The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe the growth and evolution of eight established charter schools in the St. Paul/Minneapolis (MN) area. Prior to data collection and based on a synthesis of literature, a model was created that attempted to capture the evolutionary stages of charter schools from initial idea to maturity. The model proposed that a charter school moves through three life stages, with the factors of leadership, governance and resources forming the core of the charter school organization at each stage. There were also interpersonal dynamics and organizational processes continually at work within each school that affected the relationships among those three factors. As a school moved through the stages of development, the relationships changed over time.
The results of the study confirmed three definable developmental stages, Start Up, Growth, and Maturity, as well as transitional phases between the first and second stages, and between the second and third stages. Also, there were certain processes and tasks identified that served as characteristics of each stage/phase.
Data from this study also showed the importance of beginning a school with multi-skilled leaders who were collaborative, fiscally cautious and selflessly committed to the mission. A well-developed mission rallied a dedicated group of people who worked cooperatively to acquire the necessary resources and created the operational, organizational and academic systems of school. Many of these people remained at the school for a length of time, building trusting relationships, committed to doing the work necessary to deliver the education promised by their mission.
University of Minnesota Ed.D. dissertation. December 2008. Major: Educational Policy and Administration. Adisor: Kyla L. Wahlstrom. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 294 pages. appendices A-C.
Horn, Sandra Lyn.
Investigation into the development and sustaining of Minnesota Charter Schools.
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