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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

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

An Ecological Understanding of Teacher Quality in Early Childhood Programs: Implications and Recommendations

Description: This research examined whether or not relationships exist between preschool teacher quality and parent involvement as indicated by the Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler Model of Parent Involvement Survey. Additionally, the study also considered family income and child membership in special education as predictors of parent involvement. The survey instruments included the Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale, Revised (ECERS-R) and the Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler Parent Involvement Survey. A total of 306 parents across 35 preschool classrooms participated in the study. Effect sizes, beta weights and structure coefficients from a series of multiple regression analyses measured the relationship between variables. A regression equation comprised of teacher quality, family income and child membership in special education was statistically significant in predicting parent school-based involvement. In the school-based involvement model the predictors teacher quality and child membership in special education accounted for a greater percentage of variance than did family income. Teacher quality demonstrated a small, negative beta weight but accounted for the greatest amount of variance among the three predictors within the school-based parent involvement model. A negative relationship between teacher quality and school-based parent involvement suggested that as teacher quality improved, parents reported less involvement in school-based activities and events. Findings for special education membership, however, demonstrated a reverse effect in the model and appeared to have a positive significant effect on school-based involvement of parents. The study contributes to the literature on the relationship between teacher quality and parent involvement in early childhood preschool programs.
Date: May 2011
Creator: Macias-Brown, Armandina A.

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.

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

Texas High School Principals' Attitudes Toward the Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in the General Education Classroom

Description: This study examined Texas high school principals' attitudes toward the inclusion of students with disabilities in the general education classroom. School leaders today face increasing demands with the revised state accountability system. For example, students with disabilities are required to take the Texas Assessment Knowledge and Skills Test (TAKS) and on grade level. Hence, one of the strategies of schools has been to mainstream or include special education students in the regular classroom. Inclusion provides the opportunity for students with disabilities to be educated in the general education curriculum with their non-disabled peers. This study investigated the attitudes of Texas high school principals' attitudes toward the inclusion of students with disabilities in the general education classroom. The principals' personal experiences, professional training, and formal training in inclusion were examined. This study was a qualitative study using survey methodology. The Principal's Inclusion Survey developed by Cindy Praisner and G.H. Stainback was distributed electronically to 1211 Texas high schools. With the permissions of Praisner and Stainback, the survey was loaded into Survey Monkey, which is a website for creation of professional online surveys. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics. The return rate was 395 (32.1%) overall responses. The results of the study concluded that majority of the principals agreed that inclusion of students with disabilities into the general education classroom was the best placement for the disabilities listed in the survey. However, for the more severe disabilities, the principals favored a more non-inclusive setting. Those disabilities included mental retardation and serious emotional disturbance. For the cognitive disabilities, combinations of an inclusive and non-inclusive setting were chosen. Also revealed in the study is that principals did not receive inclusion training as part of their formal education, but more emphasis was placed on special education law. The results of the survey indicated more training ...
Date: May 2011
Creator: Farris, Troy K.

Hispanic Women Leaders in K‒12 Public Education: Overcoming Barriers to Success

Description: Scholarly research has been written on the forces behind the barriers preventing Hispanic women from reaching the top of the public school ladder. These barriers are to be recognized and addressed. This study focuses not on the barriers which hinder forward and upward career movement, but instead examines how many Hispanic American women have not allowed these barriers to prevent them from achieving their goals of attaining the principalship. This study seeks to determine how Hispanic women principals came to grips with the challenges and barriers to promotion, and to success as K‒12 school leaders. This qualitative research study consisted of 12 Hispanic female school principals from the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area. The three districts selected were Fort Worth Independent School District, Arlington Independent School District, and Grand Prairie Independent School District. Three principals were from Grand Prairie Independent School District, two principals were from Arlington Independent School District, and seven principals were from the Fort Worth Independent School District. All of the 12 Hispanic school principals were interviewed. From the responses to each of the questions, themes became evident. The themes expressed what individual principals had done and the strategies they used to overcome the varied barriers which they confronted. The responses to the interview questions and the themes were very insightful and displayed the women's tenacity, courage, perseverance, and determination to succeed in their aspirations to become Hispanic female principals and leaders in their school districts.
Date: May 2011
Creator: Falk, Cora Torres

