Sierra Nevada College A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ON THE BENEFITS OF DEPARTMENTALIZATION ON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL A Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the Requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Teaching by Andrea M. Contreras Dr. Maria Chairez /Thesis Advisor July 2009 We recommend that the thesis by Andrea M. Contreras Prepared under the supervision be accepted in partial Fulfillment for the degree of MASTER of ARTS in TEACHING ________________________________________________________________________ Maria Chairez, Ed.D., Thesis Advisor ________________________________________________________________________ Angela Zobrak, M.A., Committee Member ________________________________________________________________________ Sara Bartlett, M.A., Committee Member July 2009 TABLE OF CONTENTS Page ABSTRACT ................................................................................................................... iv ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ............................................................................................ v Chapter I.............................................................................................................................. 1 Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 1 Purpose of the Study ................................................................................................... 2 Research Questions ..................................................................................................... 2 Significance of the Study ............................................................................................ 3 Chapter II ............................................................................................................................ 4 Methodology ................................................................................................................... 4 Limitations .................................................................................................................. 5 Definition of Key Terms ............................................................................................. 5 Chapter III ........................................................................................................................... 7 Initial Review of the Literature ....................................................................................... 7 Benefits of Departmentalization ................................................................................. 7 Variations of Departmentalization ............................................................................ 14 Transitioning from Self-Contained to Departmental ................................................ 18 Teacher Knowledge and Preparation for Instruction ................................................ 21 Chapter IV ......................................................................................................................... 28 Critical Analysis of the Literature................................................................................. 28 Chapter V .......................................................................................................................... 33 Conclusions and Implications for Teaching ................................................................. 33 Question #1 ............................................................................................................... 33 Question #2 ............................................................................................................... 33 Question #3 ............................................................................................................... 34 Question #4 ............................................................................................................... 35 References ..................................................................................................................... 37 iii ABSTRACT This review of the literature sought to explain the benefits of departmentalization in the elementary school on both increasing students’ academic achievement and teachers’ success with students. The literature will demonstrate how the school organization of departmentalization is implemented and how student achievement is effected. It will also include how teachers’ change their instructional planning to meet the schools new organizational model. Two aspects which were explained were how teachers’ knowledge of their subject played a role in the new organizational model, and how their preparation time for lessons changed. iv ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank my parents, Arturo and Lucy, for always being encouraging and supportive, and Jason, for being understanding during this process. Thank you to Dr. Maria Chariez, my advisor, for always finding the time to meet with me and for providing me with invaluable information to complete this endeavor. v 1 CHAPTER I Introduction According to the United States Department of Education (2005), the nation is following a trend of low academic achievement with little increase since the 1960s. Beginning in 1969, students have been assessed throughout the nation using the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Students of the ages nine, thirteen, and seventeen are assessed. Since the NAEP exam has been administered, test results have been stagnant, showing a minimal and inconsistent increase in academic achievement (U.S. Department of Education). This research will focus on elementary students. It is startling to see that elementary students today, who have access to a surplus of information and technology, are not scoring significantly higher than students from the 1970s. There are many issues that can affect student achievement; one possible issue may be school organization. One alternative to school organization is departmentalization. Departmentalization in elementary school is when students have more than one teacher for their academic subjects (English, social studies, mathematics, and science). Each teacher is responsible for a specific subject or group of subjects (American Association of School Administrators, 1965). Historically, education in the United States has followed the pattern of eight years of elementary education, followed by four years of high school. At the end of the nineteenth century, secondary education began in seventh grade (Mizel, 2 2005). Offering departmentalization at a younger age during elementary school could prove to be successful for both students and teachers. Purpose of the Study It appears that there is a need to research departmentalization. The purpose of this critical review of the literature will be to explore how departmentalization can affect the academic success of students and possibly turn around the trend of minimal academic increase. Through departmentalization, the classroom is organized differently, thus changing how teachers teach. Often time teachers say they do not feel like they have enough time to implement what is required nor do they have enough training (McCall, Janssen, & Riederer, 2008). Therefore, this review of the literature will include information about departmentalization and how departmentalization changes the way teachers teach, including, subject area knowledge and preparation for teachers who teach in this new environment. Research Questions This critical review of the literature will be guided by these research questions: 1. In what ways does departmentalization influence elementary student achievement? 2. In what ways does teachers’ preparation change after they are teaching in a departmentalized grade? 3. How does departmentalization affect students academically and socially as they transition from self-contained to departmental classes? 