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Roles and perceptions of five stakeholder groups in a high school program that exemplified second-order change

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Roles and perceptions of five stakeholder groups in a high school program that exemplified second-order change
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Slotta, OliveAnn Davis
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English
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xvi, 199 leaves : illustrations ; 28 cm

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High schools -- Case studies -- Colorado -- Denver ( lcsh )
Educational change -- Case studies -- Colorado -- Denver ( lcsh )
Educational change ( fast )
High schools ( fast )
Colorado -- Denver ( fast )
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theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
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Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 193-199).
General Note:
School of Education and Human Development
Statement of Responsibility:
by OliveAnn Davis Slotta.

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University of Colorado Denver
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Full Text
ROLES AND PERCEPTIONS OF FIVE STAKEHOLDER GROUPS IN A HIGH
SCHOOL PROGRAM THAT EXEMPLIFIED SECOND-ORDER CHANGE
by
OliveAnn Davis Slotta
B.A., Hiram College, 1963
M.A., University of Colorado, 1992
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
1999


Copyright by OliveAnn Davis Slotta
All rights reserved.


This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
degree by
OliveAnn Davis Slotta
has been approved by
Lyn Taylor, Chdrfperson
Ellen Stevens
Marie Wirsing
f-

William ^uraschek
Maurice Holt
&/*/29, &?9


Slotta, Olive Ann (Ph.D., Educational Leadership and Innovation)
Roles and Perceptions of Five Stakeholder Groups in a High School Program That
Exemplified Second-Order Change
Dissertation directed by Associate Professor Lyn Taylor
ABSTRACT
This dissertation provides a historical, descriptive case study of a successful
high school reform program. The intent of this study is to illustrate by example what
has been described by Michael Fullan (1991) and others (Cuban, 1988; Elmore, 1988;
Sarason, 1990) as second-order, transformational change and to carefully assess the
roles played in one such program. The actions, attitudes, relationships and ideas of
these five stakeholder groups were examined: students, participating parents,
teachers, building administrators, and advisors. Emphasis is given to the different
perceptions that characterize the different groups, and to the elements of the
curriculum perceived by each group as being the most significant or useful. Also
examined are the planning process of the program and the philosophies and
assumptions articulated in its documents of initiation. Coded comments from
participant interviews are presented in table formatone table for each of the
stakeholder groups and two master tables. Findings include agreements and
differences among stakeholders on the role of the other groups as well as key aspects
of the curriculum process used.
l v


Such an extensive characterization of the reform process will inform future
curriculum and program design efforts. Ultimately, the purpose of this dissertation
study is to understand why some efforts at school reform fail while others do not.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's thesis. I
recommend its publication.
Signed.
Lyn Taylor
v


DEDICATION
To Emily Anne Gilmore Slotta, my first grandchild, who was bom during the writing
of this document, in the hope that her generation of American children will have the
opportunity to learn within the context of a peaceful planet.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This work represents the cumulative learning of 30 years of professional
experiences: experience as a high school mathematics teacher in a traditional urban
high school in the 60s, experience working as a full-time volunteer with a social
agency and its practical processes of educational transformation, and experience
working with a teaching team to design and implement one comprehensive program of
urban high school reform. Additionally and fortunately, these professional
experiences happened in tandem with the reality grounding of parenting.
I would like to acknowledge those who, in the midst of these experiences,
provided the foundational knowledge, investigative processes, academic guidance,
and inspiration to proceed with this academic endeavor.
All of the members of my doctoral committee-Lyn Taylor, William Juraschek,
Marie Wirsing, Ellen Stevens and Maurice Holt. I could not have assembled a more
dedicated or demanding group of academicians to guide my research and writing.
Thanks, Lyn, for being my doctoral advisor; your thoughtful and continuous
mentoring have kept me on this pathway. Thanks, Bill; your penchant for
mathematical and academic rigor has inspired mine. And thanks, Marie; your shared
love of the discipline of philosophy has provided great colleagueship.


The members of the two Imaginal Education teams with whom I have worked most
closely. In Chicago, Keith and George Packard, Karen Troxel Snyder, and Kristine
Valdes, have worked tirelessly to design the Learning Lab format that provides
practical direction toward new forms of image-based instruction. In Denver, Karen
Bueno, and Buma and David Dunn, provided the consultant work that set the stage
for the action research project documented here, and offered ongoing support for my
work on this final product.
My two friends and coaches-Michael OConnor and RosaLee Mitchell. Your
creative and endless support kept me on the writing track.
My former colleagues at the Fred N. Thomas Career Education Centerteachers Lou
Ann Fishering (now Townsend), Gordon Heaton, Eleanor Moller, Marc Nutter, Mel
Spurlin (deceased), Sonya Pederson, and Carol Webb; and administrators Sharon
Johnson, Tom Muman, and Tom Stevens. It was their personal tenacity and
dedication to reform that resulted in the implementation of a new plan, revised with
great creativity and care, on an ongoing basis. Thank you for being willing to learn
from the future.
Finally, and of great importance, I would like to thank my family.
James G. Slotta, husband of thirty-six years, who encouraged both this study and the
action research it documents. Your practical love for me and my work makes it
possible on a daily basis. I have been truly blessed with wonderful offspringtwo
daughters, women of determination who are now excelling in technical fields, and


two sons who are thriving, with me, in the field of education. They have grounded
my wild creativity in the worlds of real people and their professional prowess often
diminishes my own. Thank you to each of themto Elizabeth Ann Slotta, for sharing
her precious personhood and computer expertise with me; to James Davis Slotta,
whose doctoral studies preceded and now exist in concert with mine, for his practical
support and academic inspiration; to Jon William Slotta, whose education studies
coincided in time with mine, for his high energy and interest in education; and to
Karen Ann Larson, foster daughter, for demonstrating that high expectations and a
strong sense of family are worthwhile.


CONTENTS
Figures........................................................xv
Tables.........................................................xvi
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION..................................................1
First and Second-Order Change..............................2
Examples of Second-Order Change............................3
Systemic Approach to Studying Second-Order Change..........5
Historical and Social Context of This Study................6
The State of School Reform-Concerns About Standards........7
The State of the Nation's YouthMalaise of Meaning..8
General Malaise Among Youth.........................8
Programs Intended as Solutions Oblivious to
Comprehensive Student Needs.........................9
A Case Study of the Academic Program
in the Denver Public Schools..............................12
Non-Traditional Features of the Academic Program...14
Foundations and Assumptions of the Program.........16
Curriculum Design Included Intended Student Experiences.. 17
Procedural Underpinnings...........................18
Success Indicators........................................26
Summary...................................................29
x


2. LITERATURE REVIEW................................................31
The Stakeholder Roles.........................................32
Students...............................................32
Parents................................................34
Teachers...............................................35
Administrators.........................................36
Summary of Stakeholder Research...............................37
Foundational Works............................................39
Two Action Researchers.................................39
Image-Based Learning...................................40
3. METHODOLOGY......................................................46
Case Study Analysis...........................................46
Study Design and Procedures...................................47
Student and Parent Interviews.................................49
Selection Criteria and Procedures......................49
Selection Process......................................49
Selection Criteria for Students........................50
Selection Criteria for Parents.........................51
Selection of Teacher, Administrator, and Advisor Interviewees.52
The Study Participants........................................53
Student-Parent Teams...................................53
Teachers...............................................53
Administrators.........................................53
xi


Advisors
54
Interview Approach..................................54
Comment Coding Method...............................55
Tables..............................................58
Image Analysis Method...............................58
Summary.............................................60
4. FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION.......................................62
Participants and Their Comments............................63
The Student-Parent Teams............................63
Table 4.1: Student Comments.........................65
Table 4.2: Participating Parent Comments............68
The Teachers........................................71
Table 4.3: Teacher Comments.........................72
The Administrators..................................76
Table 4.4: Administrator Comments...................77
The Advisors........................................80
Table 4.5: Advisor Comments.........................81
Table 4.6: Discussion......................................84
Table 4.6: Master Comments Table....................84
Stakeholder Role Findings..................................88
Curriculum & Program Findings ......................89
Discussion of Curriculum and Program Findings.......90
Findings Based on Agreements and Differences Data...93
Xll


Results-Oriented Curriculum...........................94
Discussion of Findings About Agreements and
Differences...........................................94
Table 4.7: Image Analysis Table.............................95
Findings on the Stakeholder Roles Based on Images
Held by Each Stakeholder Group About the Others.......95
Images Held by Each Stakeholder Group About Itself...99
Findings on Curriculum and Program Based on Images
Held by Each Stakeholder Group.......................100
5. IMPLICATIONS...................................................103
Implications for Stakeholders..............................104
Empowered Students...................................104
Trusting Administrators (of Teachers)................106
Proactive Teachers...................................107
Who's Guarding the Treasure..........................107
Insights About the Nature and Design of Curriculum.........110
Two Different Types of Objectives....................112
Image-based Planning.................................112
A Project Theme Each Semester........................113
Other Connections..........................................116
Central Park East Secondary School...................116
Motivational Nature..................................117
Learning Community...................................118
Implications for Further Research..........................120
Concluding Ruminations.....................................123
Xlll


APPENDIXES
A. PROGRAM-INITIATING ARTIFACTS..................127
B. PROJECT ARTIFACTS.............................136
C. CURRICULUM DESIGN MATERIALS...................176
D. ADVISORY BOARD ARTIFACTS......................179
E. QUANTITATIVE STUDY RESULTS....................185
BIBLIOGRAPHY..........................................193
xiv


FIGURES
Figure
1.1 A team of students researches a project sub-topic..................22
1.2 Students and guests listen to project team reports.................23
5.1 Wheel of transformational change...................................109
XV


TABLES
Table
3.1 Number of Stakeholders Interviewed by Role....................48
3.2 Number of Coded Comments by Stakeholder Groups................57
4.1 Student Comments.........................................66
4.2 Participating-Parent Comments.................................69
4.3 Teacher Comments..............................................73
4.4 Administrator Comments........................................78
4.5 Advisor Comments..............................................82
4.6 Master Comments Table.........................................86
4.7 Images Based on Interview Comments............................98
xvi


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
This dissertation provides a historical, descriptive case study of a successful
high school reform program. The intent of this study is to illustrate by example what
has been described by Michael Fullan (1991) and others (Cuban, 1988; Elmore, 1988;
Sarason, 1990) as second-order, transformational change and to carefully assess the
roles played in one such program. I examine the actions, attitudes, relationships and
ideas of five stakeholder groups: students, participating parents, teachers, building
administrators, and advisors. Emphasis is given to the different perceptions that
characterize the different groups, and to the elements of the curriculum perceived by
each group as being the most significant or useful. I also examine the planning
process of the program and the philosophies and assumptions articulated in its
documents of initiation. Such an extensive characterization of the reform process will
inform future curriculum and program design efforts as well as implementation.
Ultimately, the purpose of this dissertation is to understand why some efforts at
school reform fail while others do not.
The program under study was designed in 1986 to rescue at-risk high school
juniors and seniors who were failing in traditional school settings, but succeeding in
the more intense, hands-on approach of this career magnet school. The site was the
1


Fred N. Thomas Career Education Center1 (CEC) in the Denver Public Schools
(DPS).
As one of the four original teachers who worked with advisors to design the
program, I maintained the documentation of the participants' demographics as well as
the instructional processes and their effects. When the teacher in that position retired
in 1988,1 became the team leader, remaining with the program throughout its nine-
year duration (1986 to 1995). Nearly seven hundred students were enrolled during
that period of time. The curriculum was problem-oriented, community-situated and
project-based. The program became known district-wide as CEC's Academic
Program and received national recognition in 1991 through the Disney Company's
American Teacher Awards.
The following, more specific questions framed my work: a) How do the five
stakeholder groups, or "doers of educational change" (Fullan, 1991) describe their
own and the others' roles in second-order change? b) Are any identified agreements
or differences in perspective significant to future reform applications? c) How do the
stakeholder groups recall and describe the problem-posing project that was the
curriculum centerpiece? and d) How were the intentional processes used in planning
both the initial program and its ongoing curriculum design related to its success?
First and Second Order Change
In his 1991 book, The New Meaning of Educational Change. Michael Fullan
states that "sustained action over a number of years will be required if teachers are to
.' The Fred N. Thomas Career Education Center was dedicated in Denver in 1976 as a magnet school
where students from all ten high schools would explore career interests and learn technical and
vocational skills.
2


work together in joint planning and adapting of teaching strategies to effect
transformational change" (p. xiii). He cites Sarason (1990) in delineating change
efforts into two types: first-order and second-order. By this definition, first order
changes are those that set out to improve efficiency and effectiveness in present
approaches. First-order changes "can be legislated and spell out objectives and
competencies" (p. 287). Historical examples of such first-order reforms are the junior
high school, intended to prevent underachieving pupils from dropping out, and the
mainstreaming of disabled children, intended to encourage children with physical,
mental and emotional disabilities to feel more a part of their school society. In each of
these examples, a solution was adopted in response to a particular need; in each case,
visible changes occurred in schools and districts as these programs were
implemented, though new problems soon emerged as the systems reacted to the
remedy.
Second-order changes are defined as those that set out to alter the fundamental
ways of doing things. Fullan defines such transformational change as "changes which
seek to alter the fundamental ways in which organizations are put together, including
new goals, structures, and roles." Second-order changes require the altering of "the
patterns and practices of individuals" (p. 287). In a later work, Fullan (1993)
explains the difficulties of implementing second-order change and cautions that such
efforts usually fail.
Examples of Second Order Change
This concept of transformational change is hardly new. Reformers of the
Progressive Era in the early part of this century sought to remodel schooling to deal
with the growth of industrialization, crime, and massive immigration (Tyack &
3


