Questions For Further Research
Throughout this paper, the context of schools has been presented
as a set of factors. Though these factors were discussed individually, it
has been noted that they are both interrelated and interdependent. It
also has been asserted that it is precisely because of these
interrelationships that context is important to school leaders seeking to
improve schools for at-risk students. The literature supports the idea
of these interrelationships. However, exactly how these factors affect
each other is not clear in the research. One may hypothesize from
personal experience in schools the results of these interactions.
However, due to the site-specific nature of context, these
generalizations may or may not hold true in another school setting.
Further research is needed to clarify exactly how these elements are
interrelated and, indeed, what effects the various factors alone have on
any other factor. In addition, there may be other elements that
contribute to the interrelationships among the elements of context.
Discussed earlier in this paper, a norm of experimentation has
been identified as supporting school improvement. Some have
theorized that the technology available to schools today may
encourage the development of this norm because it "requires
[teachers] to give up long-held beliefs about teaching and learning
and to devise instruction that embodies new goals and approaches"
(Sheingold, 1991, p. 19). Others (e. g. Collins, 1991; David, 1991)
have suggested other influences of technology on change. The role
of technology in facilitating or impeding school improvement efforts
seems to provide an area for further research as well.
Further study is also needed regarding exactly what leaders may
do to reduce the effects of barriers to change and strengthen those
elements that seem to support change. What might leaders do, for
example, in schools where a strong culture exists, yet that culture does
not provide support for school improvement efforts for at-risk
students? How might the context support changes for at-risk students
that will be sustained even if the leader leaves the school?
Case studies of schools that have a history of change, as well as
those beginning change efforts, are being conducted to examine these
and other questions about how leaders successfully bring about
change in schools that improve schooling for at-risk students. The
context of these schools and specific factors that create bridges or
barriers to change will be examined. It is expected that these studies
will provide insight regarding the interrelationships between various
elements of context.