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  Partner: UNT Libraries
 Department: Department of Teacher Education and Administration
 Collection: UNT Theses and Dissertations
Measuring Teaching Effectiveness Using Value-added and Observation Rubric Scores
This mixed-methods study examined the extent to which teacher performance and student performance measures correlated, and to understand which specific practices of mathematics teachers in Grades 3-5 related to student performance. Research was conducted at five elementary schools in a large, urban north Texas school district. Data sources included component scores and recorded evidence from observation rubrics, interviews with campus administrators, and value-added modeling (VAM) student growth scores. Findings indicated a modest relationship between teacher performance levels and student performance levels. Lack of access to individual teacher VAM data, per district policy, might have impacted the strength of the relationship. Interviews with administrators and an examination of the evidence cited in the observation rubrics identified specific practices associated with highly rated mathematics teaching. Differences in administrators’ experience levels with both mathematics instruction and the observation instrument might have influenced rubric scores and the level of specificity shown in evidence statements.
Immunity for New Mexico Public School Districts and the 1978 Tort Claims Act
In a 3-year timeframe, nearly 800 student negligence suits were filed, and most involved some claim of personal injury. Despite heightened public attention of negligence lawsuits against school districts and their employees, an empirical study of court decisions revealed that the volume of litigation against school districts remained steady from 1990 to 2005, the majority of cases were ruled in favor of the school district employees, and government and official immunity were most often the basis for these rulings. Researchers have concluded that immunity laws are strong in the United States, although they vary by state in their application. However, a primary recommendation was that, because of the misconception of a lack of immunity for public school employees, a comprehensive study on governmental and official immunity is needed. This dissertation employed legal research, analysis, and methodology to engage in a comprehensive investigation of teacher immunity in the four southern states of Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and New Mexico. Of central concern to this dissertation was the Tort Claims Act of 1978 from the State of New Mexico. The Tort Claims Act is the vehicle by which immunity is granted to public school employees. Court findings over the last 35 years point to three primary domains under which cases pertaining to immunity fall: negligence (62.5%), evaluation and supervision (16.7%), and student discipline (8.3%). Immunity appears strong across all three domains; however, only future studies on cases by state will determine whether states in the southwest United States are the norm or an anomaly.
Analysis of Texas Education Agency Commissioner of Education Decisions Regarding Superintendent, Associate Superintendent, School Administrator, Athletic Director and Central Office Administrator Term Contract Nonrenewal Appeals From 1983 to 2013
I conducted a legal analysis of decisions by Texas Commissioners of Education in appeals by Texas school administrators from nonrenewal decisions made by Texas school districts from 1983 to 2013. I analyzed the findings of fact and conclusions of law described in the commissioners’ rulings to determine the legal basis of school districts’ decisions to nonrenew school administrators’ term employment contracts. I also examined the legal rationale for commissioners’ rulings and determined which party most commonly prevailed in these administrative proceedings—the respondent school district or the petitioner school administrator. In particular, the study determined factors that contributed to commissioners’ decisions to overrule or support school districts’ nonrenewal decisions. A careful review of commissioner decisions, which are accessible on the Texas Education Association website, identified 44 commissioner decisions involving appeals by superintendents, associate superintendents, public school administrators, athletic directors, or central office administrators concerning school districts’ term contract nonrenewal decisions from 1983 to 2013. Commissioners’ decisions in these cases were surveyed using legal research methods. This study provides recommendations to assist local education agencies to refine current policies and regulations regarding the nonrenewal of administrators’ term contracts, and provides insight on Texas Commissioners’ rulings on term contract nonrenewal appeals brought by Texas school administrators. The findings revealed that school boards’ lack of understanding of local policies and lack of evidence resulted in commissioners granting 27% of appeals. Additionally, commissioners denied 73% of the appeals because school boards provided at least one reason that met the substantial evidence standard of review, and respondents failed to substantiate allegations or enter evidence in evidentiary hearings.
College and Career Readiness: Psychosocial Predictors of Achievement and Persistence
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine if traditional indicators of college readiness were better predictors of students’ first semester college GPA and persistence to the second year of coursework compared to non-traditional indicators of college readiness. Specifically, this study analyzed the predictive validity of high school class rank and ACT/SAT scores compared to that of the psychosocial skills measured by the ACT Engage on students’ first semester college GPA and their likelihood of enrollment in the second year of college coursework. Methodology: Linear and logistic regression models were used to examine the effect of gender, age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, high school rank, Texas Success Initiative college readiness scores, SAT or ACT scores, and the ten themes of the ACT Engage Inventory (dependent variables), on students’ first semester college GPA and rate of persistence to the second year (independent variables). A sample of 4,379 first semester college freshmen participated in this study. Findings: Results indicated that high school rank, ACT/SAT scores and psychosocial skills measured by the ACT Engage theme academic discipline were accurate predictors of college performance. Results regarding the predictive power of traditional academic and non-traditional psychosocial predictors of persistence were less definitive. Students qualifying for federal financial assistance and female students showed the greatest likelihood of not returning for the second year of college. Research Limitations: One limitation of this study occurred because separate ethnicities were not evaluated as independent variables. Additionally, further research should occur regarding the relationship between the independent variables of gender and socioeconomic status and the dependent variable persistence. Practical Implications: Due to the predictive power of high school class rank, college entrance exam scores, and the psychosocial skill of academic discipline, educators and policy makers should design targeted preparation and support initiatives around improving students’ skills in these areas. Recommendations for such initiatives were provided. Value of Paper: This paper is valuable to educators at the secondary school and university levels because results can be used to design preparation and support programs in order to improve students’ performance and persistence at the college level.
Teachers’ Perceptions of Their Responsibilities in Teaching Social Emotional Skills: a Case Study
This study investigated the beliefs of teachers at a particular elementary campus in North Texas during its first year of implementation of a social emotional curriculum regarding teaching social emotional skills and the influence of those beliefs on their classroom practices. The study drew from the works of Dewey and Bandura in the development of a framework for teacher decision making. A case study design incorporating multiple cases within the case study utilized a mixed-methods approach for data collection and analysis. Ten teachers volunteered and participated in the quantitative data collection, and four of those ten participated in the qualitative data collection through interviews and classroom observations. Data collection methods also included a demographic survey, a questionnaire on teacher beliefs about social emotional learning, and a self-ranking scale of practices related to teaching social emotional skills. Results indicated that although all participants believed social emotional skills instruction was part of their duties as teachers, their practices in teaching social emotional skills varied. Additionally, there was a mismatch between participants’ self-identified practices and the practices that were observed during the study. Administrative support for program implementation was high, but did not necessarily translate to effective practices during the first year of implementation of a particular program. While not significant in this study, variation in teacher characteristics may be important.
A Multiple Case Study of Two African American Female Administrators in High Achieving Elementary Schools
African American female principals typically lead low socioeconomic elementary schools. Administrators in predominately urban schools are familiar with the needs of minority students. Although Title I funds are provided from the national government via local educational agencies (LEAs), this money is normally not enough to keep up with technology integration and programs of more affluent schools. Therefore, African American female administrators rely on culture to develop meaningful relationships with students, teachers, and parents and makeup for any financial hardships, which may exist during the transformation of urban elementary schools. Limited research is available on academic success in urban schools. Over the years, much of the focus has been on failure of underperforming schools with minority students and leaders. Additionally, there is a lack of research on the leadership of African American female school leaders. Thus, it is important to study successful African American female role models in urban schools. The purpose of this study was to examine transformational leadership skills evident in African American female principals at high-achieving, urban elementary schools. What are the transformational leadership skills evident in two African American female principals who work in high-achieving urban elementary schools? It was assumed that African American female principals applied some or all of the skills of transformational leadership when leading in two different urban elementary school settings. Successful transformational leadership can be categorized under the following four components 1) charismatic leadership (or idealized influence, CL or II), 2) inspirational motivation (IM), 3) intellectual stimulation (IS), and 4) individualized consideration (IC) (Avolio, Bass, & Jung, 1997). Results showed that African American female elementary school leaders displayed all tenets of the transformational leadership theory while leading high achieving campuses. However, the transformational leadership theoy was missing a cultural component from its doctrine.