3 4. What are the common characteristics of schools that implement departmentalization in elementary school? Significance of the Study This critical review of the literature will provide information about departmentalization in elementary schools to understand if students can succeed with an alternative school organization. The literature will include information to explain how departmentalization operates in an elementary school and include data about academic achievement. This literature review will also contain information about how departmentalization changes the way teachers have to prepare for instructional planning, including time and subject knowledge. Departmentalization has a limited amount of published data; therefore this review of the literature will provide insightful information. 4 CHAPTER II Methodology When searching for literature and data on departmentalization, academic databases were used. Through EBSCO Host, ERIC, and the Professional Development Collection databases many articles were obtained. Within these databases, some of the journals that were utilized were Elementary School Journal, Journal of Instructional Psychology, Educational Leadership, Teacher Educator, and Journal of Research and Development in Education. Resources include journals, fieldwork, and books and papers that were presented at meetings. The first key word used when searching for articles on departmentalization was “departmentalization”. Using only one word in the search engine resulted in a wide variety of articles. There were articles that pertained to education, business, and a variety of other fields. The articles that pertained to education were reviewed and focused mainly on middle school and high school, since departmentalization is most common at these levels. A limited amount of these articles will be used because they discuss teacher collaboration, knowledge, and/or preparation. The focus is on elementary school, therefore, “Elementary School” was included in the search engine. Solely using these key words did not locate many more articles. From the literature that was found, other key terms were used from within the text. After reviewing the abstracts and the subject lines of the literature, the following terms were 5 used: (a) school organization, (b) self-contained, (c) team teaching, (d) alternative education, (e) single subject, (f) teacher preparation, (g) school effectiveness, and (h) faculty development. The addition of these terms along with elementary education, more literature was found, which then included a variety of sub-topics pertaining to departmentalization. Limitations The articles included in this review of the literature are limited to scholarly journals. Another limitation included the date of publication, but this limitation resulted in very few articles. Since this limited the number of articles the time constraint was removed. Therefore, articles from 1958 to 2008 will be included. When conducting the wide search, there were sub-topics that consistently appeared. These included: (a) academic achievement, (b) instructional time, (c) student behavior, (d) school organization, (e) teacher knowledge, and (f) teacher preparation. To narrow the focus of this research a thinking map was used to compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of departmentalization. From the thinking map, the focus was narrowed down by the aspects which pertained directly to academic success. This included school organization and teacher preparation. Definition of Key Terms Elementary School Departmentalization: Students have more than one teacher for their academic subjects (English, social studies, mathematics, and science). Each teacher is responsible for a specific subject or group of subjects (American Association of School Administrators, 1965). Students rotate between two or more teachers for a set period of 6 time. Students have a homeroom teacher, and remain with the same group of students throughout their daily rotations. Homeroom Teacher: Students are assigned to one teacher when enrolled in school. This teacher is the only name to appear on school records even though students rotate between other teachers. Looping: This is a common practice in European schools and involves teachers moving with their students after one year to the next grade level, then looping back to work with a new group of students at the lower grade level (Delviscio & Muffs, 2007). Regular classroom teacher: Students have one teacher for their academic subjects, including, reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. Regular classroom teachers are also referred to as a self-contained classroom teacher. 7 CHAPTER III Initial Review of the Literature The review of the literature will be divided into four areas these include, benefits of departmentalization, variations of departmentalization, transitioning from self- contained to departmentalized, and teacher knowledge and preparation for instruction in a departmentalized class. The literature will reference departmentalization, or a variation of it, and discuss student achievement within a departmentalized setting. The change in school organization effects students and teachers; therefore the effects of transitioning for students and the effects of teacher knowledge and preparation for instruction will be included. The literature will be in order based on the least significant to the most significant. Benefits of Departmentalization The literature discussed modifications of the schools’ organization from the traditional self-contained class to modify the learning environment. Altering the school organization has had both benefits and disadvantages for students, parents, and teachers. Countryside Elementary School in Edina, Minnesota, wanted to offer its parents and students the best opportunity they could to enrich their learning. Davis (1977) recorded their process. Beginning in 1962 the school tested three programs and by 1977 they offered three different types of school organization. The following programs were tested, semi-departmentalization, team-teaching, and open-alternative teaching. During 8 the 1962-1963 school year, semi-departmentalization was tested and proved to be successful but teachers wanted to individualize instruction more. During the 1971–1972 school year, the school tested team-teaching. It found that the students needed to be in a non-graded system so that they could be at their own ability level and team-teaching allowed for individualized instruction. During the 1972–1973 school year, the open- alternative program was implemented, which was a program guided by teachers, parents and students. Each program proved to be successful for different learners, so for the 1977-1978 school year, the parents chose which program they felt would most benefit their child. Originally departmentalization was implemented at an earlier age to prepare students for the secondary level. Teachers and principals began to question if students at such a young age were actually ready for departmentalization. Gumaer (1958) described this issue of departmentalization at junior high schools in New Jersey. Questionnaires were given to principals and a sample of teachers. It was discovered that one third of New Jersey’s Junior High Schools were offering multi-period course, which involved integrating more than one subject per class. These courses were operating well and teachers wanted to use a semi-departmentalized school organization. A problem stood in their way, teacher preparation courses for elementary and junior high teachers differed in that junior high teachers choose a specialization. The junior high school teachers no longer favored departmentalization, but it was difficult to de-emphasize departmentalization because of pre-service teacher requirements. 