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PART VI Accomplishing Curricular Changes Institutional Barriers
~7 Educational Reform? Are We Serious? No, but We Had Better Be. JOHN ~ MOORE In a recent editorial, Koshland (1988) had this to say: The nation is intoxicated with huffing, puffing, and crocodile tears as a substitute for policy in the war on drugs. With minor modifications, that cn de coeur characterizes our problem: The nation is intoxicated with huffing, puffing, and crocodile tears as a substitute for policy on educational reform. The general solutions to our problems are obvious and have been for years. We know what needs to be done, but so far there is a pervasive un- willingness to make the necessary changes in the educational establishment to achieve the ends said to be desired. The welfare of the nation requires students with a willingness to learn; teachers fully capable of stimulating and supporting that learning; excellent textbooks, educational equipment, and facilities; political leaders with courage, vision, and ability; and, above all, a society willing to make the sacrifices that will produce the educational system the nation deserves. But every segment of the educational establishment is inadequate to some degree, and that means that every segment is to some degree a barrier John ~ Moore is professor of biology, emeritus, University of California, Riverside. He led the team that developed the yellow version of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) biology text in the 1960s; is a director of the Science as a Way of Knowing project of the American Society of Zoologists; and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. 245
246 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY to educational reform. It also means that acceptable and sustainable reform will require a fundamental change in us for we are an integral part of the educational system. We are all well-meaning, of course. We gather regularly in meetings like this and issue ukases on what should and must be done. The fact that we repeat again and again what a series of similar committees have been saying for years reassures us that we are "on the right track." Although there has been a tireless and tiresome listing of what should be done, little effort has gone into doing it. Our task should be to bridge the gap between rhetoric and response. And we have a chance-we are asked to advise the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which has the resources to take effective action. This long history of huffing and puffing raises an interesting question: Are we really serious and willing to work for educational reform, or are these many meetings just another example of one of academe's favorite devices- study the problem until it goes away or until the next problem takes its place? I am not at all sure that the academic community has the stomach to undertake what must be done. Really effective reform would be so difficult and so pervasive that many will elect to settle for the appearance of action, rather than demand action itself. Reform will threaten every one of us and it should. What will reform require? I mentioned the main goals at the start, so let me briefly outline the problems as I see them. · Our students are undereducated. National tests and international comparisons find our precollege students poorly informed in science, math- ematics, geography, and whatever else the testers choose to test. Some students in Texas are unsure of what lies south of the Rio Grande that is, if they know about the Rio Grande. Others cannot place the United States on a blank map of the world. We hope to educate these young souls so that our nation can remain a world leader, but this may be difficult if they are not all that sure where the world is. · And why are they ignorant? It cannot be a deterioration of their genetic makeup, so it must be a combination of how they are raised and how they are taught. We can do little about how they are raised, but we must do much more about how they are taught at all levels. How do the teachers stack up? Some are surely among the most wonderful, dedicated, and competent members of society. At the same time, many are poorly trained in the sciences, and many high-school biology classes are taught by former majors in home economics or physical education. Salaries and working conditions for teachers are often such that few of the most gifted undergraduates would consider a teaching career in the precollege grades.
EDUCATIONAL REFORM? ARE HE SERIOUS? 247 · Should we blame the teachers? No; and now we reach the crux of the problem-we should blame the colleges and universities. It is they which select, educate, and certify the teachers-to-be. If there is something wrong with the teachers' education, the universities cannot escape a major responsibility. (I am excluding from analysis all the other factors, about which we can do little, that tend to lessen the effectiveness of teachers: salary, working conditions, position in society, etc.~. How do we scholars in the great universities the flagships of educa- tion, so to speak go about educating the teachers-to-be for what is one of the most critical tasks in society? For the most part, we ignore these young students, rarely encourage them to undertake what should be a noble career, and at times actively discourage them by suggesting that they will be wasting their lives. I know of no disciplinary department in a great university that would consider it acceptable to encourage and help to educate an outstanding student for a career of teaching in the schools. The goal of the education we profess has Stockholm, not the Little Red School House, at the end of the road. And why does this (to me) intolerable situation exists The answer from the typical university professor in science is that one can get away with such behavior, and in fact there is strong encouragement to do so. The criterion for advancement and reputation is research, but even that is being replaced by the size of one's research grant. Gone are the days when fine scholarship and fine teaching were demanded by the system. The view now seems to be that any fineness devoted to teaching must mean less fineness in research and grantsmanship. In a zero-sum game, it cannot be otherwise. This state of affairs exists because those who lead the universities and those who lead society make little effort to promote or demand a deep commitment to quality education. In fact, one can maintain that there is no national leadership in education. The educational system costs more in money and manpower than does the Pentagon yet we have no generals. The educational system works on the principle of letting 1,000 cowers bloom, but too many of those flowers have withered. Let me give a specific example of how one segment of leadership works-or does not work. A mandate of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health is to support science. This is normally interpreted by the agencies and the scientific establishment to mean support of scientific research. One most promising way to do this is to support the work of first-class scientists. An equally important activity would be to support first-class education for the K-16 years. A generation ago, NSF did gallant and effective work in science education, but then
248 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY reaction to "Man, a Course of Study" (MACOS) and pressures from far- right politicians soured the educational programs. But don't blame NSF entirely. When all this was going on, both the scientific and educational establishments tended to look the other way. Only recently has NSF again shown a deep interest in educational reform. Let us hope that a balance will be reached and that the agencies will be equally concerned with the production of good science and of good scientists. NSFs basic concern with the support of research has a negative effect on education. Consider this: One can include in a research proposal requests for funds to hire someone to do the teaching of the principal investigator, so the principal investigator can get on with the real work research. Could there be a clearer message of the relative importance of teaching and research? How bankrupt can we get? This attitude pervades the administrations and faculties of the uni- versities. Excellence in research confers status and prestige for both the individual and the institution, but must that result in the acceptance of less-distinguished or even mediocre teaching? The futures of science, soci- ety, and the universities all depend on quality education. If we forget that, surely we are shooting ourselves in the foot. But what can be done? All that needs to be, if we so wish. Nothing new has to be discovered, should we decide that education must be re- formed; furthermore, a great deal could be accomplished even with existing resources. Let us assume that our goal really is to prepare our students to be able to make informed decisions about themselves, their communities, their nation, and their world in the on-rushing serious problems that have a scientific component. The first thing that we have to accept is that the minuscule amount of science that our students receive is inadequate. We have been told that there is only a trivial difference in knowledge of biology between students who have taken a biology course and those who have not. I suggest that our goal can be achieved only if the percentage of school work devoted to the sciences is increased to about 20-25% of the curricu- lum, instead of the 2-5% that now prevails. And I am most certainly not talking about a 10-fold increase in the sort of science now generally taught. We all know the sort needed: hands-on activities, inquiry orientation, inter- disciplinary approaches (including the nonscience disciplines), emphasis on concepts, and the avoidance of a plethora of unneeded and unused facts. Most important, science education must begin with young children, and they must be partners with teachers who will help them uncover nature and not stifle that sense of wonder and joy in living things that is every child's birthright. The science taught must be organized to accomplish the most with a minimum of repetition. If the elementary-school years could be devoted
EDUCATIONAL REFORM? ARE WE SERIOUS? 249 to learning about nature-animals, plants, and the environment and the middle-school years to ourselves and our place in that environment, the young student would reach the high-school years with an understanding of biology considerably better than that held by students who have had only a year of tenth-grade biology. That would mean that high-school biology could be set at a level that would allow serious and informed consideration, not only of important human problems that biology and the other sciences have something to say about, but also of selected areas of modern biology that are providing such deep and exciting insights into the phenomena of the natural world. Such a plan would make meaningless that recurring question: How can we cover biology in a single year, when we have to include all those current major advances in this major field of science? It is astonishing that we ever thought we could, or should. All this will require a revolution in the way biology and the other sciences are taught, and such a revolution must involve the entire nation; and above all it demands direction and leadership. I suggest that such leadership must come from a highly respected, nongovernment organization that will support reform of the teaching of science at all levels: seeking to increase the fraction of the curriculum devoted to science, improving the teaching force, demanding adequate resources from local and national governments, seeing that fine textbooks are available, encouraging the colleges and universities to take seriously the education of all students (including those seeking a career in teaching), and providing models for appropriate science for the various grades. One of the most important functions for such an organization would be to make suggestions for a sequence of topics appropriate for each grade level. There must be more science in the curriculum, and there must be nationwide agreement on what this should be. If we accept that far more science must be taught, a common weakness in our standard approach will be avoided. Whenever we assemble to tale about what should be taught in high-school biology, we make our recommendations on the assumptions that students have had no biology before and that we need not lay a basis for any that might be taken in more advanced grades. The goal should be to establish what biology is to be taught in each grade, not which grade is to receive the single massive dose. Another thing that a central organization could do, in contrast with what most committees do, is recognize that many people throughout many years have been dealing with the same basic problems. There is a body of information and experience that is valuable and should not be ignored by each new committee as it often is. A central organization could not only
250 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY synthesize what is known, but also coordinate the efforts of all toward the improvement of science teaching in the schools. Such an organization should be headed by the most vigorous and visible leaders of our great universities, scientific institutions, and public and government organizations. I am talking about powerful people who care and who are effective in making a clear distinction between activity and accomplishment. Such leadership could supervise the permanent staff and associated committees that would attempt to translate goals into programs and products. Such an activity would have to involve real teachers and close working relations with state and local school districts, publishers, and the institutions that prepare students for careers in teaching. Will society, and especially the educational establishment, buy this? Probably not, without considerable pressure. But is there any alternative, if we are to achieve our stated goal? There must be a national group that will set standards and offer advice. There cannot be a nationwide reform unless there is an organized nationwide reform effort. Surely we have enough evidence to recognize the nearly total ineffectiveness of this seemingly endless stream of committees bent on educational reform that merely promulgate, and then disband. There is no longer a need to analyze what is wrong; we know what it is and in a general way what the remedies must be. In fact, there may be merit in proposing a moratorium on reform- minded committees unless there is a firm link to a planned program or product. Maybe we can help to make something very worthwhile happen. We had better. We recognize that our educational system is short-changing the nation and that the system is our responsibility. But even more serious is the fact that we are short-changing our young people and those who teach them. We must change the system so that students will understand and take joy in the natural world and protect it, as it in turn provides for them. They must be able to deal with the many serious problems that affect all of us and wild nature as well. And we must change the system so that teachers can take joy in their profession and what they profess and will be allowed to hold the position that they should in society- because they are doing the basic work of civilization. Sustainable reform of high-school biology will require far more than tinkering with the high-school biology curriculum. That approach has been tried repeatedly, and the problem is, if anything, more serious than ever. Sustainable reform will come only when the colleges and universities effectively educate those who will teach in the schools. The high-school science-curriculum course must be a culmination of the students' rich experience in biology and the other sciences throughout elementary-school and junior-high-school years.