Cuban, 1995). John Dewey advocated for change in the fundamental ways of doing
things (second-order change) when he suggested that schools must set up conditions
that arouse and guide students' curiosity rather than hushing them up when they asked
questions (Dewey, 1933).
Another example of such second-order "change agentry" is found in the work
of The Institute of Cultural Affairs2 (ICA). The ICA began its work with image
identification and analysis in the early 1960s in order to occasion radical change in
how people viewed themselves and their neighborhoods. ICA researchers applied
Kenneth Boulding's image-change concepts to meet community development needs in
line with the organization's stated mission (Griffith 1992). Eventually this focus on
changing images in order to effect change in a broad context became institutionalized
within the ICA as "Imaginal Education." For example, in a West side Chicago
neighborhood project known as Fifth City, image analysis led staff from the ICA's
precursor organization, the Ecumenical Institute, to conclude that the most debilitating
image operative at that time was that of the black male self-image. Influenced by
welfare practices and ghetto-like environments, male family members experienced
uselessness and hopelessness. The staff of about fifteen people spent three years
studying the issues before creating new community programs. When the new
programs were started, one of the tactics used by the research team was the crafting of
a small iron statue termed "The Iron Man" based on Old Testament poetry from the
prophet Jeremiah. This small, black iron symbol was carried by volunteers walking
2 The Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) is a private, not-for-profit organization whose mission is
research, training, and demonstration of participatory methods. The ICA's curriculum work
articulates both measurable and existential objectives and intends for each student, empowered mental
models. The agency's Imaginal Education work was substantially influenced by Boulding, Bruner,
Montessori, and Piaget.
4


the blocks within the boundaries of Fifth City and the narrative of the resilient Iron
Man was retold many times. Results were observed and documented; new community
economic and political leadership emerged over the next few years, which was widely
thought to be a result of this and related efforts. This story serves to illustrate both the
complexity of second-order change and the role that image strategy played in this
particular implementation.
The educational component of this comprehensive effort eventually was
replicated in a global network of preschools in primarily Third World environments
(Cooperrider & Srivastva, 1987; Institute of Cultural Affairs, 1976).
Systemic Approach to Studying Second-Order Change
The progressive reformers who were affiliated with the Fifth City Project, and
their strategies toward fundamental, second-order change provide a historical link to
current change debates and to this study of one such episode. Fullan (1991) suggests
that discussions about implementing successful transformational change should focus
on the "work" of the "doers": what is required to achieve such change by the teachers,
the principals, the students, the district administrators, the consultants, the parents,
and the community. Fullan devotes a chapter to each of these groups. It is this query
that drives the present study of CEC's Academic Program.What did each
stakeholder group in the school community do, and how were their actions perceived
by the others?
Fullan's is a systemic approach that is consistent with that of Gregory
Bateson. Bateson (1972), purports that it is futile to work only on parts of a system
when change is intended, since the system always functions to conserve itself.
5


Further, when something new is introduced into a complex system, the system is
disturbed and seeks to self-correct.
The results of the present study are discussed both in terms of Fullan's
definition of second-order change and such assumptions of a systemic understanding.
This research discusses the impact of embedding a community-oriented project within
the curriculum and social fabric of the school itself. To date there has been no such
comprehensive study of the "system" as it was involved in a successful education
reform episode.
Historical and Social Context of This Study
Change where it counts mostin the daily interactions of teachers and
studentsis the hardest to achieve, and the most important.
(Tyack & Cuban, 1995, p. 10)
Schools, as social institutions, do change in response to changes in the larger
society. For example, during this century the number of persons in the 5-19 age range
who are enrolled in school has shifted fr.om 50% in 1900 to 90% in 1995 (Tyack &
Cuban, 1995). Schools change in response to new technologies, to new employment
demands, and to new understandings of human cognitive development. In the past
three decades, great efforts have been made to change our schools and their programs
in response to actual and anticipated social and economic mandates. We have gained
some clarity about the nature of successful reform, but are still striving for definitive
knowledge. Meanwhile, the needs of the students have escalated, partly as a result of
this very climate of change. The following two arenas of concernschool reform and
6


the state of our youth catalyzed the inception of the Academic Program and provide a
historical context to the present study.
The State of School ReformConcerns About Standards
While the political and social climate in the United States is ripe for educational
reform, we cannot yet generalize about the ideal school community that we should be
moving toward nor to what one model should prevail. The decade of the 1980s
witnessed an explosion in public awareness regarding the need for education reform.
In 1984, two booksJohn Goodlad's A Place Called School and Theodore Sizer's
Horace's Compromise-reached best- seller lists and provided Americans of all social
strata the opportunity to view the classrooms of their childhood memories from an
adult/leadership perspective. In the 1990s, the nation's attention to education has
increased even more. The annual Bracey reports (Bracey, 1997) published by Phi
Delta Kappan, (1990-1998) critique the crisis-orientation of the media and provide a
more objective review of student achievement data. Education issues have become the
focus of political elections as well as the frequent subject of conversations in coffee
shops and on talk shows.
Reformers today do not share the same goals about our schools and students.
The standards movement, which began in specific discipline areas in the 1980s, is the
driving force behind most reform efforts today. Standards advocates would have us
believe that if the learning objectives are rigorous enough, the schools will be renewed
and students will succeed at their next level of instruction. Others are troubled by the
"impersonality" of this approach and advocate for a person-centered approach, or a
"humane framework for the kinds of education required in a technological society"
7


(Greene 1988). Sadly, it seems easier for particular constituencies to reach agreement
about the standards in a specific discipline area, than for the community of education
reformers to agree about how we might arrive at excellence and who we want our
students to become.
The State of the Nation's YouthMalaise of Meaning
Urban youth. Chaos from the greater society always affects the well-being of
our young. For example, teachers today cannot assume that students' general health
and welfare needs are met before they enter the classroom. This is especially true in
urban school districts. Thirty percent of our nation's urban children lived in poverty in
1990; 23% had neighborhood clinics as their only source of health care; 46% had
changed schools more than once since first grade; and only 68% resided in a two-
parent family (National Center for Educational Statistics, 1996). Many related
physical and psychological spin-offs of these conditionssuch as short attention
spans, poor nutrition, and lack of motivation-affect the classrooms daily, influencing
the learning of all the students there (Maeroff, 1998). In Colorado, the percentage of
children living in poverty rose from 11.5 % in 1979 to 15 % in 1989, an increase of
30.4 %. Rates among minority and urban groups were much higher, triple those cited
above (The Denver Post, 1992, p. 3A).
General Malaise Among Youth
Due to substantive changes in the larger society, "typical" youth activities like
proms, football games, marching bands, and pep rallies have lost their adolescent
following, resulting in a void of meaning and fun, and fostering within our youth a
8


general sense of confusion and malaise. During the industrial era, a spirit of
competition had been the assumed mode of operation in all social strata. Today, gang
activities and fear of violence may prevent or minimize large student gatherings
beyond the regular school day. Once, military enlistment held out to our young people
both a noble cause and a viable career option. Now, an anti-military, post-
"M.A.S.H." (Movie and TV series) consciousness and a balanced-federal-budget
mindset have converged to minimize this vocational pathway. Today's high school
students exist in a present that lacks enthusiasm, eventfulness, and a positive vision of
the future.
Programs Intended As Solutions Oblivious to
Comprehensive Student Needs
Reform efforts responding to the needs recognized as growing out of these
circumstances include some impressive and ambitious efforts:
Professional associations such as the National Council of Teachers of
Mathematics (NCTM) took aggressive measures to study and reform their own
disciplines, and by the end of the 1980s NCTM's Curriculum and Evaluation
Standards for School Mathematics was published (NCTM, 1989).
In 1987, The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS)
was established. It has formulated a volunteerism-based strategy for credentialing
master teachers nationwide (NBPTS, 1994).
In 1989, President Bush announced a set of eight new national education
goals to be met by the year 2000. They included the goals to be first in the world in
math and science; to have all children start school ready to leam; to increase high
school graduation rates to at least 90%; and to have students leave designated grades
9


with demonstrated competencies in challenging subject matter (Goals 2000: Educate
America Act).
In 1992, President Clinton reaffirmed "Education 2000." They were adopted
into law in 1994 as "Goals 2000: Educate America Act."
In 1993, the Colorado legislature passed HB 93-1313 which mandated specific
subject-by-subject content standards with uniform, correlated assessments to
follow. The Colorado Model Content Standards (1995) were written by
committees from across the state, in implementation of the bill.
In 1997, supported by the nations' governors and accompanied by substantial
funding, President Clinton again renewed commitment to the Education 2000
goals.
New, more rigorous educational standards have been adopted in thirty-seven
states.
Reform efforts in education have focused primarily on two areas:
1) curriculum, along with its complement, alternative assessment; and 2) teacher
quality, as measured by pre-determined norms. Yet as various reform efforts and
public debates intensify, it is important to assess the overall understanding of
curriculum reform, whether these efforts are truly making helpful progress, and
whether we are even asking the right questions.
Some initial critiques have suggested the need for a more deliberate study of
the reform process based on points such as the following:
Implementing the NBPTS plan for teacher certification will be expensive.
President Clinton recently asked Congress for $105 million dollars for 1998-
2002 operations, designed to put 100,000 teachers into the applicant process


and yield at least 35,000 teachers with National Board Certification over a five
year period. The application fee for each teacher or for their district is $1000.
There are additional costs indirectly, to the students. The substantial time
required by both the volunteer teachers, and by the ambitious teachers who
apply for certification translates directly to time away from lesson planning
and student nurture.
While standards advocate "high-level substance", the related planning process
begins with content; the "positivist-realist" nature of this approach regarding
what constitutes knowledge ignores the student as inquirer in the process.
I have observed that virtually all major school reform efforts to date (1998)
seek to commit all educators to one best way of educating all youth. They
suggest uniform, predetermined, objectified, measurable, and discrete content
and outcomes.
Finally, we must be cautious not to think of school "reform" as a matter of
tuning up the existing system. Improving student scores on national
standardized tests is often viewed as the end to which all means should be
directed. True reform will move beyond test scores and benchmarks to a
totally new understanding of what it means to educate our nation's children
reform defined as "second-order change" (Fullan 1991).
These two stated areas of concernthe state of standards-driven school
reform, the state of youth in the midst of turmoil-affirm the need for
transformational, second-order change. The situation suggests that high schools
should include, in addition to the usual mastery of technical and academic skills and
knowledge, novel structures that can meet the needs of all students for meaning and


well-being, supported by an inclusive and interrelated approach to the curriculum.
Schools are complex systems made up of people, curriculum, and all of the realities
present in the larger society. Accordingly, educational change is complex. It "cycles
and evolves" as professionals "tinker with and alter the hypotheses into hybrids"
(Tyack & Cuban, 1995, p. 60). Tyack, Cuban, Fullan, and others concerned with
lasting change focus on the educational constituencies. They discuss and analyze the
stakeholder groups, the curriculum, and the various milieus, separately. In contrast,
the present case study seeks to carefully explore the interrelations among all of the
various constituencies and curriculum components found in one episode of school
reform.
A Case Study of the Academic Program
in the Denver Public Schools
The Academic Program at CEC was planned in response to the needs of urban
high school students of the 80s and 90s, according to such an interactive and
interrelated approach. It was implemented by four master academic teachers as a pilot
program in the fall of 1986. During the spring 1986 semester, prior to the adoption of
the image-based planning approach, all of the CEC teachers and administrators
worked to identify the academic knowledge required for success in each of the career
classes. The task of "covering" such a skill-based curriculum was eventually deemed
impossible and the more student-centered, community-oriented, project-approach was
then bom. When this was recognized, CEC students were included in the curriculum
planning through a workshop entitled "The Essential Elements of the Academic
Program" (see Appendix A). This process-approach to the curriculum design became
its hallmark; custom-made planning materials were developed and consistently used.


The program continued as a pilot, being evaluated and modified each semester
for the next three years. In 1989, the Academic Program model became a formal DPS
program and functioned as such for the following six years. Due to school and district
reorganization, the program was closed down in January of 1995; at that time,
however, it entered a replication phase with major components being adapted for use
in other locations, district-wide. The following factors may have contributed to the
Academic Programs closure at CEC: 1) The high student energy level that was
generated by the project's learning activities was viewed as disruptive by some school
personnel; 2) All three of the school's principals, including the two who helped
conceptualize the program in 1986, left for a different reason in June of 1994. The
new principal was less than supportive of the program, and with no advanced notice
to parents, teachers, or studentsincluding graduating seniorsannounced its
immediate termination in January of 1995; 3) There was no official commitment to the
Academic Program beyond the school site.
An academic program with a more traditional instructional approach was
reinstated at the school in the fall of 1995 and, at the time of this writing, school
administrators are working to again re-define important curriculum components,
making them more interactive. However, there is no evidence of efforts to understand
the original Academic Program curriculumits comprehensive learning intents or
unique planning processes.


Non-Traditional Features of the Academic Pros ram
An examination of Academic Program artifacts indicates that this program
differed from that of a traditional high school in these significant ways (see "Three
Systems of Learning Chart" in Appendix A):
Curriculum presentation format. Traditional high schools generally present
curriculum in "Carnegie Units" delivered in forty-five minute periods and
using a district scope-and-sequence format. Such a stringent plan is often a
disincentive to individual student learning motivation (Carroll, 1994). In
contrast, the Academic Program used time creatively and flexibly in periods
never less than one hour long.
Student involvement. Traditional high schools offer "extracurricular" activities
designed to provide social skills and student leadership opportunities. Some
choose to join clubs or do volunteer work within the high school setting.
Certain studentsgenerally those already possessing good social skillsare
selected by teachers and peers for a finite number of leadership positions.
Sadly, the majority of young people are not included in many of these
interesting and formative activities. Students with family-support
responsibilities, with part- or full-time jobs, with low motivation, or with
debilitating self-images, generally "fall though the cracks." In contrast, the
Academic Program was designed to include all students at all levels. It was
designed with "academically disinclined" 11th and 12th grade students in mind
and required them all to investigate project issues and share responsibilities.
Focus on student uniquenesses. In most high schools, individual potential is
seldom challenged and students' overall learning is rarely a category for


analysis or evaluation (Tyack & Cuban, 1995). Many students' talents and
potential are consequently lost to the school community as well as to society.
In contrast, the Academic Program implemented an academically rigorous and
non-traditional approach to high school instruction, focusing on each
individual's unique profile of learning strengths and relative weaknesses.
A team approach to planning and assessment. The four teachers planned all
curricula and provided all academic instruction. A teacher team leader provided
coordination with the larger magnet school. Although each individual teacher
had established grading policies, the interactive curriculum components-
orientation and the selected projectwere assessed by rubrics and portfolios.
Students evaluated their project teammates (see Appendix B) on project work.
Teachers were provided two additional hours of common planning time each
week, making possible the ongoing, interdisciplinary curriculum design.
Assessment of individual student progress and any needed adaptation of the
curriculum plans to assure maximum interest and effectiveness occurred
during that time.
Multiple forms of assessment. Students participated in a team-based and self-
assessment format for all project work (one class period per day), and an end-
of-semester portfolio featured sections for learning achievements from all
aspects of the CEC program. Academic teachers selected their own method for
their other two classes. Course syllabi with clear expectations for grades and
levels of achievement was sent home prior to each new semester.


