because I wanted to first determine what made a charter school successful and how the success of a charter school compared with the success of any school. Once I had identified what made a charter school successful, I wanted to examine whether barriers to its ongoing success were identifiable, and if so, what those were. Again, the purpose here was to identify the challenges while also recognizing when the challenges were unique to a charter school versus issues any school faces as it matures. Finally, following the collection and analysis of data related to the first two questions, I could answer the third question and specifically discuss the qualities that a charter school needs in order to be successful as well as ongoing strategies anct systems that need to be in place for a charter school to achieve long-term success as a community institution. By identifying this third step as the creation of a Charter School That Learns framework, it suggests that differences do exist between a school that learns, as identified by Senge et al. (2000), and a charter school that learns. Chapter 7, the study's conclusions, discusses these differences along with the relationship of the findings to the research questions. 8

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. Methodology This study examines two charter schools, both located in the same school district in Colorado. Senge et al.'s (2000) Schools That Learn framework informs the overall methodological design of the study. In addition, I draw on Ginsberg and Wlodkowski's (2000) expertise in adult learning and school renewal, especially with the design of the focus groups, and I utilize strategies from Miles & Huberman (1994), Morgan (1997), and Yin (1994) in case study design and qualitative data collection and analysis. The combination of these approaches provides a structure within which to shape my questionnaires, interviews, and focus groups and a mechanism within which to organize and analyze my data. A multiple-case design is most appropriate, as I examine two charter schools (Yin). Each site is an individual case. I chose two sites, and therefore two cases, because I felt that this would make my study more compelling and credible. While both sites are charter schools serving the same community, they offer different educational programs, have different board structures, and serve slightly different constituents. In addition to studying the individual experiences of each school as a case in its own right, I examine whether the somewhat varied structures of these entities makes a difference in how they tackle issues. I also spend time 9

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comparing data between the two sites. Each case contains multiple units of analysis, all tied back to the research questions and conceptual framework, including the various participants engaging in school reform/change (parents, students, teachers, administrators, board, community), the critical policies and activities that influence their experiences, and how the findings from this study (and the experiences of these two schools) can inform the educational community. As necessary, I draw on tools and information from the educational and private sector research in order to further understanding and analyze the change process, including the themes and issues that emerge in the data. Finally, I compare findings from this study with the experiences of other charter schools in the broader community. This exploratory case study (Yin, 1994) utilizes both qualitative and quantitative data collection strategies, including a survey, interviews, focus groups, and artifact collection (documents and archival records). Research subjects include parents, teachers, board members, school administrators, paraprofessionals, other school staff members, and selected members of the state's charter school resource center. Surveys A closed-ended survey (that did contain a couple of spots where people could insert an open-ended answer to an "other" choice) was 10

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distributed to all the staff members and parents at each school (see Appendix A). The survey captured participants' perceptions about the school, in general, and specifically in areas related to the Schools That Learn framework, such as the mission/vision (shared, alignment with school activities), collaboration across stakeholder groups, and reflection and evaluation. Additionally, the survey included questions related to being a charter school. I used SPSS (Version 9.0) to analyze these data. In conducting this analysis, I identified several areas where both schools shared similar views. I also discovered places where differences in opinions existed, either by school or role group(parents views versus those of staff members) or based on the number of years one had been involved in the school (people newer to the school having a different opinion than those who had been involved for several years). Findings from the survey are presented in each school's case study (Chapters 4 and 5) and in the cross-case analysis (Chapter 6). Interviews Four one-on-one principal interviews were conducted (two per school) in the beginning of data collection and again after an initial analysis of the survey and focus group data. The purpose of the first interviews was to gain some familiarity with the schools, including their strengths and challenges, 11

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prior to developing the survey or designing the focus groups. The purposes of the second set of interviews were (a) to ask for clarification around certain items(e.g., issues/items that had surfaced in the various data collection strategies of which I was unfamiliar and needed clarification in order to best interpret the data) and (b) to share some initial findings with the principals for their reaction and input. All interviews were taped and transcribed. I conducted one-on-one interviews with two well-respected and experienced charter-school leaders following the collection and initial analysis of all other data to determine whether the experiences of these two schools are comparable to those of other similarly situated charter schools in the state. Focus Groups I conducted six focus groups, including a parent focus group, a teacher focus group and a board focus group at each of the two schools. I utilized strategies from Ginsberg and Wlodkowski (2000) when designing and facilitating the focus groups and from Morgan (1997) for the analysis and reporting of the data. The focus groups provided an opportunity to explore issues in depth-something that I was unable to do with the survey. Moreover, it gave individual stakeholder groups the opportunity to talk about their schools with their peers; an exercise that most stated that they enjoyed 12

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and from which they learned a lot. This, too, allowed me to determine whether differences in opinions existed across stakeholder groups and across schools. Further discussion of the focus groups and the data from these groups is found in Chapter 4. Artifacts "For case studies, the most important use of documents is to corroborate and augment evidence from other sources" (Yin, 1994, p. 81 ). Various documents and archival records were collected, including district and school level data on student and school characteristics and achievement, products created by the schools (e.g., standards, benchmarks, annual reports, sample lesson plans, school improvement plans, etc.); surveys, studies or evaluations ofor about the schools; and other items that emerged during the course of study. These data provided a level of detail about the schools that went beyond what I could capture in a survey or hour-long focus groups and interviews. Specifically, I gained insight into the history of the schools, read detailed information about their curricula and other aspects of their educational programs, examined, and was able to compare within and across schools, data on student achievement and demographics, and learned about other areas of importance, such as stakeholder satisfaction, discipline policies, and expectations, roles, and responsibilities of the various 13

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. stakeholder groups. Data from these sources are incorporated into the school case studies presented in Chapters 4 and 5. Data Analysis As a means of strengthening the reliability of the study, I have chosen to use multiple sources of data. The advantage of this approach, data triangulation, is that any "finding or conclusion is likely to be much more convincing and accurate if it is based on several different sources of information" (Yin, 1994, p. 92). The overall analytic strategy guiding my data analysis is pattern-matching logic. "Such a logic compares an empirically based pattern with a predicted one. If the patterns coincide, the results can help a case study strengthen its internal validity" (Yin, p.1 06). Based on the research guiding the empirically-based Schools That Learn (Senge et al., 2000) framework, I was able to examine how closely the schools in my study reflected the characteristics of those in schools that learn. Additionally, I looked for additional emergent patterns that fell outside of the conceptual framework, specifically those that I found to be relevant to charter schools in this particular phase of their existence. I decided against using a qualitative software package to analyze the focus group and interview data. Instead, I used Microsoft Word to store the qualitative data and coded the "old fashioned" way (cutting and pasting). I relied on Miles and Huberman (1994 ), 14

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Morgan (1997), and Yin (1994) for guidance on effective strategies for analyzing and coding qualitative research. Chapter 3 discusses the study's methc;>dology in detail, including the strategies used to design, _collect, and analyze the data. Findings Chapters 4-6 discuss the study's findings. Case studies of each school are presented in Chapters 4 and 5. These studies provide descriptive information about each school (e.g., educational programs, student demographics, grades served, governance structure, student achievement scores) and synthesize the findings from the various data sources (survey, focus groups, interviews, and documents). Chapter 6 discusses how the two schools compare to one another and identifies other findings from the data, including areas where differences in opinions (i.e., based on responses to survey questions) were significant across role groups and based on the number of years involved in the school. While there are many similarities between the two schools, after reading these chapters you will find that differences (including significant ones) exists as well. 15

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Structure of the Dissertation This dissertation is organized according to a traditional format. This first chapter, Chapter 1, provided an overview of the dissertation report, including summaries of what one will find in subsequent chapters. Chapter 2 provides a thorough review of the literature related to the issues and problems I am exploring herein, including a discussion of the theoretical framework guiding the study. Chapter 3 describes the study's methodology, including all instruments and methods of data analysis used during the course of the research. Chapters 4 and 5 present the data findings in the form of each school's case study. Chapter 6 compares and contrasts the data from both schools in the form of a cross-case analysis. Chapter 7 summarizes the dissertation report, discusses the Charter Schools that Learn framework, and assesses the implications of the study for policy, practice and future research. 16

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CHAPTER2 LITERATURE REVIEW At the close nf this chapter, you should have a good understanding of charter schools, including the underpinnings of the charter-school movement, the birth and evolution of charter schools, and a review of existing literature on charter schools. Due to the relative newness of charter schools, other educational and private-sector research on organizational growth, success and change is examined, followed by a discussion of the relationship between this literature and the overall study, including where the gaps exist in the charter school literature, how the other literature fills in those gaps, and the conceptual framework guiding the study. Underpinnings of the Charter School Concept An educator named Ray Budde introduced the idea of charter schools when he recommended that schools give teachers "charters." Similar to sailors of previous days, exploring un-chartered territories and then reporting back to their communities about what they found, these teacher charters 17

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would give educators opportunities to create innovative programs within schools and districts and report back their findings from these efforts to their respective communities (Nathan, 1996). Chartering, therefore, became an opportunity to pilot teaching and learning reforms that, if successful, might be used to benefit other schools within the district. In 1988, the late Albert Shanker, former President of the American Federation of Teachers, took Budde's idea one step further, recommending that entire schools be chartered, not just individual, independent pilot programs (Anderson, 1998). The concept of charter schools evolved out of numerous educational reform efforts of previous decades geared towards providing choices, and thus expanding educational opportunity, and giving schools greater control over day-to-day operations and decisions. In the late 1960s, parents, teachers, and community members created the St. Paul Open School and other innovative public schools. These schools pioneered ideas like internship programs, site-based decision-making, and family involvement. The federal magnet program of the 1970s allocated funding to states to create schools of choice within districts as a means of promoting racial integration and choice within and across communities. And, following Minnesota's lead (in the late 1980s), many states enacted statewide choice programs, such as open enrollment (allowing students to attend a school 18

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other than their neighborhood school) and postsecondary options (opportunities for students to take college-level courses while still enrolled in high school) (Anderson, 1998; Nathan, 1996). The core beliefs of those advocating for greater school choice and educational opportunity, and thus influencing the charter-school movement in such ways as those discussed above, are that school choice will liberate American elementary and secondary education from bureaucracy and foster the necessary conditions for greater student satisfaction and learning while giving parents greater control over their children's learning. Arguments in favor of school choice generally fall within four distinct areas: (a) education, (b) economics, (c) policy, and (d) governance (Murphy & Shiffman, 2002; Raywid, 1992). As proposed by Mario Fantini (1973), the core. belief of education-driven choice advocates is that differences exist among children, as well as among teaching styles, and that a standard, one best educational system is inappropriate and insufficient to meet all students' unique learning needs and interests. Children will learn more and perform better in learning environments they have chosen than in those that have simply been assigned to them. Moreover, parents are likely to be more involved when they have been involved in selecting schools for their children (Raywid, 1989; Tyack, 197 4 ). Economics-driven choice proponents stress the importance of 19

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competition, consumer satisfaction, and markets as necessary elements for improving schools, driving bad schools out of business, and preparing students for the workforce (Chubb & Moe, 1990; Coulson, 1999; Friedman & Friedman, 1970; Osborne & Gaebler, 1993). Policy-driven choice initiatives utilize choice as a vehicle for furthering other school reform initiatives, such as equity (Coons, Clune, &Sugarman, 1970) or educational excellence (Kolderie, 1985). And finally, governance-driven choice rests on the desire to remove education from the arena of collective decision and return its control to individuals, specifically parents (Chubb & Moe; Coons & Sugarman, 1978; Coulson; Friedman & Friedman, 1970). Those involved in designing charter-school legislation believed that merely increasing educational opportunity via school choice was insufficient (Anderson, 1998). Thus, in addition to choice, the concept of charter schools draws heavily on the restructuring movement of the late 1980s/early 1990s, in particular the emphasis on decentralization and deregulation in educationoperational, programmatic, and financial autonomy, including greater control over decisions at the school site by teachers, principals, and parents (Murphy & Shiffman, 2002). Drawing on the successes and lessons learned from previous eras concerning school choice, deregulation, and decentralization, the charter-school movement represents a blending of these concepts and 20

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was designed to accomplish five goals (Murphy & Shiffman, Nathan, 1996): (a) to provide choice among public schools for families and their children; (b) to foster entrepreneurial opportunities for educators and parents to create the kinds of schools they believe make the most sense; (c) to make schools explicitly responsible and accountable for improving achievement, as measured by standardized tests and other measures; (d) to introduce carefully designed competition into public education; and (e) to decentralize control to the local unitof operation {the school site). Birth and Evolution of Charter Schools Charter schools are publicly funded schools that are freed from many rules and regulations to which other public schools must adhere in exchange for accountability for specific results (Anderson & Myers, 2001 ). The first state to pass charter-school legislation was Minnesota in 1991. Since then, an additional 39 states have enacted laws allowing the creation of such schools. Now, 2,700 schools serve some 600,000 students in 34 states and the District of Columbia (see Figure 1 ). This amounts to 1% of the nation's total enrollment in public schools and 3% of the total public schools operating nationwide (National Center for Education Statistics, 2001 ). Two-thirds of the nations charter schools are concentrated in six states: Arizona, California, 21

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Michigan, Texas, Florida, and North Carolina. Some reasons why these states have more schools include more charters being allowed under the law than in other states, the size of the state, the number of entities allowed to authorize charters, and the number of years that charter-schoollegislation has been law (Anderson & Myers; Manno, 2002). 600,000 500,000 400,000 i 300,000 200,000 100,000 0 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 .2001 Figure 2.1. Student population growth in charter schools from 1995-2001 (Center for Education Reform, 2001 ). The types of entities that are empowered by state statute to charter schools vary. These charter-granting entities (or authorizers) include state boards or departments of education, school districts, universities (public and private), municipalities, and special authorizers established by legislative action to oversee charter schools (e.g., D.C. Public Charter School Board, Arizona State Board for Charter Schools). More than 450 authorizers provide oversight to the nation's 2,700 charter schools. The most common type of authorizer is a local school district (because most states preferred to keep decision making and oversight of charters in the hands of their local school 22

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districts-local control-instead of with an external entity), and about one third of all the authorizers nationwide are school districts located in California (due to the size of this state-it has more school districts than most other states-coupled with the length of time it has had charter-school legislationlonger than most states)(NationaiAssociation of Charter School Authorizers, 2000). Given the growth in charter schools thus far, it is likely that the number of charter schools will continue to grow (Good & Braden, 2000; Hassel, 1999). A caveat, of course, is that innovation is vulnerable to shifting political agendas (Kingdon, 1995). Notably, however, charter schools have consistently enjoyed strong bi-partisan support because they are widely regarded as a compromise between controversial voucher proposals and conventional approaches to public education (Anderson, 1998; Hassel, 1999; Wohlstetter & Griffin, 1998). Another factor that might slow down the growth of charter schools is the number of individuals or groups interested in starting these schools. It takes a lot of time and commitment and vision. Some argue that the number of passionate people willing to take on this challenge is diminishing (Manno, 2002). 23

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Types of Charter Schools Charter schools are held to a degree of accountability previously unseen in public education: if a school does not meet the goals set forth in its charter (a performance-based contract with its authorizing agency), it can be closed. To date, 194 charter schools nationwide have been closed. The majority of these closures were due to fiscal problems or mismanagement; however, others were closed as a result of academic failure, low enrollment, or other problems (Center for Education Reform, 2002b ). While the level of autonomy granted to charter schools varies greatly by state legislation, charters commonly have greater decision-making authority .in such areas as staffing, budget, educational programming, and governance. Like all public schools, however, charters are supposed to be open to all students, non selective and non-discriminatory in enrollment, nonsectarian, and tuition-free. Further, charter schools are bound by the same constitutional and civil rights laws governing all public schools, including special education obligations (Anderson, 1998; Finn et al., 2000; Good & Braden, 2000; Hassel, 1999; Nathan, 1996). Typically, the greatest differences between charter schools are seen in philosophy, leadership, and governance. Some charter schools were once private or public schools and have converted to charter status; however, the 24

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majority of charter schools are newly created schools (RPP International, 2000; SRI, 2002). Across the country, charters have been developed in response to community needs by a wide range of individuals and organizations-educators, parents, educational institutions (including colleges and universities), foundations, community-based organizations, such as human service agencies, museums, and other cultural institutions, businesses, and partnerships among such groups (Anderson, 1998; Gill, Timpane, Ross, & Brewer, 2002). Additionally, a number of charter-school boards contract with private companies to manage their schools or utilize comprehensive school reform designs to guide their philosophy and curriculum (Finn et al., 2000; Hassel, 1998). How Charter Schools Compare to Other Public Schools Most charter schools are small schools. The median enrollment is 137 students, compared to about 475 stL,Jdents in other public schools (RPP International, 2000). Problems with small schools, especially high schools, are that they are often unable to offer the amenities of a traditional school, such as an athletic program. The advantages of small schools-the trend with charter schools-are (Medler, Hassel, & Cittone, 2002) 1. They create a sense of belonging and community; significantly improving attendance, graduation, safety, and student participation in 25

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extracurricular activities and increased rates of enrollment in postsecondary institutions. 2. The significantly improve the academic performance of underprivileged children, closing the achievement gap. 3. They facilitate other effective reforms. The small size of the school creates the potential for a more personalized, professional community, often a preface in adopting and implementing school reforms. Studies examining the reasons why parents choose charter schools identified educational programs, opportunities for parental involvement, safety, better teachers, location, and dissatisfaction with the previous school as motivating factors (Bulkley & Fisler, 2002). Approximately 70% of charter schools nationwide were new schools (like School B in this study), 20% were former district-run schools (like School A in this study), and 1 0% were former private schools (RPP International, 1998). Charter schools' grade configurations typically differ from those of other public schools (e.g., K-8 or K-12) that follow more traditional elementary, middle, and high school patterns. This can be partially attributed to the number of charter schools that have yet to reach full capacity and are currently serving only a few grades. Often, charter schools start small and increase enrollment and grades served over the course of a few years (SRI International, 2002). Nationally, students in charter schools have similar demographic characteristics as students in all public schools. However, when data are disaggregated, variations occur, 26

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including increased segregation in some communities as a result of charter schools (Good & Braden, 2000). On average, charter schools enroll a slightly higher percentage of students eligible for free and reduced lunch than do all public schools; however, they serve fewer students with disabilities-eight percent served in charters versus 11 percent for all schools nationally (RPP International, 2000). A Review of the Research on Charter Schools The challenges of a new charter school can be quite different from those of a school that has been operational for several years. New charter schools face such challenges as writing the charter application and seeking approval from the authorizing entity, dealing with political opposition, building a cohesive and shared vision for the school, finding and funding an appropriate facility, hiring and securing a good principal and quality teachers, recruiting families and enrolling sufficient numbers of students and developing effective systems of school governance and management (Anderson, 1998; Finn et al., 2000; Nathan, 1996). Much of the charter school literature to date has focused on helping newer schools anticipate, address, and resolve these types of start-up issues (Charter Schools Development Center, 2001; Finn et al., 2000; Hassel & Lin, 1999; Nathan, 27

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1996) and on the "fiscal, legal, and bureaucratic issues in the charter school development and approval process" (Wohlstetter & Griffin, 1998, p. 2) . As the charter-school movement ages and the number of students served grows, more research examining the impacts of these schools is emerging in such areas as: (a) student achievement, including how well charter-school students are doing on standardized tests relative to non charter schools; (b) access and impact, including who is attending charter schools, how well charter schools are doing serving the needs of all students, and the affects of these schools on school districts; (c) leadership and accountability, including who is responsible for the success, and lack thereof, of charter schools; (d) fiscal issues of and implications for charter schools; and (e) community, including how charter schools create a sense of community and interact with their surrounding communities. A summary of this research follows. Student Achievement Results about how well charter schools are doing in regard to student achievement are mixed (Bulkley & Fisler, 2002; Gillet al., 2001 ). Several statewide studies have examined the impact of charter schools on student achievement in those states. Some have found charter-school students doing better than their non-charter peers (Colorado Department of Education, 2001; 28

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Gronberg & Jansen, 2001; Salmon, Paark, & Garcia, 2001 ), others have found that charter schools are doing about the same as their non-charter peers (Bettinger, 1999; Illinois State Board of Education, 2001), and yet others have found charter-school students to be doing worse than their non charter peers (Loveless, 2002). Charter advocates argue that such studies lump all charter schools together, are "snapshots" of how well charters are doing at a given time or on a given day, and fail to examine student achievement gains over time (Charter Friends National Network, 2002); however, with the recent reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, all public schools, charter and non-charter alike, are now required to demonstrate gains in student achievement over time (Herdman, Smith, & Skinner, 2002). Charter-school detractors argue that charter schools are not doing any better academically than their non-charter counterparts yet they continue to drain resources from the regular public schools, thereby increasing problems for all schools {Good & Braden, 2000; Wells, 2002). Access and Impact In general, students in charter schools reflect students in all public schools; however, charter schools in some states serve significantly higher percentages of minority or economically disadvantaged students (RPP International, 2000) while those in other states serve significantly fewer or 29

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serve them inadequately (Wells, 2002). About 70% of charter schools have a student population that is similar to that in their surrounding district (RPP International). The demand for charter schools is high, as is satisfaction from students and parents (Finn et al., 2000; Manno, 2002; RPP International; SRI International, 2002); however, confusion exists among authorizers and charter schools regarding who is responsible, legally and fiscally, for special education (and this carries over to other federal programs, such as Title I). Variance in state charter laws and special education systems, combined with a general lack of serious attention to this issue for the first several years charter schools were in existence, has exacerbated the problem (Anderson & Myers, 2001 ). While charter schools have not induced drastic changes in district policies (Teske, Schneider, Buckley, & Clark, 2000), they have had an impact on school districts. Faced with competition from charter schools, many districts have become more service oriented and responsive to parents and students and have created new programs to meet parental and student demands or to compete with the charter schools in their area (Ericson & Silverman, 2001 ). 30

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Leadership and Accountability Seymour Sarason (1998) argues that one of the critical reasons for charter school failure is the ignorance of charter-schoolleaders about what creating a new system entails. By nature of the charter-school concept, and by choice, charter-school administrators typically operate their schools without the infrastructure and supports of the district system. However, when they run into problems, charter schools usually look first to their district for help (Bulkley & Fisler, 2002). Charter-school leaders have diverse backgrounds and experiences, including parents, teachers, business people and traditionally certified school administrators. "School leadership provides the compass for development and sustenance of the charter school as a learning community; a key component of leadership is negotiating many role demands" (Wohlstetter & Griffin, 1998, p. 19). Successful charter-school leaders are those who are skilled at balancing the managerial and educational needs of the school (Anderson & Myers, 2001 ). Charter schools face all the challenges of a start up business, in addition to the daunting responsibilities. of running a public school, and in many cases (depending on state law), a non-profit corporation (Anderson & Myers, 2001 ). Unlike a principal in a district-run school, charter school administrators typically spend much of their time on non-educational 31

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tasks (e.g., issues related to finance, governance, and facilities) in addition to providing educational leadership (Bowman, 2000; Finn et al., 2000; Hassel, 1999; RPP International, 2000). The greater level of autonomy a school has, the more time the school leader typically spends on managerial responsibilities, leaving less time to focus on teaching and learning. School leaders with previous experience in private school settings or site-based management schools were better equipped to handle running a charter school (Wohlstetter & Griffin). Leadership at a charter school does not rest solely on the shoulders of the school administrator. This responsibility is shared with the charter school's governing board, and in some instances it is also shared with a for profit school management company, hired to operate certain aspects of the school (Murphy & Shiffman, 2002). Unlike a regular public school, governed by the district school board, charter schools have their own, on-site, governing board, the makeup of which varies by school. Most state laws do not impose requirements about the school's governance structure beyond requiring a description of it within the school's charter. However, some states do impose requirements. For example, Minnesota requires that a majority of a board's members be certified teachers, although on a case by case basis, a school can seek a waiver (Education Commission of the States, 2003). In 32

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Colorado, most boards include parents and many schools are governed by boards comprised exclusively of parents (Fitzgerald, 2000). The most common leadership structure is a board with a school administrator (Murphy & Shiffman). Board and school administrators in successful charter schools support each other fully in their efforts to create an economically and educationally viable school '(Bowman, 2000; Finn et al., 2000; Hassel, 1999). A challenge, however, is identifying and defining the appropriate roles of the board, versus the administrator, and together developing the capacity to oversee a school's operations (requires expertise in financial and legal issues, among others) (Fitzgerald, 2000; Nathan, 1996). Accountability is a critical issue, as the premise of a charter school is that in exchange for freedom from various rules and regulations, the charter school will be held accountable for specific results (Anderson, 1998; Hassel, 1999; Nathan, 1996). However, some argue that the level of accountability to which charter schools are held is insufficient, primarily because of the lack of evidence required of a charter by its authorizer to demonstrate its effectiveness in meetings the goals specified in its charter contract (Fuller, 2000). Thus, the burden of creating an accountable system does not rest solely on the shoulders of charter schools. Charter schools are active participants in designing the system, including the measures that will be used 33

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to assess their progress. Moreover, charter schools are typically responsible for collecting much of the data that the authorizer reviews. Ultimately, however, it is the authorizer that is charged with evaluating the school and making important decisions about charter school renewals (Hassel & Herdman, 2000). New reforms take time to develop effective systems (Sarason, 1998; Senge, 2000). As charter-school authorizers grant and work with increasing numbers of charter schools, their systems appear to be improving (Hassel & Herdman). This includes improved processes for evaluating charter school applications. An increasing number of authorizers use accountability plans to create a systematic approach to oversight during the term of the charter. They establish a set of mutually understood expectations in such areas as student performance, charter compliance, and fiscal management. Additionally, authorizers are starting to develop charter school renewal and revocation policies and practices to provide clear guidance and a consistent structure for evaluating school progress (Anderson & Myers, 2001; Hassel & Herdman). Despite progress in developing comprehensive, effective accountability systems, challenges persist. Authorizers that are new to this role require support, guidance and resources to develop effective systems. In addition, many veteran authorizers are able to provide guidance; however, 34