9 Throughout history school organization has been implemented in a variety of ways. DuPree (1976) reported on The Bureau of Indian Affairs who studied how the Cherokee educational system had to try different methods of school organization to achieve academic success with their students. Cherokee schooling began in a one room building and by 1970 the school population had increased to 800 students, creating a need for change in school organization. Over a six-year period, the Cherokee school hoped to become a fully functioning educational system including, an elementary school, junior high school, and a high school. After all programs were implemented the Cherokee school was studied by Western Carolina University. From 1970 to 1975 the study showed that the Cherokee students were making significant gains in academic achievement. Beginning in 1970, 20.8% of fourth grade students were scoring above the national norm, and by 1975, 43% of fourth grade students were performing above the national norm. Over time the Cherokee schools became academically successful by changing their school organization. Moffet (1975), an Associate Professor of Education at California State University, Fullerton, had been out of the elementary school setting for seven years and wanted to better understand why schools were beginning to change their school’s organizational structure. He wanted to work directly with the students, so he spent time as a fifth grade teacher at Riverdale Elementary School in Orange, California, during the 1973-1974 school year. While in the classroom, Moffet came to many conclusions about departmentalized classrooms and noted the changes he saw in the students. Moffet discovered that not all the teachers taught subjects that they preferred, but there was more 10 planning time available for lesson plans, the fifth grade students appeared to need more security, the class time was controlled by the rotation schedule, it was difficult to know the needs of each individual student, there was little collaboration between the fifth grade teachers, and parents had a hard time communicating with three teachers. Moffet (1975) also noticed that the students appeared to lack values and did not seem to be college bound or looking forward to their futures. Based on his overall experience, Moffet felt that changing the school organization was not beneficial for the students or the teachers. The classroom setting has a large impact on how successful a student can be, Oppenlander (1970) conducted a study to discover what kind of classroom interaction resulted in constructive attitudes. He focused his study on sixth grade students in a departmentalized setting, since they saw more than one teacher a day. Oppenlander hypothesized that the pupil group and not necessarily the teacher, changed the classroom interaction. The students were grouped based on academic ability. He used the high and low sections. For the observations the “Flanders and Soar interpretive techniques” were used to measure pupil effect (Oppenlander), and a student questionnaire. Observations and questionnaires revealed that there was a significant difference in the way students attitudes changed in regards to teachers and peers. The study concluded that there is a correlation with academic attitudes in relation to the teacher as well as the students in the classroom; therefore in a departmentalized structure student attitudes could differ depending on the relationship between the student and the teacher teaching the subject. Jarvis and Fleminng (1965) described the reaction of sixth grade students at Devenshire Elementary School in Skokie, Illinois, when a team teaching program was 11 implemented. Students were placed into groups by academic achievement, instruction was taught in both small and large groups. Students could be in a class with up to 75 students to as low as 4 students. Students were interviewed and asked about their experiences after they had participated in the program for five months. Student responses revealed that they preferred team teaching, but did not enjoy the larger class sizes. The student responded that they were first overwhelmed with the team teaching, but learned to adjust. This variation of departmentalization proved to be successful for the students at Devonshire Elementary School. Another program that proved to be successful for the teachers and students was studied by Butzin, Carroll, and Lutz (2006), at South Heights Elementary School in Kentucky’s Henderson County School District. The school established a program called Changing How Instruction for Learning is Delivered (CHILD), which was a variation of departmentalization and looping. All students were taught core subjects by one teacher, and they kept the same teachers for three years, assuming they began in third grade. The program was tested in third, fourth, and fifth grade. At the start of the second year teachers already knew their students and could begin the year knowing what to expect of their students. Standardized tests were used to see if academic achievement was improving. After one year, the students were outperforming students in self-contained classrooms. By 2001, the school was close to meeting the goals set by the state. After five years of CHILD, South Heights Elementary School received recognition as a National School Change Award winner. 12 The following theory about departmentalization was studied by McGrath and Rust (2002), when a school is departmentalized there will be both a decrease in academic achievement and a loss of instructional minutes, due to transitions between classes. The subjects of the study were 197 fifth and sixth grade students from a rural school district in Tennessee. All students attended self-contained classes until fourth grade. School A was departmentalized in fifth and sixth grade and School B was departmentalized in sixth grade. Academic achievement was measured using the norm referenced Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP). The data for transition time was by direct observation in the classrooms for two full days. The study revealed that self-contained students performed better in language and science for both fifth and sixth grades. There was very little difference found in reading, math, and social studies. Test results showed that all groups had shown improvement from the previous assessment. The data for transition time determined that transitions were more efficient in self-contained classes, but instructional minutes per class were not significantly different. The author felt that self-contained classes performed higher academically. Again comparing departmental and non-departmental, Woods (1959) used eighth grade students from School A and School B as subjects. School A was departmental and School B was non-departmental. The two schools were located in the same area, both economically dependent upon the same industry. The socio-economics of the two schools was very similar. The Otis Quick-Scoring Mental Ability Test was given to both sets of students to determine if their mental ability was also similar. The test revealed that School A had a higher intelligence score than School B. The two schools were given the 13 Stanford Achievement Test in October and again in May. The assessments were compared, School A made a gain of 5.1 and School B made a gain of 13.1. Woods (1959) concluded the non-departmental, School B was more successful. Caliste (1975) explored the academic achievement between students who followed the traditional elementary organization to students who did not. He conducted a study to determine whether or not a school’s organizational pattern made a difference in academic achievement over time. Caliste compared 12th grade, grade point average (GPA) of K-8 students with 12th grade GPA of 7-8 students in order to determine differences over a four-year