Foundations and Assumptions of the Program
The mental image as fundamental to learning behavior. The model for the
Academic Program was initially inspired by Kenneth Boulding, educator and
economist. His theoretical treatise, The Image. (1956) states that a) much of human
beings' thinking and behavior is based on their mental images; b) verbal, visual, or
experiential messages form the images; and c) images affect behavior, which offers
clues to the images. Finally, the images can be changed by strategic messages.
Teachers and planners in the CEC program also later at various times studied the work
of Peter Senge (1990) who presents a similar cognitive account, but uses the
terminology of "mental models" and "actions" where Boulding uses "images" and
"behavior". Senge's work reinforced and enhanced this understanding of the
relationship between the students' images and their learning behavior.
Curriculum design based on image theory. The strategy of connecting
curriculum to students' mental models or images was foundational in the design of the
Academic Program. The curriculum was created by the Academic Program teachers
and administrators with the assistance of two consultants from the Institute of Cultural
Affairs (ICA) during the summer of 1986. The model was further significantly
influenced by two conference events which took place at about this same time: a) the
July 1986 Teachers' Institute at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, an event that
was sponsored by the Imaginal Education Program of the ICA and involved an
international group of master teachers; and b) the June 1987 Education Summit at
George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, an event that was co-sponsored by the
ICA, New Horizons for Learning, a Seattle-based education think-tank, and others.
Among the featured speakers at this gathering of prestigious political and education


leaders were Robert Aldrich, Barbara Clark, Reuven Feuerstein, Howard Gardner,
Malcolm Knowles, David Perkins, and Edward Zigler. Information presented by
these edge thinkers in their areas of research was shared with all of the teachers and
consultants who were working with the Academic Program during its pilot phase.
Curriculum Design Included Intended Student Experiences
In addition to naming an image change or image to be shaped by each major
curriculum component, Academic Program teachers also identified what they wanted
these high school students to experience in these components (see Appendix C). This
facet of the planning process served a "how-to" function in the learning plans, and
encouraged comprehensiveness and creativity in teacher planning. It was always an
intent of the program that students experienced success in academic achievement,
positive personal interactions, and significant involvement in group decision-making.
Specific Agreements and Assumptions. The following agreements and
assumptions guided the early planning of the Academic Program. Together the nine
items represent a foundational belief that the experience of each separate part of a
learning community is significant and that each affects the experience of each of the
other parts as well as that of the whole (see Appendix A).
1. The studentstheir interests and needsare the center or focus of the
educational process.
2. Time is set at the present, i.e., while teachers planned somewhat with the
nature of their students' future workplace in mind, learning activities were
always delivered within the context of the present.
3. Work is presented as the pathway to life fulfillment.


4. All students are valued equally (in contrast to the common school practice of
prioritizing the students from bad to good).
5. Teachers' time and students' time are considered to be of equal value.
6. Grades are used as symbols representing student achievement, to maintain
continuity across the district. However, real-world project victories are the
primary motivators and therefore better signs of actual achievement.
7. The interests and skills represented in each particular student body are always
included in planning.
8. Teachers model effective teamwork, believing that more and better work can
be done by an effective team than by individual efforts.
9. The larger Denver community is used to situate learning, providing an integral
source of general information and learning project topics.
Procedural Underpinnings
Image-based curriculum. Curriculum planning for the program began by
analyzing probable student images of themselves, their school, and the community,
and then describing desirable images in each category. Each of the three semester
schedule segments was defined by these desired images/image changes (see Appendix
C), and these definitions guided further planning. During the first two weeks of
school, student activities delivered messages designed to effect specific changes in
student images. Image of self was encouraged to change from an "unsuccessful
learner" to a "curious or successful learner," and from "high school kid" to "young
adult." Image of school was encouraged to change from "a place to play" to "a place
to work," from "a place where passive endurance is rewarded" to "a place where


passive endurance results in failure," and from an "inaccessible, pre-determined
program" to "a learning community that requires everyone's participation." Image of
community was encouraged to change from "a sometimes hostile and closed group of
elected officials" to "particular, dedicated people working on special causes."
The mid-semester project targeted different image changes: Image of self from
"disengaged high school student" to "effective, practical problem-solver"; Image of
school from "a place where facts are dispensed in classrooms" to "a community
resource center where problems are solved"; and Image of community from
"inaccessible, scattered groups of people in unknown buildings" to "coherent groups
of people whose causes need everyone's care". During the portfolio compilation and
sharing sessions, these image changes were intended: Image of self from "student of
facts" to "creator of products"; Image of school from "dispenser of rewards in
segmented grades" to "acknowledger of learning accomplishments"; and Image of
Community from "a place where luck is needed to succeed" to "a world in which the
future is accessible" and "a source of resume recognition." Planning curriculum using
this approach takes into account all of the ways messages are given and received
including verbal, visual, and experiential (p. 14). Comprehensive planning processes
were followed at each level, defining desired student images, measurable learning
objectives, and experiential aims (see Appendix C).
The project approach. The project approach adopted by the Academic Program
is of special interest due to its motivational nature and capacity to involve all
stakeholders. It was the primary strategy to address the students' negative images of
the community and school. While many educators would agree that a project-based
curriculum provides a good way for students to learn (Valdes, 1998), research on the


topic has been situated mainly in the domains of science and social studies. The
Academic Program employed curriculum projects that connected the four disciplines
of English, math, science, and social studies, specifically to the 32 career classes
offered at CEC at that time. These projects involved both students and teachers in
problem-posing and problem-solving.
Key in framing the project was the semester schedule of learning-related
events, designed with this rhythm: project topic, academic concepts, student research
on the project, and synthesis activities. Before the beginning of each term, the
teachers (with administrator consultation) selected a high-media-profile, issue-oriented
topic that provided a real-world connection for academic studies and problem-solving,
project-based applications. Teachers and admininstrators building-wide were
encouraged to suggest possible project themes with interesting learning extensions,
making for a highly creative and lively process. The topic was eventually consensed
upon by the academic teaching team during an all day planning meeting that was held
at least one month prior to the beginning of the next term.
The first two weeks of each semester were devoted to assessing the profile of
learning uniqueness and the personal strengths or gifts of each student. At this time, a
career exploration pathway was identified for each student.
Next, guest speakers from the community who had in-depth knowledge about
the project topic frequently provided first-hand information and field trips were
scheduled as appropriate. All learning activities were designed to send intentional and
positive messages about school (as a place of resources), about the community (as a
locus of care and creativity) and about the individual student (as possessing unique
gifts and learning preferences).
20


Mid-semester, students worked in teams for two weeks, first to research the
issues and then to make recommendations for a solution to the project challenge
(Figure 1.1).
Community agency representatives with whom the student teams had worked,
as well as administrators and parents, were invited to attend a final reporting session
in which results were shared and a consensus was reached regarding the challenge
topic (Figure 1.2) (Snodgrass & Slotta 1992). At the end of the semester, student
portfolios included at least one final product from the project team's work. Students
wrote evaluative comments summarizing both their own learning and the contributions
of their teammates.


Figure 1.1 A team of students researches a project sub-topic.
22


Figure 1.2 Students and guests listen to project team reports.
The Project Approach motivated students to create solutions to problem
situations that affected their community and world. In so doing, they applied already-
mastered academic and practical skills, eliminating the all-too-familiar question,
"When will I ever need to know this?" The process was formally termed "The Project
Approach" by ICA consultant David Bums (pseudonym) at its inception.
The project topic frequently became the focus for monthly enrichment
activities. Projects usually had a global dimension; they always had a local aspect that
could be effectively problem-solved. Samples of project themes were: "Water
Conservation on a Desert Plateau"; "Remembering the Rainforests"; "Exploring
Another Continent" (Africa); "Drop-out Prevention"; "The Gulf WarBlood for Oil?";
"Our Global Neighborhood"; "Destination White House"; "Immigration-Crowded
23


Shores, Closed Doors"; and "Health Care 2000." (The curriculum and results of the
Fall 1994 project on immigration entitled, "Crowded Shores, Closed Doors," is found
in Appendix B.)
Many of the project topics naturally incorporated a fund-raising component for
one of the teams. During the rainforest project, students on one of the teams worked
with a local agency, Denver Digs Trees, to obtain and then plant trees along an
eroding water canal; students on a different team raised money to adopt an acre of
rainforest land in Central America. During the "Summer of Violence" (1993in
Denver) project students learned about the AFSC and other local agencies that teach
conflict resolution skills; during the project on Africa, student teams learned about and
raised money for the Wildlife Foundation (endangered animal species), the Sierra
Club, and UNICEF. These activities all took place during one, one-hour class period
for three weeks.
The Project Approach was designed to model and encourage these educational
reform practices: teamwork and cooperation, as students experienced the mandate to
design common solutions; lifelong learning, as students watched teachers learn about
new and current topics; individual motivation, as students struggled to meet real
deadlines; connected learning and academic affirmation, as students applied academic
skills to real situations; and the rewards of volunteering, as students worked on behalf
of the larger community's needs (Slotta, 1993).
Students. The Academic Program accommodated up to 100 students for up to
four semesters. Six hundred eighty-five students participated in the program during its
nine year duration. In general, the student body consisted of active learners who had
not succeeded at their home high schools. Student mix was representative of the


population of the city of Denver in ethnicity and gender and often contained children
of notable Denver area educators. Over 60% of these students worked full- or part-
time (Spampanato, Becker & Johnson, 1991). Second-year students were required to
provide leadership for small groups and for project teams. They were also encouraged
to enroll in community college courses or to schedule career-related internships in
tandem with their academic schedules.
Staff and advisors. Eight different teachers provided instruction in teams of
four per contract year, each representing one of the disciplines of English, math,
science, and social studies. One of three building administrators coordinated the staff
and oversaw the learning activities. The original teachers were four master teachers,
having come to the CEC from positions of leadership in their former school
assignments. They were all parents of grown children.
In the fall of 1994, a board of advisors for the Academic Program was formed
with representation from former students, and from parents, teachers, and
administrators, as well as from both university and ICA advisors. One member, the
parent of a former student, had also been a member of the DPS school board. This
advisory board brought a comprehensive and informed perspective to the program,
supported the students' project work, and sought to expand the program's influence
within educational networks across the state (see Appendix D).
25


Success Indicators
The Academic Program at CEC is worth analyzing because it was widely
deemed "successful" and it is an example of second-order change. But how can we
provide some tangible measure of this success?
The following three criteria are suggested by Tyack and Cuban (1995) as a
valid measure of success in educational reform settings: a) Fidelity to original design;
b) Effectiveness in meeting pre-set outcomes and c) Longevity (pp. 61-63). Each of
these factors was reflected in the success of the Academic Program and will be
considered here. In addition, informal reports from students, teachers, and
administrators provide testimony to success. Finally, a prior quantitative study of
student achievement will be briefly revisited.
Fidelity to original design. While the Academic Program was modified each
semester in small yet significant ways (p. 12), the original schedule, intentions, and
curriculum designs were never modified (see Appendix A).
Effectiveness in meeting pre-set outcomes. The image-shaping strategies
which directed learning activities toward the students' images of self, school, and
community, were documented by a quantitative study (Slotta, 1991). This study
indicated that students who had participated in the Academic Program exceeded
normal expectations of young people in that age group in community involvement,
had completed their high school education, and had not received public assistance of
any kind. (See Appendix E).
Longevity. The Academic Program enjoyed a nine-year duration, six years
past the pilot phase. The fact that this is long for an education innovation is not
necessarily an indicator of success, as innovations can change over time and create
26


new problems within systems. The fact that replication was intended when the
program was closed at the Career Education Center is of more significance. District
administrators had intended the basic structure and schedule of the program was to be
a model for at-risk and alternative programs at other secondary school sites.
Student, teacher, and administrator reports:
The CEC programs were evaluated each semester for the administrators by the
students. Results of these evaluations were always extraordinarily
complimentary of this particular program.
Throughout the program, CEC professionals reported unusually high
motivation and achievement from the Academic Program students. Teachers
and administrators regularly noted significant, observable changes in the
student participants' attitudes.
The Academic Program was sufficiently recognized and respected to be
presented at several conferences, including the Colorado Council of Teachers
of Mathematics' (CCTM) annual conference in 1989, and ICA West's annual
meeting in 1992.
The Project component has been a featured topic of ICA Chicago's Learning
Lab3' a two-week summer training program for teacher teams. "The Project" is
3 The Learning Lab is an intensive, two week laboratory developed by The Institute of Cultural
Affairs (ICA) Chicago in 1991. It features instruction, demonstration, and practice in image-based
curriculum design and delivery. Labs have been sponsored in Chicago by the Golden Apple Program
and attended by Golden Apple Scholars and Chicago Public School teachers. In 1996 a Learning Lab
was held in San Jose, California; it was co-sponsored by the ICA, a River Alliance of five science
magnet schools of San Jose Unified School District, San Jose State University, and Joint Venture
(business-education) Silicon Valley. One of the five participating schoolsJohn Muir Middle
School-was honored later in 1996 by President Clinton as the site for his education address.
27


frequently mentioned on teachers' final evaluations as their Learning Lab
program highlight.
Requests for presentations and instruction regarding the Academic Program
have come to the CEC from school districts across the country.
The program received four Public Education Coalition grants and several
federal title grants for particular project components (Slotta, 1991).
Although the program was consensus-based and non-competitive in nature,
students regularly received recognition in outside competitions during high
school.
Graduates of the program have succeeded in university work, earning
baccalaureate and graduate degrees; others have excelled in post-high school
careers. One former student in the Academic Program is now teaching the
CEC career class he attended during high school.
While some of the above items are based primarily on casual teacher and
school reports and on local contest documents, interview comments from the present
qualitative study do support these claims.
Quantitative study of student achievement. In fulfillment of part of a master's
degree requirement at the University of Colorado at Denver, I designed and conducted
a quantitative study of Academic Program student achievements (Slotta, 1991)(see
Appendix E). The inquiry was conducted at the end of the first four years of the CEC
Academic Program. In order to determine whether image change had actually
occurred, former students were surveyed after leaving high school. The following
three facets of intended image formation or change were examined: image of school
(measured by school completion), image of community (measured by degree of
28


