Learning from school restructuring

Penelope L. Peterson*, Sarah J. McCarthey, Richard F. Elmore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


We analyzed cases of restructuring experiments in three elementary schools, each with ethnically diverse populations, located in large urban school districts in different parts of the United States. Over 2 years, we gathered data on views and classroom writing practices of two teachers in each school through on-site interviews and observations. We also interviewed the principal and other support personnel. We found that these three schools did successfully restructure; changes included new student grouping patterns, new ways of allocating time for subject matter, teachers meeting together as a whole school or in teams, and access to new ideas through professional development opportunities. Through close analyses of teachers' classroom practices, we learned that changing teachers' practice is primarily a problem of learning, not a problem of organization. While school structures can provide opportunities for learning new practices, the structures, by themselves, do not cause the learning to occur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-153
Number of pages35
JournalAmerican Educational Research Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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