Paradigmatic Status and Reform Potential of Iowa Superintendents
Graves, Joseph J.
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The problem: Because it is difficult for the educational practitioner to ascertain the direction of educational reform, this study surveyed a sample of superintendents on their views, suggested by Thomas Kuhn's work on paradigms, on the classical schools of education, perennialism, essentialism, progressivism, and social reconstructionism, and on the three state-offered reform initiatives in Iowa, The Iowa Initiative for World-class Schools, the New State Standards for lowa Schools, and the views of William Lepley, director of the state Department of Education. Procedures: From the 376 superintendents in lowa, thirty were chosen, representing those with little, moderate, and high tenure. Each subject was given the Educational Ideologies Inventory (O'Neill, 1981), which produced a score for each subject for each of the four classical schools, and asked a series of questions designed to reveal their opinions on the components of the Iowa reform initiatives. Chi Square, Analysis of Variance, and qualitative analyses were performed on the data. Because of the nature of these data collection instruments, each subject was personally visited by the researcher. Findings: 1. While no educational paradigm was found to exist among Iowa superintendents, progressivism was the educational school voiced by the great majority of the subjects. 2. Tenure in office bore no statistically significant relationship to educational school held by the superintendents. 3. The superintendents did not express preference for any of the three reform initatives over the other two. 4. A relationship, though not demonstrated statistically, between tenure in office and support for specific reform proposals, did exist. Recommendations: 1. Further research should be conducted on educational stakeholders' views on the individual components of the classical education schools and on the changes in stakeholder's view over time. 2. Increasing support for specific reform proposals, among the ten offered in the three reform initatives, is possible through state action aimed at removing obstacles perceived by school district superintendents. 3. A synthesis of these three reform initiatives will assist the Iowa educational community in implementing the offered proposals rather than advocating specific reports without requisite attention to their similarities and differences in content.
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