Posted: March 18th, 2023

New Meaning of Educational Change Review


Annotated Bibliography

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Fullan, Michael G. (2001): New Meaning of Educational Change. Chicago: Teachers College Press.

This text is written by the dean of Educational Studies at the University of Toronto. It begins with an overview of the history of educational change, thus providing a detailed understanding of how the current state of education got to what it is today. Within this history, the text focuses on the various educational movements and the theories behind them that ushered in the major changes in approach and curriculum. Through this examination of educational change, with its focus on the people and politics behind it, Fullan concludes with a prediction of where change will take education in the future.

Fullan’s main argument is that educational change is largely based on politics. As parties and ideaologies change, one of the first things the new power holders will move towards is educational policy. Thus, whenever history has a major shift in power there is typically a major shift in educational ideology. Because of this pattern, Fullan argues that future educational change will reflect the political issues of immigration, lower-income students and student achievement/teacher pay. Further more, if there is ever a change in the nation’s political leanings, such as from conservative to liberal, there will be a change in terms of subject matters taught. This is why often the focus of educational reform is on such issues as evolution vs. intelligent design.

Fullan, Michael. (1993): Change Forces: Probing the Depths of Educational Reform.

This text focuses on the non-linear and chaotic nature of change as it plays out between society and education. it’s main argument is that currently there is no set standard for dealing with societal change in terms of our educational systems and curriculums. Thus, change in education is reactionary to the change in general society. Because of this reactionary nature, educational change is all too often not well-thought out and hastily implemented, only to be changed again in reaction to another new societal development. Instead, the educational community needs to lay down clear standards on how the nation’s institutions of education will implement reform and change in an organized and thus beneficial manner.

This text presents its argument by arguing against currently accepted conclusions on the roles of such things as vision and strategic planning, site-based management, educational leadership and consensus accountability. Instead, the text identifies eight basic lessons on why change seems chaotic and how to best stop the chaos and build a system that produces better citizens without discrimination as to class, gender and ethnicity.

Evans, Robert. (1996): Human Side of Change: Reform, Resistance, and the Real-Life Problems of Innovation. New York: Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers.

This text provides an insightful discussion of school reform that focuses on real-life examples of issues and obstacles that exist and prevent the successful implementation of real educational reform measures. Not only does Evans focus on societal obstacles, but, most importantly, on the obstacles and resistance created by educators themselves. Evans focuses on how the best-intended efforts are often stalled by educators who feel to burdened or conflicted to implement the change, thus causing a continuation of the status quo, regardless of any mandated reform measures.

To overcome this internal obstacle to change, Evans develops a new model of leadership and provides practical management strategies that will allow educational leaders to build the framework of cooperation between leaders, students and teachers that is desperately needed to implement real educational reform. In other words, Evans states that teachers are often reluctant to implement reform measures because of the extra effort it takes and because they are not getting paid or awarded any more for their extra work. Thus, part of classroom reform must be reform in terms of how teachers are treated and compensated for their role in creating and facilitating educational reform.

Deal, Terrence E., Kent D. Peterson. (1999): Shaping School Culture: The Heart of Leadership. New York: Wiley, John & Sons.

This text places the responsibility of school change on school, community and national leaders. Deal focuses the text on showing how leaders can capture the power of school culture and shape it into a lively, cooperative spirit with a strong sense of school identity. His point is that it is this community, or the purposes, traditions, norms and values that hold a school community together, that serves as the foundation from which all reform measures must work with. Without understanding these foundations, beneficial change will not occur. Instead, Deal argues that only by using this positive culture will reforms actually work.

The crux of this text is that the best, most successful measures of change will not come from the legislature and be implemented into a school because such measures do not factor in the individual school’s culture. Instead, each school has a unique culture. This culture can either be positive or negative. In order to create reform, the school itself needs to implement reforms that work within the given school culture and building a sense of community within the school walls. In other words, the effective education leader is one who looks within the school and builds change outwards instead of the other way around.

Eaker, Robert, Richard DuFour, Rebecca DuFour. (2002): Getting Started: Reculturing Schools to Become Professional Learning Communities. Washington, D.C.: National Educational Service.