political or community involvement), and image of self (measured by degree of
economic self-sufficiency).
Results from this earlier study clearly indicated the success of the program.
Approximately 87% of the at-risk students who had ever entered the program
graduated from high school; an additional 9% had earned their GED. This compares
with 78% for the district overall. (No graduation rate for At-Risk Students Only
category was available.) Thirty-eight percent were registered voters, as compared
with 3% of this same age group in the same county during the same time frame. Over
half had attended college or technical school, and 95% were economically self-
supporting. (No data for economic self-sufficiency were available for this selected age
group. )(Slotta, 1991)
Summary
This is not a study about whether change is needed in schools today; rather, it
assumes that schools need constant renewal in both content and process so that our
students may "learn from the future." Neither does this study seek to recommend one
major reform strategy over another; it assumes that teachers and administrators at an
educational site will utilize the courses, schedules, and learning events that best meet
student learning needs at a local site.
Rather, this is a study about second-order change. It is a study that scrutinizes
one local team of doersteachers, administrators, and advisors, together with
representative students and their parentswho represent all the stakeholders in a
reform process whose aim was to respond to their school community's perceived
needs. It is a study that analyzes the comments of those who created this successful
reform program and maintained ongoing documentation, buoyed up by its many
29


victories along the pathway. This study examines artifacts, documents, and persona]
experiences, and captures the significant attitudes, actions, and thoughts of the
stakeholders in this particular reform episode. In short, metaphorically, it is a case
study that examines both the actors and their script, plus the producers, the audience,
the critics, and the reviewers.
If the journey from reform to transform requires radically altered organization
then it must also require intentional model-building and experimentation. Such action
research can only happen by including classroom laboratories that try, showcase, and
carefully document reform efforts. This study is an analysis of one such programthe
Academic Program at Denver's Career Education Center. It expands on the substantial
quantitative documentation done after the first three years of the programs
implementation (Slotta, 1991).
This study aligns the Academic Program's various features and
accomplishments with recent definitions of second-order change. An important
premise of both the case and this study is that students, parents, teachers,
administrators, and advisors all have unique and important perspectives to contribute.
This premise is supported by a second: There are appropriate and important
philosophical assumptions and planning approaches that, when incorporated into the
curriculum design process, produce meaningful and maximized learning experiences
that prepare students for lifelong learning in this, the Information Age.


CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW
The stated intent of this historical descriptive case study is to illustrate by
example how the stakeholder roles and program elements in one successful high
school reform episode were exemplified. Substantive changes such as those in the
case, i. e. changes in the patterns and practices of teaching and learning, have been
described as second-order change (Cuban, 1988, Fullan, 1991). As the present study
examines the roles and expectations of the various stakeholders, it will be helpful to
review what the existing research literature has to say about each constituency.
Because the present study will focus on relationships between groups, including
images of each group held by the others, special interest will be given to any research
that explores interactions between two or more constituencies. Because an image-
based curriculum design was integral to the study (see Appendix B), it will also be
important to review existing literature on the relationship between images and
learning. This chapter therefore examines previous research, with specific claims or
findings relating to (a) the roles and perceptions of the stakeholders and (b) image-
based instruction.
3 1


The Stakeholder Roles
Students
The primary theme in the literature regarding the role of the student is
engagement. Fullan (1991) has argued that students need to see themselves as having
some meaningful role in the classroom, yet more work has focused on student
activities than on student images. Much of this research on student activities and
learning outcomes has been in the domain of science education. For example,
Minstrell (1996) has developed an innovative approach to guiding student learning of
physical science through reference to conceptual benchmarks (e.g., Minstrell and
Stimpton, 1996). Further, Kuhn (1989, 1993) has suggested that students benefit
from instruction that includes scientific reasoning and argumentation. Songer (1993)
has offered activities that lead to such scientific inquiry in her "Kids as Global
Scientists" project.
Substantially less work has explored students' attitudes, beliefs and goals in
the classroom, relating to the present issue of image analysis. The effects of
classroom activities on student perspectives and performance has been studied
(Stevenson, 1990, Phelan, Davidson, & Cao, 1992, Hojacki & Grover, 1992,
Keller-Cogan, 1995, Joyner, 1996). For example, students representing three
different achievement levels were interviewed about the nature of classrooms and
activities that engaged their interests (Stevenson, 1990). Results of this study suggest
that students are not engaged by trivial tasks, but by cognitively-challenging tasks
such as interpreting, analyzing, and manipulating information. Phelan, Davidson and
Cao (1992) investigated student perspectives on learning and found them to be
remarkably similar to those of teachers. By asking questions like, "What is important


to students about schools and classrooms?", these researchers determined that
students from all achievement levels and backgrounds want to succeed and understand
that it is important to be in an environment that will support their success. Keller-
Cogan (1995) investigated student perceptions of instructional and assessment
strategies in traditional and alternative settings, but found only that the alternative
settings seemed more effective from the student perspective.
Some research has focused on the interactions between students and their
peers, as well as the development of technologies to support peer collaboration (e.g.,
Scardamalia and Bereiter, 1991; Brown and Campione, 1994). This work as a whole
suggests that classrooms are best considered as a community of learners. Other
researchers have explored the interactions between students and teachers or other
constituencies. Lucas (1996) examined the effects of teacher and assistant principal
roles on student motivation. This work, together with that of Matthews and Brown
(1976, 1988) establishes connections between the influences of these constituencies
and student achievement. Boyle (1993) compared the perceptions of student and
teacher groups in two schools regarding their classroom climates and use of cognitive
strategies. This quantitative study involved over a thousand students and nearly a
hundred teachers, and employed diverse measures. Results of the study found that
learning is improved in contexts where teachers and their students have similar
perspectives on learning. Researchers at the Learning Research and Development
Center (LRDC) at the University of Pittsburgh worked in cooperation with the
American Federation of Teachers (AFT) to organize the "Thinking Mathematics
Project" (Hojacki & Grover, 1992). The study involved sixty-five classes at five
schools and monitored student and peer groups against affective and cognitive


changes. Teacher self-reported data showed that teachers who were involved in the
program perceived empowering changes in their students in problem-solving abilities
and attitudes toward math.
All of these studies point to the primary role of student engagement in the
learning process and to the interactive nature of learning activities as key to
improvement.
Parents
The parent role is "where the most powerful instrument for improvement
resides" (Fullan, 1991, p. 227). Fullan cites studies by Epstein (1988) and Mortimore
(1988) that document the importance of parental involvement in general as it affects
student achievement. Findings indicate that parents require the school's assistance to
become knowledgeable partners in their children's education. An examination of the
literature indicates that the role of the parent in the education literature is generally
presented in relationship to other factors or stakeholders. The fact that no known
correlation has been found between parental involvement in governance and student
achievement (Gibson, 1991) implies that the focus of parental involvement should
always be on educational activities if increased student learning is the intended
outcome.
Gibson (1991) also looked at how parental involvement affects teacher and
administrator attitudes. His findings most relevant to this present study were: a) all
parents want to be involved in the education of their children; b) teachers held the
primary influence over whether or not parents were productive partners in the school;
34


and c) parental involvement improves the school's image within the larger
community.
Teachers
The question of what makes great teachers great is embedded in the culture of
many current teacher recognition programs, such as the American Teacher Awards
and the Presidential Award for Excellence. The qualities of great teachers are also the
subject of many teacher education courses and textbooks. An example of a recent and
innovative text that involved teachers in the field in the articulation of successful
approaches and philosophical positions is Becoming a Teacher (Parkay & Stanford,
1992). In addition to widely publicized programs, professional advocate organizations
regularly analyze the state of the teachers and administrators. Phi Delta Kappan
annually polls teachers on the status of the public schools.
It is widely recognized that teachers perform many functions beyond those of
instruction. Research findings agree that teaching is "a never-ending mixture of
satisfying and stressful experiences" (Fullan, 1991, p. 123). It is within such a milieu
that the art of teaching must necessarily take place. The study of the teacher role and
qualities is therefore frequently qualitative. Simmers-Wolpow (1995) explored the life
histories of three great teachers who had also been trauma victims, to identify possible
ways in which their recovery may inform their pedagogical approaches. More
specifically, this study looked for the subtle ways in which these professionals' own
despair-to-hope stories may have positively affected their primary instructional
message.
3 5


The subject of teacher involvement in science and mathematics curriculum
reform was the focus of a 1997 longitudinal study (Esterle). As attention in the reform
community continues to focus on math and science literacy for all students, this study
included observations of staff activities and events in one such programthe
California Academy of Math and Science. It became necessary when teacher
collaborations were not occurring, to refocus the study onto what was actually
blocking the modification of instructional practices.
It is also recognized that the teacher, together with the principal, plays a major
role in student motivation and achievement (Lucas, 1996; Hojacki & Grover, 1992;
Matthews & Brown, 1976, 1988). Holt & Juraschek (1998) observed a teacher
delivering an inquiry lesson to an eighth grade mathematics class, noting the
engagement of the students, the culture of the classroom, and the practical activity of
the teacher. Their conclusions were: a) good teaching cannot be reduced to
prescriptions; b) a systems perspective is desirable; and c) significant teacher
experience is essential. These findings substantiate the artfulness of the teacher's task,
and the systemic nature of the outcomes. We have substantial information and still
want to learn more about how the teacher becomes "an artisan who transforms
students" (Fullan, 1991, p. 142).
Administrators
The difficult nature of the principal's role is also well established; it is a role
that has been widely studied. The majority of a principal's time is spent on personal
encountersphone calls, meetings, negotiations (Fullan, 1991). Fullan cites Martin
(1981) who found that only 17% of a principal's day is spent on instructional matters.
36


The importance of the principal's role to student learning is implicit. Lucas
(1996) established connections between the roles of teacher and principal and student
achievement. Hunderfund (1992) interviewed students and caregivers in a Long
Island, New York, community of 13,000 residents, to identify common factors that
influence the relation between care-giving and care-receiving among supervisors,
teachers, and students. Results indicated that school leaders played a critical role in the
shaping of dominant cultural values within the school settings studied. Particularly,
there was evidence to support the powerful influence of the principal on the nature of
the schools caring ethos.
The perceptions and strategies of principals for dealing with academically
deficient students was explored by Wheaton (1994). She examined a body of students
that is often overlookedthose who are not "special education," and students who
have no attendance or behavior problems. In her expansive study, Wheaton found
that while the principals recognized the needs of these students, they had difficulty in
providing effective strategies that would help work through their complicated
problems.
Beerman (1996) investigated the effects of programmatic change on
principals' roles and responsibilities. Her quantitative evaluation of nine "High
Schools That Work" pilot sites in Indiana sought to identify both the programmatic
changes and the administrative responsibilities at each school. She identified the tasks
of site coordinator, initiator, facilitator, supporter, and problem-solver, and concluded
that when structural change accompanied programmatic change, the role of the
principal assumed a different supporting status.
37


Summary of Stakeholder Research
In summary, researchers seem to have learned that making one change in a
high school situation is accompanied by other, sometimes unanticipated, changes
elsewhere in the system. Changing a curriculum component changes the principal's
role (Beerman, 1996); increasing the involvement of the parent alters the teacher role
and increases student achievement (Gibson, 1991). This persuasive reality is
articulated by Fullan (1991): "We are not only dealing with a moving and changing
target; we are also playing this (change) out in social settings. Solutions must come
through the development of shared meaning. The interface between individual and
collective meaning and action in everyday situations is where change stands or falls"
(p. 5). Fullan devotes chapters in the book to each of these roles: student, teacher,
principal, building administrator, district administrator, parent and community, and
school boards, as they interrelate; several studies are cited, each of which discusses
one or two of the eight roles. Thus, while Fullan considers systemic change as it is
reflected in each of the various sociological roles, the studies he cites, as well as his
own approach, only examine one or two roles at a time. The approach adopted by
both the current case study as well as this review of the literature is to focus on the
interactions with multiple roles whenever possible (Lucas, 1996; Hojacki, 1992;
Hunderfund, 1992; Boyle, 1993).
The following common themes with direct relevance to this study are
identifiable:
The role of the principal was named as instrumental in establishing school
culture (Hunderfund, 1992).
38


The students' self-perceptions (self images) were a powerful influence on their
abilities to adapt to instructional improvement strategies (Lucas, 1996).
Parent involvement had a smoothing and facilitating effect on school-
community relations (Gibson, 1991).
Student-teacher perceptions, when aligned, produced optimal learning results
(Boyle, 1993, Phelan, Davidson & Cao, 1992).
Challenging curriculum was seen as the most engaging kind of classroom
activity (Stevenson, 1990, Hojacki & Grover, 1992).
While several of the studies examined more than one of the roles or
perceptions of the stakeholder groups, no study has investigated .the interactions of all
five selected roles, either in general, or in a particular reform event.'A case study of
how these five roles are related is therefore extremely worthwhile, as it will provide
important information for future research and reform practitioners.
Foundational Works
Two Action Researchers
Howard Gardner (1991) defines the desired school of the future in terms of
stakeholder roles, but ignores their interactions. His descriptions provide an image of
qualities of each of the stakeholder groups, but do not say how they might interrelate.
The school he describes is one in which teachers are well-trained and absorbed in their
work, parents support and defend the philosophy of the school, the community is
hospitable to students who want to learn, and the students themselves are sufficiently
motivated and responsible and make the most of opportunities as they are presented.
In such a school, new roles would serve all participantsroles like "student-
39


curriculum broker," "school-community broker," and "master teacher" (pp. 10-11).
The present study moves to the next step of detailing how a high school program
successfully and routinely "brokered" the school and community.
The Central Park East Secondary School (CPESS) Project in New York City
(Meier 1995) involved the district administrators, parents, and teachers in working
closely with students' learning and personal issues. Meier attributes the program's
success to the following factors:
What has allowed this to happen is a combination of imaginative public policy
initiated by a few brave, well-situated individuals who made the experiment
even possible; reproducible ways of organizing schools and of getting
teachers, students, and families to work together; a small crew of teachers
who were ready to take the risks and seize the opportunities; and a group of
families either desperate enough or eager enough to give it a chance. Our
singular success depended on complementary efforts...(p. 17).
The several striking similarities between CEC's Academic Program and
CPESS will be discussed in greater detail in Chapter 4.
Image-Based Learning
The notion that humans learn by creating, adjusting, and changing mental
models to correspond to information received through their senses is neither new nor
radical. The concept of image has appeared in academic writing for centuries. Polak
(1973 translation) describes its background and progression as follows: the general
theory of images may be thought of as "eidetics," derived from the Greek eidelon,
meaning "image." Plato, Epicurus, and Democritus used the term to refer to
knowledge and the learning process. Francis Bacon also later made reference to it.
The term eidetisch appears in the writings of German psychologists, especially E.R.
40


