This article illuminates the key elements of a strong school culture that have been linked with sustainable school improvement. Policy literature and conversations highlight the importance of school culture as the softer strategy in school improvement. Within this context, this article reviews existing research literature to theorize the key elements of a “strong school culture.” Based on this, the article attempts to measure the key elements of a strong school culture and explores how those cultural elements are associated with sustainable school improvement, drawing from large survey data in the U.S. Implications for policy and research are discussed in depth.
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Karen Seashore Louis is a Regents Professor and the Robert H. Beck Chair in the Department of Organizational Policy, Leadership, and Development at the University of Minnesota. She has also served as the Director of the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement at the University of Minnesota, Department Chair, and Associate Dean of the College of Education and Human Development. Her work focuses on school improvement and reform, school effectiveness, leadership in school settings, and the politics of knowledge use in education. Her most recent books include Building Strong School Cultures: A Guide to Leading Change (with Sharon Kruse, 2009), Linking Leadership to Student Learning (with Kenneth Leithwood, 2011), Educational Policy: Political Culture and Its Effects (2012) and Reach the highest standard in professional learning: Leadership (2016, Corwin Press). A Fellow of the American Educational Research Association, she also served as the Vice President of Division A, and on the Executive Board of the University Council for Educational Administration. She has received numerous awards, including the Lifetime Contributions to Staff Development award from the National Staff Development Association (2007), the Campbell Lifetime Achievement Award from the University Council for Educational Administration (2009), and a Life Member designation from the International Congress for School Effectiveness and School Improvement. firstname.lastname@example.org
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