Catalyzing Network Expertise: Year 1 Report


Penuel, W. R., Korbak, C., Sussex, W., & Frank, K. A. (2007). Catalyzing Network Expertise: Year 1 Report. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.

Study overview

The primary goal of this study is to examine change linked to new institutional pressures on schools brought about by the threat of sanctions under the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The NCLB legislation dramatically increased the external pressure on schools for improvement; in particular, for the first time in the history of public education, schools were to be held accountable not just for overall achievement levels but for achievement of all subgroups in their schools. This research seeks to develop and test models that integrate accounts of individual and organizational change in response to the pressures exogenous to schools that emerge from NCLB.

In this study, our principal question is “How do social processes and structures formed during the implementation of earlier reforms and innovations enable and constrain teachers’ responses to new institutional forces?” This question calls for attention to organizational level factors that affect interactions, the formation of interactions in response institutional pressure and how those interactions affect teachers’ behaviors. Therefore, we ask:

  • How do formal opportunities for shared decision-making and informal opportunities for collaboration carry over or shift as a wave of pressure begins to take hold?
  • How do interactions teachers draw on to respond to new institutional forces emerge from interactions regarding earlier reforms?
  • Which interactions, experiences and attributes that emerged through prior reforms are most strongly related to teachers’ responses to new institutional forces?

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