EDUCATIONAL REFORM? ARE ~ SERIOUS? 251 We must also explore mechanisms for developing greatly improved text and laboratory materials. This would be a radical reform and realistically would require imple- mentation over a period of years. Thus, an interim solution would seem to require two sorts of high-school programs. The first, and transitory, course would take the students as they are now and provide a single-year course as good as possible so good that the students would know more biology at the end than those who had not taken the course. The development of a second type of high-school course should become the main thrust of our efforts. It would be the culminating and synthetic approach mentioned before and would be based on a good knowledge of science obtained in the elementary-school and middle-school years. It could be taken in the tenth grade. If this ideal K-10 program could be achieved, it is more than likely that many students would profit from a more advanced course in the twelfth grade. 1b make all this possible, we should explore the possibility of encour- aging the formation of a new, permanent, nationwide organization or the modification and energizing of an existing one, to catalyze the reform. In the conditions of modern life . . . the race which does not value trained intelligence is doomed. Not all your heroism, not all your social charm, not all your victories on land or at sea, can move back the finger of fate. To-day we maintain ourselves. I7o-morrow science will have moved forward yet one more step, and there will be no appeal from the judgment which will then be pronounced on the uneducated. [Whitehead, 1929~. REFERENCES Koshland, D. E., Jr. 1988. Thinking tough. Science 241:1273. Whitehead, A. N. 1929. The Aims of Education, pp. 22-23. New York: Macmillan.
28 Institutional Barriers to School Change PETER W. AIRASIAN INTRODUCTION Identifying institutional barriers to meaningful educational change re- quires consideration of schools at No levels. First, schools as a group must be viewed as social institutions that interact with and are influenced by an array of other social institutions. Schools are not free to operate independently of these external social agencies and institutions, which look to the schools to foster a variety of desired personal and social outcomes in pupils. Second, schools and school systems must be viewed as entities unto themselves, each with its own bureaucracy, personnel, budget, clients, and resources. The dynamics existing within and among these bureaucratic factors create inherent barriers to change. At both levels, schools are best thought of as conservative institutions; their inherent impetus for change is not great, and their programs, policies, goals, and agendas are determined largely by groups external to the schools or the school system (Cremin, 1961; Fullan, 1982; Nyberg and Egan, 1981~. Schools do change, but changes typically are imposed by external institutions or groups. If we consider significant, large-scale educational reform movements of the last quarter century such as mandated state Peter W. Airasian received an A.B. in chemistry in 1964 from Harvard College and has taught high-school chemistry and biology. He received an A.M. and Ph.D. in educational testing and evaluation from the University of Chicago. He is professor and chair of the Educational Foun- dations Division, Boston College. 252
INSTII~(J77IONAL BARRIERS TO SCHOOL CHANGE 2~3 testing programs, school finance reform, teacher promotion ladders, and opening of schools to a variety of special-needs pupils it is clear that the reforms were initiated, championed, and eventually enacted by groups external to the schools, usually state-level elected officials, businessmen, and the courts. Even though the reforms influenced important aspects of teachers' and school administrators' activities, the reforms did not originate in the schools or educational community. In fact, many educators opposed these reforms when they were proposed initially. Historically, educators have been charged with implementing reform programs that they have had little influence in creating or enacting. The purpose of this discussion is to consider some of the external factors that influence the nature of social mandates for school change and the internal realities that place limits on the responses to these mandates that schools can muster. Because it focuses on barriers to change, this presentation may be perceived to be pessimistic. The intention is not pessimism, but realism. It is hoped that the discussion will counterbalance the promises of reformers who inevitably will be enthusiastically optimistic and exclaim broadly about the many beneficial outcomes of their reform proposals. The bulb of the paper is concerned with general barriers to large-scale school change; the discussion is not focused on a particular curriculum area or grade level. First, I describe the genesis of change movements and how they are shaped and influenced by the status of schools and schooling. The consequences of this status for large-scale, mandated school change are considered. Then I describe internal, school-based factors that inhibit change. The factors discussed represent a view of the American educational scene that points out the difficulty of effecting real educational change without a substantial commitment of resources and a substantial amount of patience. EXTERNAL BARRIERS TO SCHOOL CHANGE Change efforts arise when a crisis is perceived to exist in a social agency; reform is not spontaneous, but responds to a perceived need. For example, the reform of science curricula in the 1960s and the more recent push for higher academic standards in schools were the result of the unexpected launch of Sputnik and 10 years of publicity about the poor test performance of American schoolchildren, respectively. It is not clear how such crises emerge, why some capture the attention of the public while others do not, and why attention typically shifts to another crisis after a relatively short period. What is clear, however, is that a prerequisite for large-scale reform is a public sense of urgency about a social or educational problem.
254 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY It is important to note that the nature of change needed to ameliorate a perceived problem is not necessarily evident from the problem itself. When pressed to "do something now," policy-makers have a choice of many actions that may be taken. A decline In the levels of academic achievement among schoolchildren can be attacked by extending the length of the schoolday, adding required courses to the school curriculum, mandating exit tests to certify pupils' competence, instituting remedial programs, writing new textbooks, raising grade-to-grade promotion requirements, increasing funding for schools, or some combination of these strategies. Even this array of potential reform strategies is incomplete, since none considers the role of nonschool sources, such as the family, in solving the declining achievement problem. The factors thought to underlie the problem will have much to do Lath the strategies selected to correct matters. Different perceptions of underlying causes evoke different types of reform efforts. Hawley (1985, p. 184) correctly states that the policy implications of the premise that our schools have fallen from some former state of grace are very different from those one would derive from the belief that our schools, overall, are as good as they have been but that this is not good enough for the challenges we now face. In the first case, the solution lies in shaping up the schools, cutting out incompetence, and making incremental improvements. The view that we need to do better than our previous best, on the other hand, dictates that we wony less about defining limits and setting standards and more about investing in new capabilities and reshaping basic ways we go about the facilitation of student learning. Thus, the impetus for reform derives from the emergence of a public perception that something is awry in some segment of society. Without such a perception it will be difficult to rally public support for reform. The perceptions of the policy-makers regarding the underlying causes of the problem narrow, in turn, the nature and locus of reform efforts. Once a problem is identified and school-based change is perceived to be needed, the nature of the proposed change mandate will be forged within the realities of the present status of schools as a social institution. In this regard, the last 25 years have seen a number of factors produce changes in the status, practices, and priorities of the educational system that influence and present barriers to meaningful school reform (Airasian, 1987~. Three such changes are growth, centralization, and politicization. Growth On virtually any index other than the numbers of pupils and teachers, there has been growth in the educational system over the last 20 years. Expenditures for education have soared. While the Consumer Price Index
INSTITUTIONAL BARRIERS TO SCHOOL CHANGE 255 tripled between 1960 and 1982, the expenditures for public elementary- school and secondary-school education increased sevenfold. The educa- tional system has also grown in the diversity of the pupil groups it serves and in the variety of programs it offers these groups. Twenty years ago, the vast majority of school pupils would have been undifferentiated, except for their reading-group placement or high-school track. ldday, as a result of legislative and judicial mandates, schools provide varied programs, ser- vices, and tracks to many pupils who would not even have been allowed to enroll in public schools 2 decades ago. The school is a much more finely differentiated institution now than in the recent past. Along with growth in expenditures and pupil differentiation, there has been substantial growth in the number of goals and functions that the schools are expected to attend to and attain. This growth is a measure of the increasing importance of the schools as social initiation agencies an the apparent inability or unwillingness of other social institutions to take responsibility for fostering the desired outcomes. The American public desires that its schools be responsible for a large set of personal and social goals and activities that once were considered the province of other institutions. Thus, at the personal level, schools are expected to outfit pupils with a growing array of social and "survival" skills: education as to sex, AIDS, drug and alcohol abuse, conflict resolution, and values clarification; practical mathematics; health and nutrition; race relations; training for parenthood; English for daily living; and check- writing, map-reading, and the like. There are calls for such science courses as "Chemistry for the Consumer," "Science and Society," and "The Biology of Being Human." The curriculum has expanded, primarily through a multitude of "func- tional-skills" courses that are designed to make pupils' lives in society possible, if not worth while. Each new course and requirement competes for time and attention with other "functional-skills" courses, as well as courses in more traditional academic disciplines. One study (Goldenstein et al., 1988) indicated that the proportion of courses that high-school pupils took in the areas of English, social studies, business, mathematics, and natural sciences declined from 765 in 1953 to 64% in 1983. Schools are expected to help pupils to attain both the new socialization goals and more traditional academic subject-matter mastery in a manner that satisfies the two more general social goals of equality and excellence. This is not an easy task. CENTRALIZATION As the education system has grown in terms of expenditures and responsibilities, the interest of the state in education also has expanded
256 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY (Green, 198~, Wirt and Kirst, 1982~. As education becomes more narrow and instrumental and concerned with "basic," "functional," and "survival" skills, it becomes less a privilege and more a requirement for life-a fact that increases the interest and stake of the state in the process and outcomes of education. Moreover, the increase in mandated and legislated state and federal education programs has produced increased government intervention and control intended to maintain uniformity and fairness of and control over an increasingly diverse array of local educational activities and responsibilities (Wise, 1979~. The sheer weight of mandates and laws plus the social, political, and legal consequences of failure to carry them out properly has prompted centralization and standardization of educational decision- making. Standardization also works from the bottom up, as evidenced by specific job definitions, regulations, and expectations that are negotiated into many teachers-union contracts. While we are beginning to see a glimmer of interest in returning control of education to persons at the local building level, the predominant political belief is that the job of education in the 1980s is too big and complex to be left primarily in the hands of the family or local school district. Increasingly, criteria for and decisions about curriculum, instruction, certification, funding, evaluation, and desired outcomes are being made at the state or national level, not the local level. Decisions are made on a cross- unit basis, rather than a within-unit basis, with the consequence of reduced discretion at the local school-building level. The values advanced to justify increased state control" namely, equality, accountability, efficiency-clash with the values of freedom of choice and differentiated treatment, which are embodied in justifications for local school control. Another important consequence of centralized decision-making is that state governments are becoming more involved in the details of teaching, testing, and curriculum than ever before. In many instances, policy-making is being given over to less expert, more politically motivated groups that are as concerned with how decisions will play in Peoria as they are with how much real educational change will be produced. Individuals who wish to bring about change in the schools must recognize and contend with this movement toward administrative centralization and standardization. POLITICIZATION A third change in schools in the last 25 years is that education and the educational decision-making process have become overtly politicized (Hansot and Track, 1982~. Schools always have been confronted by a large number of competing agendas, so the problem of accommodating political diversity is not a new one for education policy-makers. What is
INSTITUTIONAL BARRIERS TO SCHOOL CHANGE 257 new, however, is the increased number of politically active, legally and legislatively protected special-interest groups spawned by events of the last 2 decades (Murphy, 1982~. Each group has its agenda for the schools, its turf to protect, and a stake in the decisions that affect educational practices and priorities. Different value premises are implicit in the agendas of different groups, as can be seen in the varied answers that one receives to fundamental questions, such as: "What attributes ought to determine the distribution of educational resources to pupils?" "Should academic, social, or personal goals take precedence in the schools, and which goals within the selected categories?" Administrators and legislators at all levels seek to answer the question: "How can I allocate limited funds, resources, curriculum time, rights, and prerogatives to an ever more differentiated school population in the fairest manner possible?" They know that any policy that does not provide more for every group and interest will be hotly contested, but that any policy that does produce more for everybody will be self-defeating vis-a-vis social goals, such as equality. Prospective reformers of schooling must recognize the context into which they venture under the banner of educational change. In the late 1980s, compared with earlier times, schools are charged with serving a very heterogeneous mix of pupils in a broader range of ways on a greater set of anticipated outcomes with quality and without discrimination in the face of increased public scrutiny, value diversity, and suspicion. IMPLICATIONS The growth, centralization, and politicization inherent in the edu- cational system have consequences for the nature of the school-change mandates that emerge from external groups and institutions. In looking at recent reform efforts, we can see a number of common characteristics. First, as noted, the reforms were initiated, championed, and eventually enacted through the efforts of the courts, state-level elected officials, and the business community. Second, as might be expected, given the pessimism about American education that has prevailed of late and the need to administer reforms at a statewide level, reforms tended to have two characteristics: they focused on minimum levels of expectation and they were relatively easily implemented and managed. With very few exceptions, the state has been interested in and preoccupied with providing an education that is suitable "on average" for all school pupils. Developing individual pupils to their maximum level of attainment has not been a usual priority of the state in formulating educational policy (Green, 1980~; hence, the focus in recent reforms has been on minimally acceptable levels of funding, standards, and attainment.