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they still struggle with holes in policies and practice in their respective locations (Charter Schools Development Center, 2000; Hassel& Herdman, 2000). For example, it appears that it may be easier for authorizers to develop a set of policies and criteria than it is to make a concrete decision about whether a charter school should be renewed. Research by Bulkley (2000) supports this notion. She found that despite differences in accountability approaches, authorizers share similar challenges: 1. Educational performance is difficult to define and measure. 2. Teachers, parents, and become invested in their charter.schools. In the event of a potential closure, a struggle ensues between destroying the school community or serving the public interest. 3. Finding the right balance between advocacy and accountability can be difficult. Even among authorizers, some are viewed as highly invested in the charter movement (and may be criticized for being too lenient on charter schools), while others are perceived as philosophically opposed (and may be criticized for being too tough). Finance Two issues fall within the category of finance: general operating funding and facilities funding. Since the inception of charter schools, many have argued that charter schools drain resources from regular public schools and thereby have a negative cost impact on public education (Good & Braden, 2000; Molnar, 1996; Wells, 2002). In terms of costs to the existing 35

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system, a new cost associated with charter school authorization exists (Hirsch & Anderson, 1999). The time to develop and implement an effective accountability system, to review charter applications, and so forth, requires adequate resources. Authorizers are becoming aware of this need and, where possible, are beginning to allocate resources within their budgets accordingly (Anderson & Myers, 2001 ). When insufficient resources are budgeted, problems can occur. In places where the overall funding of public schools is in crisis, increased friction between charter schools and authorizers abounds. However, even in the highest funded systems, competition for resources between charter schools and districts is inevitable due to the market-based nature of charter schools (Anderson, 1998; Charter Friends National Network, 1999; Finn et al., 2000; Hirsch & Anderson, 1999). In previous decades, the funding of school facilities was a local funding responsibility with states providing the resources to support general operating expenses. However, in recent years states have become more involved in facilities financing largely because many local school districts do not have the resources to sufficiently meet their facilities needs (Education Commission of the States, 1998). The emergence of charter schools has added yet another dimension to the already challenging issue of paying for school facilities (Anderson, 1998). Since districts often struggle with their own facility issues, 36

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it is not always possible to provide a facility for charter school use. If a .charter school does not receive a facility from its authorizer to use, it must find a facility elsewhere within the community and pay for this facility with its general operating revenues and any additional funding obtained from other sources. The biggest challenges in this area are having access to a pool of capital to build or renovate a facility and securing an ongoing stream of revenue to pay back a loan or initial capital investment over time (Anderson & Hassel, 1999; Caldwell & Arrington, 2000; Charter Friends National Network, 1999). Community Despite the relative growth and success of charter schools, many of those involved in these schools feel isolated from their surrounding communities (Fuller, 2000). The nature of charter schools encourages such isolation (Weiss, 1997). Some charter schools have done a better job than others in moving beyond this isolation and forming meaningful and useful partnerships with local, state, and nationally-based individuals, groups, and institutions (Bulkley & Fisler, 2002). And, those charter schools located in "charter friendly" districts tend to feel less isolated than those located in hostile districts. The formation of such external partnership seems to be critical to the long-term success of a charter school and the ongoing satisfaction of its constituents (Fuller, 2000; Weiss). 37

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Areas Where Charter School Research is Lacking As the previous section illustrates, a decent research base is emerging on the longer-term impacts of charter schools; however, much of this research focuses more on results from previous years and a relatively small number of schools and less on the issues and challenges that such schools currently face or that lie ahead for these charter schools (Fuller, 2000). For those charter schools that have been paving the way, those that have been in existence for several years and typically are the subjects of the aforementioned research, few resources exist to help them navigate beyond start-up and into the institutionalization phase (or the second generation phase) of operating a charter schooL Some of the research discussed above might raise the issues, but only one study that I found in the literature actually looked closely within charter schools and discussed how charter schools "go about creating and sustaining their learning communities for all students" (Wohlstetter & Griffin, 1998, p.3). In their study, Wohlstetter & Griffin (1998) examined 17 charter schools from three states. The schools reflected different levels of schooling, size, and student composition. The study's authors identified four critical components that charter schools used to create and sustain themselves as learning communities: 38

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1. School Mission-when the mission is clear and specific, the school is better able to translate its mission into practice. 2. Instructional Program-schools with high quality instructional programs have clear curricula and pedagogy and teachers who support high levels of achievement among all students. 3. Accountability System-embracing accountability and working internally as a school and with external entities (e.g., the authorizer) to create clear, efficient, and tangible methods for assessing performance, communicating results about this performance, and making changes based on the data. 4. School Leadership-the ability of the school leader to negotiate the varying demands of their role, including educational and managerial responsibilities, and creating a system of leadership that works best for the particular school community. While this study provided good information about the experiences of charter schools within each of these four areas, it did not find schools that fit all four criteria. For example, some schools had done well with leadership, yet they were struggling with accountability. Further, it fell short of my needs by focusing its recommendations on strategies for helping those who were designing new charter schools or drafting charter school legislation to create schools from the onset that incorporated the four qualities discussed above, thereby preventing problems down the road. Since the focus of my study is on schools that have been operational for several years and have many of these qualities in place already (as discussed further in Chapters 4 and 5), what it did not provide was a discussion of the issues that older charter 39

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schools face and recommendations for moving charter schools beyond start up and into the institutionalization of their programs. What I examine in this study, are the issues that these older charter schools are facing now and how they compare with the issues of newer schools, such as those identified by Wohlstetter & Griffin (1998). How does a "successful" charter school (e.g., one that already encompasses the qualities discussed by Wohlstetter & Griffin, a school that, among other things, has high student achievement, effective leadership, and committed stakeholders) maintain and improve on its success as it matures? And finally, is being a charter school critical to the success of these schools, or could they do what they are doing as well within the regular public school system? In other words, what, if anything, about being a charter school contributes to these schools' success? While this study draws from and builds on the charter-school literature, it also relies heavily on educational and private-sector research on the change process and successful organizational growth and development. It was necessary to look outside of charter schools at such literature in order to create a conceptual framework for the study that could be used,-in conjunction with the charter research, to shape my research design, data 40

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collection, and analysis strategies. A discussion of this literature, along with its application to charter schools, follows. Conceptual Framework Guiding this Study Senge et al. (2000) have adapted their work in business settings for educators via a framework presented in their newest book, Schools that Learn. I chose this as the conceptual framework for this study because after reviewing it, along with other research on successful school reform discussed below, it became apparent that, more than any other model, this one contained all of the important components to successful school change and renewal that I had identified in my research review. Among other things, it recognizes the importance of all stakeholders having a shared vision and aligning their practice with the overall mission and goals of the school. It discusses the importance of reflection, evaluation, and inquiry among stakeholders and the necessity to recognize and make choices both based on what is relevant for the individual (e.g., student, parent, teacher) while also remembering what is best for the school (e.g., stewardship). And by using their model as a mechanism for change in school settings, Senge et al., have been able to identify specific qualities inherent in schools that learn (or schools that are successful). 41

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According to the authors, schools can be "re-created, made vital, and sustainably renewed not by fiat or command, and not by regulation, but by taking a learning orientation. This means involving everyone in the system in expressing their aspirations, building their awareness, and developing their capabilities together'' (Fullan, 1991, p. 5). By involving everyone, this includes those participating in the three primary systems impacting schools: the classroom, the school, and the community. Individuals within each of these groups are often interchangeable and the three systems are mutually influential. All three need to be working together in order for schools to learn, and they need to believe in and adopt the five key disciplines of organizational learning (Table 2.1) in order to be true learning organizations engaging in continuous improvement and renewal. The Schools That Learn framework provides a comprehensive lens through which I collect and analyze data from the charter schools that I examined, as well as a vehicle through which to discuss the results. Next, I review the broader research on school success and change. Table 2.1 identifies, in italics, where the key themes of successful school change discussed below fall within the five learning disciplines. In addition to capturing the key qualities of successful school reform, this design works well for charter schools because of the explicit emphasis 42

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I I I Table 2.1 The five ke y disciplines of organizational/earning Personal Mastery (re/evanc e, reflection ) Shared (shared Vision vision) Mental M odels (reflectio n, e, re/evanc attitudes :!perception s) Team Le arning (aligning goals/pra ctices with reflection) mission, Systems Thinking (ref/ectio n, evaluatio n) -practice of articulating a coherent image of your personal vision alongside a realistic assessment of the current reality of your life today -can expand your capacity to make better choices and to achieve more of the results you desire in life -people with common vision working together to nourish an organization and to create their future' creating a sense of community in organizations -reflection and inquiry among participants leading to a stronger sense of community, commitment, and improved communication among participants -group interaction, collective learning in order to reach common goals within and between participant groups -utilizing tools and techniques that help participants understand how to embrace change in order to have growth and over time and extens ive discussion in the book on the roles of and relationships betweenth e key participants in a School That Learns (parent, teachers, community administrators, school board, students). Lack of clarity about the roles and r esponsibilities of these stakeholders or a missed opportunity to include an important stakeholder group in a meaningful way could tarnish the schoolcha nge effort. Since charter schools rely so heavily on various stakehold er groups but may not know exactly how to include groups in 43

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meaningful ways, or create links between stakeholder groups, I needed to find a framework such as this one to utilize in my study. As an outcome of this study; I plan to discuss a revised framework designed specifically for charter schools: This framework serves an important role, as it links practice with research in a way that is geared towards charter schools' unique needs. Since much of the research on charter schools to date has focused on the early years of a charter school's existence (Anderson, 1998; Finn et al., 2000; RPP International 1997; RPP International, 2000), a gap exists in the research that this study and the resulting framework can help fill. Qualities Inherent in Successful Schools "Serious education reform will never be achieved until there is a significant increase in the number of people-leaders and other participants alike-who have come to internalize and habitually act on basic knowledge of how successful change takes place" (Fullan & Miles, 1992, p. 7 45). School reform is about changing schools, and all one has to do is pick up any educational publication to learn about the various theories and strategies that educators, researchers, and policymakers argue need to be employed in order to improve America's schools. "The implied theory behind many proposals today seems grounded largely on the assumption that new organizational structures will increase either the commitment or competence 44

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of teachers and students" (Newmann & Wehlage, 1995, p. 2). Often, proponents of the charter school movement argue that the best way to solve the problems in our schools today is to start from scratch-a new school operating within a different type of system-a system structured in such a fashion that they believe is more likely to lead to successful schools (Anderson, 1998; Finn et al., 2000; Hassel, 1999; Nathan, 1996). This view of starting over, shared by many policymakers and district administrators, surfaces in other ways besides charter schools, including reconstitution of schools and takeovers of school systems (Anderson, 1997). This upheaval of schools and school systems is one approach to school change, and a significant body of literature exists to help groups navigate the implementation of such reforms, particularly .for starting charter schools and enforcing charter school policies (Anderson, 1997; Anderson & Myers, 2001; Charter Schools Development Center, 2000; Finn et al.; Good & Braden, 2000; Hassel, 1999; Rofes, 1998; Sarason, 1998). However, schools, similar to all organizations, are part of a system and are influenced by internal and external forces that constantly challenge participants in this structure to reevaluate their focus and mission. Change is inevitable in systems, including those that have been newly created, such as charter or reconstituted schools, or even in the private sector (Collins & 45

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Porras; Drucker, 1990; Fullan, 2001; Lin, 2001; Senge at al., 2000). Because it is not economically or realistically feasible to start over continuously, one needs to "examine the ways in which people think and interact together before changing the rules. Otherwise, the new policies and organizational structures will simply fade away, and the organization will revert, over time, to the way it was before" (Senge et al., p. 19). Given that change is inevitable, what do we know from the literature about what works, and what doesn't, in systems engaging in change? And, what do schools that have effectively experienced change look like? The following synthesis of research discusses the qualities inherent in successful schools (and in some cases, successful businesses and private entities) and the school change process. Shared Vision. Critical to successful change and thus a successful school is a shared vision among all participants-a system void of factionalism that is inclusive of all stakeholders, including students, parents, teachers, and administrators. Boyer (1995) argues that a shared vision is essential to achieving educational excellence. Without it, purposes are blurred, miscommunication becomes the norm, and lack of involvement from all stakeholders surfaces. A mutual or common purpose, according to Senge et al. (2000), nourishes a sense of commitment, leads to shared ideas about the future, and eases the implementation of principles and guiding practices. 46

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Solutions must evolve through the development of shared meaning. "The interface between individual and collective meaning and action in everyday situations is where change stands or falls" (Fullan, 1991, p. 5). The most successful schools are those that have found a way to "channel staff and student efforts toward a clear, commonly shared purpose for student learning" (Newmann & Wehlage, 1995, p. 3). Satisfaction among key stakeholders (parents, teachers, students) is generally quite high in charter schools (Anderson, 1998; Finn et al., 2000; Fitzgerald; 2000; RPP International, 1998; Weiss, 1997). Because most charter schools start from scratch, typically around a vision for a particular educational approach (Anderson, 1998; Finn et al., 2000; Fitzgerald, 2000; RPP International, 2000), they are uniquely positioned to launch themselves in the direction for success because they typically have a shared vision from the onset. However, whether in reality that vision is shared by all, or if the commitment to that vision continues as the school evolves, is something that is discussed further in Chapters 4 and 5. Alignment of Goals and Practices with Mission and Vision. It's not enough for stakeholders to state that they have a shared vision. A school that seeks to motivate all students and achieve long term success as an organization, aligns its goals and practices for professional development, 47

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scheduling, governance, parent and community involvement, counseling and discipline with its goals and practices for curriculum and assessment (Ginsberg & Wlodkowski, 2000). This coordination, comprehensive schoo/wide planning, makes it possible for a school's "component parts to work in complementary ways toward common ends" (p. 19). Boyer (1995) stresses the importance of a coherent curriculum, aligned with the overall purpose of the school. When connections fail to be made between the curriculum and the rest of the school, and when change is not comprehensive, reforms fail (Fullan, 1991; New American Schools, 2001; Senge et al., 2000). It is not enough for schools to have a vision for high quality student learning. Teachers must teach according to the vision, and schools should be organized according to this vision. When necessary, external support should be brought in where schools lack the ability to carry out the vision themselves (Newmann & Wehlage, 1995). According to Collins & Porras (2002), whose work focuses on visionary companies, the specific content of the mission and vision is not necessarily essential. It is the "authenticity of the ideology and the extent to which a company attains consistent alignment with the ideology that counts more than the content of the ideology" (p. 89). This finding is particularly relevant for charter schools. One sees great variance across charter schools, even those 48

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located within the same communities, in educational philosophies, governance structures, school size, instructional approaches, and other areas (Fitzgerald, 2000; RPP International, 2000). Given this variance, in order for charter schools to achieve long-term success and viability as organizations, it is especially important that they remain true to their core beliefs when making important structural or organizational changes. Charter schools have a contract with their sponsoring authority (the school district in Colorado) that binds them to specific criteria, including producing and implementing an educational program and addressing other outcomes tied to the school's mission/vision (Colorado League of Charter Schools, 2001 ; Hassel, 1998 ). Sarason ( 1998) argues that those starting charter schools are clearer about what their school looks like and needs to accomplish than they are about what they. will have to do, the resources they will need, and the actual time it will require to achieve their purposes. Reflection and Evaluation. Dewey (1933) wrote that thinking in itself is questioning. Reflecting on one's strengths, identifying areas of concern, and strategizing about how to improve are essential activities to successful school reform. Doing so regularly, argues Senge et al. (2000), leads to growth and stability over time. Strong mechanisms for assessing student learning, combined with regular attention to schoolwide evaluation, are essential 49

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components to The Basic School model (Boyer, 1995). Meaningful assessment engenders competence in learners, whether these learners are students, teachers, parents, or society as a whole, intrinsic motivation is elicited when learning is tied to a valued goal and revisited regularly for relevance (Ginsberg & Wlodkowski, 2000). "Indeed, a visionary company continually pursues but never fully achieves or completes its purpose-like chasing the earth's horizon or pursuing a guiding star" (Collins & Porras, 2002, p. 77). Charter schools are required to evaluate their success in meeting the goals specified in their charter contracts when their charters are up for renewal. Additionally, annual progress reports may be required by the charter school authorizer (Anderson & Myers, 2001; Colorado League of Charter Schools, 2001; Hassel & Herdman, 2000). Accountability (the nature in which authorizers hold charter schools responsible for the terms of their contracts) is central to the charter school concept. Some places are leading the way, such as Massachusetts and Colorado. The state charter school office in Massachusetts has a separate accountability division within its charter school office that sends teams of people (comprised of various experts in charter schools, school reform, and governance) to charter schools to assess their progress in meeting their established goals and provides 50

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recommendations for improvements to ensure a higher success rate when renewing charter schools (Hassel & Herdman). In addition, the Colorado League of Charter Schools (2001) has created an accountability program for charter schools-a voluntary process to help charter schools conduct self studies in order to improve their schools and to prepare for formal reviews, including charter contract renewals with their school districts. It is easy for organizations to become self-absorbed and insulated from reality, hence the need for these types of external evaluations (Decker, 1990). While good, such external review opportunities are not sufficient on their own. In order to achieve long-term success, organizations, including charter schools, need to create and foster an ongoing and systemic structure for self-reflection and evaluation in combination with the opportunities for external evaluation (Anderson & Myers, 2001; Collins & Porras, 2002; Hassel & Herdman). Relevance. Students need to feel connected, as individuals and as part of a group, to their learning experiences. Learning should matter to them now and be purposefully connected their future. Teachers need to feel that the educational focus of the school is important, that their experiences within the school and classroom are personally relevant, and that they feel connected to the bigger picture-the school and school system as a whole. Parents need to know that their children's needs are being met and to feel 51

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part of the school community (Boyer, 1995; Davies, 2002; Senge et al., 2000). Ginsberg & Wlodkowski (2000) stress the importance of creating educational experiences that are personally relevant and that support meaningful decision-making. Fullan (1991) discusses relevance as the "interaction of need, clarity of the innovation (and practitioners' understanding of it), and utility, or what it really has to offer teachers and students" (p. 63). Charter schools face the same challenges as other public schools in regard to relevance. While more opportunities typically exist in charter schools for stakeholders to be involved in all aspects of the school (Murphy & Shiffman, 2002; Nathan, 1996), nothing guarantees that this leads to individuals feeling more connected and valued, or that the work that they are producing is relevant to them personally or has genuine social merit. Awareness of Attitudes and Perceptions. "Individualism and collectivism must have equal power-there are no one sided solutions to isolation and group think" (Fullan & Miles, 1992, p. 7 46). Defined differently by each researcher, this category refers to the need to address individual attitudes and perceptions about the school and the change process in order to truly experience successful reform. Mental models (Senge et al., 2000) develop awareness of attitudes and perceptions. These models help groups to "more clearly and honestly define current reality and to develop the 52

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capability to talk safely and productively about dangerous and discomfiting subjects" (p. 7). Sarason (1990) argues that successful school reform will not happen if fundamental shifts do not occur in how people think and interact, as well as in how they explore new ideas, particularly in regards to unseen values and attitudes that keep systems in place and regularly prohibit change. "Change can be very deep, striking at the core of learned skills and beliefs and conceptions of education, and creating doubts about purposes, sense of competence and self-concept" (Fullan, 1991, p. 45). If problems are ignored, superficial change will occur at best, and at worst people will retreat and reject further efforts towards change. Moreover, it can be challenging to get everyone moving in the same direction over sustained periods of time. Loss of control, doubts, concerns about competence and increasing workloads; and other personal concerns and resentments surface and interfere with the change process (Ginsberg & Wlodkowski, 2000). Summary The number of charter schools in this country continues to grow each year, as illustrated in Figure 2.1. As the charter school movement matures and as the numbers of students increases, the level of research on this topic grows. To date, much of the research has focused on the early years of 53

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charter school development, including the number of schools operating, the types of students served in such schools, issues and challenges related to start-up, early successes, and specific information directed at the policy levels as well as technical support geared towards those working in schools. Over the last year or more specific research has surfaced about student achievement in charter schools, the impact of such schools on their neighboring school districts, parental and student satisfaction in charter schools, and finance. At the same time, researchers have continued to examine what makes a school successful (not necessarily a charter school) and have developed theories (and provided evidence to back these up) about the characteristics of successful schools and have documented the practices of those engaged in continuous school improvement. A number of charter schools across the country have moved beyond the start-up years and are beginning to develop their own strategies and systems to ensure long-term stability and the institutionalization of their programs. This is a perfect time for charter schools to tap into existing resources-to learn from and work on developing systems that reflect the lessons learned and best practices from both the existing literature on charter schools, as well as the research on successful schools and organizational change. This chapter summarized these two broad literature bases. The 54

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remainder of the study, and subsequent chapters, examines how two "successful" charter schools reflect what is seen in the charter and successful schools research. 55

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CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY This chapter discusses my rationale for choosing an exploratory case study design and reviews the various qualitative and quantitative approaches used to collect, store, analyze, and display the data. Design An exploratory case study design (Yin, 1994) was chosen for this study due to its focus on identifying the emergent characteristics and experiences of successful charter schools that have been operational for five or more years. It is not an experimental design, so a specific hypothesis was not tested. Instead, three broad research questions informed the design, collection, and analysis of the data: 1. Why are these charter schools successful? 2. How are these charter schools evolving as they grow in age and experience? 3. What are the characteristics of a Charter School That Learns? 56

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As discussed in Chapter 2, the study is anchored in the Schools That Learn framework (Senge et al., 2000). This framework describes the characteristics of successful schools, or as the authors call such schools, schools that learn. Since Senge et al.'s work did not include charter schools, I integrated findings from the charter-school research to help shape the study design and data analysis. Two individual case studies were developed to illustrate the primary unit of analysis: successful charter schools that have been operational for five years or more. Multiple cases were examined since the overall goal of this study is not only to inform the charter school and school reform research, but also to provide information to help charter schools achieve long-term success. Often, evidence from multiple cases is seen as more compelling and robust than evidence from single cases (Herriot & Firestone, 1983), and when multiple cases are used, more opportunities for further research or replication of the model exist (Yin,). This study examines two charter schools, both located in the same school district in Colorado. The district is located in a relatively affluent community and serves just under 28,000 students. Of the district's 60 schools, four are charter schools. One of the four charter schools was developed specifically to meet the educational needs of adjudicated youth. The remaining three charter schools serve approximately 1,1 00 students from 57

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------.-.----------------------------across the district, 600 ofwhich are served by the two schools that are the subject of this study. Each of two charter schools is the subject of an individual case study. These two schools were chosen for a couple of reasons. First, they were among a relatively small number of charter schools in the state that had been operational for five years or more (at the time of this study, there were 90 charter schools in the ,state, 20 of which were at least five years old). Second, they were from the same district. Of the 20 schools that were old enough to only a few options existed for selecting two schools from the same district. Finally, among the few options for selecting schools from the same district, charter schools from only two of those districts (the one I chose and one other) both had test SGores that were well above the district and state averages. So, when it came down to selecting schools, since charter schools in both of the remaining two districts qualified for my study, I opted to select the district that was more convenient to my home, thereby making it easier to collect the data and spend time in the schools. School A serves grades K-8 and has 300 students and School B serves grades 6-8 and also has 300 students. Figure 3.1 illustrates the approach used to design, implement, analyze, and present findings from these case studies. Such an approach is useful because it can be replicated in future research on this topic, if so desired (Yin, 1994 ). The initial step in 58

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---,,.------------------------------designing the study consists of theory development (which in the case of this study included developing the conceptual framework and research questions), followed by case selection and the use of specific data collection methods. Each individual case is a study in its own right and convergent evidence is sought regarding the facts and conclusions for each case. Both the individual and multiple case results are the focus of the overall summary report. When using this approach for replication, the theory or research questions can be modified, as illustrated, and the overall approach can be used again with a new case (Yin, Bateman, & Moore, 1983). draw crossWrite case crossconduct write conclusions case !"case individual report select I study case report cases modify theory/ questions develop (if theory/ replicating) research questions design data collection -protocol conduct write znd case individual study case report Figure 3. 1. Illustration of the approach used to develop, conduct, and write-up case study findings. Note. Adapted from Case study research: Design and methods by R.K. Yin, 1994, p. 49. 59

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Methods of Data Collection The use of both qualitative and quantitative approaches was most appropriate in this study for a couple of reasons. First, this study is concerned with meaning and is interpretive in nature, so it requires the use of methods that allow for meaning to be assigned by both researcher and participants, rather than by definitions or interpretations of the researcher alone (LeCompte & Preissel, 1993). A study that used a survey alone or examined only existing data and did not allow participants to give meaning to their input via focus groups or interviews, for example, would assume that meaning would come from the researcher's interpretation of the data. Second, data triangulation makes for more comprehensive research (Yin, 1994 ), and "some of the most creative research uses models eclectically, combining aspects of various models to produce more valid research designs-use of two or more models in a kind of triangulation" (LeCompte & Preissel, p. 35). Given this, a variety of approaches were used for data collection: a survey of employees and parents from both schools; focus groups of teachers, parents, and charter school board members from each school; two sets of interviews with the principals from each school; one set of interviews with two charter school leaders from the state in which the schools are located; and a review of 60

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relevant documents and data from and about each school. A discussion of each of these items follows. -Survey Prior to designing the survey, I reviewed research on successful schools (as discussed in Chapter 2), and more specifically, I re-read and synthesized key points from Schools That Learn (Senge et al., 2000) and created a list of "Overall Qualities Inherent in Schools That Learn." In addition, I pulled from the.charter-schools about the .issues and challenges of charter schools in various stages of their existence in order to assess where each of these schools was at in its development (Anderson & Myers, 2001; Bulkley & Fisler, 2002). And, I utilized findings from the business research on entrepreneurial companies and small business growth to determine whether theories from business growth might be consistent with the growth of charter schools (Collins & Porras, 2002). Out of this research review came a large list of the various issues and ideas that I wanted to explore in my overall data collection, including the survey. As a means of deciding what from the list to include in surveys versus focus groups or what to elicit from documents and other data, I integrated items from the list into the initial interviews that I conducted with the principals from each school. 61

