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Title: The community school concept : an exploration of organizational models and theoretical potential
Author: Garcia, Anthony
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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The aims of this mixed methods research study, which applies a case study research strategy to six U.S. community schools, are to understand three community school models (national, local federation, and independent) and their potential to improve conditions for students, their parents, and other community members. The primary research questions being addressed are (1) what distinguishing characteristics does each of the three community school models possess in the areas of aims and motivations, implementation strategies, and impacts, and (2) does the community school concept have the potential to strengthen individual settings, the links between such settings, and broad features that are located in the 'human ecological systems' of students (Bronfenbrenner, 1977, 1979, 1986)? Collectively, practitioner-based and academic works, which have investigated community schools in the United States, England, Scotland, Australia, the Netherlands, and Northern Ireland., conclude that community schools provide individuals with access to a variety of offerings, that the operations of community schools are complex, thus requiring the establishment of a community school director position, effective partnerships, and healthy communication, and that community schools typically achieve mixed academic performance results and consistently possess positive 'academic-related' and 'non-academic-related' elements, such as high levels of student interest in school and high levels of family cohesion. To develop a greater understanding of community school operations and academic performance, my exploratory, descriptive research, which is closest to that of the former topic but touches upon the latter, takes on an interpretivist perspective that seeks to illuminate and understand three different community school models (the national, local federation, and independent models) and their environments. In terms of research question one, the data suggests that distinguishing characteristics, which can be described as 'inherent' and 'potential,' exist among the three community school models. For example, the national and local federation models possess the 'inherent' characteristic that individual schools have access to a headquarters, foundation, or a central office. Additionally, in terms of 'potential' characteristics, the data suggests that the national model displays the greatest strength amongst the three models in the areas of implementation strategies and achieved academic performance results; whereas, the independent model displays the greatest strength amongst the three models in the areas of aims and motivations and being perceived as having had strong positive impacts on academic performance, 'academic-related' elements, and 'non-academic-related' elements. It should be noted, though, that all three models were consistently viewed as possessing a variety of favorable 'academic-related' and 'nonacademic- related' elements. The findings, overall, provide new evidence on the role of a model. Essentially, the nature of the model adopted has consequences. As for research question two, the data drawn from across the six cases suggests that the community school concept has the potential to strengthen individual settings, such as schools and student peer groups, the links between such settings, and broad features, such as the state of poverty and the political culture, that reside in the 'human ecological systems' of students. I hope this study provides policymakers and practitioners with relevant evidence that helps them decide between the 'traditional' public school approach and the community school approach and amongst the three community school models. Additionally, this study seeks to provide a basis for future research on community school models and the theoretical potential of the community school concept that may help improve the lives and settings of disadvantaged students and other community members.
Supervisor: Sammons, Pamela ; Chankseliani, Maia Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available