258 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY Similarly, the reforms for the most part were easily implemented and managed, calling for the administration of standardized tests, the enactment of new required-course-load policies, and the application of new revenue- distribution formulas. There was little attempt to intrude directly into classrooms, except to use such reforms as mandated tests to push the curriculum in desired directions. Few reforms were concerned with how things were taught or, in most cases, what specific topics were taught. Third, reflecting the politicized nature of education issues, the reforms were politically palatable to varied education constituencies. The language of reform emphasized terms like "basic skills," "minimum competence," "higher standards," "rewards for good performance," and "maintaining the country's competitive edge" to strike a responsive chord in large segments of the public, who were ready to support such general principles. Blue- ribbon panels, state legislatures, and national commissions deliberated over the problems of schools and typically came to conclusions that exaggerated problems; produced very general recommendations focused on ends, not means; and protected existing institutional arrangements by only rarely calling for basic institutional change. The fact that many of the reforms either were not spelled out in detail or involved an activity peripheral to what went on from day to day in classrooms (e.g., high-school graduation testing) deflected controversy that might have emerged if the reforms had been more intrusive or clearly delineated. The language of a reform and the degree to which it finds a nonthreatening position on the political spectrum are potent factors in determining its acceptability. Fourth, the press for statewide, minimum, politically acceptable re- forms has produced many reforms that are symbolic of desirable social and educational values, rather than directive of classroom activities and outcomes (Airasian, 1988~. The reforms tend to ignore the complexity of school and educational improvement by offering simplistic, one-variable solutions and bromides. The rhetoric and the symbolism of reform conspire to produce two potential barriers to school change: the grandiose claims reflected in the language of reform lead to raised and often unrealistic expectations of what schools can and should accomplish, particularly since recent reforms place scant emphasis on the schools' working in conjunction with other institutions, such as the family; and the political and symbolic appeal of the reforms often serves to assuage public concern or conscience about the need for further reform. Public attention to and concern about the existence of a problem are prerequisites of externally imposed school refor~perceived crisis provokes responses. But the public has a short at- tention span and flits from social problem to social problem at rather short intervals (Airasian, 1983~. The danger of reforms that are largely symbolic or that do not attack root causes is that they can become conscience-salving
·NSTITU7CIONAL BARRIERS TO SCHOOL CHANGE 259 solutions to what are real problems-solutions that provide psychic satis- faction to policy-makers and the public, but little in the way of meaningful reform in school and student outcomes. Finally, most educational reforms are adopted with high levels of technical uncertainty; the wisdom of their adoption and the range of their effects rarely are known in advance of implementation. A variety of political motives dictate that reforms not be examined empirically before their adoption, so justification for reforms is found most often in their "social and political validity" (Airasian, 1988), not in hard-headed evaluation of their outcomes and consequences. Logic and rational planning are all too often upset when they confront the exigencies of the real world, and George Bernard Shaw was correct when he pointed out that one of the common errors made by social reformers was the idea that change could be achieved by "brute sanity." INTERNAL BARRIERS TO SCHOOL CHANGE The preceding context colors substantially the reforms that emerge for implementation in schools. The reality of the school as a social institution that takes its lead from other social institutions is that change is most likely to occur where there is widespread public awareness and concern; where basic, minimal expectations can be stated; and where interest groups can find a common, usually very general ground for proposed change. Reforms that meet these criteria have been of two types. The first type calls for a change in some policy, regulation, or administrative practice; the second calls for a change in the outcomes of schooling. Examples of the first type include requiring all pupils to complete three science courses in order to receive a high-school diploma, mandating new high- school graduation and teacher-certification testing programs to serve as gatekeeping mechanisms, adding access ramps to public buildings and walkways, and applying new funding formulas to alter the distribution of school resources. Many of the recent mandates to reform education have been of this first type and involve management of the school environment and instructional delivery system. The schools respond to such mandates by adding a new course, accommodating a statewide test once or twice a year, replacing stairs with ramps, and dividing resources in new ways. The second type of change mandate calls for a change in the outcomes of education or in the way that those outcomes are reached. This type of mandate is concerned with issues of what is taught, how it is taught, and whether students attain desired competence. Thus, when critics rail against the "dry and uninteresting" science textbooks that stress "recall of abstract facts" and seek to substitute science education that is "geared to the interests of the pupils and focused on their ability to think rationally
260 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY and grapple with and solve problems," they are asking for more than a change in administrative or bureaucratic regulations. They are calling for a fundamental change in the way science education is delivered to pupils. The two types of reform are similar insofar as the likelihood of their success is unknown at the time they are implemented. They are different, however, in the way they are phrased and in the guidance they offer school people to carry out their implementation (Elmore and McLaughlin, 1982~. Policies of the administrative-managerial type generally contain the knowl- edge necessary to implement them. Policies of the second, instructional type often do not contain the knowledge necessary to implement them. Con- sider the difference between the administrative-managerial mandate to `'put ramps at the entrance to all school buildings" and the instructional man- date to C`improve the educational achievement of all handicapped pupils" or the difference between "establish a required three-course science sequence that all high-school pupils must take" and C`teach high-school pupils to reason logically about scientific issues." We know what to do to meet the administrative-managerial mandates. It is considerably less obvious what needs to be done to meet the instructional-outcome mandates (Timer and Kirp, 1988~. It is the latter, instructionally focused type of school-change mandate that requires particular consideration, because as administratively based reforms have been implemented in schools, reformers have begun to expand their activities by seeking to redefine and extend the outcomes that pupils are expected to attain in school. This latter type of change has an impact directly on the instructional process and depends on the state of current knowledge about instruction for its success. The main focus of the following discussion is on the current level of our instructional expectations and the degree to which our mastery of the intricacies of the instructional process are sufficient to meet these new expectations. It is necessary first to note briefly some other important internal barriers to school change (Airasian, 1983; Fullan, 1982; Lieberman, 1982~: · There is the reality of the inherent nature of all bureaucracy to resist innovations that change the resource-allocation mix or accustomed authority relationships. This is particularly true in schools, where a change usually means adding something to role or curriculum responsibilities with- out reducing those responsibilities in some other arena. Reforms must be capable of being accommodated into an already hectic, fragmented, crowded school calendar. There is the reality of teachers carrying forward the strengths and weaknesses of their own training into the classrooms where they teach. Schools are staffed by former school pupils. The deficiencies of education
INSTITUTIONAL BARRIERS TO SCHOOL CRINGE 261 for one generation often get carried forth into the instruction of succeeding generations of pupils. · There is the reality that learning both cognitive and, perhaps more important, affective is cumulative in many school subjects. Because of this fact, it is often difficult to intervene at later stages of the school sequence to rectify inadequacies developed at earlier stages. · There is a reality of the different world views of reformers and classroom teachers that hampers implementation and teacher commitment to school reform. Reformers live and work in a world that is formal, precise, prescriptive, concerned with ideas, and dedicated to belief in the ideas that they offer for reform. Teachers live and work in a world that is informal, loose, experimental, concerned with process, and dedicated to adaptation to the classroom reality. · Finally, there is the reality of limits to the amount of meaningful change that schools can accomplish without the support, reinforcement, and encouragement of families and other social institutions. A major additional barrier to instructionally related educational change is the lack of a well-developed science of instruction that will permit teach- ers to attain the many and varied instructional ends that society wishes to have schools foster in pupils. Recent years have seen an increased call for schools to emphasize thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving skills in instruction, in place of more rote learning in various curriculum areas, including science. The vision of such outcomes has led many reform advo- cates to underestimate the instructional complexities involved in attaining these nonrote ends and to view the issue of instructing pupils in nonrote behaviors as a mere technical problem readily solvable by application of existing, standard procedures (Wise, 1979; Raywid, 1986~. Increasingly, reform mandates, decisions, practices, and desired stu- dent outcomes outstrip the evidence available to warrant them (Wise, 1979~. Most instructionally based change programs are predicated on the implicit assumption that the science of instruction is sufficiently developed that teachers can apply it to guide pupils to the attainment of virtually any desired instructional outcome. Stated in a more down-to-earth manner, the assumption is that we know how to teach pupils the many and varied outcomes that we have stated in our reform programs. This is a critical assumption, for if proposed reforms are to lead to the attainment of new student outcomes, it is necessary that available instructional knowledge and techniques be sufficient to enable teachers to teach most pupils the desired outcomes. The distinction between wishes and expectations has been lost or ignored in much of what has passed in the last decade and continues to pass for instructional reform (Green, 1980~. We have let our wishes become