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Following these interviews, I developed the survey and the focus group data collection strategy . Before distributing the survey, I asked a handful of people (teachers and parents not related to either school) to review it and give me feedback about its content, estimated completion time, and the clarity of the directions. The final survey instrument was primarily closed-ended, consisting of questions using Likert-type scales, ranking, and selecting "all that apply" (see Appendix A). In addition, a couple of "other" questions allowed for open ended responses. The instrument was four pages long, took about 15 minutes to complete, and contained 9 questions. A few questions sought to identify respondent characteristics: the school with which they were affiliated, what their role was in the school, and how long they had been involved with the school. The bulk of the survey was designed to capture respondents' perceptions about their school (e.g., whether or not key characteristics from the successful schools research, including the Schools That Learn framework, were present in their school, and their opinions concerning the strengths and challenges of their schools). Finally, a few questions focused on issues specific to charter schools and organizational change, including who the key decision-makers were at the school and what changes respondents were noticing as the school matured and moved beyond its start up phase. 62

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Distribution and Return. Surveys were distributed to all employees and families from both schools. The schools distributed the surveys on my behalf. Parent surveys were sent home with the children in folders that go home with the students periodically. Staff surveys were distributed to all the teachers, administrators, and other staff members at each school. At one school, the principal distributed the staff surveys at an all-staff meeting. At the other school, staff surveys were distributed via the staff mail-boxes in the school office. Surveys were returned to me directly via a postage-paid, return addressed envelope that was attached to each survey. As an incentive to encourage a higher return, I included a raffle post card with each survey. The postage paid post card was sent directly to a local spa where a respondent from each school was randomly selected to win a gift certificate for massage or skin care. The SPSS (version 9.0) statistical software program was used to analyze the survey data. Of the 580 surveys distributed (while 600 students attend both schools, some of these are siblings, so the survey went home to families instead of with each student), a total of 228 or 39% were returned {Table 3.1 ). School A had a slightly higher return of 40% as compared to School B's 38% return. A higher percentage of staff members responded to the survey (65%) than parents (36%); however, as Table 3.2 illustrates, the majority of surveys 63

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received were from parents (189) because more parents received the survey (520) than employees (60) who worked in the schools. Table. 3.1 Survey return totals School School A SchoolS Total Table 3.2 Total Distributed 275 305 580 Survey responses by role School Total Total distiibuted to received parents from parents School A 245 90 SchoolS 275 98 Total 520 189 Total Returned 111 117 228 Percent of Total Percent of Total Returned 40% 38% 39% Total total distributed received received to staff from staff from parents 37% 30 20 36% 30 19 36% 60 39 Percent of total received from staff 67% 63% 65% As illustrated in Table 3.3, nearly half of all responses (111 or 48%) were from those with 2 or fewer years of involvement with the schools. However, the majority of these 111 responses (74) were from School B, whereas School A had 36 responses from those with two or fewer years of experience. The primary reason for this difference is that School B is a middle school only, unlike School A, a K-8 school. This means that one-third of the school turns over each year in School B, mostly with new families (some siblings attend, but fewer than in School A which spans more grades). While a few kids come and go each year due to normal circumstances at both 64

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schools (e.g., moving, switching schools, etc.), School A really only experiences turnover of one-ninth of the school population each year (eighth graders leave, kindergartners come in). Thus, parents have been with the school for a longer period of time, on average, in school A than in school B which explains why so many responses were from newer families in School B. Seven percent of responses (16 surveys) were from those with nine or more years of experience/involvement with the school. All of these were from School A. This is because, prior to becoming a charter school, School A had been a school within the school district for a few years. A number of staff members who were with the school then were still with it during this study. Table 3.3 Total survey responses by years involved in the school School 2 or fewer years 3-5 years 6-8 years 9+ School A 36.(32%) 35 (32%) 24 (22%) 16 (15%) (n = 111) SchoolS 74 (63%) 28 (24%) 14(12%) 0 (n=117) Total (n = 228) 111 (48%) 63 (28%) 38(17%) 16 (7%) Chapters 4-6 contain more information about survey respondents and about the survey itself, including responses to the various content-related questions about the qualities of each of these schools, their strengths and challenges as successful schools, and perceptions about changes occurring within the schools as they mature. 65

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Interviews One-on-one interviews were conducted with the principals at each school, once in the beginning of the data collection process and then again after all data were in and an initial analysis of the data was complete. The purpose of the first set of interviews was to gain some familiarity with the schools, including the principals' perceptions of the schools' strengths and challenges, prior to developing the survey or designing the focus groups. The second set of interviews provided an opportunity to receive more information about issues or items that had surfaced over the course of the data collection and analysis. During the second interviews, I also shared drafts of each school's case study and selected cross-case findings for their reaction and input. Following the collection and early analysis of the data, two additional interviews were conducted with two well-respected and experienced charter school leaders from the state in which the schools are located. The purpose of these interviews was to determine how the experiences of the two schools in this study compared with those of similarly situated charter schools in the state. One interviewee had been the principal of a successful charter school for many years. Prior to that position, he had worked as a principal and teacher in regular public schools and for the state department of education. 66

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The second interviewee is the director of the state charter school association and has provide technical support and guidance to all of the charter schools in the. state, including those that have been operating for several years. Each of these two interviewees has a good understanding of the issues that a charter school encounters as it moves beyond start-up and into the institutionalization of its program. Moreover, the principal has years of experience as an educator, including leading .a successful school, and understands the strengths and challenges of maintaining that success, especially in a charter setting. The director has worked with multiple schools and has a good perspective on what charter schools are experiencing across the board. Therefore, the principal was able to give me some depth and the director some breadth that could then be compared with the rest of the data findings. As per UCD's protocol, interviewees were required to sign an informed consent form prior to talking with me (see Appendix B). All interviews were audio-taped and transcribed. Techniques used for data analysis of the interview data are discussed below in the Data Analysis section. Focus Groups Focus groups with parents, teachers, and the governing board were conducted at each school for a total of six focus groups. Subjects were 67

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chosen "based on a theory consistent with multiple case design for replication, not sampling logic" (Yin, 1994, p. 51). I chose such segmentation by rolf3 group in order to promote free-flowing conversations among participants within groups and to facilitate examinations of differences in perspectives. between groups (Morgan, 1997). In order to have a cross representative sampling of participants, I asked the principal, a board member, and a parent from each school to help me identify potential focus group subjects. Within each role group, I wanted people with a range of years experiencf3 with the school in order to capture potential differences in perceptions about the school based on years involved. I organized the lists of names that I received from principals, parents, and board members according to role group and years involved and then made phone calls to potential participants. Out of this process emerged the groups. Actual participants reflected those who could attend and who fit the criteria. Each focus group had about five participants (with the exception of the board focus groups which were larger, reflecting the actual sizes of each board of 7 people) and lasted about one-hour. The focus groups allowed me to follow-up on survey and interview data and to gather opinions and perceptions about the school from various individuals, within their role groups, that I could than use to supplement and compare to the data collected via other means. Such group discussions 68

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provide direct evidence about similarities and differences in the participants' opinions and experiences as opposed to reaching such conclusions from post-hoc analysis of separate statements from individual interviewees. However, focus groups, as compared to interviews, provide less depth and detail about the individual experiences of any given participant, and subjects may be unwilling to expose controversial or politically charged information in a focus group due to the presence of their peers (Morgan, 1997). The same format was used for each focus group. This data collection strategy was adapted from one created by Ginsberg and Wlodkowski (2000, p. 111) that the authors use in their school improvement work in high poverty schools. The purpose of this strategy is to create a set of themes to guide the discussion, with the goal of capturing what is happening within the schools in each of those theme areas, along with ideas or suggestions for improvement. Prior to designing the focus groups, I had already created the survey, reviewed additional information about the schools (e.g., Annual Report, School Handbook, achievement data), reviewed the research syntheses/lists I had developed (as discussed in the interview section above), and conducted interviews with the principals. This initial data collection and analysis made it possible to determine the key themes, specific to the schools, or charter schools in general, that I wanted to include in the focus groups. Out of this 69

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process emerged a list of key themes that were used to shape the overall discussion and content of the focus groups (see Table 3.4). Table 3.4 Key themes used to guide the collection of focus group data 1. Effective and visionary leadership. 2. Shared vision for school among all stakeholder groups. 3. Parents/families are highly committed partners in their children's learning. 4. Stewardship (commitment to school extends beyond my child, classroom, -grade, friend, etc.). 5. Ongoing reflection, inquiry and collaboration among teachers and as part of professional development. 6. Highly motivating and challenging curriculum for all students. 7. School/community interdependence (meaningful partnerships with the surrounding community). 8. School is a safe and healthy place. Using flip-chart paper, each theme was listed on a separate page and hung on the wall. At the beginning of the focus group, participants were given a marker and asked to go around the room to write down what, if any, strategies or programs their school had in place within each of the themes. Participants were allowed to talk with each other as they worked on this project. Following this activity, the group came together, and I facilitated a discussion that incorporated the key themes. Participants were asked four questions during the course of this discussion: 1. Of the themes presented on these pages, which are the ones that you think are your school's strengths? 2. Of the themes presented on these pages, which are the ones that you think are areas where your school needs to improve? 70

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3. Are there areas that are missing from these themes-. additional areas of strength or opportunities for improvement? 4. How does being a charter school help or hinder your school's success? The benefit of organizing the focus group this way was that it gave participants the opportunity to express their individual beliefs and opinions in writing, while also providing a structure that allowed them to talk as a group and build on each others' ideas and perceptions during the group discussion. As described by Morgan (1997), focus groups allow for the collection of data through group interaction on a topic determined by the researcher. The researcher's interests provide the focus, while the data themselves come from group interaction. As per UCD's protocol, all focus group participants were required to sign an informed consent form prior to talking with me (see Attachment B). All focus groups were audio-taped and transcribed. Techniques used for data analysis of the focus group data are discussed in the Data Analysis section below. Document Review Various documents and supplemental data were collected and reviewed from each school. The purpose of this review was to corroborate or enrich findings from other data sources. A document summary form (Miles & 71

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Huberman, 1994), completed for each item reviewed, provided a means of capturing the key ideas and purpose for each document, as well as a structure within which to keep track of the data. While it would have been ideal if each school had the exact same type of documents that I could review, this was not always the case. For example, one school prepares a comprehensive annual report each year while the other does not. However, the other school had a very complete handbook that it updated and distributed annually to its constituents containing much of the same information as an annual report. So, given these differences, I was able to state the type of information for which I was looking (e.g., student achievement data, data on student demographics, overview of educational program, written information about the curriculum, instructional strategies, and decision-making, and other items related to the school's culture, management, and school improvement) and collect the appropriate documents from each school containing such information. Student demographic data were collected from the school district web-site. Table 3.5 lists the documents reviewed from each school. Data from these documents were useful because they provided a level of depth that one could not capture in an hour-long focus group or interview. For example, the Annl!al Report from School B and the Handbook from School A both contained detailed information about their educational 72

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programs, including curriculum content and development and the instructional practices used at their respective schools. Table.3.5 Documents reviewed from each school School A School handbook 2002 School Improvement Plan 2002 Stakeholder satisfaction surveys School Accountability Report Financial statements Annual budget SchoolS 2002 annual report 2002 school improvement plan School Accountability Report Note. School B's annual report contained financials, survey results, and other areas that were separate documents at School A. Also, the information from the School Accountability Reports and the school district web-site enabled me to make comparisons across schools as well as demonstrate how these schools compared with the district as a whole. Further discussion about these documents, including their relationships to the . other data, is found in Chapters 4 and 5. In addition, details about the analysis of these data are found below in the Data Analysis section. Methods of Data Analysis As discussed above, a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods were used in this study. This section describes the separate analyses used for the quantitative and qualitative data, followed by a 73

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discussion of the cross-analysis utilized to bring together findings from these approaches. Qualitative Data As illustrated in Figure 3.2, the approach used for qualitative data analysis was modeled after one developed by Miles & Huberman (1994). Their process involved three steps (data reduction, data display, and conclusion drawing and verification). I added a fourth, data preparation. This revised approach involved completing the following steps: 1. Data preparation-the act of getting your data into a format that can be analyzed, such as transcribing interview and focus group data from audio tapes and creating document summaries to organize and prioritize artifacts. 2. Data reduction-a process of selecting, focusing, simplifying, abstracting, and transforming the data from transcriptions and notes to writing summaries, coding, teasing out themes, and making clusters. 3. Data display-an organized, compressed assembly of information that permits conclusion drawing and action utilizing a combination of text, matrices, charts, and networks designed to assemble information into a form that is easy to understand and from which justified conclusions can be drawn. Data preparation ___. Data reduction r---. Data display ___. Conclusion drawing & verification Figure 3.2. Illustration of the approach used to analyze qualitative data. Adapted from Qualitative data analysis by M.B. Miles & A.M. Huberman, 1994, p. 12. 74

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4. Conclusion drawing and verification-including finding meaning in the data, testing draft conclusions for validity, and writing the final report. Data Preparation. All interview and focus-group tape data were transcribed and saved as Microsoft Word documents. Document summary forms (Miles & Huberman, 1994) were created for each artifact in order to keep track of the document, including the school from which it was received, and in order to organize them by the type of data they contained. The completion of these two tasks took considerable time; however, despite the lengthy process, it was a necessary step toward getting the data into a format that could then be reduced and analyzed. Data Reduction. The primary step in data reduction involved coding. "Codes are tags or labels for assigning units of meaning to the descriptive or inferential information compiled during a study. Codes usually are attached to chunks of varying size-words, sentences, phrases, or whole paragraphs" (Miles & Huberman, 1994, p. 57). Typically, one can use two different approaches to coding. The first involves developing a pre-defined set of codes (Miles & Huberman) while the second allows the codes to emerge from the data (Morgan, 1997). Initially, I considered using a pre-defined set of codes, pulled from my theoretical framework. As discussed above, when designing the survey and data collection strategies for the interviews and 75

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focus groups, I had done an extensive synthesis of the research, including the creation of key characteristics (or categories) of schools that learn (Table 3.4 ). .I considered using these categories as my initial set of codes but opted for a different approach. Instead, I allowed the codes to emerge and then, as will be discussed in the Data Display section below, I compared the schools that learn categories with the new set of codes that I had generated in my review of the data. Using an inductive coding technique (Strauss & Corbin, 1990), focus group and interview transcription, and the contents of each document collected from the schools, were reviewed line by line. Beside paragraphs of text, I created categories/labels, thereby generating my first set of codes. This first set of codes was a very long list of approximately 80 labels. Upon review of the data for frequency of responses and content, and the labels another time, I was able to reduce the number of codes in half by creating more abstract categories encompassing two or more codes. Chunks of data were then pasted within each of these revised categories within Microsoft Word. A third review of the data, again checkingfor frequency of responses, within and across data sources, combined with the content of the individual codes, prompted me to reduce the number of codes yet another time. Finally, after reviewing the data again and redefining and grouping the categories once more, based primarily on content at this point, I ended up with a final set of 76

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codes. It was at this time that I felt that coding was complete. The analysis itself seemed to have run its course"all incidents were classified, categories saturated, and sufficient regularities had emerged" (Miles & Huberman, 1994, p. 62). Coding on its own does not provide sufficient information to draw conclusions. One needs to look deeper within the codes and across the data to find meaning and begin to identify patterns or commonalities across the data. This process, termed "pattern coding" by Miles and Huberman (1994) or "pattern matching'; by Yin (1994), involves explaining the patterns occurring in the research study by grouping the data into more meaningful categories and making comparisons across groups, similar to factor-analysis in statistical research (Miles & Huberman). Prior to making comparisons across groups, from the list of codes that I had generated during the aforementioned analysis, I created a list of categories (pattern codes)-issues and characteristics emerging in the data within and across schools-and provided a description for each item (Table 3.6). Thus, across all qualitative data sources, there were frequent mentions of the quality of the curriculum and instruction, the types of systems in place and procedures for reflecting on their successes as a school and making changes based on lessons learned, the intense involvement of parents in 77

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Table 3.6 Final set of categories/patterns deduced from the qualitative data Category High quality curriculum & instruction Ongoing process for reflection, evaluation, and change Intensive parental involvement Changes in enrollment Sacrifices made in exchange for charter status Safe & healthy school environment Responsive and committed leadership Isolation from the district & community Autonomy Effective communication Shared vision Stakeholder development and training Description Instructional staff is collaborative, motivated, engaging, and deliberate. Curriculum is challenging, comprehensive, purposeful, fun, and relevant. Culture in place within school to continuously reflect on its strengths, address its challenges, implement appropriate measures to assess progress, and make changes based on assessments and feedback from the school community. Parents are involved in all aspects of the school, including governance, classroom support, facility operations & maintenance, public relations, and program evaluation. Concerns about changing student population as founding families' children graduate, fewer siblings attend, and new enrollment policies at the district-level lead to perceptions that a higher number of new families are selecting school for reasons other than its mission, vision, and goals. Additional concerns focus on issues of diversity and inclusiveness. By choosing to attend a charter, one loses some benefits that s/he may have received in a neighborhood school, such as transportation, food service, school peers living nearby, and a facility that is comparable to a district school serving the same number/age span of students. The facility is clean and safe, behavior problems are minimal, students and adults treat each other with respect, trust one another, and enjoy spending time together. The administration and governing board effectively manage the school-operationally and educationally, are responsive to the school community, and include stakeholders (parents, students, teachers) in decision-making about school policies and activities. This includes the struggle to be accepted by the community, build relations with the district, and still hold on to the autonomy that drove them to become a charter school in the fir.st place. Various items fall within this category, including the freedom to create the school's curriculum, establish its own practices for hiring, firing, and evaluating staff members, using .its financial resources to further its overall mission and goals, having an on-site governing body, being buffered from district requirements, rules, and regulations. Systems are in place to encourage appropriate and effective communication between and across stakeholder groups and to share important information about the school internally and with the external community. Mission, vision and goals of school are clearly communicated and understood. All stakeholders work together to carry out the mission, vision and goals and are able to look beyond their own personal interests and work for the overall good of the school. Systems in place to encourage; support, and provide appropriate training and. development in order to increase the skill sets and competencies of parents, staff, and board members. 78

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different ana meaningful ways, the importance of having a shared vision, the role of communication, and how much they could do as a school as a result of being autonomous from the district. Discussions about the school environment were lumped primarily into the safe and healthy category. Due to the nature of charter schools being led by their own governing board, there was much discussion about the schools' leadership, including the roles of the board versus those of the school administrator. The downsides or emerging issues associated with being a charter school fall primarily within the categories discussing the sacrifices of being a charter, the isolation some feel from the district-and community, and the level of resources committed to training and development. Data Display. The next step in data analysis involved taking the key categories and making comparisons across data sets. To accomplish this task, I used methods for displaying and comparing the data across categories (e.g., by schools and role groups). Displaying the data, instead of relying solely on text, is a more effective way of seeing patterns and counting responses across categories (Miles & Huberman, 1994). In addition to seeing the data in a different format, this step was necessary for other reasons. First, since an individual case study was being created for each school, and a cross-case analysis reflecting both, it was important to sort out how the items 79

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identified as pattern codes above were playing out within each school and across both schools . Second, the study was purposefully set up to include opportunities for teachers, parents, principals, and board members to have time within their respective .role groups to share their opinions and ideas. One issue that needed to be explored was whether variance existed across these groups. Such "group-to-group validation" is a way of measuring consistency across groups, around a given topic, both within individual groups and across groups as a whole (Morgan, 1997, p.63). Third, it was important to determine the relationship between the data, as collected and defined thus far, and the overall research questions and conceptual framework guiding the study. A role-ordered matrix (Miles & Huberman, 1994) was created for each school. Columns were created for each role group and rows for each of the pattern codes identified in Table 3.6 above. The benefit of organizing the data in this fashion was that it allowed me to see how comments varied for each category by role group and to measure the frequency of comments by role group. Figures 3.3 and 3.4 illustrate the frequency of comments for each category by role group. The data sources for these figures were the focus groups with teachers, parents, and board members and interviews with 80

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principals. The figures .illustrate how often participants made comments that pertained to each of the key categories. In both schools, parents made more comments regarding curriculum and. instruction and board members about district and community relations more than any of the other categories. Ul CLI Ul c 0 c. e '0 'It 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Figure 3.3. Frequency of comments by role group in School A It was not surprising that the school leaders spoke most often about leadership since a large part of the interviews focused on their role as leaders of the school. However, in school 8, the school leader spoke as often about leadership as he did district and community relations. Finally, the most often discussed issue for teachers in School A was district and community relations while in School 8 the most frequently mentioned area was the safe and 81

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healthy school environment. A discussion of how these data compare with other data from the survey and documents follows in Chapters 4-6. Mind mapping (Senge et al., 1994) or cognitive mapping (Miles & Huberman, 1994 ), is a process where one makes connections between words, concepts, and ideas via visual images. This is a free-flowing exercise 9,--------------------------------------3 2 1 0 Figure 3.4. Frequency of comments by role group at School B. whereby lines, circles, and arrows are drawn connecting words and concepts together. In the end, one has visual depiction of the relationships between these various ideas and concepts. The benefit of such an approach is the simple and holistic nature of it, the ability to see one's data (as an alternative to pure textual analysis and discussions of the data) laid out in a single image, and as an analysis tool to begin to see connections between the data (Miles & Huberman; Senge et al., 1994 ). 82

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I created several mind maps for each school in order to explore the connections. between the data that I had gathered with (a) the research questions guiding the study, and (b) the conceptual framework. For example, one mind map focused on which findings from the data could help answer the three research questions while another explored the relationship between the common characteristics of schools that learn and those of the schools in this study. Finally, a third took the key issues from the charter school research review presented in Chapter 2 and drew comparisons between these findings and the study data. Information from these maps was used to create the case study outlines that were shared with charter school leaders and the school principals. A further discussion of these data, including the relationships between the data and the research questions, conceptual framework, and so forth, is presented in Chapters 4-6. Conclusion Drawing and Verification. After reducing the data, and using several means of visualizing and analyzing the data across key categories, the next step involved validating the findings and then forming conclusions. The second interviews with principals, and the interviews with the charter school leaders, provided an opportunity to have peers and study subjects review draft case studies and initial findings in order to "corroborate the essential facts and evidence" (Yin, 1994, p.144). Corrections made via this process of review "increase the construct validity of the study" (p.146). 83

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Each school principal reviewed the case study draft for her/his school, and a summary of the key findings across both schools (keeping the. names and locations of the schools anonymous) was shared with the charter school leaders. Input from these interviewees reflected changes to the final case studies and overall study conclusions, as discussed in Chapters 4-6. Another means of verifying or validating the findings involves triangulating the data (LeCompte & Preissle, 1993; Miles & Huberman, 1994; Yin, 1994). This means comparing findings from one type of data (e.g., focus groups) with those from another set (e.g., survey) in order to identify commonalities or differences. If similar findings occur across the data, the conclusions drawn are more credible and the potential for replication of the study to test the theory in different settings increases (Yin). An explanation about how the data from these various sets compare to one another is provided in case analyses and cross-case analysis presented in Chapters 4-6. Following the verification of the qualitative data, I was able to begin to develop explanations or theories. According to Miles & Huberman (1994), one can begin this process if he/she can say "(a) we have evolved, or tested a theory; (b) we have stuck to all of the available, relevant data; (c) there has been a steady dialogue between our ideas (the theory) and the evidence (data)" (p. 144). Given the various steps taken to analyze the data, including 84

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preparing, reducing, displaying, and verifying; I was able to answer affirmatively to all of these points and therefore feel confident in the findings that surfaced from these qualitative data. However, additional findings from the quantitative data needed to be corroborated with the qualitative data before the theory could be presented. Quantitative Data The majority of the research methods utilized in this study are qualitative. However, despite my interest in focusing most of the study on such qualitative data, and my lack of experience with statistical data, I felt it was important to collect data from a broader range of participants than time would have allowed for me to do via qualitative methods. So, I developed a survey as a means of validating (and triangulating) what I was learning from the qualitative data and to provide the opportunity for a broader range of participants to participate in the study. Because the survey is not the primary data source, only selected analyses of the data were conducted. As will be discussed in Chapter 5, other analyses and uses of the data could be utilized in further research on these schools. Besides the survey, other quantitative data collected and discussed herein include student achievement data and student demographic data for each school and for the district as a whole. 85

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Survey Analysis. The SPSS (version 9.0) statistical software program was used to store and analyze the,survey data. First, a database was created in SPSS that included columns (variables) for each survey question. Each survey, as it came in, was assigned a number randomly (in the order received). This number became the final variable for data entry (the rows in the database). After all the survey data were entered into the database, I conducted some preliminary analyses (frequencies) in order to create some new variables that included groupings of data as a means of making the analysis more efficient and effective (e.g., years involved were grouped into five categories and role was grouped into two categories, parents and staff). Once I had the database and appropriate categories, I was able to analyze the data. The process used to analyze these data follows. Cross-tab frequencies were run for each survey question to identify responses by school and to generate the total responses to each question for both schools. Variances across schools began to surface during this analysis. For example, respondents were asked to use a Likert-type scale to indicate the extent to which they agreed with a set of statements about their school. Tables 3.7 and 3.8 show such variance for a couple ofthese statements. The first statement, reflected in Table 3.7, was "We embrace change at this school." While 93 (84%) of respondents from School A 86

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strongly or somewhat agreed with that statement, only 67 (57%) of School 8 respondents strongly or somewhat agreed . A second example, as illustrated in Table 3.8, asked respondents to indicate the extent to which they agreed with the statement: "The external community is supportive of my school." While 49 (44%) of respondents from School A .agreed or strongly agreed with this statement, only 7 (6%) of respondents from School 8 agreed or strongly agreed. Table 3.7 Example 1: Variation in responses by school to the statement, 'We embrace change at this school." not relevanUno answer strongly agree somewhat agree neutral somewhat disagree strongly disagree School SchooiA SchoolS 7 16 62 35 31 32 8 31 2 3 1 111 117 Total 23 97 63 39 5 1 228 While such variance did occur, in plenty of areas the responses to a question were nearly identical for both schools. For example, 100% of School 8 respondents and 99% of School A respondents strongly agreed or agreed that the "curriculum and instruction at my school is academically challenging" and the majority of respondents from both schools identified the school facility and finances as their greatest challenges. Chapters 4-6 will discuss in greater 87

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detail such survey findings across schools and other factors. These examples were provided to illustrate the point that variances were occurring, necessitating the need for further analysis to test the significance of these findings. Table 3.8 Example 2: Variation in responses by school to the statement, "The external community is supportive of my school." School School A not relevant/no answer 11 strongly agree 18 somewhat agree 31 neutral 17 somewhat disagree. 26 strongly disagree 8 111 School B 9 1 6 8 47 46 117 Total 20 19 37 25 73 54 228 Analysis of variance (AN OVA) tests are used to determine the statistical significance of difference between two or more mean scores (Spatz, 1993) and t-tests are used when analyzing two mean scores. Since I had begun to see differences in my analysis of the data through descriptive statistics, I decided to use t-tests and AN OVA to more accurately determine whether significant differences occurred in the means of selected survey questions based on the independent variables of the school, role group, and years involved with the school. In order to be significant, the differences should "differ to a greater extent than we would expect from sampling error alone" (Smithson, 2000, p. 234). Separate tests were run for each 88

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. indepe.rident variable and differences in means were found to be significant in several areas, as discussed in the cross-case analysis in Chapter 6. I recognize that ANOVA is typically used when using random sampling, something this study does not do; however, despite this, using AN OVA allowed me to discover differences, or lack thereof, in responses when a t-test could not be used (e.g., when determining whether differences existed based on year involved with the school-there were four possible groups and a t-test only allows for comparisons across two groups). Oth.er Quantitative Data Analysis. Student data were collected from both schools with the primary purpose of drawing some comparisons between these two schools as well as with the broader educational community (e.g., district, state, national). A second reason for collecting these data was to inform the overall content of the individual case studies and to allow for some comparisons within a school over time. Chapters 4-6 provide the full analysis of these data, including several figures displaying data findings. A description of the type of data collected and the rationale for collecting these data are provided below. Student demographic data were collected from both schools. These data are used to describe certain characteristics of the student body (e.g., race, special education, free and reduced lunch, English language learners) within each of the individual case studies are used in the cross-case analysis 89

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to compare the demographics of one school with the other. Finally, demographic data from both schools are compared to the district average and discussed in context with the trends (national and statewide) from charter school research about who is being served in charter schools. Student achievement data (state assessment results) were collected from each school for the 2001 and 2002 school years. As with the demographic data, the achievement data are used in both the individual and cross-case studies. In the individual case studies, comparisons of how the subject school did from one year to the next are discussed. In the cross-case analysis, the schools are compared with one another, with the state average, and with other charter schools in the state. Means of Displaying Data I opted to use a traditional approach to writing up the case studies. Each case is presented as its own section or narrative followed by a cross case analysis (Yin, 1994 ). A combination of text, tables, and charts are used to explain the findings. Prior to drafting the case studies, I prepared an outline with summaries of the types of data that I would be including in each section. I shared this outline with the principals of each school for their feedback on content and clarity. Slight modifications were made based on their feedback, and the final format for the case studies is presented, including the 90

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accompanying data, in the next chapter. Each individual case study contains three sections: 1. Description of school-grades served, number of students, years operational, governance structure, number of teachers per student, achievement data, demographic data, and summary of the educational program. 2. Findings-school specific findings from the various data sources, including interviews, focus groups, document review, and survey. 3. Conclusions-relationship of the findings to the research questions and conceptual framework and potential areas for further research within each school. The cross-case analysis discusses the commonalities and differences across schools within each of these three areas (school description, findings, and conclusions). Overall conclusions and a discussion of the relationship between these findings and the broader community are covered briefly in Chapter 6 but more extensively in Chapter 7. This last chapter also discusses the Charter Schools That Learn framework. Summary It has been a very rewarding experience to design a study such as this one and to then have the opportunity to collect data from a variety of sources in order to answer the research questions and discuss the second-generation issues of charter schools in the broader context of educational reform. Interviews served as opportunities to collect specialized information from well-91

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informed subjects. Focus groups ended up being great discussions where teachers, parents, and board members spent time connecting with their peers, talking about their schools, and sharing a wealth of information. The document reviews allowed me to delve deeper into each school, including their educational program, history, goals, accomplishments, and their overall school culture. The survey captured opinions and perceptions from a broad range of stakeholders regarding school characteristics, strengths, and challenges. And finally, the review of demographic and achievement data allowed me to draw comparisons across schools as well as compare the characteristics of these schools with some from the larger community. Chapter 3 described the type of data collected, how it was used, and the approach created for displaying the findings. Chapters 4-6 will take the next step and tell the story about these data. An individual case study is presented for each school followed by a cross-case analysis. 92

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CHAPTER4 CASE STUDY OF SCHOOL A School A is a charter school located in Colorado. When you complete this chapter, you will know much about this school (e.g., information about the school's size and grades served, how long it has been operating, the student teacher ratio and average years of teacher experience, its student population, the educational program, its governance structure, and student achievement results. You will also be provided with a description of this study's findings pertaining to School A (e.g., results from analyses of the survey, focus groups, interviews, and document review), including a comparison of the findings with the conceptual framework. Chapter 5 will present the case study for School B, and Chapter 6 offers a cross-case analysis, comparing and contrasting the findings from both case studies. Chapter 7 provides additional information about the overall findings, in context with the research questions and the conceptual framework. As per my agreement with the UCD Human Subjects Research Committee, the identity of the schools and the district in which they reside will remain confidential. Thus, references that contain the school or district's 93

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name in their title cannot be cited herein or listed in the references. A listing of the documents that I reviewed from each school is found in Chapter 3 (Table 3.5). Throughout this chapter, I identify the source with a name that describes the document but does not disclose the identity of the subject. Description of the School School A is a K-8 school serving 300 students. Prior to becoming a charter school, it was a small alternative school within the district that was started by parents and teachers in 1991. It converted to charter status in 1997. We decided to apply to become a charter school because our original superintendent was leaving the district and the school board was tightening the reins on focus schools in order to maintain consistency. We thought that a lot of the successes we'd had were due to constructs that we had that would have been taken away, so we applied to be a charter school (Lead Teacher interview). Specifically, School A's reasons for seeking charter status were (School Handbook, p.3) 1. To ensure that small homeroom class sizes of 16-18 students could be maintained, thus protecting class sizes from fluctuations in the district's staffing allocation ratios: 2. To maintain a stable and qualified teaching staff. 3. To continue to design curriculum and assessments which support high levels of student achievement, while reflecting the priorities and needs of students, parents, and teachers. 94

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School A is located in a district-owned facility that is a former elementary school. It has occupied this facility since before it became a charter school. Table 4.1 displays general information about the school, including the total number of students, grades served, years it has been operating as a charter. school, student teacher ratio, average years of teacher experience, total number of administrators employed, and the makeup of the governing board. Table 4.1 General information about School A Number of students 300 Grades served K-8 Years as a charter school 5.5 Student teacher ratio 15:1 Average years of teacher experience 9 Number of administrators 1 Governing board 6 teachers, 4 parents Teachers. While parents were involved in the creation of School A, it was primarily an effort led by teachers (Anderson,. 1999). Teachers continue to play a significant role in the school-a role that differs from that of a teacher in a conventional public school. The main differences from a conventional school are that teachers at School A (a) serve on the school's governing board, and (b) make all decisions related to the school's curriculum and assessment. In a conventional school, an on-site governing board does not 95

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exist, and curriculum and assessment decisions are driven by district policies and priorities. "The primary responsibilities of teachers are to design and implement a curriculum model with goals, objectives, activities, .and performance assessments which demonstrate student progress toward state curriculum standards and, at the same time, to tailor the curriculum to the individual needs and interests of the students" (School Handbook, p. 38). Specific expectations for teachers are listed in the school handbook and include: (a) upholding the school's mission, (b) helping students in becoming successful learners, developing effective communication links with families, (c) supporting the emotional and physi_cal health and safety of students, (d) guiding students to become community contributors, and (e) demonstrating a -commitment toward professional growth. Students are dismissed early each Friday, providing an opportunity for teachers to meet weekly to plan, collaborate, and learn together (e.g., professional development opportunities and study groups). School A is a designated agency for the state's Alternative Teacher License program. This allows the school to introduce new teachers to the school's philosophy with the hope that these teachers might eventually teach at School A or bring what they have learned to help other schools adopt similar programs. Additionally, the presence of these aspiring teachers decreases the adult to student ratio within selected classrooms, meaning that 96

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there are additional people to support teachers and help students (Lead Teacher interview) . The hiring process at School A involves the Lead Teacher and the rest of the Council Board. The Lead Teacher is responsible for recruiting applicants. This is a process that involves looking for applicants from within the existing school community (e.g., determining whether existing faculty wants to teach another grade/class or if any of the Alternative License participants are in a position to teach yet) and recruiting applicants from the outside (e.g., from other schools in area,. advertising, etc.). Once the Lead Teacher has a of applicants, she brings that information to the Council Board. If an existing staff member is being considered, the Board will generally vote on whether they agree with the change and not interview the person. If outsiders are being considered, they will be interviewed by the entire Board and observed in their existing classroom settings (where they presently teach) by the teacher members of the Board. Parent members of the Board have expressed interest in being involved in these observations in the future. Assuming an observation goes well, an applicant will be offered the position if a// Board members agree with the decision. If all Board members do not agree, then new applicants are sought (Board focus group, Lead Teacher interview). 97

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Teacher evaluations are not the responsibility of the Lead Teacher or the Board. Instead, the school uses a combination of self-evaluations and peer review. Teachers evaluate their own performance via a self-evaluation, and are paired with other teachers and evaluate each other through observation and peer review (Lead Teacher interview). Teacher turnover at School A is infrequent (Lead Teacher interview, Board focus group) and many of the teachers have been with the school since before it became a charter school (survey). The teacher-student ratio is 15:1 and the average years of teacher experience is 9 (School Accountability Report, 2002. Leadership School A does not use a traditional administrative model. Instead of a principal, it has a Lead Teacher whose job mirrors that ofa typical charter school administrator in most ways, although she consistently refers to herself as a teacher and not a principal (Anderson, 1999). "The role of the lead teacher is to facilitate collaboration among teachers and to effectively meet educational goals approved by the Council and the individual learning needs of students" (School Handbook, p. 21 ). The school is governed by a board of directors of six teachers (including the Lead Teacher) and four parents. The board steps in to make 98

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decisions when the entire school Council fails to agree on an issue. The Council includes all the teachers and parents who want to be involved. Teachers are actually expected to attend all Council meetings and parents are encouraged to attend at least one per year (School Handbook, pp. 15-16). School A believes that "all members of the school community should have the right and privilege to be part of the decision-making process at our school" (School Handbook, p. 21 ), The role of the Council is to oversee implementation of the school's mission and vision and to define and evaluate performance goals an.d objectives. Additionally, it monitors budget and staffing decisions and creates task forces to pursue specific objectives. The Council does not make decisions about curriculum and assessment, teachers do (School Handbook, p. 38). Issues and ideas are brought to Council via the faculty and/or parent body. We bring up an issue, present info, people can ask questions. After questions, feedback can be given by everyone. If it looks like we are close to an agreement, someone will make a proposal and we will go around the. room and react to that proposal. If someone is not in agreement with a proposal, we ask them to propose an alternative solution so that you have the responsibility to help create a solution. If everyone can't agree, we don't have concordance, which is 100%, stronger than consensus. Then, we ask our Board to decide. If the board members all agree, then that is a decision. If the board members don't agree, then they have to have another meeting until they agree. The board always has to agree by 1 00%. This way, parents have as much input as teachers because every vote has to be 100% agreement. (Lead Teacher interview) 99

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Educational Program School A's mission is "to guide students to become self-directed learners and community contributors in a respectful, non-coercive, and mutually caring learning environment" (School Handbook, p. 7. As an experiential school (lead Teacher interview), it strives to provide a "solid foundation in the skills and attitudes related to reading, writing, speaking, listening, measuring, estimating, calculating, critical thinking, aesthetic appreciation, and creative expression ahd addresses critical 21st Century competencies by facilitating the development of positive self-esteem, healthy intra-personal relationships, second language ability, environmental responsibility, and technological competency" (School Handbook, p. 35). Students use multiple means of demonstrating mastery of their learning, including projects, presentations, exhibitions, portfolios, and tests. Multi-age classes are small, goal-setting is individualized, and students have lots of choices about the direction of their learning. As a member of Glasser's (1998) Quality School Network, School A is "committed to maintaining high academic and behavioral expectations" (School Handbook, p. 5). Those who earn the privilege of being named a Quality School have had to demonstrate that their learning environment is one where quality is central to all actions. Individuals (students and teachers) are guided to choose learning as a means of meeting their basic needs. 100

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Equal time is given to academic and social learning and students are expected to make responsible choices and follow through accordingly. High quality work is expected from all and gaining the skills to produce such work is learned. Teachers act as guides and coaches and teach values, along with skills and content, throughout the day. All stakeholders (parents, teachers, students)sign and adhere to a communications agreement as a means of honoring all opinions and promoting meaningful interaction. These agreements serve as a point of reference and set the standard for talking about challenges and opportunities for improvement in a productive and non coercive manner. The Quality School model is not a "curriculum model" per se but a model for creating democratic learning environments, stressing communication skills, choices, problem solving and personal responsibility. When successfully implemented, positive results are seen in both academic and non-academic (e.g:, behavioral/discipline) areas (Glasser). Student Enrollment and Demographics Students attend school A from all over the county. Transportation is not provided so parents are responsible for getting their children to and from school each day. Admission to the school is by lottery. Siblings of current students and children of staff members are given preference in admission. The district manages the lottery and the open enrollment process for the 101

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school. The number of applicants each year to School A far exceeds the number of openings; therefore, School A has to refuse admission to most of the applicants. It does create a waiting list; however, students rarely leave, so the waiting list remains mostly full each year (Lead Teacher interview). Table 4.2 Comparison of student demographics: District and School A District School A African American 2% 2% American Indian 1% 0% Asian 5% 5% Caucasian .79% 88% Hispanic 13% 5% Free & Reduced Lunch. 12% 8% EnglishLanguage Learners 9% >1% Special Education 12% 11% As illustrated in Table 4.2, School A serves a lower percentage of Hispanic students, high poverty students (those who qualify for free or reduced lunch), and English language learners than the average percentages in these areas for the entire district. And as one might expect, given School A's lower percentages in these categories, the percentage of students in School A that are Caucasian is higher than the district average. In other categories, the school and district averages are about the same (within 1% ). Focus group participants were asked to speculate why they thought more Hispanic and low-income students were not attending their school. The primary reasons they gave were that (a) no transportation was provided, 102

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thereby making it very difficult for families from East county (where the majority of the Hispanic and lower income population lives) to transport their children to the school; and (b) the school did not have a lunch program, providing free or reduced-priced lunch for low income students. Student Achievement As is mandatory for all schools in the state, School A participates in the state's student assessment program. Each year that it has taken these tests, School A has had a much higher percentage of its students score proficient or above than the state average (School Accountability Report, 2002). Table 4:3 displays the scores for School A and the state for the 2002 state assessments. I recognize that many factors should be considered when making comparisons in test data (e.g., student While the higher scores in School A might be because of its educational program, without considering other 'factors, it is difficult to draw that conclusion with certainty. Given School A's student population and location (upper-middle class community), other factors are likely to contribute to its success on the tests than just the educational program of the school (Berne & Stiefel, 1999; Coons et al., 1970). In the cross-case analysis section of this document, using charts, School A's scores are compared with those of School B and the state average. 103

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Table 4.3 School A and the State: Percentages of students scoring proficient or above on the 2002 State Assessments 3rd grade reading 3rd grade writing 4th grade reading 4th grade writing 5th grade reading 5th grade writing 5th grade math 6th grade reading 6th grade writing 6th grade math th grade reading th grade writing 7th grade math 8th grade reading 8th grade writing 8th grade math 8th grade science School A 95 61 88 63 97 92 88 97 89 92 97 84 89 93 86 83 93 State 72 51 61 50 63 51 55 65 50 51 59 50 39 65 50 39 50 As a means of capturing a segment of School A's progress over time, I compared its scores on selected state assessments from 2001 with those of 2002. Since not all of the same tests were given in 2001 as in 2002, I picked a few that were given both years for comparison purposes. As Figure 4.1 illustrates, School A improved its score from 2001-2002 in only one area, 6th grade reading, and stayed about the same in 7th grade reading, 8th grade reading, and 8th grade science. It did worse in 2002 than in 2001 in both ih grade writing and 8th grade math. When focus group participants were asked to speculate why they thought that the scores were mostly worse or had remained about the same across these two years, most did not have an 104

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answer. However, some said that it might be due to a lack of teacher focus on selected core skills, thereby necessitating more time being spent on these areas at home or outside of school (Parent focus group). Others did not seem concerned, arguing that too much time and energy is focused on testing already, and even though they dipped, they were still doing very well compared to others in the state and the district (Board focus group). At one time, discussions had occurred at a school Council meeting about whether or not the school community cared about how well students did on the state tests (Lead Teacher interview). ... 0 School A: Comparison of Achievement Data from 2001-2002 100 ,95 90 85 80 75 Figure 4.1. Comparison of achievement data for School A from 2001-2002 in selected areas. 105

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Findings from the Data As discussed in Chapter 3, both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection were used in this study. Including the student demographic and achievement data discussed above, the survey is the only additional quantitative data source used. Focus groups, interviews, and document review are included among the qualitative data sources. Since the study was exploratory in nature, designed to determine what made these schools successful, and to assess what issues or challenges they would be facing in years to come, the analysis of each data type yielded identifiable school characteristics, including the strengths-and challenges within each of the subject schools, and any changes the schools were experiencing as they matured. Findings from these various data sources are presented under the four headings of: Qualities inherent in the schools, Strengtlis, Challenges, and Change below. Quantitative and qualitative findings for School A are presented individually and collectively within each heading. Comparisons are drawn and connections are made between these data types. Qualities Inherent in the Schools When designing the survey, I summarized the qualities inherent in schools that learn (Senge et al., 2000) and created a list of several items that one 106

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would see in such a successful school. Adding to this list a couple of questions specific to charter schools (e.g., did respondents know what it meant to be a charter school, would they prefer to be a regular public school over a charter), I came up with a list of 21 statements. Using a Likert-type scale, respondents were asked to choose, on a scale of 1-5 (with one high and five low), the extent to which they agreed with each statement. Of the 21 statements, Table 4.4 lists the ten items where at least 100 (90% or more) of respondents agreed or strongly agreed, and Table 4.5 identifies the areas where respondents were least likely to agree or strongly agree. Based on these responses, people are very pleased with their school's curriculum and instruction and feel that their school is able to meet the needs of all students. They see teachers working together arid engaged in learning more in order to improve their practice. They feel safe and respected; however, while they believe that all stakeholders are committed to working together to make the school a better place, they don't necessarily see all parents making the same level of commitment to their children's learning. While they note that a connection exists between learning and the community, they do not necessarily feel part of or supported by the local and broader communities. 107

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Table 4.4 Among the statements provided, the qualities that 90% or more of survey respondents agree or strongly agree are present in School A 1. My school fosters the development of all children's learning, regardless of limits, family background, or obstacles before them. 2. The curriculum and instruction at my school is academically challenging. 3. The curriculum and instruction at my school is fun, interesting, and relevant. 4. Learning at my school extends beyond the four walls of the classroom. 5. Teachers in my school work effectively as a team. 6. Students at my school help create their learning experiences. 7. I feel respected and valued by my school community. 8. Staff development is a regular and ongoing practice at my school. 9. My school is a safe place. 1 0. All stakeholders at my school are committed to a common vision and purpose for the school, despite individual interests and ambitions. Table 4.5 Areas where School A survey respondents were least likely to agree or strongly agree with the statement provided. 1. The external community is supportive of my school. 2. I would prefer for my school to be a regular public school instead of a charter school. 3. My school is part of a larger professional community. 4. All parents at my school are actively involved in their children's learning. Strengths Next, respondents were asked to identify their school's strengths. From a list of 16 potential strengths (pulled from the research and from the interviews that I had conducted with the principals prior to developing the survey), respondents were asked to rank their top three choices (1 indicated the greatest strength, 2 the second greatest, and 3 the third greatest). Figure 108

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4.2 displays School A respondents' top five choices for the school's greatest strengths. 110 Cll 90 c Cl) 70 "C c 0 50 c. Cll 30 Cl) 0:: 10 Ul Q) Ul Ul Cll u "'iii E en N = 111 1:: 0 'B ;::: :::l E E 8 Figure 4.2. Top ranked strengths of School A by survey respondents. Upon examination of the findings, it is clear that agreement among respondents was stronger concerning Small Classes and High Quality Staff as strengths than among other items. However, instead of highlighting only two strengths, especially since respondents were asked to select three, I opted to provide a broader perspective by including the top four ranked items. Originally, I was going to select the top three but the number of responses for three and four (strong educational program and communication) were nearly identical so I included both. Additionally, by showing these additional strengths, comparisons can be better made between the findings from other survey questions and the focus groups and interviews. For instance, when 109

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one examines the items that 90% or more of respondents agreed were present in their school (Table 4.4), with the findings in Figure 4.2, similarities exist..ln both instances, respondents expressed positive feelings about their school's educational program, staff, and school environment. When School A first started as a pilot program (prior to becoming a charter school), among other things, the founders wanted to create a small, teacher-led school with their own unique curriculum. When it became a charter school, its primary reasons for doing so were to be able to continue to have smal.l classes, a stable and qualified teaching staff, and to maintain control over their curriculum, assessments, and other areas related to operating the school (School Handbook). Given three of the top strengths identified in the survey, small classes (77 or 69%), high quality staff (62 or 56%), and strong. educational program (29 or 26%), it appears thatthe school is fulfilling its wishes as a school community. Approximately a quarter of survey respondents (27) selected Communication as one of School A's top strengths. Respectful and effective communication are engrained in School A's culture. A significant part of the interview and focus group discussions were dedicated to this topic. The Communication Agreement was developed by the Council. It is posted in every classroom and provided in the school handbook. Essentially, stakeholders agree to talk with each other directly and with respect when 110

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there is an issue or problem (e.g., talking behind people's backs is not ok), to recognize the value of open communication (including all stakeholders in communications about decisions regarding the school), and to involve the Lead Teacher as mediator when one feels that he or she can not go directly to the person with whom they have a problem (School handbook). A large portion of the Lead Teacher's job is facilitating communication and resolving conflict. Most focus group participants had only good things to say about the communication agreement. "Because of our communication agreements, we never have real wars or issues or people coming to Council to argue about something" (Board focus group). By modeling the communication agreement in practice, new people learn how to communicate-that, we do not need to teach (Lead Teacher interview). However, not all comments about the Communication Agreement were positive. Some parents had concerns about always needing to have conversations with teachers where their child was present. While they mostly valued the idea of open communication, they felt that at times it might be helpful to talk with the teacher alone. I think a challenge for parents is the communication agreement. It is such an important part of who we are, but it is not human nature to follow this. Most of the world doesn't follow a communication agreement. When you are new it can be challenging. With practice it works. (Teacher focus group) And, some expressed concerns about feeling intimidated at times to bring up issues, even to the Lead Teacher whose role it is to facilitate conflict. When 111

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one has a problem with a he or she can go to the Lead Teacher for help. What happens when one has a problem with the Lead Teacher or feels intimidated about approaching her about something-who facilitates then? A few additional strengths that were brought up in all the interviews and focus groups but that did not show-up as a top strength in the survey, relate to School A's school environment, governance structure and its autonomy as a charter school. When asked about their school's strengths, interview and focus group participants nearly all started out with comments about the school environment and the importance of the relationships they had with one another. Parents spoke about how pleased they were with how well students treated each other and were treated with respect by the adults in the school. Teachers spoke of the importance of open and respectful communication and having colleagues whom they trusted and admired. And the Lead Teacher and the Board talked about the importance of community-without the "connections between people" they could not survive as a school. The School Handbook lays out clear expectations for parents, students, and teachers regarding how to treat one another and about creating an emotionally and physically safe and healthy school environment. And, diversity and respect are two of School A's core beliefs. We believe in creating a community of life-long learners by including and honoring all individuals (parents, students, teachers, staff) for who they are. Respect is modeled, practiced, 112

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and expected throughout our community. We value and honor diversity; therefore, we believe that the unique ideas, experiences, and learning. styles within and outside our community cultivate and inspire our relationships. (School Handbook, p.8) Teachers and parents in the focus groups all seem to appreciate and value the manner in which decisions are made. No one ever talked about feeling left out of decisions nor did anyone have any negative comments about the governance structure, except that maybe the Council meetings took too long at times (Parent focus group); however, teachers did say that it seemed that things were running more efficiently this year (Teacher focus group). Decision-making and autonomy go hand-in-hand, according to the Lead Teacher. It seems like people buy into and participate in decisions because they are real decisions and there is an actual choice and there is a sense that there is an actual freedom to create and move forward and without a sense of autonomy in the sense of the freedom to do that, I don't think ariy of what we do would be as good. (Lead Teacher interview) The importance of being buffered from the district and able to make decisions was echoed in all three focus groups. If we were a regular district school, we couldn't choose and implement our curriculum like we do. We would be at the whim of the district and would have to live within their rules. As a charter, we can make fast decisions. If something happens, we can address it quickly and immediately and move on instead of waiting for the district to get involved. (Board focus group) 113

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Among other things, having autonomy from the district, as a charter school, allows the school to be consistent, allocate its resources accordingly, use its own governance model, make its own decisions about curriculum, staffing (hiring, firing, evaluating), and the school calendar, and provide individualized attention to students. N = 111 Ill c 100 Cl) "CC 80 c 0 60 c. Ill 40 Cl) c::: 20 .... 0 0 'It Facility Finances Community Meeting All Relations Students' Needs Challenges Figure 4.3. Top ranked challenges of School A by survey respondents. Challenges In similar fashion to the previous question regarding the school's strengths, survey respondents were provided with a list of several potential challenges (based on items that emerged in discussions within Schools That Learn [Senge et al, 2000], as well as in the principal interviews) and asked to rank their school's top three challenges (or add their own challenges under "other"). Figure 4.3 displays School A respondents' top four choices for their 114

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school's most significant challenges. The number one challenge was actually a tie: 51 (57%) chose Facility and 51 (57%) selected Finances as one of their top three challenges. The third most selected challenge was Community Relations, chosen by 40 (36%) of respondents. While the overall tone in all of the focus groups and interviews was very positive, several challenges did emerge during the discussions. While focus group participants did raise challenges associated with facilities and finances, these areas were not the most frequently discussed challenges, contrary to the survey findings. When the topic of finances came up in the interviews and focus groups, it was typically in reference to staff compensation, extra-curricular activities, and the facility (a further discussion of these issues from the focus groups is found below in the section on second-generation challenges). More consistent with the survey findings was the focus on the other two areas: meeting all students' needs and district and community relations. I think we as a group resent the way the district, this district, feels about charter schools. (Teacher focus group) This was the general consensus across all focus groups and interviews. There is definitely a feeling amongst those in the school that the district is unsupportive of their school and that in being so unsupportive, it has also turned the community as a whole against charter schools. 115