period. He also analyzed the perceptions of their school experiences. The K-8 school structure consisted of self-contained classrooms through all grades, the 7-8 school structure consisted of departmentalized classrooms for grades 7-8. The results revealed that there was no significant difference between students’ GPA, nor were their significant differences in their school experiences. Similarly to Caliste, Harris (1996) conducted a study to determine if academic achievement differed for departmentalized or non-departmentalized sixth grade students. A sample of thirty students from a departmentalized program and a sample of thirty students from a self-contained program were used to conduct the study. To compare academic achievement, the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) was used as a pretest and a posttest. The fifth grade 1994 test results were used as the pretest, and the sixth grade 1995 results were used as the posttest. The pretest indicated that there was not a significant difference in test results for both groups of students. The results of the posttest showed that there was a significant difference, when comparing the mean score. The self- 14 contained students had a mean of 6.1 and the departmentalized students had a mean of 5.51. Harris (1996) concluded that her research did not support nor did it discredit departmentalization, rather Harris compared her findings to those of Asplaugh and Harting (1995), who state that during a transition year, it can be expected to see a decrease in test scores. Variations of Departmentalization Departmentalization can be implemented in a variety of ways. The literature provided insight on the diverse approaches that have been attempted and the possible advantages that come from implementing departmentalization. Anderson (1962) followed a study that took place in the East Brunswick public schools; they used a program called Achievement Grouping and Teacher Specialization Plan. This plan was an alternative to the school organization of self-contained and included teacher specialization. The theory behind the study was that “specialization offered several advantages to its students” (Anderson, 1962, p. 245). Advantages included, the teacher could master one subject and saw two classes a day. The teachers at East Brunswick public schools went through an in-service program that allowed them to improve their mastery in one content area. The Brunswick public schools hoped to achieve, higher academic achievement, insightful learning, and improved social and emotional growth. Anderson concluded that specialization could improve achievement for students. Gerretson, Bosnick, and Schofield (2008) reported on the Duval County School District, which implemented a team teaching program to improve student learning and 15 test scores in mathematics. A survey was used to identify factors with using teacher specialists in the elementary schools. The survey was used to gather the following information, areas of specialization, which subject area was being taught, why the decision was made to use an alternative model, and open ended comments about the benefits and drawbacks of specialists. Team teaching involved two teachers sharing two classes of students, many schools referred to it as departmentalization. In third grade 53% reported using team teaching while in fourth and fifth grade approximately 76% used team teaching. Eighty-four percent of schools chose specialization to allow for more preparation time, to allow teachers to focus on one subject. Eighty two percent believed that mathematics scores would improve with specialization. A benefit that was noticed by administration was teachers could use their strengths, and some drawbacks were, figuring out how to pair suitable teacher together and how to schedule the classes. In conclusion, allowing teachers to specialize offered a great learning environment for both students and teachers. Departmentalization appeared to be a common option for school organization, the Des Moines School District (1989) conducted a survey to discover how many of its elementary school used departmentalization, to what degree, and what variation. The study demonstrated how departmentalization was used in elementary schools in the Midwest. The responses were classified into two groups self-contained and departmentalization. It was discovered that most schools used a degree of departmentalization. The use of departmentalization ranged from 5% in Kindergarten to 63% in sixth grade. In grades four, five, and six most school districts were not using the 16 self-contained organization. In conclusion the Des Moines School District discovered that most schools in the Midwest used a form of departmentalization and the traditional self- contained classroom was beginning to appear less and less. Once the Des Moines School District (1989) established that they had many school using some extent of departmentalization they wanted to discover what each school classified as departmentalized. Forty one elementary school principals responded to the survey. The principals were asked to name the subjects taught by each teacher, include the number of sections each grade level offered, the current enrollment of the school, and the perceptions of parents regarding the school organization. Results showed in first and second grade there were self-contained classes. Departmentalization was used more in grades three, four, and five. For schools using departmentalization students saw anywhere from three to five teachers. Third graders usually saw three teachers, and it was common for fourth and fifth graders to see four teachers. One school reported that fifth grade students saw five teachers. Principals reported that 85% of parents supported the school organization of departmentalization. The Des Moines School District concluded that primary levels preferred self-contained classes while the intermediate preferred departmentalized classes. Across the United States departmentalization has been implemented in a variety of ways. The American Association of School Administrators (1965) reported on a nationwide survey that was conducted by the Educational Research Service. The purpose of the survey was to discover how many schools were implementing departmentalization, what variation of departmentalization they used, and allowed the responding schools to 17 explain any advantages and disadvantages about departmentalization pertaining to students, teachers, and parents. The results confirmed that there were many elementary schools that used a variation of departmentalization. This survey concluded that many schools throughout the United States have tried departmentalization, and some schools continued to use it due to its success. The results of the survey concluded that departmentalization can be successful for students and teachers when implemented to fit the needs of the school. A school district that hoped to increase the academic success of its students through school organization changed the structure of one entire elementary school. Reed (2002) described a four-teacher instructional model used at Colin L. Powell Elementary School in Conroe Independent School District. The purpose of the study was to describe the four-teacher model and the school experience of fourth grade students. The four- teacher model which was created by parents, teachers, and students, it was a high income area with a student body of 758 students, K-8. Questionnaires were used with a five-point scale, and distributed to parents, teachers, and students of the fourth grade. The basic structure of the four-teacher model was eight teachers per grade level, four teachers in each “community,” and one teacher for each core subject. Students moved with their homerooms from teacher to teacher. The qualitative data revealed that parents had a positive opinion about the program. The qualitative data consisted of student, teacher, and parent written responses. The responses had both positive and negative opinions about the program including time management, teacher availability, and student maturity. This four-teacher model appeared to be a successful alternative to school organization. 