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.
DOES INTRUSIVE COUNSELING INTERVENTION POSITIVELY IMPACT THE RETENTION OF AT‐RISK, FIRST‐TIME‐TO‐COLLEGE STUDENTS?
Stanley S. Chase (2004)
Advisor: Dr. Christopher Dunbar
The question whether intrusive counseling positively impacts the retention of at risk students was motivated by national and local high attrition rates. If colleges are to increase or maintain enrollment, creative means for retaining students is crucial; this factor was a primary driving force of this study. The purpose of this study is to investigate retention tendencies of atrisk first‐time‐to‐college students at Lansing Community College. This study examined intrusive counseling intervention with a population of at‐risk students and their re‐enrollment in subsequent terms. Intrusive counseling focused on the areas of student need, such as coping skills, self‐confidence, self‐image, anxiety, beliefs, expectations, prejudices, academic ability, and connectedness to the college campus and its resources.
A pilot study was conducted to identify factors that were strong predictors of students who may be at‐risk of dropping out (find jobs before degree completion) or stopping out (leave for a semester or two and return). The study revealed several characteristics that provided high predictability of success and identified at‐risk students. The items utilized were: (1) Ethnic background; (2) High school grade point average; (3) Number of hours employed; (4) College financial situation. The methodological design of the study allowed for the predictors of success to be included on the admissions application, resulting in the identification of the target population of those students who are at‐risk of not continuing in the subsequent term. Over a three‐semester time‐span, each of 897 students who did or did not meet with a counselor became a member of the research sample group. The target population was tracked to determine the number of students who re‐enrolled in subsequent terms and whether there existed a significant difference between the re‐enrollment of the target group who did meet with a counselor and those who did not meet with a counselor.
The results of the study revealed students who did meet with a counselor were single and non‐white; students who did not meet with a counselor were white. Further, the study showed that students who meet with a counselor were generally more academically oriented and tended to carry more credits. The study found that the academic performance of students who did meet with a counselor was not significantly different from those students who did not meet with a counselor. The study revealed that students who did meet with a counselor across all semesters were significantly more likely to re‐enroll in subsequent semesters than those who did not meet with a counselor. The results of the study allowed for the following conclusions to be made by this researcher. Emphasis should be placed upon the importance of counselor intervention on at‐risk first‐time‐to‐college students. The data indicates a strong relationship between intrusive counseling and re‐enrollment in subsequent semesters. The lack of significant differences in academic performance should not minimize the significant benefit that can be achieved relative to the retention of at‐risk students who meet with a counselor.
THE ACADEMIC AND SOCIAL IMPACT OF CULTURAL INTERSECTION ON AFRICAN AMERICAN MALE MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS
Telly S. Brannon (2005)
Advisor: Dr. Christopher Dunbar
The academic and social impact of cultural intersection on African American male middle school students was investigated. Interviews with and observations of eight students as well eleven staff members were analyzed. The results indicated that an intersection between the dominant culture and the subordinate culture had a negative impact on the academic and social experiences of the students in this study. Recommendations include ongoing professional development and realigning of the curriculum.
THE EXPERIENCE OF RECEIVING SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES IN A JUVENILE DETENTION FACILITY
Vincent J. Dean (2005)
Advisor: Dr. Christopher Dunbar
The experience of receiving special education services within a juvenile detention facility was investigated. Interviews conducted with six students and six staff members were analyzed along with record reviews and observations. The results indicated that while special education services look different in the detention facility visited, the experience was a positive one in regard to emphasis on education, developing relationships with adults, and meeting health and safety needs of students. Recommendations included developing stronger, more efficient means of communication and improving assessment practices.
THE ALLEGED INVISIBLE PARENT: EXAMINING PRACTICES AND PERSPECTIVES OF AFRICAN‐AMERICAN PARENT INVOLVEMENT IN TITLE I SCHOOLS
Felix Simieou (2005)
Advisor: Dr. Christopher Dunbar
This study focused on the experiences of African‐American parent involvement in two Title I schools in an urban southeastern school district. It specifically sought to understand the role of parent involvement as practiced in two schools that have a majority economically disadvantaged population, predominately African‐American, where students have been successful in attendance, grades, and state standardized test. In addition, it attempted to understand if there is an impact of cultural attitudes and identify practices on the actions of African‐American parents and what factors influence their involvement in their children's education. It found three major themes that influenced involvement with African‐American families: (1) Strong, innovative leadership, (2) the impact of community associations, (3) adapting and creating programs that teach parents how to reinforce curriculum.
Leadership from an integrative perspective in American International Schools
Elizabeth Murakami Ramalho (2005)
Advisor: Dr. Maenette Benham
School leaders face the unique tension of being the "public persona" involved in a multitude of relationships while, at the same time, performing with a strong feeling of isolation (Murphy, 1988; Scott, 2002). This may be related to a romantic perception (including perceptions of those who work in schools) of the role of administrators, with boards of education often selecting a Frank Boyden of Deerfield (McPhee, 1984) model of school leader---an idealist, a dedicated and altruistic hero---and placing all other school participants on the receiving end of leadership. To move away from hierarchical leadership perceptions, I explored leadership dynamics from alternative lenses. American international schools were selected as appealing ecological environments with a combination of committed educators, families, and community participation in highly multicultural populations.
