Week 6

wk 6 cohen et. al. 14-2

Assignment for October 8, 2014

Why don’t schools change? The perils and the promise of school reform.

A consideration of key critiques of the problems with current reform efforts.


Cohen, David (1990). “A revolution in one classroom: The case of Mrs. Oublier.” Educational Evaluation Policy Analysis, 12.

Elmore, R. (2003). “Change and improvement in education.” In David Gordon (Ed.). A Nation reformed? Cambridge: Harvard Education Press.

Payne, C. (2008). “I don’t want your nasty pot of gold From social demoralization to organizational irrationality” In So much reform, so little change. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


Evans, R. (1996). “Reach and realism, experience and hope.” In The Human side of school change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, p. 289-299.

Please quickly SKIM ALL THREE required readings (Cohen, Elmore, & Payne) to get an initial sense of their main points and their similarities and differences. Then READ AT LEAST ONE of the required readings with a few questions in mind:

  • What does each author see as some of the key problems with current school reform efforts?
  • Who do they see as the key participants in explaining whether reforms are likely to work?

After you’ve completed the three readings, review your notes and consider:

  • What (and who) does the author leave out of their analysis?

Please use the attached chart to take notes, and, when relevant, please cite specific pg. #’s or quotes that support your points. Please a copy of your chart to class so that you can share it with your classmates.

What are some of the key points in Cohen, Payne, and Elmore’s explanations for why improvement efforts often fail? What’s missing from their analysis?


What are some of the key problems with improvement efforts from their perspective?
Who are the key participants in reform efforts from their perspectives?
What’s missing from their analysis?



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