18 Delviscio and Muffs (2007) conducted a study in which the third, fourth, and fifth grade organizational structure was changed with the hope of increasing academic success. The administration at Bishop Dunn Memorial School in Newburgh, New York decided to develop a program of teaching at their school which involved looping and departmentalization. This study was conducted at a small school with only one teacher per grade level. The purpose of the new program was to provide more stability in instruction, increase instructional time, create a bond between teachers working together, develop a better understanding of the curriculum, and decrease the “transition shock” of sixth grade. Three teachers were teamed together and each maintained a homeroom class, each teacher became a specialist in one subject, which is the departmentalization aspect of the program. The students stayed with their reading, writing, and math teacher for third, fourth, and fifth grade, which is the looping aspect of the program. To validate the success of the program, the school used the results of the Iowa Basic Skills Test for the fourth grade students. Fourth grade was chosen as the sample group because these students had already participated in the program for two years. Test results indicated a significant increased in results and they continued to increase for years after the initial implementation. Transitioning from Self-Contained to Departmental Elementary school organization has often consisted of self-contained classes with one teacher, students’ later transition to departmental classes at the secondary level. The students become familiar with the self-contained method and when they transition into departmentalization they have to learn how to adjust to the new organization. 19 Spivak (1956) conducted a study on students who were junior high to determine if students from self-contained classes or students from departmental classes transitioned better academically and socially. The junior high was in an under privileged area of Newark, New Jersey. Spivak hypothesized that students who had been in a departmentalized setting for two years would have an advantage over the self-contained as they entered junior high. To compare academic achievement, the student’s grades from the end of the six-week marking period were used. For data on social adjustment, personality traits were recorded by the homeroom teacher and it was also noted the number of times the student was referred to the office or counselor for behavior problems. It was revealed that after the first term of school the students from the self- contained classes were performing better both academically and socially. Spivak concluded that his hypothesis was not correct, students from self-contained classes actually adjusted better to junior high than students from departmentalized classes. Many studies on departmentalization mention the transitional effects from self- contained classrooms to departmentalized, focusing on academic achievement and social behaviors, but Lamme (1976) felt that reading habits were just as important. Lamme conducted a study to see if there was a difference in reading habits as the students transitioned from self-contained classes to departmentalized classes. The entire fourth grade of an elementary school in central New York was the subject of the study. At the start of the study, there were 95 students in fourth grade, for their fifth grade year there were 91 students, and for their sixth grade year there were 96 students. Sixth grade was their first year transitioning to departmentalization. The departmentalized classes were 20 grouped by reading ability. The results of the surveys for all three years showed drastic changes in the students reading habits. Overall, the reading habits appeared to decrease when students transitioned to departmentalization but, Lamme (1976) concluded that her study did not necessarily prove that one method of school organization is better than the other. Mitchell (1994) conducted a study to determine the effects of self-esteem and academic achievement of students during their transition from self-contained to departmental. Mitchell hypothesized that elementary students transitioning into middle school needed to maintain the “one-peer-group” classroom structure, to provided security, familiarity, and to decrease the negative effects of transitioning. The students were grouped based on two variations of departmentalization, one group was in a constant membership, and the other was a fluctuating membership. The constant membership group consisted of four class rotations with their homeroom class. The fluctuating membership group was a group of students who had one class together during their four rotations. The first year of the study 85 seventh grade students were placed in a constant membership group, while the remaining seventh grade students were placed in a fluctuating membership group. During the second year, all 170 seventh grade students were placed in a constant membership group. The first year indicated that the students in the constant membership group had an increase in self-esteem and increase in standardized test scores. The second year also indicated that the constant membership group continued to be successful. Mitchell concluded that departmentalization in 21 elementary schools proved to be more successful when students maintained a homeroom when transitioning from one class to another. Alspaugh and Harting (1995) conducted a study for the purpose of discovering the effects of transitioning. Alspaugh and Harting looked for one school with each of the following grade-level organizations K-4, K-5, K-6, K-7, and K-8 in the Missouri school districts. The Missouri Mastery and Achievement Test (MMAT) was used to determine the academic success of the students. Results showed that each grade level which had a transition from self-contained to departmental had a decrease in test results. This decrease occurred in both reading and math. Science and social studies did not have significant changes. Test results from previous years were also reviewed and it was noted that achievement levels appeared to increase after the first year of transitioning. Alspaugh and Harting concluded that when there is a transition from self-contained class to departmentalized class, it is expected to see a loss in academic achievement and scores will improve after the first year of transitioning. Teacher Knowledge and Preparation for Instruction Teacher knowledge is directly related to the academic success of students. Teacher knowledge begins with potential teachers in college and continues while in the classroom. Teacher surveys revealed that there was a consensus that teachers felt a need to focus on the core subjects of reading, writing, and math due to standardized testing (McCall et al., 2008). Yancey (2006) followed a newly established internship program between Humboldt State University (HSU) School of Education and East Bay Conservation Corps 22 (EBCC) Elementary Charter School. It was believed that the internship would provide an enhanced learning experience in a real classroom setting. EBCC was located in an urban area, while HSU was located in a rural area of California. This program sought to bridge together the environments of both institutes. The pilot year of the program was the 2005- 2006 school year. Seven candidates worked as full-time interns for the K-5 school while earning their credential through HSU. During their internship they had to