262 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY our expectations, while paying scant attention to what is known and not known about the educational and instructional processes. When the content focus of instruction is on mastery of general, min- imum, lower-level skills and facts, instructional knowledge is not a major barrier to successful instruction and learning; enough is known about ap- propriate instructional techniques to assume that most teachers could foster the desired rote skills and knowledge in their pupils (Fredericksen, 1984~. Recently, however, many reformers have sought to up the instructional ante by mandating school programs that seek pupil mastery of more cogni- tively complex objectives. Discussion of curriculum reform in science and other disciplines calls for a reduction in the amount of "cookbook fact acquisition" with a corresponding increase in such outcomes as thinking rationally, solving problems, applying known information to solve unfamil- iar problems, and analyzing situations through logical or critical reasoning. Such higher-level cognitive pupil behaviors are a far cry from recalling facts and memorizing formulas. The hallmark of higher-level cognitive behaviors is the use of mental processes more complex than rote memorization to obtain the solution to new and unfamiliar problems (Bloom et al., 1956~. Thus, the two defining properties of higher-level processes are that they involve problems that require more than rote learning and are new to the learner. Researchers who have studied higher-level mental operations like critical thinking, problem-solving, and reasoning have obtained results that are not encouraging for reformers who wish to reorient instruction to produce such outcomes in pupils. Various reviews indicate that teaching higher-level behaviors is different in many ways from teaching lower-level, rote behaviors (Cuban, 1984; Derry and Murphy, 1986; Fredericksen, 1984; Wade, 1983~. Higher-level behaviors take longer to teach; they develop gradually over time, not via the quick association and closure that often occurs in teaching rote material. Direct instruction is useful for teaching lower-level tasks and knowledge, but higher-level behaviors call for less direct, less structured instructional environments and methods. Acquiring higher-level processes requires that pupils be provided opportunities for self-discovery. The content of higher- level processes may be precisely the type of content that is difficult to localize in the curriculum and too diffuse to focus instruction. The present organizational and instructional arrangement of schools may make them inhospitable environments for fostering reasoning and other higher-level behaviors. When instruction can be reduced to teaching pupils an algorithm to apply in a specific situation and giving them a great deal of practice in applying the algorithm, learning generally takes place. After they learn the steps involved in solving simultaneous equations and after they practice by solving 100 simultaneous equations, we anticipate that students will
INSTIIVTIONAL BARRIERS TO SCHOOL CHANGE 263 "apply" their knowledge when confronted with a "new" simultaneous- equation problem of a structure similar to that of previous problems. However, if the problem cannot be expressed in terms of an algorithm or if it is not narrowly confined in content and format, evidence suggests that we know little about useful instructional strategies to instill problem-solving capabilities (Fredericksen, 1984; Derry and Murphy, 1986~. But as we go into domains where problems are increasingly ill-structured, we can be much less certain about the adequacy of our knowledge. We know little about how to teach students to develop representations of ill-structured problems, to develop plans for solving these problems, or to employ appropriate strategies or heuristic approaches. Still less can we advise students about efficient methods for accessing relevant information in [long-term memory] [Fredericksen, 1984, p. 3963. No clear body of knowledge exists regarding the conceptualization of higher-level behaviors, such as reasoning, logical and critical thinking, and application; nor are there well-validated instructional strategies to teach such higher-level processes: How do you teach daily 25 to 35 students compelled to attend class an indeterminate reasoning process that, in order to be learned, must be individually understood, applied and assessed indirectly through each student's words and behavior while teaching a group in a limited amount of time? No answer exists for this question. No technology of teaching produces reliably (don't even consider validity) acceptable outcomes in reasoning [Cuban, 1984, p. 6723. Once desired objectives venture beyond application of an algorithm in a narrowly defined problem situation, the outlook for validated instructional techniques that are capable of fostering more general, abstract higher-level behaviors in most pupils is bleak. At present, processes like reasoning, critical thinking, problem-solving, and the like are beyond our capabilities to instruct in a manner that can ensure that most pupils will master them. The moral here is that we cannot assume that, because we can state the desired outcomes that we wish pupils to attain from instruction, it necessarily follows that the science of instruction is sufficiently well developed and articulated to enable us to be successful in fostering them in pupils. Note also that the same argument can be made for reforms that focus on teachers and seek to make them more dedicated to their subject matter and more interested in their students. lbo often proposed instructional change has foundered, because the expectations of the reformers have overlooked or far exceeded the realities and limitations of classrooms, teachers, and instructional knowledge. SUMMARY This paper asked and tried to answer three questions that influence the nature of change in educational institutions: What is the role and
264 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY current perception of schools in American society? What is the nature of educational-reform mandates that emerge from external sources to solve what are perceived to be school-based problems? What are the internal realities of schools that reformers will encounter in seeking to implement their mandates? The answers to these questions indicate that barriers to educational change exist at many levels. It has been noted that the bureaucratization and politicization of schools have created a number of barriers to accomplishing meaningful change in schools. Among these barriers are the focus on minimally acceptable changes, the need for politically palatable reforms, the often symbolic nature of reforms, and the lack of testing of reforms before widespread implementation. Within the school, where implementation of externally imposed reforms takes place, the main barrier to meaningful changes in the outcomes of education has been the choice of unrealistic desired outcomes in the face of limited knowledge of how to foster such outcomes in the classroom. It is not likely that the barriers noted above will disappear in the near future; they win continue to be a reality of the educational landscape that reformers will have to confront. The barriers should not deter us from trying to accomplish change, but they should make us realistic about our efforts. Grandiose, Band-Aid efforts will not suffice, except to provide temporary political capital. Meaningful change will come about when we set our aims reasonably in the light of existing barriers; when we can be patient about the pace at which change will occur; when we stop relying on the school, independently of other social Institutions, to solve problems that are not fundamentally school-based; and when reformers are better versed in the realities of schools and classrooms. ACKNOWLEDGMENT The Insights and suggestions of Dr. Vincent C. Nuccio added greatly to the preparation of this paper. The sole responsibility for the final content of the paper, however, rests with the author. REFERENCES Airasian, P. W. 1983. Societal experimentation, pp. 163-176. In G. Madaus, M. Scriven, and D. Stufflebeam, Ed. Evaluation Models. Boston: Kluwer-Nijhoff. Airasian, P. W. 1987. State mandated testing and educational reform: Context and consequences. Amer. J. Educ. 95:393 412. Airasian, P. W. 1988. Symbolic validation: The case of state-mandated, high-stakes testing. Educ. Eval. Poll Anal. 10:301-313. Bloom, B. S., M. D. Engelhart, E. J. Furst, W. H. Hill, and D. R. Krathwohl. 1956. Economy of Educational Objectives. Handbook I: Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay Co. Cremin, L. A. 1961. The Transformation of the School. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
INSTITUTIONAL BARRIERS TO SCHOOL CHANGE 265 Cuban, L. 1984. Policy and research dilemmas in the teaching of reasoning: Unplanned designs. Rev. Educ. Res. 54:655~81. Derry, S. J., and D. A. Murphy. 1986. Designing systems that train learning ability: From theory to practice. Rev. Educ. Res. 56:1-39. Elmore, R. F., and M. W. McLaughlin. 1982. Strategic choice in federal education policy: The compliance-assistance trade off, pp. 159-194. In A. Lieberman and M. McLaughlin, Eds. Policy Making in Education. Eighty-first Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education. Part I. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Fredericksen, N. 1984. Implications of cognitive theory for instruction in problem solving. Rev. Educ. Res. 54:367-407. Fullan, M. 1982. The Meaning of Educational Change. New York: Teachers College Press. Goldenstein, E. H., R. R. Ronning, and L. J. Walter. 1988. Course selection across three decades as a measure of curriculum change. Educ. Leader. 46:56-59. Green, T. F. 1980. Predicting the Behavior of the Educational System. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press. Hansot, E., and D. Tyack. 1982. A usable past: Using history in educational policy, pp. 1-22. In A. Lieberman and M. McLaughlin, Eds. Policy Making in Education. Eighty-first Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education. Part I. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Hawley, W. D. 1985. False premises, false promises: The mythical character of public discourse about education. Phi Delta Kappan 67:183-187. Lieberman, A. 1982. Practice makes policy: The tensions of school improvement, pp. 249-270. In A. Lieberman and M. McLaughlin, Eds. Policy Making in Education. Eighty-first Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education. Part I. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Murphy, J. 1982. Progress and problems: The paradox of state reform, pp. 195-214. In A. Lieberman and M. McLaughlin, Eds. Policy Making in Education. Eighty-fimt Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education. Part I. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Nyberg, D., and K Egan. 1981. The Erosion of Education-Socialization and the Schools. New York: Teachers College Press. Raywid, M. A. 1986. Some moral dimensions of administrative theory and practice. Iss. Educ. 4:151-166. Timar, T. B., and D. L. Kirp. 1988. State efforts to reform schools: [leading between a regulatory swamp and an English garden. Educ. Eval. Poll Anal. 10:75-88. Wade, S. E. 1983. A synthesis of the research for improving reading in the social studies. Rev. Educ. Res. 53:461497. shirt, F. M., and M. W. Kilt. 1982. Schools in Conflict. Berkeley, Calif.: McCutcheon Publishing Co. Wise, A. E. 1979. Legislated Learning. Los Angeles: University of California Press.
