The key success that stood out to me was undoubtedly the reforms set out in the “Every Child a Winner!” report and the subsequent Education Reform Act of 1993 in Massachusetts, as described in Reville (2015, pp. 185-202). These reforms led Massachusetts from mediocre levels of achievement to some of the highest results of the nation and Reville (2015) sets out six reasons as to why this occurred. While each reason was important, for me, it was the “inclusive approach to policy and implementation” that stood out. Education reform at at the state level has been demonstrated to achieve a higher level of effectiveness when the aims of the reforms are integrated with the teachers themselves – rather than being imposed upon them from above without their feedback or extensive training in the intended reform (Cohen and Hill, 2001). Reville (2015) himself notes that the Massachusetts reforms were not completely effective, but it should be noted that in his revisions further work with teachers and reform implementation is not mentioned, pointing to the strength of the original, ground level, approach.
At my local school, such an approach would be welcome as my local district suffers from what could be termed a bureaucratic overreach, where well intentioned reforms suffer because the relevant professionals at the ground level are not sufficiently respected. In fact, my local school is reflective of many of the failures detailed in Bouie (2012) and Aiyar (2015). It is also clear how the school districts mentioned in Sichel and Bacon (2015, pp. 205-224) and Berg (2015, 225-236) relied heavily on the work of local professionals and parents, rather than outside officials. Sichel and Bacon (2015) cite the effectiveness of working in a cooperative, localised environment and similarly Berg’s (2015) classroom level focus led to positive outcomes.
- Aiyar, Y., Dongre, A., & Davis, V. (2015). Education reforms, bureaucracy and the puzzles of
implementation. International Growth Centre. Retrieved from http://www.theigc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Aiyar-et-al-2015-Working-paper.pdf.
- Berg, D. (2015). Equity and Achievement in the Elementary School. In A. M. Blankstein, & P.
- Noguera (Eds.), Excellence Through Equity (pp. 225-236). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
- Bouie, E. L. (2012). The Impact of Bureaucratic Structure, Scientific Management, and
Institutionalism on Standards-Based Educational Reform. Mercer Journal of Educational Leadership, 1(1), 1-22.
- Cohen, D. K., & Hill, H. C. (2001). Learning Policy: When State Education Reform Works. New
Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
- Reville, P. (2015). The Journey Towards Equity and Excellence. In A. M. Blankstein, & P.
Noguera (Eds.), Excellence Through Equity (pp. 185-202). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
- Sichel, A. F., & Bacon, A. H. (2015). Focusing on Equity Propelled Us froom Good to Great. In A. M. Blankstein, & P. Noguera (Eds.), Excellence Through Equity (pp. 205-224). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.