complete one semester in an upper elementary class and one semester in a primary class, they were assigned two mentor teachers, and were required to fulfill all school wide duties. By the spring of 2006, six of the seven interns were still enrolled in the program. The interns gave interviews about their perceptions of the program, they liked being given the opportunities to take on the teaching role in the class, allowing them to apply their skills, but they did not know they would be working such long hours, and they also felt that there was not enough planning time. Although difficult, the program had proven to be successful in creating a bridge to improve teacher preparation and expanding the opportunities available to the pre-service teachers at HSU. Similarly, McCall et al. (2008) discussed a project that consisted of current classroom teachers and potential teachers collaborating to improve the gap in pre-service teacher preparation. An internship was created with social studies methods students from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and classroom teachers from the Oshkosh Area School District. The internship lasted for two semesters. In the methods class the college students learned how to integrate social studies into all content areas. The classroom teachers spoke about the realities of instructional minutes in the classroom. The interns 23 quickly realized in the classroom there was a limited amount of time for social studies. Interns, classroom teachers, and student of the methods course kept journals to document their experiences and classroom discussions. The students in the methods course were very attentive and appreciated the experience of the classroom teachers. This internship enhanced the learning for both potential teachers and current teachers. Oftentimes reading and math is emphasized over subjects such as science and social studies. Gess-Newsome (1999) stated that there was a need to increase elementary teacher knowledge in the subject of science and increase the amount of science that is being taught in the elementary classroom. Gess-Newsome explored different models for elementary science instruction, classroom generalists, science support teams, departmentalization within grade levels, and science specialists. Gess-Newsome gathered information and put it into a table categorizing the five models under the following elements, pedagogical knowledge and skill, knowledge of students, knowledge of curriculum, and time in science instruction. Gess-Newsome discovered that science specialists were the most qualified but not the most common. Gess-Newsome concluded that more research is needed to find a way to make sure that all elementary students are receiving the adequate amount of science instruction. Just as teachers in departmentalization focus on one subject, students do the same when they enter the classroom. Mirra (n.d.) questioned how students could make interdisciplinary connections in single subject classes, and discovered how teachers worked together to achieve this. The study was conducted at ACORN Community High School in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Mirra and coworker Honoroff, combined their 24 classes of Advanced Placement English and United States History to create connections between the two subjects. Mirra and Honoroff wanted to motivate their students, improve student achievement, and make the students think critically. Student surveys revealed that the students worked harder, students enjoyed the classes, and students learned more. Mirra (n.d.) also discovered that through teacher planning, burnout was lower and creativity was higher. The study was beneficial because it showed that teacher collaboration and interdisciplinary teaching can increase teacher instructional preparation and increase student achievement. The self-contained classroom is the most common elementary school organization used today; Ackerlund (1959) felt that although self-contained maintains a better student- teacher relationship, it is difficult for the teacher to be knowledgeable and prepared to teach all subjects. To investigate his theory Ackerlund (1959) surveyed a large school district in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. Teachers were asked about preparation in the areas of knowledge of subject and methods of teaching. Responses showed that 109 teachers felt self-contained was the best classroom organization and 122 felt that was it not. Of those who responded to being qualified to teach all subjects, most felt they were. In grades K-2, many teachers favored self-contained classroom, but in 3-5 grades teachers opposed self-contained classes because of the higher demand of content knowledge. Ackerlund felt that even though a teacher may be prepared to teach all subjects it does not mean that they enjoy teaching all subjects. The Des Moines School District (1989) sent out a survey to Midwest universities to learn if pre-service teachers were being influence to prefer one school organization 25 over the other. The school district hoped to discover which philosophy was emphasized more in teacher preparation programs. The questionnaires were mailed to chairs of elementary education and educational administration departments at 25 universities in the Midwest. The participants were asked to express the philosophies of the university and their personal point of view. Responses to the questionnaire for the primary level revealed that, 16% of universities stated that they had clear philosophies about classroom organization. A majority revealed that their personal philosophy was self-contained. For the intermediate level, 18% of universities stated that they had clear philosophies about classroom organization. The personal philosophy of the participants was, 29% preferred self-contained classes, 21% preferred semi-departmentalization, and 19% preferred departmentalization. The results of the questionnaire revealed a preference in school organization depending on grade level. Marlow and Inman (1997) conducted a survey to determine how teachers were teaching the subjects, math, science, and social studies. They hoped to determine how much time was spent teaching these subjects and what materials were being used. Marlow and Inman hypothesized that teachers relied too much on textbooks and not enough on hands-on teaching. A random selection of 200 elementary schools throughout the South and Southeast were given surveys. The survey asked the teachers the following question “To what extent are the following elements a part of (math, science, social studies) instruction in your class?” (Marlow & Inman). The majority of the teachers responded to using textbooks. Teachers cited the following as obstacles for instructions, lack of appropriate materials, low parental expectations, management and discipline 26 problems, planning and preparation requirements, and a lack of clear curriculum expectations. Marlow and Inman’s hypothesis was correct, it appeared that teachers relied too much on textbooks and were not actively engaging the students in the subjects of math, science, and social studies. The National Center for Educational Statistics (2004) reported on the amount of preparation that elementary school reading teachers have. The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) 1999-2000 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), asked the teachers to report the subject matter of their main teaching throughout their day. They were also asked about their educational attainment, and the subject matter of their postsecondary majors and minors (National Center for Educational Statistics). Teachers were classified into three groups, general elementary teacher, who taught reading to one class, reading specialists, who taught reading to many students such as a pull out setting, and other reading teacher, who were not assigned to one class but taught reading at least once per day. It was discovered that reading specialist were likely to have their masters degree in reading, while general education teacher were likely to have their masters in elementary education. The surveyed showed that reading specialists had the most preparation to teach reading, but specialists were not the largest amount of teachers who taught reading. It was discovered that in 1999-2000, there was 29,000 elementary reading specialist, 32,000 other elementary teachers, and 1 million general education elementary teachers. From the results it is visible that general education teachers do not have as much preparation as a specialist. 