Impact of School-wide Positive Behavior Intervention Supports for African American Males in American Public Schools
Research has shown that African American males are performing poorly in American public schools and are disciplined at a higher rate than other ethnic and gender groups. Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS) has a long history of success with individual students and more recently in school-wide settings. School-wide PBIS offers schools the ability to tailor their rules, rewards, and consequences to the specific needs and culture of a school. This descriptive and quantitative study sought to determine if implementation with fidelity of SWPBIS positively correlated to reduced disciplinary measures. The object of this study was to determine in what ways disciplinary rates for African American males differ in American public schools that identify as using SWPBIS with fidelity as compared to American public schools that do not implement SWPBIS with fidelity. Disciplinary rates examined included ISS, OSS single incident, and OSS multiple incidents. Descriptive findings indicated that schools that implement SWPBIS show a lower rate of ISS and OSS incidents for African American males. The quantitative findings did not yield a statistically significance between schools with fidelity of implementation of SWPBIS and schools without fidelity of implementation of SWPBIS.
Beliefs of Mathematics Pre-service Teachers About Project-based Learning
This study explored the beliefs of pre-service secondary mathematics teachers about project-based learning (PBL), as they encountered a project-based learning high school where they implemented a project-based unit of instruction. A qualitative study was conducted with one undergraduate cohort in a higher education science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) national initiative that has 40 U.S. replication sites. Using teaching philosophy statements and focus group discussions, the beliefs of STEM pre-service secondary teachers are made visible. The findings from this study reveal a recurring theme: the process of how these pre-service teachers seemed to evolve and mature as teachers, from novice toward becoming an expert, as they asked themselves internal questions that are common to developing teachers. These pre-service STEM teachers experienced 1) internal questions about their own growth as a potential teacher, as evidenced through their verbal and written statements; 2) tension between PBL content and pedagogy; and 3) tension between practice and theory. The findings also infer that there are potential critical variables that may contribute to pre-service teachers’ beliefs. Those variables identified were the following: 1) the sequence of when the project-based instruction (PBI) course was taken; 2) time, as related to when the participant took the PBI course in relationship to the final semester when they were engaged in apprentice teaching; and 3) the field placement location during the apprentice teaching semester.
Does Technology = More Knowledgeable Other? an Investigation of the Effects of an Integrated Learning System on the Literacy Learning of Emergent Readers
Professionals in education continue to explore technology as a way to instruct young students, and there is an accompanying belief that this technology can make an educational and academic difference. Despite the high percentage of young students in classrooms using technology, the impact of this technology on the early literacy skills of young children remains largely unknown. Guided by Vygotsky’s social learning theory, this study reports a 24-week investigation on whether regular use of Istation®, an integrated learning system used by approximately 3,000,000 students in the United States, had an effect on the early literacy achievement of children in twelve kindergarten classrooms. A mixed-method, quasi-experimental design was constructed using propensity scores. Also investigated were the effects of the level of teacher literacy support on early literacy achievement and the interaction between Istation® use and the level of teacher literacy support. A descriptive discriminant analysis was performed to determine the main effect of Istation®. The level of teacher support and the interaction effect was then tested using a multivariate between-subject analysis. Results indicated that Istation® did have a statistically significant effect on the early literacy skills of the 72 kindergarten students studied and was able to explain 17.7% of the variance in group differences. Hearing and recording sounds and letter sound knowledge were the main contributors to group differences. Teacher literacy support and the interaction between teacher support and Istation were not significant. This study considers the relationship between technology and early literacy and concludes that Istation® can serve as a more knowledgeable other as students develop some early literacy skills; however, teachers are still needed to provide complete literacy instruction for young students.
Framing Bilingual Education Policy: Articulation and Implementation in Texas
Language education policy and its implementation have been controversial and ongoing issues throughout the United States, especially in the border state of Texas, with its large population of students who are learning English. This dissertation reports two studies, the first of which was a frame analysis of problems and solutions as represented by the five bills amending the Texas Education Code with regard to bilingual education and English as a second language programs. These laws, passed in 1969, 1973, 1975, 1981, and 2001, have been enacted since 1968, the year the Bilingual Education Act (BEA) was passed. The problem framed consistently by these state policy documents was inadequate instruction for children who come to school speaking languages other than English. More variability was seen in the framing of solutions, with approaches changing from the authorization of instruction in languages other than English, to the establishment of mandated bilingual programs, to the extension of special language programs, and to the establishment of dual language immersion programs. The primary ideology influencing the policy documents was the monolingual English ideology; however, alternative ideologies are apparent in the policies that allow for dual language immersion programs. Geographic information systems (GIS) analysis was used in the second study to investigate the geographic locations of particular programs and the demographics of students they served. Choropleth maps showed variability in program distribution across the state with distinct patterns apparent in only two programs. The maps indicated that districts with high percentages of student enrollment in one-way dual language programs tended to be located in and near the major metropolitan areas, whereas many districts offering early exit transitional bilingual programs tended to be located along the Texas-Mexico border. Despite the literature on bilingual/ESL program effectiveness, the predominant program in the border region of Texas is among those considered least beneficial to students learning English. This pair of studies illustrates the influence of monolingual English ideology on educational practice and policy through the implementation of programs by districts as well as the framing of bilingual education in legislation.
Effects of Board Training on the Relationship Between Board Members and Ceos
The purpose of this study is to ascertain the opinions of chief executive officers (CEOs) and school board chairs of Texas private schools in educational service center (ESC) Regions 10 and 11 toward board training and the potential benefits for the success of their respective roles. Literature regarding private school board training is limited. As a result, most private school boards face challenges regarding school board training expectations, which could affect their roles and the roles of CEOs. The quantitative and qualitative cross-sectional research design examined Texas private school CEOs’ and school board chairs’ perceptions about school board training and the working relationships between Texas school CEOs and school boards. The researcher developed the survey and interview questions used in this study. Responses to a 4-point Likert-type scale instrument, short answer questions, and interviews were solicited from a population of private school CEO and school board chairs within ESC Regions 10 and 11 from schools with an enrollment of at least 100 students and that contained Grades 9 through 12. In-depth Interviews were conducted with 12 private school CEOs and 12 school board chairs with varying levels of school board training. The research findings indicate that board training does make a significant difference in the working relationships between CEOs and private school boards. The findings of this study may assist private school boards in addressing school board training and the components of such training, which would benefit the working relationships between CEOs and school boards, as well as the success of private schools.
A Legal Analysis of Litigation Against Georgia Educators and School Districts Under the Georgia Governmental Tort Claims Act
This dissertation examines the impact of the 1992 Georgia Tort Claims Act on educators in court decisions involving liability cases against Georgia school districts and/ or their respective employees. By examining pertinent court cases in which Georgia educators were, for the first time, subjected to potential litigation, the researcher outlines circumstances in which educators can and should be held liable for their actions. Additionally, the researcher analyzes the Tort Claims Acts of Texas, Oklahoma, and Mississippi as well. This analysis allows the researcher to contrast the types of litigious actions that educators in each of these states are held liable. Findings include the types of actions in which educators in each of the respective states are subject to liability. Case study analysis of randomly selected court cases involving tort liability, provides the infrastructure for in-depth research allowing the following questions to be addressed: (1) How have Georgia courts interpreted the Georgia Tort Claims Act in litigation against school personnel and school districts? (2) How do tort liability rulings, involving school personnel or districts, in other states within the United States compare with similar cases filed in Georgia since 1992? The Georgia Tort Claim Act of 1992 propelled an array of circumstances in which educational entities would be held liable for their actions. This research clearly explains the types of actions in which educators in the state of Georgia are subject to suit and to what degree they are subsequently held liable. Case study research also uncovered specific areas in which Georgia educators can be held liable. Specific research involving actions deemed either ministerial or discretionary are detailed specifically through case analysis. Additionally, the degree to which liability insurance provides protection for educational entities or their respective employees is also addressed in this research in order that state-by-state comparisons can be understood.
Uncovering Gendered Teaching Practices in the Early Childhood Classroom
For many early childhood teachers, interacting with children about issues concerning gender and sexuality is fraught with feelings of uneasiness and anxiety. For others, familiarity with research on these topics has resulted in rethinking their approaches to sex, gender, and sexuality in their early childhood classrooms. This inquiry examined the tensions associated with the researcher’s attempts to rethink gendered narratives and childhood sexuality in her own classroom. The study took place over the course of 4 months and involved a traditional public kindergarten classroom. Queer theory and feminist poststructuralism, along with a multi-voiced poststructural autoethnography were used to demonstrate the researcher’s shifting identities and the cultural context that shaped the researcher’s behaviors and perspective. Multivocal autoethnographic narratives were written to illustrate the researcher’s journey between trying on, being in, and becoming a feminist poststructural educator who uncovers and troubles gendered teaching practices in her own early childhood classroom. The following insights resulted from this study: young children actively and knowingly talk about gender and sexuality and do have a considerable amount of sexual knowledge; heterosexuality plays an integral part in children’s everyday experiences; and a lack of equity and inclusion associated with family diversity or queer identities exists in the early childhood classroom. Young children’s access to knowledge about gender, relationships, and sexuality has critical implications for their health and well-being, not only in their early years but also throughout their lives. This knowledge can build children’s competencies and resilience, contributing to new cultural norms of non-violence in gendered and sexual relationships. With a growing diversity in the make-up of families, it is now more critical than ever that teacher training programs move away from a single way of knowing and make room for multiple perspectives, which in turn influence innovative kinds of teaching decisions and practices. This research illustrates that it is possible for early childhood teachers to use feminist poststructuralism and queer theory to deepen their understandings and responses to children’s talk, actions, and play regarding sex, gender, and sexuality and to use these understandings to inform their professional practice.