Jaensch, who specialized in research on children between the ages of thirteen and
fifteen. Jaensch related certain types of eidetic endowments to physical constitution
(.Korperbau) and to personality type. On the basis of this, he outlined a theory of the
development of culture (p.12).
John Dewey describes thought as having three formsan automatic, unrelated
flow; imagination; and the third which is synonymous with beliefs. Dewey (1933)
describes a belief as "a mental picture of something not actually present; thinking is
the succession of such pictures" (p. 5).
During the latter part of this century, the influence of mental images on
thinking and learning began to appear more frequently in academic literature
(Boulding, 1956; Polak, 1973; Piaget, 1952, 1969). Details of Bouiding's account
are as follows: human beings operate through mental images; messagesverbal,
visual or experientialform the images; images affect behavior, which offers clues to
the images; and images can be changed by strategic messages. Messages may be
designed which address both the desired and undesired mental models of students.
A related body of literature is composed of the cognitive theorists (Vygotsky,
1934/1978; Brooks, J.G. & Brooks, M. G 1993; Dewey, 1902/1915/1938) who
purport that the learner constructs her/his own concepts and specific elements of
student thinking affect learning success. Vygotsky cites German psychologists
Narciss Ach & Franz Rimat as he defines stages of concept development. Concepts
arise or are "constructed through a goal-directed process composed of several
operations that function as means for solution of a basic task" (p. 124). Boulding
(1956) and Vygotsky (1978, translation) both purport that images have individual and
social aspects and affect both the individual and his/her culture.


Jean Piaget (1969) viewed the human mind as a dynamic set of cognitive
structures that help us make sense of what we perceive. His premise is that "all
knowledge has to do with structures" which may be either "figurative" (perceptions or
mental images) or "operative" (action or operation) (p. 356). He further cautions that
it is not always wise to distinguish between the two types of knowledge. He uses
Klein's work with transformative geometry as an example in which both aspects are
mutually indispensable at some level. According to Piaget, the subject of operational
intelligence considers experience to be a progressive restructuring, rather than a
simple recording of information, and deduction to be a coordination of operations,
rather than simply an exercise in logic (p. 358).
As learners make connections among experiences, messages of theory,
personal study, and creative dialogue, such restructuring occurs. When several
aspects of a situation are consciously identified in the learning process, there is
potential for meaningful learning. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics'
(NCTM) Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics (1989)
(hereafter referred to as the Curriculum Standards) views students and teachers as
partners in a new classroom dynamic of developing ideas and problem-solving.
The formation of stable concepts or images is enhanced by meaningful
learning activities. Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, and Tarule (1986) document
preferable approaches to affect connected and inclusive learning. Throughout their
book, Women's Wavs of Knowing, are examples of the importance of the learner
understanding herself as a retainer of information and as a sharer of truth. The young
women participating in their study who consciously tried to make connections were


identified at the fifth level, or perspective of knowing, that of "constructed
knowledge" (p. 225).
Taylor, Stevens, Peregoy, & Bath (1991) discuss Indian learning in a
meaningful mode and as connected to cultural and family roots. The culturally relevant
mathematical experiences of middle school American Indian students in a summer
math program appeared to facilitate their developing positive attitudes toward math
(Taylor, 1997, p. 169).
John Dewey's progressive education movement in the early part of the century
examined the nature of the school, and introduced the idea that schools could be
student-centered and expansive beyond the building itself with formal connections to
the community (Dewey, 1902, 1933,1938). In his critique of traditional education
Dewey (1938) describes its greatest failure as its inability to "secure the active
cooperation of the pupil in construction of the purposes involved in his studying" (p.
67). Jacqueline Grennon Brooks and Martin Brooks (1993) state that we should
concern ourselves with getting thinking and rethinking installed into our high school
culture by moving from "imitative behavior" to that which results in students "deep
thinking" (p. 16).
While most of these authors agree on the intent and general direction of
learning activities, we are still searching for a comprehensive planning process that
delivers such results. The present historical case study provides definitive
information on one new approach.
Research in the cognitive literature has explored mental models (Johnson-
Laird, 1995; Slotta, J., 1997). Senge (1990) defines an image as a "mental model"
which is a "deeply ingrained assumption, generalization, or even picture or image that


influences how we understand the world or how we take action" (p. 8). He further
defines this phenomenon:
Mental models can be simple generalizations such as "people are
untrustworthy," or they can be complex theories, such as my assumptions
about why members of my family act as they do. Mental models are deeply
ingrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures or images that
influence how we understand the world or how we take action. Very often,
we are not consciously aware of how we understand the world or how we
take action (p. 175).
Recently, the role of image in curriculum development has been discussed
(Brooks, J. G. & Brooks, M. G. 1993; Posner, Strike, Hewson, & Gertzog, 1982;
Slotta, J., 1997). Slotta's premise is that
The general goal of learning or cognitive research has be'dn to develop a
cognitive theory of instruction which provides a detailed description of
learning in terms of a student's initial knowledge and how that knowledge
interacts with an instructional message. Teachers and curriculum designers
must first discern whether a concept is likely to have been ontologically
misplaced by a student, then proceed with a two-phased approach: first, train
the student in target ontology, which amounts to providing some knowledge
of the relevant attributes of concepts of this type; second, provide instruction
which relates the concept to these attributes while completely avoiding any
connection with faulty ontology (p. 1).
Johnson-Laird (1994, 1995) writes of the connection between mental models
or images and thinking or probabilistic reasoning. "They construct mental models,
which each correspond to an infinite set of possibilities."
The important cognitive issue of math-reluctant students is directly linked to
the subject of image theory. Taylor (1996) comments that "you can never have an
experience that is 100% affective or entirely cognitive, for the two are always
intertwined. While one experience may be primarily cognitive, it still has an affective
component and, inversely, while another experience is primarily affective, it still has a
44


cognitive component. Furthermore, one's actions relate to these cognitions and
feelings" (p. 62).
A related learning theory is that of situated cognition (Lave, & Wenger, 1991).
These theorists purport that "activities, tasks, functions, and understandings do not
exist in isolation; they are part of broader systems of relations in which they have
meaning... To ignore this aspect of learning is to overlook the fact that learning
involves the construction of identities" (p. 53).
In conclusion, all school experiences involve image work on the part of the
stakeholders. The task is to clarify and intentionalize the use of images in learning.
Cognitive theorists agree that the learner forms mental models through his or her
active experience. These cited authors mention multiple variables in this practice,
including the student's interest in the topic, cooperative approaches, initial
knowledge, the degree of entrenchment, and the student's emotions or receptivity.
Such multiple variables imply that a strategy of image-based learning is not a simple
one. However, with much academic attention focused on the cognitive process, and
much political and media attention focused on the processes of education and
instruction, the role of images in learning will continue to be a focus for research
attention. The present study contributes to that new knowledge.


CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY
This chapter describes the research methods used in this case study of the
Academic Program at the Fred N. Thomas Career Education Center (CEC). It
describes the study design and procedures, the selection criteria used for each
stakeholder group, the study participants (both in general and individually), the
interview approach, and the coding method. It describes as well the process of image
analysis used to summarize categories of coded comments for each stakeholder group.
Case Study Analysis
A case study approach was chosen to focus on this second-order change
program, because it allows the various elements of the context and its situated nature
to be included in the documentation. By definition, case studies are "bounded by a
particular program, institution, time period, or set of events. Within the defined
boundaries, whatever is the focus of attention is described in perspective of the
context surrounding it" (Krathwohl, 1993, p. 347). In this case, elements of the
context included each of the five stakeholder groups of students, participating parents,
teachers, building administrators, and advisors; CECthe school in which the
Academic Program took place; the structural design of the programthe daily,
weekly, and semester schedule; the curriculum design, including the problem-solving
project; and the planning processes used by the teachers and advisors. One stated
intent of this study (p. 5) is to identify any references made to the project-based
46


component of the curriculum during the participant interviews. The case study lends
itself to such specific linkages. LeCompte & Preissle (1993) state that "case study
analysis is appropriate for intensive, in-depth examination of one or a few aspects of a
given phenomenon" (p. 33). This study examines the case of one specific reform
episode as it connects to key roles in the general educational reform context.
As an historical, descriptive study, data in the form of coded interview
comments were collected after-the-fact. Gathered artifacts represent a nine year time
span and were not intended as documentation for causality. All decisions regarding
participant selection and study design recognized the historical concerns of complete
and multiple sources of evidence (Krathwohl, 1993). v.
This chapter specifically addresses the details of the qualitative research design
used in this case study of the high school program. (A related study done earlier by
this researchera quantitative longitudinal study that documented the post-high school
engagement patterns of a random sample of the program's student participantscan be
found in Appendix E.)
Study Design and Procedures
The central research question focused on the extent to which the perceptions of
the five stakeholder groupsstudents, their parents, teachers, school administrators,
and advisorsagree or differ on key aspects of a high school learning experience that
embodies second-order change. Such an analysis may reveal important patterns to
inform our understanding of systemic reform.
The initial phase of this qualitative research took place during the fall of 1995
with the interviews of the student and parent groups. The interviews of the teachers,


school administrators and advisors were held during the summer of 1997. The same
interview procedures and interview questions were used with all five groups;
comments were coded, using the same procedures across all five groups, and then
compared. Interview questions were open-ended, to encourage the participants to
speak freely about their recollections and insights regarding the program. The three
interview questions were: 1) "As you think back to your (sons or daughter's)
experience with CEC's Academic Program, what stands out for you?"; 2) "What
matters most to you?"; and 3) "What would you change?".
Three former students, three participating parents (one parent of each of the
students interviewed), three former teachers, two former administrators, and two
advisors were interviewed. The number of students and parents interviewed was
limited to three per group, so that the pool of stakeholder groups' comments would be
similar in size, and to keep the amount of generated data manageable.
Ta lie 3.1 Number ol ' Stakeholders Interviewed by Role
Students Parents Teachers Administrators Advisors
3 3 3 2 2
Each person was interviewed individually. Each of the interviews lasted from
one to two hours, permitting sufficient time for a wide discussion of the three
questions. All interviews were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. Transcriptions
were coded for language that indicated the significant aspects about the program
targeted by the study. Pseudonyms were used for all participants.
48


Student and Parent Interviews
Selection Criteria and Procedures
It was important to the study to interview parents who had been sufficiently
involved in the Academic Program to speak knowledgeably about its educational
components. It was also important that the students who were to be interviewed
possessed some awareness of the program's structure and intents. The need to
combine these two requirements into a student-parent pair necessitated that selection
be done by criteria and not by random sample. It was also important to the study that
participants represent the program in its entire duration. That is, it was important that
study participants not simply represent one especially successful^school year or the
experience of the most exciting project. Therefore, the criterion-based student/parent
teams would represent three different program eras-the pilot phase, the
implementation phase, and the last three years.
Two former Academic Program teachers identified possible student-parent
teams to be interviewed using these selection criteria. Three students judged to be
aware of the curriculum/program design and whose parents were active in school
functions were invited to be interviewed.
Selection Process
The teachers examined the nine years of student registration lists and identified
potential parent-student teams. Selection criteria, defined below for parents and
students, were carefully articulated to elicit valid and informative data. Teachers were
asked to suggest student and parent teams who, at the time of their participation in the
program, were aware of the program intents and components. They represented the


entire nine year program time span, and included all levels of success. The teachers
were cautioned not to simply select "the most involved and enthusiastic parents" or
"the most ambitious students."
Selection Criteria for Students
The following specific values were assigned to the teachers choosing a list of
the students eligible to be interviewed in order to assure that the basic criteria were
met:
Experienced project team leadership-indicating an understanding of the
thematic and teamwork components
Demonstrated substantial academic improvementindicating an alignment with
the motivation, incentives, and personalization components of the program
Participated for more than one semesterassuring that they would have the
option to generalize among more than one set of experiences
Provided peer leadershipimplying that responsibility was taken
In addition, the selection team was asked to make sure their list was balanced
regarding gender and minority representationproviding equity and options
for future examination of data along those lines.
50


Selection Criteria for Parents
The following specific criteria were used by the team in the selection of the
parents eligible to be interviewed in student-parent teams:
Involved in the program on-site, through the Collaborative Decision Making
Committee4 (CDM), School Improvement Accountability Councils (SIAC)5 or
through other significant volunteer participationindicating an understanding
of the overall program organization and its intents
Attended project reporting sessionsindicating an understanding of the
interdisciplinary curriculum and its interactive nature
Conferenced with teachers on offsprings learning developmentsuggesting an
understanding of the teaching team's operating style and effectiveness
Attended parent orientation sessionsindicating an understanding of both the
overall organization and of the teaching team's approach
Seemed to care about the future of the studentdocumenting that attention was
paid to overall program operations
And, as with the student list, the parent list was balanced in gender and
minority representation
Ten pairs of student-parent names were identified and prioritized against these
criteria. They included a team from the first year of the program and one from the last
4 Collaborative Decision-making Committees (CDMs) were established in the Denver Public
Schools by the governor of Colorado during a labor negotiation in 1991. Composition of the
committees is specified and includes parent, teacher, administrator, and business representation. The
CDMs have broad policy-making power and may form subcommittees for tasks such as personnel,
planning, or student discipline.
5 The School Improvement and Accountability Councils (SIACs) were established in Colorado in
1971 by legislative action. Each SIAC reports to the Colorado Department of Education annually
regarding goals and accomplishments. In Denver Public Schools, SLACs could optionally be replaced
by CDMs in 1991.


full year of its operation. The families included students who had self-selected out of
the program, returning to their home high schools before graduation. I telephoned and
invited first the parent, then the student participation in the study; all of the first three
parent-student teams contacted accepted the invitation to participate. The criteria for
balanced gender and minority representation held. A follow-up letter was sent to
confirm the time and location of each interview.
Selection of Teacher. Administrator, and Advisor Interviewees
The selection of participants from the teacher and administrator constituencies
was indicativethat is, all available representatives of these stakeholders were
interviewed, bar none. Four of the seven other contract teachers who worked with the
program for more than one year were still alive and residing in the state of Colorado.
Three of them agreed to participate; the fourth had moved and could not be reached in
a timely manner. The three represented all four of the academic disciplines interacting
in the curriculum-math, science, English, and social studies (One teacher taught two
subjects.) Each of the two administrators who worked with the program during the
nine years was interviewed.
A board of advisors had become active during the last year of the program;
two persons from that boardwho had worked closest with the program and who
were not interviewed as either a former teacher, administrator, or parentwere
interviewed.