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

Sheltered Instruction: A Case Study of Three High School English Teachers' Experiences with the SIOP Model

Description: The purpose of this study was to determine the current status of secondary teachers' implementation of the sheltered instruction operational protocol (SIOP) model and its effect on Hispanic English language learners' (ELL) English language proficiency and academic achievement. In addition, this study sought to determine whether teachers perceive the SIOP model as an effective tool for instruction of high school ELL students to increase English language content and English language proficiency. This study employed qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Data were collected from four sources: Hispanic ELLs' English language proficiency scores, students' English Language Arts scores, an oral interview with participating teachers and teacher observations. Each teacher was observed at four points during the school year with the SIOP instrument. Quantitative data on student achievement were collected employing a pre-experimental, one-group pretest-post-test design. Qualitative data were collected using a time-series design. Findings revealed that on the two student assessment measures there were increases in English proficiency and English language arts achievement among the Hispanic ELLs. On the assessment of English language proficiency, the students of the teacher with the highest level of SIOP implementation made the highest gains; the students of the teacher with the second highest SIOP implementation level made the second highest gains; and students of the teacher with the lowest level of SIOP implementation made the smallest gains. These findings suggest that the higher the level of SIOP implementation, the greater the student academic achievement gains. The gains in academic achievement attributed to the proper implementation of the SIOP model can have an extensive impact on English language learners who have not previously experienced academic success. Teacher participants perceived the SIOP model as effective for delivery of content through sheltered instruction lessons for high school ELLs. The teachers agreed that the SIOP model's components provided a consistent structure ...
Date: May 2011
Creator: Bertram, Rodney L.

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.

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.

A Case Study of the Impact of the Middle School Data Coach on Teacher Use of Educational Test Data to Change Instruction

Description: With the advent of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation in 2002 and its attendant increases in accountability pressure, many districts and schools currently embrace data analysis as an essential part of the instructional decision making process. In their attempts to overcome low achievement on state-mandated tests, some districts have begun employing data coaches. The study reported here, which was set in three middle schools in a northeast Texas school district, assessed the influence of the campus data coach on a middle school mathematics teachers' use of analyzed data to make instructional decisions. It also examined the extent to which the Data Coach/teacher relationship resolved teacher concerns about data-driven decision making. Phenomenological interviews with data coaches were guided by Seidman's (2006) three-series interview. Measurement of teacher use of data to make decisions was based on the concerns-based adoption model's levels of use interview protocol, stages of concern questionnaire, and innovation configuration map. By the end of one school year, two out of the three teachers never used data to make instructional decisions, although the non-users both had moved closer toward employing the innovation in their classroom. Data indicated all teachers were aware of the innovation, but all three ended the study with high personal concerns, signifying that the minimal efforts made by the data coaches to resolve concerns were not successful. This study's small sample gave the research paradigm of data-based decision making an in-depth glimpse into the process of implementing data-based instructional decision making and the Data Coach position on three middle school campuses in one large northeast Texas district.
Date: December 2010
Creator: Hill, Rachelle Phelps

School Authority Over Off-Campus Student Expression in the Electronic Age: Finding a Balance Between a Student's Constitutional Right to Free Speech and the Interest of Schools in Protecting School Personnel and Other Students from Cyber Bullying, Defamation, and Abuse