The Relationships Between the Teacherinsighttm Score and Student Performance As Measured by Student Taks Academic Change Scores
The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between TeacherInsight™ (TI) scores and student performance as measured by student academic change scores on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test. School district administrators, particularly district personnel administrators, are continually faced with the task of screening and hiring potential teacher applicants who are expected to influence student achievement outcomes directly. Efforts to make the screening, selection, and hiring process more efficient and effective have led to the use of certain teacher prescreening selection instruments that provide a research-based assessment of teachers’ affective attributes, which purportedly predicts teacher effectiveness. This study addressed this concern using a teacher screening and selection tool, the TI, design by the Gallup Organization. According to the Gallup Organization, the TI is a predictor of teacher affective attributes or talents. The state of Texas uses a student evaluation process called the TAKS to measure student academic gains in certain subject areas. This study examined the relationship between the TI and teacher effectiveness as measured by student academic TAKS change scores in mathematics in fourth and fifth grade. I used data obtained from a single school district in north central Texas. The specific targeted population consisted of 874 students enrolled in mathematics and 44 fourth- and fifth-grade teachers hired over a 3-year period (20082011). I applied a quantitative causal-comparative research design. Descriptive statistics for all variables were presented and bivariate relationships between continuous variables were examined. A two-level linear regression model was used to predict student performance on state-mandated assessments using teachers’ TI scores while controlling for relevant covariates. The statistical significance level throughout the study was set at α = .05. A major finding of this study revealed that teachers’ TI scores were not significant predictors of student achievement in the final model (p = .351). Moreover, the final model did not have significant predictive power when compared to the null model. The findings suggest that other factors not recorded in this dataset may influence student academic performance. Only student gender was a significant predictor of TAKS scores. However, the effect size indicated that student gender accounted for less than 1% of the variance in student achievement (R2 = .003). The findings of this study indicate that the TI alone should not be used as the sole instrument in predicting the quality and potential influence a teacher candidate will have on student performance on state-mandated assessments, and the selected school district should consider re-evaluating its use of the screening instrument for selecting teachers. Recommendations based on the results of the study are discussed and areas for future research are provided.
Do Minutes Matter? Connecting Tardiness to Academic Achievement
Within the scope of all that is expected to be accomplished in education, what difference does a tardy make? This study was designed to examine the significance of tardiness, as it relates to student achievement, as measured by the results of the state math test. It also investigated the generation of change by the campus administrator to improve punctuality, with a new method of enforcing the tardy policy with the use of an electronic data system. This study used archived data from the one high school in a suburban school district in Texas. From a student population of 2,631, two subject groups of 919 and 1,310 were determined. Spearman rho results confirmed a moderate inverse relationship between student tardiness and results on the state math test. Descriptive discriminant analysis indicated that tardiness contributed to 25% of the variance in the results on the state math test, when considered alone, and had a smaller contribution when considered with other variables. A visual review of the data portrayed an inverse relationship between the occurrences of tardiness and the pass/fail results on the state math test; as tardiness increased, passing rates decreased. Wilcoxon signed rank test results revealed a reduction in the magnitude of tardiness with the implementation of a new method of enforcing the tardy policy. Tardiness does impact academic achievement, as affirmed in this study. Also, the campus administrator can implement changes that improve punctuality. This study signified that the phenomenon of tardiness should be given greater consideration as a factor impacting both cognitive and non-cognitive development and endorsed that minutes do matter.
The Impact of Professional Development on Student Achievement As Measured by Math and Science Curriculum-based Assessments
The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of teacher professional development on student achievement measured by scores on curriculum-based assessments, CBAs. The participants in the study included 260 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade math and science teachers. Teacher participation in professional development courses was collected for curriculum, instruction, differentiation, assessment, technology integration, and continuous improvement credit types. Achievement data for 8,454 students was used: 2,883 in 3rd grade, 2,752 in 4th grade, and 2,819 in 5th grade. The dependent variable of student achievement was dichotomized at the median: half of the student participants scored above the median and half of the students scored at and below the median. A series of logistic regression models were fit to the data that included examining all main effects and interaction terms among all variables to determine the best fitting model. The results of this study indicate that for 4th grade science, teacher professional development participation in curriculum, instruction, and differentiation credit strands increased the chances for students to score above the district median on CBAs. The larger number of professional development hours in a variety of credit strands had a negative impact on student achievement in 4th grade science. In 5th grade science, the students whose teacher spent more hours in professional learning for continuous improvement had an increased likelihood of scoring above the district median on CBAs.
Preschool Teachers’ Constructions of Early Reading
Much of the current discourse surrounding the practice of early reading has emerged from policies that dictate the definition and means by which reading is taught and by which reading success is measured. Although this discourse directly influences the work of preschool teachers, little is known about what preschool teachers think about early reading and how they develop these understandings or constructions. Research concerning preschool teachers’ constructions is useful because of the potential influence on teachers' decisions and classroom behaviors. The purpose of this study is to better understand preschool teachers’ constructions concerning early reading and the process of learning to read. Six preschool teachers, with a variety of personal, educational, and professional experiences, from four diverse early childhood programs in the North Texas area were interviewed over a nine-month period during which each participant was interviewed for approximately three hours. Through systematic, inductive analysis, three themes were identified under an overarching theme of the interdependent and relational nature of early reading influences: out-of-school interactions, in-school interactions, and interactions with text. Without exception, these teachers referred to their life experiences as influencing their approach to teaching in general and to teaching reading in particular. The goals these preschool teachers had for their students and their instructional decisions were indications of their unique and evolving constructions of early reading and are absolutely grounded in their practice – in their life experiences and in their daily interactions with children. This study suggests that stakeholders should remember that these practical experiences are a primary influence on how preschool teachers think about early reading and the process of learning to read.
Using Complexity Thinking to Build Adaptive Capacity in Schools: an Analysis of Organizational Change in California
In response to reductionist neoliberal approaches to organizational change that have been prevalent in American education since the 1980s, some educators have begun to employ a whole-systems approach to improving student learning. These approaches, based in complexity sciences, recognize the nonlinear, unpredictable nature of learning and the interconnected relationships among myriad factors that influence the teaching/learning that occurs in schools. In the summer preceding the 2011-2012 school year, a cohort of educators from California Unified School District participated in a 10-day training regarding human systems dynamics (HSD) and complexity thinking. Their goal was to build adaptive capacity throughout the district in the pursuit of improving student learning. Through analysis of the interviews from seven target participants from this training, this study investigates what target participants report regarding their use of HSD methods and models in their work in schools across the 2011-2012 school year. Findings indicate that target participants displayed distinct arcs of use of HSD methods/models. In addition, findings suggest that target participants’ need for support in learning and implementing HSD methods/models, the influence of systemic and individual history, and the role of agency affected their “arcs of use.” This study illuminates the ways in which HSD methods/models support both organizational change efforts and the ways in which teaching/learning occur in the classroom, including the applicability of HSD methods/models in building collaborative cultures and in helping students develop the kinds of thinking required in the use of 21st-century literacies.
