From Cacophony to Chorus: How Do Principals Make Sense of Multiple Concurrent Interventions?

Nimet Eren, University of Pennsylvania


Urban school reform is one of the most studied topics in education research today. Everyone wants to know, “How can _____ school be fixed?” Often, interventions from outside providers are imposed on failing schools, and even more often, those who are responsible for implementing those interventions—the leaders and teachers of the school itself—are not consulted about the design, progress, and success of the interventions. One district leader’s idea of fixing a school may unintentionally contradict or undermine another district leader’s idea of fixing a school, and when district leadership changes quickly, principals and teachers are often left to make sense of multiple initiatives that may only be partially enacted or superficially supported. “From Cacophony to Chorus: How do principals make sense of multiple concurrent interventions?” will first explore my school’s exploration of this phenomenon. As researcher and principal employing an inquiry stance, I initially studied both the stated and tacit goals of the interventions at my school by reviewing their literatures and interviewing their leaders. Then, I interviewed other high school principals in Philadelphia who were experiencing a similar phenomenon to learn how they are juggling multiple ideas trying to improve their schools. Guided by the theories of inquiry and sensemaking, I uncovered how principals navigate multiple concurrent interventions. While this study produced multiple findings, the most important finding is there is an inundation of outside voices in under-resourced schools compared to special-admissions schools.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Education Policy

Recommended Citation

Eren, Nimet, "From Cacophony to Chorus: How Do Principals Make Sense of Multiple Concurrent Interventions?" (2020). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI27961350.