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Adequacy and Equity: How the Texas Supreme Court's Perceptions Have Changed Over the Past 50 Years
The purpose of this study identifies state court cases involving public school finance specifically related to adequacy and equity in funding. Results address how state court cases have challenged the constitutionality of school finance in the United States, including Texas, over the last 50 years. The study further shows how the decisions from previous cases have influenced the Supreme Court of Texas decision in the Texas Taxpayer & Student Fairness litigation.
The Relationship between the Advanced Placement Calculus AB Exam and Student Achievement in College Level Math 1710-Calculus I
The purpose of this dissertation was to investigate the relationship between the Advanced Placement Calculus AB exam and student achievement in college level Math 1710-Calculus I. The review of literature shows that this possible relationship is based on Alexander Astin's longitudinal input-environment-outcome (I-E-O) model. The I-E-O model was used to analyze the relationship between the input and outcome of the two variables. In addition, this quantitative study determined the relationship between a score of 3 or lower on the Advanced Placement Calculus AB exam and student achievement in college level Math 1710-Calculus I. The sample population of this study contained 91 students from various high schools in Texas. Spearman's rank correlation revealed there was a statistically significant relationship between Advanced Placement Calculus AB exam scores and final grades in Math 1710-Calculus I.
Multimodal Design for Secondary English Language Arts: A Portraiture Study
Employing the research approach known as portraiture, this study investigated the varying ways in which three secondary English language arts teachers at a visual and performing arts high school conceptualized and designed multimodal literacy learning. Also studied were the ways in which their students responded to these designs; and in keeping with portraiture, attention went to the changes in the researcher's own understandings. This multi-case study and cross-case analysis built on prior multimodal literacy research in secondary education, but unlike previous studies, gave major attention to how teachers' conceptualization of multimodality and their own roles related to the designs that they produced. Since the school emphasized arts as well as academics, particular attention went to teachers' conceptions of, and designs for, arts-related multimodalities. Data for the portraits came from observations, teacher and student interviews, artifacts, and a researcher journal. Recursive analysis focused on repetitive refrains, resonant metaphors, and emergent themes, which provided data for "painting" the teachers' portraits in prose. Findings show the connections among teachers' beliefs, values, and the multimodal designs, which included images, movement, sound, classroom displays, and room arrangements. The three teachers took dramatically different approaches to multimodal designs as they created their productions of English language arts. Differences across teachers were related to their conceptions of multimodal design (i.e., for social activism, for expression, for edification) and to their conceptions of their roles as multimodal literacy designers (i.e., challenger, facilitator, channel). Students' responses to, and participation in, the multimodal activities also varied across classroom and teacher. The concluding discussion addresses the relation of arts integration to multimodal literacy education, the value of students' transmodal activity, and connections between multimodality and portraiture. The study illustrates the potential of portraiture for studies of multimodality as well as the potential of using multiple modes to "paint" portraits. Lawrence-Lightfoot, S., ...
Becoming Successful in Education: Beating the Odds, Despite a Background Entrenched in Poverty
The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of three relationships on academic achievement in mathematics in students of poverty. The three factors that were examined included: teacher-student relationships, parent-student relationships and peer- student relationships. The driving question for the research was as follows: Do external factors such as teacher-student relationships, parent-student relationships and peer-student relationships lead to academic success for students of poverty? The study employed a non-experimental, quantitative approach and utilized longitudinal data from a national database High School Longitudinal Study (HSLS) used a sample of 944 public and private high schools across the USA. A total 0f 28,240 were represented in the survey. Of these 28,240 students, 2641 were used in this study as identified by parental income below the poverty threshold. The outcome of the study indicated that there was little or no correlation between the three relationships and mathematics achievement (academic success). Correlations between the dependent variable (math achievement) and the independent variables even though some were statistically significant their weights had no concrete significance. The study recommends that several initiatives can be instated in schools to support and enhance academic achievement in students of poverty.
An Analysis of Litigation against Kansas Educators and School Districts under the Kansas Tort Claims Act
This dissertation examines the significance of the Kansas Tort Claims Act of 1979 on state of Kansas court decisions in litigation against Kansas school districts and their employees. Through providing a historical perspective of the adoption and abolishment of the doctrine of sovereign immunity in the United States, which subsequently led to the enactment of the Federal Tort Claims Act, and ultimately led to the Kansas Tort Claims Act, the researcher analyzes pertinent case law and scholarly commentary pertaining to school negligence litigation. The goal of the analysis is to answer the following research question: How have Kansas state courts interpreted the Kansas Tort Claims Act in litigation against state school districts and their employees? Although the KTCA provides citizens with a vehicle for redress against governmental entities by virtue of tort claims, the KTCA also provides immunities from liability for governmental entities and their employees under exceptions to the KTCA. Most notably, the discretionary function exception and the recreational use exception are two exceptions to liability applied in a significant number of tort cases against Kansas school districts and employees. The case law analysis provides explanations for the types of actions of negligence that Kansas courts have qualified for school district or school employee liability, and, when permitted, negligent actions that qualified for immunity under a KTCA exception to liability.
