School leadership turnover reduces research-based practices

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Turnover among K-12 school leaders diminishes the ability to share research-based ideas and practices at the district level, the research shows.

The results also indicate that the leadership churn rate has the greatest negative impact on brokering research data into underperforming schools that strive to improve youth outcomes.

The researchers analyzed how research is evolving in the structures and relationships between educators in three urban school districts across the United States to better understand how and when the “connections” around research occur.

Less well known is the impact of rotation on the “brokerage” role (a concept and a measure in social media analysis) that some educators play in providing access to research evidence, so the research team set out to identify the conditions that facilitate or hinder the dissemination of research among individuals across schools and school systems, according to Kara Finnigan, professor of educational leadership at the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester and co-principal investigator of the project.

“Hearth of connections diminishes the capacity around research evidence and organizational learning,” says Finnigan. “This, in turn, has the potential to have a ripple effect, affecting outcomes for young people, especially in underperforming schools and school systems that are already in crisis.”

Finnigan conducted the study with his colleague and co-principal investigator Alan J. Daley, professor at the University of California, San Diego. They used longitudinal data from social networks, surveys and interviews to better understand how an individual’s social network relates to the use of research evidence and provide the data needed to develop better interventions for help speed up search usage.

The researchers used social media theory and analysis to delve deeper into the brokerage roles that exist, as well as to identify who takes on those roles, in the research data flow in school districts. They took a closer look at global network and subgroup models, the relationship between these models and the level of research collection, interpretation and use, as well as the different stages of using the research. research.

Their most recent analysis appears in a chapter of the new book Networks, knowledge brokers and public policy processes (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021) released this month. This component of their larger study delves deeper and provides insight not only into who brokers are, but also the kind of roles brokers have played in bridging research data with leaders of lower performing schools, an essential element that contributes to the wider use of research data. and literature on school / district improvement.

Their chapter focuses on the type of brokerage that occurs and what that means in relation to the liaison and babysitting roles. It also highlights the importance for people of not always knowing if the ideas they get are based on research evidence due to the links through the broker. Finally, it shows how high turnover among leaders has disrupted the leadership structure – or the “broken bridges” that connect educators at the district level – and hampered the flow of research data across the district and groups. leadership.

The research team found that zone superintendents, sometimes referred to as zone managers or senior supervisors, (ahead of district superintendents, other central office managers and directors) were the most important source of research evidence. as well as to connect otherwise disconnected people in the network around research ideas. In addition, their data indicates that these leaders acted as “bridges” between school principals and central office education leaders, in particular. As a result, their data indicates that turnover among zonal superintendents hampers the use of district-wide research evidence and has the greatest negative impact on principals of underperforming schools who have disconnected from the ideas of research due to the instability of the leadership structure.

Funding came from the William T. Grant Foundation.

Source: Rochester University


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