Experiences and Perceptions of Students in Music and Mathematics
Since the time of Pythagoras, philosophers, educators, and researchers have theorized that connections exist between music and mathematics. While there is little doubt that engaging in musical or mathematical activities stimulates brain activity at high levels and that increased student involvement fosters a greater learning environment, several questions remain to determine if musical stimulation actually improves mathematic performance. This study took a qualitative approach that allowed 24 high school students to express their direct experiences with music and mathematics, as well as their perceptions of how the two fields are related. Participants were divided into four equal groups based on school music participation and level of mathematic achievement, as determined by their performance on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS). Students participated in a series of three interviews addressing their experiences in both music and mathematics, and took the Multiple Intelligences Developmental Assessment Scales (MIDAS). TAKS data and MIDAS information were triangulated with interview findings. Using a multiple intelligence lens, this study addressed the following questions: (a) How do students perceive themselves as musicians and mathematicians? (b) What experiences do students have in the fields of music and mathematics? (c) Where do students perceive themselves continuing in the fields of music and mathematics? and (d) How do students perceive the fields of music and mathematics relating to each other? Contrary to most existing literature, the students who perceived a connection between the two fields saw mathematics driving a deeper understanding of the musical element of rhythm. Not surprisingly, students with rich backgrounds in music and mathematics had a higher perception of the importance of those fields. Further, it became readily apparent that test data often played a minimal role in shaping student perceptions of themselves in the field of mathematics. Finally, it became apparent from listening to the experiences of high school students, there are many growth areas for schools in order to meet the needs of their students.
Examining the Relationship Between Persistence in Attendance in an Afterschool Program and an Early Warning Index for Dropout
School districts constantly struggle to find solutions to address the high school dropout problem. Literature supports the need to identify and intervene with these students earlier and in more systemic ways. The purpose of this study was to conduct a longitudinal examination of the relationship between sustained afterschool participation and the host district’s early warning index (EWI) associated with school dropout. Data included 65,341 students participating in an urban school district’s after school program from school years 2000-2001 through 2011-2012. The district serves more than 80,000 students annually. Data represented students in Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12, and length of participation ranged from 1 through 12 years. Results indicated that student risk increased over time and that persistent participation in afterschool programming had a significant relationship with student individual growth trajectories. Slower growth rates, as evidenced through successive models, supported students being positively impacted by program participation. Additionally, participation was more meaningful if students persisted, as noted in the lower EWI rates, as compared to students who attended less consistently.
Technology-enhanced Classroom Environments and English Language Acquisition Among Native Spanish-speaking, English Language Learners in the Preschool and Elementary Classroom
This qualitative study addressed the question: What are the perceptions of preschool and elementary bilingual and ESL teachers on how technology-enhanced classroom environments support native Spanish-speaking English language learners in the acquisition of English as a second language? With the support of six school districts representing three different regions and 15 schools in Texas, this research investigated technology-enhanced learning environments and the influence of emerging technologies on language acquisition by focusing on classroom interactions and learner engagement in preschool and elementary settings. Forty-six teachers completed the self-identified online questionnaire and from that initial group of participants, 10 were chosen for the face-to-face semi-structured interviews. A two-cycle progressive refinement coding technique was used for the analysis of the teacher interviews. In Vivo coding was selected for the first-cycle coding methodology to study teacher perspectives using their direct language. For the second-cycle methodology, focus coding was chosen as a continuation of the analytical process examining the developing patterns resulting in the initial codes being grouped to form salient categories. This process of reanalyzing and reorganizing coded data led to the creation of four emergent themes and in the views of the teachers interviewed describes how emerging technologies influences English language acquisition. The four emergent themes identified were “engaging students for learning,” collaborating with others,” “developing and clarifying concepts,” and “creating authentic work.”
The Impact of Standards-based Report Cards on Reading Development of Primary Grade Students
The purpose of this mixed-method study was to explore the instructional changes in first grade classrooms and reading progress of first grade students in relation to implementation of standards-based report cards (SBRC). The goal of this study, conducted in a suburban Texas school district, was to determine whether there was a statistically significant difference in reading progress between students enrolled in first grade classrooms in which traditional report cards were used in comparison to comparable classrooms in which SBRCs were used. Additionally, the instructional practices of teachers were examined to determine the types of changes that took place as the district moved from traditional report cards to SBRCs. A total of 709 students and 15 teachers were involved in the study. The study revealed that there was no statistically significant difference between the reading growth of students assessed in SBRC classrooms and those assessed with traditional report cards. There were, however, significant differences in instructional practices employed by teachers in SBRC classrooms. These changes in practice included instructing with a greater degree of focus on specific objectives to be taught, more closely following the district’s scope and sequence, greater communication regarding the grading criteria and methods used for reporting progress, use of the most recent achievement data when determining grades (in comparison to averaging of grades during a reporting period), and a greater awareness of students’ specific abilities.
Parental Perceptions of Marketing to Young Children: a Feminist Poststructural Perspective
This study examined parental perceptions of marketing to young children using a feminist post-structural theoretical framework to specifically examine the following questions, 1) To what extent are parents aware of the marketing tactics being directed toward young children? 2) How do power/knowledge relations and practices produce parent’s multiple subjectivities as they parent their children in regards to commercial culture? 3) How can early childhood educators adapt pedagogy and practice in order to meet the needs of children growing up within the context of a commercialized childhood? In-depth unstructured interviews revealed that parents within this study tend to view themselves as solely responsible for their children and do not support governmental regulation of the advertising industry. In most cases, the parents in the study empathized with marketers trying to sell their products to children. Furthermore, while participants in this study were concerned about how consumer culture influences children’s subjectivities, they were more concerned about “adult content” than corporate access to children. Many of the parental perceptions uncovered mirror neoliberal discourses including an emphasis on individual responsibility, the belief that government regulation is censorship and the privileging of economic rationale by systematically representing children as sources of profit. This study utilized Deleuzean and Foucauldian concepts in order to make visible the practices and discourses that discipline children and parents as consumers within the United States neoliberal assemblage(s). This analysis also revealed the very contradictions and complexities that are dramatically shaping parents and young children within the United States’ consumer cultural landscape(s).
Resource Allocation Efficiency at the Elementary and Middle School Level in a Texas School District
In recent years much attention has gone to school efficiency, as determined by assessing student achievement relative to expenditures at the school district level. The present study built on prior work in school efficiency with a focus on the school campus level instead of the district level. Included in the study were 28 elementary and middle school campuses in a selected school district in Texas. The approach taken in the investigation was data envelopment analysis (DEA), which provided scores for efficiency and was intended to provide clarity on efficiency research at the campus level. Past studies using the DEA model have involved business and private institutions, but not public schools. The DEA model calculated and assigned efficiency scores for each campuses. The two variable categories used to determine campus efficiency were student demographics and resource allocation. The total enrollment numbers included the number of White, economically disadvantaged, at-risk, and limited English proficiency students. The resource allocation variables included the total expenditures in instruction, instructional related services, instructional leadership, campus leadership, and student support services. The efficiency scores paired with student achievement scores determined campus efficiency and effectiveness. An effective and efficiency framework was used to represent the data with student achievement on the y-axis and campus efficiency scores on the x-axis. I applied Pearson product moment and regression analyses using the same variables as previous studies. The Pearson product moment assessed the correlation between student demographic variables, function code variables, and campus efficiency. The Pearson product showed a weak positive relationship between the number of White students and the number of LEP students enrolled in the district. The analysis also showed moderate and strong negative relationships between efficiency and instructional leadership and student support services. The regression analysis identified the student demographic and function code variables that affected the level of efficiency of each school campus. School leadership and student support services had strong negative relationships with campus efficiency. Instructional related services had a strong positive relationship, and total enrollment and White students had weak positive relationships with efficiency. Additionally, non-White, economically disadvantaged, and at-risk students yielded weak to moderate negative relationships. The use of the DEA model allows school districts to analyze the spending patterns, specifically at the campus level. This analysis also allows districts and campuses to make meaningful decisions related to classroom instruction, instructional leadership, campus leadership, and counseling services.
The Impact of Teacher Quality on Reading Achievement of Fourth Grade Students: an Analysis of the 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (Naep)
This study investigated the effects of teacher background variables on fourth grade reading achievement data collected from the 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) using a causal-comparative research design. Teacher quality variables related to teacher credentials, instructional methods, training, and support were selected from the NAEP background questionnaire. Descriptive and inferential statistical analyses were used to examine teacher background information and fourth grade reading NAEP scaled scores using measures of central tendency, independent t-tests, analysis of variance, and Tukey’s HSD post hoc analysis. Findings suggest that certain teacher quality variables positively impact fourth grade reading achievement. Significant differences existed among fourth grade reading scaled scores for the following variables: teaching credentials [region (p < .05), traditional preparation route (p < .001), highest degree earned(p < .05), years of experience (p < .001)]; instructional methods [reading aloud by students (p < .01), questioning character motives (p < .01), student selection of reading materials (p < .001), explaining/supporting text (p < .05), identifying main theme (p < .001), time spent on reading (p < .001), primary language arts integration (p < .05)]; teacher support [instructional grade level support/technical assistance by reading specialist (p < .05) and mentoring (p < .05)]. This study expands the current literature on teacher quality by exploring the effects of teacher variables on reading achievement.