Description: In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, the Supreme Court ruled that students have speech rights in the school environment unless the speech causes or is likely to cause 1) a substantial disruption, or 2) interferes with the rights of others. The Supreme Court has yet to hear a case involving school officials' authority to regulate electronically-delivered derogatory student speech, and no uniform standard currently exists for determining when school authorities can discipline students for such speech when it occurs off campus without violating students' First Amendment rights. The purpose of this dissertation is to examine 19 federal and state court decisions in which school authorities were sued for disciplining students for electronically delivered, derogatory speech. Eighteen of these cases involved student speech that demeaned or defamed school teachers or administrators. Only one involved speech that demeaned another student. Each case was analyzed to identify significant factors in court holdings to provide a basis for the construction of a uniform legal standard for determining when school authorities can discipline students for this type of speech. The full application of Tinker's first and second prongs will provide school officials the authority needed to address this growing problem while still protecting legitimate off-campus student cyber expression. Predictions of future court holdings and policy recommendations are included.
Date: December 2010
Creator: Dryden, Joe

Preschool Mathematics: An Examination of One Program's Alignment with Recommendations from NAEYC and NCTM

Description: The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which a preschool program followed the recommendations outlined by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) in their joint position statement "Early Childhood Mathematics: Promoting Good Beginnings." Six teachers were randomly selected from three of the preschool program's six locations that are situated in an urban city in North Texas. Two parts of this program's approach to mathematics were investigated: the teachers' instructional practices and the program's curricular materials. Data came from observations using the Classroom Observation of Early Mathematics-Environment and Teaching (COEMET) protocol and field notes. Each teacher participated in three interviews over the course of this research. Analyses of these sources provided insights into teachers' instructional practices for mathematics. Reviews of curricular documents and lesson plans for mathematics instruction provided information pertaining to the math curriculum used at this preschool program. All of these data sources were analyzed using the framework presented in NAEYC and NCTM's position statement. Analysis of the data indicated that, although teachers did not have any knowledge of these guidelines, teachers followed some of these recommendations; such as presenting children with daily developmentally appropriate mathematics activities and connecting mathematics to classroom routines. Other practices did not align with NAEYC and NCTM's suggestions, such as offering children few opportunities to engage in problem-solving situations and providing an inconsistent integration of mathematics into meaningful activities related to other content areas. Several possible factors may have influenced teachers' use of these recommendations. Teachers' prior educational opportunities, the program's curriculum materials, and the teachers' prior experiences with mathematics all may have contributed to the teachers' understandings of high quality mathematics instructional practices. Results from this research help to provide the foundation for future investigations of ...
Date: December 2010
Creator: Johnston, Elisabeth

An Examination of the Relationship Between Teacher Efficacy and Teacher Religiosity

Description: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between teacher religiosity and teacher self-efficacy. The present study builds upon previous research which has shown purposeful work in everyday living fosters intrinsic motivation, religious orientation affects daily living, and teacher self-efficacy beliefs predict student achievement. Religiosity and self-efficacy data were gathered from public school teachers from a suburban school district in North Texas and from private Christian schools in Western Washington. The Age Universal I-E scale (a measure of religious orientation intended to capture how one lives out his/her religiosity), Teachers' Sense of Efficacy Scale, and a teacher characteristic form were used to collect data. In a multiple regression analysis, independent variables included teacher age, gender, grade level taught, experience level, campus type (public or private religious), and teacher religious orientation (intrinsic or extrinsic); the dependent variable was the score for teacher self-efficacy. The regression analysis resulted in an equation that explained only slightly more than 9% of the variance in the score for teacher self-efficacy. Three significant variables were identified--grade level taught, teacher age, and intrinsic religious orientation. Teacher age and teacher intrinsic religious orientation were the two most important contributors according to a comparison of beta weights. Intrinsic religious orientation contributed to the equation, but it acted as a suppressor variable in the study, having little predictive value by itself but contributing to the predictive value of the model. Based on the data collected, recommendations for future research and suggestions for field application are offered.
Date: December 2010
Creator: Wright, Karen K.