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We tried for years to be agreeable with the district and this has been intentional, hoping that we could get more by being nice. There are a lot of times that we feel that maybe this hasn't been the right approach. However, being objectionable also doesn't get you anywhere. (Board focus group) School A and the district are engaged in a power struggle, and the broader community gets pulled into this struggle. School A wants to be recognized for its success and has attempted to become an educational leader in the community-teaching others and sharing its successes. However, according to the school, the district has shown a complete lack of interest in the school. It appears that all the district cares about is getting their reports (student achievement and financials), and it has blocked attempts that School A has made to partner with other district schools, and has consistently referred to charter schools. as a "drain on the system" and having a negative impact on the community, something that has affected how people in the community feel about charter schools (Parent focus group, Teacher focus group, Lead Teacher interview). So, while School A wants to have autonomy, it also wants acceptance-from the district and the community as a whole. As discussed earlier in this case study, School A is a place that talks a lot about inclusion, respect, and diversity. The Quality Schools Model (Glasser, 1998), which School A has adopted, emphasizes learning environments that are respectful, non-coercive, and mutually-caring. While every effort is made by all stakeholders to honor this commitment, complaints 116

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continue to exist. Focus group participants talked about a recent report from the district that was critical of the school's ethnic breakdown-that School A was n.ot as diverse as the district. As discussed above, in the Description of the School section (Table 4.1 ), this is true in some areas, specifically the percentage of students served who are eligible for free and reduced lunch and the number of Hispanic students served (School A has lower percentages for both of these areas). Teachers in School A are really bothered by this. They talked about their frustrations about wanting to have more but feeling as though their hands were tied due to the school being a lottery for enrollment and not allowing the school to give preference to low-income or minority students. Parents talked about the lack of transportation and lunch program as another reason why the school was not attracting a more diverse applicant pool. Finally, a third reason why the school might not be as diverse has to do with its enrollment of new students-the number of applicants far exceeds the limited number of spots it has open each year. According to Parent focus group participants, a lot of people do not even try to get in because it is perceived as being impossible to get into School A. 117

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Change I wanted to see if one group within the school emerged as the "change agents" (the ones most frequently pushing for changes within the school). Not only was I interested in who was pushing for changes but also, when compared to some of the other data collected on the topic of decision-making, I wanted to determine whether those pushing for changes also had a role in making, or the power to influence, such changes within the school. Figure 4.4 displays the results for this question. Just over a quarter of respondents (30 or 27%) selected "don't know." I was curious about whether the number of years a person had been with the school had any influence on whether or not they knew who was most often pushing for change within the school, so I checked the frequency of responses by years of experience, and discovered that among those who responded "don't know" in School A, 63% had fewer than two years of experience with the school. Nearly the same number of respondents chose "teachers" as the force most often pushing for changes in the school (29 or 26% ). This was not surprising, given the role of teachers at the school, including serving on the governance board and making all decisions regarding curriculum. Of these categories, the fewest responses were for the School Leader (4 or 4%) and External Entities (2 or 2%) as the primary change agents. A caveat, is that most of these groups are included in decision-making at School A. The school 118

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leader, teachers, and parents all are represented on the Council Board and all stakeholders can bring up issues and have influence on decisions about the school by attending Council meetings. Several respondents chose multiple responses, exemplifying this shared decision-making, or included a message in "other'' noting the role of many of these people, not just one group, in the decision-making These responses are lumped together as "other" in Figure 4.4. 2% 4% Ia Don't know Teachers DBoard DParents School Leader [!]External Entities other Figure 4.4. Influence of various stakeholder groups from School A on. the change process. Second-Generation Changes In order to identify whether the experiences that a charter school encounters differ, once it is beyond start-up and working on the institutionalization of its program, I asked respondents who had been with the school for three or more years to identify any changes they were noticing as 119

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the school matured. Of the 111 total respondents from School A, 34 indicated that they had been noticing changes and had been there long enough to respond to this question. Figure 4.5 displays the changes noted by at least 25% or more of the respondents. Increased focus on finances Other :g Less time C) c ctl .c 0 Less stress More time on school Improvement Changing population 0 N = 34 5 10 15 # of Respondents Figure 4. 5. Second-generation changes in School A. 20 25 The change most identified by respondents was Changing Population (21 or 62%). This has to do with a shift in the school-fewer founding families and teachers and more new families and staff members. This is going to happen as a school matures, and it is an issue that was echoed in the interviews and focus groups. Veteran teachers are tired of being asked by new people to try the same stuff over and over again, while newer people feel frustrated by the perceived lack of interest among veteran members to try 120

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new things (Teacher focus group). And parents expressed concerns that "because of the relatively low turnover of teachers, it is sometimes difficult to get a fresh perspective" (Parent focus group). "Keeping consistency in a way that doesn't limit people is a challenge" (Lead Teacher interview). Similar to an entrepreneurial business that is becoming more established, once systems are in place, the product is effective, and leadership and staffing are secure, often the next step is to focus on how the company can improve and become more profitable (Collins & Porras, 2002). The same appears to be true in School A. As indicated in Figure 4.5, more time is being spent on school improvement (18 or 53%), respondents appear to be less stressed (13 or 38%), and respondents find themselves spending less time on non-educational (e.g., administrative) issues (12 or 35%). This sentiment was echoed by the School Leader during her first interview. She talked about the early years of the school's existence and how the challenges it faces now differ from those in the past. "When the school first started, it was extremely stressful. It is better now because systems are in place, but over the years, some teachers have left because of the big workload and high expectations." Focus group participants discussed the differences now too, in terms of being able to focus more on "maintaining the model" (Board focus group) and spending time "visiting and revisiting what we value" (Teacher focus group), instead of on things like determining the governance structure, 121

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recruiting students, hiring teachers, and deciding what type of curriculum they wanted . As indicated in Figure 4.5, just over a quarter (9) of survey respondents noted an increased focus on finances as the school matures. When.the topic of finances came up in the interviews and focus groups, it was typically in reference to staff compensation, extra-curricular activities, and the facility. Some focus group participants expressed concerned that School A will be unable to keep up paying its staff at a level comparable with the district, given budget shortfalls they keep hearing about in the district that they expect will have an impact on all schools, including charter schools (Teacher and Parent focus groups). This issue was reiterated by one of the charter school leaders whom I interviewed. His point was that many charter schools have been able to differentiate their staffing in such ways as to bring on newer, Jess experienced staff members and pay them Jess while also hiring some senior people who earn more. The issue is that people are staying with the schools, and each year this puts an increased demand on the school's budget (e.g., hiring fewer new teachers and needing to pay more experienced teachers). Due to economies of scale, in a large district (or school) with a much bigger budget, it is easier to spread out expenditures and have less of an impact than it is in a small school (Augenblick, Myers, & Anderson, 1997). 122

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Concerns were expressed in the Parent focus group about the lack of money to support quality extra..:curricular activities, especially in the area of music, PE, and the Arts. And, conversations surfaced in each of the focus groups and interviews about the facility and the desire to update and add-on to the facility in order to better meet the needs of the student body. The school does not wish to add students, just space to meet the existing students' and staff needs. Finally, 38% (13) of survey respondents included changes they were noticing in the "other' category. A list of these comments follows. 1. Development of a 9-12 high school to add to the K-8 school (2 responses). 2. Veteran staff member expressed concern about new staff and "old" ideas thatthey had already tried before and didn't want to try again. 3 .. Increased emphasis on diversity and inclusion. 4. Increased pressure preparing for and time spent on standardized testing. (3 responses) 5. Starting to look beyond our community to see how we can share our successful model with other schools. 6. More complacency as we mature. 7. Continued poor financial support from state. 8. Leadership looking for new challenges. (This issue was actually echoed in some of the focus group discussions. Some concern suggests that the Lead Teacher is spending less time focused on School A and is spending more time with the new pre-school and high school that she helped start this past year. The primary concern was 123

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less that she was getting her work done but more that they missed having her around more. This begs the question-. what will School A do when the Lead Teacher decides to move on-whether it be sooner or later. This person has been with the school since its inception and it will certainly be a big transition when the leadership of School A does change hands down the road.). 9. Have time for a thoughtful evolution of school vision, goals, programs without pressure and stress. Summary Table 4.6 compares data findings for School A with the conceptual framework. Items highlighted in bold indicate places where gaps exist between what School A has in place and what Senge et al. (2000) indicate are the key qualities inherent in schools that learn. Overall, School A reflects the '!lajority of the characteristics of schools that learn. Areas where the school may want to focus its attention, include 1. Working with the Lead Teacher to see how others might be able to assume some of the leadership responsibilities while she focuses on expanding the school's mission to include pre-school and high school. Such a move will accomplish a couple of things. First, it will assure that the school's leadership remains effective, and second, it will provide an opportunity for other stakeholders to become involved in and skilled in various aspects of school leadership. 2. While the school has done a great job ensuring open and effective communication, some continue to feel uncomfortable expressing opinions that may seem different from the norm. The Council Board might want to examine this issue and make recommendations to the Council regarding how to make the environment more conducive and open to all people's input and opinions. 124

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---Table 4.6 Relationship of findings for School A with the conceptual framework. Common Characteristics in Schools That Learn Effective and visionary leadership. Shared vision for school among all stakeholder groups. Stewardship (commitment to school extends beyond my child, classroom, grade, friend, etc.). Ongoing reflection, inquiry and collaboration among teachers and as part of professional development. Highly motivating and challenging curriculum for a// students. School/community interdependence (meaningful partnerships with the surrounding community). School is a safe and healthy place. Parents/families are highly committed partners in their children's learning. Evidence (or lack thereof) of this quality at School A School leader respected, founder of school, maintains vision, has others to help her to be more effective, especially re: business operations of school. However, she is being pulled in new directions (pre-school & high school), uncertainty about I term future at School A or whether others could step in if were to leave. ong she Council allows all to be involved, shape vision, make changes, handbook lays it all out clearly, communication agreements all ow for ey discourse. Some intimidated to bring up issues because th may be seen as "swaying from the party line." Parents, teachers, school leader involved in many ways besid es ce those impacting their own. child, class, etc. (e.g., Council, servi days, non-classroom responsibilities, families to families, expectations in handbook) All staff meeting and planning time every Friday. Book study g roups. Internal staff development mostly. Few opportunities/$ for external development. Individualized learning allows all to be challenged, make choic es ative xtends oss based on interests and goals, curriculum tied to standards, ere and academically successful on standardized tests, learning e beyond classroom, strategies in place to make it coherent acr grades/classes; handbook provide detailed information about t he curricular themes, expectations. Attract about the same amou nt of nd special education students as district but fewer low income a Hispanic students. While the school does do community service and partner with surrounding organizations throughout the year, it is certainly some not interdependent and in actuality is somewhat isolated, don 't do ity ged much to branch out with the broader educational commun either, including charter community, district has discoura partnerships between the school and other district school s. Clear expectations for behavior, central to school's philosophy is t, d; notion of respectful, non-coercive, mutually caring environmen people care about and trust one another, differences embrace facility somewhat crowded. While the perception among about half of survey respond was that not all parents are involved, overall the school doe ents shave eas; a lot of support and involvement from families in a variety of ar parents are included and expected to participate in decision-m a king pout about school, volunteer in classroom, attend field trips, and hel in other ways during the year 125

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3. A priority of the school should be examining ways in which to provide opportunities for its staff members and other stakeholders to participate and learn with their peers in the broader educational and charter communities. This will likely mean increased focus on grant writing and other efforts to solicit funding geared toward professional development. 4. Because diversity is an issue that came up often, not only among the participants in this study but also from the district (as relayed to me in the focus groups and interviews), School A needs to re-examine its recruitment and enrollment efforts in order to increase the diversity of its applicant pool: Also, it should examine whether it can raise funds or work with the district to provide transportation and free and reduced price lunch opportunities as a means of recruiting more low-income families to the school. 5. While the school does do a good job providing opportunities for its students to partner with the community, the adults in the building are feeling isolated. Informal and formal partnerships with other schools (charter and non-charter) and organizations in the county, as well as collaborations with educators and other community entities from outside (e.g., state and national) need to be pursued. This is important for decreasing the isolation that is felt among stakeholders at School A. It will also lead to more interest, attention, notoriety, and credibility being lent to School A-something that may lead to an improved relationship with its district and surrounding community. 6. While the facility is sufficient, it could use some work. The Council should explore ways that it can improve and expand its facility-both through the district (e.g., being part of district bonding and tax levies) and outside the district (e.g., ensuring that it understands the process for and receives appropriate charter school facility monies from the state). 7. Finally, while overall, parents are highly involved in their children's learning at School A, it appears that some perceive that involvement to be among some, but not all parents. While it is unlikely that all parents can be involved at the same level, given other commitments and interests, the Council might want to spend some time on this issue and discuss how to involve parents in different ways. 126

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CHAPTER 5 CASE STUDY OF SCHOOL 8 School 8 is a charter school located in Colorado. When you complete this chapter, you will know much about this school (e.g., information about the school's size and grades served, how long it has been operating, the student teacher ratio and average years of teacher experience, its student population, the educational program, its governance structure, and student achievement results. You will also be provided with a description of this study's findings pertaining to School 8 (e.g., results from analyses of the survey, focus groups, interviews, and document review), including a comparison of the findings with the conceptual framework. Chapter 6 offers a cross-case analysis, comparing and contrasting the findings from both case studies (School A's case study is discussed in Chapter 4 ). Chapter 7 provides additional information about the overall findings, in context with the research questions and the conceptual framework. As per my agreement with the UCD Human Subjects Research Committee, the identity of the schools and the district in which they reside will remain confidential. Thus, references that contain the school or district's 127

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name in their title cannot be cited herein or listed in the references. A listing of the documents that I reviewed from each school is found in Chapter 3 (Table 3.5). Throughout this chapter, I identify the source with a name that describes the document but does not disclose the identity of the subject. Description of the School Established in 1996; School B is an academically rigorous middle school serving 300 students from throughout the county. The school was started by a group of parents who were dissatisfied with the existing middle school programs available in the district. They wanted a program that was more challenging, individualized, and focused on preparing students for success in high school and beyond. School B spent the first few years of its existence sharing a facility with a neighborhood middle school. It is now in its own district-owned facility-a former elementary school. Table 5.1 displays general information about the school, including the total number of students, grades served, years it has been operating as a charter school, student teacher ratio, average years of teacher experience, total number of administrators employed, and the makeup of the governing board. 128

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Teachers School B takes great pride in its faculty. Our "strength as a school is directly related to the quality of the faculty" (Annual Report, p. 75). "We are at [School B] because of the teachers" (Parent focus group). "There is a great deal of respect for the teachers' expertise. We have a lot of specialists, people who love their material and are extremely knowledgeable, so they are able to bring in things you normally wouldn't see in a middle school" (Board focus group). Organized more like a college-preparatory high school, than a typical middle school, School B has departments and teachers who are subject-matter specialists (e.g., math, foreign language, English, science, social studies) and other who specialize in areas offered as electives (e.g., music, art, technology). All of the teachers at School B eat lunch together every day. We work hard to keep all teachers' lunches at the same time. There was pressure when we moved here to divide up the faculty in order to have staggered lunches and we decided to have a crowded faculty room and have some extra supervision of students just so that we can continue to have that collaboration. (Teacher focus group) The hiring process at School B is inclusive of parents and students. Following an initial screening of applications by the hiring committee (parents appointed to the committee by Board), the strongest applicants are required to demonstrate their competency in front of "real live" students (hiring 129

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committee members are also present). The hiring committee gets evaluations from the students and uses this information to decide which applicants will be invited back for an in-depth interview with the hiring committee. A recommended list of applicants is then submitted to the board of directors, who make the final decisions (Annual Report, Board focus group). The way that we recruit and hire teachers is unique and I think it is a strength. Parents and students are involved in the hiring. Teachers are not dumped Ofl us, instead we have a say in who we think should be hired and why. This involvement really makes for a different attitude among parents and students-we helped pick these people and we take responsibility and pride in our choices. This pride carries over to the teachers who enjoy teaching to students who want them there. (Board focus group) Table 5.1 General information about School 8 Number of students Grades served Years as a charter school Student teacher ratio Average years of teacher experience Number of administrators Governing board 300 6-8 6.5 16:1 8 3 7 parents School B is a designated agency for the Alternative Teacher License program. "The goal of the program is to provide a high quality teacher training program at a reasonable cost for people who have unique knowledge and skills to offer the students in our community" (Annual Report, p. 75). Because School B places such importance on subject-matter expertise, it has found 130

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the Alternative Teacher License program to be a good way to attract "highly qualified people to the teaching profession." (p. 75) While School B does have several teachers who have been with the school for a number of years, it has lost teachers each year, and over the past couple of years, it has lost a couple of its favorite teachers-people who were highly respected by the school community (Principal interview). While people seem generally happy with the new teachers who have come on board, some concerns were expressed about whether the quality of teachers was starting to decrease (Parent focus group) or whether turnover was going to be an ongoing issue for the school (Principal interview). Nearly all of School B's teachers have advanced degrees (Masters' or Ph.D.s). The student teacher ratio is 16:1, and the average years of teaching experience among the faculty is 8 years. (School Accountability Report, 2002) Leadership School B is governed by a seven-member Board of Directors. All seven members are parents who are elected by the parents and teachers of the school. The school principal attends all board meetings as an ex-officio (non-voting) member. The Board makes policy, controls the budget, consults with the principal, conducts evaluations of the principal and other school administrators, participates in teacher evaluations, makes and implements hiring decisions, decides enrollment questions, and 131

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serves as a:review panel for any protests of administrative decisions, among other duties. (Annual Report, p. 49) The Principal is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the school (Annual Report, p. 49). My role is to support my teachers. To make them feel comfortable, to get them what they need to do their job. Be in their classroom, give them feedback, formally and informally, praise them liberally but not excessively. I encourage their professional development, make available conferences, encourage the board to allocate funds for professional development. In terms of the students, to be visible, to be out and about, to get to know the students, to make them feel they are being cared for and appreciated, you and taking an interest in them as individuals. When things happen, we have a dean of students here that deals a lot with the discipline, but at times I am involved with that as well and setting limits for kids and helping facilitate discussions between kids if there are issues. Our school counselor deals with that a lot too but she is only here one day a week. I want to make sure there is a safe environment, a place where students feel comfortable coming, the building is clean, it is a positive learning environment for them. In terms of the parents, my role is to be accessible to them, to make them feel that they have input, also at times to draw the line when necessary, to get information out to people, keeping families informed, meeting with them, having programs for them, and so forth. (Principal interview) In addition to the school principal, School B's administration includes an Assistant Principal for Curriculum and Instruction and a Dean of Students. The Dean's primary responsibilities include managing behavioral and discipline issues and coordinating the school's athletic program. "Coach enforces high expectations for behavior." (Teacher focus group) Among other things, the Assistant Principal works with the faculty on curriculum 132

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development and instruction, oversees testing and the literacy program, and mentors new teachers. The principal refers to her as his "trusted advisor." (Principal interview) She describes her position as one of support and mentorship. I don't write the teacher evaluations that go to the board and I think that is really important and I have always resisted having my job morphed into a more formal kind of evaluative role because I think people feel comfortable coming to me with problems or to each other, and we also don't have hierarchy, even within departments. (Teacher focus group) Educational Program School 8 is for kids who need or want to be challenged (Board focus group). "You come into the school knowing that your kids are going to work hard" (Parent focus group). Specific goals and objectives are in place for the program, student, and faculty. These goals focus on a variety of areas relating to academic success, social and emotional development, community support and involvement, accountability; professional development, and communication (Annual Report). School B's mission is (Annual Report, 20012002, p.2.) To provide a rigorous, academic curriculum that promotes high levels of student effort and academic achievement. To foster high self-esteem through stimulating intellectual challenge and meaningful accomplishment. 133

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To inspire in student a lifelong love of learning and a desire for self development. To create a community of peers who value scholarship, academic achievement, and creativity. To serve as an excellent preparation for students intending to study in the International Baccalaureate program and other college-preparatory high school programs. School B's curriculum is standards-based. It has created its own contentstandards that meet or exceed district standards. This has been an ongoing project and focus of the school since its inception, led primarily by the assistant principal .with the help of an external curriculum development consultant. We were really very lucky to have her (the assistant principal) join the staff fairly early on because she brought a very strong understanding of standards at a time when most of us were still trying to grapple with this whole standards process that the state was establishing, and I think [School B] is really going to go down as one of the first schools to actually tie the curriculum to the standards. (Board focus group) For each core subject, School B has created content standards and specific learning benchmarks and is now working on standards-based units of study, along with appropriate assessments, for each of these core subjects. Fifteen pages of standards and benchmarks are described in the Annual Report and cover the following core subjects: English, Science, Social Studies, Mathematics, Foreign Language. In addition to the standards within each subject area, there are Standards for Learning Across the Curriculum: 134

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students will learn to communicate, students will learn to acquire and apply knowledge, students will develop powers of reasoning, and students will take responsibility for learning (Annual Report). "Virtually every student is able to take his or her desired core classes, and most students are able to take their requested electives, including specialized music classes" (p. 33). "The curriculum is content rich, specific, recognizable, and clear to parents." (Parent focus group) Student ability, track records, and other measures are used to place students in their appropriate courses (Annual Report). Classes, therefore, are not organized by grade, but by ability. Most classes have students in different grades (School Accountability Report). The faculty recommends where students should be placed, but ultimately it is up to the parents and student to make the final decision about which courses to take. "Parents sign off on their child's schedule each year. It's not the children's choice, teacher's choice, or administrator's choice. Parents with their child make the choices" (Board focus group). In addition, learning is individualized. The school has a "ceilingless" curriculum which means that students always have the opportunity to do more challenging work (Teacher focus group). Finally, the school makes an effort to make its course offerings articulate as seamlessly as possible with those of the [district] high schools. School B's teachers and administrators meet regularly with the staff of 135

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individual high schools and the district to ensure that when students graduate from the school they are prepared and capable of succeeding in high school (Board focus group, Principal interview, School Accountability Report). Student Enrollment and Demographics Students attend School B from all over the county. Transportation is not provided so parents are responsible for getting their children to and from school each day. Admission to the school is by lottery. Siblings of current students and children of staff members are given preference in admission. The district manages the lottery and the open enrollment process for the school. The number of applicants each year to School B far exceeds the number of openings; therefore, School B has to refuse admission to most of the applicants. It does create a waiting list; however, students rarely leave, so the waiting list mostly goes untouched each year. The characteristics of School B's student population are quite different than the averages for the district as a whole. School B has a slightly smaller percentage of African American students and much lower percentages of Hispanic, Special Education, English Language Learners, and high poverty students than the district. However, it has a much higher percentage of Asian students and Caucasian .students than the district average. The school does provide a lunch program and is therefore equipped to provide free and 136

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reduced price lunches for those who qualify. When interview subjects and focus group participants were asked to speculate why they thought there were such differences, they had a few responses. Some said that because of the lack of transportation or working parents, some students could not get to and from school (Parent focus group). While the school culture of rigorous and challenging academics was provided as a potential reason for attracting more Asian families (Parent focus group), the opposite was true for families of students with special needs. The challenging curriculum and the individualized, self-directed instructional approach can be very difficult for special education students. And, the school does not provide a program for English Language Learners. In fact, the district requires the school to have families who might otherwise receive such services, sign a waiver acknowledging that they will not get such servicesat School B (principal interview). Table 5.2 Comparison of student demographics between District and School B District School 8 African American 2% >1% American Indian 1% 1% Asian 5% 12% Caucasian 79% 86% Hispanic 13% 1% Free & Reduced Lunch 12% 1% English Language Learners 9% 2% Special Education 12% 3% 137

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Student Achievement As is mandatory for all public schools in the state, School 8 participates in the state's student assessment program. Each year that it has taken these tests, School 8 has had a much higher percentage of its students score proficient or above than the state average (School Accountability Report). Table 5.3 displays the scores for School 8 and the state for the 2002 state assessments. Table 5.3 School Band the State: Percentage ofstudents scoring proficient or above on the 2002 State Assessments 6th grade reading 6th grade writing 6th grade math 7th grade reading ih grade writing ih grade math 81 h grade reading 8th grade writing 8th grade math 8th grade science SchoolS 98 95 92 94 89 85 100 95 85 94 State 65 50 51 59 50 39 65 50 39 50 I recognize that there are lots of factors that need to be considered when making comparisons in test data (e.g., student characteristics). While the higher scores in School B might be because of its educational program, without considering other factors, it is difficult to draw that conclusion for sure. Given School B's student population and location (upper-middle class community), other factors are likely to contribute to its success on the tests 138

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than just the educational program of the school (Berne & Stiefel, 1999; Coons et al., 1970). In the cross-case analysis section of this document, using charts, School A's scores are compared with those of School Band the state average. School 8: Comparison of Achievement Data, 2001-2002 100 95 90 85 80 75 Figure 5. 1. Comparison of achievement data in School B, 2001-2002. As a means of capturing a segment of School B's progress over time, I compared its own scores on selected state assessments from 2001 with those of 2002. Since not all of the same tests were given in 2001 as in 2002, I picked only those that were given both years for comparison purposes. As Figure 5.1 illustrates, School B improved its scores in most tests from 20012002, including 6th grade reading, 8th grade reading, 8th grade math, and 8th grade science; however, scores on the 7th grade reading and writing tests both decreased. As a result of the dips in these scores, School B enacted 139

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special tutoring and support programs in Math and English to help students who might be falling behind (Board focus group, Teacher focus group). Findings from the Data As discussed in Chapter 3, both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection were used in this study. Including the student demographic and achievement data discussed above, the survey is the only additional quantitative data source used. Focus groups, interviews, and document review are included among the qualitative data sources. Since the study is exploratory in nature, designed to determine what made these schools successful, aod to assess what issues or challenges they would be facing in years to come, the analysis of each data type yielded identifiable school characteristics, including the strengths and challenges within each of the subject schools, and any changes the schools were experiencing as they matured. Findings from these various data sources are presented below under the three headings of Strengths, Challenges, and Change. Quantitative and qualitative findings for School 8 are presented individually and collectively within each heading. Comparisons are drawn and connections are made between these data types. 140

