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Academic Progress Scores to Predict Performance on a State Assessment
This quantitative study examined seventh-grade reading scores to determine the extent to which certain demographic variables (race/ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status) explain and MAP reading scores predict reading scores on the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) in a selected northeast Texas public school. Standardized assessments only compare the relative performance of an individual student to other groups of students using scaled scores, which can vary from year to year and from state to state. With the advent of computer adaptive testing, this study provides information on the predictive validity of benchmark assessments. Specifically, this study looked for predictive evidence that indicates how accurately test data can predict criterion scores. Findings revealed, through a multiple regression analysis, that the fall MAP Rasch Unit (RIT) scores predicted the STAAR scale scores. Using SPSS version 22, the data were entered and analyzed in a multiple regression model to determine the presence of a statistical trend or lack thereof. Demographic data and MAP scores were entered into the regression model to examine the predictive validity of the MAP assessment in determining student performance on the STAAR seventh-grade state-mandated reading assessment. The statistical analysis revealed that MAP RIT scores explain a significant variance related to seventh-grade STAAR reading scale scores. There is a vital need for tools that improve a student's academic development and MAP assessments have been found to predict performance on state-mandated assessments.
Academic Reading Online: Digital Reading Strategies of Graduate-level English Language Learners
English language learners (ELLs) face many linguistic and cultural challenges in their attempts to succeed academically. They encounter complex academic text, which is increasingly presented online. Although some research has addressed the challenges that university-level ELLs face when reading online texts, almost all of this prior work has focused on undergraduates. The purpose of the current study was to investigate the reading strategies employed by graduate-level ELLs when reading an academic English text online. Participating in the study were four foreign-born doctoral students from different first-language backgrounds—Arabic, Korean, Urdu, and Vietnamese—and the focus was on commonalities as well as differences among them. All four were enrolled in the same doctoral-level course, which included the reading of a specific online academic article as a course requirement. When reading this text individually, each student participated in a think-aloud procedure, followed by post-reading and discourse-based interviews. Analyses included unitizing data from the think-aloud protocols, coding units for strategies employed, and considering related interview commentary and classroom contributions. In their reading, these students made major use of problem-solving strategies, especially reading segments aloud and questioning. They also employed evaluative strategies as well as metacognitive strategies, which included affirming their understanding or indicating lack of understanding. With respect to global strategies, all made use of the article’s abstract and used the cursor to scroll forward to preview the article. In contrast to previous research with undergraduates, these students made little use of support strategies that involved translation websites. Instead, their major support strategies were navigating to web-based tools, particularly online encyclopedias in English. Despite prior theory and research suggesting the importance of sociorhetorical strategies in academic reading, only one student directed much attention to the authors of the article and to authorial intent. Although all four participants were students in the same doctoral course and ...
Accomplished Teachers' Instructional Decisions About Shakespeare
Teachers' decisions are a powerful influence on student learning and it is important to fully document accomplished teachers' instructional decisions, as well as to investigate possible influences on those decisions. Shakespearean dramas are central to high school curricula across the U.S. and pose particular instructional challenges, therefore teachers' decisions about teaching these texts are of particular interest. There is limited empirical research, however, about these instructional decisions. Thus, the purpose of this study was to describe how four accomplished high school English teachers working on a single campus make instructional decisions about teaching a Shakespearean play. Specifically, research questions addressed teachers' decisions regarding the teaching of a Shakespearean play and various influences on those decisions (self-reports and inferences from the data). Case study methodology was used, including an inductive analysis of individual teacher interviews, classroom observations, focus group, instructional artifacts, and researcher's journal. The findings revealed that instructional activities described by these teachers addressed support for meaning-making during four stages of reading instruction: (a) before, during, and after; (b) before; (c) during; and (d) after. Comparison of these cases suggests that, although each teacher brings personal preferences and unique background knowledge to her instructional decisions, all make decisions to promote student engagement and student construction of meaning. Regarding influences on these teachers' decisions about teaching the Shakespearean play, four categories were identified: (a) response to students; (b) aspects of the text; (c) response to contextual constraints and supports; and (d) personal preferences and background experiences. Individual teacher differences are clearly a strong influence, even among this group of colleagues on the same campus. Also, two influences not reported explicitly by the teachers suggest a complex integration of these influences. One is their intuitive thinking, which deserves a closer investigation in future research. The other proposes that each teacher's decisions are ...
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.
Accreditation Facilitation Projects: Supporting High Quality Early Childhood Education and Care
High-quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) are linked to positive developmental outcomes for children. Systems have been created to define, measure and promote high-quality ECEC. National accreditation status is deemed the gold standard of a high-quality program, yet many centers are unable to achieve this without assistance. With the help of Accreditation Facilitation Projects (AFPs), many low-income centers are able to achieve accreditation. Centers collaborating with an AFP reap many benefits including financial support, ongoing training and mentoring, and guidance through the accreditation process. AFPs invest greatly in the centers they collaborate with and the longer the center takes to achieve accreditation, the more resources an AFP must expend. The purposes of this study were to understand if the educational level of center director, the total enrollment of a center, or the percentage of children receiving government subsidies could predict the time it takes for a center to complete the accreditation process while receiving assistance from an AFP, and to determine if there are differences in attitudes about program accreditation between center directors and early learning specialists who serve as accreditation mentors to the directors. Findings revealed that a) the higher educational level of program directors is associated with a quicker time to program accreditation, b) both the total enrollment of the center and the percentage of children receiving government subsidies do not predict time to accreditation, c) the number of total staff in a center is associated with a quicker time to accreditation, and d) there is no significant difference between the directors' attitudes and early learning specialists' attitudes toward accreditation and accreditation facilitation projects. AFPs looking to streamline their accreditation process and provide accountability to their stakeholders regarding their investments over time can use these findings to choose to collaborate with centers that have directors who have ...
Actions Taken by Texas School Districts to Prevent Fraud
This research is a descriptive analysis answering the question, what measures are currently taken by the leadership―boards of trustees and superintendents of schools―of Texas school districts to prevent embezzlement? The research perspective utilized was quantitative with a descriptive, cross-sectional design. Data collection was accomplished through a survey with questions constructed from the most commonly recommended strategies discovered through the review of literature. The survey was distributed to the 1031 superintendents of school districts in Texas via email. The response rate was 33% or 339 returned surveys. The data set created concentrates on the four most common preventive measures: policy and procedure, management, auditing, and ethics. These measures are considered as they function to interrupt the principles of the fraud triangle. Comparisons were completed regarding region, district size, superintendent tenure and superintendent experience. Policy adoption was found to be extremely widespread. Procedures written to fully implement policy were less prevalent. Review of management practices found problems concerning credit cards, personnel evaluations, and password access to multiple computer finance recordkeeping systems concentrated in one employee. External auditing programs were universal due to statutory mandate but internal auditors and internal audit committees were few. Ethics training for business office personnel existed but with little consistent application across districts. The adoption of a code of ethics for business office personnel was rare. Recommendations made were that school leaders should be educated concerning appropriate actions in the common prevention areas. They need an to understand the importance of internal auditing, know the language in local policy, and they need to write procedures.
Analysis of Factors for Successful State-Level Support of Low-Performing Schools
This study provides a qualitative look at Texas' Professional Service Providers' (PSPs) strategies for supporting low-performing schools. Four PSPs were selected for participation based on the number of schools they helped exit the Texas Title I School Improvement Program from 2007-2012. Data collected and analyzed included provider and principal interviews, providers' progress reports documenting services, and principals' evaluations of provider services. Results indicated key support strategies in two of four cases were supporting and mentoring/coaching while communicating and building trust were important in the other two cases. Communicating, reviewing information, and planning were important across all cases. The quality indicators aligning with the PSPs' strategies were fit, comprehensiveness, and coherence. They were also the most common across all cases. Finally, analysis of the evaluation of provider services revealed PSP-1 with the highest ratings, followed by PSP-2, PSP-3, and PSP-4 respectively. The findings suggest, first, that PSP support has a dual nature. Contextual support was provided based on the campus leaderships' skills and requests. PSPs also ensured coherence among the strategies of all stakeholders. Secondly, a hierarchy of quality service indicators aligned to the PSPs' strategies: fit, comprehensiveness, and coherence. Finally relationships are vital to a successful provider-campus relationship. The findings have implications for PSP selection, professional development, and evaluation.
An Analysis of Performance Differences Between Self-Directed and Teacher-Directed Alternative Education Campuses in Texas
This study was conducted to analyze the performance differences between alternative education campuses in Texas that used teacher-directed strategies and those that used self-directed strategies. The study was also conducted to inform educators of the results these two strategies had achieved with at-risk students during the three years of 2006-2008. The study used the results from the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test as reported in the AEIS annual reports from the Texas Education Agency. Alternative education schools were grouped according to the strategy used to educate at-risk students. The results of the statistical tests showed the two strategies had similar performance results and there was no statistical difference between the two. The results offered several implications concerning the ability of at-risk students to achieve in alternative education schools including possible reasons why students who were previously unsuccessful became successful in alternative settings. The report also addressed the number of students who continued to be unsuccessful even when placed on an alternative education campus. Possible reasons for this continued inability to succeed are discussed. Recommendations for further research were listed at the conclusion of the study.
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.
An Analysis of the Leadership Competency Frameworks of Nontraditional Principal Preparation Programs
This study explored the competency frameworks of nontraditional principal preparation programs to determine how they aligned to research-based best practices for school leaders. The research questions that guided this work were: To what degree are the McREL 21 Leadership Responsibilities addressed in the competency frameworks of nontraditional principal preparation programs? How do the leaders of the nontraditional principal preparation programs view the degree to which their competencies include the McREL 21 Leadership Responsibilities? A multi-case study analysis was conducted that compared the competency frameworks of four nontraditional principal preparation programs. The Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), New Leaders, New York City Leadership Academy (NYCLA), and Teaching Trust were the nontraditional programs selected for this study. Leaders from the four organizations were interviewed. The findings from the research illustrated that a majority of the McREL 21 Leadership Responsibilities were included in the competency frameworks of nontraditional principal preparation programs. The study revealed that four of the McREL 21 were not included in any of the competency frameworks. Another finding was the lack of focus on talent management and personal dispositions in the McREL 21 Leadership Responsibilities. Nontraditional principal preparation programs are a growing avenue for principal preparation, as such their use of research on principal success was promising
Anti-bullying Policies And Practices In Texas Middle Schools
For over a decade national attention to bullying in American schools has increased, fueled by publicity about suicides of severely bullied youth. Schools have the charge of maintaining the safety of all students in order to ensure a positive learning environment, but there is little information about what they are doing to prevent bullying. The purpose of this study was to provide information on principals’ perceptions of bullying and what anti-bullying policies, procedures, and programs exist in Texas middle schools. Ninety-nine principals completed an online questionnaire that addressed: 1) their knowledge of district and campus policies concerning bullying; 2) their direct experience with bullying; and, 3) bullying-prevention strategies and training in place in their schools. Principals reported direct experience with all types of bullying included on the questionnaire in their schools, but had a surprisingly small mean of 14.8 verified bullying incidents during the 2010-2011 year. Over 60% felt the level of physical safety in their school was good or very good, but only 35% rated their school’s emotional safety as good or very good. Students, parents, and teachers reported bullying to the majority of principals; however, few schools conducted annual student surveys that could provide accurate information about bullying in their schools. Procedures required by state law were more likely to be in place than those not required, though not all schools complied with all requirements. Fewer than 10% of schools had implemented a formal anti-bullying program. The most commonly cited obstacles to effectively addressing bullying were lack of time to conduct investigations and getting parents to file written reports (40%); however, despite having anti-bullying training, 27% felt limited by the lack of strategies. This study fills a void in the literature by providing a statewide overview of middle school principals’ knowledge of district and campus policies and procedures ...
The Beliefs and Expectations of Effective Secondary Choral Teachers in Culturally Diverse Schools
Through the years, educational theorists and researchers have been interested in a possible relationship between teachers' effectiveness and their beliefs and expectations. Three concepts underpinned this work: teacher effectiveness, cultural diversity, and teachers' beliefs and expectations. The premise of the study was that the beliefs and expectations of effective secondary choral teachers are related to the social-cultural contexts in which they teach. The study implemented critical discourse analysis as the theoretical framework and the in-depth phenomenological long interview for data collection. Three secondary choral teachers were selected to participate in the study based on the researcher's criteria. The study revealed how each teacher conceptualized student cultural diversity during the teaching experience. Teacher beliefs about effective teaching in culturally diverse settings were described as developing over time in phases along a continuum. The study also confirmed that teachers' beliefs about students can be changed through experiences and reflection. The study revealed effective teachers focused on three different types of expectations in the teaching and learning context and affirmed diverse cultural identities and backgrounds. Recommendations included the development of stronger mentorship programs to increase effective teaching strategies for the secondary choral classroom. The findings of this study support my previous work, which introduces a sequential learning framework for teaching music in culturally diverse schools.
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.
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 Case Study of an Urban Charter School’s Journey of School Improvement: Organizational Theory, Institutional Learning and School Reform
The problem for this study was the need to increase and maintain in student achievement in charter schools. The purpose of this single-case study was to discover how an inner city charter school with a high percentage of at-risk students increased overall student achievement and attained acceptable performance status when faced simultaneously with administrative challenges and increases in state and federal standards. The participants for the single-case study included the school district’s superintendent, the high school principal, the dean of students, four faculty of the district, and one outside consultant appointed to work with the district by the state of Texas. The sampling for this study allowed for the opportunity to study in greater depth the choice of reform strategies and organizational structure designed to result in increased student achievement and student success over the course of two years. Since this was a single-case study of one charter school district, participants were referenced by the role in which they served. All district, campus, and participant names remained anonymous. The results showed the increased student achievement was made possible by several reform strategies and best practices. The primary reform strategies and best practices that had the greatest impact were consistent campus leadership and parent and community involvement with the campus. Mission and focus were secondary strategies that contributed to increasing teacher effectiveness and student achievement. All of the interviewees stated their work was “all about the kids” to support the theme of the common mission and focus the campus and district.
A Case Study of the Impact of the Middle School Data Coach on Teacher Use of Educational Test Data to Change Instruction
With the advent of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation in 2002 and its attendant increases in accountability pressure, many districts and schools currently embrace data analysis as an essential part of the instructional decision making process. In their attempts to overcome low achievement on state-mandated tests, some districts have begun employing data coaches. The study reported here, which was set in three middle schools in a northeast Texas school district, assessed the influence of the campus data coach on a middle school mathematics teachers' use of analyzed data to make instructional decisions. It also examined the extent to which the Data Coach/teacher relationship resolved teacher concerns about data-driven decision making. Phenomenological interviews with data coaches were guided by Seidman's (2006) three-series interview. Measurement of teacher use of data to make decisions was based on the concerns-based adoption model's levels of use interview protocol, stages of concern questionnaire, and innovation configuration map. By the end of one school year, two out of the three teachers never used data to make instructional decisions, although the non-users both had moved closer toward employing the innovation in their classroom. Data indicated all teachers were aware of the innovation, but all three ended the study with high personal concerns, signifying that the minimal efforts made by the data coaches to resolve concerns were not successful. This study's small sample gave the research paradigm of data-based decision making an in-depth glimpse into the process of implementing data-based instructional decision making and the Data Coach position on three middle school campuses in one large northeast Texas district.
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 Characteristics of a Community of Practice in a National Writing Project Invitational Summer Institute
This qualitative naturalistic descriptive case study provides an understanding of the characteristics of a community of practice within a National Writing Project Invitational Summer Institute. This study utilized naturalistic, descriptive case study methodology to answer the research question: What characteristics of a community of practice are revealed by the perceptions and experiences of the fellows of a National Writing Project Invitational Summer Institute? Data were gathered in the form of interviews, focus group, observations, field notes, and participant reflective pieces. Peer debriefing, triangulation, thick rich description, as well as member checking served to establish credibility and trustworthiness in the study. Bracketing, a phenomenological process of reflecting on one's own experiences of the phenomenon under investigation was utilized as well. The findings of this study point to five analytic themes. These themes, ownership and autonomy, asset-based environment, relationships, socially constructed knowledge and practices, and experiential learning, intertwine to illuminate the three essential components which must be present for a community of practice to exist: joint enterprise, mutual engagement, and shared repertoire. Participants' portraits provide a description of their unique experiences as they moved fluidly between the periphery and core of the community of practice.
Children with Autism in Taiwan and the United States: Parental Stress, Parent-child Relationships, and the Reliability of a Child Development Inventory
Autism is one of the fastest growing childhood disorders in the world, and the families that have children with autism experience frustration and stress due to many practical problems. with the increase in the prevalence of autism, it is urgent to raise awareness of autism and to provide services and support for children with autism and their parents to improve the parent-child relationship and moderate the parental stress. with regard to families with children diagnosed as autistic, the purposes of this study are to: (a) examine the group differences in parental stress and parent-child relationship between Taiwan and the United States based on racial and cultural differences; (b) identify factors, if any, that influence the parental stress and parent-children relationship; (c) investigate if there are differences in the results of child development when children are diagnosed with autism in these two countries; (d) establish the Battelle Development Inventory-II in Mandarin Chinese version for use of evaluation with development delays in Taiwan. Findings revealed that: (a) the Battelle Developmental Inventory, Second Edition (BDI-II), is highly reliable with a great value of internal consistency in the use with parents and children with autism in Taiwan; (b) there is no significant difference in child development and parent-child relationship based on geographic region (Taiwan and the United States); (c) parents of children with autism in the United States overall have a more positive parent-child relationship and parenting attitude than parents of children with autism in Taiwan; (d) Children with autism who have a positive relationship with their parents have a higher pass rate on the evaluation of child development; (e) fathers reported higher pass rate on BDI-II than mothers in one of the standard deviations of over BDI-II performance; (f) parent-child relationships are positively correlated with parental stress; (g) parents who received services and ...
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 ...
A Comparative Analysis of State Funds on Student Achievement of Economically Disadvantaged Elementary Schools in Independent School Districts and Charter Schools in the State of Texas
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between the instructional outcomes in the independent school districts and charter schools in relation to the expenditure of public funds for instruction and total operating expenditures from the general fund. The study considered Texas elementary charter schools and independent school districts, whose school populations were identified as having greater than or equal to 50% of economically disadvantaged students, according to the Texas Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS). The study made use of multiple regression and was an ex post facto cross-sectional analysis utilizing production function theory. The study’s outcomes reported the difference in student achievement between elementary schools in independent public school districts and charter schools were small to negligible for math and reading achievement. The study also reported, there is no statistically significant difference in per pupil expenditure of public funds between elementary schools in independent public school districts and charter schools. Furthermore, there is no statistically significant relationship between student achievement and per pupil expenditure of public funds on elementary schools in independent public school districts and charter schools.
A Comparison of Principals’ Perceptions of Preparedness Based on Leadership Development Opportunities
This research study identified the frequency in which six public school districts in Texas provided principals with effective development opportunities prior to the principalship excluding university or certification programs. A purposive sample of over 200 principals from six school districts in the Dallas/Fort Worth area were asked to participate in the study yielding a response rate of 41%. Respondents identified through a questionnaire their leadership development opportunities and perceptions of preparedness on nine standards common to the profession. Principals were nominally grouped for comparison. The perceptions of preparedness for principals who received effective leadership development opportunities were compared to those who did not receive these same opportunities using an independent samples t-test to determine statistical significance (p < .05). Peer coaching yielded the most statistically significant results in three standards. This finding indicates principals who receive peer coaching prior to the principalship compared to those who did not perceive themselves as more prepared in the areas of community collaboration, political, social, economic, legal, and cultural context, and curriculum, instruction and assessment. Effect size was measured for the statistically significance standards to determine practical significance. Each of the five statistically significant standards yielded a medium effect size indicating that the leadership development methods received by participants explained approximately 30% of the difference.
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 ...
Contextualizing History Curriculum: A Qualitative Case Study in Balochistan Pakistan
The purpose of the study was to evaluate Pakistan's national history curriculum in the post 18th constitutional amendment scenario. The amendment bequeathed the responsibility of education, including curriculum development, to the provinces. This study sought input from educators on ways the national curriculum currently addresses local needs and requirements as well as considerations for any potential changes or improvements. Traditionally, history curriculum has been used mainly for social identity formation and ideological indoctrination; current scholarship on history education has now also included national identity formation. Additionally, scholarship has begun to analyze possible purposes behind social identity formation, whether used negatively or positively. This study, which took place in Balochistan, Pakistan, used a qualitative case study approach. A provincial level conference was convened as a context and data source that involved 28 educators including teachers, teacher educators, curriculum experts, and policy actors as participants in the study. The texts of five representative educators engaged in the conference dialogue was selected for analysis. Discourse analysis was the methodology used to arrive at findings of the study. The study yielded several interesting findings that give insight about the national history curriculum of Pakistan and future curriculum practices of the Balochistan province. According to the selected educators, the national history curriculum of Pakistan has been unidimensional, based on Islamic ideology that embraces a religious national identity. The selected educators argued that the curriculum is unwelcoming to diversity, does not promote peace and equity, conceals truth, and hinders critical thinking. They found the national history curriculum non-representative of the local context of Balochistan province. In light of these findings, the selected educators proposed a history curriculum for Balochistan province that promotes peace, tolerance, equity, and respect for diversity, truth, and critical thinking. The participating educators saw a provincial/local focus as addressing many limitations of the ...
Critical Literacy Practices, Social Action Projects, and the Reader Who Struggles in School
This study, conducted at an urban public school, explored the engagements of five, fourth grade, African American students who struggled with reading in school as they participated in critical literacy practices and social action projects with the assumption that critical analysis of written texts and concrete social actions were necessary for student empowerment. Using Discourse Analysis within a microethnographic framework, participants’ responses were analyzed. Early in the study, participants were hesitant to join in critical conversations about race. Over time, as participants deepened their critical literacy engagements, they divulged lived racism both in their private and public worlds. Specifically, the participants described the tensions and transgressions they experienced as minorities from civil rights curriculum, teachers and other students. The findings revealed instead of text based analyses, critical literacy practices transformed into the participants’ critical analysis of racism they experienced in their various worlds (home, school, and the larger, outside world) through language (not text). Similarly, the pre-conceived idea of social action projects changed from the creation of concrete products or actions into discussions in which mainstream discourse was interrupted. Tacit and overt understandings about race, identity and power suggested that the participants assumed multiple and contradictory identities (such as “victim of racism” and “racially prejudiced”) that both empowered and oppressed others in the social action group. Implications for critical literacy practices include that empowering and liberating pedagogy through ‘risky conversations’ is difficult, transitory and radical within the context of school.
Culturally Proficient Leadership: Teacher Perceptions of Elementary School Principals in Urban, Title I Schools
This study examined elementary teachers’ perceptions of their principal’s level of cultural proficiency. Practices for Developing a Culturally Competent School Environment, a survey Camille Smith and adapted by Dr. Mack T. Hines, was completed from a sample size of 119 teachers. The survey contained 35 items, including six constructs: valuing diversity, assessing the culture, managing the dynamics of difference, institutionalizing cultural knowledge and resources, adapting to diversity and inclusiveness. Teachers rated their principal using a Likert scale which consisted of 1 = never uses, 2 = rarely uses, 3 = sometimes uses, 4 = frequently uses, and 5 = always uses. Teachers of various races, ages and years with their principal participated in this study. The study reveals that these variables do not make a statistically significant difference in the teachers’ perception of how proficient they are in valuing diversity, a assessing his/her own culture and institutionalizing cultural knowledge. This quantitative study reveals the variances of statistical significance of teacher demographics: age, gender, years served under current principal and accountability rating of the school. Cultural proficiency is important to the development and maintenance of the necessary relationships among students, teachers, principals and the school community.
Data Envelopment Analysis: Measurement of Educational Efficiency in Texas
The purpose of this study was to examine the efficiency of Texas public school districts through Data Envelopment Analysis. The Data Envelopment Analysis estimation method calculated and assigned efficiency scores to each of the 931 school districts considered in the study. The efficiency scores were utilized in two phases. First, the school district efficiency scores were combined with school district student achievement to evaluate effectiveness with efficiency. A framework was constructed to graph the scores on an x-axis of student achievement scores and a y-axis of efficiency scores to further illustrate the data. The framework was evaluated with the full statewide sample and with school districts categorized into similar peer groups. Then, using variables selected from related scholarly literature, a regression analysis identified which factors impacted school district efficiency statewide. The non-discretionary variables included in the study were total student enrollment, the percentage of non-white students and the percentage of economically disadvantaged students. The discretionary variables selected included the teacher-to-student ratio, teachers’ average years of experience, the percentage of teachers with master’s degrees and the average teacher base salary. Amongst the seven factors selected for regression analysis, five statistically significant variables were identified as impacting statewide school district efficiency. All three non-discretionary variables were identified as statistically significant on efficiency and included total student enrollment, the percentage of non-white students and the percentage of economically disadvantaged students. Two discretionary factors showed statistically significant effects on efficiency which included teachers’ average years of experience and the percentage of teachers with master’s degrees. The teacher-to-student ratio and the average teacher base salary were ineffective in predicting efficiency. This study contributed to the understanding on educational efficiency. Data Envelopment Analysis has been employed mainly in the private sector to analyze efficiency in economics and business organizations. This study added to the educational research ...
The Demographics of Corporal Punishment in Texas
This dissertation examined the student discipline policies of 1,025 Texas school districts, as well as data from the Texas Education Agency’s Academic Excellence Indicator System in order to identify demographic patterns regarding corporal punishment policies in Texas schools. the study also studied the relationship between a district’s corporal punishment policy and student achievement. the dissertation utilized legal research methods and document analysis as its research methodology. Document analysis was the primary methodology used to answer the research questions whereby individual school district policies were identified and classified based on a number of demographic characteristics as well as the variations in corporal punishment policies among the various districts. the results of the study found that although more Texas school districts permit corporal punishment than have banned the practice, 60 percent of Texas school children go to school in districts where corporal punishment is not permitted. Corporal punishment is generally permitted in rural areas, with the majority of school districts in West Texas and the Texas Panhandle still allowing it by policy. a case study affirmed a finding from a national study regarding the type and locale of a student that is most likely disciplined using corporal punishment. the study determined that the larger Texas school districts have moved away from using corporal punishment as a disciplinary tactic. No district categorized as “Major Urban” by the Texas Education Agency permits corporal punishment of students. None of the larger districts categorized as “Urban” or “Major Suburban” that prohibit corporal punishment were identified as “Academically Unacceptable” under the State accountability system. This study also found that districts that prohibit corporal punishment and have a large number of minority students tend to have higher AEIS ratings. This study’s findings suggest that the elimination of corporal punishment in highly populated Texas school districts may be an ...
A Descriptive Analysis of the Critical Thinking Model in Texas Elementary Education
Contributions from elementary education to the practice and reality of critical thinking are rare, largely because attempts in basic education to elucidate a concept of critical thinking have a hard time breaking through the elusiveness and indeterminacy that characterize the history and reality of the concept. This situation is due to, and a consequence of, the difficulty of delimiting critical thinking from related fields, such as metacognition, higher-order-thinking, problem solving, informal logic, reasoning skills, and decision making, to name a few. Texas school authorities designed and put into practice a battery of tools to evaluate critical thinking through the assessment programs TAKS and STAAR, without taking a position regarding the indeterminacy problems of the content of critical thinking. The purpose of this study was to reconstruct the pieces of the critical thinking model imparted to Texas elementary school children since 1999 and continues today. The findings indicate that the critical thinking model implemented in Texas elementary schools is a particular version of a skills-only approach of critical thinking that follows the classical logical paradigm, consisting of two sets of complementary skills. This model acquaints students with the components and structure of five types of arguments while it fails to substantiate the logic of argument support that demonstrates how reasons support claims and the strength of support. The application of an adequacy conditions rubric showed the strengths of the model at the argumentation analysis level, yet it showed clear signs of incompleteness and inconsistencies at the argument structure level that distort its purpose and function.
A Descriptive Law and Policy Analysis of Corporal Punishment in Florida Public School Districts
Corporal punishment is banned by state statute in 31 of the 50 U.S states. The 19 states that still allow the practice are largely located in the South and the Rocky Mountain West. However, data indicate that the practice of corporal punishment is still largely a Southern phenomenon. In the 19 states that allow the practice to continue in schools, many have seen the use of the disciplinary technique decline. Existing research documents the negative effects and very little research supports any positive benefits of corporal punishment. This study analyzes school board policies from the 67 public school districts in the state of Florida to determine if trends in policies and incidents of corporal punishment are similar Texas and North Carolina. Research on Texas and North Carolina indicate corporal punishment is used more frequently in districts with smaller enrollments, and in more rural areas. Data from this study suggests that the decrease in the number of incidents of corporal punishment as well as the concentration of the practice among school districts in Florida school follows the same trends of declining use that exist in Texas and North Carolina public schools. Findings illustrate a need for continued research of corporal punishment on a district-by-district and potentially a school-by-school basis.
Determinants of Principal Pay in the State of Texas
The purpose of the study was to examine district, campus, and community determinants of principal’s salaries using a spatial econometric framework. Among the district variables business tax (p = 0.001), property tax (p < .01), and the Herfindahl Index (measure of competition) were statistically significant indicators of principal salaries. The results suggest that more affluent districts tend to pay principals higher salaries, which was expected. Regarding campus characteristics, the percent of economically disadvantaged was not a statistically sound indicator (p = 0.468), but campus enrollment was significant (p = <.01). Interestingly as the percentage of economically disadvantaged students increased, the principal salary decreased. In contrast, as student enrollment increases the salary of principals increases, suggesting that principals of larger campuses earn higher salaries. Interestingly, student achievement was not a statistically significant predictor of principals’ salary given that pay for performance in Texas is at the forefront of political debate. Among the variables examined at the community level, only the percentage of homes owner occupied (p = 0.002) was found to be a statistically significant indicator of principal salary (p = .002). The lack of evidence on reforms, such as determinants of principal salary, points to data and research deficiencies to be addressed in order to learn more about their effects and make sound public policies. The paper utilized a spatial regression approach to examine the determinants of principal salary using data from the local, state, and national data sources. Principal salaries are viewed from several lenses in this study by considering effective outcomes of pay defined by actual salaries and market considerations for pay as defined by community, organizational, and human capital variables. Literature from the private sector as well as from the public school setting was used as a theoretical underpinning for the hypotheses set forth in this study. ...
Determining Factors that Influence High School Principal Turnover Over a Five Year Period
The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of salary, compensation and benefits, accountability, job stress, increased instructional responsibilities, changes in student demographics, lack of support, politics, advancement opportunities and promotion on tenure and turnover among high school principals in the state of Texas. The participants in the study included 60 Texas high school principals who left a high school principalship for a different high school principalship within the past 5 years. The participants completed the Texas Principal Survey and data were analyzed using binary logistic regression. The data indicated that salary, compensation and benefits was a significant factor in predicting an increase in the odds of principal turnover for principals who had been in their prior principalship 5 or more years over principals who had been in their prior principalship less than 5 years. Additionally, advancement opportunities was a significant factor in predicting a decrease in the odds of principal turnover for principals who had been in their prior principalship 5 or more years over principals who had been in their prior principalship less than 5 years. Responses from an open ended question asking principals why they left their prior principalship suggested that principals left for reasons including new challenges, lack of support and family. The results of this study support the need for continued research in the area of principal turnover and provide insight to district superintendents, school boards and principals.
Developing Culturally Responsive Literacy Teachers: Analysis of Academic, Demographic, and Experiential Factors Related to Teacher Self-efficacy
This mixed-methods study examined teachers' culturally responsive teaching (CRT) self-efficacy beliefs and the relationships among selected academic, demographic, and experiential factors. Guided by theoretical and empirical research on CRT, teacher dispositions, and assessment in teacher education (TE) programs for culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students, this study utilized an extended version of Siwatu's 2007 Culturally Responsive Teaching Self-Efficacy (CRTSE) Scale to conduct correlational and comparative statistical analyses. Data sources included surveys from 265 participants enrolled in TE classes in the spring 2012 in Texas (one private and one public university). Content analyses were also conducted on participants' descriptions of CRT activities using a priori and inductive coding methods to triangulate and elaborate the explanation of quantitative results. In this population, those with higher CRTSE were typically young (undergraduates), specializing in ESL and bilingual certification coursework, who felt their TE program prepared them well for working with CLD student populations. Regression analyses showed that certain certification areas (ESL, bilingual, elementary, and advanced) and perceptions of better quality in TE program preparation for working with CLD students emerged as significant predictors of increased CRTSE. Those with second language skills were more efficacious in delivering linguistically-responsive instruction, and those professing more experiences with and interest in diverse individuals felt more confident in applying CRT skills. While the younger teacher candidates felt more efficacious, their descriptions of CRT were less sophisticated than those with more teaching experience. Despite much of the literature relating to CRT and minority teachers, ethnicity was not a significant factor in heightened CRTSE. This study informs TE programs for better measuring and supporting teacher candidate CRT development by revising and extending Siwatu's 2007 study in three ways. First, the CRTSE Scale instrument was extended to include items that address greater depth and breadth of the culturally responsive teaching continuum as ...
Developing Oral Reading Fluency Among Hispanic High School English-language Learners: an Intervention Using Speech Recognition Software
This study investigated oral reading fluency development among Hispanic high school English-language learners. Participants included 11 males and 9 females from first-year, second-year, and third-year English language arts classes. The pre-post experimental study, which was conducted during a four-week ESL summer program, included a treatment and a control group. The treatment group received a combination of components, including modified repeated reading with self-voice listening and oral dictation output from a speech recognition program. Each day, students performed a series of tasks, including dictation of part of the previous day’s passage; listening to and silently reading a new passage; dictating and correcting individual sentences from the new passage in the speech recognition environment; dictating the new passage as a whole without making corrections; and finally, listening to their own voice from their recorded dictation. This sequence was repeated in the subsequent sessions. Thus, this intervention was a technology-enhanced variation of repeated reading with a pronunciation dictation segment. Research questions focused on improvements in oral reading accuracy and rate, facility with the application, student perceptions toward the technology for reading, and the reliability of the speech recognition program. The treatment group improved oral reading accuracy by 50%, retained and transferred pronunciation of 55% of new vocabulary, and increased oral reading rate 16 words-correct-per-minute. Students used the intervention independently after three sessions. This independence may have contributed to students’ self-efficacy as they perceived improvements in their pronunciation, reading in general, and reported an increased liking of school. Students initially had a very positive perception toward using the technology for reading, but this perception decreased over the four weeks from 2.7 to 2.4 on a 3 point scale. The speech recognition program was reliable 94% of the time. The combination of the summer school program and intervention component stacking supported students’ gains in oral ...
The Development of Algebraic Reasoning in Undergraduate Elementary Preservice Teachers
Although studies of teacher preparation programs have documented positive changes in mathematical knowledge for teaching with preservice teachers in mathematics content courses, this study focused on the impact of a mathematics methods course and follow-up student teaching assignment. The presumption was that preservice teachers would show growth in their mathematical knowledge during methods since the course was structured around active participation in mathematics, research-based pedagogy, and was concurrent with a two-day-per-week field experience in a local elementary school. Survey instruments utilized the computer adaptive test version of the Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching (MKT) measures from the Learning Mathematics for Teaching Project, and the Attitudes and Beliefs (towards mathematics) survey from the Mathematical Education of Elementary Teachers Project. A piecewise growth model analysis was conducted on data collected from 176 participants at 5 time-points (methods, 3 time-points; student teaching, 2 time-points) over a 9 month period. Although the participants' demographics were typical of U.S. undergraduate preservice teachers, findings suggest that initial low-level of mathematical knowledge, and a deep-rooted belief that there is only one way to solve mathematics problems, limited the impact of the methods and student teaching courses. The results from this study indicate that in (a) number sense, there was no significant change during methods (p = .392), but a significant decrease during student teaching (p < .001), and in (b) algebraic thinking, there was a significant decrease during methods (p < .001), but no significant change during student teaching (p = .653). Recommendations include that the minimum teacher preparation program entry requirements for mathematical knowledge be raised and that new teachers participate in continued professional development emphasizing both mathematical content knowledge and reform-based pedagogy to continue to peel away deep-rooted beliefs towards mathematics.
The Disney Influence on Kindergarten Girls' Body Image
Media is now a part of the early childhood world. In many countries, including industrialized and developing countries, children spend more time consuming various kinds of media. The impact of media on children's perception of their body images has been and continues to be a concern of parents and early childhood professionals. This research examined the influence of Disney movies on Thai kindergarten girls' body images and self-esteem. Thai kindergarten girls completed three measures of body self-image: the Body Figure Preference Scale, the Body Esteem Scale, and the Self-Esteem Scale. The girl participants were randomly assigned to two groups: focused on a female theme (FFT) and focused on a non-human theme (FNT). The experimental group viewed "female" Disney movie themes, while the control group viewed "animal" Disney movie themes. Girls in the experimental group expressed greater body image dissatisfaction scores after watching Disney movies, which was an expected finding. Results from the present study suggest that girls in both groups become concerned about their body esteem after video exposure. However, there was no significant difference in self-esteem between girls in FFT and FNT. In summary, the findings of this study support the belief that Disney movies influence young girls' perceptions of their body image, and they have an awareness of their body size. It can be concluded that Disney movies have an influence on Thai girls' body image dissatisfaction and body esteem. The results also indicated that Thai girls are not totally aware of the influence of Disney media on their self-esteem. Understanding how Disney movies, in particular, and other media, in general, influence young children, especially girls, can encourage parents and educators to identify risk factors associated with children's body image dissatisfaction and low self-esteem.
District Leadership Supporting PLC Implementation in a Rapid Growth District
A growing body of work has emerged regarding the responsibilities required of district leaders in establishing plans that initiate and create conditions for sustainability of continuous improvement achieved through a systemic reform structure such as professional learning communities. However, limited research exists in respect to sustaining cultures of continuous improvement in rapid growth districts. Rapid growth districts can be described as school systems, which construct and open multiple campuses annually. The underlying premise of this study considered how humans interact with one another within a rapidly changing professional organization. Change theory, professional capital, organizational learning theory, and system reform emerge as the conceptual framework in this study of district support of professional learning communities. Data collection for this qualitative descriptive case study included interviewing six K-12 principals, administering the PLCA-DS survey to 247 K-12 staff members, and document review. Recognition of the importance of the PLC framework, building capacity, development of collaborative culture, and issues resulting from constant change due to rapid growth were the four themes generated by the participants to support continuous improvement in a rapid growth district. The four themes combined with the components of the conceptual framework outline how district leaders in a rapidly changing environment cultivate a process leading to system-wide improvement.
District Support: Strategies for Building Capacity in Elementary Principals in a Rapid Growth District
The purpose of this descriptive case study was to examine the role of the central office staff and the strategies used to support capacity building in elementary principals in a rapid growth district. By synthesizing research and models from education reform scholars, the conceptual framework of professional capital, intrinsic motivation, the educational change process, and professional learning communities was generated to advance the understanding of utilizing PLCs as a foundation for central office to initiate and sustain continuous improvement in a rapid growth district. The Professional Learning Community Assessment - District Support developed by Olivier, Huffman, and Cowan was administered to 126 participants within the curriculum and instruction department and three elementary schools to collect data to analyze the five dimensions of PLCs within the school district. Eleven interviews were conducted with members of the curriculum and instruction department and elementary principals. According to the eleven interviewees, and PLCA-DS, six themes emerged to support the role of capacity building in elementary principals using the PLC model as a framework. The PLC infrastructure, supportive central office, collaborative culture, continuous improvement, differentiated opportunities to learn, and data use were the six themes generated by the participants to support continuous improvement in elementary principals. Each of the five PLC dimensions were visible throughout the themes as the findings illustrated six key practices currently in motion within the rapid growth school district used to build capacity in elementary principals.
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.
Do Re Mi? Yes! Using Music and Visual Arts to Promote Thai Children's English Vocabulary Development
This research examines the efficacy, if any, of the Music and Visual Arts (MVA) program in improving the English vocabulary development of first grade Thai students. The researcher developed the Vocabulary Recognition Assessment (VRA) as a measure of English vocabulary development. It employs the accuracy and rapidity method of word recognition as a measurement of English language development in Thai children. Forty first grade Thai students in a Bangkok elementary school participated in the study. Participants were divided equally between an experimental group and a control group. During a nine-week period, students in the experimental group were instructed with the MVA strategy, while students in the control group were taught with the Visual Arts (VA) strategy. Paired sample t-test, ANOVA, and ANCOVA were used to analyze data from the VRA, to compare the pre-test and the post-test in terms of accuracy scores and rapidity scores of the control group and the experimental group. Data revealed that students instructed with the MVA strategy improved their English vocabulary development in terms of accuracy of word recognition significantly more than students taught English using the VA strategy. No significant difference was found between the MVA strategy and the VA strategy in terms of rapidity of word recognition. The MVA strategy could be a useful strategy for Thai early childhood teachers to use in helping Thai children learn English vocabulary.
Does an Online Post-baccalaureate Secondary Teacher Certification Program Produce Certified Teachers Who Remain in the Field?
Given issues in education concerning teacher shortages, the omnipresence of alternative certification programs and the growth of online programs in higher education, this study investigated teacher retention for 77 secondary education teachers who completed an online teacher preparation program in Texas. Teacher retention was examined from 2003-2013 and investigated the influence of factors such personal characteristics, working conditions and school setting characteristics on teacher retention. Data was collected electronically utilizing a survey instrument designed by two teacher education experts and I. A total of 21 variables and two open-ended questions were investigated using the survey instrument. Exploratory factor and hierarchical multiple regression analyses were conducted to identify a multi-factor model for teacher retention utilizing the participants' survey responses. These analyses yielded evidence of the program's effectiveness in preparing teachers for long careers. Specifically, the areas of program support, field experience, and classroom management were statistically significant factors that contributed positively to teacher retention. Additionally, variables outside the program, were examined. These factors included personal characteristics, working conditions, and school setting factors. The predictor model accounted for 56% of the variance; F (17, 54) = 3.015; p = < 0.001. In particular, working conditions contributed to 41% of the variance associated with the teacher retention model. A qualitative analysis of open-ended survey questions was used to further examine decisions to remain in teaching. Support of administration, colleagues, staff, and parents was shown to influence teacher retention.
Does Instructional Delivery Method in an Elective Business Class Impact Student Achievement with Respect to Gender, Race and Socio-economic Status in a Selected Texas Public School District?
The problem that guided this study was a socio-constructivist view of education via online learning. Based in the extant literature, a deficiency existed that directly correlated online learning closing the academic achievement gap between student populations. In other words, schools invested in technology; however, few empirical data sets existed that established a connection between technology integration and the academic achievement of different student groups. The purpose of this pooled regression analysis study was to determine whether the method of class instruction effected academic achievement gaps between three subpopulations based on gender, race, and SES. Specifically, this study examined whether gender, race, and SES could predict semester grades within and across traditional, blended, and online course instructional methods. The dependent variable for this study was student success in the form of an end-of-unit test grade designed to evaluate student understanding of the curriculum. The independent variables included student gender, ethnicity, and SES. Quantitative data were collected through an analysis of Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) data and student end-of-unit exam grades. The research suggests one combined interaction, [gender x race] in the traditional learning environment, is statistically significant while several independent interactions are significant. Those independent interactions are TAKS scores, gender, and Socio-economic status. According to the trends in this research, no significant differences exists in academic achievement between African American males and White males enrolled in traditional, blended or online classes. This non-significance is important. As suggested, when all other external factors, in this research, are held constant and the academic playing field is level, male students perform equally within the classroom, also, because no significant differences exists in academic achievement, the quality of instruction from well-trained, highly qualified educators can be an integral factor in closing the achievement gap between African American, low-SES male students.
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.
Early College High School: Hispanic Students’ Perceptions and Experiences From a Texas Campus
Early college high school (ECHS) is a dual enrollment program that allows high school students to earn college credits while in high school. ECHS was developed with the intention of attracting students to pursue a 4-year college degree, especially students who might not attend college without intervention. The program targets students from low-income families, students who have low academic achievement, and students from minority groups including Hispanics, African Americans, and Native Americans. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions and opinions of Hispanic students about their experiences in an ECHS, and to better understand how their ECHS experiences affected motivation to engage in academics. The expectancy theory and college-going culture provided the theoretical framework for this case study. Semi-structured interviews captured the experiences of the participants. The study focused on 10 Hispanic students, 5 seniors and 5 juniors, enrolled at an ECHS located on a community college campus in Texas. The study found that students with higher motivation to work at high school and college courses had several reasons for choosing to attend ECHS. The reasons included a chance to earn a high school diploma and associate’s degree simultaneously, free college tuition, and an accelerated program to get through college. The students also identified rewarding outcomes for completing college. Those outcomes included satisfying career, personal satisfaction, ability to provide for their family and making their family proud as the first high school graduate and college attendee. One student had a lower motivation to work at high school and college work. He chose to attend ECHS to seek more freedom than a traditional high school. He was not certain about graduating from high school and doubtful about college graduation. This study contributes to the ECHS literature by providing details on students’ experiences at an ECHS. Using the qualitative ...
