School Reform and Capacity Building

Much of my work in education examines what it really takes to improve schools on a large scale. A major thread of that work focuses on developing a deeper understanding of “capacity” – an often used but very ambiguous term.  Many policies, reform initiatives, and organizational change strategies suggest that they will “build capacity” to improve learning, but exactly what that entails or how that will be accomplished remains unarticulated.  From my perspective, this lack of clarity contributes to a failure to appreciate the challenges and complexities of teaching and learning and drives simplistic policies and practices.

In contrast, my work on capacity building highlights that incentives and accountability are not sufficient to improve schools and suggests instead that policymakers, educators, students, parents and the general public need to take responsibility for developing the materials and resources (and “technical capital”), expertise (and “human capital”), and relationships (and “social capital”) that can substantially improve teaching and learning for all students.  (As another response, I also set out to develop the websites documenting and demonstrating the complexity of teaching that are linked from the “Online Videos/Exhibitions” section of this site.)

In this section of the website, I’ve provided references and (where possible) links to some of the key publications and lessons from this capacity-building work.  That includes publications from the study of systemic efforts to improve education in “higher” and “lower” performing countries; from a study of a small number of “successful” schools in the San Francisco Bay Area of the United States; and from my earlier studies and experiences as a member of a major effort to transform schools in the US – the ATLAS Communities Project, a collaboration of the Coalition of Essential Schools, The School Development Program, Education Development Center, and Harvard Project Zero.

For a summary of my view of capacity:

Hatch, T. (2013).  Innovation at the core: What it really takes to improve classroom practice. Phi Delta Kappan, 95 (3), 34-38.

For insights from the study of “successful” schools in the Bay Area:

Hatch, T. (2009).  Managing to change:  How schools can survive (and sometimes thrive) in turbulent times.  New York:  Teachers College Press.

Hatch, T. (2009).  The outside-inside connection.  Educational Leadership, 67 (2), 16-21.

For the origins of the work on capacity-building and studies of the ATLAS Project:

Honig, M., & Hatch, T. (2004).  Crafting coherence: How schools strategically manage multiple, external demands.  Educational Researcher, 33 (8), 16-30.

Hatch, T. (2002). When improvement programs collide. Phi Delta Kappan. 83 (8), 626-634.

Hatch, T., & White, N. (2002).  The raw materials of reform: Rethinking the knowledge of school improvement.  The Journal of Educational Change. 3 (2), 117-134.

Hatch, T. (2001).  Incoherence in the system:  Three perspectives on the implementation of multiple improvement initiatives in one district.  American Journal of Education. 109 (4), 107-37.

Hatch, T. (2001). What does it take to break the mold? Teachers College Record, 102(3), 561-589.

Hatch, T. (2001).  It takes capacity to build capacity, Education Week, 20 (22), 44, 47.

Hatch, T. (2000). What does it take to “go to scale”?  Reflections on the promise and the perils of comprehensive school reform.  Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 5 (4), 339-354.

Hatch, T. (1998).  The differences in theory that matter in the practice of school improvement.  American Educational Research Journal, 35 (1), 3-31.

Hatch, T. (1998).  How comprehensive can comprehensive reform be?  Phi Delta Kappan, 79 (7), 518-523.