An Archival Test of the Efficacy of James Comer's School Development Plan: A Comparative Study Based on Seymour Sarason's "Failure of School Reform" Descriptors Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Tharp, John
    • Affiliation: School of Education
  • The purpose of this study was to determine if the success or failure of the Comer School Development Plan (SDP) could be predicted by assessing it according to Sarason's (1990, 1993, 2002, 2004) description of why all school reform ideas fail. The researcher created a rubric based on Sarason's descriptors. The rubric contained four elements and twenty-six indicators of observable characteristics. It served as a qualitative tool for a comparative assessment that predicted the success potential of the SDP reform plan. This provided a systematic way to compare archival data collected by the researcher. The researcher chose five reform plans to compare to the SDP: the Lancastrian Plan, Age-graded Plan, Gary Plan, Trump Plan, and Coalition of Essential Schools Plan. The plans featured ample archival data, occurred at different historical time periods, were popular and spread to many schools and school systems, and were thematically similar to the SDP in that each strove to help public education live up to its democratic goals. The researcher offered recommendations for policymakers. Time, money, and human effort were wasted on reform ideas that failed. Future reform plans must pay attention to present societal conditions in order to succeed. Reform plans can only make significant change outside of the current system of schooling. Policymakers must support educational change that is more natural and consistent with million-year-old human developmental strategies (Bernhard, 1988). When crafting school reform, policymakers should give more consideration to the family and to the common good. New schooling proposals put forth in this study will serve low SES students better than traditional schooling. The primary education goal for twenty-first century youth should be the development of critical minded, reflective thinkers who can come up with creative solutions to problems novel to their times. The egg-crate, curiosity stifling, discipline-based nineteenth century government agency controlled schooling configuration cannot produce this result.
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  • In Copyright
  • English, Fenwick
  • Doctor of Education
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education
Graduation year
  • 2007

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