The relationship of expressed vision and instructional supervision in a selected school district
Dray, Norman William
The purpose of the study was to examine the relationship between the vision of a selected school district and practices it has undertaken in the area of instructional supervision in two schools. The school district was identified through a reputational survey process as one having exemplary instructional supervision practices. This case study used qualitative techniques drawing upon principles of naturalistic inquiry. Semi-structured interviews, document analysis, and observation, with accompanying field-notes, represented the major forms of data collection. Interviews were conducted with the Superintendent, the Director of Education Services, the Board Chair, the Coordinator of Human Resources, an Area Supervisor, two principals, and seven teachers (representing the two schools). Observations were conducted at the school sites and district office. District level and school-based documents were analyzed. The data collection process began in the schools and subsequently moved to system-level investigation.A conceptual framework based upon the policy perspectives of Guba (1984) guided the study. Vision as meta-policy (Downey, 1988), policy-in-intention, policy-in-action, and policy-in-experience were used as a frame for the analysis of policy and practice.There was a low level of awareness of the expressed vision of the district among the respondents. Most of the respondents identified only one or two elements in their description of the vision. Paradoxically, all respondents seemed to feel that they were working in harmony with the vision of the Board. “Implied vision” was used to describe the interpretations placed by school personnel on the actions and words of the board and senior staff. This phenomenon presented a vision different from the expressed vision of the system. The implied vision seemed to suggest a clear direction to those in the organization, but it was not necessarily consistent with the expressed vision. An examination of the relationship between the elements of the vision and the formal instructional supervision program (the PPP) revealed congruency on four of six elements. The examination of policy-in-experience showed that the PPP was operationalized as it was espoused in the policy, but from different perspectives, and with different levels of detail from school to school. More important, the implementation of the PPP seemed to depend on the actions and the direction of the principals, who had adapted the formal policy to their own styles and to current trends. The leadership provided by the principal emerged from the data as critical to the success of the supervision process in both schools. The term ‘policy-alive’ was suggested to describe the impact on student learning and professional growth that a principal can have through the instructional supervision process. The findings highlighted the need for communication and ongoing dialogue to maximize congruence among vision, policy, and practice. This process should be planned to avoid the drift to multiple interpretations or implied vision.A heuristic was presented, integrating vision, policy, and outcomes. The heuristic tied together some of the learnings from the study and gave a visual representation of the systemic functions of vision and instructional supervision.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
CommitteeWalker, Keith D.; Ralph, Edwin; Noonan, Warren; Carr-Stewart, Sheila; Wallace, Janice