A research report on the implementation of the IDEAS project in Victoria, 2004-8

Andrews, Dorothy (2009) A research report on the implementation of the IDEAS project in Victoria, 2004-8. Project Report. Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL) , Winmalee, NSW, Australia . [Report]

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[Executive Summary]:
The research that provides the basis for this report derives from the implementation in Victorian schools of the IDEAS Project, a school revitalisation initiative that was developed initially by the Leadership Research Institute (LRI), University of Southern Queensland, and Education Queensland across the period 1997-2004. The IDEAS Project has subsequently been implemented in five Australian education systems, including the Victorian State system, and refined with each new iteration.

The research problem that guided the research was as follows:

What key lessons for enhanced educational achievement can be learned from the implementation of the IDEAS Project in a selection of Victorian schools, 2004-8?

The research was concerned with the implementation of the IDEAS Project in 22 schools in three Victorian regions in 2004-8. Nineteen of the 22 schools completed the formal requirements of the Project, encompassing the period 2004-6, and agreed to participate in the research. Seventeen of the schools had been identified prior to the commencement of IDEAS as ‘targeted’ or ‘underperforming’ in matters of organisational health and/or school performance, thus necessitating an emphasis that had not previously been required of the IDEAS Project team.

The official implementation of the first Victorian IDEAS Project cohort extended from November 2004 to December 2006. Unofficially, the implementation process continued into 2007 and 2008, and, indeed, continues in a number of schools today. The implementation process involved participating schools in a wide range of professional learning and school development activities, encompassing the five ideas phases of Initiating, Discovering, Envisioning, Actioning and Sustaining. Central to implementation were the four core IDEAS Project constructs of organisational alignment, parallel leadership, 3-dimensional pedagogy and the ideas process itself. In these regards, IDEAS is thought to differ substantially from other school improvement initiatives in place throughout the world.

The research approach was both ‘mutualistic’ and ‘evolutionary’ in nature, encompassing the five stages of: Agreement to participate; Development of co-researcher functions; Preliminary conceptual development; Field study and data analysis; and Refinement of conceptual frameworks. Major databases were constituted of two forms:

 Department of Education and Early Childhood Development quantitative data relating to teacher opinions of their schools (SOS data) and student attitudes toward their schools (SAS data) during the years of the implementation of IDEAS;
 Five case studies. Data collection in the case study schools encompassed both quantitative and qualitative data forms.

The research team was constituted of 12 active researchers, led by Associate Professor Dorothy Andrews, as well as a research validation authority (Professor Bill Mulford) and a research mentor and synthesiser (Emeritus Professor Frank Crowther). Professor Crowther was involved in all aspects of the research, from initial design to data collection and analysis to preparation of the research report.

The findings of the research are believed to have international significance, given the longitudinal nature of the research in combination with the availability of authoritative statistical data relating to important aspects of school operations. Six conclusions are particularly pertinent in the light of current global research into sustained school improvement. These are as follows.

1. Based on validated statements of 2004-8 school outcomes, located in the context of systemic improvements in Victorian teachers’ professional perceptions regarding their schools’ operations, the following definition of ‘school success’ is proposed:
‘School success’ is defined as enhanced school achievements in agreed high priority goal areas, based on documented evidence of those achievements and teachers’ expressed confidence in their school’s capacity to sustain and extend those achievements into the future.

2. Six particular factors appear integral to the successes enjoyed by the 2004-8 IDEAS schools. The six factors are:

The Readiness factor - The availability of a highly credible process of school revitalisation (The IDEAS Project) at a point in time and in a structured form that suits the circumstances of a cluster of like-minded school professionals.
The Longitudinal factor – Access to a structured process of revitalisation (ideas) that enables schools to undertake highly complex developmental processes with relative ease over an extended period of time.
The Coherence factor – The availability of an explanatory framework for effective school organisation (the RBF) that provides school leaders and teaching professionals with a sense that they work in organisations that are in important ways intelligible and manageable.
The Leadership factor – Emphasis on leadership forms (parallelism and its derivatives) that recognise teachers’ professionalism and principals’ futuristic strategic functions.
The Mature Engagement factor – Systematic use of principles of interaction (The IDEAS Principles of Practice) that encourage mutual respect and dignity in professional relationships and creative problem-solving.
The Supportive Systems factor – Ready availability of reliable information, quality materials and expert personnel to facilitate futuristic school development and to link within-school goals to systemic priorities and resources.

3. A framework for successful school capacity-building, comprising six basic ‘dynamics’, emerged from the IDEAS-Victoria, 2004-8, research. The framework is contained in Figure 5.1.

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Item Type: Report (Project Report)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Published version deposited with blanket permission of the publisher. Online copy of full report available at: http://ideas.usq.edu.au/Portals/1/docs/Open%20site/Vic_research_sept%20FINAL.pdf
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Education (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Education (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2011 05:31
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2013 00:56
Uncontrolled Keywords: school performance; rating; organisational health; Victoria; professional learning; development
Fields of Research (2008): 13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130105 Primary Education (excl. Maori)
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130304 Educational Administration, Management and Leadership
Fields of Research (2020): 39 EDUCATION > 3903 Education systems > 390304 Primary education
39 EDUCATION > 3904 Specialist studies in education > 390403 Educational administration, management and leadership
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/20335

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