Document Type



This article problematizes evidence-based policies in the USA, using Dewey’s (1916) education theory and findings from a school development project in 71 culturally diverse Arizona schools. The study asked three questions: (1) How do formal and informal school leaders work in teams to mediate between evidence-based policy requirements at federal, state, and district levels and the needs of culturally diverse students? (2) What leadership team practices contribute to school development as measured by improved student outcomes in school letter grades? (3) What values from evidence-based policies and democratic education are evident in effective school development? Evaluation methods featured qualitative interviews with leadership team members in 71 schools as well as a descriptive analysis of school letter grades based primarily upon student outcomes. Results indicated improved student outcomes in letter grades and enhanced leadership capacity and democratic values as well as evidence-based values that contributed to school development. The article concludes with next steps to expand the project to another region of the USA and a call for a balanced use of evidence (including standardized test scores) constructed through Dewey’s notion of democratic values of education.

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© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

APA Citation

Ylimaki, R., & Brunderman, L. (2019). School Development in Culturally Diverse U.S. Schools: Balancing Evidence-Based Policies and Education Values. Education Sciences, 9(2), 84.