The Study Participants
Student-Parent Teams
Two of the former students were female and one was male. The parents
consisted of two mothers and one father; they paired as mother-daughter, mother-son
and father-daughter. Two of the former students were of African-American heritage;
the third student plus all of the interviewed parents were white. Of the black students,
one had been adopted by white parents; the second had a black father, who was not
interviewed. Pseudonyms were used on all written materials.
Teachers
All of the three teachers interviewed were at the apex of their teaching careers
when they were with the program. All three were white; one was male, and two were
female. Of the total of eight teachers assigned to the program in its nine-year existence
(1986-1994), one was a beginning teacher, and the rest were master teachers. There
were three men and five women. Of the eight, one had a doctorate, six had master's
degrees, and one had a bachelor's degree. The project's allocated paraprofessional
staff position was used to help balance ethnicity and gender whenever possible; only
one of the eight teachers was from a member of a minority group.
Administrators
The same two school administratorsthe school principal and the assistant
principal in charge of instructionsupervised the initial design of the Academic
Program and guided its evolution until they left their building positions, each for


different reasons, in June of 1994. The principal was female, the assistant principal
male; both were white.
Advisors
Two Institute of Cultural Affairs (See p. 8) consultants led the image-based
instruction-planning process for the Academic Program during the summer of 1986.
That initial and substantial design effort was the only formal consultant work with the
program until the formation of a board of advisors in 1994. (The two consultants and
other interested academic acquaintances frequently dropped by the school for visits
and in response to invitations to major project events.) The decision to interview two
advisorsone of the initial consultants and a university-based member of the advisory
boardprovided two different perspectives and maintained numerical consistency with
the number of participants from the other four stakeholder groups.
Interview Approach
I personally conducted all the interviews. Interviews of the student-parent
teams were all held in the same room, not on the school site, and under similar
conditions. These interviews began as mini-reunions, since I had not seen most of the
students or parents since their graduation celebration, which in one case had been nine
years earlier! The first few minutes of time, before the official interview process
began, was typically spent catching up on news and sharing any exciting future plans.
This also allowed the actual interview to remain focused on the three research
questions. In the case of the parents it was a time to become better acquainted.
54


For the formal interview process, each participant was alone in the room with
me, without interruption, except for one of the students, Cloud Parson. Because
Cloud attended a university in another town, transportation logistics mandated that she
and her mother be interviewed in consecutive time slots and Vi Parson joined
daughter, Cloud, for the latter portion of her interview. The different but informative
dialogue which ensued was identified and preserved in the transcription and included
in the results.
Interviews of the teachers, administrators, and advisors took place in their
personal office or home, with the interviewer traveling to that site. As with the
students and parents, the three open-ended questions were asked and unlimited time
given to each participant to respond.
Comment Coding Method
Interviews were transcribed for coding and analysis of comments. An open
coding process was used with phrase-by-phrase analysis, generating a large volume
of data and unanticipated categories (Strauss & Corbin, 1990). Comparing the
interview comments across all five constituencies produced clear reference categories
with identifiable agreements and differences. The students' comments fell into the
following major groups: a) student in relationship to others; b) program and
curriculum design; and c) student's personal freedom and empowerment. The parents'
comments fell into these categories: a) pro-active communication practices, b)
rigorous, interactive curriculum experiences, and c) student ownership of learning
experiences. Major groups of comments were also identified for teachers,
administrators, and advisors that correlated with these three basic dimensions: a)


communication between stakeholder groups; b) program and curriculum design; and
c) student empowerment. Generalizing these category names across all five
stakeholders, determined the framework of: 1) Social, 2) Pedagogical, and 3)
Personal comments. These three basic arenas provide a consistent framework and
order for all findings and discussions in this study.
I was the primary coder in the analysis of the thirteen participants' comments.
A secondary coder was later engaged to determine coding reliability. The second
coder read and coded one of the three interview questions from a student,
administrator, and advisor interview. A comparison by the primary and secondary
coders indicated a 91 % correlation.
Krathwohl (1993) states that "where multiple responses are allowed, the most
common patterns can often usefully be assigned single codes" (p. 388). Within this
context, the following two-phase process was used to code the interview comments:
Phase I of coding. 1) Read and underline descriptive phrases of each
transcription; 2) Re-read the underlined phrases to assure accuracy and relevance,
numbering each phrase; 3) Assign either a color or a symbol to each numbered item;
4) Group the comments by like colors or symbols. For example, the symbol <0> may
have been assigned to each numbered item that referred to teacher planning time, and
the symbol <+> to each numbered item mentioning academic rigor, etc. 5) Establish a
set of major categories to subsume all categories from all interviews, and name them.
A total of 789 comments were finally identified from the thirteen interviews using this
process; there were 82 comments from the transcriptions of student interviews, 74
from those of the parents, 285 from teachers, 160 from building administrators, and
188 from the advisors interviews.
56


Table 3.2 Number of Coded Comments by Stakeholder Groups
Students Parents Teachers Administrators Advisors
82 74 285 160 188
As soon as possible into this first phase of analysis, I established a set of
comprehensive categories for each interview transcription. These categories consisted
of comments that referenced similar program elements, phenomena, or stakeholder
roles. Any single interview contained from fifteen to twenty-five different comment
categories.
Phase II of coding. During the second phase in the coding process, I sorted all
categories from interviews within any given stakeholder group, and determined a
resultant set of "core categories" that contained the pooled comments from this group.
These categories were then named in order to capture their theme or reference. For
example, two core categories which emerged from pooled student comments were
"Experiencing Personal Choice" and "Being Known." The names at the top of each
category or column in the tables are my own; the names of the groups comprising
each category generally used vocabulary from participants' comments (Strauss &
Corbin, pp. 67-69).
An example of the second coding phase is as follows: in the coded transcripts
of the three teacher interviews, there were twenty, twenty-three, and twenty-eight
different comment categories identified, respectively. During the second phase of the
coding process, I sorted this total of seventy-one categories into a final set of thirteen
core categoriescategories which contained the 285 separate, numbered comments
made by the three teachers during their interviews. By examining these thirteen
categories and those of the student interviews, I determined the major program
57


framework described earlier. The core categories of teachers, as well as students,
were clearly related to one of the three major framework dimensions: Social
(interactions between stakeholder groups), Pedagogical (relating to curriculum and
program design), and Personal (relating to student empowerment).
Tables
A table format organizes the data from the coded comments. Tables 4.1-4.5
hold all 789 interview comments identified and coded from the transcripts of the
thirteen interviews, with one table devoted to a stakeholder group. In each table, the
numerals to the left of each phrase are the number of comments of a similar nature.
The columns of comments are arranged in order by size from top to bottom. Each of
the five tables features a "holding image" (or images) for each column. These images
represent my interpretation of the foundational images of each stakeholder group,
based on their comments, and provide an interesting way to summarize the data.
Table 4.6 is a "master table" of comments, regrouping the 789 total comments
and designating them as made "by" a participant from one of the stakeholder groups,
and "about" another of the stakeholder groups; comments may also have been made
"about" curriculum, the program, or school in general. These data also clustered into
the Social, Pedagogical, and Personal categories that guided the naming of the
columns in Tables 4.1-4.5.
Image Analysis Method
A method of analyzing images was used in planning the Academic Program. I
also used it in two different parts of this study to summarize findingsin the
58


identification of a common image thought to be behind stakeholder comments (or
messages) in particular columns of Tables 4.1-4.5, and to identify the possible image
or images a stakeholder group held about itself and the others in table 4.7. The images
so identified in this study are found both at the base of each of the five stakeholder
comment tables(4.1-4.5) and in Table 4.7. The "messages" or data are found in the
top portion of each column and the identified image or images are directly beneath in
that same column or category.
The process of identifying a possible image, or mental model, is to first
identify common, key assumptions (Senge, 1990, p. 186); in this study I used the
coded comments from interviews as my information source for such assumptions. I
used the following three steps to identify common images: 1) Examine the coded
comments, and hypothesize a possible image; 2) Re-read the comments, testing the
hypothetical image; 3) Make adjustments in language, restating the possible image
more succinctly. For example, in table 4.1, examining the phrases used to describe
groups of coded student interview comments in the category of "Program and
Curriculum Design" the words "interactive," "participative," "field trips," and
"spontaneity" suggest that the students interviewed held an image of the curriculum as
active. Re-reading the comments in that category includes examining the other four
groups (those above named represent only 20 of the 29 original coded comments in
the category) to assure that there are no contradictory comments. Since the other
groups in this example mainly detail other aspects of the program curriculum, like
mastery outcomes and teacher and administrator style, the image of curriculum as
active still holds.
59


Analyzing comments for possible common assumptions or images is similar to
the processes of dialoguing with the data that occur in the discussion of findings in an
academic study. When examining tables 4.1-4 .5 to identify the images, I posed the
mental question, "What image or images does this category of comments suggest?".
Similarly, Table 4.7 holds images in response to the mental question, "What images
do (the teachers) comments suggest they hold about (the students)?".
There are three reasons why the process of image analysis offers advantages
in the summative phase of research: a) Mental models or images are a powerful tool in
human communication (Senge, 1990, p. 175; b) By examining a shared and crucial
mental model, next steps are clarified; and c) An identified image can promote
dialogue, either because an agreed-upon image provides a single foundational
position, or because two people may not "see" the same thing in the same way. In the
latter instance the image is discarded or a consensed-upon modification follows.
The image-analysis process is clearly subjective and collaborative in nature
and the reader should so interpret that portion of the data tables.
Summary
Data from tables 4.1-4.6 were compared and agreements and differences
between stakeholder groups noted. Themes in the coded responses were identified. It
may be argued that the number of former students and parents interviewed represented
too small a sample for valid conclusions. A follow-up, quantitative survey of a larger
group from this constituency would provide comparison and validation data of the
coded comments.
60


The image analysis in Table 4.7 presents an additional summary of findings
using the process described above and with the acknowledged weakness.
All background data for both this and the earlier quantitative study have been
archived and are available for examination by anyone interested in pursuing further
work. Related documents are available in appendixes A E.


CHAPTER 4
FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION
What makes curriculum reform succeed in some cases and fail in others? This
case study was conducted to gain insight into that broad question. The intent of this
study was to provide a thorough characterization of the Academic Program, including
the stakeholders' perceptions of both their own role and the roles of others, of the
curriculum (including the project component) and of the image-based processes that
were involved in the reform episode. It examined the actions, attitudes, relationships,
and ideas of the students, participating parents, teachers, building administrators, and
advisorswith an emphasis on the agreements and differences found among the
perceptions of the various stakeholder groups that characterized them (p. 5).
This chapter synthesizes the findings from coded interview data. The roles and
curriculum findings will be discussed separately, as will the agreements and
differences. The chapter features a description of each participant, the coded interview
comments in table format, devoting one table to each of the five stakeholder groups
(Tables 4.1 4.5). An analysis of each table of data and comparison of results among
the five tables (Table 4.6) is provided for each of the aspects of roles and curriculum.
6 2


Participants and Their Comments
The Student-Parent Teams
1. Teresa Spring-Andrews (daughter) and Rob Spring (father)
Teresa Spring-Andrews Teresa's memories of the program were already a decade
old at the time of her interview. She attended the academic program for two semesters
during its first pilot year in 1986-87. Teresa stands out in my memory as a very
talented young woman, but with a high level of resistance to mathematics. Her
resistance to school provided early on an appropriate challenge for both the image-
based instruction and motivational techniques featured in the Academic Program.
Teresa recently completed her student teaching at the Denver Public Schools'
Montessori School.
Rob Spring, Teresa's father Both of Teresa's parents were very interested in her
progress, visiting the school regularly. Teresa's resistance to instruction at her regular
high school had caused concern, and they had actively searched for a different
environment for her high school work, finally choosing the Academic Program at
CEC. Rob is a self-employed educational consultant with a background in English
language and ESL. His work includes international consultancies.
2. Cloud Parson(student) and Vi Parson (mother)
Cloud Parson My personal memories of Cloud include her first application
interview. She arrived wearing her career class auto mechanic overalls, which were
covered with grease. Her demeanor was slightly hostile. At that time she had just
returned to high school, having dropped out and run away from home her freshman
year. Cloud had been educated primarily in private schools; a brief conversation
63


revealed her high intelligence as well as high levels of mistrust and hostility. She
attended the Academic Program for four consecutive semesters, entering as a second
semester sophomore, and in the winter of 1992, during her senior year, leaving to
attend classes at the community college. This was necessary because college
admission language and science course requirements were unavailable at CEC. At this
writing she is a recent graduate from the University of Colorado at Boulder, with a
degree in chemical engineering.
Vi Parson Vi was one of the program's most supportive parents. When Cloud was
a senior Vi began a two-year period of service as chairperson of CEC's SIAC (School
Improvement and Accountability Council), representing the school at the state level.
Professionally, Vi is the controller for a local corporation and still mentors CEC career
class students as interns at her company.
3.. W.C. Jeffreys (son) and Jennifer Boll (mother)
W. C. Jeffreys W. C. had the most recent experience with the program. He attended
the Academic Program for four consecutive semesters, receiving his diploma in 1994.
As a student, he provided substantial and consistent leadership to the program. During
his senior year he represented the school in world issues seminars in state level
competitions. He is currently working as a printer at a local company.
Jennifer Boll Jennifer was an interested parent, frequently attending open houses
and special events. The Jeffreys family had two sons participating in the program-
one who had experienced success (W.C.), and Bobbie, the elder son who had been
dropped for failing to meet attendance requirements his first semester. W.C. began the
following year and completed high school from CEC. Jennifer has consequently had
64


two very different parental experiences with the program. She is the executive director
of a local agency and operates her own business.
Table 4.1: Student Comments
Eighty-two comments were gleaned from the three student interview
transcriptions (Table 4.1). Comments fell into three column-title categories: Student
in Relation to Others (Social, 29 comments), Program and Curriculum Design
(Pedagogical, 29 comments), and Student's Personal Freedom and Empowerment
(Personal, 24 comments). The Pedagogical comments were given the distinction of
the center column; there were eight different kinds of comments in this arena and they
differ in nature from the other two more subjective arenas that frame them. The
students' comments about the curriculum and program design reveal an image of
curriculum and learning as active.
The right column of the table reveals the clear theme of freedom found in the
student comments, balanced by accountability and responsibility in the column to the
left. The students' comments in the right column reveal an image of the self as
empowered', comments in the left column, regarding the self in relation to others,
suggest an image of the school environment as safer {than their previous schools},
caring, welcoming, and accepting of diversity.
65


