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Mind the Gap: Organizational Learning and Improvement in an Underperforming Urban System

Kara S. Finnigan and Alan J. Daly
American Journal of Education
Vol. 119, No. 1 (November 2012), pp. 41-71
DOI: 10.1086/667700
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/667700
Page Count: 31
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Mind the Gap: Organizational Learning and Improvement in an
                    Underperforming Urban System
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Abstract

Drawing on the theoretical lens of organizational learning, and utilizing the methodological approaches of social network and case-study analyses, our exploratory study examines whether schools under sanction exhibit the necessary processes, relationships, and social climates that support organizational learning and improvement. We also investigated the degree to which length of time under sanction affects the processes, relationships, and social climates of schools as well as the extent to which the relationships and climate of the larger district facilitate or hinder improvement in schools under sanction. Results indicate sparse ties within these schools, suggesting limited connectedness of staff with greater connectivity in the school that was newly placed on sanction. We also found school climates that did not support the type of collaboration necessary to bring about organizational learning and improvement. Finally, we found that a negative social climate and weak underlying relationships between district leaders inhibited the flow of ideas and practices district-wide, especially to these low-performing schools. These findings have important implications for school and district improvement under high-stakes accountability policies.

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