Rethinking Scale: Moving Beyond Numbers to Deep and Lasting Change

August 1st, 2003 | RESEARCH

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.


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Team Members

Cynthia Coburn, Author, University of Pittsburgh


Publication: Educational Researcher
Volume: 32
Number: 6
Page(s): 3

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Audience: Educators | Teachers | Evaluators | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Education and learning science
Resource Type: Peer-reviewed article | Research Products
Environment Type: Informal | Formal Connections | Public Programs