A STUDY OF CHANGE: THE WEST CHESTER SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT PROJECT (PENNSYLVANIA)

IRENE BENDER, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

This case study describes and analyzes the West Chester Area School District's School Improvement Project, a Pennsylvania state-mandated procedure. Specifically, it explores the relationship between the School Improvement Project and the overall district management. A review of the literature of change suggests that most change projects are analyzed by researchers external to the implementing organization. In this study, the researcher and project director are one. This study expands previous research by relating the change process to the organization's setting from the perspective of a researcher from within the organization. The specific process used to help parents, teachers and administrators develop an improvement plan for each school is provided. Features of the process that undergird the successful development of school plans are: a variety of communications systems; responsiveness of the project director; specificity of the project design; ability and willingness of School Improvement teams to adapt the design to meet their schools' needs; and the leadership role assigned to parents. An analysis of the Project as it relates to the setting substantiates these conclusions: (1) West Chester's School Improvement Project was the culmination of a nine year process. (2) The School Improvement Project reflected the overall management style of the Superintendent. During his nine year tenure, the Superintendent led the district through a series of successful projects during which major district-wide policies and programs were formulated. (3) Throughout his nine year tenure, the Superintendent focused staff and community efforts on selective educational issues while simultaneously promoting individual school and program autonomy and responsiveness. (4) Parents were successful in their School Improvement leadership roles. This study also discusses the relationship between district management and Loosely Coupled Theory; expanded leadership and role flexibility; and the issue of researcher/project director role complexities.

Subject Area

School administration

Recommended Citation

BENDER, IRENE, "A STUDY OF CHANGE: THE WEST CHESTER SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT PROJECT (PENNSYLVANIA)" (1983). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI8318152.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI8318152

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