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Visit Theory and History

Listings here consider most of the key research constructs that are behind Practice-Based Inquiry or PBI's history.

Catalpa Publications

The Foundations and Components of Practice-Based Inquiry®, Thomas A. Wilson. Catalpa Ltd. October, 2009.

Foundations presents the conceptual framework for PBI including its assumptions, definitions, theory of action and components. This is the most detailed description of both the theoretical constructs and steps for implementing a PBI visit. (Contact Catalpa. $10 for download and $20 for hard copy.) Click here to view Table of Contents.

Reaching for a Better Standard: English School Inspection and the Dilemmas of American Public School Inspection, Thomas A. Wilson. Teachers College Press, 1996.

Catalpa's Principal Partner's well-regarded study of English School Inspection is a highly readable presentation of the roots of PBI. Click here for more  »

Review of Reaching for a Better Standard, Robert Welker. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 1997, Vol 29, 241-256.

"Wilson's instincts are right on the mark. …As Wilson sagely suggests, the very rush to fix schools can push the educational establishment in the opposite direction. This is a book which strikes at the cultural center of how we define good work in schools. Wilson speaks like an elder of the tribe, and we all need to hear his wise words." View »

Review of Reaching for a Better Standard, Times Educational Supplement. London, November 15, 1996, Section 2, p.7.

"It is beautifully done, and entirely convincing."  View »

Notes on The American Fascination with the English Tradition of School Inspection,Thomas A. Wilson. Cambridge Journal of Education, 1995, 25(1), 89-96.

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On Knowing the Secrets of Schools: Lessons from the British on Judging Schools with their Complexities in Mind, Thomas A. Wilson. Education Week, January 17, 1996, p.44.

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Accreditation Standards and School Improvement: Putting Methodology in its Proper Place, Thomas A. Wilson. NCATE, Washington D.C. 1998.

This monograph argues that a standards based system that supports the growth of institutional performance must start with the purpose for the assessment and NOT with the available methods of assessment. Order from publisher.

Visiting Accreditation: Strengthening the Regional Accreditation Process, Thomas A. Wilson. LAB at Brown. 1999.

This study of NEASC secondary school accreditation was a key study in the development of Practice-Based Inquiry. View »

Legitimizing Practitioner Knowledge: Key to Effective Accountability and School Improvement, Thomas A. Wilson. 14th International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, Toronto, Ontario, March 2001.

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Rigor and Utility: The Efficacy of AdvancED's Practices for Conducting School Evaluation Visits and Preparing Team Reports. AdvancED.

A Special Catalpa Study, 2011. Copyrighted and distributed by AdvancED, Alpharetta, GA. 2011. (Formerly NCA -- the North Central Association for Schools and Colleges and SACS -- the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools.)

Catalpa Presentations

Visiting Practice-Based Accountability

A forum sponsored by the Education Department, Brown University, Catalpa Ltd. and the Rhode Island Department of Education, May 2001.

How to Know Schools, Thomas A. Wilson. Catalpa Ltd, December 2002.

Essay presented at Dodeka, Brown University.

Peer Review Practice in the New Framework for English School Accountability, General Teaching Council for England. January 2004.

Particulars and Judgment in the Midst of Complexity: Lessons from Visiting Schools with a Theological Twist, Thomas A. Wilson. Catalpa Ltd., May 2007

Essay presented at Dodeka, Brown University.

Lessons for the State of California from Rhode Island's SALT and Practice-Based Inquiry®, Thomas A. Wilson. Presentation to Symposium: A Discusssion of the School Inspectorate in the United Kingdom—Could It Work in California? Center for Applied Policy in Education, UC Davis, December 2007.

Practice-Based Inquiry® A Tool to Bring Professional Practice into Focus, Thomas A. Wilson. Presentation for Reforming High Schools: Tools to Promote Change, Princeton University, April 2009.

Important Contributions from Other Authors

The development and implementation of Practice-Based Inquiry is supported and provoked by the ideas of many diverse thinkers. Important sources include these listings. Most are still in print and may be ordered from their publisher.

The School Inspector, Edmonds EL:London: Routledge & Kegan Paul; 1962.