The argument of this text is that the current reform measures that treat all students equal and see every student as being able to achieve at the same level is asinine. Instead of teaching to a group, school reform needs to focus on becoming more individual focused. According to DuFour the only thing that struggling students need is more time and more support. Without taking into account such things as intelligence and student responsibility, he essentially argues that teachers need to “dumb down” their curriculum to the lowest denominator to ensure all students get the support they need. Further, the authors place all schools into the same category of being a problem.

However, the text also argues that schools need to stop being isolationist and instead bring together a community of learners. In a sense, this will allow all students to achieve at the level they are capable of achieving at. This is a foundation to the basic concept of expeditionary learning and outward bound programs, which have been proven to be successful curricular approaches for lower-functioning students.

Part II: The Future of Education

Based on the information taken from the above reviewed resources on educational reform, it is safe to say that the future of education will go either one of two ways: the right way or the wrong way.

Within the past five years, education has undergone a significant and substantial period of reform. As a result of low national student performance in public schools, the Bush administration made educational reform one of their top priorities. However, as with any educational change that occurs along side a political change, the reform measures pushed through by the Bush administration were largely political in nature. For example, if a school was under performing, the school would be made into a charter or private school. Another problem was that it essentially created rules and regulations and then gave them to teachers to enforce without ever involving the teacher, or school, in their development. As cited above, this method often leads to stagnation. On one hand, because the policies are created outside of the school, often times they are not practical to implement in the school setting. On the other hand, many times these new mandates, such as Every Child Reads, place a great burden on the individual classroom teacher without compensating them for their extra work. Thus, many of the mandates are simply not implemented or implemented in a limited way. The result is that the mandates do not succeed at obtaining the goals they intended to create.

As was argued in many of the above-cited resources, educational reform will simply not succeed unless it is based on a school-by-school basis. Each school district and individual school is unique in terms of its type of learning community. Because each school’s learning community, national mandated initiatives and reforms will simply not work. Every school has unique positives and unique negatives, stemming from the fact that every school is made up of unique students from unique individual backgrounds. What will work to increase student achievement in Naperville, Illinois will not work to increase student achievement in East St. Louis, Illinois because the standards of achievement and abilities between the two school populations is grossly different. Further, by simply breaking up the school communities where the reforms fail (and creating charter schools or sending the students to private schools) will also not solve the problems because again, such measures ignore the importance of the school community, something that cannot simply be disassembled and reassembled.

As school reform moves into the future, we will most likely see a return to local-level reform initiatives. As it becomes more and more clear that our nation’s individual communities are vastly different and that, as a result, national level reform measures are impractical, the national government will more likely be inclined to issue basic standards for individual districts to tailor to their individual school community needs.

This, in a sense, will be a return to the original set-up of education in the United States. Originally, each school district was given the responsibility of implementing the needed educational reforms to meet their individual and unique needs. However, as the nation grew and became less and less agricultural based, the need for a national protocol became necessary. Yet, today our society is less similar than it was before. There are greater cultural and class differences between communities. For these reasons, in school reform measures need to be localized in order to properly meet these needs.

In conclusion, based on all the evidence found in the above cited reference materials, it is likely that in twenty years education will be based on addressing local needs and abilities. The federal government will play less of a role in implementing rules and regulations and instead the school boards will once again be the leaders of educational reform.


Deal, Terrence E., Kent D. Peterson. (1999): Shaping School Culture: The Heart of Leadership. New York: Wiley, John & Sons.

Eaker, Robert, Richard DuFour, Rebecca DuFour. (2002): Getting Started: Reculturing Schools to Become Professional Learning Communities. Washington, D.C.: National Educational Service.

English, F.W. (2000). Deciding What to Teach and What to Test: Designing, Aligning and Auditing the Curriculum (Millennium Edition). Thousand Oaks, CA.: Corwin Press, Inc.

Evans, Robert. (1996): Human Side of Change: Reform, Resistance, and the Real-Life Problems of Innovation. New York: Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers.

Fullan, Michael G. (2001): New Meaning of Educational Change. Chicago: Teachers College Press.

Fullan, Michael. (1993): Change Forces: Probing the Depths of Educational Reform.

Hawley, Suzanne W. And Carolyn V. Spillman. Literacy and Learning: An Expeditionary Discovery through Children’s Literature. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2003

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