Organizational Routines Adopted by District of Columbia Elementary Schools in Response to the Common Core State Standards

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Swanson, Jessica, Administration and Supervision - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Duke, Daniel, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) began implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in 2011 and made significant investments over several years to support the effort. This study explored how street-level bureaucrats in DCPS affected implementation of the CCSS by examining the organizational routines elementary schools adopted to implement the standards. This mixed-methods study was conducted in two phases between November 2015 and May 2016. The study was grounded in the role of street-level bureaucrats in making policy and in the concept of principals’ discretion. Data were collected by reviewing documents, interviewing six elementary principals and instructional coaches about their schools’ organizational routines, and surveying all elementary principals and instructional coaches. The study found that DCPS purchased or developed a number of resources and mandated the use of some of them, while making the use of others optional. Additionally, the implementation of organizational routines associated with mandated resources was not reported at great frequency. Finally, principals were most frequently credited with having initiated the organizational routines at schools, suggesting that they exercised discretion. Based on the findings, the researcher offered three recommendations for DCPS: 1) Continue to support research on the nature of the implementation of the CCSS in DCPS. 2) Acknowledge principals’ ability to exercise discretion in leading instruction. 3) Integrate guidance regarding the use of resources the district developed or purchased into DCPS’ theory of action for implementing the CCSS.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
Common Core State Standards, implementation, street-level bureaucrat, organizational routines
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