Reinventing School Based Management

The nation's public schools are under ever-increasing societal pressure to demonstrate greater effectiveness and efficiency. As a result, change - or at least, the appearance of change - has become a nearly universal feature of American public education. School-based management (SBM), a reform aimed at restructuring public education through the realignment of power relations at the district and school levels, has gained wide currency as a means of effecting such change. 

This report provides an in-depth examination of SBM, with the aim of revealing why this reform, once heralded as the "silver bullet" of educational reforms, seems to have had so little payoff for students. Several key questions will be addressed:

  • What are the objectives of SBM, and are these objectives consistent with an expectation of increased student performance?
  • What is the theoretical basis for SBM, and more specifically, does that theory link SBM to student performance?
  • How fully have SBM programs been implemented, and what are the major barriers to implementation?
  • How can SBM be modified to increase its likelihood of positively influencing student achievement, and what is the role of school boards in effecting this transformation?
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