Education Reform and School Change

Andrew Hargreaves, Corrie Stone-Johnson and Kristin Kew

in Education

ISBN: 9780199756810
Published online December 2011 | | DOI:
Education Reform and School Change

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  • Education
  • Organization and Management of Education
  • Philosophy and Theory of Education
  • Schools Studies
  • Teaching Skills and Techniques



Educational change is a central topic of inquiry in education, and also a recognized field of study, as exemplified in the International Handbook of Educational Change, the Journal of Educational Change, a special interest group of the American Educational Research Association devoted to educational change, and widely used texts by founding authors of the field on core concepts such as the meaning of educational change. In the past, eagerness about what to change overlooked the complex processes of how people changed or failed to change in practice. The field therefore addresses and analyzes deliberately designed as well as implicit and unintended processes of educational change, such as innovation, implementation, improvement and resistance; the forces that drive change externally in policy and society and internally within schools and classrooms; the orchestration by and impact of change on its various agents, such as teachers, students, parents, and leaders; the experience and articulation of change across various educational domains such as pedagogy, curriculum, and assessment; and the evolution of change processes and change strategies over time, as well as their geographical distribution and variation across different systems and countries. The movement of research and development activity beyond simply what to change toward how to change, and the causes and consequences of these change processes, started in the post-Sputnik era of the 1960s in the United States, which addressed the problem of diffusion of individual innovations. Difficulties in achieving successful diffusion then prompted an interest in planned educational change, though this approach was criticized in turn for neglecting the various meanings that people attached to the change process as they experienced it. This resulted in an increasing emphasis on creating more collaborative professional cultures and professional communities in schools to develop common purpose and shared meanings. The impact of these changes since 1970 has been waves of reform that have left many educators confused and burned out, many schools with a seemingly haphazard string of unconnected reforms, and still many students not achieving. By the turn of the 21st century, frustration with these successive waves of change efforts ushered in an era of large-scale, administratively and politically coordinated reform initiatives and their uneven effects, as played out in different systems and countries across the globe—especially those that perform the strongest on international tests of educational achievement and those that are increasingly left behind. This entry explores the key literature and research on these processes and patterns of educational change, and their variations across time and space.

Article.  16382 words. 

Subjects: Education ; Organization and Management of Education ; Philosophy and Theory of Education ; Schools Studies ; Teaching Skills and Techniques

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