Table 4.1 Slotta 1998 Important CEC Academic Program Components Identified by Former Students
Social Student in Relationship to Others Pedagogical Program and Curricului Design | Personal l Personal Freedom and Em posverment
IS comfortable communicating with others 4 felt saferno fights 3 felt cared for and about 2 diverse learning styles honored 2 two-way (student-teacher) discussions interactive seminars 6 participative process 4 field trips and work 'days 3 active sale of administrators 3 spontaneity of activities 2 longer class periods 2 mastery of outcomes 2 student-oriented teachers 7 choices in stud}' topics 5 Fridays off 4 personal freedom 3 gamed confidence 3 leadership experience 2 peer tutonng experience
These student comments suggest the following set of common, dominant images.
Safer, caring, welcoming, and accepting of diversity school environment Active curriculum/learning Empowered self
Numbers indicate the frequency of the response which follows.
The coded comments were grouped into categories and named; the largest
categories-those with the most coded comments compiling them- in all three
columns in the student comment table were: comfortable communicating with others
(18), interactive seminars (7), choices of study content (7), participative process (6),
and Fridays off {5). The remaining fourteen groups represent fewer comments and are
mentioned in the student protocol either (4), (3), or (2) times.
Typical of the kind of student comments represented in the center column,
"Program and Curriculum Design," is the following one by Cloud:
It wasn't just the teacher talking in class. It was ideas... we would break up
into groups and work on different things. It's that process. I wanted.. .to
participate. People were interested in what I had to say and I was interested in
what other people had to say and there was an actual outcome to me
participating-I really liked that a lot.... My favorite classes in college are
when I have that sort of thing.


The left and right columns of Table 4.1 have to do with the effects of the
program on the studentsas the student relates to others in the program, and as the
student relates to him/herself. There were eighteen such comments categorized as
comfortable communicating with others, in the column of social commentsthe
highest number in a category. This comment by W.C. is representative of the left, or
Social column: "I'm grateful for having learned all the {discussion} methods. I can
hold conversations with my friends at work that are from other countries, discuss
their politics as opposed to just mine. Further on he states, "We had every race and
person you could want and we all got along. That was the weird thing... I never saw
a fight."
Michael Fullan has written extensively about the roles of the constituencies in
second-order educational change, and continues to monitor this topic in the research
literature. His insights on both the roles of the stakeholders and the nature of second-
order change have been used to align the interview comments in this study. A 1978
longitudinal study (Eastabrook & Fullan, 1978) on the role of students in forty
Ontario classrooms identified lack of communication among students as one of four
specific issues. In that study, the students interviewed reported that in their traditional
school "there was virtually no communication inside or outside class with the vast
majority of other students, (i.e., outside one's own small friendship group)"(p. 173).
Results from student interview comments in this present study indicate that lack of
extensive communication was not an issue in the Academic Program.
67


Table 4.2: Participating Parent Comments
There were 74 different parent comments identified in the coding process
(Table 4.2). Their comments clustered into three categories for column titles:
Rigorous, Interactive Curriculum Experience (Pedagogy, 34 Comments}; Pro-active
Communication Practices (Social, 16 Comments); and Student Ownership of
Learning Experience (Personal, 24 Comments). Again, the Pedagogical column takes
the center position, with 34 comments in eight different categories. Proactive
Communication Practices was the largest comment group, with ten comments;
Interactive Curriculum was next in size, with eight comments. The aspects mentioned
most frequently were: effective communication/input between home & school (10),
interactive curriculum (8), experiential classes (6), parents and students trusted
teachers (5), and mastery of competencies (5).
An analysis of the parents' coded comments indicates an image of the
Academic Program curriculum as interactive, engaging, and community-oriented.
Their comments also revealed an image of the parent as significant and included in the
process, and an image of the student as empowered, trusted, and known by staff.
68


Table 4.2 Slotta 1998 Important CEC Academic Program Components Identified by Parents of Former Students
Social Proactive Communication Practices Pedagogical Rigorous, Interactive Curriculum Experiences Personal Student Ownership of Learning Experience
10 effective communication/input between home and school 4 teachers worked and communicated as a team 2 firm and caring administrative involvement 8 interactive curriculum 6 experiential classes 5 mastery of competencies 4 focus on processes 4 inspired love of learning 3 off-campus trips and competitions 2 problem-solving and reflective activities 2 opportunities to do something for someone else 5 parents and students trusted teachers 4 freedom to speak and make decisions 3 self-sufficiency encouraged; career and goal-oriented 3 smaller classes 3 students known by all staff 2 students had say in course and topic choices, including college prep needs 2 positive environment 2 students motivated by positive incentives
These parent comments suggest the following set of common, dominant images.
an image of the parent as significant and included in the process an image of the curriculumyiearning as interactive, engaging and community-oriented an image of the students as empowered, trusted and known b\ staff
Numbers indicate the frequency of the response which follows.
Some parent comments reference the teachers directly-comments like
"teachers worked and communicated as a team", and "parents and students trusted
teachers". Jennifer Boll, W.C.'s mother, describes communication practices:
No one worried about calling us when it was time to call us and let us know
what was happening. I am so appreciative of that whole feeling that came out
of CEC and I think looking back, as far as high school goes, that is what I
absolutely appreciate the most... {As parents} we give our children to teachers
for 6-8 hours a day and my feeling is that we have to trust, we have to know
enough, stay closely involved enough with the teachers to know that the
discipline is going to be appropriate and then let them do it. We can't get in the
way. If we get in the way, we send bad messages.
69


Fullan (1991) begins his discussion on the role of parents by affirming that
research indicates with "remarkable consistency that the closer the parent is to the
education of the child, the greater the impact on child development and educational
achievement." He continues that certain forms of involvement seem to have good
results while others can be-"wasteful or counterproductive" (p. 227). Instructionally-
related involvement, in which parents found their way into the classrooms as aides,
visitors or volunteers, is related to academic success. In Fullan's study, the most
effective schools involved parents in the academic function of the classroom in a
systematic way. Interview comments confirm that the parents in this study appreciated
proactive communication with the school (16 comments), had clear memories about
the pedagogy (34 comments), and appreciated the ownership their student had of the
program (24 comments).
The center column of Table 4.2, "Pedagogical", points to the parents'
perspective of learning activities as "rigorous and interactive." Representative of the
comments coded into this column is this story from the home front shared by Vi
Parish. It is a story that complements her daughter's story:
We would get current events conversations going. She wouldn't come and
say, "We were talking about this at school." But we would be watching the
news and she would pitch in with a discussion about what she knew about
that or how... what was interesting was what she thought about it. I think that
one of the values of the school was that they concentrated a lot on process
maybe more than on end-product-so you could see the churning
information.
There are more similarities than differences in a comparison of parent and
student data. Both Tables 4.1 and 4.2 are anchored by a curriculum (Pedagogical)
column in the center; both have an individual growth theme in the Personal column
and a self-in-relation-to-others theme in the Social column.


Comparisons of these two stakeholder groups may be further facilitated by
converting the number of comments represented by the six column titles of Tables 4.1
and 4.2 to percentages. Apparent commonalities in the column titles between the two
tables suggest the following interesting analysis. Program and Curriculum Design
comments made up 35% of the total student comments and 49% of the parents'
comments dealt with Rigorous, Interactive Curriculum Experiences. Student Personal
Freedom and Empowerment contained 29% of the comments in their table. Similarly,
parents affirmed Student Ownership of the Learning Experience^, with 31% of their
comments on that subject. Both tables feature a relational title on the left. The student
table features a Student-In-Relationship-To-Others at 35%, and the parent table had
Pro-Active Communication Practices at 21%.
The Teachers
1. Lisa Caron, English teacher, came to the CEC Academic Program the same year as
this researcher, attracted by the challenge of creating a new approach. During her
outstanding public school teaching career she had served as an English department
chairperson at one of Denver's ten traditional high schools; she had also worked with
the district's Shakespeare Festival. Lisa is the mother of two grown children. She saw
this CEC assignment as an appropriate professional service before retirement. Upon
her retirement, Lisa joined the Academic Program's advisory board.
2. Zachary Heston, social studies teacher, came to the Academic Program in its third
year, his first assignment back in the classroom after serving six years as president of
the Colorado Education Association. His passion for American History provided a


significant contribution to the project each semester. Zachary is the father of two
grown children and three young children; the younger ones were all bom during his
years at CEC. He served on the school's CDM (Collaborative Decision Making
Committee). After the Academic Program at CEC closed down he returned to a
traditional high school, where he is currently teaching advanced placement American
History.
3. Cassidy Weber, math and science teacher, came to the Academic Program at CEC
from a physical science position at a neighboring traditional high school. She held a
master's degree in astronomy from the University of California at Berkeley which
helped her provide many interesting and different project applications for the students.
At CEC she also regularly taught an applied physics course called Principles of
Technology, and Applied Mathematics.
Table 4.3: Teacher Comments
The teacher interview transcriptions produced the greatest number of coded
comments (Table 4.3). Two hundred eighty-five comments were identified and
coded. The three column titles in the teacher table are: Roles & Qualities Identified for
Various Constituencies (Social, 94 Comments); Program Components Identified and
Described (Pedagogical, 154 Comments); and Individualized Student Emphasis
(Personal, 37 Comments). The center column,. Program Components Identified and
Described, had the greatest number of comments, shared the greatest number of
comment categories (ten) with the Social columns, and featured the category
(Expansive, Collaborative Learning Projects) holding the most comments.
72


Tabic 4.3 Important CEC Academic Program Components Identified Former Teachers Slotta 1998 by
Social Pedagogical Personal
Roles & Qualities Identified for Program Components Individualized Student Emphasis
Various Constituencies Identified and Described
23 teachers knew and 28 expansive, collaborative learning 15 teachers
advocated for students; projects included interesting, thematic pushed for each
counseled needy students topics student's success
7 learning community of 25 unique, college-like program design 9 students
students, teachers, administrators 18 community connections through known by
& advisors projects included global and realistic teachers
2 administrators let teachers do it; contexts 8 student
teachers pushed district limits 16 student care and comfort for special uniquenesses
9 parents grateful and supportive needs honored and
in most cases 15 school-wide relationships through strengths
9 teaching team effectively organization and narrative required " played to"
functioned amidst diverse attention 5 students given
perspectives and disciplines 15 teachers experienced enough time room to grow and
7 student achievement praised for planning and student staffing realize potential
and celebrated 11 active, alternative learning
6 student esprit de corps helped experiences matter field trips.
school; students returned outdoor education, hands-on classroom
frequently 10 eventful and fun learning activities
6 teachers, inspired by students. 9 integration of career interest &
loved the experience academic skills
3 teachers worked hand; also 7 teachers participated in choice of
raised money team composition, affecting role models
2 advisors protected against and effective work
political assault
These teacher comments suggest the following set of common, dominant images:
advisors as protectors against an image of the program as an an image of
district turmoil expansive, rigorous, dynamic learning these students.
teachers as proactive. community which was responsive to acknowledged by
effective, inspired and hard- students and staff the system as
working an image of the program as needy, as
administrators as flexible and thornughlv planned to be a hands-on. capable, unique.
supportive project-based approach to learning and filled with
parents as grateful and supportive students as cooperative and enthusiastic poienlutl
Numbers indicate the frequency of the response which follows.
73


An analysis of the comments in that column suggests that the teachers' image of the
program was two-fold: 1) that of an expansive, rigorous, dynamic learning
community which was responsive to students and staff and 2) that it was thoroughly-
planned, hands-on, and with a project-based approach to learning.
An analysis of the teacher comments in the left column,. Roles and Qualities of
Various Constituencies, produced these four basic images: an image of the advisors
as protectors against district turmoil, an image of the teachers as proactive, effective,
inspired, and hard-working', an image of the administrators as flexible and supportive',
and an image of the students as cooperative and enthusiastic. Teacher comments in the
right column, Individualized Student Emphasis, indicate that they saw the students as
acknowledged by the system as needy, and as capable, unique, and filled with
potential.
The teachers, like the parents, noted repeatedly that the students were known
by the staff. They referenced the fun and spirit built into the program with comments
like, "student achievement praised and celebrated," and "eventful and fun learning
activities." Cassidy Weber, science teacher, articulated these several important
features:
The ability to do a lot of different things and not be constrained; to do
whatever curriculum we really liked in most cases was the big point; field trips
were fun, we did a lot of unique things; integrated learning; interdisciplinary
(curriculum); .. .we could interact with the whole school, so had whole school
projects, is a point. I haven't seen anything like that for a long time....
Lisa Caron, English teacher, made comments that complement Cassidys and
point to expanding the students' contexts or perspectives:
I think it (the Academic Program) was opening a lot of doors that hadn't been
[opened] before-[things like the] Shakespearean movies, [and] all the outdoor
programs we did were wonderful because a lot of these individuals had never
been to the mountains and had never been outdoors very much and in a


situation like that they bonded with each other.... They came from broken
homes and broken families; they hadn't had any sense of belonging or identity
before and suddenly they did! ...We did get them to be concerned about some
things. They were concerned about the consumption of water after we took
them all on the water board outings; we did {the project on} population
growth and they suddenly became aware of overpopulation. They became
advocates for the different [semester] issues we had talked about; this wasn't
part of their world before the program.
Zachary Heston, social studies teacher, also referenced "the projects" several
times, saying, "I think the projects we did brought some focus to the program for
everybody at the same time." However, the following comment, from this highly
recognized, master teacher is most notable:
What stands out for me was the fun I had teaching;.. .it remains for me the
highlight of my teaching career. Because I changed. I became a different
teacher than I had been previously. I think maybe those methods were in me
all the time but just never had a chance to come out.... I really liked myself as
a teacher; I felt that I had done some of my best teaching {there}.
Cassidy summarized teacher affects in this way:
We evolved continuouslywe were never the same. You don't want to get
into a pattern where you can't change; we had the ability to flow and evolve.
We could change the time around; we could change what we're going to do
around; we could take the whole group someplace. We could choose our
teachers {who joined the team}.... The projects were a lot of fun...it pushed
those kids in a frantic kind of way into new levels of what they could doin
finding out who they were and how to work in teams. I think teamwork was
very important there.
One of Fullans (1991) key findings on the role and function of teachers in the
change process concerned such teacher interaction around innovations:
Teacher isolation and its oppositecollegialityprovide the best starting point
for considering what works for the teacher. There is a positive, and a dark
side. Commonality of values and beliefs as well as a monitoring for increases
in imagination are signs of teachers making change happen (p. 135). The more
teachers can interact concerning their own practices, the more they will be able
to bring about improvements that they themselves identify as necessary (p.
132).


