The role of district office administrators in school improvement: The case of the director of professional development
The purpose of this research was to examine the school improvement process from the perspective of central office administrators who work with schools, with principals, and teachers. Specifically, this study explored the role of the Director of Professional Development in relation to principals, teachers, parents, and other district office, mid-level administrators. The research sought to address the primary research question: How is the role of the Director of Professional Development shaped by the school improvement process? Theory and research on school change, role enactment and brokering, leadership, professional development, and school culture informed this study. Qualitative research methodology was utilized with data collected at the district level and in two schools during an 18-month period. The data included over 33 open-ended interviews with selected participants who had knowledge of the role played by the Director of Professional Development; observation of pertinent district and school-based activities recorded in field notes; district and school documents; newspaper articles and other reports that made evident the progress of school improvement and the role of the Director of Professional Development with regard to that improvement. The findings, from both the district and the two high schools in the study, revealed the pivotal role of the Director of Professional Development and of central office administrators in an urban/suburban district in New York State. They affirmed her brokering role as defined by Wenger, McDermott, and Snyder (2002). This emergent role was manifested through her activities as trainer and facilitator, as manager of data, as builder of networks across roles and groups, as designer of school improvement tools. Through the “voice” of central office administrators, building administrators, teachers and parents, the study made clear the Director's management of relationships. The study also described how decisions were made in the school improvement process, and how impediments—politics, time, resources, and lack of personnel—were mitigated by the collaborative, focused leadership of district office administrators. The study concluded that activities focusing on the professional development of staff served to link each central office department with each other and with the schools, in a collaborative endeavor around the issue of improving student achievement. The data also confirmed Biddle's (1986) assertion that context is critical for examining role enactment of personnel and for exploring school improvement at the district and school level.
Del Vecchio, Rosalba Corrado, "The role of district office administrators in school improvement: The case of the director of professional development" (2005). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3166564.