The impact of shared decision-making on teachers and the principal in a magnet high school

Edward Joseph Fauerbach, Fordham University


One of the major recommendations of the educational reform movement of the 1980s has been to expand the decision-making capacity of teachers in schools. However, practical application of this recommendation has created problems for teachers and principals. This study examined the experiences of teachers and their principal as they engaged in shared decision making at a newly created urban magnet high school. Specifically, this study focused on the types of dilemmas teachers and the principal encountered as a result of shared decision making. The research design and methodology was a descriptive case study that was conducted in two phases from the perspective of a nonparticipant observer. During both phases of this study data were collected through interviews, observations, and document review. The participants of this study were the teachers, the principal, and the students of the school. Analysis of the data revealed that shared decision making, as a form of school governance, was a complex and often difficult process at this school. Despite its successes, shared decision making created a number of problems. The findings revealed shared decision making was difficult because participants needed training in the small group decision-making process, a sufficient amount of meeting time, the support of the district's central office, teachers and administrators unions, and a high level of commitment by everyone involved. However, this study found that the most significant obstacle to shared decision making at this school was a reluctance by people (within and outside the school) to change their opinions, attitudes, and beliefs about their roles, the way schools operate, and how decisions are made in schools. A number of recommendations emerged from this study that suggested ways of making shared decision making more effective in schools. Further research is essential to ascertain if a major recommendation of the reform movement of the 1980s, shared decision making, is working. What effect is it having on improving the quality of education in America? What impact is it having on schools, teachers, and administrators? These questions and others need to be answered before we engage in further reform measures.

Subject Area

School administration|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Fauerbach, Edward Joseph, "The impact of shared decision-making on teachers and the principal in a magnet high school" (1996). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9631028.