Moral Disengagement: an Exploratory Study of Predictive Factors for Digital Aggression and Cyberbullying
A cross-sectional quantitative causal research design was employed to explore the relationship between adolescent digital aggression, cyberbully behavior and moral disengagement. A survey was created and electronically administered to 1077 high school students in Grades 9-12 in a selected school district in Texas. High school students were chosen because research has shown a decrease in traditional bullying and an increase of digital aggression and cyberbullying at this developmental level. A principal component analysis (PCA) of the survey was conducted to determine latent constructs. The results of the PCA revealed 6 latent variables, which included moral disengagement, school climate and culture, social relationships, spirituality, family systems, and mood (anger). Moral disengagement was the dependent variable in the current study, while the remaining latent constructs were treated as independent variables. In addition to the latent constructs, student demographics and self-identification as a cyberbully or cybervictim were included as independent variables in the one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and multiple regression models. An ANOVA of the survey items where the participants self-identified as a cyberobserver, a cybervictim or a cyberbully was initially conducted. Participants who identified as a cyberobserver explained less than 1.0% of the variance in moral disengagement. Additionally, participants who identified as a cybervictim also explained less than 1.0% of the variance in moral disengagement. However, participants identified as a cyberbully accounted for 7.28% of the variance in moral disengagement. Results of the multiple regression analyses indicated that gender, age, school climate and culture, social relationships, academic success, ethnicity, family systems, spirituality, and mood (anger) significantly impacted a student’s willingness to morally disengage and participate in digital aggression. Among these variables, the variance explained in moral disengagement ranged from 0.8% (Social Relationships) to 16.8% (Mood-Anger). The variables of socio-economic status and grade in school were not statistically significant predictors of moral disengagement. The results of this study are relevant for school administrators, counselors and teachers as digital aggression and cyberbully behaviors appear to be growing as ‘smart phone’ and other ‘always on’ technology trend to younger populations nationwide. The results of this study further underscore the importance of creating a school climate and culture that promotes a safe and secure learning environment for all students. This may be accomplished by incorporating adolescent aggression and bully prevention programs in school curriculums to address both traditional and digital aggressive behaviors. Recommendations are presented and future research is discussed.
An Investigation Into the Relationships Between the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge of University Teacher Education Faculty and Their Age, Rank, and Gender
The purpose of this study was to determine what relationships exist between the age, rank, and gender of university faculty in teacher education and their technological pedagogical content knowledge. The survey instrument used was the Survey of Teacher Educators’ Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) which is an adaptation of the Survey of Preservice Teachers’ Knowledge of Teaching and Technology developed by Schmidt. A total of 347 public Texas university teacher education faculty members participated in the study. Multiple regressions were utilized and the effect size was considered to determine the strength of the relationship between the variables. A statistical significance was found relating to the age, rank, and gender of the university teacher educator faculty member and their technological knowledge (TK). Based on the information provided for the b weights, age was found to be the best predictor of their technological knowledge (TK). The discriminant analysis identified what relationship exists between the ages of university teacher education faculty technology knowledge. The results of the discriminant analysis indicate the range 20-30 and 60+ contribute equally to teacher educators’ technological knowledge. Although no statistically significant results were determined with respect to the correlations between gender, age, and rank and technological content knowledge, technological pedagogical knowledge, and technological pedagogical content knowledge, the descriptive data does suggest that some insight maybe gained from further analysis.
Texas Politics in Citizenship Education: a Critical Discourse Analysis of the Texas Government Curriculum
This study used a critical discourse analysis (CDA) to examine the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for government. These are the learning standards that public schools are required to use as the curriculum in Texas. Additionally, the study critically examined the Texas State Board of Education meeting minutes from the spring of 2010, when the board revised all social studies TEKS. James Gee’s framework for conducting CDA was used to analyze the government TEKS and meeting minutes to uncover the ways in which the language in the documents defines democratic and citizenship education in Texas, determine if the language creates an imbalance of power among participants in education, and do these documents agree with educational philosophers’ construct of citizenship and democratic education? The results of the CDA concluded that the Texas learning standards, and the words of many SBOE members reveal a preference toward right-wing, conservative beliefs. The construct of citizenship and democratic education created by the Texas government TEKS and SBOE meeting minutes contradicts these notions, as defined by educational theorists, and excludes those participants who do not embrace these beliefs.
The Efficacy of the Chickasaw Nation Early Care and Education Programs
The purposes of this research were to explore the effectiveness of the Chickasaw Nation early care and education program in promoting school readiness while infusing tribally relevant values in children from birth through age five; engaging parents in all aspects of their children’s learning; and supporting children and families through the transitioning to kindergarten. The study used qualitative methods to examine the experiences and perceptions of ten parents, ten teachers, and five administrators within Chickasaw Nation’s early care and education system regarding the four basic areas of school readiness, parent engagement, transition, and culturally relevant pedagogy. Four primary themes emerged from the semi-structured interviews: 1) socialization, school readiness, and transition, 2) learning, curriculum, and assessment, 3) the role of parents, and 4) cultural integrity. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews, transcribed, and analyzed based on four research questions. Findings indicated parents, teachers, and administrators were satisfied that the program was successful with assisting children in making progress toward achieving developmental and school readiness goals and that the children were physically, socially, emotionally, and cognitively prepared to enter kindergarten. The program provided activities to encourage and promote parental involvement; however, parents did not indicate active involvement or participation in the activities. There was little evidence to support culturally relevant pedagogy alignment with curriculum and practices. Implications for additional research focusing on American Indian children in preschool programs and the importance of instilling pride and culture are recommended.
The Use of Visual-performance Feedback and Its Effect on Behavior-specific Positive Praise in a Self-contained Behavior Classroom
The present study aimed to understand the relationship between the use of visual-performance feedback and its effects on behavior-specific positive praise in classrooms for students who exhibit behavioral challenges. The current study included 15 children being served by four teachers in elementary self-contained behavior classrooms. Data collection and instrumentation included (a) a pre-service training for all four teachers, (b) two weeks of baseline data on behavior-specific positive praise, (c) eight weeks of data collection in which visual-performance feedback was reported to all four teachers, (d) one consultation session, and (e) two weeks of additional data collection. Observational data attempted to determine the functional relationship between visual-performance feedback, behavior-specific positive praise, and student outcomes using a mixed methods research model. Analysis revealed identified patterns in the relationship between visual-performance feedback, the amount of behavior-specific positive praise, and student behavioral and academic outcomes. These patterns are displayed through both quantitative results taken from the observational data as well as qualitative information given by teachers. Conclusions surrounding the positive outcomes for students were derived from the strongest correlations of between behavior-specific positive praise and visual-representation feedback. Implications drawn from the study were: (a) behavior-specific positive praise training should be a standard for teachers in behavior classrooms, and (b) group consultation should be an important part of monitoring behavior-specific positive praise for classroom teachers.
Texas Principals’ Data Use: Its Relationship to Leadership Style and Student Achievement
This study applies an empirical research method determine whether Texas public school principals’ leadership styles, coupled with their use of real time data in a data warehouse, influenced their leadership ability as measured by student achievement. In today’s world of data rich environments that require campuses and districts to make data-driven decisions, principals find themselves having to organize and categorize data to help their school boards, campuses, and citizenry make informed decisions. Most school principals in Texas have access to data in multiple forms including national and state resources and a multitude of other data reports. A random sample of principals was selected to take the Multi Factor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ5x) and the Principals Data Use Survey. The MLQ5x measured principals’ leadership styles as transformational, transactional, or passive avoidant. The Principals Data Use Survey measured how principals use data to inform campus decisions on student achievement, shaping the vision of the campus, and designing professional development. Data obtained from the survey were correlated to determine the relationship between principals’ use of data warehouses and their leadership styles on student achievement as measured by the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. The results yielded significant relationships between student achievement, principals’ leadership styles, and the principals’ data use with a data warehouse. Student achievement scores were highly correlated with the campuses that participated in the study and provided limited differences between those with data warehouses and those without data warehouses.