The Effect of a Change Facilitator on Project-Based Learning Curriculum and Design
This study sought to understand concerns and levels of use of a group of teachers in the process of developing a project-based learning (PBL) program, and the effect of a change facilitator on these processes. The research was guided by the following research questions: One, what are the concerns of teachers regarding the planning of a PBL curriculum? Two, what are the levels of use of teachers in the process of planning the PBL curriculum? Three, how does a change facilitator affect the process of change in the planning of a PBL curriculum? The population of this study consisted of seven subject area high school teachers and one district level administrative staff member. This study used the concerns-based adoption model (CBAM) to study the PBL innovation. CBAM is a conceptual framework that describes, explains, and predicts teachers' concerns and behaviors throughout the change process in education. In this study, the teachers progressed through the levels of use on a timeline at a rate that was much more rapid that what is typical for implementation of an innovation in an educational setting. This rapid progression was the function of the teacher population studied and the change facilitator that led the PBL curriculum design process. With the leadership of the change facilitator, the goals of the PBL curriculum innovation were realized, and the team created a PBL curriculum with multidisciplinary PBL products that could be implemented after the development phase.
Artistic Decision Making and Implications for Engaging Theatrically Gifted and Talented Students in Non-Arts Classes
This cognitive ethnographic study explored the mental processes that professional actors used when making artistic choices while engaged in creative practices to begin a conversation about how the theatrically gifted and talented population is viewed, researched, and educated in non-arts subjects. Professional actors at two sites were observed, videotaped, and interviewed over several rehearsals during play production. The major thematic findings indicated that artistic decision making results from actors engaging in a cyclical process of private work, affective validation, and collaboration. Implications for teaching theatrically gifted students call for classroom environments and processes that echo theatrical rehearsal structures, while engaging the imagination through personal connection and discovery.
Effects of Bring Your Own Device Initiatives Related to Instructional Planning and Classroom Environment in Two Texas High Schools
This study was an examination of 20 North Texas high school teachers' perceptions about the effects of bring your own device (BYOD) initiatives on instructional planning and classroom environment. The BYOD initiative at two high school campuses was studied through a qualitative approach, i.e. a collective case study. Data were collected through interviews, classroom observations, and reviews of participants' lesson planning documents. The findings indicated teachers had to plan for inequitable technology access, technology support, effective classroom management, and relevant content to support student learning effectively. Teachers participated in professional development focused on planning for student devices, effective use of instructional technology, and classroom management during this type of instruction. Results revealed that, during instruction that included students' devices, teachers believed student engagement and content retention were greater. Observation data also indicated that students were more engaged in the instruction. The interviews and classroom observations indicated that students assumed a more active role in their learning during these lessons, and teachers facilitated and provided more support as needed. Effective planning and classroom management were identified as key components in the success of this type of initiative. Overall, the study supports the necessity for relevant professional development for teachers and campus administrators to ensure the success of BYOD initiatives. Similarly, these two groups should work together to develop the campus framework to support BYOD technology in the classroom.
Multimodal Literacy Portfolios: Expressive and Receptive Opportunities for Children Labeled "At-Risk"
Current literacy assessments are focused on a single mode of meaning-making (reading and writing, whether oral or written) and assume that literacy and language are "fixed systems"-- comprised of discrete skills that can be taught and measured in isolation. This validation and privileging of a single mode of assessment has resulted in children labeled "At-risk" falling significantly behind those without this label. This study investigates what a teacher can learn from a diverse range of assessment forms and modes. In a fourth-grade self-contained classroom, students engaged in multimodal assessments and created multimodal portfolios. Five students labeled "At-risk" were chosen for a deeper analysis. Students' artifacts, interviews, and observations served as the main data sources. Both narrative analysis and analysis of narrative were utilized to generate a more complete narrative of these five students as meaning makers and communicators. The general findings suggest that these children labeled "At-risk" were, in fact, able to engage in multimodal thinking and communication from a critical stance.
School District Actions that Support the Development of Professional Learning Communities in High Schools
A gap exists in education research in the area of district support for campus-based professional learning communities (PLCs). The current study was an examination of practitioner perceptions of district structures and practices that support the development and sustainability of PLCs in public high schools. I examined the perceptions of 341 teachers, campus administrators, and district administrators in a suburban North Texas public school district with three comprehensive high schools. Using a sequential mixed-method design, quantitative data from an electronic survey and qualitative data from face-to-face interviews were collected and analyzed. The findings revealed a generally positive view of central office support among the participants, including consistent ratings from each high school, each campus-level position, each content area, and each level of experience in the district. There was some misalignment of perceptions between campus-level and district-level staff. The study also uncovered a set of best and worst district practices, the six PLC strengtheners and six PLC inhibitors, which were synthesized into a set of recommendations and guidelines for district support for high school PLCs. From participant feedback, I concluded district support is needed and desired by high school practitioners and there are specific district practices and structures that are most effective. While the study results provide a practical set of recommendations for school districts for supporting high school PLC efforts, expanded research is necessary to confirm transferability to school districts of diverse sizes, locations, and demographics.
