Developing the School/Office Culture
Implementation of the Baldrige Education Criteria for Performance in the school is about developing processes systematically and systemically in a culture of collaboration and empowerment.
School Culture: The Foundation for School Improvement
To talk about improving a school without examining a school's culture is analogous to building a house without a foundation or steering a ship without a rudder. Essentially, the culture of the school is the foundation for school improvement; however, it is often the missing link in school improvement efforts.
What the Research Says
There is substantial research that indicates the following:
Substantial empirical research on schools has indicated that "the effectiveness of districts, in terms of student learning and development, is significantly influenced by the quality and characteristics of district culture." (Owens as cited in Childress, S., Elmore, R., Grossman. A., & Akinola, M., 2004, p.2)
Healthy and sound school cultures correlate strongly with increased student achievement and motivation, and with teacher productivity and satisfaction. In a survey of 4th, 6th, 8th, and 10th grade students from 820 public schools in Illinois, researchers Leslie J. Fyans, Jr. and Martin L. Maehr, (1990) found that students are more motivated to learn in schools with strong culture. (Stolp, 1995, p. 2)
In another study, Dr. Brenda Cunningham, principal in Orange County, Florida, examined the relationship between school culture and reading ability in 61 schools. She found significant relationships between the scores on a survey on school culture and the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test reading scores. The healthier the school culture, the higher the reading scores. The more toxic the school culture, the lower the reading scores. (Wagner, 2004/2005, p. 14)
To the extent that it provides a focus and clear purpose for the school, culture becomes the cohesion that bonds the school together as it goes about its mission. (Patterson, Purkey, & Parker as cited in Boyd, 1992, p. 3)
More About Developing the School Culture
- Introduction: Developing the School Culture
- Developing the School Community's Vision and Mission
- Developing the Baldrige Core Values/Best Practices for the School
- Developing a Culture of Shared Leadership, Decision-Making, and Accountability
- Developing a School Learning System (SLS) or Professional Learning Community (PLC)
- Sustaining the Culture and the School Improvement Process
Related Topics in Baldrige for Leadership
- Introduction to the Principal's Handbook
- The Baldrige-guided School/Office Improvement Process
- Developing the School/Office Culture
- The Essentials of Baldrige
- Meeting the Requirements of the Baldrige Categories (Overview)
"Developing the School Culture" contains excerpts from Chapter 2: "Developing the School Culture" in Building an Organizational Learning System: The Baldrige Principals' Handbook for Guiding the School Improvement Process (Wetten, 2005).