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K-12 Dissertation Abstracts

The Educational Administration Department is pleased to present a compilation of Dissertation Abstracts from the HALE Ph.D. and K-12 Educational Administration Ph.D. programs.  These abstracts represent the rich and dynamic community of scholars in EAD.  The research presented reflects the wide range topics that emerge from a local as well as global perspective on postsecondary education and educational leadership.  In reviewing these abstracts we hope you will learn about the interesting research that goes on in the EAD doctoral programs.

K-12 Educational Administration

2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013

Maria A. Bolen (2009)
Advisor: Dr. David Arsen

This study focuses on how school districts in Michigan are reacting to budgetary stress brought on by the downturn in the economic climate. It addresses the key factors school districts can implement to increase revenues or decrease expenditures and identifies which of these factors districts choose and the reasons why. This study also analyzes the effectiveness of the various measures implemented in restoring or maintaining the financial health of the district. The research seeks to generate useful lessons about strategies for improving district financial conditions. The research also pays particularly close attention to districts that are either in deficit or are close to a deficit status. A number of these districts have been successful in making budgetary adjustments that have permitted them to strengthen their financial condition and avoid falling into a deficit. Accordingly, a comparison will be made of the finances of Deficit Districts, Near‐Deficit Districts, and all other districts in the state.

 

To determine more about the financial status of school districts in the State of Michigan, two main questions are posed. First, how have levels of fiscal stress‐‐measured by district fund equity‐‐changed over the past five years for all districts in the State of Michigan? Second, what factors have contributed to strong or weak fiscal positions of Michigan's school districts? The empirical work will be based on an analysis of the finances of all the districts in the State of Michigan, plus a detailed study of the budgets and decision‐making in a sample of six districts. The six districts are located in a highly populated suburban area located in a major metropolitan center (Detroit), with a great degree of racial, ethnic and socio‐economic diversity. Findings show that in the research setting studied, there is not a "one‐size‐fits‐all" pattern of revenue enhancement or expenditure reductions present in the behavior of school districts. School districts had to consider a variety of internal and external influences before decisions to implement certain measures were made. Thus, what measures can be implemented to improve the financial health in one district, may not be feasible to be implemented in another district. Furthermore, certain revenue enhancement and expenditure reduction measures appear to have a negative affect on fiscal health.

Dana M. Bryant (2009)
Advisor: Dr. David Arsen

Privatization of non‐instructional services is viewed as a way to reduce operating costs and increase efficiency of operations in K‐12 public schools. This study examined the impact of privatizing non‐instructional services in three southeastern Michigan school districts. Examination of data collected from one‐on‐one interviews suggested that there were both school district and community impacts felt from the school district's decision to privatize. In addition, the analysis of data indicated that a person's perspective could be different from someone from a different community even though the representative group is the same. The findings also illustrated that groups coming from outside the community to provide support to the privatized employee group were not effective in the study.

Garth Cooper (2009)
Advisor: Dr. Christopher Dunbar

This dissertation describes a mixed‐methodological study undertaken in the spring of 2009, focused on teachers learning about co‐teaching in the context of professional learning community. A Professional Learning Community, or PLC, is formed by a small group of educators dedicated to seeking solutions to school problems, or creating positive changes in school environment through collaboration. The members of this particular PLC are responsible for the education of children who qualify for both general education and special education services in Brandnew JH/HS High School and who were, are, or will be in the future assigned to co‐taught classrooms. Prompted by the new Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC), and charged by the Federal "No Child Left Behind" legislation, the study focuses on how PLC participation can help teachers better understand what elements comprise co‐teaching pedagogy and their role in a co‐taught classroom. The study creates opportunities to witness the PLC's ongoing interactions as well as to trace individual teacher's experiences. As PLC members work through a series of activities organized around co‐teaching themes, I collected and analyzed data from the following sources: individual interviews with a sub‐group of PLC members before and after the project, recordings and transcripts of meeting discussions, written artifacts produced by the group's members, and field notes from the PLC meetings.

 

As a qualitative study of teacher learning, the research followed the rigors of ethnographic inquiry including the framing and testing of working hypotheses or inferences about local meaning. Additionally, in an iterative process called grounded theory development, I preceded both inductively and deductively as I collected data, analyzed it, and returned to the field with my questions and inferences further refined and focused. The research also was guided by Vygotsky's mediation and social learning theories and the role these influences played on teacher learning in the group. The quantitative evaluation tool was designed to give a formative look at the current understanding and experiences the teachers have with PLC. I generated a series of questions, asked in a sample survey format, using an online program for data collection. The general and special education teachers who constituted the membership of the PLC were the respondents to the surveys. The survey was completed prior to the first PLC meeting, after the fifth PLC meeting which was the mid‐point of the project, and at the conclusion of the PLC meetings. The study provided an opportunity to learn about participating teachers' knowledge, comfort, and skill related to coteaching and how these are expressed and potentially transformed by means of a PLC's professional development activities.

Mark D. Rollandini (2009)
Advisor: Dr. David Arsen

Educational Service Agencies (ESAs) across the United States have historically provided programs and services to local districts in an effort to increase educational achievement for students and the efficiency of local schools. Intermediate School Districts (ISDs), Michigan's unique brand of ESA, are no different. They are there to serve the needs of local districts with everything from media services to professional development for teachers. This paper examines the history of ESAs, the services they provide and evidence on their performance around the United States. The study's empirical research focuses on an evaluation of the fiscal resources and expenditures of Michigan's ISDs. As state and federal requirements for local schools grow, ISDs are being called upon to assist them in meeting these requirements. This dissertation examines the 2005‐06 financial reports of all Michigan ISDs to discern whether or not disparities in their resources create inequalities in their capacity to assume new responsibilities. The research also seeks to determine whether fiscal disparities across ISDs correspond to the demographic characteristics or educational need of the ISDs themselves.