A Vygotskian Analysis of Preservice Teachers’ Conceptions of Dissolving and Density
The purpose of this study was to examine the content knowledge of 64 elementary preservice teachers for the concepts of dissolving and density. Vygotsky’s (1987) theory of concept development was used as a framework to categorize concepts and misconceptions resulting from evidences of preservice teacher knowledge including pre/post concept maps, writing artifacts, pre/post face-to-face interviews, examination results, and drawings. Statistical significances were found for pre- and post-concept map scores for dissolving (t = -5.773, p < 0.001) and density (t = -2.948, p = 0.005). As measured using Cohen’s d values, increases in mean scores showed a medium-large effect size for (dissolving) and a small effect size for density. The triangulated results using all data types revealed that preservice teachers held several robust misconceptions about dissolving including the explanation that dissolving is a breakdown of substances, a formation of mixtures, and/or involves chemical change. Most preservice teachers relied on concrete concepts (such as rate or solubility) to explain dissolving. With regard to density, preservice teachers held two robust misconceptions including confusing density with buoyancy to explain the phenomena of floating and sinking, and confusing density with heaviness, mass, and weight. Most preservice teachers gained one concept for density, the density algorithm. Most preservice teachers who participated in this study demonstrated Vygotsky’s notion of complex thinking and were unable to transform their thinking to the scientific conceptual level. That is, they were unable to articulate an understanding of either the process of dissolving or density that included a unified system of knowledge characterized as abstract, generalizable, and hierarchical. Results suggest the need to instruct preservice elementary science teachers about the particulate nature of matter, intermolecular forces, and the Archimedes' principle.
The Impact of Target Revenue Funding on Public School Districts in North Texas
A pre–post case study was conducted to examine how target revenue funding from Texas House Bill 1 (2006) has impacted the school districts within the Texas Education Service Center Region X area. Forced by the courts, the Texas Legislature was required to fix the Texas school finance system because of a de facto statewide property tax it had created by capping school district’s maintenance & operations tax rate at $1.50. Texas Governor Rick Perry used this opportunity to reduce school district M&O taxes by one-third. The Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1 (2006), the Public School Finance and Property Tax Relief Act, in response to the courts and to address a continuous decline in state funding support for public education. The Public School Finance and Property Tax Relief Act reduced local school districts’ property tax rates and revenue with the assurance that these funds would be exchanged for state aid. Local school property taxes were reduced over two years, 2006–2007 and 2007-2008, by 33%. In order for the State of Texas to meet the state aid funding guarantee from House Bill 1 (2006), each school district was frozen to its 2005–2006 revenue per weighted student, which was called a district’s revenue target. This study examined the impact target revenue has had on these school districts by analyzing and comparing revenues and expenditures prior to and following the law’s implementation. Specifically, changes in per-student revenue, per-student expenditures, and district fund balances were assessed.
A Comparison of Three Teacher Evaluation Methods and the Impact on College Readiness
Much attention in recent years has gone to the evaluation of teacher effectiveness, and some scholars have developed conceptual models to evaluate the effectiveness. The purpose of this study was to compare three teacher evaluation models – the Texas Professional Development Appraisal System (PDAS), the teacher index model (TI), and the value-added model (VAM) – to determine teacher effectiveness using student demographic and longitudinal academic data. Predictive data from students included economic disadvantage status, ethnicity, gender, participation in special education, limited English proficiency, and performance on Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS). Data serving as dependent variables were scores from Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT®) verbal/critical reasoning and mathematics. These data came from 1,714 students who were 9.7% Hispanic, 9.2% African American, and 81.2% White. The models were tested for 64 English language arts teachers and 109 mathematics teachers, using student examination scores from the SAT® verbal/critical reasoning and mathematics. The data were aligned for specific faculty members and the students whom they taught during the year of the study. The results of the study indicated that the TI and VAM explained approximately 42% of the variance in college entrance exam scores from the SAT® verbal/critical reasoning and mathematics (R2 = 0.418) across mathematics and English language arts teachers, whereas the TI model explained approximately 40% of the variance in the SAT® scores (R2 = 0.402). The difference, however, in the R-squared values between the VAM and the TI model was not statistically significant (t (169) = 1.84, p > 0.05), suggesting that both models provided similar results. The least effective model used to predict student success on college entrance exams was the PDAS, which is a state-adopted model currently in use in over 1,000 school districts in Texas, The teacher PDAS scores explained approximately 36% of the variance in student success on the SAT® (R2 = 0.359). The study provides school leadership with information about alternative methods of evaluating teacher effectiveness without difficult formulas or high costs associated with hiring statisticians. In addition, results indicate that the models vary significantly in the extent to which they can predict which teachers are most effective in preparing students for college. This study also emphasizes the critical need to provide teacher evaluations that align with student achievement on college entrance exams.
An Examination of Mathematics Teachers’ Use of Student Data in Relationship to Student Academic Performance
Among educational researchers, important questions are being asked about how to improve mathematics instruction for elementary students. This study, conducted in a north Texas public school with 294 third- through fifth-grade students, ten teachers and three coaches, examined the relationship between students’ achievement in mathematics and the mathematics teaching and coaching instruction they received. Student achievement was measured by the Computer Adaptive Instrument (CAT), which is administered three times a year in the district and is the main criterion for students’ performance/movement in the district’s response to intervention program for mathematics. The response to intervention model employs student data to guide instruction and learning in the classroom and in supplemental sessions. The theoretical framework of the concerns based adoption model (CBAM) was the basis to investigate the concerns that mathematics teachers and coaches had in using the CAT student data to inform their instruction. The CAT data, based on item response theory, was the innovation. Unique in this study was the paralleling of teachers’ and coaches’ concerns and profiles for their use of the data with student scores using an empirical approach. Data were collected at three intervals through the Stages of Concerns Questionnaire, the Levels of Use interviews, and the Innovation Configuration Components Matrix from teachers and at three intervals student CAT-scaled scores. Multiple regression analyses with the concerns and CAT scores and levels of use and CAT scores were conducted to determine if relationships existed between the variables. The findings indicated that, overall, the teachers and coaches who scored high in personal concerns at the three data points remained at low levels of use or non-use of CAT data in their instruction. Only two teachers indicated movement from high intense personal concerns to high concerns regarding the impact on students. This correlated with their increased use of CAT at the three-collection points. The regression analyses indicated no correlations between the teachers’ and coaches’ concerns and the CAT and no correlations between their levels of data use and the CAT. At the exit interviews, patterns suggested that the presence of a change facilitator might have made a difference in their understanding and use of the CAT data ultimately impacting student achievement. This study sets a new precedent in the use of CBAM data and offers insights into the necessity of providing support and training in a change process.
Funds of Knowledge in a Hispanic Household: a Case Study of Family Experiences, Values, and Connections to Education
Traditionally, the field of education has often adopted a negative perspective in their views of minority families’ contributions to the educational progress of their children. However, research embodying the theoretical framework of ‘funds of knowledge’ attempts to counter that model through its assertion that all families possess extensive bodies of knowledge that have developed through social, historical, and cultural contexts. Teachers carry out studies of familial funds of knowledge in order to understand how family experiences shape the knowledge that a child brings to the classroom. There is then, the potential to use that body of knowledge to create meaningful learning experiences that connect prior understanding and experiences to classroom practice. This research served as a case study of the funds of knowledge existing in the home of a Hispanic family and the connections that existed between that knowledge and literacy. The results indicated that the family possessed extensive funds of knowledge that developed through their historical, cultural, and social experiences. They often used family networks, as well as formal and informal literacy experiences to share this knowledge with their children. A key component of the literacy value system that they communicated resulted from a desire to maintain aspects of their culture and heritage through maintaining and improving their children’s reading and linguistic abilities in Spanish. Furthermore, along with their emphasis on Spanish literacy, they held aspirations for their children related to familial and educational values that often stemmed from their expressed desire for their children to lead lives with greater opportunities and positive examples than they had experienced.
A New Era of Educational Assessment: the Use of Stratified Random Sampling in High Stakes Testing
Although sampling techniques have been used effectively in education research and practice it is not clear how stratified random sampling techniques apply to high-stakes testing in the current educational environment. The present study focused on representative sampling as a possible means for reducing the quantity of state-administered tests in Texas public education. The purpose of this study was two-fold: (1) to determine if stratified random sampling is a viable option for reducing the number of students participating in Texas state assessments, and (2) to determine which sampling rate provides consistent estimates of the actual test results among the population of students. The study examined students’ scaled scores, percent of students passing, and student growth over a three-year period on state-mandated assessments in reading, mathematics, science, and social studies. Four sampling rates were considered (10%, 15%, 20%, & 25%) when analyzing student performance across demographic variables, including population estimates by socioeconomic status, limited English proficiency, and placement in special education classes. The data set for this study included five school districts and 68,641 students. Factorial ANOVAs were used initially to examine the effects of sampling rate on bias in reading and mathematics scores and bias in percentage of students passing these tests. Also 95% confidence intervals (CIs) and effect sizes for each model were examined to aid in the interpretation of the results. The results showed main effects for sampling rate and campus as well as a two-way interaction between these variables. The results indicated that a 20% sampling rate would closely approximate the parameter values regarding the mean TAKS reading and mathematics scale scores and the percentage of students passing these assessments. However, as population size decreases, sampling rate may have to be increased. For example, in populations with 30 or fewer students in a subgroup it is recommended that all students be included in the testing program. This study situated in one state contributes to the growing body of research being conducted on an international basis in sample-based educational assessments.