"What kind of leadership dynamics may be found in American international schools?" and "How do educators in selected American international schools construct and mediate their leadership roles?" were the questions addressed in this study. Participants in three initiatives in three American international schools located in different countries contributed in the study. The findings suggested that leadership dynamics in American international schools is a process that is best viewed from an integrative perspective. An integrative perspective included the interplay of participants constructing their leadership roles through four fundamental layers: Leadership dynamics was then, (a) reliant on a propitious organizational ecosystem, (b) contingent on group interdependency, (c) associated with capacity building, and (d) fostering organizational learning. However, in the schools studied, the interplay of these fundamental layers seemed to be highly challenged, not only due to constant change and power relations, but also due to constrained human capital and time in order to create stable spaces and enduring traditions of excellence.
FINDING THE LINK BETWEEN 21ST CENTURY COMMUNITY LEARNING CENTERS AND SCHOOL DAY CLASSROOMS: EXPANDING THE POLICY COHERENCE PARADIGM IN EDUCATION
Tara Donahue (2006)
Advisor: Dr. Christopher Dunbar
The purpose of this study is hence to explore 21 st CCLCs as academic support systems. Expanding upon previous theories that analyze coherence among educational systems, this study seeks to understand how seven 21st CCLC after‐school programs throughout Michigan align their academic program to what students learn during the regular school day and how programs complement or supplement activities to the school day curriculum. The centers offer a unique program to meet the needs of the individual school each serves such as specific student demographics or particular academic challenges students face. Using the Four C framework defined as collaboration, communication, consistency, and coherency, this study analyzes how the 21st CCLC programs throughout Michigan integrates each of these into its daily routines to connect to the school day. By collaborating and communicating with teachers, after‐school program staff learn about what students are doing in classrooms during the day and can devise program strategies to effectively complement and enrich the children's academic learning. Coherence and consistency needs to occur between the after‐school program and the school day program so students understand the expectations and receive the most benefit from both programs. Throughout a day, students must adjust to a variety of environments from their home and school to some sort of after school environment. When students find themselves in one environment, however, they draw on the experiences from the other communities in which they interact. Since students may spend an additional three hours at the after‐school program, linking the after‐school program instructional policies to the school day policies develops this dynamic and offers students a more coherent academic atmosphere to spur more cognitive development.
THE IMPACT OF SCHOOL LOCATION ON PRINCIPAL LEADERSHIP'S ABILITY TO BUILD CAPACITY AT THE BUILDING LEVEL
Resche D. Hines (2006)
Advisor: Dr. Christopher Dunbar
The purpose of the current study was to examine the impact of school location (context) on the principal's leadership ability to build capacity at the school building level. This study was carried out through employment of quantitative methodology and the implementation of two theoretical models provided by Portz, Stein and Jones (1999) and Heck (1996). These models were used as the ideological foundation to empirically test the nature of the theorized relationships between school location and leadership actions for capacity building. The results indicated that school contexts may help to determine factors that will best assist principals in their decision‐making process to effectively meet the leadership demands of accountability. These results prove that the effect of principal decision‐making is a more complex matter, that is, that school location promotes a distinct but potentially complementary approach to understanding the effect of school context influence on principal decision‐making.
BUILDING AUTHENTIC COMMUNITIES WITHIN SCHOOLS: A CASE STUDY OF TWO KOREAN HIGH SCHOOLS
Young Taek Kang (2006)
Advisor: Dr. Susan Printy
The intention of this study is to explore two Korean high schools as communities within the framework of three models of community, that is, individualist, communitarian, and alternative models. Before conducting the research, I developed a framework of three models of community, informed by Western and Asian literature of community. I conducted qualitative research, adopting an ethnographic method at the two research sites. I interviewed more than forty school members, such as students, teachers, and parents, and observed classes, teacher meetings, parent meetings, and everyday lives of students and teachers. To understand the school communities, I have investigated how the school members perceived that they were part of a community, more specifically, that there was democratic community or professional community at their schools. At Blue Mountain High School (BMHS), students and parents consider their school to be democratic, although in a limited way; however, teachers do not have the same sense. At Grand Valley High School (GVHS), students and teachers strongly perceive their school to be democratic; however, parents do not report much participation. Teachers of both schools hesitate to say that they are professional communities.
Based on consistent reports, there is a lack of professional collaboration among teachers in both settings. Teaching, they believe, is an individual business. To examine school communities in terms of these three models, this study has dealt with tension among values which easily happens within communities. The case of BMHS confirms the current acknowledgement that communality and caring are often in tension with individuality and justice within a community. Although BMHS has some qualities of a communitarian model, it, over all, is closer to an individualist model. The study of GVHS shows the possibility of building an ideal community within a school. At GVHS, such qualities as individuality, solidarity, caring, justice, and diversity are in harmony. Moreover, at this school, relationships among people and between people and nature are highly valued. In this vein, GVHS directs toward an alternative model of community, which integrates Western thinking of community with Asian thoughts. I have discussed the causes of differences between the two schools. At GVHS there have been clear shared visions for justice and transformational leadership, through which vision is shaped and shared. Furthermore, spirituality has functioned as the foundation of the school visions and values and the leadership. By contrast, at BMHS the initial vision changed, leadership became unstable, and conflicts among school members appeared. Lastly, I discuss implications for practice and policy. In addition, suggestions are provided for future studies related to this research.
