Theses Doctoral

Investing in School Learning: The New York City Department of Education’s Learning Partners Program

Wallenstein, Jessica

It is challenging for central authorities to change the nature of teaching and learning despite great efforts to do so through both command and commitment-style approaches, as well as through recent reforms aimed at teacher quality. Capacity-building initiatives, particularly those that engage educators in structured collaboration within and across schools, hold promise for school improvement. These approaches engage educators to develop contextualized solutions to the specific obstacles facing their students. However, without certain conditions in place, particularly a strong professional community that prioritizes continuous improvement, collaborative activities are unlikely to yield positive outcomes, and instead produce variable results based on schools’ capacity pre-intervention.
This dissertation explores New York City’s attempt to build schools’ capacity for improvement through the Learning Partners Program (LPP), a program developed under the Chancellor Fariña administration in 2014. LPP combines interschool collaboration, inquiry, teacher leadership, and teaming, thus providing an opportunity to explore how a district can foster the prerequisite conditions necessary for school improvement. Drawing on qualitative data from 3 years of implementation, I provide a detailed portrait of the elements of the program in practice, and describe the processes and conditions that allowed some schools in the program to implement coordinated changes that moved them towards their improvement goals. These descriptions can provide lessons to other districts interested in taking on similar “learning organization” reforms, or reforms that generally aim to shift the teaching profession towards one that fosters self-examination and continuous improvement.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Education Policy
Thesis Advisors
Ready, Douglas D.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 26, 2018