Michael Fullan: Choosing the wrong drivers for whole system reform

Thanks @virtuallykaren for pointing me to this.

There are four criteria ??? all of which must be met in concert??? which should be used for judging the likely effectiveness of a driver or set of drivers.
1.?????? ??foster intrinsic motivation of teachers and students;
2.?????? ??engage educators and students in continuous improvement of instruction and learning;
3.?????? ??inspire collective or team work; and
4.?????? ??affect all teachers and students ??? 100 per cent?

Thus intrinsic motivation, instructional improvement, teamwork, and ???allness??? are the crucial elements for whole system reform.
Many systems not only fail to feature these components but choose drivers that actually make matters worse.

I believe, however, that we will see some breakthroughs soon, for several interrelated reasons:

  • the evidence that the wrong drivers don???t work is increasingly clear and compelling;
  • there are positive alternative solutions in play that do work and are also clear and compelling; and, most encouragingly
  • it is almost inevitable that those most committed to reform, and most perplexed by the lack of progress, will figure it out because they are used to solving complex social problems. I expect, for example, that Bill and Melinda Gates, and key political and policy leaders in the US and Australia will be open to the arguments and evidence put forward in these pages.

In this paper I am only interested in drivers that

  • evidently cause whole system improvements;
  • are measurable in practice and in results; and
  • for which a clear case can be made that strategy X produces result Y.

By contrast, an ineffective driver would be one that

  • while sounding good actually does not produce the results it seeks;
  • may make matters worse; andn closer scrutiny can never have the impact it purports to produce.

In the rush to move forward, leaders, especially from countries that have not been progressing, tend to choose the wrong drivers. Such ineffective drivers fundamentally miss the
target. There are four main ???wrong driver??? culprits that I discuss with their matched pairs that refer to the more effective alternative. In all cases choosing a combination of the drivers makes matters significantly worse (or better).

The culprits (wrong drivers) are:
1.?????? ??accountability: using test results, and teacher appraisal, to reward or punish teachers and schools vs capacity building;
2.?????? ??individual teacher and leadership quality: promoting individual vs group solutions;
3.?????? ??technology: investing in and assuming that the wonders of the digital world will carry the day vs instruction;
4.?????? ??fragmented strategies vs integrated or systemic strategies.
The right drivers ??? capacity building, group work, instruction, and systemic solutions ??? are effective because they work directly on changing the culture of school systems (values, norms, skills, practices, relationships); by contrast, the wrong drivers alter structure, procedures and other formal attributes of the system without reaching the internal substance of reform ??? and that is why they fail.

So what works?
1.?????? ??The learning???instruction???assessment nexus.
2.?????? ??Social capital to build the profession.
3.?????? ??Pedagogy matches technology.
4.?????? ??Systemic synergy.


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