“Traditionally, the low- performing label has been applied with a broad brush to “bad” schools having a wide range of perceived deficiencies: low academic expectations and achievement, high dropout rates, lack of discipline, inadequate facilities, and demoralized staff” (Lashway, 2003). The federal government with the indoctrination of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) provided an official definition of chronically low performing schools. The definition consist of schools that have not met their Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) in reading and math over a four year period. The newly defined classification of a chronically low performing school would demonstrate low academic achievement in reading and math with no growth on annually administered state assessment over a period of three years. The school would also fail to show ability to gauge its needs, plan, develop, implement, and monitor the necessary strategies that will improve student achievement. The measure of growth in this area relies upon the results of a district lead audit. This would utilize classroom observations, walk-throughs, interviews of all stakeholders (students, parents, staff, and community), and review of data submitted by the school around the areas of attendance, suspensions, retentions, and dropouts.
The strategic plan for improving chronically low performing schools will utilize a leadership component, and four phases. The four phases are equivalent to the frames of Bolman and Deal. Bolman and Deal (2003) discuss four frames: Structural, Human Resource, Political, and Symbolic. They define the frames as follows: Structural- reflects a belief in rationality and a faith that the right formal arrangements minimize problems and maximize performance, Human Resource- people and organizations need each other. Organizations need ideas, energy, and talent; people need careers, salaries, and opportunities. Political- views organization as a complex web of individual and group interests. Symbolic- embodies and express an organizations culture: the interwoven pattern of beliefs, values, practices, and artifacts that define for members who they are and how they are to do things (Bolman & Deal, 2003). The leadership component concentrates on the principals’ role in executing the strategic plan. Phase I (symbolic) will focus on a needs assessment of the school. Phase II (structural) aligns the planning and development around the needs of the school. Phase III (human resource) covers the implementation of the areas covered in the planning and development stage. Phase IV (political) is centered on the accountability component.
Leadership is vital to the effectiveness of a school. James Burns, the founder of modern leadership theory discusses the ideal of transformational leadership. Transformational leaders form “a...