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Qualities Inherent in the Schools When designing -the survey, I summarized the qualities inherent in schools that learn (Senge et al., 2000) and created a list of several items that one would see in such a successful school. Adding to this list a couple of questions specific to charter schools (e.g., did respondents know what it meant to be a charter school, would they prefer to be a regular public school over a charter), I came up with a list of 21 statements. Using a Likert-type scale, respondents were asked to choose, on a scale of 1-5 (with one high and five low), the extent to which they agreed with each statement. Of the 21 statements, Table 5.4 lists the ten items where at least 100 (90% or more) of respondents agreed or strongly agreed, and Table 5.5 identifies the areas where respondents were least likely to agree or strongly agree. Based on these responses, stakeholders in School B feel that their school meets the individual needs of students, provides quality curriculum and instruction, and is safe; however, when it comes to transitions, they are not as much in agreement about how well the school embraces change. They are educated about what it means to be a charter school and would prefer to be a charter school over a regular district school, despite feeling disconnected from the broader educational community and unsupported by the local district and community. 141

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Table 5.4 Among the statements provided, the qualities that 90% or more of survey respondents agree or strongly agree are present in School B My school fosters the development of all children's learning, regardless of limits, family background, or obstacles before them. The curriculum and instruction at my school is academically challenging. The curriculum and instruction at my school is fun, interesting, and relevant. My school is a safe place. I understand what it means to be a charter school. Table 5.5 Areas where School B survey respondents were least likely to agree or strongly agree with the statement provided The external community is supportive of my school. I would prefer for my school to be a regular public school instead of a charter school. My school is part of a larger professional community. We embrace change at this school. Strengths Respondents were asked to identify their school's strengths. From a list of 16 potential strengths (pulled from the research and from the interviews that I had conducted with the principals prior to developing the survey), respondents were asked to rank their top three choices (1 indicated the greatest strength, 2 the second greatest, and 3 the third greatest). Figure 5.2 displays School 8 respondents' top four choices for the school's greatest 142

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strengths. Upon examination ofthe findings, it is clear that stronger agreement exists among respondents about the strength of the educational program and the quality of the staff than the other three items. However, instead of highlighting only two strengths, especially since respondents were asked to select three, I opted to provide a broader perspective by including the top four ranked items. Additionally, by showing these additional strengths, comparisons can be made more easily between the findings from other survey questions and the focus groups and interviews. For instance, when one examines the items that 90% or more of respondents agreed were present in their school (Table 5.4 ), with the findings in Figure 5.2, similarities emerge. In both instances, respondents expressed positive feelings about their school's educational program, staff, and success with students. J!l c Q) "'C c 90 70 g_ 50 en 30 10 N = 117 Educational High Quality Staff Small Classes Clear Mission & Program Purpose Strengths Figure 5.2. Top ranked strengths of School B by survey respondents. 143

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When asked about their school's strengths, all focus group and interview participants started the discussion by talking about the educational program. "A highly motivating and challenging curriculum for all students. That is just an absolute basis for our program" (Teacher focus group) .Students are encouraged to be creative while also being challenged academically. My kids have fun at [School B]. And, [School B] allows kids. to move around as needed by taking more challenging courses, even if those courses are for older kids. (Parent focus group) School B, as discussed in the Description of School section above, was started by a group of parents who wanted a school that was more academically challenging and that was able to hire and attract the best talent in the area to teach their students (Board focus group). The quality of its teachers, and the importance of this to the school, emerged during the conversations about its educational program, as well as during several other areas of the discussion, including having autonomy to staff the school as it wished instead of according to district guidelines. "Over the history of the school, the number of really spectacular teachers is high and we have really worked hard to get people with subject matter expertise" (Board focus group). In response to the survey, nearly 80% (91) selected Strong Educational Program and 70% (82) High Quality Staff as one of the school's greatest strengths. Given the founding vision of the school, combined with what I heard in these conversations about the curriculum and teachers and the 144

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detailed descriptions of the educational program in the Annual Report, it was not a surprise to see these two areas selected by so many survey respondents as the strengths of the school. During focus groups and interviews, parents and the principal each discussed the importance of a small school and small classes. Some parents chose the school because of its size. They did not want their child in a large middle school. The principal talked about getting to know all the students, something that could not happen in a larger school. However, despite the small size.ofthe school, teachers feel overworked. Workload, compensation, and the demands of the job continue to be a concern for teachers. Teachers look forward to a time when scheduling may allow for either a reduced class load or a daily schedule that decreases the number of daily lesson preparation and/or students each teachers sees on a given day. (Teacher satisfaction survey, 2001) Clear mission and purpose was identified as a strength of the school by about 20% of survey respondents. Some focus group participants attribute this clarity of mission and purpose to the school's ability to be consistent with the implementation of that mission without interruption from the district. We can have continuity because we are a charter school. When I look at other middle schools in the district, they have had so many changes-middle school essentials and then this thing that was sort of middle school essentials, then they went back to the traditional junior-high model, so they have been through three or four different educational models, each of which has a cost to teachers, students, families, trying to cope with all that transition. (Board focus group) 145

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Being a_charter school and having the opportunity to not only implement its mission without district distraction but to use its resources to further the mission, to hire and staff the school as it wishes, to use its own curriculum, and to manage the school on-site, with its own governing board, are just a few of the strengths raised in all of the focus groups and interviews. "Being a charter school is critical to our success" (Parent focus group). Teachers indicated that many of them would not be at School B had it none been a charter school since many of them went through the Alternative Certification Program because they did not have valid teaching licenses for the state or because they had come in from higher education or the private sector. They are certified and licensed now but that was not the case with all of them in the beginning. Things here are different because we .are a charter school. In a regular school we might be on a School Improvement Team, meet once a month, have aJundraiser, and that would be it for the year. Here, we can make real changes and the speed with which these changes can be made, would not be possible in a regular school. (Board focus group) Challenges In similar fashion to the previous question regarding the school's strengths, survey respondents were provided with a list of several potential challenges (based on items that emerged in discussions within Schools That 146

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Leatn [Senge et al, 2000] as well as in the principal interviews) and asked to rank their school's top three challenges (or add their own challenges under "other"). Figure 5.3 displays School B respondents' .top four choices for their school's most significant challenges. I struggled with whether or not I should include only the top three ranked challenges for School .B since the fourth challenge was chosen by so many fewer respondents than the other three challenges (15% of participants [18] indicated that teacher turnover was a challenge compared to 67% or more for the other three items); however, since I listed four challenges for School A, I opted to include a fourth for School B as well. N = 117 Cll 100 100 c Cll 'C 80 c 0 60 c. Cll 40 Cll 0:: 20 .... 0 0 =tt Facility Finances Community Teacher Relations Turnover Challenges Figure 5.3. Top ranked challenges of School B by survey respondents. With 85% (1 00) of respondents selecting it, the facility is clearly the biggest challenge identified by School B respondents. As discussed above,. 147

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School B is a middle school housed in an old elementary school building. While all focus group and interview participants expressed dissatisfaction with the facility, it was an issue that emerged most frequently during conversations with teachers, board members, and the principal, maybe because they spend more time in the school or because they have worked in other settings where the facilities had more to offer. Table 5.6 Results from School B's student survey of social environment N = 225 Yes Partially Satisfied with School 8 72% 26% Adequate assignment coordination 49% 42% School B's facilities are adequate 35% 28% Satisfied with elective grading and homework 84% 0% I participate in extra-curricular sports 57% 0% I attend School B's social activities 80% 0% I enjoy coming to school 73% 0% No 2% 9% 37% 0% 43% 20% 27% "Kids make a sacrifice every day to be here in an inadequate facility" (Teacher focus group). "We don't have the facility that other middle school students in this district have. We are lucky to be located next to a park, so we can use that for P.E. and other activities, but we are missing so many things, like a science lab" (Board focus group). The majority of students, on the other hand, while not thrilled with the facilities, seem to find them adequate. Results from the most recent survey of students, conducted by School B (Table 5.6), found 67% of students indicating that they thought the school facility was 148

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adequate or partially adequate. During the second interview, the principal indicated that the school was in negotiations with the district for additional space, including adding portable classrooms for music and science, in particular, and possible adding on a gymnasium. Despite dissatisfaction with the facility, parents, teachers, board members, and the principal all said that they would prefer to remain 'at School 8, even with the facility problems, than go to another school in the district. Next to facility, finances emerged as School B's greatest challenge. Teacher focus-group participants expressed concern that, on average, they already earn less money than teachers in district schools and were uncertain about whether School 8 would be able to keep certain people who might be able to make more working in the private sector. On the other hand, these same teachers indicated that right now they would rather be at School 8 making less than at a regular school where they had less control over decisions about curriculum and student placement, where the kids might have more behavior problems, or where the staff did not get along as well as they do at School B. Another issue raised by teachers about finances was the lack of resources available for professional development. While a number of "home grown" (internally developed) professional development opportunities for the faculty existed, little to no resources were available to send teachers to 149

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conferences, meetings, or other opportunities outside the school (locally or nationally) to network with and learn from other educators . The principal and board members talked about the amount of money the school pays the district for services and they don't feel that they get near the benefit, given the cost. This is especially true for special education (over $800 per pupil). For the few kids who qualify (3% as indicated in Table 5.2), the school only receives support for a few hours per day. Instead, they would like to reallocate ttiese resources to better meet the needs of the existing special education population and to have their counselor work more than the one day a week they can afford to pay her right now. Parents and teachers talked about wanting resources to build a science Jab for the school and to improve programs, such as sports, music, and the arts. Nearly as many survey respondents selected Community Relations (67% or 78) as a challenge as selected Finances. Since it opened its doors, School 8 has had a difficult relationship with the district, and focus-group participants blamed the district for swaying public opinion about charter schools. "All aspects of our relationship with the district are a challenge. We spend so much time reacting to or preparing for interaction with the district" (Board focus group). '"The school district constantly refers to charter schools as a drain on the system"(Parent focus group). The principal indicated that the relationship might be improving for a couple of reasons. First, people with 150

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whom they are dealing with in the district have recently changed due to turnover, and he feels that maybe the district is realizing that "we are here to stay" and wants to work together instead of struggling all the time. Second, turnover has occurred recently within the school's board. All of the founding board members have moved on and many of the "bad blood" with the district may have been due more to personality conflicts and holding grudges (on both sides) than anything else. Regardless, stakeholders in School B recognize that they need to improve their image with the community. "We have some exposure to the community via science fair and other events but it would benefit students if there was more community interaction" (Board focus group). Another area that both parents and teachers expressed an interest in turning around. public opinion is in regard to what they think are misperceptions about the school. Both indicated that they wanted to public to know about what was really happening in the school. That they were doing a good job with all kids, not just serving gifted students. "The tides are against charters, even though it feels like we are doing a good job" (Parent focus group). "We work very hard with a diverse population yet the community's perception is that we only work with the gifted. This nullifies our achievements in the eyes of the public" (Teacher focus group). While School B continues to have more applicants than spots it can fill, it is still bothered by the lack of 151

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acceptc:mce stakeholders feel they receive from the district and the broader community. Finally, 15% of .respondents (18) indicated teacher turnover as an issue. Similar to the survey, this was not something that was mentioned as frequently by interview and focus group participants or even within all discussions; however, it was an issue. As mentioned in the finances discussion above, teachers indicated that some of the teachers who had left recently did so because they were offered more money elsewhere. And parents concern about the quality of the teachers and whether it had dipped over recent years compared with the faculty of previous years. However, teachers indicated that the faculty keeps getting better and better. "I have watched our staff go from good to great; I think it is attributed to being able to hand pick your pros" (Teacher focus group). Change I wanted to see one group within the school stood out as the "change agents"-the ones most frequently pushing for changes within the school. Not only was I interested in who was pushing for changes but also, when compared to some of the other data collected on the topic of decision-making, I wanted to determine whether those pushing for changes also had a role in making, or the power to influence, such changes within the school. 152

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Figure 5.4 displays the results for this question. More than one-third of respondents (36%) selected "don't know." I was curious about whether the numb.er of years a person had been with the school had any influence on whether or not they knew who was most often pushing for change within the school, so I examined the responses by years of involvement and discovered that among those who responded "don't know" in School 8, 76% of those respondents had fewer than two years of experience with the school. This might indicate that the more time one spends in the school the more she or he begins to know about who has influence within the school. The group that respondents indicated is most often pushing for change was the school's governing board (21% ). However, since the governing board is made up exclusively of parents, when you combine the percentage that said the governing board was most often the driving force with those who said that parents are most often the driving force (17%), you come up with a total of 38%, making parents the most selected influences of the change process among all other responses. This is not surprising at School 8, given its history (a school started by parents) and its structure (parent-led Board of Directors, parents make ultimate decisions regarding policy and hiring, etc.). Only 3% of respondents indicated that teachers or the school leader were most often the driving force pushing for changes, and 12% of respondents indicated that external sources (e.g., the district or state) were most often the instigators. 153

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5% of respondents chose either multiple responses (indicating that more than one group was influential in the change process) or wrote in their own response ("other"). 5% moon't know Teachers 1% DBoard 17% DParents School Leader 1!1 External Entities 21% II Other Figure 5.4. Influence of various stakeholder groups from School 8 on the change process. Second-Generation Changes In order to identify whether the experiences a charter school encounters differ, once it is beyond start-up and working on the institutionalization of its program, I asked respondents who had been with the school for three or more years to identify any changes that they were noticing as the school matured. Of the 117 total respondents from School 8, 26 indicated that they had been noticing changes and had been there long enough to respond to this question. Figure 5.5 displays the changes noted by at least 25% or more of the 26 respondents. 154

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N =26 changing slaffrnles .e.!iil a : More rocuson school improvement !BE!iEEi$0 11 01 r:: I'll 0 Increased focus on finances 12 Other tB&.Eii$mBIIJ1e Changing population jiim!.ESfB)iei!iil'iiiii 21 0 5 10 15 20 # of Respondents Figure 5.5. Second-generation changes in School B. 25 Nearly 85% (22) of survey respondents indicated that Leadership Transitions was a second-generation change for their school. This was not surprising, given what I learned during the interviews and focus groups. School B's principal is in his second year with the school. The previous principal had been there for a number of years and had moved on to work at another charter school in the area. While most stakeholders seem very pleased with the principal, the fact that he is relatively new is an emergent change. Additionally, the role of Assistant Principal was new last year. She was promoted to that role after serving several years as a teacher and curriculum director. Apparently, part of the reason for the promotion was to 155

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keep her. She had been offered a position at the school where the previous .principal left to go teach. School B gave a counter-offer to keep her on board. Finally, a third area where the school is experiencing leadership transitions is with the Board. All of the founding. board members have left, and the board is now composed of a mixture of really new parents combined with some veteran parents. The Board held a retreat a year ago to prepare for this transition. Their primary concern was addressing how to hold on to the founding vision and maintain the systems that were "non-negotiables"-those things that worked or were critical to the school's existence-while also recognizing the need for new ideas and valuing the input of new board members. The board is in the process of developing this list of non negotiables, and the principal has started a founders group that meets semi annually. This is an opportunity for the founding board members to stay involved, provide input, and be available for questions/concerns from existing board about issues they are experiencing. Changing Population is a change that over 80% (21) of respondents have been noticing-nearly the same amount of respondents as Leadership Transitions. This has to do less with leadership, however, and more with changing student and parent populations. Mirroring what is happening with the Board, fewer founding families are involved with School B now than in the past. Many of the children of founding parents have moved on to high school 156

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and beyond, so their participation in the school has dwindled. In addition, the school is in a different phase now than it was when it.first opened. Many of the systems are in place and the role of parents differs now than it did then. Previously, parents had to get involved in all aspects of the school's operations, just to get the school up and running and functioning successfully (Board focus group). Now, all that is in place and little is left for parents to do, at least on the surface. Board members talked about needing to identify more ways for parents to get involved, especially in a leadership capacity (e.g., serving on board and board committees). Additionally, fewer spots in the school are committed to founding families than in the past, due to this transition (children of founders have priority for enrollment). Because of this, the population of student entering the school has changed. As the principal put it, it is now more of a bell curve. Previously, more students leaning towards gifted or higher achieving (since their parents were the ones who started the school) were attending the school than is the case now. Since the school enrolls students based on lottery, it has no control over its incoming population (except for slots reserved for siblings of existing students). Parents did not talk much about this issue in focus groups, except to say that they liked the fact that students attending School B came from all over, for them, this made it a richer, more diverse learning environment; however, the issue came up in other ways in all of the 157

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i I other groups. Teachers talked about the difficulty of addressing the varying needs of students. "The goal is to bring everyone up to a higher level but this is becoming more difficult as incoming students become less homogeneous" (Teacher focus group). The Board expressed frustration with parents who send their children to School B without really knowing much about the school's mission or what students will be expected to do once enrolled. We do a great deal of education and self-selection before open enrollment applications go in, but people still send their kids here because they hear it is a good school but they don't know much else. (Board focus group) Another board member did note that there is much more to an education at School B than just academics, and that all kids benefit. Thus, it was important to accept all kids and work with those kids. Despite the complaints, School B is working with all of the students in attendance. For those students needing extra support, tutoring, math, and literacy labs have been set up to help them with their work. And, for those needing or wanting extra challenges, opportunities to take advanced curriculum and support working on more advanced projects abound. Despite the complaints about the changing population, as the principal pointed out, School B continues to do better on standardized tests than most of the other schools in the state, and it has seen marked improvements on these tests from one year to the next within its own student body. 158

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.Nearly half of respondents (46%) indicated an increased focus on finances. This is likely for the same reasons as discussed above in the challenges section-issues concerning facility, special education, and a general lack of resource due to what the school perceives as too much money going to the district for items of which they do not receive equal benefit. Over 40% of respondents (11) indicated that more time is being spent now on school improvement. This may correlate with the next item, changing staff roles (31 %), which includes the relatively new role of Assistant Principai..Her position. is focused on school improvement and working with teachers to improve the curriculum and their instructional practices. As one board member said, "we are in an institutionalizing phase, calling for a different focus and a different level of engagement" (Board focus group). Echoing this sentiment was the prinCipal who said, "like an entrepreneurial company, we are growing, we don't have to focus as much on building the system now, we can hold on to what is good but grow and change as well, especially in regards to our educational program" (principal interview). Finally, the majority of survey respondents (62% or16), included changes they were noticing in the "other" category. A list of these comments follows. 1. I don't see a lot of push for change, the challenge is to hold on to what we have. 159

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2. Some courses seem too far beyond grade level. 3. The continuing lack of support from district is an ongoing challenge (2 responses). 4. We have less money per pupil now because of our new contract. 5. We can focus more now on our larger needs instead of concentrating on the curriculum. 6. There are ripple effects associated with having a larger student population now since the cap was lifted from 250 to 300. 7. There is now less parental volunteerism. 8. Parents are being pushed out by administration and staff. 9. Teacher quality is going down. 10. The new anti-bullying program is a new change. 11. We are spending more time strengthening the core curriculum. 12. New open enrollment process is causing problems. Summary Table 5.7 compares data findings for School B with the conceptual framework. Items highlighted in bold indicate places where there are gaps between what School Bhasin place and what Senge et al. (2000) indicate are the key qualities inherent in schools that learn. Overall, School B reflects the majority of the characteristics of schools that learn. Areas where the school may want to focus its attention, include 160

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Table 5.7 Relationship of findings for School B with the conceptual framework. Common Evidence (or lack thereof) of this quality at School B Characteristics in -Schools That Learn Effective and Well-respected and liked principal, yet relatively new to school; visionary leadership. board and principal have excellent grasp on operational aspects of school, AP serves as vision keeper and support for staff Shared vision for Vision clear from onset, people choose to attend (or work at) school school among all primarily because of its mission and vision, some tension may stakeholder groups. surface due to board being exclusively parents {role of principal., although non, voting, is to bring in voices, wishes, of staff) Stewardship Parents involved in many ways besides being parents to their (commitment to children, parent-founded, led school/board, teachers participate in school extends activities outside classrooms (e.g., tutoring), some concern that beyond my child, .parental involvement is fading with time, as school matures and classroom, grade, stabilizes, different type of commitment required of parents friend, etc.). Ongoing reflection, Teachers eat lunch together daily for purpose of collaborating, inquiry and communicating; AP facilitates lots of internal staff development collaboration among opportunities, few opportunities for staff outside teachers and as part school of professional development. Highly motivating and Definitely-clearly laid out and communicated, challenge is part of challenging mission, students are motivated according to my survey and school curriculum for all surveys, Standards-based curriculum, clear benchmarks, students students. well-prepared for high school and beyond; ability grouping, individualized needs met, especially for very bright/motivated, not a place with many special education or Limited English Proficient kids, aren't equipped to handle their needs well; also have fewer low income and Hispanic students than district average. School/community Good relations with broader educational community (charter and interdependence national educators) but not locally with immediate community or {meaningful district, isolated, and have had poor relations with district since partnerships with the inception, although principal indicated that this might be changing surrounding based on recent events community). School is a safe and Clear expectations for behavior, Dean of students, few discipline healthy place. problems, anti-bullying program; facility somewhat crowded, otherwise clean Parents/families are Parents are involved in nearly all decisions at Summit either in highly committed making choices with their child about their curriculum or in bigger partners in their issues like governing the school, parent-led board. Some concerns children's learning. about the new parents not having the same "fire in their belly" or willingness to participate at same level as founding families. 1. Given the school's governance structure (parent board), it is important for School B to continue to provide multiple ways for other stakeholders to provide input. The mechanisms are in place to allow 161

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I I I such input (e.g., teacher input to board via principal, stakeholder satisfaction surveys); however, these other stakeholders do not have a vote when it comes to making policy decisions-ultimately, the power rests with the parents who are on the board not the teachers, principal, or students. Since they do not have a vote, they need to feel that their voices are heard and see that the Board's actions reflectthese voices. 2. The level and type of parental involvement is changing over time due to the evolution of the school (from start-up phase to institutionalization). Such change can serve as an opportunity for the school's stakeholders to set new goals and develop revised roles for parents and others. 3. While the school does a good job providing staff development internally (coordinated by the Assistant Principal), opportunities for staff members to network and learn from their peers in the broader educational community are slim. F!Jrther, interactions with colleagues within the district and community in which they are located are also infrequent. Raising and allocating resources to link School 8 with the broader community in the form of professional development would be money well spent. It would bring credibility to the school (opportunities for School B to share its story and advise struggling schools}, help alleviate potential teacher burnout (often teachers are energized by good external professional development), and if the professional development is chosen appropriately, it will bring resources and new information back in to benefit the school. 4. Granted, the community in which School B is located is affluent and relatively homogeneous. However, an examination of the student demographic data for the school suggests that School B is serving a much higher percentage of higher-income, non-minority, and non special needs .students than other schools in the district (as compared to the district average). If School 8 wants to make it a priority to increase its diversity, I suggest that it examine its recruitment strategies and devise ways for better meeting the learning needs of low-income and special needs students. The challenge, as discussed frequently in the data presented herein, is how to meet the varying learning needs of all students and still maintain a high level of challenge, as dictated by School B's mission. Regardless of the fact that students are admitted by lottery, unless School 8 increases its diversity, it will continue to be viewed by some members of the 162

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community as "elitist" or a school only for the gifted. 5. While it appears that School B's relationship with the district is improving (due to turnover of School B's board and within the district administration), I encourage School B to continue to find ways to interact with its community in positive ways (e.g., district, schools, higher education, community agencies, business). Such interactions can serve as meaningful learning opportunities for students, bring resources into the school, and improve understanding and appreciation of the school by the external community. 163

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CHAPTER6 CROSS-CASE ANALYSIS This chapter compares and contrasts the findings from the individual school case studies and identifies areas where differences were statistically significant across schools, role groups, and years involved in the school. How the Schools Compare to One Another Both schools are located in the same district, serve approximately 300 students, and employ about 30 staff members, including teachers and other staff. School A is a K-8 while school B is a middle school exclusively. When compared with other schools in the district, both schools are much smaller than comparable middle schools. There are six other schools serving middle school students within the city limits where Schools A and Bare located. Additional middle schools serve students from the district but are located in adjacent towns; so, for comparison purposes, only those located within the same town as Schools A and B were used. Table 6. 1 compares the enrollment for the district schools located within the city and for Schools A and B. Across the six district schools, the average number of 6-8 grade 164

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students enrolled per school is 4 7 4 compared with 300 students in School 8 and 102 students in School A (ofSchool A's 300 students, 102 are in grades 6-8) .. Table 6.1. Student enrollment in Schools A and B and the district average for all middle schools in the city Enrollment in Grades 6-8 School A 102 SchoolS 300 District 474 When ranked by the state in its School Accountability Reports (SAR), most of the middle schools in this district rank "high" or "excellent" for their overall academic performance. When compared on the SAR with 10 other schools in the district, both Schools A and 8 rank "excellent" for their academic performance. Six of the comparable scores also rank "excellent", three rank "high" and one ranks "unsatisfactory." Interestingly, the one unsatisfactory school was a charter school that has now been closed and its students re-absorbed into the district. While School 8 has been a charter school one year longer than School A, School A has been in existence as a school for more than a decade. It converted to charter status in 1996. School B opened its doors in 1995 as a 165

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charter school. The primary difference between the two schools, besides their educational philosophies, is their leadership structure .. School B has three administrators (principal, assistance principal, dean) while School A has one (and she refers to herself as a lead teacher, not a principal). The governing boards and decision-making processes also differ from each other. School A uses a decision-making approach that includes input from all members of the school community and each of those members has a vote if they are attending the meeting. If the whole group cannot agree, then it goes to the Board, the makeup of which is parents and teachers. Again, all on the Board have to agree in order for a decision to be made. School A has a board comprised exclusively of parents. The principal is a non-voting member whose role is to bring in the inpu:t and ideas from the teachers and staff; however, when it comes to voting on a decision, only parent board members can vote. They use a consensus form of governance, meaning the majority must agree, not all members, as in School A (School A's approach is a concordance decision-making model). Additionally, the Board evaluates the administrators' performance in School B while no mechanism exists for evaluating the Lead Teacher's performance in School A. Each year the school satisfaction surveys that School A distributes include a questions related to the performance of the Lead Teacher. This is how her performance is evaluated. 166