27 Through this review of the literature, it is evident that by altering the school organization to departmentalization there is not a clear conclusion of its benefits. Many studies mentioned the lack of data to support departmentalization. When one alters the school organization there are other elements that are affected, such as students transitioning and teachers learning to alter their instruction. This does not mean that offering change is a terrible choice, but one must look at every aspect of school organization before make such a decision. The literature presented some changes that had occurred, even the manner in which college courses were offered to better prepare its students for the classroom expectations. The literature also presented the concerns of the students transitioning, including academic achievement, social behavior, and learning habits. Altering the school organization may be one option to improve academic achievement, but it is going to take a lot of work before changes may be seen. 28 CHAPTER IV Critical Analysis of the Literature The studies presented in the literature included some of the following methodological characteristics, (a) the use of surveys, both on a point scale and open ended responses, (b) comparing standardized test scores, and (c) direct classroom observation. Many of the studies conducted were older than a decade, which questioned if the studies were still applicable to today. The most common method used was surveys, which were both quantitative and qualitative. This information appeared to give a broad number of figures and responses. The literature attempted to deal with school organization in the United States and whether a change in organization would prove or disprove as being beneficial to increase academic achievement. Although departmentalization is one option of school organization there is limited credible research to clearly say that by changing the school organization, students will perform academically superior (Harris, 1996). The initiative to change school organization is not a new proposal; discussions of self-contained organization as opposed to departmentalized organization have been going on for half a century (Lamme, 1976). Many of the studies emphasized how departmentalization or a variation of it, was implemented one school, for example Reed (2002) described a four-teacher model, Delviscio and Muffs (2007) described a departmental and looping program, Anderson 29 (1962) discussed a program which focused on specialization and how to increase teacher knowledge, while Des Moines Public Schools (1989) discovered how many of their schools used departmentalization and what variation of it. Academic achievement was observed in some studies, many using standardized test scores to reach a conclusion. Butzin et al. (2006) examined a program called CHILD which showed significant academic growth and was even recognized as a National School Change winner. McGrath and Rust (2002) felt that self-contained students would perform higher academically because of more instructional time with one teacher, although they did find that the instructional minutes did not differ greatly, and the self- contained students did perform higher in two academic areas. Many studies were conducted within one school year and concluded that there was improvement in academic achievement but not enough sufficient data to show long term success (Caliste, 1975); therefore it appeared that there was a need to conduct more research on departmentalization and for longer periods of time (McGrath & Rust, 2002, Reed, 2002). Harris (1996) felt the study of Alspaugh and Harting (1995) was the most sensible. Alspaugh and Harting (1995) stated that when students transitioned from self- contained to departmental there would be a loss in academic achievement, but after the first year scores did appear to improve. With that in mind Harris (1996) conducted her own study and results did show a decrease for a transition year, although she did not continue to see if scores would recover. Most studies were not longitudinal, therefore it was impossible to discredit or praise one method of school organization over the other. 30 When the classroom structure shifted from one teacher who sees one class, to two or more teachers that see many classes there is an impact on the students and teachers. When the school organization is changed students must learn how to adjust to the new method. While the transition from middle school to high school has been given attention, the transition from elementary to middle school needs more attention. Many elementary students leave the self-contained class for a quasi-departmentalized middle level school where the continuous change of class membership is accepted (Mitchell, 1994); the students must learn on their own how to adjust to this alteration. Student adjustment to departmentalization has shown to alter their academic achievement, social behavior, and learning habits. It seemed as though there needs to be more of a concentration on assisting elementary students adjust to changes in school organization. Teachers directly influence their students in a variety of ways. A good student- relationship can affect student achievement; elementary students need to feel security (Moffet, 1975), teachers can influence the reading habits of their students (Lamme, 1976), and the teachers aptitude and interest of a subject can influence how the students will perform (Ackerlund, 1959). Combining all these factors puts a lot of pressure on what is expected of an elementary school teacher. Elementary teachers are expected to be a “jack-of-all-trades” who is equally strong in all areas of the curriculum (Chan & Jarman, 2004). The elementary organization of self-contained classes did not take into account that it is rare a teacher has considerable competence in more than one or two subjects (Anderson, 1962). In Ackerlund’s (1959) 31 study is was revealed in a survey that out of 260 teachers surveyed only four teacher considered themselves well prepared to teach all subjects. To relieve some of the stress from elementary school teachers, specialization has been offered as an alternative, specialization in one or two areas can offer quality instruction as a more practical option (Gerretson et al., 2008). Specialization allows teachers to stay on top of new developments in teaching methods, materials, equipment, and professional literature. It is easier for a specialized teacher to stay informed about one or two subjects rather than all subjects (Anderson, 1962). Mirra (n.d.) discovered that when team teaching the students saw the collaboration between teachers and it created a positive classroom environment, the student were excited to work toward higher goals. When students saw more than one teacher a day, they seemed to adjust quickly, they made more friends, and most of all they found school more interesting than before (Lambert, as cited in Jarvis & Fleming, 1965). Although many studies appeared to be successful for teachers, much of the literature did not prove to be successful for the ultimate goal of increasing student achievement. The