Tinkering Toward Utopia: A Century of Public School Reform, David Tyack and Larry Cuban. Harvard University Press. 1997.

Note: Larry Cuban has been an important critic and supporter of my work since the time we taught together at Cardozo High School in Washington DC in 1964. TAW

Voluntary Association: A history of the North Central Association 1945-1970, Geiger LG: Menasha, Washington: The North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools; 1970.

Judging the Jury, Hans VP, Vidmar N. New York: Plenum Press; 1986.

Inspection: What's in it for schools?, James Learmonth. Falmer, December 2000.

The late James Learmonth was a retired HMI inspector who devoted his full energy to school improvement in Britain and the United States. His work, knowledge and friendship had a powerful influence on shaping Reaching for a Better Standard, Practice-Based Inquiry and the SALT accountability system.

Agency of Change: One hundred years of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Newman M: Kirksville. Missouri: Thomas Jefferson University Press; 1996.

Visiting the Family Album: 1900-1909: The First Mention of Accreditation. Stoops JA.

In the 8th edition of the Newsletter of the Commission on Elementary Schools of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. 1998.

A Centennial History of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools: 1895-1995, Miller JD: Decatur. Georgia: Southern Association of Schools and Colleges; 1998.

The Role of Attention in Classroom Practice: Developing a Methodology, Michael Luntley and J. Ainsley. Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia. 2000.

Ainsley and Luntley present their theoretical model for the importance of professional judgment as a rational construct in understanding how teachers teach. Download

Making Social Science Matter: Why social inquiry fails and how it can succeed again, Flyvbjerg B. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2001.

Rethinking Democratic Accountability, Behn RD. Brookings Institute, 2001.

Educational Judgment: Linking the Actor and the Spectator.
David Coulter. John R. Wiens. Educational Researcher, Vol 31, No 4, pp. 15-25. May 2002.

Coulter squarely considers the validity of professional judgment in the classroom. Download

Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science, Atul Gawande. Henry Holt and Company, New York. 2002.

This fascinating and well written collection of essays by a practicing surgeon describes the tensions in his practice between the precise use of formal, scientific knowledge and the knowledge a surgeon gains from his experience doing surgery. This well-written, book is a preliminary exploration why it is necessary to better understand the importance of professional judgment in medical practice.
Order from publisher.

The Art and Science of Portraiture.
Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot and J. H. Davis. Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated. 2002.

The argument of this well written book is that portraiture, an unexpected approach to field research, has a strong claim for the legi timacy of its findings. While Portraiture and PBI differ in interesting ways, the background arguments about what makes inquiry legi timate reverberate between them. Order from publisher.

What Teachers Know: Final report of the Arts and Humanities Research Board project: Attention and the Knowledge Basis of Expertise. Michael Luntley. J. Ainsley.University of Warwick. June 2004.

Description of philosopher Michael Luntley's initial findings from this field based project on professional judgment and the practice of teaching. Download

Beautiful Evidence. Tufte E. Cheshire, Connecticut: Graphics Press, LLC; 2006.

American Juries: The Verdict. Vidmar N, Hans VP. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books; 2007.

Grading Education: Getting accountability right. Rothstein R, Jacobsen R, Wilder T. :New York: Economic Policy Institute and Teachers College Press. 2008.

For a Catalpa review, click here.

The Ordeal of Equality: Did Federal Policy Fix the Schools?
David Cohen and Susan Moffitt. Harvard University Press. 2009

The Checklist Manifesto: How to get things right.
Gawande A. New York: Henry Holt and Company, LLC; 2009.

The Paradoxes of High Stakes Testing: How they affect students, their parents, teachers, principals, schools and society.
Madaus G, Russell M, Higgins J. Charlotte, North Carolina: Information Age Publishing, Inc.; 2009.

Practical Wisdom: The right way to do the right thing. Schwartz B, Sharpe K. New York: Riverhead Books; 2010.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: An American Agenda for Educational Reform. Marc S. Tucker. National Center on Education and the Economy. May, 2011. (View and download here.)

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"I would not give a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity."

-- Oliver Wendell Holmes