In this study I argue that educational practitioners and policy makers cannot solve the problem of increasing student learning and growth by organizationally isolating the work of schools from communities. The purpose of this study was to explore which organizational conditions have enabled and which have hindered schools and communities from successfully working together to help students learn and grow. In addition, I explore why some districts and schools continue to struggle with engaging outside stakeholders despite their efforts. I used a comparative case study design and chose to investigate three districts and two schools within each of those districts in order to see how district engagement policies and practices filter down into schools. I used neo-institutional and organizational theories as conceptual tools.
Results showed that district level engagement efforts were loosely-coupled with school level policies and practices. Policies that did exist around engagement were vaguely worded and weakly monitored. In addition, few innovative approaches existed to actively engage outside stakeholders. This study confirms the neo-institutional framework and its usefulness in examining engagement policies and practices.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. March 2010. Major: Educational Policy and Administration. Advisor: Dr. Karen R. Seashore. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 200 pages, appendices A-E.
Gordon, Molly F..
Bringing parent and community engagement back into the education reform spotlight: a comparative case study..
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