29 State Policy Tools for Educational Reform Barriers or Levers for Change? JANE ARMSTRONG Barriers to science education are not endemic in biology or science education alone. Recent results from the Nation's Report Card (Applebee et al., 1989) indicate that student achievement is unacceptably low across all subject areas not just in science. This suggests serious problems and barriers in our educational system, not just In how we teach science. 1b a large degree, the structures and functions of our educational system are rooted In state policies, mandates, and regulations. State poli- cies have both helped and unintentionally hindered educational reform. Although recent reforms have raised standards of educational quality, they have also set in place some regulations that hamper the systemwide change that is now needed to improve student learning. It is because 5 years of reform at the state level has gotten us where we are now that I want to describe these reforms, highlight some positive impacts, and suggest new strategies to revise existing policies or develop new policies that will help to improve our educational system, including biology education. This paper is organized around four themes: Jane Armstrong is a senior policy analyst at the Education Commission of the States in Denver. Dr. Armstrong has a background in biology and in educational research and measurement. She recently completed a study funded by the National Science Foundation on the impact of state policies on science curriculum. She has served as an advisor to the First International Mathe- matics Study and on the editorial board of the Joun~alfor Research in Mathematics Education. 266
STATE POLICY TOOLS FOR EDUCATIONAL REFORM 267 · First, I will describe where existing reform and state policy have gotten us, in terms of classroom instruction. Second, results are presented from a study recently completed at the Education Commission of the States (ECS) that highlights the impacts of recent state reforms on science education in school districts and schools. · Third, a new reform agenda for state policy will be discussed that suggests a new way of doing business. One of our first tasks is to strengthen the connection between policy-makers and practitioners and to develop much more collaboration between all actors in the system. Every action we take should support student learning. · Fourth, ECS has entered into a collaborative project with the Coalition of Essential Schools and with five states that is attempting to develop a different policy environment to support what needs to happen in schools. HISTORY OF RECENT EDUCATIONAL REFORM Recent literature critical of the American high school paints a picture of schools in which only the very talented or the very needy receive individual attention and in which low academic expectations growing out of implicit treaties between students and teachers are the norm. Teaching is generally characterized as flat and uninteresting content delivered by unengaged teachers whose working conditions discourage a higher level of involvement in their work. What policies have led to these kinds of schools? Reforms of the 1970s are most clearly marked by an increase in accountability for students' attainment of basic skills. Reforms included competence-based education, test-based instructional management, and minimal-competence testing (MCT). Over 30 states developed minimal- competence tests a movement that in hindsight limited student skills attainment. These MCI tests set the educational objectives for the teacher, and teachers began to emphasize the content that they knew would appear on the test. They began to teach in a format that would prepare students to deal with the content as it would be tested. Some teachers even taught items that would likely be on the test. Meanwhile, the rest of the curriculum was de-emphasized. Although most students could perform well on the tests measuring basic skills, these tests were placing a cap on the level of skills that students were learning. Reforms during the mid-1980s sought to raise educational standards that the minimal-competence movement had depressed. Educational re- form has been spurred by major economic development strategies that have viewed a well-educated workforce as a crucial component of eco- nomic growth and competitiveness. State-level policy-making became more
268 lIIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY prominent as states began to provide the majority of funds for education, as policy-makers lost confidence in school districts' ability to pay sufficient attention to curriculum quality and academic standards, and as the federal government withdrew its support for education. This resulted in state re- forms that mandated educational outcomes through state assessments, new curriculum frameworks, increased high-school graduation requirements, and teacher evaluation criteria. These reforms have been aimed at the heart of the educational enterprise. What few people realize is the impact of state policies on what is taught and tested in this country: 47 states have some type of curriculum guide in science or mathematics, 49 states have a state assessment program, and 22 states require textbooks to be selected from a state-approved adoption list. IMPACT OF RECENT REFORMS In general, recent reforms have had positive impacts on curriculum and instruction in many school districts. For districts with limited resources, state curriculum frameworks have provided guidance for either implement- ing science curricula where none existed or revising existing curricula in the light of current trends in science education. livo years ago, with funding from the National Science Foundation, ECS researchers (Armstrong et al., 1988) performed case studies to de- termine the impact of state policies on science education in schools and districts. ECS visited three states California, Michigan, and Virginia- which were selected because they had a different mix of initiatives, as well as diverse orientation to state vs. local control. Researchers looked at the impacts of state curriculum frameworks, state assessment, and textbook adoption policies. Case studies were completed in four districts in each state and three schools in each district. Three state policies were studied in depth: · Cumculum frameworks. In science, K-8 frameworks spell out major categories of knowledge, concepts, and processes that students should learn. Most frameworks cover science, technology and society, ethical issues, the nature of science, attitudes toward science, and the major content areas of science biological science, physical science, and earth and space science. Although there is some diversity in what is included, a major difference among state frameworks is their level of specificity and coherence. Frame- works that spelled out a philosophy and gave teachers model curriculum ideas and strategies had a greater chance of implementation. Frameworks that were seen as of high quality and legitimacy also had a greater chance of implementation. · State assessments. Although most state curriculum frameworks are not mandated, participation in the state assessment program is. The major
STATE POLICY TOOLS FOR EDUCATIONAL REFORM 269 incentive for districts to use the state curriculum frameworks is the public reporting of test scores from the state assessment, which is tightly aligned with the curriculum. The design of the assessment affects its impact in class- rooms. Matrix sampling of items allows more content to be covered and less opportunity to teach to the test. Reporting of scores within socioeconomic- status bands or comparing results with expected results based on ability scores diminishes the misuse of test scores. · Textbook selection criteria. Twenty-two states, mostly in the South, require districts to select books from a state adoption list. Selection is based on a number of state regulations or criteria, including such items as how well a text covers the state's curriculum framework, copyright date, readability level, and other generic criteria that show up on a long checklist. Although well intentioned, this process does not result in the selection or development of instructionally coherent textbooks. The best analysis of this can be found in Harriet Tyson-Bernstein's book, America's Textbook Fiasco: A Conspiracy of Good Intentions (1988~. The use and articulation of these policies resulted in the following impacts in school districts: · Increased emphasis on science. · Revision of local curricula and increased teacher training using Title II funds. · Improvement in the quality of instructional materials. Strengthening of ties between districts and schools. Increase in hands-on instruction. Encouragement of districts to emphasize science, without the result of "teaching to the test." In school districts studied, ECS found that certain local conditions facilitated the implementation of these policies. These were: · A district's or school's strong desire to do well on the state assess- ment, because of "accountability pressure." District leadership and a commitment to teaching science. · A match between the state framework and district philosophy (the district had to "buy in" to the state framework). Centralization of science curriculum and instructional materials at the district level. Teacher involvement in developing and revising curricula to support the state framework · Availability of textbooks, hands-on materials, and activity kits. · Gaining of and assistance for teachers. · Monitoring of implementation by district and school leaders. Although we found a number of positive impacts of state policies on
270 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY school districts, a number of barriers remain. Most of these barriers are traditions from a model of education we are using that dates back to the late 1800s. Although state policy has focused on raising the standards of education, policies have only recently begun to be directed toward changing what actually happens in the classroom. Some of these remaining barriers are the following: · A model of pedagogy that emphasizes lecture, recitation, and seatwork. content. Seven 45- to 50-minute periods per day. Teacher isolation. Lack of curriculum integration. Student tracking. An average teaching load of five courses and 150 students. The pressure to "cover" an increasing amount of subject-matter A high-school curriculum designed for college preparation. A focus on basic skills, not on ideas or critical thinking. Pencil-and-paper testing of content knowledge. Limited in-service training for teachers. Lack of discretionary resources for classroom teachers. Removal of these barriers is going to take a new way of thinking about school reform, focusing on systemwide change. Before thinking about new policy tools for systemwide change, it is important to understand the nature of the policy process. THE NATURE OF THE POLICY PROCESS Elmore and McLaughlin (1988) provide an excellent description of the educational policy process in a monograph entitled Steady Work: Pol- icy, Practice, and the Reform of American Education. They suggest that "educational reform operates on three loosely connected levels: policy, administration and practice. Each level has its own rewards and incentives, its own special set of problems and its own view of how the educational system works" (p. v). Since each is a major actor and translator of policy, the key to the next reform agenda will be to strengthen the connections and dialogue among them and recognize their interdependence. Elmore and McLaughlin note that "policy consists of authoritative decisions on the purposes of education, on the responsibilities of individuals and institutions, on the money required to run the system, and on the rules required to make it operate effectively and fairly" (p. 5~. Educational practice consists of the fine-grained instructional decisions necessary to teach the content, manage a classroom, diagnose and treat individual learning
STATE POLICY TOOLS FOR EDUCATIONAL REFORM problems and evaluate one's own performance and the performance of one's students.... One survives and performs as a classroom teacher by having strong beliefs about the importance of the task, by developing knowledge of content and process, by developing strong interpersonal skills and by learning how to maintain one's position in an organization.... Successful performance, from the teacher's point of view, is likely to be defined in very particular ways: covering a certain amount of material, maintaining order in the classroom, bringing the class as a whole to a certain level of mastery and getting a specific student over a specific hurdle [pp. 5-63. [Administrators are distinguished from policy makers and teachers by] their preoccupation with the maintenance and development of the organization. One survives and performs as an educational administrator lay learning how to juggle the competing demands of politics, organization and practice.... It should come as no surprise, then, that administrators tend to identify successful performance with the health of their piece of the system, rather than with the performance of individual students or the performance of schools [p. 73. The use of policy as an instrument of reform exacerbates differences among policy makers, administrators and practitionem. For an elected official, reform means identifying the problems the public has with education, distilling them into a politically feasible set of remedies and constructing the coalition necessary to turn remedies into policies. [These] remedies . . . must be appropriate for . . . the whole state.... Administrators make decisions that extend general policies to particular settings ... with particular people doing particular things.... For teachers, reform means changing established patterns of practice, translating broad and often unclear administrative directives into concrete decisions about how to use time and what to do with this or that student. Itachers understandably see reform policies, . . . from the point of view of getting through the material, adjusting their routines to new supervisors and new roles, meeting new reporting requirements, implementing new testing procedures and communicating new expectations to students.... Teachers are often the last to be heard from on the effects of reform policies and the first to be criticized when reforms fail [p. 8]. 271 One reason for the unresponsiveness that policy-makers observe in teachers and administrators is that they have different roles and incentives. Another is that mandates that require broad-scale changes take time to im- plement. It takes time and adaptive behavior to work out the consequences of reform. Each level of the system must depend on others for knowledge and skill that it does not have. THE NEVV REFORM AGENDA The new reform agenda builds on what we have learned about people's roles in the system, policy implementation, and a new vision of system-wide change. Lessons from past policy implementation suggest several criteria and strategies for the new reform agenda: · Larger constituencies for education must be created. Everyone has a stake in the success of our schools, not just parents and educators. Business and community leaders need to be involved in the development of the new reform agenda.