The High School Associate Principal: Case Studies of an Emerging Role in Educational Leadership and Administration

Description: Researchers in the field of educational administration have given little attention to the role of the associate principal. The research reported in this dissertation sought to fill that void through a close examination of the roles of the associate principals on two campuses in two different school districts. In addition to illustrating the role of the associate principal, the research examines how experience as an associate principal influences the careers of educational administrators. Data were collected primarily by means of semi-structured interviews with principals and district administrators as well as the associate principals themselves to provide multiple perspectives. Data were summarized in detailed interview logs, coded to discover the themes that were characteristic of each case, then analyzed to identify the patterns within and across the cases. The interviews were also analyzed as narratives reflecting on how experience as an associate principal can shape an educational administrator's career. The interview data were supplemented with documents relating to the associate principals, their campuses, and their districts. The results suggest that the associate principal position is a crucial step on the career ladder to a secondary principalship. Assistant principals with knowledge and skills in curriculum, instruction, and assessment are more likely to be selected as associates, and associates are more likely to be selected for principalships. The results also indicate that instructional leadership for associate principals in Texas focuses primarily on improving students' performance on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills and on increasing participation in and performance on other standardized tests, in particular Advanced Placement, SAT (formerly the Scholastic Aptitude Test), ACT (formerly American College Testing), and the PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test).
Date: December 2010
Creator: Fox, Kenneth F.

Eighth Grade Science Teacher Quality Variables and Student Achievement

Description: While No Child Left Behind ushered in the age of the "highly qualified" teacher, accountability focus has been shifted to the "highly effective" teacher, defined as teacher impact on student achievement. The Science Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) is used to judge the adequate yearly progress of students in Texas public schools. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of teacher factors (i.e., ethnicity, gender, teaching experience, university selectivity, certification route, National Center for Education Statistics Locale/Code, number of science content and pedagogical course semester credit hours, grade point average for science content and pedagogical coursework) on student achievement using the eighth grade Science TAKS. The primary dependent variables were students' five objective scores and their overall scores on the eighth grade Science TAKS examination. The sample was 44 eighth grade science teachers and 4,119 students in Texas public schools. Multiple linear regression models enabled examinations of the relationships between teacher quality variables and student achievement. No significant relationships between the variables were found. Small effect sizes for the beta weights and structure coefficients occurred between teachers' science credit hours and TAKS objectives to explain 20% of the variance for TAKS Living Systems and the Environment, 39% of the variance for TAKS Structures and Properties of Matter, and 21% of the variance for TAKS Earth and Space Systems. Teacher experience accounted for 24% of the variance with TAKS Structures and Properties of Matter, and pedagogical credit hours explained 30% of the variance with TAKS Motion, Forces, and Energy. Science GPA explained 31% of the variance for the TAKS Earth and Space Systems objective. Policy makers should examine NCLB assumptions about teacher content knowledge as a significant indicator of teacher effectiveness via student achievement on standardized tests. While measuring content knowledge provides a simple, efficient, ...
Date: December 2010
Creator: Harp, Amy

Practices and Policies in High Schools to Prevent Educator-to-Student sexual Misconduct: A Principal's Study of Knowledge and Experiences

Description: The purpose of this study was to investigate high school policies and procedures that address educator sexual misconduct. High school principals completed an online questionnaire which addressed administrator knowledge of state and federal laws and regulations; knowledge of district policies and procedures; experience with educator sexual misconduct; training and communication available in their schools and school districts for staff, parents, and students; the policies and procedures in place in secondary schools to prevent educator sexual misconduct; and related problems that are reported to school administrators. Responses were compared by school size, community type, and Title I eligibility. The findings of the study revealed that principals feel they have knowledge of the federal and state laws and regulations, as well as the district policies and procedures. However, principals reported a lack of specific policies addressing sexual harassment and discrimination of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender students; training for students and teachers in recognizing and responding to sexual misconduct; and sexual misconduct related to students with disabilities. In addition, most principals stated that their schools have not surveyed students to determine the extent of sexual harassment on the campus. Principals of the largest schools and the urban and suburban schools were more actively involved in educator-to-student sexual misconduct investigations.
Date: December 2010
Creator: Spain, Carolyn

A select study of Texas Principal Preparation Programs and their Relationship to Adult Learning and the Professional Leadership Responsibilities of their Graduates