Teacher Perceptions of Pay-for-Performance: An Investigation of Four Middle School Pay-for-Performance Programs in a Large Urban School District
In this study, I explored the different perceptions of teachers in a large urban school district in Texas towards a pay-for-performance program used on their respective campuses between 2011-2016. In total, 97 teachers from four different middle school campuses participated in this study. A descriptive analyst was conducted on teacher responses to an online survey to answer the research questions examined in this study: 1) What are teachers' perceptions of the pay-for-performance program's impact on teacher motivation?, 2) What are teachers' perceptions of the pay-for-performance program's impact on teacher retention?, and 3) What are the differences among teachers' perceptions of the pay-for-performance programs on the participating campuses? The results indicate 48.3% and 53.4% of the participants perceive pay-for-performance programs as having a positive impact on teacher motivation and teacher retention, respectively. Additionally, the results demonstrate 47.5% of participating teachers responded positively towards the pay-for-performance program on their respective campuses. This study has implications for policymakers and school district leaders who may consider implementing teacher pay-for-performance programs. Future research studies might explore school districts of different sizes throughout Texas and across the United States to gain a broader prospective of pay-for-performance programs.
Validation of an Observation and Evaluation Instrument for the Supervision of Middle and Secondary Pre-Service Teachers
The purpose of the study was to determine the validity and reliability of a revised observation and evaluation instrument of middle and secondary pre-service clinical teaching to be used as part of the clinical supervision cycle and for formative purposes. The North Texas Appraisal of Classroom Teaching (NTACT) serves as a performance assessment tool utilized by a south-central university-based educator preparation program for the evaluation and supervision of pre-service teachers during their last semester of their program. The researcher piloted and field-tested a redesigned observation and evaluation instrument (NTACT-V2) on observer participants with varying educational experiences in the south-central region. To accumulate evidence of validity and reliability, this study employed methods of factor analysis and generalizability study for developing a valid and reliable instrument to guide the refinement process of the NTACT observation and evaluation instrument. Some of the significant conclusions reached in this study were (a) the NTACT-V2 is a practical, user-friendly classroom observation and evaluation instrument; (b) the instrument refined and developed in this study exhibits appropriate content, face, and criterion validity as determined by a panel of experts and an extensive review of the literature; and, (c) a variety of observers can use the evaluation instrument with relative ease while achieving a high degree of reliability.
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.
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.
Instructional Coaching in a Small District: A Mixed Methods Study of Teachers' Concerns
This study utilized a convergent parallel mixed methods design to study teachers' concerns during implementation of instructional coaching for math in a rural PK-12 district in north Texas over a three-year time period. Five campuses were included in the study: one high school (grades 9-12), one middle school (grades 6-8), and three elementary campuses (pre-kindergarten through grade 5). In a school district of 3,400 students and 241 teachers, fifty-two math teachers were surveyed and interviewed for their perceptions and concerns during implementation of instructional math coaching in order to assist central office administration in knowing how to support teachers through the change process. Data included the Stages of Concern Questionnaire (SoCQ) at three points during the study period analyzed through nonparametric statistical analysis. No statistically significant differences were found to exist between campuses. However, a statistically significant difference was found when campuses were grouped by elementary and secondary campuses. Open-Ended Statements of Concern and focus group interview data by campus served as qualitative data to triangulate concerns and to measure situational evidence of rurality influence on teachers' concerns. Convergence of qualitative and quantitative findings indicate concerns clustered in unconcerned, informational, and personal stages. Evidence of rural contextual influences point to limited resources and dense staff relationships in rural schools. This data aids the district under study in supporting teachers through the process of change as an instructional coaching program for math is implemented systemically.
Evolving Curricular Models in Culinary Arts: An Instrumental Case Study of a Technical Field
The purpose of this research study was to examine how chefs and other individuals in the food industry understood the field of culinary arts. This study used an instrumental case study with purposeful sampling of multiple cases. Through a series of open-ended interviews using snowball-sampling strategy that concluded with 45 participants sharing their experiences in culinary education and employment, several themes emerged across all of the interviews: (1) Disempowerment of those who have been successful in the culinary arts; (2) Conflict in the field; and, (3) Needs of employers not being met. Following the analysis of the data, two research questions were inductively formed: (1) How do the participants' understandings vary based upon the three models (apprenticeship, associate degree, and baccalaureate degree) of culinary education? (2) How do these themes vary depending upon the three models of culinary education? What resulted was thick description of the impact of the three models of formal chef education has had on the field of culinary arts, followed by the potential in the development of the baccalaureate degree model as it represented an opportunity for field redefinition in culinary arts. This study produced a set of data revealing that current culinary education has become one that has bred disempowerment, continued conflict in the field of culinary arts, and left needs unfullfilled related to technical skills required for successful employment. The shift from the time-consuming and expensive model of apprenticeship to the development of the associate degree has necessitated a reconsideration of culinary education. What has been offered in this research is the potential for a transformation facilitated within a baccalaureate degree that could intertwine both technical skills and academic knowledge.
Elementary Students' Critical Examination of Characters in Children's Literature Depicting Social Justice
Despite the ruling of Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka, segregation in schools is still quite visible with suburban schools educating a student body of more than 70% White and urban schools comprised of mostly Black, Hispanic, and Asian students. Ideally, a school should dispel social and structural inequities through curriculum and quality resources, but fallibly, schools continue to be the vehicles to maintaining the status quo. Students who develop critical awareness and cultivate a critical literacy stance can become agents of change toward a more democratic society. In the current study, urban upper-elementary-age students were asked to engage in a critical literacy event by critically examining the power positions of characters in books that depict historical social injustice. The six female participants met in several sessions to read books and a newspaper article, use a critical reader response tool, and then engage in critical conversations about the books' characters. Their dialogue was recorded and analyzed using a critical discourse qualitative methodology. The findings show that older elementary students are capable of seeing multiple perspectives of an issue and can explain characters' power from born from privilege and fueled by fear and how a shift in power may occur through solidarity. The findings suggest school curriculum enhanced by media narrows the students' view of discrimination as being targeted mostly towards African-Americans, but those experiences through literature have the potential to expand the students' views to include other cultural groups. Subsequently, there is a need for broader teacher preparation using books that enhance students' views of social injustice.
Understanding Principal Perceptions of Stress and Burnout: A Qualitative Case Study in North Texas School Districts
This qualitative case study examined principals' perceptions regarding stress and burnout, investigated perspectives regarding ways to alleviate chronic stress, and analyzed the extent to which future role expectations are related to chronic stress and feelings of burnout. Perceptions of eight elementary principals in large, suburban school districts who experienced similar professional preparation prior to receiving their first principalship were analyzed. Participants, identified through criterion sampling, completed a demographic survey and then participated in a one-on-one interview with the researcher. Once data were collected, interviews were transcribed and analyzed to determine categories and themes. Findings revealed that participants struggle with significant stress in six specified domains: school type, students, parents and community, staff, district personnel, and other. Half of participants perceive that their stress will rise during the next five to ten years. Thirty-eight percent predicted that job stress will decline in the coming years, though they do not believe that identified stress factors will decrease. Instead, they believe that factors such as experience will help them to deal more effectively with the same challenges. Furthermore, 63% of participants do not plan to remain in their current principalship until retirement. All participants reported current personal stress-management strategies that fall into the categories of work-home balance or healthy habits. In campus-specific strategies, 63% focused on staff morale-building opportunities. Finally, 38% of participants did not feel that their district provides strategies that assist in the management of principalship stress.
Leadership and the Influences of Teacher Absenteeism
This study explored campus principals' leadership behaviors and leadership styles to determine possible influences of leadership on teacher absences. The study was viewed through the framework of Bass and Avolio's (1985) transformational and transactional leadership styles. The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire Self-Report (MLQ-SR) was used to identify principals' perceptions of their leadership styles. Absence data were also collected and analyzed for the school years (2012-2013, 2013-2014, and 2014-2015). Data were triangulated using one-on-one interviews with selected principals and teacher focus group discussions. The findings from this study verified that leadership style (described in terms of leadership behaviors) influenced teacher absenteeism indirectly through the culture and climate of the campus. Future research is recommended to discover whether incentive programs decrease teacher absenteeism and how leaders can influence their organizations through their behaviors.
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 ...
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.
An Investigation of Preservice Teachers' Understanding of Buoyancy
The purpose of this study was to examine the conceptual understandings of 55 elementary preservice teachers for the concept of buoyancy. This study used Ausubel’s Assimilation Theory (Ausubel, 1963) as a framework for a 15-week intervention that used pre/post concept maps (Cmaps), pre/post face-to-face semi-structured interviews, and drawings as evidences for change of formation of cognitive structures. Using a convergent parallel design and mixed methods approach, preservice teachers’ conceptions were analyzed using these evidences. Results of the study show that preservice teachers held both scientific conceptions and misconceptions about buoyancy as a force before and after an instructional intervention. Of importance were the existence of robust misconceptions about buoyancy that included inaccurate scientific knowledge about the foundational concepts of gravity, weight, mass, and density. The largest gains in scientific knowledge included the concepts of gravity, surface area, opposing forces, and the buoyant force. These concepts were consistently supported with evidence from post-concept maps, post, semi-structured interviews, and drawings. However, high frequencies of misconceptions were associated with these same aforementioned concepts as well as additional misconceptions about buoyancy-related concepts (i.e., weight, density, displacement, and sinking/floating). A paired t test showed a statistically significant difference (t = -3.504, p = .001) in the total number of scientifically correct concepts for the pre-concept maps (M = 0.51, SD = .879) and post-concept maps (M = 1.25, SD = 1.542). The Cohen’s d effect size was small, .47. Even through gains for the pre/post concept maps were noted, a qualitative analysis of the results indicated that not only were there serious gaps in the participant’s scientific understanding of buoyancy, after the instructional intervention an increased number of misconceptions were presented alongside the newly learned concepts. A paired t test examining misconceptions showed that there was a statistically significant difference (t = -3.160, p = ...
Strategic Design: An Action Research Study on Community Relations in a Texas School District
School leaders often contemplate implementing measures that will increase community and parent involvement in schools. There is a shortage of research that concisely takes school leadership through a process that details how to integrate parent and community input in a school transformation initiative and careful analysis of student outcomes. Within this study, I provide an in-depth look at one school district’s efforts to engage its community through strategic planning and mission and vision redesign. This process includes community involvement at every phase. For the purpose of this study, community refers to both community members who do not have children in the school system and parents of current students. In this study, I outline the inception of the transformation effort, the ongoing efforts to include community input in decision-making and campus implementation, and finally a review of the overarching impact on leadership, staff, students and community. Data collection analyzed in this study include assessment data, survey data, discipline data and walk through data collected by the school district.
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
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.
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.
Transfer of Instructional Practices From Freedom Schools to the Classroom
The instructional practices of three current classroom teachers who formerly served as Servant Leader Interns (SLIs) in the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools (CDFFS) Program were examined. Haskell (2001) outlined eleven principles of transfer of learning, which were used to survey the levels of transfer established from service in Freedom Schools to practice in the traditional classroom. Individual surveys, The Freedom School Pedagogies Teacher Observation Record (FSPTOR) along with interviews of each participant were used for data collection; all three components were used to triangulate the findings. The findings from this study verified that low transfer was observed when the minimal application of the principles of learning was applied. This study revealed that for transfer to occur at high levels, it is imperative that adherence to all 11 principals is made, and the understanding of transfer, the application of transfer, and reflection on transfer are implemented. If the transfer of instructional practices is a goal of CDFFS for SLIs, the CDFFS program should consider implementing transfer of learning theory in future SLI training.
A Spatial Econometric Study Examining the Determinants of Principal Salaries
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 purpose of the study was to examine district and community determinants of principals’ salaries using a spatial econometric framework. The findings have implications for education policy development related to pay for contribution, rather than pay based on tenure, experience, or district wealth. The quantitative study used a spatial regression approach to model school, district, and community factors as determinants of Texas high school principal’s salary. 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. The findings provide empirical insights regarding how principal salaries are determined. The study found a statistically significant spatial autocorrelation relationship at p<.05 confirming geographic locations is a robust influence on principal salaries. After controlling for the spatial autocorrelation the study also found experience, gender, district wealth, and campus size significantly influence principal salaries. However, there was no statistically significant relationship between principal salary and student achievement. .
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. ...
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.
Impact of Teacher and Student Ethnicity on Student Assessment
The purpose of the study was to answer the questions: Do students show greater academic success in English language arts/reading as measured by the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) exam scores in secondary education when their teachers are the same ethinicity? Do students show greater academic success in math as measured by the TAKS exam scores in secondary education when their teachers are the same ethnicity? Minority students' success on the TAKS test was compared to the assessment scores of White students from the 2010-2011, 2011-2012, and 2012-13 school year in thre suburban school districts. This topic has been a subject of discussion since the late 10970s when Cardenas and Cardenas (1977) studeied the achievement among minority students and their White peers. The conversation continued through authors such as Takei and Shouse (2008), Hays (2011), Ladson-Billings (2006), Dee (2003,2005), and Brown (2006). To answer these reserach questions, a hierarchical multiple regression analysis was conducted on the data collected. Although the study verified the achievement gap between minority students and White students, the study indicated no consistent pattern corroborating that minority students were more successful when taught by teachers of the same ethnicity. In many cases, students learned better with teachers of a different ethnicity. Black students were successful with Hispanic or White teachers, Hispanic students were successful with Black or White teachers, and White students were successful with Black or Hispanic students. The TAKS assessment scores were the only data used to support this analysis.
Teaching Beyond the Walls: A Mixed Method Study of Prospective Elementary Teachers’ Belief Systems About Science Instruction
This mixed method study investigated K-6 teacher candidates' beliefs about informal science instruction prior to and after their experiences in a 15-week science methods course and in comparison to a non-intervention group. The study is predicated by the literature that supports the extent to which teachers' beliefs influence their instructional practices. The intervention integrated the six strands of learning science in informal science education (NRC, 2009) and exposed candidates to out-of-school-time environments (NRC, 2010). Participants included 17 candidates in the intervention and 75 in the comparison group. All were undergraduate K-6 teacher candidates at one university enrolled in different sections of a required science methods course. All the participants completed the Beliefs about Science Teaching (BAT) survey. Reflective journals, drawings, interviews, and microteaching protocols were collected from participants in the intervention. There was no statistically significant difference in pre or post BAT scores of the two groups; However, there was a statistically significant interaction effect for the intervention group over time. Analysis of the qualitative data revealed that the intervention candidates displayed awareness of each of the six strands of learning science in informal environments and commitment to out-of-school-time learning of science. This study supports current reform efforts favoring integration of informal science instructional strategies in science methods courses of elementary teacher education programs.
Self-efficacy, Academic Engagement, and Student-teacher Relationships for Ninth-grade African American Male Students’ Algebra I Achievement: a Structural Equation Model
The purpose of the current study was to discern the effects of three latent constructs – self-efficacy, academic engagement, and student-teacher relationships on Algebra I achievement among ninth-grade African American male students. A nationally representative sample from the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS09) was used in the study. Study participants were 697 African American males enrolled in ninth grade in the fall of 2009 across the United States. Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) analytical procedures were performed to test the hypothesized relationships of Bandura’s social cognitive theory (SCT) theoretical assumptions. The results indicate that the three latent variables directly or indirectly were related to Algebra I achievement among ninth grade African American male students. Moreover, the results revealed that self-efficacy and student-teacher relationships constructs had direct significant impact on Algebra I academic performance; nonetheless, the relationships were not strong. These two latent variables had small effect sizes of 5% and 1%, respectively. Combined, self-efficacy, academic engagement, and student-teacher relationships explained only 8% of the variance in the Algebra I achievement among African American males across the United States (R2=.08). The magnitude effect of these factors on Algebra I achievement was minimal. Overall, these findings suggest that the self-efficacy and student-teacher relationships latent variables had a negligible effect as predictors of Algebra I academic success among ninth grade African American male students. A summary of the results are presented and future research is recommended.
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.
School and Community Partnerships: Effect on At-risk Elementary Student Populations
The purpose of this study was to investigate the current practices of school and community partnerships in five North Texas elementary schools. In addition, the study focused on the influence community partnerships have on at-risk students based on at-risk indicators data. The literature revealed that when schools, parents, and families work together, students tend to earn higher grades, attend school more regularly, stay in school longer, and enrolled in coursework beyond high school. The target population included approximately 350 administrators, teachers, and paraprofessionals from five North Texas elementary schools. Also included were the respective partners from each of the five elementary schools. This research included online survey instrument and data were gathered and analyzed through a combination of statistical procedures and descriptive and inferential statistics. The results may provide other schools with a profile of school and community partnerships that can be implemented as a method to help their at-risk student populations. Findings included a descriptive analysis of factors that contributed to the success of community engagement efforts as well as those factors that limited those efforts. A secondary purpose of this study was of continuous improvement in developing these approaches through a goal-setting approach. Schools included in the study provided a next steps plan by describing their major goal(s) for improving existing school and community partnerships over the next 3 years.
Organizational Behavior: Perceptions Analysis of Micro and Macro Organizational Behavior in an Organizational Setting
Understanding organizational behavior (OB) has profoundly influenced organizational performance and how people behave in organizations. Researchers have suggested various micro and macro organizational behaviors to be the impetus for high-performing organizations. Through a policy capturing approach this study builds on these findings by specifically examining the perceptions of micro and macro organizational behaviors in an organizational setting. The participants (n =181) completed a Micro and Macro Organizational Behavior Perceptions Questionnaire. Results showed perception differences exist between subordinates and supervisors. Additionally, participants perceived job satisfaction to be the most important micro organizational behavior, whereas organizational design was perceived to be the most important macro organizational behavior. However when comparing hierarchal positions in the organization, supervisors weighted leadership as the most important and subordinates weighted job satisfaction as the most important organizational behavior. While these findings only scratch the surface as to how organizational behavior is perceived, the implications challenge leaders to close the OB perception gap. Correspondingly, organizational behavior thinking may result in improving individual and organizational performance.
Effects of Child Development Associate Credential System 2.0 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.
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.
A Tale of Two Cities: Exploring the Dual Language Program Implementation and Biliteracy Trajectories at Two Schools
With the increase in emergent bilinguals and higher standards for all, the challenge for educational stakeholders is to fully utilize dual language programs as a prominent means toward meeting and surpassing rigorous state and national standards. Part of maximizing dual language programs’ impact, and the purpose of this study, was to provide detailed analyses of program models and student biliteracy development. Thus, the research questions sought to explore the level of understanding and implementation of dual language programs in general and the biliteracy component in particular at each campus, before documenting the second through fifth grade English and Spanish reading biliteracy trajectories of students at each school. Both campuses experienced more challenges in the implementation of the program structure, staff quality, and professional development rather than in curriculum and instruction. Furthermore, although both campuses’ students experienced positive trajectories towards biliteracy by the end of fifth grade, each campus was characterized by different rates and correlation between English and Spanish reading growth in each grade. Finally, the researcher conducted a split plot MANOVA to examine how much variance in the biliteracy trajectories was explained by school attendance, gender, initial English oral language and initial Spanish oral language; only school of attendance and initial English oral language levels explained the variance in biliteracy trajectories for students at these campuses.
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.
Women and the Superintendency: a Study of Texas Women Superintendents
Education remains one of the most gender imbalanced fields, with disproportionately fewer women in higher levels of leadership. Women who reach leadership positions in education experience many triumphs and tribulations during their tenures as principals, assistant superintendents, and superintendents. The experiences of these women in their various administrative levels of leadership can provide important insight into the reasons for their success as women superintendents in Texas. This research has probed the career trajectory of nine women who have successfully attained and retained superintendencies in Texas to determine what career decisions have helped them and the challenges these women have faced in their positions. A qualitative research method, open-ended interviews, yielded several findings of what women considered important in proceeding from teaching through the various levels and ending in becoming superintendents. According to nine successful women superintendents in Texas, there are specific characteristics one can bring to the table that would really make a difference: Communication, collaboration, compassion, preparedness, hard work, and passion. All nine participants overcame challenges when climbing to the higher levels of leadership in education. These women have achieved success in the superintendency, and several factors appear to have played into the success of these women who have achieved in education’s top position.
Physical Activity Impact on Executive Function and Academic Achievement with Elementary Students
This study tested the hypothesis that daily physical activity improves the executive function and academic achievement of 9- to 11-year-old children. The quasi-experimental, pretest–posttest design included 60 eligible fourth and fifth grade students (51.7% female, 98% Hispanic; 10.26 years of age). Twenty-five students elected to participate in school day, zero-hour (1 hour before school starts) physical activity program for 8 weeks. The 35 students who did not sign up for the program served as the control group as masked data provided by the school. Standardized measures, Adele Diamond flanker task and the Wide Range Achievement Test 4, assessed executive function and academic achievement, respectively. Repeated-measures analysis of variance was used to determine differences between groups on executive function and academic achievement. There were no observable benefits from daily physical activity on executive function and academic achievement. Convenience sampling and voluntary attendance potentially limited the effect of exercise on performance.
The Longitudinal Impact of Technology Immersion Through a One-to-One Mobile Technology Program on Reading and Math Performance in a Rural Title I Public School District
In conjunction with the Texas Technology Immersion Pilot program (TIP), the State of Texas implemented a four-year annual evaluation called the Evaluation of the Texas Technology Immersion Pilot (eTxTiP). It focused on the technology immersion experience through one-to-one mobile technology of sixth grade students in 22 selected middle schools. Initial findings suggested academic growth, especially in math, increased rigor of student work, greater teacher collaboration, a more positive school environment, and transformation of instructional practices. This study focused on one of the original schools selected to participate in the TIP program, exploring the impact over time of one-to-one mobile technology on one group of students over an 8-year period beginning with their third grade year. The selected school’s demographic makeup reflected a large number of schools within the state, including its size, rural location and economically disadvantaged student population. Based on an interrupted time series design, state assessment data was analyzed using a piecewise growth model. The study revealed no statistically significant academic growth in reading and math performance among the participants.
Efficacy in Texas Charter Schools Compared to Traditional Public Schools
The need to spur innovation and improve student performance initiated the formation of, under different legislative acts, charter schools that include variations of traditional public schools. With the enthusiasm and level of investment going into the formation of charter schools, it is necessary to explore whether these schools have achieved their objectives. This study explored whether Texas open enrollment charter schools perform bettered compared to Texas public schools. The study applied a causal comparative quantitative research design. School data on graduation and dropout rates, college preparation, attendance rates, and overall performance were analyzed quantitatively. Student achievement data available for statistical analysis includes student performance on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) state assessment from 2007 to 2011. Data analysis for race, special programs, at risk, economically disadvantaged, and limited English proficiency was incorporated. Descriptive statistics and analysis of variance techniques were included in the data analysis. The analysis extended to post hoc tests to determine variables that caused variation. The study found Texas open-enrollment charter schools had more African American students but fewer Whites compared to public schools. Students in public schools performed better than those in charter schools, and Whites yielded the best performance. Charter schools had high dropout rates, low attendance, and low graduation rates, while public schools had low dropout rates, high attendance, and high graduation rates. Finally, public schools had more students ready for college than charter schools.
Student and Family Perspectives on Gifted and Advanced Academics Participation for African American High School Students
Many students and their families do not understand the impact of students’ involvement in gifted or advanced academics educational programs and their potentially positive effects and challenges. Nationally African American students are underrepresented in gifted and advanced academics courses in high schools; however, African American students and families often do not advocate for their inclusion in these educational pathways. A survey of literature supporting this study of voices of African American families concerning gifted and advanced academics participation focused on (1) the historical underpinnings for equity and excellence for African American and for gifted and advanced academics learners, (2) how the lack of an agreed upon definition of gifted and advanced academics by the professional field might contribute to the problem, and (3) how African American parents made educational decisions for and with their children, especially concerning college. Employing semi-structured interviews and a focus group, this qualitative case study examined how four students from each of three groups, gifted and talented, advanced academics, and neither, and a representative group of their parents perceived these programs and their children’s involvement in them within the framework provided by a single school district. African American families in this study asked for a partnership to support their children in building resiliency to choose and remain in gifted and advanced academics programs. Students reported that they could access more rigorous coursework if they were supported by mentoring peers, in addition to informed family and educators. The matching intonations and word choices of the children and parents suggested academic success pathways as students carried the voices of their families with them.
Teachers’ Concerns and Uses of iPads in the Classroom with the Concerns-based Adoption Model
The purpose of this study was to examine the role of high school teachers’ concerns, willingness, aptitude, and use of iPads in the classroom during the adoption of a new technology. The design of this case study included a sample of eight teachers from the English, math, science, and history departments who were surveyed, observed, and interviewed using the Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM). This study is guided by three research questions: (1) What are teachers’ concerns about using iPads in the high school English, math, science, and history classrooms? (2) What are teachers’ levels of iPad use in the English, math, science, and history classrooms? (3) What are teachers’ pedagogical practices as they use iPads in the English, math, science, and history classrooms? To research these questions, the study measured teacher concerns with the triangulation of three diagnostic instruments from the Concerns-Based Adoption Model: the Stages of Concern Questionnaire (SoCQ), the Innovation Configurations Map (IC Map), and the Levels of Use (LoU) matrix. The CBAM model was used to address the scarcity of literature regarding iPad use in content-area classrooms. The findings from the research show that the impact of introducing a new technology is more multifaceted than previously assumed. A teacher’s inclination and skill to use a new technology with their students varies considerably within a school and different approaches are observed across subject areas such as English, math, science, and history. When the Concerns-Based Adoption Model is used in organizational change, teacher concerns are revealed, which leads to finding opportunities for intervention and support by change facilitators who help individuals progress in the adoption of an innovation.
Supporting Mathematics Understanding Through Funds of Knowledge
Parents are often criticized for the types of roles they play in their children’s education. Rather than assuming parents do not contribute to their children’s learning, this study identified the various ways Hispanic parents support mathematics learning in the home. Using a funds of knowledge lens, the history, practices, and experiences of families that contributed to their children’s mathematics understanding was explored. The purpose of this study was to identify the unique funds of knowledge among three Hispanic families living in the same city, specifically, how parents supported their children’s mathematics learning through funds of knowledge. Five Hispanic parents from three households participated in a series of three home interviews. The semi--‐structured interviews addressed family, school, and educational history of the parents, routines of the household, and perceived roles parents played in their children’s mathematics learning. Participants contributed to their children’s mathematics learning through various funds of knowledge including time management, music, sports, construction, shopping, and cooking. Participating parents shared knowledge with their children through questioning and discussion, providing experiences, and promoting practice. In this study, participants valued education and supported their children’s mathematics learning at home and school activities. This study contributes to the existing funds of knowledge research by expanding the work on how Hispanic parents support mathematics learning.
Professional Learning Community Dimensions in a North Texas Elementary School’s Culture and Their Impact on Reading and Math Student Growth Scores
The purpose of this mixed methods study was to determine which dimensions, as represented by the Professional Learning Community Assessment – Revised dimensions, are present in the environment of North Texas elementary schools and their impact on student growth. A survey design was utilized in which elementary principals and teachers in a selected school district completed the Professional Learning Community – Revised survey developed by Hipp and Huffman (2009), to gather perceptions of PLC implementation within their school environments as well as reflect strengths and needs regarding each dimension. The results of the survey were analyzed and one-to-one interviews were completed to clarify and support survey results. Bivariate and multiple regression analysis were used to determine correlations between dimensions present in a school’s environment and their impact on student growth. The study found a statistically significant relationship between the dimensions of shared values and vision and shared personal practice and math growth. Although PLCA-R dimensions were not found to be statistically significant in predicting reading and math growth, the effect sizes were notable at 22.4% for reading growth and 15.8% for math growth. This study’s findings provide important information which educators can use to implement practical application of Professional Learning Communities within their schools and districts. By understanding which dimensions are present within a school’s environment as well as their impact on student growth, educators can continue to increase knowledge and develop a focused plan for implementing strategies which are effective in strengthening teaching and learning in order to increase student achievement.
Student Teachers’ Changing Confidence in Teaching
Research shows that student teachers find the mentor teacher and the student teaching experience itself the two most influential factors in their practicum experience. This study examined five student teachers and the two mentor teachers of each in elementary school settings within a metropolitan school district in North Texas. Lave and Wenger’s (1991, 2002) community of practice theory informed this study. Data sources included mentor teacher interviews, student teacher interviews, student teacher observations, student teacher/mentor teacher dialogue journals, and student teacher reflections. A collective case study approach was followed to gain a detailed understanding of the experiences of the five student teachers, looking specifically at their confidence in teaching and the factors associated with it. Findings indicated that the confidence in teaching of all five student teachers changed throughout their practicum experiences. Results suggested many factors influenced these changes. Student teachers shared that the student teaching experience, the grade level/subjects taught, their relationships with their students, and their relationships with their mentor teachers contributed to their confidence. The mentor teachers perceived that student teachers’ confidence could be influenced by consistency in classroom management and their interactions with their mentor teachers. Two areas of influence on student teacher confidence not uncovered by other researchers were the quest of student teachers for perfection while teaching and the need of mentor teachers for control of the content presented by the student teachers, especially during the months prior to state-mandated testing. Implications of the study included the need for university supervisors to mediate between student teachers and mentor teachers in promoting shared ownership of student learning within that community of practice enabled by student teaching.
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.