SCHOOL CHOICE: HOW AND WHY PARENTS IN RURAL AREAS SELECT SCHOOLS
Brian L. Metcalf (2006)
Advisor: Dr. Christopher Dunbar
While a school of choice policy proposes that parents can select the best school for their child, research has discovered that parents more often settled for mediocrity. For many parents, the pattern of choice behavior suggested that they chose a school that would be simply satisfactory, not exceptional. One way to learn more about how parents gather information related to the factors that make a school desirable for their child, and about how they approach these significant choices, is to explore the criteria and rationales currently used by the parents. Thus far, few studies have sought information directly from the parents who have made a school choice to identify the rationale and process used in making that choice. However, no research is found that specifically focused on school choice in a rural setting. Therefore, this study seeks to learn directly from the parents how the selection for school of choice works. This research was conducted in a very small town in Southwest Michigan. The cooperating district, which has been referred to as Durban, has approximately 400 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The purpose of this study is to gain an understanding of how and why parents in rural areas select schools for their children to attend. Research in urban areas suggests that parents are making these decisions based on many factors not having to do with best instructional practices (convenience, race and socio‐economic considerations appear to top the list of considerations in urban areas). Consequently, this study is important for two reasons. First, school districts throughout the state of Michigan are seeing revenues cut due to a loss of students for a variety of reasons. These districts have to cut programs, which have a detrimental effect for the students who stay. Second, if parents are making choices based on factors unrelated to instruction, or other academic reasons, such as race, then the entire premise of market‐forced improvement may create incentive for non‐academic school improvement. This is contrary to the rationale of school choice. This study describes how and why parents in this rural area selected a school. Included are connections between this study and prior urban and suburban research, as well as new revelations that have not been mentioned in prior research.
SBA (TEACHING, WISDOM, AND STUDY): AN EXPLORATION OF THE EXPERIENCES OF AFRICAN AMERICAN YOUNG PEOPLE WHO ATTENDED AN AFRICAN‐CENTERED SCHOOL
Joyce H. Piert (2006)
Advisor: Dr. Christopher Dunbar
At various points within the history of America's public education, the nation has attempted to educate an increasingly diverse student population. It has been argued that almost since its inception, the nation's educational model has been utilized as a vehicle for sorting and maintaining a social structure of inequity (Carnoy, 1974; Bernstein, 1977; Giroux; 1983). Certainly not immune to this undergirding ideology, African Americans have engaged in an ongoing struggle with the paternalistic European American perceptions of what constitutes an appropriate education for African people in America. This tension fueled the desire for agency and self‐determination among African American communities and contributed to the rise of Black Nationalist and Pan Africanist ideology during the 19 th and 20th centuries. Throughout historical moments within this nation, these ideologies have shaped the African American community's response to the un‐kept promises of the American educational system. In recent times, American public schools have demonstrated a clear inability to equitably instruct African American students. This inability has manifested in poor academic performance in public schools and this inability has fueled alarm within the African American community, which has contributed to dissatisfaction and frustration with the public schools. Consequently African American parents have sought viable alternatives for successfully educating African American students as manifested in the African‐centered educational movement. But what is an African centered education? In the body of literature that has accumulated, an African centered education has been defined in various ways, as a history supplement of African centered facts, as a curriculum immersion, and as a complete cultural and curriculum immersion within schools. Also, researchers have examined the implementation of this educational model in various settings, both private and public; and researchers have examined the academic outcomes of this implementation. However, there is a paucity of data on the experiences of young people who have experienced this educational model. In this study, the researcher explored the experiences of African American young people who have attended an African centered school. The findings of the study revealed that the educational experiences of these African American young people aligned substantially with the intended outcomes of the school's philosophy and purpose.
NEW HIGH SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION STUDY: AN ANALYSIS OF HOW AND WHY SOME COMMUNITIES CONSTRUCT NEW, MULTI‐MILLION DOLLAR HIGH SCHOOL BUILDINGS
Timothy H. Wood (2006)
Advisor: Dr. Phillip Cusick
The purpose of this study is to describe and attempt to explain the process some Michigan communities engage in when building large, multi‐million dollar high schools, and to explore the educational values the new facilities represent. Literature involving school construction was examined as well as research regarding power, values, and political decision making. The literature served as a basis for explaining the actions of those involved in the process. Specific areas of examination included identifying what was valued, what circumstances created the value, and how that value was projected to others within the community. For school districts in Michigan were included in the study. The research included fifty‐four interviews of individuals associated with the four districts, including superintendents, principals, teachers, coaches, members of the school board, citizen committee members, and members of the community at‐large. The data collected was analyzed to reach conclusions concerning the process school districts use when attempting to build a new high school. The data indicated similar conclusions in each of the four districts as it was viewed through the lens of three theories. The first theory is the work of Anthony Downs and "utility interest" (1957), where rational people will act in their best interest. Secondly, Schor's work on "competitive consumption" (1999), or attempting to keep‐up with one's neighbors was used as a theory in the study. The third theory is derived from the work of Lukes and Stone, who developed the concept of "clinical authority" (1974; 1988) where people in a specific field are viewed as experts based on their knowledge in a particular area. These theories served as the basis of explaining the behavior of those involved in the design, and construction of new high school buildings as delineated within the study.
GRADES AND DATA‐DRIVEN DECISION MAKING: ISSUES OF VARIANCE AND STUDENT PATTERNS
Alex. J. Bowers (2007)
Advisor: Dr. Susan Printy
This study addresses the question: To what extent are teacher assigned subject‐specific grades useful for data driven decision making in schools? Recently, schools have been urged to bring teachers and school leaders together around student‐level data in an effort to increase dialogue, collaboration and professional communities to improve educational practice through data driven decision making. However, schools are inundated with data. While much attention has been paid to the use and reporting of standardized test scores in policy, school and districtlevel data driven decision making, much of the industry of schools is devoted to the generation and reporting of grades. Historically, little attention has been paid to student grades and grade patterns and their use in predicting student performance, standardized assessment scores and on‐time graduation. This study analyzed the entire K‐12 subject‐specific grading and assessment histories of two cohorts in two separate school districts through correlations and a novel application of cluster analysis. Results suggest that longitudinal K‐12 grading histories are useful. Grades and standardized assessments appear to be converging over time for one of the two school districts studied, suggesting that for one of the districts but not the other, current accountability policies and state curriculum frameworks may be pushing into classrooms and modifying teacher's daily practice, as measured through an increasing correlation of grades and standardized assessments. Moreover, using cluster analysis, K‐12 subject specific grading patterns appear to show that early elementary school grade patterns predict future student grade patterns as well as qualitative student outcomes, such as on‐time graduation. The findings of this study also suggest that K‐12 subject specific grade patterning using cluster analysis is an advance over past methods of predicting students at‐risk of dropping out of school. Additionally, the evidence supports a finding that grades may be an assessment of both academic knowledge and a student's ability to negotiate the social processes of school.
PROVIDING QUALITY EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION IN MICHIGAN'S LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS
John B. Deiter (2007)
Advisor: Dr. David Arsen
The purpose of this study was threefold as it attempted to: (1) determine to what extent local school districts in Michigan vary in their provision of early childhood education (ECE) services and what factors account for these differences; (2) determine local school district superintendents' perceptions of ECE and explore whether or not these perceptions are related to their knowledge, familiarity with programs and research, and to what extent they view ECE as being important to their students obtaining their achievement goals; and (3) determine the efficacy of the current delivery system for ECE services between the state, ISDs, and local districts by ascertaining the vision that the leaders at these levels have for the provision and coordination of ECE services. The results of the study were obtained from a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. They show that there is large variance in the ECE services that local districts provide that is related to the needs of the children in a given district and with the knowledge of the superintendents. Though most Michigan superintendents are not familiar with specific studies on ECE, most believe that an investment in ECE can have a positive impact on student achievement. Programs and training offered by ISDs can be very influential to the attitudes of local superintendents. The experience that superintendents bring to the position, such as experience exclusively at the 9‐12 level versus pre‐K or K‐5 experience also impacts the knowledge and perception of superintendents. The study also indicates that leaders at the state, ISD, and local level have a similar vision for the provision of ECE that varies slightly from the current alignment and dissemination of services. Leaders at the three levels would like to see an increased role for local districts in the provision of ECE services. These leaders feel that ISDs are in a central position and seem the best equipped to coordinate and enhance ECE services.
EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENTS IN UNSTABLE CONTEXTS: CASE STUDIES OF 7 PALESTINIAN SUPERINTENDENTS IN THE WEST BANK AND GAZA
Sakeena Ayoub R. T. Elayan (2007)
Advisor: Dr. Christopher Dunbar
Deep rooted in history and civilization, Palestine has witnessed the emergence of heavenly religions. Such feature has enriched the peculiarity, the holiness, and the sanctity of that place. The essence of those religions is love, tolerance, faith, peace, and hope. Yet, that part of the world had experienced wars, conflicts and atrocities in almost every phase of history, particularly in the last seven decades. This study has taken place in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza/in Palestine. Driven by an overwhelming curiosity, and "a passion for learning" (Cusick, 2005), I studied the education superintendents' perceptions of their roles and leadership practices they employed to maintain the education system adverse of the volatile environment. My focus was on discovering the nature of a superintendent's role in that unstable context, how different it is from traditional leadership roles in western education systems, what kind of leadership strategies do superintendents demonstrate, and what assumptions, beliefs and world views underlie their approach. This study fills part of a huge gap by telling the story of how the education system was maintained in the turbulent context of Palestine. Therefore, this study has implications for both policy and practice in the field of educational leadership, particularly in countries suffering from conflict.
THE IMPACT OF RISING EMPLOYEE BENEFIT COSTS ON MICHIGAN SCHOOL DISTRICTS
Sean M. Enright (2007)
Advisor: Dr. David Arsen
In 1994 a ballot referendum, known as Proposal A, changed the funding mechanism for Michigan schools. Proposal A changed the funding mechanism from a property tax‐based system to a sales tax‐based system. Districts are now given a set per pupil funding allowance each year. This allowance, called the foundation grant, is set and changed by the state. Many Michigan districts have struggled financially under the new system. A great deal of research has been done around the growth and sustainability of the new funding mechanism.
The purpose of this dissertation is to document the current financial situation and attempt to ascertain whether rising employee costs have contributed to the constraint. Unlike previous research focused largely on the change in revenue, this study focuses on the change in employee benefit costs, specifically health insurance and retirement, since 1994. Utilizing Michigan Department of Education Form B data, employee benefit costs, including health care and retirement expenditures, were documented from 1994 to 2004 for 551 Michigan districts. Calculations were then performed to determine how these costs have changed over the nine year period as compared to the change in revenue and total operating expenditures for the districts. Once the change in employee benefit costs had been identified, a survey was conducted to determine what steps districts have taken to restrain the growth in these expenditures. A survey was sent to all Michigan School Business Officials. The survey asked them to identify their district's health insurance programs and the steps they have taken to slow the growth in, specifically, health care costs. This data was then compared to the Michigan Department of Education employee cost data in order to determine if those who had pursued cost reduction strategies in health care were successful in restraining growth in overall employee benefit costs. The objective was to identify additional sources of the current financial constraint faced by Michigan schools and determine if employee benefit cost reduction strategies can successfully improve the financial situation.
WHAT MATTERS AROUND HERE: A COMMUNITY STUDY OF RURAL EDUCATION AND POVERTY
Angela M. Kirby (2007)
Advisor: Dr. Phillip Cusick
The research shows that poor tend to be educationally disadvantaged and rural poor more educationally disadvantaged. Yet, educational policy reform typically uses urban‐based models when addressing issues of rural education. This study expands a limited body of research in the area of rural education of poor students and their communities. The unique contribution of the study lies in its focus on articulating a set of understandings about the combined issues of place, poverty and education. In the two categories focusing on one community values regarding family and education, eight themes emerged. They highlight themes of isolation; social exclusion and limited access to resources accentuate the need to examine social networks and communal assets. The rural emergent community stories provide a powerful counterpoint to the supposition that poverty is primarily an economic issue. Findings illuminate the need to shift the educational policy focus from eradicating poverty based on quantified numbers of poor people, to addressing a comprehensive causal explanation of why rural people are poor, its effects on educational aspirations and behaviors.
WHAT BECOMES OF HIGH SCHOOL REFORM: THE CASE OF AN ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL
Stephen Heywood Marsden (2007)
Advisor: Dr. Gary Sykes
The purpose of the research was to investigate the factors influencing the sustainability of an alternative educational program as a high school reform. The general objective of the study was to collect information from three levels of analysis: institutional, organizational, and individual. The research involved a review of the historical development of an alternative high school, the organizational role of school personnel in identifying and placing at‐risk students in the alternative high school, and the individual educational outcomes of a group of twelve students selected for placement in the alternative high school. The findings indicate that educational reform, which departs from the grammar or regularities of schooling, is less likely to sustain itself as a unique and distinctive feature. Factors found in the three explanatory ideas help explain the effectiveness/ineffectiveness of the current alternative high school as an educational reform. A limitation of the study is that it is qualitative in nature: only one school district was studied, and the number of participants was limited to twenty; hence no broad generalizations can be made. The use of interviews in this study also has some potential limitations in as much as there is a possibility of missed responses and/or a lack of disclosure.
AN EXPLORATORY STUDY OF THE DYADIC RELATIONSHIP OF THE BEGINNING TEACHER AND THE ADMINISTRATOR
Audra Aileen Melton (2007)
Advisor: Dr. Maenette Benham
This study explores the relationship between beginning teachers and their administrators and the influence of this relationship on the beginning teachers' persistence in the profession. A phenomenological study was conducted to discover the nuances of the interactions between the participants and the influence of these interactions on the relationship. Data was collected through a variety of methods including interviews, a focus group, artifacts, and documents. Analysis of the data produce three important themes: (1) A new teacher's disposition and professional preparation affects the nature of the administratorteacher relationship, (2) a new teacher's perception of (a) her own value alignment with the administrator, (b) the character of leadership exhibited by the principal, and (c) the clarity of her own teaching responsibilities and her administrator's role and responsibilities, impede or enhance the teacher/administrator relationship, and (3) organizational structures and politics/policies often complicate the character of the teacher/administrator relationship.
SCHOOL EFFICIENCY, SOCIAL STRATIFICATION, AND SCHOOL CHOICE: AN EXAMINATION OF MICHIGAN'S CHARTER SCHOOL PROGRAM
Yongmei Ni (2007)
Advisor: Dr. David Arsen
As one of the most prominent developments in elementary and secondary education reform in the U.S. since the 1990s, school choice has been widely advocated to utilize market incentives to promote educational equity and efficiency. This dissertation tests these two hypotheses by examining the effects of school choice policies in Michigan on racial segregation and social stratification, as well as the competitive impact of charter schools on the efficiency of traditional public schools. Drawing on two years of student‐level data, I examine patterns of student sorting associated with school choice policies. How do choice policies influence the degree of racial segregation and social stratification in public schools? How are students' propensities to select a choice school influenced by their own characteristics, and the characteristics of their assigned public schools? Examining the dynamic student movements between their assigned public schools and charter schools through a series of multinomial Generalized Hierarchical Linear Models (GHLM), my analysis suggests that while choice policies are providing new options for many students who were not served well in their assigned public schools, it is also contributing to the creation of a stratum of schools at the bottom in which truly disadvantaged students become ever more concentrated. In testing whether the competition from charter schools improves school efficiency of traditional public schools, I assembled a statewide school‐level panel dataset of Michigan schools from 1994 to 2004. This analysis relied on fixed effect estimations that implicitly controlled for unobservable time invariant school characteristics, and explicitly controlled for changing student composition and other factors induced by charter school policy. My analysis shows that charter competition has a negative impact on student achievement in Michigan's traditional public schools. The effect is small or negligible at first, but becomes more substantial in the long run. While contradicting the positive competitive effect typically predicted by school choice advocates, my results are consistent with the conception of choice triggering a downward spiral in the most heavily impacted public schools.
