Book Review

Sustaining Change in Schools: How to Overcome Differences and Focus on Quality

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Alexandria, Va., 2005, 183 pp., $25.95 softcover

By Daniel P. Johnson

Daniel Johnson’s book, Sustaining Change in Schools: How to Overcome Differences and Focus on Quality, could especially benefit educational administrators who are charged with leading change in their schools.

Johnson, a 35-year veteran and superintendent in Loveland, Colo., was struck by two findings during his involvement with TIMSS in the 1990s: the correlation between teacher expectations and student achievement, and the gap between instructional purpose and practice.

These revelations were a catalyst for his further study of how personality types and school culture affect the link between purpose and practice. Johnson claims that quality in schools depends on the nature of those who work in the schools and what he terms the “Four P’s”:

  • Purpose — “Why is this important?”
  • Parameters — “What are the rules of engagement?”
  • Principle — “How do I make this work?”
  • Priorities — “Will this make a difference?”

Theorizing about organizational change is certainly much easier than implementing and sustaining it. Accordingly, the most helpful aspects of Johnson’s book are the many explanatory charts and the draft procedural models that he provides.

Coupled with a sincere desire to create and sustain quality schools to meet the needs of all students, this book offers practical guidance to school change agents.

Reviewed by Judith A. Zimmerman, assistant professor of educational administration and leadership studies, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio.