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Actions Taken by Texas School Districts to Prevent Fraud

Description: 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.
Date: May 2011
Creator: Taylor, Gordon Douglas

Effects of the Texas Principal Excellence Program on Texas Principal Leadership Behavior and School Outcomes

Description: 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 ...
Date: May 2011
Creator: Fouche, Todd P.

Elementary Math Achievement in Texas: What is Working?

Description: Elementary math teachers (76) from selected Texas schools that included Grade 5 responded to an online self-report survey with respect to school-level factors that may be associated with student math achievement. Questions on the survey focused on school-level factors related to math, campus leadership, integration of technology in the math classroom, teacher expectations, utilization of student data in decision-making and professional development. The schools included in the study were rated as Acceptable or Exemplary schools by the Texas Education Agency for three-consecutive years (2007-2010). Logistic regression techniques were used to analyze the data and 11 questions out of 45 were analyzed to determine the odds ratio. Factors that were correlated with being an Exemplary campus were teacher certification routes, not benchmarking student progress, implementation of response to intervention (RTI), classroom management focus (equally divided between student and teacher centered) within the classroom, and technology integration. The results indicated that at the .05 level of probability, the only factor that met that level of significance was full implementation of RTI.
Date: May 2011
Creator: Moore, Linda H.

The Federal Judiciary and Establishment Clause Jurisprudence: Application of the Lemon Test since Mitchell v. Helms

Description: The issue of religion and its place in society has been a topic of controversy and debate since long before the creation of our constitutional republic. The relationship between religion and government has witnessed some of its most intense conflicts when the governmental entity in question involves public education. As our country moved into the 20th century, legal challenges in the field of public education began to emerge calling into question the constitutionality of various policies and practices at both the state and local levels. This dissertation examined the legal methodology that was initially developed and then subsequently modified as the judicial branch has interpreted how the Establishment Clause delineates the relationship between religion and public education. Because the United States Supreme Court has not overturned its decision in Lemon v. Kurtzman, the tri-partite test it established still remains the law of the land. Subsequent decisions by the Court leading up to their ruling in Mitchell v. Helms, however, have continued to modify the judiciary's approach toward the use of the Lemon test in Establishment Clause jurisprudence. This research analyzed the decisions of the various federal courts subsequent to the ruling issued in Mitchell to discern both the present position of the federal judiciary as it relates to the continued validity of Lemon and theorizes how the future course of any Establishment Clause legal challenges may ultimately be resolved by the federal courts. The analysis suggested that, while the Supreme Court has avoided Lemon's three-part test as the standard for evaluating Establishment Clause claims, the lower courts continue to place a strong emphasis on the importance of the test established in Lemon as the basis for how they render their decisions with issues that involve public education. This data indicated that Lemon continues to be an important tool for determining ...
Date: May 2011
Creator: Sanders, Russell Scott

Meta-Analysis of the Impact of After-School Programs on Students Reading and Mathematics Performance

Description: The purpose of this study employing meta-analysis was to assess the impact that after-school programs have on reading and mathematics outcomes. The participants in the primary studies were students in Grades K through 8; years 200 through 2009. The study utilized the theory of change as its theoretical basis. This meta-analysis used the effect size as the standard measure. It began with an overall Cohen's d of .40 for the impact that after-school programs have on reading and mathematics outcomes, and then proceeded to analyze three moderator variables: subject, time periods, and grade level.The findings of the meta-analysis, both overall and sub analyses, show that the independent variable, after-school programs, has an impact on the dependent variable, reading and mathematics. The overall results indicated that after-school programs are educationally significant in the areas of reading and mathematics combined. As for the moderator variable, the results for the areas of (a) subject (reading and mathematics), (b) time period (2000-2002, 2003-2005 and 2006-2009), and (c) grade (middle, and middle plus elementary combined), all indicated educationally significant results. The notable exception was the grade moderator, elementary.This study provides more information for researchers, practitioners and policy makers upon which to make practical research based decisions about after-school programs for the purpose of determining the applicability of such in their educational setting.
Date: May 2011
Creator: Crawford, Stanley T.

The Role of Social Integration in the Persistence of African American Men in College

Description: This qualitative study addressed the experiences of African American males attending a predominantly White university as undergirded by the social integration aspects of Tinto's model of academic and social integration. The methodology was case study. Sixteen semi-structured interviews were held with currently enrolled seniors to capture the lived experiences of their reasons for attending college as well as major influences that contributed to their persistence decisions. The results revealed emerging themes of positive and negative family influence, religious beliefs, and a sense of self-efficacy as instrumental factors for the students' persistence. The level of social integration tended to differ by the age classification (traditional college-going versus non-traditional college student) and by the level of parental education. The components of the social integration model, as developed by Tinto contributed little to the sample's persistence decisions when compared to the themes presented during the interviews. Three observations emerged from the data: (1) The experiences of the non-traditional aged participants were different from the traditional aged college student experiences; (2) Although the participants experienced varying levels of social integration, for most of the 16 students, their persistence decisions were influenced more by their positive and negative relationships with family, religious beliefs, and sense of self-efficacy than by their interactions with peers and faculty and involvement in extracurricular activities; (3) the responses of the participants enriched and broadened the scope of Tinto's model as well as the current literature pertaining to persistence.
Date: May 2011
Creator: Garrett-Spencer, Jacqueline

Rural School Principals' Perceived Use of Data in Data-Driven Decision-Making and the Impact on Student Achievement

Description: This study examined the impact of principals' data-driven decision-making practices on student achievement using the theoretical frame of Dervin's sense-making theory. This study is a quantitative cross-sectional research design where principals' perceptions about data were quantitatively captured at a single point in time. The participants for this study were 253 rural school principals currently serving in schools across Texas, and included both males and females across all ethnic groups, including white, African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American and other. A developed survey instrument was administered to principals. The findings from the quantitative SEM analyses indicated that the Principal Uses Data to Improve Student Achievement latent variable (Factor 1) and the Principal and Staff Ability to Analyze Data to Improve Student Achievement latent variable (Factor 2) were significantly and positively associated with student achievement. Higher scores on these two latent variables were associated with better student achievement. There was no statistical association between the Principal Uses Data to Design Teacher Professional Development latent variable (Factor 3) and this target outcome. In total, the three latent variables accounted for 6% of the variance in student achievement (TAKS). When the campus level outcome was considered, no statistically significant associations between any of the latent variables and this outcome were evident. In total, the three latent variables accounted for less than 2% of the variance in campus level.
Date: May 2011
Creator: Rogers, K. Kaye

School Consolidation Impact on State and Local Revenues and Expenditures in Texas

Description: This study examined financial aspects of the consolidation or annexation of 12 pairs of school districts in Texas during the period 1996-2006. Nine of the twelve districts consolidated by mutual agreement of the two school boards and three annexations were by order of the Commissioner of Education of Texas. Financial criteria studied were: a) per pupil expenditures, b) total state aid, c) transportation costs, d) administrative costs, e) school district "wealth" status, and f) facilities assets/liabilities. Each of the initial 24 independent school districts' criteria were collected for two years prior to consolidation and the 12 newly formed consolidated districts criteria were collected for the two years following consolidation. After consolidation, ten of the twelve districts had fewer than 1,000 students. Of the other two districts, one district had approximately 3,000 students and one large district had over 150,000 students. Some districts experienced increases in local expenditures relative to transportation, administrative costs and total expenditures while other districts decreased costs over time. Twelve non-consolidated districts with similar characteristics of the twelve consolidated districts were reviewed with the non-consolidated districts exhibiting increase and decrease fluctuations seen in the consolidated school districts. These findings suggested that each of the issues studied in public school finance need to be examined with more specific criteria in order to ascertain cause and effect relationships with regard to school consolidation financial impact on state and local revenues and expenditures.
Date: May 2011
Creator: Stewart, Marvin