A Case Study of 1:1 Technology Policies in Four Texas High Schools and Their Relationship to Practice
With increasing emphasis on technology in schools, the importance of technology policies is great. This study investigated policies for four 1:1 secondary schools in Texas (schools with a ratio of one computing device per student), particularly with respect to the relationship of those policies to practice. The purpose of the study was to determine the current status of the National Education Technology Standards (NETS) essential conditions as reflected in policy and the relationship of those conditions to practice as measured through levels of technology usage and teaching innovation. Schools were selected through purposive, criterion sampling. Open-ended interviews were conducted with twelve participants (principals, technology directors, and superintendents). Policies were rated by campus principals and the researcher using a rubric based on the NETS essential conditions. Finally, surveys of proficiency and readiness measures were collected from 156 teachers using the School Technology and Readiness (STaR) instrument and the Levels of Teaching Innovation (LoTI) instrument. Interviews were transcribed and coded using structural and frequency coding. Policies were analyzed using magnitude coding and policy ratings. A qualitative analysis determined patterns between policy and practice. Quantitative data collected from surveys were measured against policy ratings and magnitude coding using bivariate correlation methods in SPSS. Quantitative analysis revealed two statistically significant relationships between policy and reported levels of practice in the classroom. Qualitative elements of the study from interviews and policy ratings revealed six findings that may explain a lack of correlation between policy and practice: a lack of ability for leadership to identify 1:1 program policy; lack among school leaders of perceived relationship between policy and practice; a belief among leaders that they are communicating policy to stakeholders even though they demonstrated difficulty in articulating policy; an inability to identify specific research-based theoretical foundations in policy; a lack of meaningful measurement of practices; and a lack of leadership at the same school to interpret policy similarly. A seventh finding revealed potential patterns between conditions that are addressed extensively in policy and evidence of those conditions in practice. Qualitative findings, in particular, contribute insights into disconnections between policy and practice in 1:1 settings.
Preschool Teachers’ Knowledge of Children’s Mathematical Development and Beliefs About Teaching Mathematics
Early childhood education emphasizes the need of providing high quality early childhood mathematics programs for preschool children. However, there is little research that examines the importance of preschool children’s mathematical knowledge development and teachers’ beliefs about how to teach mathematics to young children. The purposes of this study were to investigate pre-service and in-service preschool teachers’ knowledge of children’s mathematical development and their beliefs about teaching mathematics in the preschool classroom and also to determine how experience differentiates the two groups. This research employed a non-experimental research design with convenient sampling. Ninety-eight pre-service teachers and seventy-seven in-service preschool teachers participated in the research. The Knowledge of Mathematical Development survey (KMD) and the Beliefs survey were used to investigate possible differences between pre-service and in-service preschool teachers’ knowledge of children’s mathematical development and between their beliefs about teaching mathematics. The findings of this study indicate a statistically significant difference between pre-service teachers and in-service preschool teachers in relation to their knowledge of mathematical development. This finding shows that pre-service teachers’ knowledge of children’s mathematical development is somewhat limited; most pre-service teachers have difficulty identifying the process of preschool children’s development of mathematics skills. A second finding reveals a statistically significant difference between pre-service teachers and in-service preschool teachers in relation to their beliefs about (a) age-appropriateness of mathematics instruction in the early childhood classroom, (b) social and emotional versus mathematical development as a primary goal of the preschool curriculum, and (c) teacher comfort with mathematics instruction. No statistically significant difference was found between pre-service teachers’ and in-service preschool teachers’ beliefs regarding the locus of generation of mathematical knowledge. Both groups believe it is the teacher’s responsibility to intentionally teach mathematics to young children. This result suggests that both pre-service and in-service preschool teachers believe that teachers should play a central role in the teaching of mathematics to preschool children. However, both groups would need appropriate education and training to learn how to teach mathematics to young children. Pre-service and in-service preschool teachers’ varying levels of experiences and different levels of education may help explain why there is a significant difference between their knowledge of mathematical development and beliefs about teaching mathematics.
The Validation of a Short-cycle Formative Assessment Observation Protocol for Science and Mathematics Instruction
Over the years, teachers, administrators, and policy makers have been concerned with optimizing learning for all students. The No Child Left Behind Act put an emphasis on summative assessments, which measure what students have learned. In contrast, formative assessment has been shown in many studies to improve student achievement and motivation because it is applied while students are learning. The purpose of this study was to investigate, for middle and high school mathematics and science instruction, the validity and reliability of a newly developed observation instrument called AssessToday, which is used in a single class period to assess a teacher’s use of short-cycle formative assessment. The content validity of the instrument was supported through an extensive literature review, feedback from experts in the field of formative assessment, and an examination of 98 classroom observations. For assessing reliability of the instrument, inter-rater reliability coefficients were calculated using data collected by trained observers who independently rated teachers during the same class period using three measures: percentage of agreement between raters, Cohen’s kappa, and Fleiss kappa. Cohen’s kappa (N = 36 pairs) ranged from .62 to 1.00 for all observer pairs with an average kappa of .75 for mathematics (n = 16 pairs) and .76 for science (n = 20 pairs). The recommended threshold for kappa is k = .70. An exploratory factor analysis was conducted on the observation data and the determined factors related to the theoretical framework established in the literature. The results affirmed that the instrument is a tool to be utilized in short-cycle formative assessment with middle and high school science and mathematics teachers.
Hispanic Representation in the Superintendency: Perceived Competencies and Organizational Outcomes That Benefit School Districts
This study assessed 40 factors often cited in literature to determine the extent that Hispanic superintendents perceive them as influential when accessing the superintendency. Eight Hispanic superintendents in Texas participated in this qualitative study, which was based on interviews as well as written responses to a survey. This study found that the factors considered most influential to these superintendents were their ability to communicate, self-perception/self-efficacy, and level of overall preparedness. These findings contrast with previous research indicating that race or ethnicity, mentoring, and career path are most influential. The study also identified factors related to race and ethnicity that most influenced a Hispanic's ability to access the superintendency, albeit to a lesser degree. These factors were the ability to serve as a Hispanic role model to students, ability to increase Hispanic students' academic performance, and the ability to speak a second language. Moreover, through analysis of a large number of survey responses the study examined the extent to which a superintendent's race or ethnicity is significant to addressing the needs of Hispanics. To assure this question a comparative analysis of Hispanics' and non-Hispanics competencies and organizational outcome was conducted. The results indicate that superintendents, in general, regardless of race or ethnicity, can acquire knowledge about the Hispanic culture, develop cultural competence, and produce outcomes that affect Hispanics. A Hispanic, however, who possesses the ability to speak Spanish and has authentic cultural experiences, can potentially provide unique competencies in serving Hispanics. Cultural competence with Hispanics, however, does not supersede the importance of a superintendent's overall effectiveness and ability to meet the needs of all students. Whereas other studies have addressed the significance of cultural competency in other institutions that serve the public, such as the healthcare industry, this study addressed cultural competency in public education. Progressive definitions of cultural competency included the extent to which outcomes met constituent needs for measuring cultural competency. The overall findings in this study suggest a need to develop preparation programs that result in culturally competent leaders, a need to revise state required certification requirements to reflect a need for cultural competence, and a need to revise locally-developed job postings/descriptions to indicate that the superintendent must provide culturally competent leadership.
Central Office Administrators' Perceptions of the Professional Learning Community Process
This study provides a qualitative interpretation of the work done by central office administrators in a school district in Texas as they supported and built capacity for the professional learning community (PLC) process over a five year time period. Literature by PLC scholars, especially R. DuFour, R.B. DuFour, Eaker, Hord, Hipp, Huffman, and Olivier, informed development of the study. In a school district of 19,000 students and 2,000 staff members, ten central office administrators were interviewed to gain their perceptions of their roles in the PLC process. Interviews were analyzed through the processes of initial, focused, and theoretical coding. Documents were examined and used as supplemental sources of data to corroborate the perspectives provided. Findings revealed the story of central office administrators who worked interdependently to support and build capacity in the implementation and sustainment of the PLC process. A thick description of the work based on their perceptions offers actions and behaviors of administrators specific to their roles and practices and protocols developed to hold the work together. A grounded theory was developed with regard to central office administrators' support and capacity-building for the PLC process. From the administrators' perceptions, six theoretical categories relating to central office support and capacity building of the PLC process emerged: 1) establishment, 2) deployment, 3) accountability for implementation, 4) adult learning, 5) collaboration, and 6) leadership development. The study contributes an interpretivist description of the involvement of central office in the PLC process and confirms the importance of the change process in the implementation of the PLC framework.
