Academic teaming : a study of the decision-making processes on selected middle schools
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The purpose of the study was to examine the decision-making processes occurring on Alpha And Omega Middle Schools, two academically successful middle schools that have implemented the middle school concept and the practice of academic teaming. The two questions guiding the research were: (1) How are the decisions made on selected middle school campuses? (2) What district and campus policies, practices and decisionmaking patterns facilitate or impede teacher involvement in the decision-making process? The study used qualitative methods to investigate the decision-making processes taking place on the selected middle school campuses. Data for the study were collected through the use of direct observations, in-depth interviews, a survey and a review of the documents. The data analysis process allowed for the emergence of key themes, which served to answer the research questions guiding this study. The findings demonstrated that the major decisions on both middle schools were made through a collaborative process. The data also revealed that the academic teams, on both campuses, had a great deal of latitude in making decisions that impacted the students assigned to them. In addition, other vi organizational structures, on each campus, had decision-making authority and influence on campus. Campus practices and policies identified as facilitating collaborative decision-making included, supportive organizational structures including the practice of academic teaming and leadership strategies demonstrated by the principals. The strategies utilized by the campus principals included sharing the decision-making, accommodating for group needs, and visibility and accessibility. The two main barriers to participative decision-making were identified as time constraints and accountability issues. The findings of this study enhance our understanding of the collaborative decision-making processes occurring on academically successful middle schools campuses and the role the campus administration plays in encouraging and supporting the practice. Therefore, the findings have implications for teachers, teacher leaders and administrators seeking to implement or nurture collaborative environments.