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- An Evaluation of the University of North Texas' "Youth Opportunities Unlimited" Program (a Compensatory Education Program for At-Risk, Secondary School Students)
- Even though the Youth Opportunities Unlimited program has been in effect for ten years, there exists no current, comprehensive, effectiveness research on YOU. Such analysis is needed to determine the value of the YOU program. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of the YOU program. Both quantitative and qualitative research methods are used in this study. Quantitative analysis is provided through factual data collected through an alumni survey. Qualitative analysis is provided through personal opinion information obtained from YOU alumni through the survey and by personal interview. The YOU program at UNT is a successful compensatory education program that helps improve the education and the lives of America's at-risk students.
- Funding and Effectiveness of Staff Development Programs in Three North Texas School Districts
- This dissertation study focused on three aspects of staff development in North Texas: 1) funding sources, 2) types of professional learning programs, and 3) teachers' views of the effectiveness of the funded programs. Qualitative data came from interviews with nine district administrators concerning funding sources and how those resources enhanced teacher skills. Quantitative data came from 1,277 responses from teachers regarding their background and perceptions about staff development. Data from interviews with district administrators were diagrammed to depict elements of funding staff development and to reveal how resources were used to plan, implement, and evaluate staff learning. An analysis of interview data revealed that availability of grants, property tax rates, and student enrollment affected how districts funded staff development. Administrators reported that districts funded professional learning that was planned according to academic initiatives, met the needs of adult learners, and adapted to the changing needs of school communities. Both administrators and practitioners reported that time was a lacking resource critical to developing staff knowledge. Practitioners reported that sufficient opportunity to collaborate with colleagues about learning initiatives was more valuable than teaching materials. Teacher questionnaires were analyzed for possible relationships between participant variables and responses concerning knowledge about funding constraints and professional development experiences. Data revealed that practitioner experience and graduate degrees were not related to teachers' use of knowledge about financial constraints to more efficiently implement learning from staff development. Participants did not perceive professional learning differently than peers. Most teachers connected professional learning with improved teaching practices but a small percent attributed student achievement to their professional learning. The majority of teachers considered collaborative learning settings to elicit more personal professional growth than other formats. The findings of the teacher questionnaire suggest that teaching practices could be impacted if participants gained more knowledge about district financial constraints when developing staff professionally. Therefore, future research about how districts share information concerning funding for professional learning is warranted.
- A select study of Texas Principal Preparation Programs and their Relationship to Adult Learning and the Professional Leadership Responsibilities of their Graduates
- The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between principal preparation programs in Texas and professional leadership practices and responsibilities based on Mid-continent Research for Educational and Learning's (McREL) 21 leadership responsibilities. The study also examined the relationship between Texas principal preparation programs and Knowles's principles of adult learning. Through an online survey, the study solicited practicing principals' perceptions as to whether McREL's 21 leadership responsibilities and Knowles's principles of adult learning were included in their principal preparation programs. Quantitative findings indicated there were no significant differences between principals' perceptions of their principal preparation programs and the university/certification program in which they obtained their principal certification. Additionally, there were no significant differences between principals' perceptions of their programs and the year their principal certification was completed. There were also no significant differences between principals' perceptions of their programs and the geographic location of the school district in which they were presently employed. However, the study found there were significant differences in two areas of leadership responsibilities when comparisons were generated between principals who were fully certified before assuming the role of principal and those who were not fully certified: 1) ideas/beliefs and 2) optimizer. Principals who had not completed their certification program scored the two areas higher than those who had. The study also utilized qualitative methodology through in-depth interviews with principal program coordinators and practicing principals. Program coordinators and principals revealed leadership responsibilities of "communication," "culture," and "visibility" as areas of emphasis and importance in their programs. The need for more emphasis in the area of "discipline" was communicated mutually by program coordinators and principals. Principals stated areas of "knowledge of curriculum, instruction, and assessment" and "resources" as leadership responsibilities needing more emphasis. Both program coordinators and principals concurred principal preparation programs should have more emphasis and importance placed upon Knowles's principles of adult learning.