Effects of organizingm subsystems

Explain why organizational-decisions for instructional delivery are important
Identify options for organizing-subsystems in elementary and secondary schools
Identify options for daily school schedules
eAfter reading this chapter, you should be able to demonstrate the ability to do the
following correctly:



-Describing why the organization of instructional delivery is important
Identifying possible choices and procedures for organizing the school day
_Considering options for organizing the school year
App-lyi-ngthe conce_ptof the learning organization to schools–

Principals, independently or collaborating with ~ther school employees, determine how
instructional programs .are organized and delivered. Decisions in these areas clearly
affect employees and students, but they also may have ramifications for parents, the
school district, and possibly non-parent stakeholders. If affected groups disagree with
an.instructional programming decision, conflict typically ensues and almost certainly
the following ques-tions are asked: Who benefits from the decision? Who influenced the
decision? Were all stakeholders given an opportunity to influence the decision?
This chapter addresses issues pertaining to organizing instructional program’s.
Content-is reflective of four primary objectives:
JNTRODUCTION
appeared at the July school board meeting in an attempt to convince the board to -support
their position. She listed several objections to block scheduling and summarized by saying
that there was little or no empirical evidence supporting the -principel’s belief that block
scheduling would have a positive effect on student achievement.
Initially, all seven scnoo! board members had voted to approve block scheduling, but
after listening to opponents, two publicly ststed that tRey would vote differently if given
another opportunity. The remaining board members indicated they were standing firm-at
Ieest until there was evidence showing that block-scheduling was not a more ettective
structure.
The -mounting conflict over block scheduling” strained the relationship betweerr the
superintendent and 1V1r.West. – The-superintendent, who ‘ned limited knowledge of block
schedulirrg, relied on the principal’s teedersbip. /=fehad recommended approval of the
concept based on confidence he had in Mf. West. Buf, in the-aftermath ofProfessor Myers’s
criticisms, he was not-sure he had been giveR proper counsel. Though GraRt..:HigRScbool
proceeded wit!:Jblock schedutiRg~the superintendent, with the support of the entire -school
board, announced publicly that the effects of block scheduling would be evaluated by an
external consultant over-the next 2 yeets. He added that, if student achievement did not
improve, .ihe school would return to its traditional seven-period schedule. Privately, the
superintendent made it clear to Principal West that he was not pleased with how this issue
had evolved.
ORGANIZING AND EVALUATINGINSTRUCTIONAL PROGRAMS 65
_f
Interdependence among subsystems-is usually described ascoupling, a concept that was
applied to schools by Weick (1976). If subunits have complete or substantial autonomy,
a school is_described as being loesely coupled; if subunits have little or no autonomy, the
school is described as. being tightly.coupled. Long ago, Bidwell (1965) recognized that
instruction in most schools was delivered independently among and within subsystems
ana even independently Jrom administrators. Later, scholars (Fennell, 1994; Firestone,
1985.;Wilsoll & Corbett, 1983) found-that linkages among· and within subsystems were
important-variables determining if planned ch-angeinitiatives succeeded.
If one form of coupling was proven to beconsistentlysuperior, and ifcoupling were a
-fixed attribute, a principal would simp-ly-betrained to implement looseor tight coupling.
Infact, however, linkages in schools are dynamic and effective change often requires a mix
of the two conditions. I~ this vein, the .noted scholar Michael Fullan (1991) postulated
that centralization of authority, a-strategy that favors tight coupling, errs on the side of
too much control whereas decentralization, a strategy that favors loose coupling, often
errs on the side of chaos ..Consequently, principals should understand the importance of
subsystem interdependence S0 that they can work with others to implement an effective
mixture of loose and tight ‘linkages best suited for-the contextual variables in their work
environment (Fennell, 1994; Meyer, 2002).

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