Rethinking Scale: Moving Beyond Numbers to Deep and Lasting Change

Cynthia E. Coburn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

467 Scopus citations

Abstract

The issue of “scale” is a key challenge for school reform, yet it remains undertheorized in the literature. Definitions of scale have traditionally restricted its scope, focusing on the expanding number of schools reached by a reform. Such definitions mask the complex challenges of reaching out broadly while simultaneously cultivating the depth of change necessary to support and sustain consequential change. This article draws on a review of theoretical and empirical literature on scale, relevant research on reform implementation, and original research to synthesize and articulate a more multidimensional conceptualization. I develop a conception of scale that has four interrelated dimensions: depth, sustainability, spread, and shift in reform ownership. I then suggest implications of this conceptualization for reform strategy and research design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-12
Number of pages10
JournalEducational Researcher
Volume32
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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