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An examination of professional learning in two districts : comparing the quality and quantity of network structure for improved achievement


A growing body of literature on system-wide reform has shown districts, more than individual schools alone, are able to serve as a catalyst for closing the achievement gap and increase student achievement (McLaughlin & Talbert, 2003). Researchers on reform initiatives have focused more on centralization. What is less understood, are the interworking of how districts and schools work together to successfully implement new reform initiatives. More recent research on districts and schools has used the lenses of district-school relationships and social network theory as a way to analyze the formal and informal relationship structure of school districts. The idea is if people are collaborating then there will be more of a chance for the creation of social capital or new knowledge. This could eventually lead to creating intellectual capital, which would ultimately enhance organizational learning and increase student achievement. The primary purpose of this study is to identify, examine and compare the role of two school district offices in supporting or constraining learning initiatives of schools within their district. This will allow us to describe optimal organizational conditions that support student performance over time. The research design of this project is a comparative case study that used quantitative extant data and qualitative methods to answer three main research questions. The findings from this study indicated that principal autonomy is crucial for the success of reform initiative implementation and organizational learning

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