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Teachers in School A have more power than those in School B. They make decisions about and create the curriculum for the school and serve on the school's governing board. While teachers in School B also play a significant role in curriculum development, the ultimate decisions about the curriculum, and the school in general, are made by the parent-led board. Additionally, teachers in school A evaluate themselves (through self evaluations), and each other (through peer evaluations). Teachers in School Bare evaluated by the principal, in partnership with the Board. While both schools do well academically, School B emphasizes academics much more than School A. As a matter of fact, it looks more like a college-prep high school in many ways than it does a middle school. School A focuses more on the importance of relationships, respect, non-coercion, and self-directed learning, and when all these things are in place, they say, students do well academically. Both schools stress the importance of giving students choices about what classes they want or need to take. In addition, both schools offer mixed-age classes; however, School A has students in age-based grades (albeit sometimes grades combine ages, such as a 3rd_4th grade class), while School B places student by ability, not age (so, many of the classes have students who are 6th-ath graders). The same enrollment policies dictate how students are admitted to both schools. Siblings and children of staff members have preference while 167

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others are admitted through a lottery administered by the district. Table 6.2 displays the demographics for both schools and the district. Both schools area serving fewer low-income, Hispanic, and English Language Learners than the district average. School 8 is serving fewer of these students than School A. School 8 is serving a higher percentage of Asian students than both School A and the district average. Table 6.2 2001-2002 student demographics for both schools and the district District School School A 8 Female 49% 51% 52% Male 51% 49% 48% African American 2% 2% >1% American Indian 1% 0% 1% Asian 5% 5% 12% Caucasian 79% 88% 86% Hispanic 13% 5% 1% Free & Reduced Lunch 12% 8% 1% English Language Learners 9% >1% 2% Special Education 12% 11% 3% Table 6.3 Percent of students scoring proficient and advanced on the state assessment of student performance School A SchoolS District Grade 6-8 reading 96% 97% 79% Grade 6-8 writing 86% 94% 67% Grade 6-8 math 88% 88% 62% State 63% 50% 43% For comparison purposes, only data from School A's middle school were used, since School 8 is a middle school. Table 6.3 identifies the 168

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percent of students scoring proficient or above on selected state assessments for School A, School B, the district, and the state. In terms of how they compare to one another, their results are comparable for 6-8 grade reading and math; however, School 8 scored quite a bit higher than School A on the state writing assessments (86% proficient in School A compared with 94% proficient in School 8). Both schools' scores are much higher in all areas than the district and state averages. Students at both schools scored between 1527% higher across the three assessments than the district average and between 34-45% higher than the state averages across these three categories. Findings from the Data Differences in responses by school and role group emerged when I was analyzing the survey data using descriptive statistics. In order to test whether these differences were significant, I ran t-tests and AN OVA, as appropriate for selected survey questions. T-tests were used when comparing two means (e.g., schools, role groups) and ANOVA was used when comparing responses based on years involved (there were more than two groups, so at-test could not be used; instead, I opted to use ANOVA, even though ANOVA is typically used in random sampling it served my need which 169

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was identifying whether or not there was a significant difference in responses). Qualities Inherent in the Schools Table 6.4 displays the areas where responses to statements concerning the qualities inherent in these schools were statistically significant. At least 90% or more of respondents somewhat agreed or strongly agreed that their school was academically challenging. However, School A respondents were more likely to lean towards somewhat agree than were School B respondents, who were more likely to choose strongly agree. Table 6.4 Significant differences in responses by school regarding the qualities inherent in the schools. N Mean S.D. Academically challenging School A 111 1.28 .47 SchoolS 117 1.04 .20 Embrace change School A 111 1.45 .86 SchoolS 117 1.74 1.08 Teachers work as team School A 111 1.01 .29 SchoolS 117 1.26 .7.2 Learning beyond School A 111 1.12 .32 classroom SchoolS 117 1.55 .87 Support of community School A 111 2.48 1.45 SchoolS 117 3.89 1.41 Students create learning School A 111 1.27 .54 SchoolS 117 1.60 .88 t Sig. (2-tailed) 4.97 .000 -2.26 .025 -3.48 .001 -4.92 .000 -7.47 .000 -3.37 .001 The difference between the means for these two schools is statistically significant, as seen in Table 6.4. Given the emphasis on academics that is 170

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Q predominant in School B (i.e., in how they describe themselves in their materials, the nature of the focus group discussions, and their mission statement), it is not surprising that this difference occurred between the schools. While both schools lean towards being neutral or disagreeing with the statement, "the external community is supportive of my school,' the difference in their responses is not significant. While focus group participants and interviewees from both schools discussed the lack of support from the district and community, similar to what is seen in the survey response, the amount of discussion, and the level of discussion about this topic, was slightly greater in School B than in School A, which is consistent with the findings from the survey data. School A's mission includes reference to "guiding students to become self-directed learners." While both schools provide plenty of opportunity for the students to have choices about their coursework, School A has made it a priority to involve students in creating their own learning experiences and directing such learning based on their individualized needs and goals. So, the significant difference in the schools' response to the statement, "students create their own learning experiences" may be attributed to this extra emphasis on this area in School A; however, both did agree or strongly agree on average with this statement. 171

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School A respondents are more likely to strongly agree that their teachers work effectively as a team than School B. In my experiences at both schools, both sets of teachers appeared to work very effectively as a team and to really like each other, so I wondered if this was a case where the responses of parents influenced the overall means; however, the difference in response to this statement, based on role group, was insignificant. Finally, School A respondents were more likely to strongly agree that their school embraces change than School 8 respondents. This may be attributed to recent changes in School 8 (e.g., principal, board turnover, teacher turnover) and tensions (slight tensions-because even with the statistically significant response, both schools ranked this statement high) within the school about such changes; however, it is important to note that this is not an issue where the veterans responded differently than the newer respondents-neither the differences in responses to this question, based on role or years involved with school, were significant. Table 6.5 Variance in response by role group to statements concerning the qualities inherent in the schools. N Mean S.D. t Sig. (2-tailed) Parents 188 1.42 1.05 -3.83 .000 Staff 39 2.13 1.03 172

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The only statement where a statistically significant difference existed (in response based on role), as indicated in Table 6.5, was "my school is part .of a professional community." Parents were more likely to strongly agree with this statement than staff members who were more likely to agree or remain neutral. One possible explanation for this response is the little opportunity that teachers at both schools have to be involved in external professional development (e.g., conferences and trainings). Table 6.6 Significant differences in responses, by school, regarding the strengths of each school N Mean S.D. Strong educational School A 111 .54 1.00 program SchoolS 117 1.10 .82 High quality staff School A 111 .96 1.03 School S 117 1.30 1.04 Small classes School A 111 1.18 .99 SchoolS 117 .64 1.17 Communication School A 111 .55 1.05 School S 117 .13 .58 Clear mission & School A 111 .14 .58 purpose SchoolS 117 .42 .98 Strengths t Sig. (2tailed) -4.65 .000 2.45 .015 3.74 .000 3.77 .000 -2.65 .009 When comparing the top ranked strengths from each school, as displayed in their case studies in Chapters 4 and 5 (Figures 4.2 and 5.2), variances between the two schools occur, both in the number of respondents who selected a particular strength and the strengths that were selected in 173

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\. I each school. While both schools ranked small classes, strong educational program, and high quality staff among their top three strengths, School A chose. small classes most often while School 8 chose strong educational program most often. And for its fourth highest rated strength, School 8 chose Clear Mission & Purpose while School A chose Communication. The differences of these two schools' responses to this question, for all of the strengths, are statistically significant, as displayed in Table 6.6. In two areas, the responses of parents were significantly different than the responses of staff members. Parents were more likely to choose strong educational program and effective school leader as strengths than staff members (Table 6.7). Table 6.7 Variances in responses by role group regarding the schools' strengths N Mean S.D. t Sig. (2tailed) Strong Parents 188 .89 .98 2.13 .034 educational Staff 39 .54 .79 program Effective school Parents 188 .59 .36 .001 leader Staff 39 .33 .84 3.28 Variances in means, based on years involved in the school, were statistically significant in a couple of areas as well (Table 6.8). First, those who had been involved in the school for the least amount of time were more likely to choose Clear Mission and Purpose as a strength of the school than 174

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I those who had been involved for 2 years or more. And, those who had been involved in the school for the longest period of time were least likely to choose high quality staff as a strength of the school. This is another one that surprised me, because I assumed that those who had been involved the longest (generally teachers) would be more likely to say that the school's success was largely due to the quality of its teachers. Table 6.8 Variances in responses by years involved regarding the schools' strengths N Mean S.D. Clear -mission & 0-2 yrs 111 .47 .97 purpose 3-5 yrs 63 .17 .66 6-8 yrs 38 .11 .39 9+ yrs 16 .13 .50-High quality staff 0-2yrs 111 1.16 1.04 3-5 yrs -63 1.19 1.00 6-8 yrs 38 1.26 1.11 9+ yrs 16 .44 .89 Challenges F Sig. 3.24 .023 2.72 .045 When comparing the top ranked challenges from each school, as displayed in their case studies in Chapters 4 and 5 (Figures 4.3 and 5.3), variances between the two schools occur, both in the number of respondents who selected a particular strength and the strengths that were selected by respondents from each school. Both schools selected challenges associated -with Facility, Finances, and Community Relations most often; however, 175

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School 8 respondents selected these areas as challenges more than School A respondents. This difference is significant, as evidenced in Table 6.9. School B's fourth ranked challenge was teacher turnover; however, this was not a challenge identified by many respondents from School A (nor an issue at School A like it has been at School B), so the difference in means is significant. Table 6.9 Significant differences in responses, by school, regarding the challenges of each school N Mean S.D. Teacher turnover School A 111 .11 .49 School S 117 .30 .76 Meeting all School A 111 .45 .82 students' needs SchoolS 117 .19 .66 Facility School A 111 .. 86 1.03 School S 117 1.44 .93 Community School A 111 .69 1.03 relations SchoolS 117 1.29 1.11 Finances School A 111 1.03 1.14 SchoolS 117 1.52 1.16 t -2.25 2.68 -4.47 -4.19 -3.24 The opposite is true for meeting all students' needs. School A Sig. (2tailed) .026 .008 .000 .001 .026 respondents were more likely to select this as a challenge than School 8 respondents. An interesting observation I made, is that this issue surfaced more in conversations in School B focus groups and interviews than it did in those occurring in School A; however, School A has a much higher percentage of students with special needs (e.g., special education) than does 176

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'School 8, which might explain why mor e identified this as a challenge in School A. Table 6.10 Variances in responses by role group n egarding the schooffi'challenges N Mean S.D. Sig. (2tailed} Remediation Parents 188 .16 .63 -2.51 .013 Staff 39 .49 1.10 Student Parents 188 .53 .37 -2.48 .014 Motivation Staff 39 .26 .79 A couple of significant variances did occur between role groups, as shown in Table 6.1 0. Staff members we re more likely to identify remediation as a challenge than parents while pare nts were more likely to choose student motivation as a challenge than staff me mbers. Table 6.11 Variances in responses by years invoiV< ed regarding the schools' challenges N Mean S.D. F Sig. Facility 0-2 yrs 111 1.35 1.00 3.12 .027 3-5 yrs 63 1.05 1.04 6-8 yrs 38 .89 .92 9+ yrs 16 .81 1.11 Communication 0-2 yrs 111 .45 .34 4.09 .007 3-5 yrs 63 .29 .83 I 6-8 yrs 38 I .00 .00 I 9+ yrs 16 .00 .00 1 77

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In addition, significant differences in responses based on ones' years involved in the school emerged, as displayed in Table 6.11. Those newest to the SGhools were more likely to identify facility and communication as challenges than those who had been with the school for a number of years. Change When asked which group(s) were most often pushing for changes in the school, some results by school varied. Both schools had a large percentage of respondents select "don't know," but as discussed within the individual case studies, the majority of respondents who selected this choice were those with fewer than two years of experience with the schools. Teachers were more influential on change in School A and parents more so in School B. These results are consistent with how the schools are operated School A is a primarily teacher-driven school and School 8 is primarily parent driven. Second-GeneraffonChanges Both schools identified an increased focus on school improvement, a changing student population, and an increased focus on finances among the second-generation challenges they were experiencing as charter schools. Additionally, several "other" challenges, specific to their schools were included and are listed within each school's case study. Areas where the 178

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schools differed were in the areas of less time being spent on non educational issues and less stress (School A) and changing staff roles and leadership transitions (School B). This difference may be attributed to School A's stability in leadership and staffing, and the fact that it has been in existence longer than School 8 (due to its existence as a regular school before becoming a charter). School 8 has had recent turnover of leadership (principal and board within last couple ofyears) and new staff roles (e.g., assistant principal). I anticipate that School A may encounter some of these same challenges when the Lead Teacher retires some day. Summary This chapter provided an opportunity to examine the two schools in relation to one another, and to examine where significant differences in opinion existed, based not only on the school, but also by role group and years involved in the schools. While each school's educational program is unique and different from each others, in general, the schools are more similar than they are dissimilar, in terms of how they responded to survey, focus group interview questions. However, differences did occur, primarily in terms of the items that groups from each school identified as most important (meaning that often the items discussed in the focus groups or identified as issues or strengths in the survey were similar across both schools but schools 179

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prioritized the items differently). They both employ about the same number of people and serve approximately the same number of students; however, School B is a middle school and School A is a K-8. In terms of their leadership, their governance structures are different (School A is a parent-led school while School B has both parents and teachers on its board), and School B has three school administrators to School A's one Lead Teacher. Both schools score high on state assessments and their student demographics differ from the district average (both are serving fewer minority and students). 180

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CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS The final chapter of this report presents the study's conclusions. The initial section is organized according to the three research questions framing this study. Following this discussion, I integrate the findings with the conceptual framework and identify the characteristics of a Charter School That Learns. And finally, I close the chapter by sharing limitations of the research, suggesting ideas for future research, and discussing policy implications. Why are These Charter Schools Successful? When the findings from this study were placed in context with the Schools That Learn (Senge et al., 2000) framework (see Tables 4.6 and 5.6), it became apparent that both schools had implemented and incorporated strategies and systems into their regular practice that coincided with the key qualities inherent in schools that learn. These are schools led by effective and visionary school leaders and boards of directors. Stakeholders have a shared vision for the schools and a commitment to them that extends beyond their 181

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own self-interests. Teachers work collaboratively and engage in ongoing reflection and professional development. The curriculum is challenging, motivating, and fun (according to the adults who responded to the survey and attended focus groups). The schools are safe and healthy, physically and emotionally. And, parents are highly invested and involved in their children's learning. Thus, using this framework alone, one might come to the conclusion, based on these findings, that these two schools are successful because they do incorporate most of the attributes of Schools That Learn (a model that also reflects the key attributes of successful. schools from several other areas of educational and private sector research, as discussed in Chapter 2). However, because they are charter schools, there are other areas to consider when discussing their success. In addition to reflecting the attributes from the successful schools research (generally geared towards regular schools, not charters), these schools are achieving other successes related to being charter schools. Consistent with Wohlstetter & Griffin's (1998) research (discussed in detail in Chapter 2) on creating and sustaining learning communities in charter schools, both of the schools in this study have clear and specific missions, high quality instructional programs, and leaders (board members and school administrators) who are skilled at managing the instructional and business 182

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aspects of the school. Both schools recognize the importance of accountability; School B has done a better job using data to inform practice . Additionally, others areas contributing to a charter school's success that emerged during the interviews I conducted with charter school leaders, are present in these schools: stakeholder satisfaction, student success, adequate facilities, financial stability, and stable enrollment. Stakeholders consistently rank their satisfaction with the schools high on school and district satisfaction surveys, as well as in the survey distributed as part of this study. Students in both schools do well on internal assessments and on state assessments of student achievement. While not perfect, each school is in an adequate facility and stable financially and enrollment is not a problem at either school. Both are very popular (the number of applicants each year far exceeds the number of available slots). Challenges to This Success As evidenced in the preceding discussion, both schools are achieving success in most areas related to the successful schools and charter schools research. However, there are areas where they have yet to achieve success. As noted in Tables 4.6 and 5.6, there are a few issues within each of the categories where the schools could improve or change their practice in order to more closely reflect the attributes of a School That Learns. The two areas 183

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deserving most attention are a) school/community interdependence and b) highly motivating and challenging curriculum for all students. Both schools feel isolated from and unsupported by their community and school district. While School A does a better job integrating its curriculum and students with the community (e.g., via coursework, community service, attempting to partner with other district schools, bringing in community volunteers for presentations, trainings, etc.), both schools struggle between wanting to be autonomous yet accepted and appreciated by their district and community at the same time. The second area, highly motivating and challenging curriculum for all students, has less to do with the quality of the curriculum, as per the results described in several places herein, it is very high in both schools. Instead, this has to do with the part about serving a// types of students. As public schools, both schools have a responsibility to serve the public. This means ensuring that an adequate number of slots are available to the general public each year and not consumed almost entirely by siblings or students of faculty (e.g., School A had 6 out of 31 slots available for open enrollment this year, meaning 25 slots went to siblings or faculty children). And, that the characteristics of the student body reflect that of the surrounding community. Granted, the community in which they are located is not terribly diverse (mostly Caucasian, upper income); however, both school's student 184

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demographics are lower than the district average in most areas of race/ethnicity and in the number of high poverty and limited English proficient students served. School A serves about the same percentage of special education children as the district average; however, School 8 serves a much lower percentage of these students than both School A and the district average. How are These Charter Schools Evolving as they Mature? At the heart of the Schools That Learn framework is the presence of and ongoing attention paid to the five key disciplines of organizational learning. 'These five disciplines are not reforms or programs imposed from the outside, but ongoing bodies of study and practice that people adopt as individuals and groups-genuine help for dealing with the dilemmas and pressures of education today" (Senge et al., 2000, p. 7). Table 7.1 lists and describes the characteristics of the five disciplines. Among other things, by continuing to integrate practices into their daily routines, reflective of these five disciplines, Schools A and 8 are honoring individual stakeholders' interests and goals, working collaboratively, making learning relevant, and embracing change by recognizing their strengths, facing their challenges, and making changes as a school community. For the most part, Schools A and 8 informally incorporate these five disciplines into their daily practice already; 185

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however, a challenge as the schools move towards further institutionalizing their programs, will be to continue to incorporate these types of principles and to avoid becoming complacent or "comfortable in our excellence" (parent focus group). Table 7.1 The five key disciplines of organizational/earning Personal -practice of articulating a coherent image of your personal Mastery vision alongside a realistic assessment of the current reality of your life today -can expand your capacity to make better choices and to achieve more of the results you desire in life Shared -people with common vision working together to nourish an Vision .organization and to create their future' creating a sense of community in organizations Mental -reflection and inquiry among participants leading to a Models stronger sense of community, commitment, and improved communication among participants Team -group interaction, collective learning in order to reach Learning common goals within and between participant groups Systems -utilizing tools and techniques that help participants Thinking understand how to embrace change in order to have growth and stability over time 186

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Schools A and B have had time to establish themselves. As noted above, they are achieving success; however, opportunities for growth and areas where they have yet to figure things out, continue to exist. "The first five years people will put up with a Jot, but after that, they are going to want a complete program, to have the details filled in, or they will leave" (Charter school leader interview). Based on the survey responses, focus groups, and interviews with the charter school leaders, ongoing issues and opportunities for second-generation charter schools include the following areas. Schoo/ Improvement Schools have more time to reflect on their practices and make adjustments based on their needs, interests, and goals since they are spending less time on tasks related to getting the school up and runningthese systems are in place. For example, School B has spent more time as a board doing strategic planning for its future and less time dealing with day-to day crises. Efficiency This is a time when schools can revisit their administrative systems and look for ways to improve and/or increase efficiency, such as examining purchasing practices and vendors, reviewing financial commitments, and so forth. In doing so, schools can reallocate resources and potentially have more 187

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money for its educational program since less is being spent on non educational matters. Accountability Charter schools, like all public schools, are being held to a higher level of scrutiny for school and individual student results, due to the recent reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (Herman, Smith, & Skinner, 2002). Given the nature of charter schools, where in exchange for freedom from various rules and regulations, these schools are held accountable for specific results by their authorizer, many charter schools and authorizers have been working together to create systems tracking school and student results (Myers & Anderson, 2001 ). Charter schools have an opportunity to pave the way for all schools-to work internally and with external groups (e.g., authorizer, state, educational entities) to create clear, efficient, and tangible methods for assessing performance, communicating results about this performance, and making school improvement changes based on these data. Another issue worth noting is that schools like Schools A and 8 might face a new set of challenges under the new federal requirements. Until now, it was enough to demonstrate that a school was doing well each year on aggregated standardized tests scores. Now, like all schools, high achieving schools, like A and 8, are going to be required to 188

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demonstrate adequately yearly progress (Herman et al., 2002). This means that all of its students, and the school as a whole, will be examined in light of student gains, not aggregate scores for the school as a whole. So, even a school that has done well each year, such as Schools A and B, will have to demonstrate that all their students are growing each year, regardless of how well or how poorly they have done to date. Financial Growth and Stability Issues like paying for a facility for the long-term or ensuring the facility one has is adequate are ongoing. Schools that are paying for their facilities might be able to refinance their loan at this point, while schools located in district facilities, such as Schools A and B, will be spending time securing long-term use of the facility and negotiating improvements to it, as necessary. Teacher compensation, and how to keep your teachers, is another second-generation issue, including one that emerged in the focus groups for this study. Frequently, charter schools can be competitive with other schools for new, less experienced teachers; however, as these teachers remain with the school, the demands on the budget increase because fewer new teachers and more seasoned teachers yields a higher budget (interview with charter school leader). Long term planning for ensuring adequate compensation for teachers is an issue that charter schools face as they mature. Finally, as 189

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evidenced in the findings from this study, opportunities for external professional development are slim. While this may be the case with many public schools, due to the faCt that charter schools tend to feel isolated from their communities (Fuller, 2000), it becomes especially important for charter school teachers and leaders to have opportunities to interact with colleagues in different schools, communities, and from professional organizations and to find a way to budget for such interaction. Leadership Transitions "What is the sign of a successful school for the long term is one where the founding leaders can be replaced and the school doesn't miss a beat" (charter school leader interview). An issue for second-generation charter schools, as emerged in the data from this study, is how to hold on to important aspects of the founding vision and principles while also allowing new people to become involved and fresh ideas to emerge and become part of the school's operations and/or culture. Many charter schools are started by a charismatic leader (or group of leaders). When these leaders move on, schools struggle with such issues as how to maintain the founding vision, how to engage new families and staff members at the same capacity as those who worked to start the school (or to ensure continued support while figuring out how the role of these stakeholders changes as the school matures), and how 190

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and when to adapt (to decide when its best to embrace change and when to hold on to what they have or how they have been doing things to date). A final issue relates to planning. When a school is new, the leaders are wrapped up in day-to-day issues (conceptualizing program and operationalizing systems). As a school matures, the program is defined and the systems are up and running; thus, leaders have an opportunity now that they did not have previously due to so much time being spent before on "crisis management." They can now spend time reflecting on their successes and challenges to date and preparing for their future (identifying short and long term goals and needs and devising a plan for making it happen, including redefining stakeholder roles). Community Relations As discussed frequently within this document, those working in or attending charter schools can feel isolated from their community. To counter this isolation, they typically form a very strong internal community, a strength that has been recognized within schools A and 8 and that is mirrored in successful schools, in general. Senge et al. (2000), discuss the importance of mutually-beneficial partnerships and communicating results and information about your school with the public in order to bring resources into the school as well as to elevate a school's credibility and familiarity with the public. Given 191

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this, an important second-generation issue for Schools A and 8, and charter schools in general, is securing such partnerships with local entities (e.g., organizations, universities, foundations, businesses, other schools) and state and national groups (e.g., charter school organizations, national education associations). In addition, public relations campaigns, designed to bring good press and publicity to the schools, could help improve relations with the community. Diversity A major criticism of charter schools, and choice in general, has been the threat of school re-segregation (Anderson, 1998). Charter schools in some states (including the state in which these schools are located), are serving fewer students of color and high poverty students than their non charter counterparts (Wells, 2002), while the opposite is true in other statescharter schools are serving a higher proportion of low income and minority students (RPP International, 2000). If schools A and B, and other charter schools in their position, want to be more accepted, and to dismiss criticisms from their district and community about their "elitism," then areas where they may want to focus include recruitment, enrollment, and developing strategies to effectively meet the needs of all types of students. This includes examining ways that transportation might be provided in order to attract students whose 192

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parents can not drive them each day, and in the case of schools without lunch programs, like School A, food services for those students eligible for free or reduced price lunch (School B has a lunch program). What are the Characteristics of a Charter School That Learns? The key ingredient that separates a School That Learns from a Charter School That Learns, is autonomy. "Schools with more power are better able to create and sustain a learning community" (Wohlstetter & Griffin, 1998, p. 22). Schools A and B discussed the benefits of autonomy-without it, they both said, they could not be as successful. Having autonomy from the district allows the school to be consistent, allocate its resources according to its mission, vision, and needs, make decisions about the school at the school level, with its own governing board, choose its own curriculum, and have flexibility around hiring and compensating its staff members. Table 7.2 identifies the key characteristics of a Charter School That Learns. It has autonomy from its district and uses this autonomy to the fullest extent in order to fulfill its mission. It has a clear process in place for collecting data (achievement and other data) and using it to inform practice and communicate information about its program with the public. It reflects the common characteristics in Schools That Learn (Tables 4.6 and 5.6) and 193