Description: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between principal preparation programs in Texas and professional leadership practices and responsibilities based on Mid-continent Research for Educational and Learning's (McREL) 21 leadership responsibilities. The study also examined the relationship between Texas principal preparation programs and Knowles's principles of adult learning. Through an online survey, the study solicited practicing principals' perceptions as to whether McREL's 21 leadership responsibilities and Knowles's principles of adult learning were included in their principal preparation programs. Quantitative findings indicated there were no significant differences between principals' perceptions of their principal preparation programs and the university/certification program in which they obtained their principal certification. Additionally, there were no significant differences between principals' perceptions of their programs and the year their principal certification was completed. There were also no significant differences between principals' perceptions of their programs and the geographic location of the school district in which they were presently employed. However, the study found there were significant differences in two areas of leadership responsibilities when comparisons were generated between principals who were fully certified before assuming the role of principal and those who were not fully certified: 1) ideas/beliefs and 2) optimizer. Principals who had not completed their certification program scored the two areas higher than those who had. The study also utilized qualitative methodology through in-depth interviews with principal program coordinators and practicing principals. Program coordinators and principals revealed leadership responsibilities of "communication," "culture," and "visibility" as areas of emphasis and importance in their programs. The need for more emphasis in the area of "discipline" was communicated mutually by program coordinators and principals. Principals stated areas of "knowledge of curriculum, instruction, and assessment" and "resources" as leadership responsibilities needing more emphasis. Both program coordinators and principals concurred principal preparation programs should have more emphasis and ...
Date: December 2010
Creator: Styles, Delesa Haynes

Well-Being and Academic Success in Gifted College Students: Early-College Entrants and Honors College Students

Description: As a society, we seek to have our young people, including the gifted, be healthy and happy, and go to good schools with good teachers. Framed by Sayler's theoretical model of giftedness and thriving, this study examined psychological constructs (i.e. general self-efficacy, theories of intelligence, hope, gratitude, religiosity, disposition, and resiliency) to determine their mediating effect on personal well-being and academic success in gifted college students. The 213 subjects for this study included gifted college students from two distinct programs at the University of North Texas. One hundred twenty-two participants were students from the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS). TAMS is an early-college entrance program allowing gifted students to enter college after their sophomore year of high school. Ninety-one participants attended the UNT Honors College. Honors College students are gifted students who enter college after high school graduation. Latent transition, latent class, general linear model repeated measures, and regression analyses were used in the examination of the data. Results of the study revealed that positive disposition and hope-agency were significantly related to the development of personal well-being for gifted students during their first year of college. The ability to identify pathways to goals and the self-theory of intelligence as a fixed trait were significantly related to academic success during the first year at college. Knowledge of psychological constructs that are facilitative of the positive personal well-being and academic achievement helps parents, teachers, administrators, and counselors prepare gifted students for success in college.
Date: August 2010
Creator: Boazman, Janette Kay

An Analysis of Performance Differences Between Self-Directed and Teacher-Directed Alternative Education Campuses in Texas

Description: This study was conducted to analyze the performance differences between alternative education campuses in Texas that used teacher-directed strategies and those that used self-directed strategies. The study was also conducted to inform educators of the results these two strategies had achieved with at-risk students during the three years of 2006-2008. The study used the results from the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test as reported in the AEIS annual reports from the Texas Education Agency. Alternative education schools were grouped according to the strategy used to educate at-risk students. The results of the statistical tests showed the two strategies had similar performance results and there was no statistical difference between the two. The results offered several implications concerning the ability of at-risk students to achieve in alternative education schools including possible reasons why students who were previously unsuccessful became successful in alternative settings. The report also addressed the number of students who continued to be unsuccessful even when placed on an alternative education campus. Possible reasons for this continued inability to succeed are discussed. Recommendations for further research were listed at the conclusion of the study.
Date: May 2010
Creator: Wimberley, Alan

The Transfer and Sustainability of a School-Wide Writing Program: Year 2.