An Ecological Understanding of Teacher Quality in Early Childhood Programs: Implications and Recommendations
This research examined whether or not relationships exist between preschool teacher quality and parent involvement as indicated by the Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler Model of Parent Involvement Survey. Additionally, the study also considered family income and child membership in special education as predictors of parent involvement. The survey instruments included the Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale, Revised (ECERS-R) and the Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler Parent Involvement Survey. A total of 306 parents across 35 preschool classrooms participated in the study. Effect sizes, beta weights and structure coefficients from a series of multiple regression analyses measured the relationship between variables. A regression equation comprised of teacher quality, family income and child membership in special education was statistically significant in predicting parent school-based involvement. In the school-based involvement model the predictors teacher quality and child membership in special education accounted for a greater percentage of variance than did family income. Teacher quality demonstrated a small, negative beta weight but accounted for the greatest amount of variance among the three predictors within the school-based parent involvement model. A negative relationship between teacher quality and school-based parent involvement suggested that as teacher quality improved, parents reported less involvement in school-based activities and events. Findings for special education membership, however, demonstrated a reverse effect in the model and appeared to have a positive significant effect on school-based involvement of parents. The study contributes to the literature on the relationship between teacher quality and parent involvement in early childhood preschool programs.
Educational Performance: Texas Open Enrollment Charter High Schools Compared to Traditional Public High Schools
The study examined mathematics and English student achievement, attendance rates, dropout rates, and expenditures per pupil for Texas high school students in both open-enrollment charter schools and traditional public high schools for the 2009–2010 school year. All data were assembled using archived information found at the Texas Education Agency (TEA). This information included the TEA report entitled Texas Open Enrollment Charter Schools Evaluation; TEA Snapshot Yearly Report; and Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS) data files. Microsoft Excel (Version 2010) was used to randomly select traditional public high schools categorized as Title 1 and non-Title 1 for comparison with Title 1 and non-Title 1 open-enrollment charter high schools. The IBM Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) (IBM Statistics Version 20) was used for a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) conducted between one independent variable (charter or traditional school) and five dependent variables (mathematics exit-level TAKS scores, English exit-level TAKS scores, attendance rates, dropout rates, and expenditures per pupil). Traditional public high school students had higher or better average mean values than charter schools for mathematics exit-level TAKS scores, English exit-level TAKS scores, attendance rates, dropout rates, and expenditures per pupil. The ANOVA found that four of the five dependent variables were statistically significant at the 0.05 confidence level for the independent variable of school type, whether charter or traditional school. There was no significant difference found between the schools for attendance rates. Effect size calculations, using the eta-squared method, confirmed the comparisons with significant differences.
The Effectiveness of a Professional Learning Community on Student Achievement in Elementary Reading and Mathematics in a Large Urban School District
The study was to determine the impact of a Professional Learning Community on student achievement as measured by the state's criterion referenced reading and mathematics achievement tests. Data for this study were extracted from the school district's student database. Two cohorts of 90 students each were randomly selected from a population of approximately 600 students in 3 schools that participated in a Professional Learning Community (treatment) and 3 schools that did not (control). Professional Learning Communities known as PLCs, can serve as a major theoretical framework to promote the improvement of classroom teachers' instructional practice, teacher effectiveness and student achievement. Reading and mathemtics mean scale scores were extracted at three time points (year 1, year 2, and year 3) across three grades (grade 3, grade 4 and grade 5). Test for equality of variance found that no statistically significant difference existed between the mean scale scores of the two cohorts at the beginning of the study. The findings revealed that both cohorts trend toward increased academic achievement from year to year individually; however, when compared to each other, no statistically significant difference existed. Further research is indicated to examine each PLC for implementation, support and leadership as they relate to the PLC and a focus on instruction and learning.
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.
Effects of Child Development Associate Credential System 20 on Candidate Success Rates
The purpose of this research was to identify the impact of process changes that have been made to the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, which is a beginning early childhood teacher credential that focuses on competency based standards widely seen as necessary for early childhood teachers to possess. The process in which early childhood teachers receive their credential changed in 2013 with the implementation of CDA credential 2.0. Changes included taking a computerized exam and the implementation of a professional development specialist conducting an on-site classroom observation. In order to determine the impact that CDA 2.0 had on teacher credentialing success rates, a mixed-method sequential design was employed. First, existing data sets of success rates from a national scholarship program were reviewed. Following, interviews with CDA credential seekers were conducted. Findings revealed that while candidate success rates increased for those receiving CDA credentials under the 2.0 system, the actual number of candidates receiving scholarships to pursue the CDA credential through the national scholarship program decreased. Qualitative analysis of the semi-structured interviews indicated that three areas that impacted CDA 2.0 candidate success rates were the professional education programs and instructors, the CDA Exam, and Professional Development Specialists. This is the first research study to examine the CDA credential process. The findings demonstrate that the 2.0 system provides candidates with necessary supports to be successful. A significant question arising out of the data is how a determination is made to issue a credential. Before QRIS and public policy initiatives employ more efforts to professionalize the field of early childhood – primarily through the CDA credential – the process by which one obtains a credential should be more thoroughly examined.
Effects of the Texas Principal Excellence Program on Texas Principal Leadership Behavior and School Outcomes
The purpose of this study was to examine the leadership and school outcome effects of the Texas Principal Improvement program; which authorized the School Leadership Pilot Program under Texas Education Code 11.203. The specific research questions were: What effects did participating in the Texas Principal Excellence Program in 2009-2010 have on participants and their schools? What changes in participants' self-reported and peer-observed leader behaviors occurred between the initial assessment at the onset of the program and the final assessment once the program was completed? What changes were experienced in school's passing rate on mathematics and reading TAKS in schools having the same principal for the two years in 2008-2009 (pre-participation) and 2009-2010 (post participation). The research used TxPEP participating principals who agreed to take part in the study. Principals and a selected group of people who worked with them completed a 360-degree leadership feedback instrument addressing nine leadership competencies at the beginning and end of the program. Paired samples t-tests were used to determine if changes from pre-participation to post-participation were statistically significant. When a statistically significant difference was found, effect size and confidence intervals were calculated to place the data in context. Multiple regression and propensity score matching were used to analyze TAKS data for the second question. The study found that principals believed they were better able to lead after the conclusion of the TxPEP program and that their self-ratings were statistically higher on each of the nine Texas Principal competencies. The results of the 360-degree assessment showed that the peer group felt as if the principals had a statistically significant improvement on three of the nine principal competencies. Regression analysis showed there were no statistically significant changes in the school wide percent passing rates on math or reading TAKS after completion of the TxPEP program. Longitudinal research ...