Fullan cites Cuban (1988) in defining these teacher qualities as they interact
with studentsthe teacher as technical actor vs. moral actor. "The technical or
bureaucratic image conceives of teachers as giving knowledge and following and
applying rules. The moral actor as artisan and craftsperson sees teaching as
transforming students" (p. 142). In this study, the coded comments of both the
teachers and the administrators clearly reflect this latter understanding.
The Administrators
1. Ann Stevenson was the principal of the Career Education Center the year the
Academic Program was initiated and until one year before it ended. Her background
as a teacher in business education gave her the perspective and skills needed to secure
outside resources and manage this large magnet school. At the time of the interview
she was an assistant to the superintendent of schools, working at the district office, a
position she still holds at this writing.
2. Theo Withos was an assistant principal at CEC and the supervisor of the Academic
Program until one year before it ended. His vision for an innovative, integrated
curriculumboth among the disciplines in the Academic Program and between the
academic and career classeswas one of the primary motivators for starting the
program. He came to CEC from a traditional high school the same year as Ann, and
retired the year she received a promotion to the district office. He was the last person
to be interviewed, having been out of the country for an extended period of time.


Table 4.4: Administrator Comments
From the administrators' interview transcripts (Table 4.4), 160 comments
were identified. The coded comments were sorted into three column titles: (a) Roles
and Qualities Demonstrated by the Constituencies; (b) Evolving, Pioneering,
Curriculum Plan; and (c) Classroom Environment. A large number of comments by
this constituency fall into the Social category, descriptive of the roles and qualities,
and found in the left column position (73 comments). Forty-seven comments were
concerned with Pedagogical themes and forty with Personalin this case, including
the classroom. The administrators credited the dedication and talent of the teachers
with much of the program's success. Their comments indicated that they as
administrators perceived themselves to be supportive of the teachers, providing them
with direction and leadership. The administrators also noted the involvement of the
students at all levels from planning to program ownership.
77


Table 4.4 Slotta 1998 Important CEC Academic Program Components Identified by Former Administrators
Social Pedagogical Personal/Other
Roles & Qualities Demonstrated by Evolving, Pioneering The Results Classroom Environment
the Constituencies Curriculum Plan
14 multi-talented teachers did the 14 innovative curriculum 12 school-wide
program design design momentum affected
9 students affected positively by 7 students involved in program
personal success planning 9 students
8 student freedom/ownership of 6 schoolwide, performance- demonstrated
program based curriculum academic mastery
8 dedicated, driven teachers 6 collaborative project as 7 non-academic
7 respected administrators demonstrated program centerpiece skills celebrated and
vision and ability 6 career and academic class made significant
7 intentional administrative leadership integration 7 healthy
6 teachers supported by administrators 5 up-front, academic rigor dependency
6 school-wide faculty support 3 activities integrated 5 student
6 students demonstrated responsibility students lives, community, involvement at
2 parental commitment and academics multiple levels
These administrators comments suggest the following set of common, dominant images:
An image of the teachers as An image of the An image of the
dedicated, multi-talented and trustworthy curriculum as innovative. classrooms as
An image of the students as mastery-based, and rigorous and
responsible, empowered and on a fast track collaborative engaging
Numbers indicate the frequency of the response which follows.
Administrators' comments revealed (a) their image of the teachers as
dedicated, multi-talented and trustworthy, and (b) an image of the students as
responsible, empowered, and on a fast track. In the Pedagogy arena, administrators'
comments pointed to (a) an image of curriculum as innovative, mastery-based, and
collaborative, and (b) an image of classrooms as rigorous and engaging.


Ann Stevenson, principal of the school during the academic program's design and
implementation, details her perspective of successful components:
I think you have got to have a dedicated, caring staff who are multi-talented;
you've got to have staff who are not married to a traditional style of teaching; I
think that is very, very critical; you've got to have staff who are not only not
married to it, but they have to be fairly innovative. They've got to be the kind
of staff who can see two or three or four or five different ways of attacking the
problem. I think this is real critical. If you remember, when we started out,
the only direction I gave the staff was "I don't really care how you do it, just
make it different."
Tom Withos, the assistant principal who supervised the program for eight
years, alludes to this passion for change, and for being willing to risk in order not to
repeat what doesn't work. He recalls, "There were a lot of times when I thought we
were standing out there on a limb all by ourselvesthat if we didn't move very
cautiously it would collapse."
Fullan (1991) is very direct regarding the primacy of the principal's role in
effecting second-order change. "Serious reform is changing the culture and structure
of the school.... It should be self-evident that the principal as head of the organization
is crucial" (p. 169). He also has this comment about principals as successful change
agents: ".. .they all figured out ways of reducing the amount of time spent on
administrative matters. They made sure that change had equal priority" (p. 168).
Further on, he states that "effective principals talked with teachers.. .planning with
them, helping them get together, being knowledgeable about what was happening."
These comments describe the teacher-principal relationships in the Academic
Program.
A comparison of the comments in the present study of the two on-site
professional constituencies, the teachers and the building administrators, is in order
79


and is facilitated by the use again of percentages for the six columns in Tables 4.3 and
4.4. The category of Program Components was represented by 54% of the teachers'
commentstheir highest number, while 29% of the administrators comments dealt
with this Pedagogical arenaan Evolving, Pioneering Curriculum Plan. The Social
column, regarding the role and qualities of the various constituencies, contained 33%
of the teachers' comments. The greatest number of administrators' comments, 46%,
was in this Social column, titled Roles and Qualities Demonstrated by the
Constituencies. The least number of comments by both of these professional groups
was in the Personal arena with 13% of the teachers' comments referencing
Individualized Student Emphasis and 25% of the administrators mentioning The
Classroom Environment. A comparison of these percentages with those of the
student-parent tables suggests that there is less alignment between the teacher-
administrator perceptions than between those of the students and their parents.
The Advisors
1. David Bums was one of the two Institute of Cultural Affairs consultants who
worked with this researcher during the summer of 1986 to design a curriculum and
time rhythm for the first full year of the Academic Program. He coined the term
"Project Approach" to define and describe the way in which curriculum units or
modules would integrate into an overall theme. David was one of the first
professionals to be interviewed as he was departing for several months of work with
agencies and educators in the republics of Bosnia and Herzegovina where he still is
serving at the time of this writing. It is of particular interest and relevance that this
Project Approach has been used successfully by one of the former members of the
80


Academic Program's advisory board to involve high school-aged Bosnian young
people in the restoration of their communities.
2. Rae Tennyson is an internationally recognized mathematics educator who is an
associate professor at the University of Colorado at Denver. Her interest in the
Academic Program focused on the problem-solving nature of the projects and the
complex math inquiries that they inspired. She was a member of the Academic
Program's advisory board and attended several project reporting sessions.
Table 4,5: Advisor Comments
From the transcripts of the advisor interviews (Table 4.5), 188 comments
were identified. The Pedagogy column in this data set is titled Well-defined,
Intentional Curriculum Design (95 comments). To its right is Effective, Focused and
Productive Teachers and Students (Personal, 53 comments); to its left, Roles,
Qualities and Interactions of Parents, Administrators and Advisors (Social, 40
comments). The advisors' comments indicated a keen awareness of the way the roles
were played out in the Academic Program, evidenced by the fact that this table
features two of the three columns dealing with the topic of "roles." The advisors,
perhaps because of this constituency's unique outside position and inclination to
compare among similar programs in other schools and districts, commented more
frequently on the levels of intense engagement on the parts of students, parents and
teachers.
The image analysis of the advisors' comments identified six images. In the
Pedagogical arena, the category with the largest number of coded comments, the
advisors hold two images of curriculum: 1) carefully planned and formally connected


to the whole school, and 2) project-based, real-world, and formally connected to the
community.
Table 4.5 Slotta 1998 Important CEC Academic Program Components Identified by Former Advisors
Social Roles, Qualities & Interactions of Parents, Administrators & Advisors Pedagogical Well-defined. Intentional Curriculum Design Personal Effective, Focused & Productive Teachers & Students
12 advisors were active, visited site 10 advisors learned from and replicated program 9 administrators watched for and guarded successful educauonal programs 4 there is a need to document this learning approach 3 parents attended student presentations as learners 2 administrators were responsive to system failures 35 distinct, well-understood curriculum design 20 overall, results-oriented curriculum design with semester rhythm & schedule 17 multiple & creative uses of space 15 community orientation encouraged real-world, connected learning 4 image-based instructional strategics 2 creative use of instructional environment 2 school-wide support of program 15 highly productive, engaged students 13 personally diverse, invested, collaborative teachers 11 students regularly demonstrated pride in learning accomplishments 9 students involved as researchers and presenters 5 motivated teachers worked hard to involve parents & advisors in the curriculum process
These advisors comments suggest the following set of common, dominant images:
An image of the advisors as active and responsible participants in the learning community An image of the administrators as guardians and protectors of success An image of the curriculum as carefully planned, and formally connected to the whole school An image of the curriculum as project-based, real-world, and formally connected to the community An image of the students as successful and productive An image of the teachers as hard at work to involve all players in a collaborative process
Numbers indicate the frequency of the response which follows.
The next largest category of comments by advisors was Personal and revealed an
image of the students as successful and productive and an image of the teachers as
hard-at-work to involve all players in the process. A group of advisors' comments
placed in the Social column are tided Roles, Qualities, and Interactions of Parents,
Administrators and Advisors. The comments in this column identify an image of
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advisors as active and responsible participants in the learning community, and an
image of administrators as guardians and protectors of success.
Rae Tennyson, mathematics educator from the University of Colorado at
Denver, and member of the Academic Program's advisory board, readily shared her
significant memories:
I think the students' attitudes and the educational process-that they were really
learning how to do research and how to present-you saw how things fit
together. And the enthusiasm of the kids! And the pride of the kids! What
they accomplished in their presentations was very noticeable.... It was very
interesting to talk to them. You could see their confidence. Some of them were
shyer than others, but they really felt good about having something to offer
and to say to the adults who were floating around to interview them at their
project presentation tables.
David Bums, one of the two consultants who first worked with me in 1986 to
conceptualize the program, described the work he observed on the part of the teachers:
You were working on planting some new images that they (the students) were
able to make initiatives to learn, that what they were going to be learning was
going to be very interesting, and useful and extremely pertinent. I saw it took
huge amounts of energy for you to do thatto invest in that image change
work. But I saw the kids enthusiastic...and engaged in learning.
David summarized what he believes were the keys to the program's success: "1) team
teaching; 2) team learning; 3) participatory process; 4) in the community; 5)
demonstrated products; and 6) celebration."
Fullan predicts that as "norms of collaboration and continuous improvement
become embedded in more schools, seeking assistance to solve complex problems
will be perceived as a source of strength and wisdom rather than as a sign of
weakness" (p. 226). Academic Program advisors' comments indicate that they were
more deeply involved in complex problems of curriculum than were the advisors
described by Fullan (The New Meaning of Educational Change, chapter 11). He
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describes the operative consultant dilemma as one of scope vs. intensity, driven by
limited time and energy. The interview comments of the two CEC advisors reveal
focused energy that seemed to be derived from the progress of the program itself.
Table 4.6: Discussion
Table 4.6 is organized to facilitate comparisons of participant comments across
the five stakeholder groups. The data is the same as that in Tables 4.1-4.5, but merges
all of the coded interview comments into one matrix; it is an entirely different sort of
the data.
Table 4.6: Master Comments Table
Table 4.6 organizes the numbered interview comments that were made by a
person in one of the stakeholder roles about another role or program component. Of
the 789 total comments, 388 were descriptive of one of the roles or constituencies,
while 401 referenced the school, program, or curriculum. This latter group, I called,
"comments about." Of the comments that were descriptive of, or about the
constituencies, the greatest number referenced the students (172). The next largest,
from highest to lowest, discussed the teachers (128), the building administrators (41),
the advisors (28) and the parents (19). A coded comment made by one of the
stakeholders I termed "comment by" and may be found in the horizontal boxes across
from that title.
The matrix design of Table 4.6 matches the horizontal column labels
("comments about") with the vertical listing of the stakeholder groups ("comments
by") top to bottom. For example, to learn what was commented by students about the
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