dates of the studies ranged from 1956 to 2008. When searching for articles there was a limited amount of research conducted on departmentalization therefore studies spanned over 50 years. In this time the elementary grade span has been altered. Currently elementary grade span is most common K-5, which over time has shifted from K-8. Throughout the literature there are references of studies ranging from fourth grade to eighth grade, even mentioning transitioning into ninth grade, this is due to the shift in elementary grade span. Comparing fourth grade to eighth grade is not entirely accurate 32 because there is a significant difference in student maturity, curriculum requirements, and content knowledge; therefore, this large span of time is not a good representation of how beneficial or non-beneficial departmentalization could be. In conclusion, departmentalization does not appear to increase academic achievement. This review of the literature provided cases which showed some benefits and disadvantages of departmentalization for both students and teachers. There were also many flaws to the studies, including the length of time in which the study was conducted, the year in which the studies have been conducted, and the inconsistency of the authors stating they did not feel that one method of school organization was preferential over the other. Even though self-contained and departmentalized school organization had been debated for many years, research has still not proven that departmentalization is going to significantly improve academic achievement in elementary schools. 33 CHAPTER V Conclusions and Implications for Teaching Going back to the original four research questions, the literature revealed the following conclusions and suggestions about departmentalization. Question #1 In what ways does departmentalization influence elementary student achievement? The literature did not prove that departmentalization in elementary schools would increase student achievement. Much of the literature showed an increase in academic achievement with students from self-contained classes. Therefore departmentalization is not going to solve the problem of minimal increase in elementary student achievement. A suggestion would be that additional studies on departmentalization should be followed for longer periods of time. Question #2 In what ways does teachers’ preparation change after they are teaching in a departmentalized grade? It was revealed in the literature that teachers have to alter their manner of teaching and increase their content knowledge when departmentalization is implemented. In departmentalization teachers become subject specialists, creating a need for more in- services to increase their knowledge in one subject rather than all subjects. 34 Departmentalization appears to offer great benefits for teachers, but does not account for increasing student achievement. A future suggestion would be to test two classes on the same subject, one which is taught by a classroom generalist and one which is taught by a classroom specialist, to observe if the teachers’ instructional knowledge and preparation affects the students performance. Use of a true experimental design on this topic would be suggested, to determine if there are valid impacts of either method. Question #3 How does departmentalization affect students academically and socially as they transition from self-contained to departmental classes? All studies which were conducted on students’ transition from elementary education to middle education concluded that students were not well prepared for the change. Many studies found that the change in school organization had a negative impact on academic achievement and students’ social behavior. These negative impacts tended to occur at the beginning of the transition from self-contained to departmentalized. The literature demonstrated that students need assistance in adjusting to such a big change. For students to adjust to this change, a future suggestion is to conduct a study in which students’ transition gradually to departmentalization by possibly beginning with semi- departmentalization, then to three class rotations, and slowly increase the number of rotations while also separating students from the traditional homeroom setting. 35 Question #4 What are the common characteristics of schools that implement departmentalization in elementary school? The single most important characteristic of all the schools presented in the literature was that theses schools were all looking for a way to increase academic achievement. These schools were searching for a new method to revitalize the school atmosphere; some schools had minimal parental support, were located in low socio- economic urban parts of the country, had high teacher turnover rates, and had diminishing test scores. When school chose to implement departmentalization, many schools followed an organization similar to the four teacher model. This included four teachers per grade one teacher for the core academic subjects. Future research should include studies in schools which may not necessarily need to increase academic achievement. By conducting further research in high performing schools the impact of organizational changes could be evaluated. If the high performing schools find that student performance decreases as a result of departmentalization, this finding would be significant. By changing the school structure in a high performing school, the results of departmentalization could be evaluated and then compared to current studies to see if new implications for further research are found. Further suggestions for research on departmentalization would be to conduct longitudinal studies. Studies could include, whether or not students from departmentalized classes have higher high school graduation rates. Do students from 36 departmentalized classes have a hard time when initially transitioning from a self- contained class and is there an increase in academic achievement after their first or second year of transitioning. Many of the studies presented in the review of the literature were conducted for short periods of time and often during the initial year of transition from a self-contained class to a departmentalized class. Another suggestion would be to conduct studies which include minorities. It is know that there is a need to close the academic gap with minorities, while many schools choose to use departmentalization to improve their academic scores it would be beneficial to see if departmentalization could help to close the academic gap with minorities. More importantly, gathering feedback from the students would be beneficial. The opinion of the students who were in the departmentalized classes was often not included. It would be beneficial to understand how the students feel about the transition and classroom organization. The results of this review of the literature will be disseminated in the following manners, posting the availability to examine the review of literature on the Clark County School District Insider and a presentation at a staff meeting. This review of the literature will provide schools who may be interested in departmentalization valuable information. 37 References Ackerlund, G. (1959). Some teacher views on the self-contained classroom. In B. O. Smith & M. P. Franklin (Eds.), School organization: Theory and practice (pp. 199-202). Chicago: Rand McNally & Company. Alspaugh, J., & Harting, R. (1995). Transition effects of school grade-level organization on student achievement. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 28(3), 145-149. 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From the tightrope: Designing, developing, and delivering an alternative teacher education model. Multicultural Education, 14(2), 24-27.
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