HEAD TEACHERS' EXPERIENCES AND STUDENTS' PERCEPTIONS IN IMPLEMENTING HIV/AIDS EDUCATION PROGRAMS IN HIGH SCHOOLS IN RURAL KISII DISTRICT, KENYA
Kennedy O. Ongaga (2007)
Advisor: Dr. Christopher Dunbar
HIV/AIDS has eaten into every fiber and fabric of social life. In the education sector, it threatens to overwhelm the very fabric and structure of educational organizations, management, and provision of services as has traditionally been known. Like in the rest of the world, HIV/AIDS in Kenya is conceptualized as having the potential to negatively affect the education sector in terms of: (i) the demand for and supply of education, (ii) the quality and management of education, (iii) adjustments in response to the special needs of a rapidly increasing number of orphans as well as adaptation to new interactions both within and between schools and their communities. In the absence of a vaccine, HIV/AIDS education programs are critical in educating individuals about actions they can take to protect themselves from becoming infected or infecting others. However, educating young people about becoming infected through sexual contact can be controversial (Kelly, 2002, Gachuhi, 1999). Utilizing an ethnographic lens, this study focused on understanding experiences of head teachers in implementing HIV/AIDS education programs and the meaning of these programs to students in rural secondary schools in Kish District, Kenya. The following questions guided this study. (1) What is the role of head teachers in implementing HIV/AIDS programs? (2) How do they respond to HIV/AIDS cases in school? (3) How do they communicate matters related to HIV/AIDS in school? (4) What are students' perceptions of HIV/AIDS education programs? Data for this study were collected in Kisii district for a period of 4 months through participant observation, open‐ended face‐to‐face interviews with five high school head teachers and 14 high school students in two focus group discussions. I also interviewed a self‐selected student, who happened to be HIV infected. The findings indicated that meaningful HIV/AIDS intervention initiatives in schools in rural Kisii remain contested along patterns of socio‐cultural beliefs, religious morals, economic, and a wider crisis in education. These forces coalesce to create a culture of silence, which impede, shape, and guide implementation of school‐based HIV/AIDS education programs. In such environment, school administrators experience dissonance in implementing HIV/AIDS education programs as envisioned just as students are caught in dangerous conflict between what they learn in school and observe in their communities. Further, the study showed that HIV/AIDS education programs should shift from being informational to being empowering. Particularly, life‐skills such as problem‐solving skills, decision‐making, communication, refusal and negotiation skills as well as skills that may help students to avoid alcohol and drugs should be encouraged. Further, VCT services, treatment, and nutritious food are intertwined. The study suggested that when a clear, binding, evidencebased and culturally appropriate policy on school‐based AIDS education is developed and communicated to all stakeholders, head teachers and their schools are likely to receive enormous support in the implementation phase.
A STUDY OF ATHLETIC COACHING AT THE MIDDLE SCHOOL LEVEL USING THE COMPETING VALUES FRAMEWORK
Michael J. Prelesnik (2007)
Advisor: Dr. Susan Printy
The purpose of this study was to examine and describe how middle school athletic coaches balanced the challenges of coaching as they strived to follow the established standards for coaches, adhered to middle school principles, and tried to field a competitive team. Qualitative research techniques were used as the activities of middle school girls' basketball coaches were observed. The source of data for this study was observations of practices as well as games and a post‐observation interview with the coaches. Case studies were then written which revealed elements of coaching techniques, the coaches' own philosophies as they related to middle school principles, and strategies that the coaches utilized when they experienced a conflict in enacting their own standards and principles. Additionally, many of the established coaching standards of middle school coaching were revealed as the actions of these middle school coaches were documented. Next, coaching descriptions and information about a variety of actions were written in detail to support and provide examples during discussion of five major themes related to elements of coaching where challenges may occur. In addition, a crosscase analysis was used to compare the coaches' activities with relationship to the five major coaching themes as well as the established coaching standards. Research findings were further examined with reference to the competing values framework as the findings from the study were analyzed within the parameters of this framework. It was discovered that coaches with cognitive complexity were more successful coaches as they could move more easily through the various quadrants of the competing values framework. A rubric that middle school administrators can use to evaluate middle school coaches was also written. Final conclusions, implications, and further recommendations for additional research related to middle school coaching philosophy are proposed.
ADVOCACY: INTEGRATING THE ETHICS OF CARE AND JUSTICE FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
Krista Sherman (2007)
Advisor: Dr. Maenette Benham
The purpose of this study was to explore practices of three elementary principals in order to better understand how effective caring environments are shaped, tensions that principals face when leading an inclusive school, how they navigate such tensions, and how advocacy translate into practice. The conceptual theories that guided this study included the ethic of care, the ethic of justice and sensemaking. The theories of care and justice were not considered alternatives of one another, rather they were viewed as an integrated theory, each maintain their own ontology while supporting the other in understanding advocacy for special education. The qualitative methods were descriptive in nature and drew from multiple forms of data collection. They included individual interviews, focus groups and Photovoice, a process that collects images as the participants view them as a reflective tool to probe deeper into the lived experiences of the principals. A comprehensive portrait was written for each principal and the school they serve. Their experiences were connected through pictures and shared tensions. Forms of advocacy, tensions and how principals navigated the tensions arose from the data analysis. A central tenet emerged from the data. Policy and policy enactment favors a 'just' system—the common good—for all children. Yet, principals approach it with a caring ethic. This creates a struggle between the ethics of care and justice, but when both ethics are utilized as an integrated ethic, principals act in a just caring manner for all students. There is a need for rigorous preparation for principals, and general education teachers, in regards to students with disabilities so to better facilitate the integration of the ethics of care and justice.