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values and uses the Five Key Disciplines of Organizational Learning (Table 7.1) regularly in order to avoid complacency and strive for excellence. It recognizes its role in the community and serves as a leader, while also always striving to learn more through ongoing professional development, collaboration and inquiry with its peers in the charter and broader educational communities. Leadership from the school administrator(s) and board is extraordinary-they are effective in instructional and non-instructional capacities and serve as change agents. All stakeholders are highly committed to the schqol, beyond their individual interests, and serve the school in a Table 7.2 The characteristics of a Charter School That Learns Using autonomy A charter school needs to use the freedom and flexibility it has, as a to the fullest result of being waived from most rules and regulations governing a extent typical district school, to its full advantage. To begin with, such freedom allows charter schools to define the qualifications for and hire its own leadership and faculty, void of district or union rules regarding these positions. Some charters may choose to hire certified teachers exclusively, while others may opt for alternative licensure, thereby attracting faculty from outside the field of K-12 education or licensed teachers from other states. This is important because it ensures that charter schools will hire teachers and principals most suited to and interested in teaching in their particular school environment and with their specific curriculum. Second, while a contract ties the charter school to meeting specific goals and objectives, how it gets there is largely up to the school. Among other things, this means that the school, led by its governing board, has full authority over its budget (ensuring that resources are directed in ways that help the school fulfill its mission), makes decisions on-site and relatively quickly (with the school's governing board, instead of relying on the district for important decision-making), structures itself according to the needs and interests of the school community (e.g., using untraditional means for grouping students, implementing alternative calendars/daily schedules, utilizing different approaches to professional development), creates and sustains its focus on its curriculum and instructional program, including developing and remaining true to a clear and specific mission, vision, and goals. 194

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Table 7.2 The characteristics of a Charter School That Learns (continued) Data-driven decis.ion-making Effective and visionary leadership School and community interdependence A charter school that learns embraces the notion of reflection, evaluation, and change as a necessary means for school success. Such a school is not afraid of data. It collects and analyzes student data (e.g., achievement, attendance, discipline, demographic), satisfaction data (e.g., stakeholders surveys), and classroom data (e.g., student work, lesson plans, peer observations among faculty, etc.), and uses these data collectively to inform practice and make changes yielding in school improvement. Regularly, the school also opens itself up for external evaluation by contracting with an outside evaluator (or an entity like the charter school association, accreditation entity, etc.) hired to serve as a "critical friend" and provide objective information about the school's progress in meeting its goals and fulfilling its mission. A charter school that learns is led by extraordinary leaders: principals who are inspirational and a source of support for teachers, parents, and students, and board members who embrace the challenge, learn how to be good board members, work collectively with the principal, and invite and involve others in important decisions. Together, the principal and board lead the school, educationally and otherwise (e.g., business management, community relations). Such leadership also anticipates change (e.g., from a board of founders to one of mostly new members, changing student demographics, facility needs, financial commitments, teacher turnover), develops systems for ensuring smooth transitions, and seeks help (from internal and external sources) when needed. Charter schools that learn have created meaningful partnerships with their internal and external communities. Internally, parents, students, and faculty work together to achieve common goals, they have a shared vision for the school, and their commitment to the school extends beyond their individual interests. Parents are very involved in their children's learning, both at home and at school, and they also serve the school in other ways (e.g., on the governing board, fundraising, cleaning or maintaining classrooms, serving on district committees, attending conferences, etc.). Externally, the school involves the community in its curriculum and views the community as an extension of the classroom (e.g., community service projects, partnerships with business, higher education, the Arts, and other entities). The school finds ways to develop a relationship with the neighborhood surrounding the school. And, it regularly involves itself in events, conferences, and other opportunities to interact with district, state, and national peers in the charter and broader educational communities. A charter school that learns is involved and enjoys the benefits obtained from being both a learner and a leader. 195

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Table 7.2 The characteristics of a Qharter School That Learns (continued) Highly motivating and challenging curriculum Stakeholder development and training Diverse student population A charter school that learns has a curriculum that is rich in content, exceeds state and district standards, is clearly defined and accompanied by appropriate assessments, and is engaging, challenging, fun, and motivating both to teach and to learn. Students thrive in such an environment and their love of learning is reflected in how well they do academically (on internal and external assessments), how often they are absent (not too often if they like coming to school), how they feel about their educational experience (on student surveys, and for parents, on parent surveys), and how prepared they are for the school they attend next (e.g., middle school, high school, college). A charter school that learns recognizes the importance of ongoing development of its faculty, staff, board, and parent body. A charter school is a community-all of these stakeholders work together to run the school, and as such, they need to have the appropriate training to run the school well. Teachers need to have opportunities for ongoing collaboration, reflection, and inquiry as a faculty, as well as professional development experiences outside the school (individually or in teams) that can help influence and inform internal practice. Parents need to understand what is involved in being part of a charter school, as the role of parent is typically different in a charter than in a non-charter (e.g., having a more direct opportunity to be involved in decision-making and other aspects of the school's operations). Principals and board members need to have opportunities to interact with their peers (especially those from other charter schools) in order to share best practices and learn from one another how to be effective leaders. In particular, board members need to engage in ongoing governance training, especially since many charter board members might be serving on a board of directors for the first time. This development and training should be ongoing, as things change, and people need to be most prepared to take on the challenges in order to succeed. Charter schools that learn are attractive to and attended by a variety of students. They attract students from across the district and reflect the ethnic and socio-economic makeup of their district. In order to have such diversity, they have developed extensive recruiting strategies, reaching families throughout the county, and they offer services that are attractive to a wide range of families, especially low-income families (e.g., transportation, health clinics, lunch programs). The school environment is one where people respect each other and feel safe, expectations are clearly laid out for all stakeholders, and effective and open communication is the norm. 196

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Table 7.2 The characteristics of a Charter School That Learns (continued) Small size As the research reviewed in Chapter 2 suggests, small schools (fewer students) are good for kids. A charter schools that learn, like most charter schools, is typically going to be small school. A small school is often more manageable, people know each other, fewer discipline problems occur, and a more family-oriented community surfaces. While it might be possible to have a charter school that learns be a larger school, it would have to be a school that was able to structure itself in a way that reflected the values of a small, close knit school community. variety of capacities. And finally, the school serves all students, regardless of individual needs, socio-economic status, or ethnic background. It is a place where all feel welcome, respected, safe, and involved, and typically, it is smaller than the average school (by small, I mean there are fewer students than an average school). Limitations of the Findings and Ideas for Future Research A limitation of this study is the fact that only two schools, within one district, were examined. Given the replicability of the design, a next step would be to examine additional charter schools, in other communities and/or states, to determine whether the findings from this study are comparable with the qualities inherent in and the experiences of other charter schools. I would be especially interested in examining "successful" charter schools serving more diverse student populations, given the relative lack of diversity in 197

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Schools A and to see if the qualities contributing to a charter school's success vary based on student characteristics . The majority of this nation's charter schools are elementary schools or K-8 schools, like School A. There are very few high school charter schools and a number of those that do exist are struggling due to the different demands of running a high school (e.g., sports programs, gateway to college, extra-curiculars, etc.) (SRI International, 2002). I would like to examine successful high school charter schools to determine what has contributed to their success, and whether they reflect the characteristics of charter schools that learn. Finally, I would like to do a comparison study, within the same district, of charter schools and other schools of choice (e.g., magnet schools) to examine in what ways both sets of schools reflect the qualities of schools that learn, to determine how important autonomy is, in the overall success or lack thereof of a school, and to assess whether there are advantages to being a district (non-charter) school that allow such schools to better incorporate the principles of the Schools That Learn framework. The charter schools in this study believe that autonomy is critical to their success and that they can accomplish more because of this autonomy. Through a comparison study with other schools of choice, like magnet or focus schools, I would be able to examine whether the degree to which schools are successful at implementing 198

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the Schools That Leam framework varies based on the level of autonomy the school has. Senge et al. (2000) do not specifically discuss autonomy in their framework as a necessity, yet the types of things that the schools in this study have been able to accomplish would not have been possible, they say, had they not been freed of various district rules and regulation and buffered from district requirements (e.g, curriculum, hiring, resource allocation, etc.). On the other hand, district schools, unlike charter schools, are part of a larger community that includes the district and other schools. As discussed within this study, the charter schools in this community often feel isolated from their peers in other schools and feel rejected from the community-at-large, is this less likely to be the case in a focus or magnet school? All of these issues could be explored in future research on this topic. Policy Implications As is the case with the charter school literature, much of the policy work associated with charter schools to date has focused primarily on issues related to start-up and early implementation (e.g., through a charter school's first renewal with its authorizer). Some states, such as Tennessee and Iowa, for example, are just passing their first charter school bills, while other states, like Minnesota, Arizona, and Colorado, to name a few, have had charter schools operational for several years, yet their legislation focuses mostly on 199

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issues related to the first five years of a charter school's life (Education Commission of the States, 2003). As charter schools mature and enter into this second-generation of their existence, as discussed in this study, new policy issues are emerging that need the attention of state policymakers. A discussion of these policy issues follows. Accountability The federal government, through the No Child Left Behind Act (United States Department of Education, 2001 ), is demanding higher levels of accountability from states, districts, and schools. While the federal law impacts all levels of the education system, based on how state constitutions are written, ultimately, the responsibility for ensuring a quality education for all students rests on the shoulders of the states (Ziebarth, 2003). As such, states need to ensure that charter schools are included in their state accountability programs-that such schools have access to the states system for collecting, tracking and analyzing student data so that charter schools, like all public schools, can assess their progress in meeting all students' needs and measuring individual student gains over time. Too, as states begin implementing their accountability programs, they should be providing technical assistance to help districts and schools (including charter schools) understand how to read their data and how to use these data for school 200

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improvement. Finally, while some authorizers have begun to develop good systems for providing quality charter school oversight (e.g., developing accountability plans with charter schools, including clear processes and systems for ongoing accountability during the term of the charter, and for renewal), most have yet to accomplish this task (Anderson & Myers, 2001 ). As more states have charter schools that are being renewed, authorizers need to work with these schools to develop strong accountability plans and such plans now need to be considered in light of the federal {and applicable state) accountability requirements. Diversity As discussed in Chapter 2, charter schools in some states are serving higher percentages of students from high poverty backgrounds and students with special needs, while in other states the percentages of such students served by charter schools is considerably lower than average. For the places where the percentages are lower, states need to examine their legislation and existing systems with the intent of determining how they can help increase the number of at-risk students being served by charter schools. This is crucial to the long-term success of charter schools, as the extent to which charter schools contribute to the economic stratification of public schooling, their efficacy and credibility diminishes and their missions become diluted-charter 201

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schools need to be viewed as equitable, engaging, and innovative. Some specific questions for states to consider include the following. 1 Are charter schools less diverse because they do not provide transportation (e.g., would more low income families have access to the school if there was busing instead of relying on parents to transport children to school)? If so, how can the state help in this area (e.g., providing additional resources to fund transportation in charter schools, sharing best practices, such as how some charter schools have managed to provide transportation)? 2. How do charter school enrollment policies impact their diversity, or lack thereof (e.g., Are some charter schools too exclusive, meaning few if any openings are available to the general public after students with preferences are awarded spots? Or, as charter schools are schools of choice and not tied to specific neighborhoods, are there ways that authorizers can support charter schools in their efforts to recruit and share information with students from various parts of the district in order to attract a more diverse applicant pool?). 3. In what ways might the state be unknowingly contributing to inequities in charter schools (e.g., What percentage of the funding the state distributes to charter schools for planning, start-up and dissemination of best practices, such as federal Title X money, is going to schools serving at-risk students?)? Isolation The nature of charter schools contributes to their isolation. As discussed within this study, charter schools struggle with wanting to be free from their district (maverick), while at the same time wanting to be accepted, respected, and included. States can help decrease this isolation by giving charter schools a voice-including them in efforts directed at all public 202

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schools (e.g., inviting charter schools to present at statewide conferences and events focused on school improvement, school reform, etc.). Additionally, states can encourage districts to collaborate with charters schools (e.g., using some of the Title X dissemination money for projects that include charter and non-charter schools). And finally, states can share best practices about how charter schools have tapped into their community, successfully collaborated with other schools in their district, and worked at the state and national levels to partner with their peers, share information about their school, and decrease the overall feeling of isolation that many charter schools bear. Evaluation and Dissemination of Best Practices Most states are mandated to evaluate the efficacy of charter schools in some fashion (Education Commission of the States, 2003). As charter schools continue to mature, it will be important for states to adjust the focuses of their evaluations and studies on charter schools to be certain that while they continue to address start-up and early implementation issues they also examine the challenges, and opportunities that exist when a charter school moves beyond start-up and towards institutionalizing its program (e.g., including some of the second-generation issues discussed in the first part of this chapter). And, in an effort to inform best practices, states should pursue opportunities to share information obtained through these studies with the 203

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broader and charter-specific educational communities at the state, local, and national levels. Impact on School Districts One of the primary reasons for establishing charter schools in the first place was to create innovative schools-unique approaches to organizing schools and educating students-that if successful, could influence and improve practice in the broader educational community. The eight characteristics of a Charter School That Learns, as discussed above in Table 7.2, are examples of the types of innovation found in successful charter schools that could influence practice and improve schooling for students in all types of schools, charter and non-charter alike. Districts could examine their existing policies and programs, in light of these eight characteristics, and discuss how they could modify their existing approaches in order to provide opportunities for all of their schools to reflect the characteristics of Charter Schools That Learn. For example, the first characteristic of a Charter School That Learns deals with autonomy and the school's ability to use that autonomy to its fullest extent. This means that a school has freedom to make decisions at the school-site in such areas as hiring, curriculum, resource allocation, school calendar, and so forth. Presently, in most districts, such decisions are 204

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typically made by the central office not at the school-site, as in the case of a charter school. Senge et al. (2000) discuss the importance of a "deep learning cycle" in schools. This cycle allows a school to "come to look at things differently; to take on new practices and approaches as their own. In other words, by making deliberate changes in structure, you can gradually produce changes in the way people learn" (Senge et al. 2000, p. 326). My hypothesis, based on what I have learned in this study, is that in order for schools to truly engage in a deep learning cycle, districts need to change their structure and provide schools with the necessary autonomy to make their own decisions at the school level. Further, such schools need to be free of distractions (e.g., changes at the district regarding curriculum, administration, etc.) in order to develop and maintain their mission and implement it in a consistent way. How districts can restructure themselves in such a fashion, support their schools in making this transition, and thereby increase the level of autonomy to and opportunity for success across all schools (via efforts that incorporate the eights characteristics of Charter Schools That Learn) is an area that deserves further attention by researchers and policymakers. Summary This chapter brought you back to the research questions and conceptual framework and addressed how the findings answered these 205

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questions and related to the overall guiding framework. Due to variances in the findings, based on the schools being charter schools, a new conceptual framework was introduced, directed at charter schools that want to be successful (or charter schools that learn). Limitations of the research were discussed, and means of addressing these limitations were suggested as ideas for future study. Finally, the chapter closed with suggestions for states interested in improving charter schools through targeted public policy and the more effective implementation of existing programs. I hope that after reading this study you have a better understanding about what makes a school successful, in general, and in particular, what it takes to create and sustain a successful charter school. I expect that the revised framework for charter schools that learn, introduced in this chapter, will be a useful tool for charter schools engaged in school improvement, and for those that are moving beyond the start-up phase and into the long-term implementation of their programs. 206

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I APPENDIX A Survey of Charter School Staff and Parents !appreciate your taking the time to complete this survey. It is one of several methods I am using to collect data for my dissertation research. Participation in this study is voluntary, and refusal to participate presents no penalty or loss of benefits to you. I ask you to help me protect confidentiality by keeping all responses to the survey anonymous. I welcome any questions or concerns that you may have about the study now or after my research is completed. If you have questions specific to your rights as a research subject, please contact the Office of Academic Affairs, CU-Denver Building, Suite 700, Box 137, University of Colorado at Denver, Denver, CO 80217-3364, (303) The survey is four pages long and will take about fifteen minutes to complete. Please return the completed survey to me by October 25, 2002 via the return-addressed, stamped envelope included herein. 1. At this school, I am a (check all that apply) : 0 Parent 0 Teacher 0 Paraprofessional 0 Other 2. School (circle one): School A School B 3. How long have you been involved with this school? 4. For the following sets of questions, please indicate the extent to which you agree with each statement by circling the number between 1 and 5 that best represents your opinion. Circling 1 means you strongly agree, while circling 5 means you strongly disagree. If you have no opinion, or the question is not relevant, please circle the "6)" symbol in the far right. a. My school fosters the development of all 1 2 3 4 5 0 .r.hilrin:m'_c; IA;:lrninn b. The curriculum"" and instruction at my school is 1 2 3 4 5 0 academicallv challenaina 207

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c. The curriculum and instruction at my school is 1 2 3 4 5 0 fun interestina and d. The school leader effectively manages both 1 2 3 4 5 0 the instructional and e. We embrace change at this school 1 2 3 4 5 0 f. Teachers at my school work effectively as a team 1 2 3 4 5 0 g. Learning at my school extends beyond the four 1 2 3 4 5 0 walls of the classroom h. The external community (e.g., district, other 1 2 3 4 5 0 schools oublic) is i. Being a charter school is critical to the success of 1 2 3 4 5 0 mv school j .. My school gets better each year 1 2 3 4 5 0 k. All students at my school have the potential 1 2 3 4 5 0 to be academicallv I. Students at my school help create their learning 1 2 3 4 5 0 exoeriences m. I feel respected and valued by my school 1 2 3 4 5 0 communitv n. My school is a safe place 1 2 3 4 5 0 o. I understand what it means to be a charter 1 2 3 4 5 0 school p. The approach we use at my school for making 1 2 3 4 5 0 imoortant decisions is r. All parents at my school are actively involved in 1 2 3 4 5 0 their children's learnina 208

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s. Staff development is a regular and ongoing 1 2 3 4 5 0 oractice at mv school t. My school is part of a larger professional 1 2 3 4 5 0 communitv (e.a. interact u. All stakeholders (parents, teachers, 1 2 3 4 5 0 administration other staff v. I feel comfortable voicing my opinion at my 1 2 3 4 5 0 school (both neaative and w. I would prefer for my school to be a regular 1 2 3 4 5 0 oublic school instead. of a .. 5. Of the following, which are your school's greatest strengths (Rank your top three choices in the space provided. Placing a #1 in the space indicates your opinion about your school's greatest strength while a #2 is the next greatest and a #3 represents your third choice among all the items listed)? __ Clear mission and purpose __ Shared vision among all stakeholders (parents, teachers, leadership, students, other staff) Safe environment __ Strong educational program __ High quality staff Small classes __ Meaningful parental involvement __ Welcoming and respectful school environment __ Inclusive deCision-making process __ Effective leadership __ Flexibility regarding use of resources (budget, staffing, etc.) __ Student performance (results) __ Communication (among and between students, teachers, parents, and administration) __ Coherent instruction and curriculum (consistency across grades/subjects) Student motivation Other ________________________________ 6. Of the following, which are your school's most significant challenges (Rank your top three choices in the space provided. Placing a #1 in the space indicates your opinion about your school's greatest challenge while a #2 is the next greatest and a #3 represents your third choice among all the items listed? __ Unclear mission and purpose Teacher turnover Board turnover __ Meeting the needs of all students __ StudenUfamily turnover __ Physical environment (e.g., facility, playground, etc.) 209

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__ Remediation (need to provide extra support/tutoring for students in core subjects) __ Results (student achievement) __ Leadership __ Communication (among and between students, teachers, parents, and administration) _._ Community relations (relationship with district, other schools, public) __ Decision-making Parent Involvement __ Coherent instruction and curriculum (consistency across grades/subjects) Finances Student motivation Other __________________________ ___ 7. Which of the following is most frequently the driving force pushing for changes in your school? {choose one): o External entities (e.g., district, state, etc.) o The governing board (your school's board) o Parents o Teachers o Schoolleader/principal o Other-=-----------0 Don't know 8. Listed below are some of the changes you may be noticing within your school. Please check all those that apply and/or insert other changes you have noticed below. o Changing population (fewer"founders" and more new people) o Leadership transitions (e.g., principal, board) o Increased focus on specific strategies for school improvement o Less time being spent on non-educational items (e.g., establishing systems for running/supporting school operations) o Increased emphasis on financial issues o Decreased emphasis on financial issues o Less stressful environment o More stressful environment o Less staff turnover o Changing staff roles (e.g., new positions, added responsibilities) o Increased pressure from the internal school community to make critical changes within the school o Increased pressure from external sources to make critical changes within the school o Other ____________________ 210

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APPENDIXB SAMPLE CONSENT FORM September 18, 2002 Dear study participant, I am asking you to participate in a focus group as part of my doctoral research. The purpose of this doctoral study is to examine the issues that 'veteran" charter schools face as they move beyond start-up and into the ongoing and long-term implementation of their mission, vision, and goals as a school community. The content, development, and analysis of this research is anchored in the Schools that Learn framework developed by Peter Senge and his colleagues. I expect this focus group will take about one hour of your time. Data gathered will be used to write my dissertation report, a document that in its final form may be shared publicly. I will make every effort to maintain confidentiality. This focus group will be audio taped and possibly video-taped as well. All raw data (e.g., interview transcriptions and analysis, survey data, tapes of focus groups or interviews, etc.) will remain in my possession in a locked file cabinet in my home. Aggregated data used to write the report (a synthesis of all data collected) will be shared with the board the subject charter schools and school district, if requested. No names will be used in the dissertation report that will permit the identification of specific individuals or schools. As a means of ensuring privacy, when writing the final report, the schools will be discussed as two charter schools located within the same district in a western state. However, as with all research, some risk of participation exists. While all responses will remain anonymous, there is the potential in a group interview that someone may identify something someone said in the interview to an outsider. As a participant in this focus group, it is important to recognize this possibility. More importantly, I ask you to keep information shared within this meeting cilnfidential. While the nature of charter schools can be very political, this study is not meant to be controversial. Despite this, you should know that the school district is aware of this study and I have said that I will provide them a copy of the final report and/or the aggregated data, if requested. This research is designed to examine a situation in time within a charter school's existence in order to assess what charter schools go through as they evolve and to develop strategies that ultimately will help not only the subject schools but also other charter schools engaged in school renewal and improvement The participant schools may benefit from this research in a couple of ways. First, having the opportunity to share ideas and to listen to each other's perspectives is always a useful exercise for any school community. Second, the results of the study will offer information, recommendations, and strategies that the school can use as part of its overall school improvement goals. Finally, I expect to develop a Charier Schools that Learn framework with specific strategies to help charter schools with school renewal. I will share this framework first with the schools that participate in this study. I expect to complete this project and graduate from the University of Colorado at Denver May 2003 with my Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Innovation. Participation in this study is totally voluntary and refusal to participate or withdraw from the study will present no penalty or loss of benefits to study participants. I welcome any questions or concerns that you may have about the study now or after my research is completed. My contact information is provided above. If you have questions specific to your rights as a research subject, please contact the Office of Academic Affairs, CU-Denver Building, Suite 700, Box 137, University of Colorado at Denver, Denver, CO 80217-3364. I will provide a copy of this form for you to keep for your records. Thanks again for your participation. If after reading this letter you are still willing to participate in the study, please sign and date the letter below. Sincerely, Amy Berk Anderson Signature of Research Participant Date 211

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University of Colorado at Denver HUMAN SUBJECT RESEARCH COMMITTEE University of Colorado at Denver Campus Box 129, P.O. Box 173364 Denver, CO 80217-3364 MEMORANDUM DATE: June 17,2002 TO: Amy Berk Anderson FROM: Deborah Kellogg,' HSRC Chair SUBJECT: Human Subjects Research Protocol #825 Charter schools that learn: An investigation of the second generation issues and qualities inherent in two "seasoned" charter schools Your protocol, with changes, has been approved as non-exempt. This approval is good for up to one year from this date. Your responsibilities as a researcher include: If you make changes to your research protocol or design you should contact the HSRC. You are responsible for maintaining all documentation of consent. Unless specified differently in your protocol, all data and consents should be maintained for at least three years. If you should encounter adverse human subjects issues, please contact us immediately. If your research continues beyond one year from the above date, contact the HSRC for an extension. The HSRC may audit your documents at any time. Good Luck with your research. 212

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REFERENCES Anderson, A. (1997). Academic bankruptcy policy brief. Denver, CO: Education Commission of the States. Anderson, A. (1998). The charter school movement: Who controls its destiny? Unpublished Master's Thesis, University of Colorado, Denver. Anderson, A. (1999).Pi/ot study: Final report: Unpublished research report prepared. Denver: University of Colorado. Anderson, A., & Hassel, B. (1999). Financing charter school facilities in Pennsylvania. St. Paul, MN: Charter Friends National Network. Anderson, A., & Myers, J. (2001, Spring). Challenges for charters. State Education Standard, 26-30. Augenblick, J., Myers, J., & Anderson, A. (1997). Equity and adequacy in school funding. Future of Children, 7 (3), 63-78. Berne, R., & Stiefel, L. (1999). Concepts of school finance equity: 1970 to the present. In H. F. Ladd, R. Chalk, & J.S. Hansen (Eds.), Equity and adequacy in education finance (7-33). Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Bowman, H. (2000, December 6). No rest for leaders of charter schools. Education Week, p. 1. Boyer, E. (1995). The basic school: A community for learning. Princeton, NJ: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Bulkley, K. (2000). The success of charter schools. Washington, DC: Testimony to the Committee on Education and the Workforce. 213

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Bulkley, K., & Fisler, J. (2002). A review of the research on charter schools. Philadelphia, PA: Consortium for Policy Research in Education. Caldwell, R., & Arrington, B. (2000). Colorado charter schools capital finance stt,Jdy: Challenges and opportunities for the future. Denver: Colorado Department of Education. Center for Education Reform. (2000). Charter school closures. Washington, DC: Author. Center for Education Reform. (2001 ). What the research reveals about charter schools: Summary and analyses of the studies. Washington, DC: Author. Center for Education Reform. (2002a, September). Update: Charter Schools (On-line). Retrieved December 1, 2002, from www.edreform.com/charter schools. Center for Education Reform. (2002b, October). Charter school closures: The opportunity for accountability. Washington, DC: Author. Charter Friends National Network. (1999). Out of the box: Facilities financing ideas for charter schools. St. Paul, MN: Author. Charter Schools Development Center. (2000). Charter-granting agencies' toolkit. Sacramento, CA: Author. Chubb, J., & Moe, T. (1990). Politics, markets, and America's schools. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press. Clifford, J. (1986), Introduction: Partial truths. In J. Clifford & G. Marcus (Eds.), Writing culture: The poetics and politics of ethnography, 33-40. Berkeley: University of California Press. Collins, J., & Porras, J. (2002). Built to last: Successful habits of visionary companies. New York: Harper-Collins. Colorado Department of Education. (2001 ). The state of charter schools in Colorado, 1999-2000: The characteristics, status, and performance record of Colorado charter schools. Denver: Author. 214

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