Description: Writing is an important life skill that all students need in order to succeed in today's society. However, proficient writing skills develop over time, requiring years of quality instruction combined with motivation, encouragement, and lots of practice. School-wide writing is an approach that provides specific writing instruction in a consistent manner across all grade levels, allowing students to develop increasingly complex writing skills and strategies over time. Implementation of programs, such as school-wide writing, requires teachers to transfer new understandings and skills from the training room to the classroom as well as efforts to sustain the program over time. This multiple case study examines the characteristics of an elementary school-wide writing program that was introduced in the field by local teachers and transferred five years later to another school in the same district. The study also examines factors affecting the transfer and sustainability of the program during the second year of implementation. Findings from the study indicate that the elements of school-wide writing transferred from School 1 to School 2 at a low road level of transfer. Factors affecting transfer included inquiry, ongoing training, support systems, authentic writing experiences, and time. Factors contributing to sustainability included ongoing support, accountability, communication, positive feelings, time, and individuality.
Date: August 2010
Creator: Dickson, Violet Myers

International Distance Learning in Special Education: A Program Evaluation of a US-Ecuador Collaboration

Description: The internationalization of distance learning in special education is at a pivotal point in expansion. Even with concerted efforts through traditional means to increase the supply of special educators, shortages persist; therefore, teacher preparation programs are turning to online education. This dissertation study was a formative program evaluation of a bilingual, two-course sequence within a web-based special education master's program offered at the University of North Texas (UNT), in Denton, Texas, and at the Universidad Casa Grande (UCG) in Guayaquil, Ecuador. The research design was based on the unfolding model of program evaluation, and it included mixed-methods of data collection. The model focused attention on (1) scientific evidence, (2) cost-benefit differential, (3) underlying values, and, (4) unintended consequences. Data came from archived documents as well as six semi-structured interviews with stakeholders and survey data from 23 student participants. The findings for the general-orientation course, Special Education Programs and Practices, revealed mixed results concerning multicultural awareness on the part of student participants. However, it seemed to have influenced their lesson design and made a difference in other areas. Some multicultural awareness concepts frequented the discussion board. The specialized course, Assistive Technology, which had more frequent communication between UNT and UCG on the discussion board, suggested larger increases in students' multicultural awareness. With respect to both courses, the stakeholders recommended that the structure be strengthened for non-bilingual instructors and students to be able to communicate more freely. Translation issues were a top priority in both courses. The study has implications for other international distance education programs.
Date: August 2010
Creator: McPherson, Rebekah

Funding and Effectiveness of Staff Development Programs in Three North Texas School Districts

Description: This dissertation study focused on three aspects of staff development in North Texas: 1) funding sources, 2) types of professional learning programs, and 3) teachers' views of the effectiveness of the funded programs. Qualitative data came from interviews with nine district administrators concerning funding sources and how those resources enhanced teacher skills. Quantitative data came from 1,277 responses from teachers regarding their background and perceptions about staff development. Data from interviews with district administrators were diagrammed to depict elements of funding staff development and to reveal how resources were used to plan, implement, and evaluate staff learning. An analysis of interview data revealed that availability of grants, property tax rates, and student enrollment affected how districts funded staff development. Administrators reported that districts funded professional learning that was planned according to academic initiatives, met the needs of adult learners, and adapted to the changing needs of school communities. Both administrators and practitioners reported that time was a lacking resource critical to developing staff knowledge. Practitioners reported that sufficient opportunity to collaborate with colleagues about learning initiatives was more valuable than teaching materials. Teacher questionnaires were analyzed for possible relationships between participant variables and responses concerning knowledge about funding constraints and professional development experiences. Data revealed that practitioner experience and graduate degrees were not related to teachers' use of knowledge about financial constraints to more efficiently implement learning from staff development. Participants did not perceive professional learning differently than peers. Most teachers connected professional learning with improved teaching practices but a small percent attributed student achievement to their professional learning. The majority of teachers considered collaborative learning settings to elicit more personal professional growth than other formats. The findings of the teacher questionnaire suggest that teaching practices could be impacted if participants gained more knowledge about district financial constraints when developing ...
Date: August 2010
Creator: Ivey, Shannon Kay