Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


38th Annual Convention; Seattle, WA; 2012

Event Details

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Symposium #378
Changing School Cultures as Part of Education Reform
Monday, May 28, 2012
2:00 PM–3:20 PM
616/617 (Convention Center)
Area: EDC/OBM; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Ronnie Detrich (Wing Institute)
Discussant: Teri Lewis (Oregon State University)

School reform has been a nearly continuous movement over the last50 years. Much of the discussion has been focused on the need to change school culture as a means for improving schools. Missing from this discussion has been a specification of the features of the culture and effective methods for producing change. In this symposium, we describe a method for measuring a culture by assessing the incidence and prevalence rates of specific behaviors. Features from ABAs Right to Effective Education will be discussed in terms of measuring their incidence and prevalence rates. The second paper will address the role of the principal as a key agent for change and review the literature about what is known about effective principals. The third paper will address broader cultural variables, such as university teacher preparation programs, unions, and competing philosophies of education that can function as barriers to school reform. Each of the talks will suggest strategies for effecting change at the levels discussed in the talks.

Keyword(s): Education reform, evidence-based education

A Descriptive Approach to Measuring a School Culture

RONNIE DETRICH (Wing Institute)

Education reform has been occurring almost continuously for the past 50 years. Over the course of that time, it has often been suggested that the culture of schools needs to change before any real change can occur in the outcomes for students. Regrettably, there has been little consensus on what to change or how to change school culture. The focus of this paper is to define what is meant by culture, describe a process for measuring the incidence and prevalence of key features of a culture, and propose how the obtained data can be used to determine how resources can be allocated to most effectively produce culture change. A culture can be defined by what members of a culture do. The incidence and prevalence rates of those behaviors can be measured. If the important desired features of the culture are defined then an assessment of the incidence and prevalence rates can identify gaps between desired and actual performance. When gaps are identified, resources can be allocated to facilitate change. This approach describes where problems exist, which then allows change agents to develop solutions.


Principals as Agents of Change

JOHN E. STATES (The Wing Institute)

The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of principals in building quality schools. The focus of school improvement, in particular the demand for improving student achievement, has dominated education policy for the past 20 years. This has led many stakeholders to examine the role of school principals as agents of change in achieving education results. The increasing pressure for holding principals accountable can be found in No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and initiatives such as President's Blueprint for Reform and Race to the Top. But what does research tell us about what distinguishes effective from ineffective principals? How do principals facilitate school improvement, implementation of effective services, and sustainability of quality services? As a direct link between policy makers and teachers, principals play a pivotal leadership role in motivating staff in the implementation of new practices and procedures. If we are to effectively hold principals accountable for leading improvement initiatives, developing objective expectations of leadership and teaching leadership skills to principals should be given priority in their training. How are principals currently trained, credentialed, and evaluated to meet the challenges of this important job?


You Believe What??? The Influence of Macro/External Contingencies on Individual School Cultures

RANDY KEYWORTH (The Wing Institute)

Most of the strategies for changing school cultures focus on interactions between administrators, support staff, and teachers at the local school level. However, many of the contingenciesthat have shaped, and continue shaping, educator cultural values occur outside of the school environment. Before they enter the door educators have long learning histories that have established rule governed behaviors (attitudes, philosophies, beliefs, and constructs) relating to critical features of teaching. Many university teacher preparation programs, unions, education laws, and district policies have helped create a competing culture that is anti-science, anti-data, anti-feedback, and cynical of any efforts at change. Also, at play are the immediate contingencies that influence the behavior of educators in the school setting. Those individuals within a school that are antithetical to science-based education will and do mediate contingencies that make change difficult. While it is virtually impossible to effect culture changes at this macro level, strategies for culture change at the school level must take these influences into account. This presentation will analyze these macro contingencies and suggest counter-control strategies for mitigating their influence on school culture change.




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