272 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY · The interdependence among policy-makers, administrators, and practitioners suggests that reforms will not have large-scale or long-term effects, unless they involve substantial dialogue among the actors in the educational system. · Reform policies cannot lead to fundamental change in the class- room without addressing changes throughout the educational system. Poli- cies and practices must be rethought from the bottom up and be geared to the most important educational goal: improving student learning. · Educational reform needs to be grounded in an understanding of how teachers learn to teach, how school organization affects practice, and how these factors affect children's performance. Increasing student learning should be the goal of all reforms. · Reforms must be based on a strategy that promotes the develop- ment of an infrastructure that will support and sustain the reform effort. Anderson and Cox (1988) suggest that a strategy is needed that connects people within their organization, as well as connecting different orga- nizations, to solve educational problems. Actions of groups representing schools, communities, business, higher education, and policy-'nakers should lead to strategies based on collaboration, not competition; distributed lead- ership, not authoritarian leadership; flexibility of processes and structures, not rigidity and competition; and approaches to change suitable for fast- changing and complex environments. · State education agencies need to take on new roles to support reforms in schools and school districts. New roles include helping schools and districts to build greater capacities; developing new forms of assis- tance that directly help teachers, schools, and school districts; requiring less monitoring and regulation while providing greater measures of school and system accountability; and providing financial incentives to encourage systemwide change. · Experimentation and risk-taking in schools need to be supported through incentive or planning grants to school districts and schools and through waivers from existing regulations that get in the way of innovation. · Decisions should be moved closer to the classroom. Practitioners should be charged with the development of solutions, rather than having requirements mandated. · Decentralizing school districts and moving toward site-based man- agement and shared decision-making should lead to an educational system that better meets the needs of increasingly diverse students. · Enough time and support for implementation of new practices must be allowed. Behavioral change and change of practice take time. System change does not lend itself to "quick fixes." · Finally, there needs to be an opportunity for reflection. Individuals
STATE POLICY TOOLS FOR EDUCATIONAL REFORM 273 need to step back from the daily routine to consider the larger purpose of their actions, the connections and fit between their actions and those of others, and next steps. These are just some of the new ways of doing business to begin a restructuring of the educational system. Below is a description of an ECS project that is attempting to bring many of these ideas together in an effort to rethink the educational system in five states. DEVELOPING NEVV POLICY ENVIRONMENTS A new project at ECS, Re:Learning, is a collaboration among ECS, the Coalition of Essential Schools at Brown University, and schools and policy-makers in five states. This project is a long-term commitment of the partners and is designed to take advantage of the best information available from reform efforts about how students learn and what system changes are needed to develop and promote leadership, creativity, and thoughtfulness among students and educators alike. The work of Re:Learning has three components-in the schools, at the state and district level, and nationally. Schools involved in Re:Learning are committed to the nine principles that unite Ted Sizer's Coalition of Essential Schools. Good schools are never exactly aloe, but they do have these common characteristics: · Intellectualfocus. The school should focus on helping students to learn to use their minds well. It should not attempt to be "comprehensive" at the expense of the school's central intellectual purpose. · Simple goals. The schools' goals should be simple: that each student master a limited number of essential skills and areas of knowledge. · Universal goals. The schools' goals should apply to all students, although the means to the goals will vary as those students themselves vary. School practices should be tailored to meet the needs of each group. · Personaluation. Teaching and learning should be personalized to the greatest extent feasible. ~ that end, a goal of a maximum of 80 students per teacher should be vigorously pursued. Decisions about curriculum, allocation of time, and choice of teaching materials and their presentation should rest unreservedly with the school's principal and staff. · Sh~dent-as-worker. The governing metaphor of the school should be student-as-worker, rather than the more traditional teacher-as-deliverer- of-instructional-services. A prominent pedagogy should be coaching, to provoke students to learn how to teach themselves. · Diploma by "exhibition." The diploma should be awarded on suc- cessful final demonstration of mastery an "exhibition"-of the central skills and knowledge of the school's program. The familiar progression
274 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY through strict age-related grades and "credits earned" by "time spent" in class will be unnecessary. · Attitude. The tone of the school should explicitly and self-con- sciously stress values of unanxious expectation ("I won't threaten you, but I expect much of you"), of trust (until abused), and of decency (fairness, generosity, and tolerance). · Stab. The principal and teachers should see themselves as gen- eralists first (teachers and scholars in general education) and specialists second Reverts in one particular discipline). · Budget. Ultimate administrative and budget targets should include a maximum of 80 students per teacher, substantial time for collective staff planning, competitive staff salaries, and a per-pupil cost no more than 10% above that of traditional schools. Inevitably, this will require the phased reduction of some services now provided in many comprehensive high schools. After a school faculty, with the support of the school and district leadership, decides to join a state's Re:Learning effort, it develops a com- prehensive plan for reshaping the curriculum and the school and pre- pares a timetable for implementation. The design of each school the actual detailed functioning of its program while consistent with the Coali- tion principles, will evolve to suit the community, the students, and the teachers. State, district, and private funds will support staff planning and school-initiated staff development activities as the staff implements its plan and gradually redesigns the school to be consistent with the Coalition's · - pr~nclp es. Schools will document their activities to allow assessment of their work and to serve as a source of data for other schools to use. Schools also agree to meet jointly with other Re:Learning schools and with Coalition schools nationally to share information, observations, and techniques. On joining the Re:Learning initiative, schools accept an obligation to support work among partner schools. An in-state school coordinator will assist each participating school with restructuring and serve as a continuing "critical friend." The coordinator will also organize workshops, bring teachers from different schools with common concerns together, troubleshoot with district and state officials, and represent the group to the public and to the media. Coordinators will most often be located at universities to help to build the link to higher education and bring Re:Learning concepts into the education of teachers and administrators. The coordinators will receive intensive training and continual consultation from the Coalition and ECS and will maintain contact with Coalition central staff. They will also work closely with state education-agency personnel.
STATE POLICY TOOLS FOR EDUCATIONAL REFORM 275 State and district leaders involved in Re:Learning will focus their attention on making changes in administration and policy that reflect a commitment to a truly "bottom-up" system i.e., one in which the driving force for actions of people, from teacher to governor, is helping all students to learn to use their minds well. Just as schools have principles to guide them throughout the Re:Learn- ing effort, so too do administrators and policy-makers have a set of princi- ples that they will follow: · Build a new vision of education. The public, business and state leaders, and education professionals should build a new shared vision of an educational system where all students have an equal opportunity to use their minds well and where there is a commitment to using the best available knowledge to provide meaningful teaching and learning experiences. · Organize on behalf of student learning. The roles and responsi- bilities of adults and the allocation of resources should be productively redesigned primarily to support the best learning for all students, not bureaucratic or political interests. · Create new working relationships. Collaboration, shared leadership, and mutual responsibility should serve as the dominant basis for establishing working relationships throughout the educational system. · Develop a culture of learning Adults throughout the system should see themselves as continual learners and problem-solvers, rather than pur- veyors of"right" answers and standardized solutions. · Act with regard for people. Long-term and short-term actions to rebuild the educational system should be balanced in ways that treat people with dignity and respect. Links between the two sets of principles bring a coherent focus to the activities of teachers, administrators, and policy-makers at all points in the system. Decision-making and incentives at all levels should encourage students and adults alike to use their minds well and to engage in meaningful activities. ECS will assist in the establishment of a state-local cadre- a group of key opinion leaders drawn from school level, district and state education staffs, universities, and other appropriate decision-making groups to focus on changes that need to be made in state and district operations and in universities and colleges to allow the school redesign to flourish. Particular attention will be directed toward issues of student assessment, accountability, leadership, and resource allocations. The cadre will generate and help to guide systemwide changes and strategies. On the state policy level, ECS will assist the steering committee (which is expected to include the governor and chief state school officer, the state
276 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY higher-education executive officer, legislative leaders, university leaders, the state board chair, and other state and local leaders) as it considers how to develop public support for school redesign and how the policy-making environment needs to change to make redesign of the full educational system possible in its state. As part of their responsibility in Re:Learning, state and district edu- cation leaders agree to devote sufficient resources to participating schools to allow teachers planning time, allowances for travel to other schools, and other assistance. A typical amount would be about $50,000 per year per school to initiate the effort. The funds could come from a combination of state, district, and private sources and may be new dollars or reallocated funds. As the Re:Learning initiative is put in place, a documentation and analysis design will accompany it to interpret the new structure and assess progress appropriately, to help to guide future action and thinking. The national component of Re:Learning will support the state-by- state and school-by-school changes. A major force in moving state action forward is creating a national debate and discussion on changes needed in the educational system so that the "best of learning for all students" is the driving force for change. Cross-state groups, nationally recognized leaders, and the mass media need to be formulating, presenting, and debating an effective message that changes the language of what education can and must be. SUMMARY Barriers to high-quality biology education will be removed as barriers to changing the educational system are removed. Efforts to improve education must be based on collaborative efforts to develop a new vision, a supporting policy environment to promote effective actions, and opportunities for reflection on actions taken. This will be accomplished when all actors In the educational system base their actions on the educational bottom line improving student learning. REFERENCES Anderson, B. L., and P. L. Cox. 1988. Configuring the Education System for a Shared Future: Collaborative Vision, Action, Reflection. Denver Education Commission of the States; Andover, Mass.: Regional Educational Laboratory for Educational Improvement of the Northeast and Islands. Applebee, A. N., J. A. Langer, and I. V. S. Mullis. 1989. Crossroads in American Education: ASumma~y of Findings. Princeton, N.J.: Educational Testing Service.
