About Dialogues |
Briefing Book |
Emerging Modes of Delivery, Certification
EMERGING ORGANIZATIONAL FORMS
Employers are increasingly taking advantage of new technology and
flexible work schedules to meet the diverse needs of the workforce. Educational
opportunities must follow suit by providing flexibility for learners, including
flexibility in instructional styles, locations, and schedules. As the
state’s population shifts to less urban communities and its mobility
increases, and as technology provides the opportunity to bridge these distances,
the State must begin to utilize more innovative organizational forms that
provide for central coordination, while at the same time providing opportunities
for local implementation and flexibility. Technology should be used as a tool
that is able to personalize and localize learning while at the same time
bridging vast distances and disparate programs, thereby bringing the state
Schools must be provided with the flexibility to be innovative
but they must also be held accountable. Working Group members expressed their
belief that the Education Code presents a challenge to implementing
innovative educational strategies. Charter schools have had the benefit of being
exempted from regulation and have developed many educational innovations. Other
schools could benefit from the flexibility that supports promising
organizational forms and should be provided with the same incentives. The State
should also ensure that students have the benefit of contextual learning, by
encouraging additional, non-traditional organizational forms, including charter
and small schools, increasing joint use of community facilities, and supporting
Flexibility to Meet Learner
- The State and local education agencies should offer incentives to
teachers who put learning within the community or environmental context of their
Commentary: Students learn best when material relates to their own
life situations. A students community environment is as much a locus for
learning as the classroom. Instruction should be structured to reflect that
students are outside the classroom more than they are in it. Students learn in
their community, and putting curricula within their community context helps
students relate better to the material and emphasizes positive learning
opportunities within the community. Examples include:
- Learning science through a school or community garden.
- Learning science and civic engagement by cleaning and beautifying a public
- Making maps that illustrate relationships between school, childcare, jobs,
transportation, and community resources.
- Conducting community surveys, to learn English and math
- Expanding family literacy, and family math and science programs in the
‘Contextualized’ learning is also an important
element in adult learning. Adult
learners are diverse, bringing a wealth of life experiences to the learning
situation; and active forms of learning help connect the content to the
learners’ own frame of reference. Most adult learners want to be able to
relate content to the specific contexts in their lives; these contexts are often
in the form of problems related to their work sites. They prefer to have some
degree of control over their learning, and, depending on their maturity levels
and familiarity with the content, they demonstrate a range of self-directedness
in their learning. In addition, the adult’s sense of self has a
significant influence on the meaning of the learning situation for that person.
Learners have differing degrees of self-efficacy and awareness of their own
learning styles. In adult continuing education, the adult learners may feel
embarrassed about returning to school, feel embarrassed to join classes with
younger students, and/or hold negative impressions about their own abilities,
those of the school, and those of the teachers. Incentives could range from
professional development activities to informal or formal recognition, special
accommodation, and providing funding for supportive services.
Both children and adults learn best when
they are actively engaged in learning and can relate the content to their
Comments: There was concern that this recommendation attempts to elevate one
teaching style over another.
- The State and local education agencies should encourage innovative
emerging organizational forms, including charter schools, that are
standards-based and assessed against those standards on an ongoing
Commentary: Much of the
debate about charter schools, magnets, and other emerging organizational forms
focuses on inputs. The State should support innovative organizational forms so
long as they are standards-based and evaluated rigorously.
Innovative, accountable schools should
be encouraged and supported.
comments: To support innovation, schools must be provided with flexibility.
The California’s Education Code serves as a barrier to flexibility.
Obstacles need to be removed for all schools, not just charter schools. There
needs to be some balance between rigid application of the Education Code
and complete deregulation.
- The State should set aside a pool of funds to encourage the creation of
small schools in K-12
Commentary: Research is overwhelming in
its support of small schools as facilitators of student achievement. At the same
time, the economics of school construction lead to the creation of large
Students in small schools equal or outperform their counterparts in large
schools. Indicators used include grades, test scores, honor roll attainment,
subject-area achievement, higher-order thinking skills, and years of education
attained after high school. In Nebraska, 73 percent of students in districts
with fewer than 70 high school students enrolled in a post-secondary
institution, compared to 64 percent in districts of 600 to 999 high school
students. These findings hold even when other variables, such as student
attributes or staff characteristics, are taken into account. Although many small
schools are in rural areas, researchers have concluded that it is the smallness
of the school, not its setting, that makes it successful (Journal of the New
Rules Project, Summer 2000, Volume 2, Issue 1).
For example, in New York City, 90 percent of the entering 9th
grade students at El Puente Academy - a small high school open to all students
– graduate in four years and go on to some form of postsecondary
education, as contrasted to less than 30 percent of the entering ninth graders
at a nearby large high school. (Smaller, Safer, Saner, Successful
Schools, National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, Center for
School Change, 2001)
It is in the State’s interest to promote the
creation of small schools, both in the construction of new schools and in the
reform of existing schools.
Coordination, Cooperation, and
- The State and communities should establish incentives for joint
development and use of school facilities with cities and counties, including
libraries, classrooms, and recreational and community space.
- New construction should be linked to the community, and better links
should be established with the community in existing schools.
- The structures should be in compliance with the same building codes
applicable to other buildings, such as libraries and government
- Technology should support distributed learning in these and other
Commentary: All California students deserve safe, clean,
well-organized, productive, and attractive spaces in which to learn and play.
The need for new school facilities is very large – more than the state can
afford – if schools do not work in cooperation with the communities whose
learners they serve. Schools are centers of neighborhoods and should be used as
such. Joint development and use of facilities is a sensible, cost-effective
solution to the facilities problem facing California. Their creation requires
only that school, city, and county leaders ‘think outside the box’
and work together for the well being of the segments of the public for which
they have mutual responsibility.
facilities, community agencies, businesses, career centers, libraries, even
private homes can be viable alternatives to large campus sites where teaching
and learning occur routinely, thereby expanding access to older working adults
and residents of communities remote from educational campuses. Strategic use of
technology offers the possibility of mitigating capital expenditure needs by
distributing teaching and learning opportunities throughout broader sections of
In June 1998, the U.S. Department of Education
convened educators, facilities planners, architects, government officials, and
interested citizens to discuss the idea of community schools. This group
developed six key principles that should be a part of designing new schools.
They suggested communities should design schools that: enhance teaching and
learning and accommodate the needs of all learners; serve as centers of the
community; result from a planning/design process involving all stakeholders;
provide for health, safety, and security; make effective use of all available
resources; and allow for flexibility and adaptability to changing needs. (U.S.
Department of Education)
Partnerships should be forged and agreements established
for joint use of educational and community facilities.
In Roseville, California, partnerships help
schools improve services, save money, and build better facilities. For example,
city planners and parks and recreation staff work closely with school facilities
planners to develop parks adjacent to school sites. Schools use city parks for
team sports and physical education classes, while the Parks and Recreation
Department uses school facilities for leisure classes and city sports leagues.
sponsored incentives should support the development of these
- The State should establish an Innovation Fund to support
innovative projects and intersegmental collaboration in
Commentary: Innovation is often created in
individual institutions with only local application. A State-capitalized fund
would enable innovators to locate funds and support from a central agency,
which, in turn, could aid in the dissemination of promising practices. An
example would be funding universities to work in collaboration with high schools
to develop online honors and Advanced Placement courses. Findings should be
widely shared, with the goal of replicating positive outcomes.