RESPONSE OF K‐12 DISTRICTS TO POLICY MANDATES INTRODUCED THROUGH FEDERAL AND STATE LEGISLATION
Kellie Terry (2007)
Advisor: Dr. Phillip Cusick
The purpose of this study was to describe and explain the response by K‐12 districts to policy mandates introduced through federal and state legislation. To inform the study, I reviewed the literature regarding educational purposes in the United States; relationships between the economic, political and educational systems and their influence on the educational system; society's attempts to resolve perceived social and economic problems in its schools; and theoretical concepts that predict how K‐12 districts might respond to legislative mandates. This literature provided the foundation for a conceptual framework, exploratory questions, and the methodology guiding this study. In addition, information on the two legislative mandates included in this study, the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, and Michigan's Compiled Laws 165‐166 on Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Sexually Transmitted Diseases and sex education, was outlined. Interview data and documents from each category of the conceptual framework, including External Partners from the Michigan Department of Education and two Intermediate School Districts; and two K‐12 districts were analyzed. Research in the K‐12 districts was conducted through pilot and case studies. Following within‐case and cross‐case analyses of the data, I developed conclusions to describe and explain how K‐12 districts respond to legislative mandates. Study evidence and arguments were presented to support the conclusions, based on the underlying thesis, which is that legislative policy mandates pose K‐12 districts with an interesting paradox: while the educational bureaucracy appears to be well‐equipped to satisfy concrete compliance requirements, bureaucratic action does not appear sufficient to produce the deeper changes in practice needed to fulfill the spirit of the law. Thus, districts appear to be struggling to apply bureaucratic solutions to change that may require a response outside the realm of bureaucratic control. Further explication of K‐12 districts' responses to legislative policy mandates resulted in an abstract model entitled, "Stages of K‐12 Districts' Compliance with Legislative Mandate" Thus, this study contributes to the discourse regarding the connections between policy, practice, and organizational change. Additional research was suggested to elaborate greater understanding of the conditions and actions in districts that are successful in realizing deep changes in educational practice.
CREATING HOPEFUL LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS: COLLISIONS IN PRACTICE
Ranae Beyerlein (2008)
Advisor: Dr. Maenette Benham
Neoliberal discourse and a public demanding accountability and efficiency in education forebode a "growing testing" culture that advantages more privileged groups of students. In this dissertation, Hopeful Learning Environments (HLE's) are envisioned as diversified, democratically engaging, and welcoming places that utilize community resources, action research, and learning theory to promote effective teaching and learning for all. This study uses qualitative methods, including the use of a modification of PhotoVoice, to investigate where the collision points are that constrain teachers from building capacity to create HLE's in three suburban high schools in Michigan. The findings show that the essential elements that contribute to building capacity to create HLE's include: (a) accessing resources to support students' learning in schools and its extended environment; (b) building authentic relationships with students, teachers, administrators, and community members that are respectfully reciprocal and productive; (c) accessing ongoing professional learning to ensure their relevance as teachers, in particular the use of technology as a learning tool and (d) acknowledging the teacher's sense of value (self‐efficacy) as contributing citizens of school experiences. It appears that when these four elements are positively present an HLE thrives. The factors that constrain teachers are the lack of adequate funding in Michigan, students' lack of readiness to learn, a divestment from building learning relationships among teachers through professional development and from engaging in a professional environment, school policies that divert attention to testing and away from nurturing the human spirit, and the lack of time is an overarching constraint that may result and contribute to a number of the other constraining factors. Educators can better construct their work by engaging in dialog about creating HLE's, making time for students and colleague relationships, being reflective about practice, making practice public, and engaging the community in the process of making HLE's.
THREE ESSAYS IN EDUCATION POLICY: SCHOOL FACILITIES, EMPLOYEE BENEFITS AND REFUGEE EDUCATION
Thomas E. Davis (2008)
Advisor: Dr. David Arsen
My dissertation consists of three essays in education policy. The first essay analyzes the link between school facilities and student performance on standardized tests with a production function model. The second essay investigates whether a statewide single‐payer healthcare plan for school employees slows the rate of growth in expenditure for employee benefits. Finally, the third essay uses a more theoretical approach to examine the choice of policy instruments and institutions best suited to educate political refugees in their country of refuge taking into account the unique circumstances in the host country.
Chapter 1: Investigating the link between school capital and student performance. The first essay develops a production function model based on a widely applicable measure of building capital and controls for an array of socio‐economic and educational input variables to show that better facilities have a positive impact on the percentage of students who meet or exceed the requirements of the Michigan Education Assessment Program. The chapter concludes with a sophisticated sensitivity analysis that demonstrates that this conclusion is fairly robust to any potential omitted confounding variables.
Chapter 2: School employee healthcare: Does a statewide healthcare plan reduce costs? This study first shows that employee benefit costs are rising as a share of compensation while compensation is falling as a share of school district expenditure. Using a quasi‐experimental design, the analysis uses financial data from the National Center for Education Statistics and employs a three‐level hierarchical linear model for employee benefit expenditure to estimate the savings from the implementation of a statewide healthcare plan. Finally, the essay focuses on California and Texas to investigate the extent to which their statewide health plans slow the rate of growth of healthcare costs.