The Effects of the Texas Reading First Response to Intervention Program on Student Achievement and Campus Special Education Rates
The purpose of this study was to examine special education populations, special education reading achievement, and regular education reading achievement in relation to the implementation of the Reading First three-tiered model as a response to Intervention platform. The population for this study focused on rural schools with Grades K-3 in attendance. Schools participated in the reading first grant period of the 2003-2009 school years. Forty-seven Texas Reading First schools were compared to 47 campuses having similar populations, socioeconomic makeups, and grade structures. This study utilized quantitative research measures to evaluate the level of special education populations on Reading First campuses using a response to intervention model. Quantitative measures were also used to evaluate those same campuses achievement rates of both special education and regular education students on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills reading tests. The study's outcome data showed little to no statistic significance for the three research questions. However, the inferential statistics showed a decrease in the special education population of the Reading First schools. Inferential statistics also indicated both the special education and the regular education students showed growth on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills reading tests. The use of a response to intervention program can be effective in the reduction of special education students identified on school campuses. Response to intervention programs can boost achievement levels of students receiving special education services. Students not enrolled in special education can benefit from effective response to intervention services.
An Exploration of Teachers' Adoption of the Bring Your Own Technology Program
The purpose of this study was to explore teachers' concerns, use, and actual practices in their adoption of the bring your own technology (BYOT) initiative. Twelve secondary teachers in a private school setting participated in this study. The participants represented all content areas including reading, math, science, and electives. The private school was in its third year of implementing BYOT. This case study incorporated multiple methods to collect data to gain a better understanding of teachers' adoption of an innovation, BYOT. The concerns-based adoption model (CBAM) was used as a theoretical framework. All three CBAM tools provided data: the Stages of Concern Questionnaire (SoCQ), levels of use interview protocol (LoUIP), and the innovation configuration (IC) map. Twelve of the participants completed the SoCQ across three different points in time. Six of the twelve teachers participated in three one-on-one interviews, including the LoUIP. Additionally, six teachers were observed in their classrooms during instruction. After triangulating all pieces of data, the majority of teachers had highest concerns related to self. Teachers were concerned about their ability to implement the innovation and managing BYOT in their classroom. Four of the six teachers had a level of use (LoU) at mechanical, and two teachers had a LoU at routine. The teachers' LoU indicated that they are using BYOT in the classroom; however, the majority of teachers observed had adoption practices mostly in the non-ideal variations of IC. The teachers' LoU and IC indicated that teachers had implemented BYOT in their own way and not necessarily in alignment with the campus' vision or expectations. This case study had several limitations, including the small number of participants and the brevity of classroom observations. Additionally, this study was limited to one school setting. Recommendations for future research include exploring teachers' adoption of BYOT in various school settings (i.e., both public and private schools) and teachers at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Researchers should consider exploring the impact of specific interventions and support on teachers' adoption.
Accountability in Schools: a Study of High School Accountability Ratings and College Success
The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between high school campus accountability ratings, college readiness indicators, and the percent of students who achieved first year college success. Correlation and multiple regression analyses were used to analyze the relationship between the variables. Data was analyzed for two-year and four-year postsecondary educational institutions which were divided by eight school district types. Regression analysis of the relationship between high school campus accountability ratings and the percent of students who achieved first year college success for four- year post secondary educational institutions revealed statistically significant results ranging from R2 =.179 to R2 = .220. Similar results were found for two-year post secondary educational institutions with statistically significant results ranging from R2 = .049 to R2 = .218. The results indicated negligible to small relationships between the variables. Regression results of the analysis for the relationship between college readiness indicators and the percent of students who achieved first year college success revealed statistically significant results for 2 - year post secondary educational institutions ranging from R2 = .077 to R2 = .596 and for 4 -year post secondary educational institutions ranging from R2 = .048 to R2 = .304. These results indicated small to moderate relationships between college readiness indicators and the percent of students who achieve first year college success.
Factors Related to Teacher Retention: the Lived Experiences of Four Teachers in an Urban, Hard-to-staff High School
Retaining quality teachers is critical to the success of America's schools. How to retain quality teachers, especially in high needs schools, is a question of fervent debate among educational researchers, policy makers, administrators, parents, and students. This study examines the issue of teacher retention from an emic perspective, focused on understanding the perspective of those closest to the retention decision, teachers in hard-to-staff schools. This study examines the lived experiences of four teachers at a hard-to-staff, urban, secondary school as these experiences impact their decisions to remain in teaching and at their current campus. Research methods adopted an existential phenomenological perspective and focused on understanding deeply the perspective of participants and how participants make meaning of their lived experiences as they relate to the retention decision. Three hour-long interviews were conducted with each of the four participants utilizing methodology laid out by Seidman (1991). Data were analyzed using NVIVO 10 to apply a series of coding and recoding procedures to interview transcripts. Conclusions suggest four factors motivated these teachers to teach and remain in their current hard-to-staff, urban, secondary school. These factors include: belief in the power of education, relationships with students, mentoring and professional partnering, and remaining professionally challenged. Findings suggest factors that drive teachers out of teaching and out of hard-to-staff schools include: inconsistent administrative support, low student motivation, and lack of resources.
Reading Informational Tradebooks Aloud to Inner City Intermediate Fourth and Sixth Grade Students : A Comparison of Two Styles
This study measured the effects of reading aloud informational books to fourth and sixth grade students in the inner city.
Texas Public School Mission Statements : a Factor in the Involvement of Parents, Family, and/or Home in Educational Reform
Despite site-based decison making (SBDM) educational mandates, research determined the virtual exclusion of parents, family, and/or home as co-authoritative voice in Texas public school district mission statements. Qualitative analysis determined six parent roles within 155 inclusive mission statements through rhetorical deconstruction, a text-based grammatical evaluation procedure; quantitative analysis determined no significance between inclusive and exclusive districts in factors of size, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity. The implications of this study add further support to the growing parental insistence for greater educational decision-making options: ie., home schooling, voucher system, and charter schools.
Formal Education among the Siberian Yupik Eskimos on Sivuqaq, St. Lawrence Island, Alaska: an Ethno-Historical Study
The major focus of this study is the effect of formal education on individuals, communities, cultural traditions and values on Siberian Yupik Eskimos of Alaska. The first school on St. Lawrence Island (Sivuqaq), Alaska was founded in 1899 under the direction of Sheldon Jackson. The formal school curriculum for the next thirty years was secretarian. Upon the initial operation of formal schooling on the island, various other forms of schools have impacted the islanders of St. Lawrence. Chapter two is an overview of the background of education in Alaska from its beginning as a territory to its present status as the 49th state in the United States. Chapter three presents the history of formal schooling on St. Lawrence Island. Chapters two and three contain descriptions of various other forms of schooling within the state (i.e. Bureau of Indian Affairs, mission, state-owned) and when and how these forms either existed on the island or had an impact upon its villagers. Chapter four discusses the methodology utilized in conducting the research and fieldwork for this study. Research findings are discussed in chapter five and include verbatim transcriptions of interviews with villagers. These interviews are unedited in order for readers to draw their own conclusions regarding the study. The interviews included in this written finding are representative of interviews taken. Chapter six discusses conclusions gleaned over the course of this study and recommends further areas of study.
A Comparative Analysis of Curricular Programs in Private, Public Choice, and Public Attendance-Zone Schools in San Antonio, Texas
The purpose of this study was to examine curricular programs in private, public choice, and public attendance-zone schools to determine whether differences exist among curricular programs in the three types of schools. The findings from the student survey data indicated that private school students reported their curriculum to be more challenging than public school students, but no other significant differences were noted. Findings from the teacher survey showed more positive results for private schools in indicators of a challenging curriculum, expectations of students, school climate, and external support than public schools. This study showed that of the types of schools examined, Catholic schools exhibited the most consistent and well written curriculum that reflected the four research questions. Future research needs to be done to establish whether these indicators of a challenging curriculum result in higher student achievement.