Case Study Systems Thinking: The Case of Karen Avery Addresses ISLLC Standards 1, 2, and 6

Case Study Systems Thinking: The Case of Karen Avery Addresses ISLLC Standards 1, 2, and 6

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Case Study Systems Thinking: The Case of Karen Avery Addresses ISLLC Standards 1, 2, and 6
Karen Avery is a new department chair in a/an (rural/suburban/urban school district—select one for this exercise). The district is relatively traditional in the operation of its schools. During

the past year, Karen has participated in a task force created to devise a new strategic agenda for the school district. The national mood to discredit schools, educational practices, and school

administration had settled abruptly in her community 14 months ago. There are issues of budget, parental support, student performance, and changing external expectations on the part of the

community, the state, and the nation to be considered, to name a few.  A variety of subgroups to the task force met over the past year to study and recommend rigorous improvements,

actions, and changes. One subgroup recommended adoption of total quality management to assess outcomes on a continuous basis and act on the findings. Another subgroup recommended a

service management–based program to include better strategic planning, decentralization of control, more flexibility, and consistency—all designed to release the intrinsic motivation in

administrators, teachers, and students alike. A third subgroup recommended “a return to basics”: stronger discipline, greater expectations, more definitive rules, and structure. Karen’s

subgroup was locked in controversy and had not provided its own solutions.  At the end of the year as she reflected on these events, Karen realized that the task force had offered only piece-

meal solutions to problems that appeared unmanageable.  During the summer break, Karen attended a series of seminars at a national education convention held in her community. She elected

to attend several seminars dealing with systems theory as applied to the schools.  At the first fall meeting of her subgroup, Karen explained the rudiments of what she had learned about

systems thinking. Her ideas interested the group and helped them focus on some recommendations for a new school model.  Karen’s group proposed a new school structure. In their system,

teachers would become guides, advisers, motivators, and managers rather than content disseminators and disciplinarians. New resources, including interactive computers, videodisks, peer

tutors, projects, and learning laboratories, would be employed to transfer knowledge to the student. A guide would advise, motivate, and manage students and also coordinate the efforts of

other new elements in the system, such as inexpensive assistants, apprentice guides, senior citizens, parents and peer tutors, well-designed projects, discussion groups, learning laboratories,

and resource people. Parents in particular would help decide instructional goals in conjunction with their guides and the individual students. A student’s development in the physical, social,

moral, psychological, and intellectual domains would be considerations. The traditional classroom environment would disappear. A guide and student or small groups of students would work

together to attain agreed-on developmental goals. A guide would be responsible for each student through one of the four developmental stages within K–12, about 4 years per student per

development stage.  Each student’s educational goals would be matched to uniquely suited educational resources orchestrated by the guide and other assistants.  The guide would not work

independently but would be integrated into a cluster of three to six guides. The guides would participate in decision making and exert control over a particular cluster. In each cluster, all guides

would be responsible for cluster success. Clusters themselves would create and meet goals. A master guide would also serve in the cluster as an instructional leader. The success of each cluster

would depend on parent and student satisfaction. As clusters succeeded in meeting the specified developmental goals, parents would elect the very best clusters. Effective clusters would

survive as a result of incentives and rewards and financial support from the school district.  As goal achievement occurred and students passed through developmental stages, new student goals

would become more specific. Learning laboratories would provide specialized expertise in traditional, discipline oriented, and cross-disciplinary areas. Students’ progress in their clusters would

earn them the privilege of attending a variety of learning labs. These labs would operate independently of the clusters but cooperatively.

Assessment and Evaluation: The Case of Washington High School addresses ISLLC Standards 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6
You have just completed your second year as assistant principal at Washington High School. As a teacher in this building for 5 years prior to your current assignment, you noticed a number of

problem areas. Some teachers appeared to be growing more complacent, others more frustrated; student achievement and progress had steadily declined as demonstrated by scores on state

examinations; course work often had little to do with job skills needed for the community workforce; low overall performance has led to concerns about the school’s not receiving full

accreditation by the regional Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools at the next accreditation review, which is coming in 2 years; the district seemed to lack the resources to combat

even the simplest of these problems; and school administrators seemed to lack the know-how to effect change.  This morning you were called in to meet with the building principal, who was

appointed 3 months ago.  During the discussion it was clear that the principal shared your view of the school. The principal is developing a long-range plan to attack the problems described

here.  The principal expects to present the plan to the faculty and staff and to the superintendent of schools in 60 days. As part of that plan, you have been asked to develop an evaluation

model for the school.

The Case of the New Hire Addresses ISLLC Standards 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6
Valerie Rizzo has just been appointed the new principal of the East Ruxton Middle School. East Ruxton is a city of approximately 20,000 persons serving as a marketing and light manufacturing

center for the two adjacent rural counties. The city school district at one time had been one of the outstanding programs in the state for a community of its size. However, over the past

decade, that reputation began to slip as changes in the economy caused reductions in the tax base and thus cutbacks in the schools’ budgets and services. The superintendent and current

administration have all held their positions for a number of years, with the junior administrator having 7 years of service.  The teaching staff also have tended to stay in place. In the middle

school, only two of the teaching faculty have less than 5 years of tenure.  When she was hired, Valerie was told by the superintendent that the most recent school board election had brought in

three new persons and that the balance of voting power on the new board lies with them. The new members ran on a platform of reform and upgrading for the schools, and they are looking to

Valerie as the new administrator to spearhead change in her school. The new members are hoping that changes in the middle school will provide an example that will influence the rest of the


Case Study The New Principal Addresses ISLLC Standards 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6
When Dr. Jack Prince accepted the new post as principal of Norden Township Junior-Senior High School, he knew the tasks ahead of him were formidable. He had prior experience as a principal

but in a smaller school. Jack knew that he would be replacing a principal who had stepped down after a vote of no confidence. It was also well known that some of the faculty of the business

department would pose problems that Jack would have to face. Jack’s new management staff included an assistant principal at the junior high school and three department chairpersons. Two of

the three department chairs had risen recently from within the faculty ranks, and the third chair, Dr. Bob Neuman, had held his position for more than 10 years.  After the announcement had been

made concerning his acceptance as principal, Jack had met with the superintendent, Dr. Amy Kim. Dr. Kim was an old friend and colleague and had herself moved to the superintendency from a

secondary principalship. At their first meeting, Dr. Kim warned about some issues Jack would have to work through during the term. She said that the faculty in the school were, for the most

part, very effective educators, liked by the student body, and considered highly competent. This faculty would be a pleasure to work with. But Bob Neuman led a small group of faculty who had

become comptdated, their classes were avoided by students except when required, and their instruction was less than inspiring. Bob Neuman himself was probably the worst of them all.

However, Neuman was influential with his own faculty and exerted methods to control much of the younger faculty. For the past several years, he had also been the president of the local

teachers union.  Several days into the new fall semester, Jack contemplated how he would cope with his new challenge. It was too early to make any final judgments, but he was beginning to

observe indications of exactly what Amy Kim had spoken about. After much thinking, Jack decided he would, in his words, “stir up the pot.” He intended to call a faculty meeting and announce

his intention to create quality teams. His intention was to give more power to faculty. He had been a strong advocate of the quality movement in his previous position as principal, and he would

begin developing exactly that in the present situation.

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