Partnering districts and schools for improvement: A study in educational sociology

Harriet Harris Perry, University of Texas at El Paso


This thesis is a case study of district-led school improvement in an urban high school in west Texas with a history of low performance. I begin with an overview of public school reform in America. Acknowledging the existence of a relatively stable institutionalized core or "deep structure" in public schools and the difficulty of making changes to it (Tyack & Cuban, 1995; Tye, 2000; Spillane, Reiser, and Reimer, 2002; Elmore, 2004), some factors that encourage or inhibit substantive improvement are examined. Research in organizational and institutional theory provides a framework for analysis. ^ Conditions in the wider society have a major influence on the state of the nation's public schools. Discussion of some of these influences and the challenges schools confront provide context for the case study that follows. Of particular importance is the current national policy environment that emphasizes standards-based reform and accountability for results—an environment that arguably calls for new practices in leadership and teaching. ^ This research focuses on the pivotal role school districts can play in the success of improvement efforts for individual schools. Data gathered through interviews, observations and existing databases are presented to describe one large, urban school district's improvement program and gauge its potential for long-term success.^

Subject Area

Education, Sociology of|Sociology, Social Structure and Development

Recommended Citation

Perry, Harriet Harris, "Partnering districts and schools for improvement: A study in educational sociology" (2008). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1453814.