STATE POLICY TOOLS FOR EDUCATIONAL REFORM 277 Armstrong, J., A. Davis, A. Odden, and J. Gallagher. 1988. The Impact of State Policies on Improving Science Curriculum. Denver: Education Commission of the States. Elmore, R. F., and M. W. McLaughlin. 1988. Steady Work: Policy, Practice, and the Reform of American Education. R-3574-NIE/EtC. Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND Corporation. I>son-Bernstein, H. 1988. A Conspiracy of Good Intentions: America's Textbook Fiasco. Washington, D.C.: Council for Basic Education.
try Different Schools: Same Barriers GRACE S. TAYLOR Before coming to the Education Department at Brown University last year, I taught biology for 18 years at a comprehensive, urban high school of 2,600 students. This is a personal reflection about a profession I love. I borrow the documentation for my remarks from my experience and the experiences and insights of colleagues around the country. High schools throughout the United States are remarkably uniform in organization and In their approach to teaching biology. Here and there, some creative administrators and gifted teachers manage to offer a real science experience to their students, but for the most part, biology is rote learning and cookbook laboratory experiments. Thus, the window of opportunity to help students to make sense of the living world is closed. In this discussion, I am concerned with the question: What is it that inhibits change in the biology classroom? SCHOOL TRADITION It is because of tradition that change in high schools is slow and difficult. As Ted Sizer traveled around the country visiting schools, he particularly Grace S. Taylor is a clinical professor of biology (education) at Brown University. She received a B.A. in biology from Emmanuel College and an M.A. in biology from Wellesley College. In 1969-1987, she was a biology teacher at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, in Massachusetts. She was chosen an outstanding biology teacher in 1984 by the National Association of Biology Teachers. 278
DIFFERENT SCHOOLS: SAME BARRIERS 279 focused on observing biology and history classrooms. He comments, "It got so when I visited biology classes, no matter what school it was, I could almost predict what would be taught depending on what month it was. It was so similar. They were following the textbook" (T. Sizer, Brown University, personal communication, October 3, 1988~. Structure of the Day In many schools, classes are run in the same time block year after year. In a seven-period day, teachers are scheduled for five classes, each of which meets at the same time each day, usually for 45 minutes. Only the honors and upper-level sciences may have a weekly double period for laboratory activities. For maximal efficiency, each classroom is scheduled for use each period, so the teacher who is "free" for a particular period must go elsewhere. The classroom is not his or her own, nor is it available for a student to finish a project. For the biology teacher, this necessitates setting up laboratory experiments before or after school. But in many city schools, teachers are not allowed to stay after school, for safety reasons. All these factors lessen the ability of the teacher to give quality instruction. Teacher Schedule In most school districts, the maximal number of students a teacher may have in a class is 30; therefore, he or she may be responsible for a total of 150 students. Some school systems realize that this is untenable, particularly in a laboratory setting, and have lowered the number to 25 or even 20 per class. Experts in education know that in order for students to learn most effectively they must be actively engaged. Authentic inquiry laboratory exercises where the students are involved in the process of experimentation and investigation often cannot be implemented within the rigid timeframes of the day and the teacher's schedule. Think of a single teacher conducting a pond study with 25 students at 25 microscopes (if she is lucky enough to have a microscope for each student). Of course, she wants them to make their own wet-mount slides from the water she and the class have brought in. She wants them to have the thrill of seeing live paramecia and vorticellae. But there will be constructive chaos in the classroom, and 3 minutes after the bell rings another teacher's class will be coming into the room. In thinking about this lesson, the teacher must make a choice between original discovery and static learning from prepared slides. The latter will fit into the confines of the day easier.
280 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY Teacher Isolation The structure of most high schools means that teachers do their work behind closed doors. Exciting ideas and methods may be born, but generally stay behind those doors. The bell rings, the teacher does corridor duty, and then the next class comes in. There is rarely any attempt to organize the schedule so that teachers who teach the same subject can have common planning time. Even in schools where there are department examinations, teachers usually do not discuss together what is essential for their students to know. Instead, someone may make up the examination this term, or each teacher may send in questions on a specific area. The synergistic effect of many stimulated teacher minds working together is lost. No common goals of the biology curriculum are debated, no consensus reached. There are actually subtle institutional disincentives to collaboration. If one spends a period talking to a colleague about what is happening in class, one is taking time away from preparation, planning, and correcting for the next class, the next day. Yet it is necessary to have horizontal (departmental, 9-12) and vertical (districtwide, K-12) articulation in order for curriculum change to be discussed and eventually implemented. Teacher Instruction Most high-school students find biology "boring, because you have to memorize too much stuff." The curriculum is so overwhelming that it seems to dictate the pedagogy. Faced with feeling that he or she has to deliver too much content in as efficient a way as possible a 700-page text in 180 schooldays the teacher resorts to lecturing. Depth is subjugated for breadth, and coverage is confused with real study. Large conceptual themes, such as relationships among living things, tend to be ignored in the pursuit of specific structural terminology. And who are the students to whom this barrage of information is directed? College-bound students eager to learn biology in detail? It may be surprising to hear that there is a good chance that more.students who took freshman science will, 8 years later, have spent time behind bars than will have a bachelor's degree in either biology, chemistry, physics, earth science, or science education (Leyden, 1984~. Teachers must know who their audience is and teach appropriately. The tradition has been the teacher talking, not the student doing the work The kind of instruction that is needed is one that engages students' minds, builds their skills, and helps them with problem-solving strategies. This may require both restructuring the schoolday and viewing the teacher in a new way as a helper, not a dispenser.
DIFFERENT SCHOOLS: SAME BARRIERS Artificial Separation of the Sciences 281 There is too much specialization in the high-school science curriculum. The typical high-school sequence is earth or physical science, biology, chemistry, and then physics. It is as though each science teacher is preparing the students for a career in one of the sciences, instead of helping them to gain the knowledge and skills that they will need in order to understand science in our society. In biology, we teach the parts of the eye; in chemistry, the binding of molecules, such as the visual proteins; and in physics, the action of light waves. Because we teach every aspect separately, students keep it separate in their minds, and thus necessary connections are not made and real understanding is lost. An interdisciplinary curriculum would reduce the "I can't do science" refrain that is often heard in high schools. State Certification Certification requirements encourage future teachers to specialize in only one of the sciences and thus perpetuate the separation. Most biology majors do take college courses in chemistry, physics, and mathematics and thus could, with the help of some innovative materials, teach in an interdisciplinary way. Some, of course, do just that. (Note that the English language-arts curriculum is composed of five elements: oral language, active listening, composition, grammar, and literature. Each has a separate body of skills and some would say a separate scope and sequence; yet English language-arts teachers are expected to, and do, teach all elements in each of their courses.) The sciences overlap as well. Can one really separate biology and chemistry? Should change involve science teachers as generalists? Interestingly enough, the one science certification that is interdisciplinary is general science, the course that is lowest in the hierarchical scale and is usually taken by the non-college-bound. Sex Roles Sixty-three percent of biology teachers are male (Champagne and Hornig, 1987, p. 215~. The blatant "I don't hire women science teachers," as one principal said to me in 1969, has been replaced with more subtle forms of discrimination. The only female teacher on the science staff in a high school outside Boston is "locked out of the stockroom." The first female science teacher hired in a high school in New Hampshire (in 1986) left after a year of isolation and was replaced by two men. There are few examples of women scientists in the texts or in the curriculum. If the ideas of women teachers are not held in high regard by their male colleagues, any dialogue involving change will be difficult.
2~82 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY liacking Homogeneous grouping makes assumptions that are not true. It as- sumes that students cannot all learn the same curriculum. It assumes that in a heterogeneous classroom one has to teach to the middle, and the top group is bored and the bottom one is lost. It assumes that it makes it easier for the teacher to teach appropriately, whereas, in reality, he or she has three levels of biology in three textbooks, with three preparations every night and, possibly, three laboratories the next day. But as long as teachers believe, and thus the students do too, that only certain students can really learn and do biology, there will be no impetus for change. College-bound students know what they have to do, and they will do it, even if they are bored. The advanced-placement level of performance is very specific and is geared to the outcome desired. If students in a lower track are lucky, they may have a teacher who puts emphasis on relevance, process, and skills; but more often than not, the less-able teachers get the supposedly less-able students, and more trees are sacrificed to satisfy the dominant method worksheets! TEXTBOOKS For many teachers, the textbook Is the syllabus, with a resulting over- reliance on the textbook in most biology classrooms. Those of us who have read the literature over the years are aware that the vast majority of teachers of biology and other subjects feel that most of their teaching problems would be solved if only they could find the ~`right', textbook. With the exception of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) series (whose latest editions look more and more like the traditional ones, with fewer and fewer open-inquiry laboratory experiments), most of the texts are interchangeable. It is naive to assume that, should a new and innovative biology ap- proach be proposed, publishers would be interested. Witness the fact that a new social-studies curriculum, Man: A Course of Study (MACOS), was rejected by publisher after publisher in 1967. "They told the MACOS de- velopers that their stress on inductive methods, small-group instruction, the teacher as participant rather than authority, and multimedia design were formidable obstacles to adoption by teachers" (Lazerson et al., 1985, p. 36~. We cannot assume that things have changed in schools or in the publishing industry. The demands of state textbook-approval boards also limit teachers in selecting texts that they feel are appropriate for their students and consistent with their goals.
