Making the Routine Routine: Administrative Support and Improvement in New York City’s High Schools
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CitationPestronk, Jefferson. 2015. Making the Routine Routine: Administrative Support and Improvement in New York City’s High Schools. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
AbstractModern schools are complex organizations, tasked with wide-ranging responsibilities. Too frequently, schools have few tools and limited support to carry out those responsibilities. Much attention has been paid to instructional improvement in schools, but there has been less focus on improving administrative processes that consume substantial time and have an underestimated impact on whether students graduate from high school. In New York City, these tasks include programming students for the courses they need to graduate and registering them for required Regents exams.
New Visions for Public Schools, the non-profit based in New York City where I did my residency, is a support organization for a network of 80 New York City public high schools. For the past two years, New Visions has been developing tools and resources to help schools carry out core administrative tasks. While these tasks sound straightforward, schools regularly miss routine opportunities. The accumulation of missed opportunities over the course of a student’s high school career can be the difference between graduating and dropping out.
During my residency, I worked closely with a large comprehensive high school, attempting to implement New Visions’ tools and strategies as part of an organizational improvement process. I also worked on the development of these tools and strategies internally at New Visions. In my capstone, I reflect on the challenges of building infrastructure to change longstanding practices in mature schools from the position of an intermediary. I also analyze a new structure called the “strategic data check-in” (SDC) that we use as a primary strategy for capacity building and behavior change. I argue that the project of building administrative infrastructure is important, that New Visions’ progress has been hampered in part by an inability to create protected time and space for this work, but that the SDC approach is a promising approach to support learning by both New Visions and schools given these constraints. These lessons learned about creating tools to help manage schools as organizations, and the need for protected space in changing behavior, are generalizable to a wide range of challenges the education sector faces.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:16645019