DIFFERENT SCHOOLS: SAME BARRIERS MONETARY CONSTRAINTS 283 Whenever change is suggested, the "what will it cost?" question is usually the first one asked, and the answer to it alone determines whether the change will be implemented. Resources A set of textbooks for a class of 25 students may cost over $400. There is the additional cost of laboratory books, supplies, and perhaps new equipment. The cost of implementing a biology course of study is considerable, and other departments in the school watch the proportional allocations of funds closely. Time The old adage, "time is money," is applicable in education as well. In order to look at the curriculum or pedagogy in new ways, it will be necessary to offer teacher training during the schoolday with class coverage by a substitute. This may need to be a continuing process. A colleague gave a 1-day in-service session to biology teachers in his city during which he introduced an original 2-week unit that he had written, exploring land use and decision-making. The teachers were interested in the new approach, but monetary constraints were such that there was no time available for them to practice together and work through the unit. Thus, no real implementation could be expected, nor was it achieved. 1b the school district, the cost is not merely that of the substitute, but also the per diem of the teacher who is away from the classroom. Average Teacher Load The average teacher load is carefully calculated by assistant superin- tendents in charge of finances to determine the cost-effectiveness of the teacher-to-student ratio. Teachers are expected to teach a full load, at least 100 students and 25 class periods per week. My class schedule was 22 periods a week, because my advanced-placement class met seven periods a week. The principal informed me that I would have to take study hall three times a week to bring me up to the required load. My arguments included the time needed to correct the many essays that are part of the course, the time needed to set up laboratory experiments, and the philosophy that advanced placement should be considered as a double course. They were in vain, and I was assigned to a study hall in the cafeteria three times a week. The irony is that my advanced-placement course and the results achieved in it were often used by the school in public-relations forums.
284 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY Classes with fewer than 12 or 15 students are not considered to be cost-effective and are dropped from the schedule. A graduate student in English in our teacher-education program took a field biology course during her senior year in high school. She was very excited by her first taste of real science and said, "Although my project wasn't that original, I really learned a lot. But they didn't offer it again the next year, because not enough students signed up." (It will be interesting to see whether this course, which involved authentic inquiry, will be reinstated, now that its teacher is the superintendent of schools in this district.) Conferences In many school systems, not only are teachers not reimbursed for conferences attended, but they are not allowed to go during schooltime. This short-sightedness remains, even though many teachers affirm that conferences are exciting, stimulate creativity, and are more directly relevant to their teaching than further coursework. National Association of Biology Teachers meetings include workshops that are led by teachers and are therefore rich in practical ideas. Yet districts still require only coursework for incremental wage increases. Often, it is not even necessary that courses taken after a teacher has been granted tenure be related to the teacher's subject area. STANI)ARI)IZED TESTING Another factor that drives what is taught in biology classrooms around the country is state tests, College Board tests, and high-school departmental tests. The rationale for each may be different, but the end result is conformity and a lack of "open-endedness." In Massachusetts, science tests were given to students in fifth, eighth, and eleventh grades, and the scores were later published in the Boston Globe. The results caused some measure of consternation among the science staff in my former high school. They asked: What sorts of things were on the test? What did they have to teach so that the students would do better on the test? It is a classic case of the tail wagging the dog standardized tests determining the curriculum! Duckworth (1984, p. 19) stated, "What is dreadfully missing from a standardized test of biology, say, is any real conception of what the study of biology is: there is no way to tell whether a student has a sense of the questions that biologists ask, how to go about exploring them, how they relate to each other, how mistaken hypotheses can be productive."
DIFFERENT SCHOOLS: SAME BARRIERS UNIVERSITY PREPARATION 285 There is often more than a grain of truth in axioms, and "teachers teach as they were taught" is truer than most. In college classrooms throughout the country, Biology 101 students are trapped in a maze of facts and a haze of terms. They become passive learners, recipients of information, whose habits of thought and inquiry are underdeveloped. Thus, we should not be surprised when our biology student-teachers teach in the same way. Where have they been exposed to dynamic teaching? Where have they learned to pose authentic questions? This summer, as my candidates for the master's degree in teaching were getting ready to do their first teaching at Brown Summer High School, it was clear that they thought of their role as dispensers of information. Lecture, laboratory, and oral question and answer were the only teaching techniques with which they were familiar In the science classroom. PRESERVICE EDUCATION If the teaching in university biology classes has been less than inspired, it behooves teacher-education programs to develop teacher methods that are student-centered, are interactive, and serve as catalysts for student thinking and problem-solving. Unfortunately, teacher candidates are often taught by professors who are decades away from actual classroom teaching and who lack first-hand knowledge of the current school populace. There is a substantial incongruence between the way we are teaching science today, with our emphasis on reading a polysyllabic textbook and answering laboratory workbooks with packaged questions, and the learning styles of the students we teach. Is there too much emphasis on the well-written lesson plan and maintaining classroom control, and too little emphasis on developing methods to help students to use their minds well? Teachers often take for granted that their students are like them in the way their minds work, in the way they think and feel. "When teachers are working with students who are very much like themselves, there is relatively little to learn about teaching, at least insofar as technique is concerned, that is not supplied either by common sense or by the knowledge of the material to be taught. But when teachers and students are not alike in important ways . . . the knowledge called for under those circumstances is genuinely knowledge about teaching per se" (Jackson, 1986, p. 26~. Preservice work with a multicultural component is imperative. There is much that educational research can offer both the new and the experienced teacher, but the researcher and the teacher often do not speak the same language. As a colleague so aptly put it, '`There is a need for translators."
286 lIIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY PROFESSIONAL IN-SERVICE EDUCATION lbo few school systems set aside release time for teacher collaboration, updating, training, or visiting other classrooms and schools. After teachers have supervised homeroom and taught approximately 125 students, it is too much to expect that an after-school meeting to discuss change in the biology curriculum will be productive, let along innovative. Even when release time is available, teachers' attitudes may be negative, as past experience has shown them that they will not be involved in setting the agenda. What will transpire will not be relevant or meet their needs. When teachers are fortunate enough to go to an all-day workshop, such as the ones held by the Institute of Secondary Education at Brown, they say, "I come back to the classroom feeling invigorated." The students can only benefit from such a recharged teacher, but new content must be linked with new teaching techniques. As a colleague said, "We must not only use that knowledge, but make it sing!" There is no doubt that the success of the BSCS curriculum was aided by workshops sponsored by the National Science Foundation. If such an initiative is begun again, those who plan the scheduling must take into consideration the varied roles of women, so that as many women teachers as possible will be able to participate. ADMINISTRATION Leadership in the central office and in the high school is often myopic. In a suburban high school, the science-department head is serious about deleting double laboratory periods when he says that "smart kids don't like to do labs, because they know what the results will be and, besides, it makes scheduling difficult." It makes one wonder whether he thought of changing the Apes of laboratory experiments the students did, rather than the structure of the laboratory itself. In my former school, science teachers are now required to babysit a homeroom, instead of having that time free to set up for laboratory class, as they did before. Teachers yearn for creative curriculum directors who have a knowledge of the discipline, its trends, and the teaching strategies needed to encourage the students to true learning. They want a leader with vision and the ability to excite the staff to work toward shared goals. Alas, most are pedantic and have little knowledge of good science education and so exert little or no direction. If any change is going to occur, it may have to be teacher-initiated or teacher-directed. But teachers are swamped with "administrivia" homeroom, late slips, absence lists, cut slips, inventory forms, student grading-policy agreements, substitute folders, study halls, etc. Organizing for a guest speaker or a field trip can become so difficult (with forms needed to be signed by three
DIFFERENT SCHOOLS: SAME BARRIERS 2237 different administrators) that many teachers just do not bother. Their energies have been directed toward the wrong areas. TEACHER ATTITUI)ES The teacher is the crucial link in any conversation about change, but change is both a challenge and a threat. Are a majority of biology teachers convinced that there is a need for change, or are they in an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality? Many feel overwhelmed by the explosion of biological knowledge in the last 2 decades, as they try to keep up with recent advances. They feel confused by the reports that suggest that they must teach more and the data that show that American students understand less science Education Week, September 28, 1988~. Does the aging teacher population have a desire for renewal? From where will the impetus for change come? In the 1960s, the reformers came from the country's prestigious universities, and they modeled the curriculum after the academic content of college courses, with little concern about the realities of classroom teaching (Lazerson et al., 1985~. If, indeed, change is in the air again, will it come from presentations at conferences like this, where there appear to be only two active teachers on the many panels? Teachers rightly rebel at the imposition of change, particularly from those they feel are not cognizant of the realities of the high-school classroom. "New math" was born, and it died. That could well happen to a new biology curriculum that is initiated "top-down." There are teachers who feel that problems in the biology classroom are not the result of the curriculum itself, but occur because students are unmotivated and "functionally illiterate." This seems to be a classic "blame the victim" ploy. Perhaps one could ask whether the teachers are "methodologically illiterate." Historically, when curriculum change has occurred, there has been insufficient teacher training. It would seem imperative that new curriculum be linked with new pedagogy; but while teachers are open to learning new facets of their subject, many consider professional development degrading: "I already know how to teach!" There are many reflective teachers who are uncertain about what is best for their students how the students learn, what can be done to motivate them, how to develop the skills they need. A 17-year biology veteran with whom I work stated, "I'd realized the past few years that the kids had changed, and what I used to do in class no longer worked, but I don't know what else to do." It is the openness to change that must be nurtured and developed.
288 HIGH-SCHOOL BIOLOGY CONCLUSION Reflecting on all these barriers to change has been, by necessity, a negative exercise. Experiences and anecdotes from many schools validate the barriers to change. In thinking about changing the curriculum, we must ask not only what it Is that we want our students to know, but also how it should best be taught. Change necessitates restructuring the day and the teachers' schedules, modifying certification requirements, developing creative administrators, improving curriculum models, rethinking teacher education, and building In time so that teachers can have a true dialogue. If change in the curriculum and, by necessity, in the pedagogy is deemed necessary, then the crucial question to ask is: "What are the incentives for districts, administrators, and teachers to change the way the biology curriculum Is approached?" Get the incentives right, and the rest will fall into place! ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I owe special thanks to Ann Beachan, Jonathan Beater, Paula Evans, Amy Gerstein, Judy Johnson, Gordon Mendenhall, Theodore Sizer, Nancy Italian, Sharon Wolff, and Carolyn Wyatt. REFERENCES Champagne, A. B., and L. E. Hornig, Eds. 1987. The Science Curriculum. Washington, D.C.: American Association for the Advancement of Science. Duckworth, E. 1984. "... what teachers know: the best knowledge base ...." Harvard Educ. Rev. 54:15-20. Education Week. September 28, 1988. Jackson, P. ~ 1986. The Practice of Teaching. New York: Teachers College Press. Lazerson, M., J. B. McLaughlin, B. McPherson, and K. Bailey. 1985. An Education of Value: The Purposes and Practices of Schools. New York: Cambridge University Press. Leyden, M. B. 1984. You graduate more criminals than scientists. Sci. Teach. 51:27-30.