Chapter 3: Refugee education: A case study in the choice of policy instruments and institutions. The third essay provides a theoretical analysis of the competing interests involved in the education of refugees in their country of asylum. First, it looks at the choice of policy instruments in the unique circumstances that surround refugees. Second, the paper describes the problems associated with picking the institutions to implement education policies and describes how precarious their authority is. The study makes use of analogy to help place the policy instruments, institutions and competing stakeholders into historical context. The backdrop for this analysis is a case study of the refugee camps in Ngara, Tanzania, which received 250,000 Rwandan refugees during a 24‐hour period on April 28, 1994.
MID‐CAREER CHANGERS: AN INVESTIGATION OF NON‐TRADITIONAL ENTRANTS INTO TEACHING
Patrick Halladay (2008)
Advisor: Dr. Gary Sykes
This study considers candidates entering the classroom after extensive experience in fields outside of education‐‐career changers. Increasingly, attracting career changers is considered a prudent policy option to meet a series of classroom demands, including quality, equity, exigency, and fit. While there is wide speculation about the value career changers will bring to the classroom, little is known about their actual characteristics. This study examines three programs dedicated to preparing career changers for teaching, examining the design of the programs, the candidates they prepared, and the context that shaped the programs and candidates. The findings of this study suggest not only is there great diversity in program design, but that career changers themselves enter teaching with different sets of knowledge, skills, and experience, making classification of them as a uniform group impractical. Additionally, the local context has a strong influence on both a program's appearance and the candidates who choose to enroll. The policy aims of quality, equity, exigency, and fit appear to be, in part, in conflict with each other. If simultaneously meeting multiple policy goals proves untenable, it is incumbent upon policy makers to prioritize their aims by understanding how the local historical, economic, and demographic context structures local schools and teacher labor markets.
"GIVE ME THE WORST OF THEM, AND I'LL MAKE THEM THE BEST": AN ETHNOGRAPHIC STUDY OF A SUCCESSFUL ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL FOR AT‐RISK AFRICAN AMERICAN CHILDREN
Muhammad A. Khalifa (2008)
Advisor: Dr. Christopher Dunbar
This study examined how school leadership at Urban Alternative High School (UAHS) adequately addresses the needs of at‐risk alternative school students. The school's principal, Joe, was different from other traditional and alternative school principals in that most have been unable to address the educational needs of African American at‐risk children. Unlike the 'dumping‐ground' depictions that characterize many alternative schools for at‐risk children, UAHS was an environment in which many at‐risk children academically and socially succeeded. Students who were previously in academic and social distress at traditional schools came to UAHS and drastically improved their behavior, graduated from high school, and made plans for a post‐secondary education. The ethnographic research took place over two years (2006‐2008) and involved qualitative research methods in its data collection. Participant observation, field notes, interviews, official school and county documentation and interpretive follow‐up questions were all instruments used in this research. Interviews were conducted with a myriad of stakeholders: UAHS principal and other administrators in the district, 10 teachers and other UAHS staff, 5 parents, 1 community leader, 5 students and 5 former students. While strongly considering theories related to the social and familial contexts that impact education, social and cultural capital, identity formation of ghetto youth, and flexible leadership behavior, the researcher assessed how the school environment was negotiated by all people involved with UAHS. Another consideration that highlighted several parts of this research was that of race; cultural synchronization between school leader and students and communities served, differentiated racial expectations, and perceived racism were all relevant to this research. The findings have far‐reaching implications and suggest that administrators must approach leadership differently when serving at‐risk, urban, African‐American students. This study found that while it may be true that African American urban students come from families and neighborhoods that are incongruent with traditional schools, and that home environments contribute to them becoming at‐risk students, there are still ways that principals can effectively lead similar populations. UAHS students were able to merge their pre‐existent neighborhood identities with that of being 'smart.' The principal was able to earn trust and credibility, and establish rapport with communities who are traditionally hostile and distant from traditional education. And by focusing on aspects of education most important to the students and their families‐‐namely staying out of trouble, high school graduation and college attendance‐‐the principal was able positively impact the educational experiences of children.
UNDERSTANDING EXPERIENCES OF GIRLS IN A CENTER OF EXCELLENCE IN KAJIADO DISTRICT, KENYA: AN EXPLORATORY CASE STUDY
Mary Mokeira Ombonga (2008)
Advisor: Dr. Reitumetse Mabokela
Education is considered a bedrock upon which the social, economic and development agenda of any country rests. It is regarded as a pivotal force capable of eliminating social and economic injustices inherent in many communities. The education of women in general and girls in particular provides a meaningful and inextricable link in the reduction of maternal deaths and disabilities, delayed early marriages, and prevention of unsafe sex and its consequences. It is against this background that the campaign for Education for All (EFA) was initiated. The establishment of intervention programs such as Centers of Excellence in rural and marginalized areas is one step in attempting to tackle some of the underlying socio‐cultural barriers to girls' education.
This study sought to explore and understand experiences of girls in a Center of Excellence in Kajiado district, Kenya. Some of the girls were those who escaped or were rescued from early marriages or female genital mutilation (FGM), socio‐cultural practices prevalent in the community around Kajiado. Utilizing a qualitative case study design, this study sought to answer the following questions: (1) What are the experiences of girls prior to and after their involvement with the Center of Excellence? (2) In what ways does the Center influence the girls' current and future educational goals? (3) What strategies does the Center employ to support the girls? (4) What is the nature of the relationship between the Center and the community within which it is located?
Data for this study were collected for a period of 3 months using face‐to‐face openended interviews. The respondents included the Center's principal, 2 teachers, one female and one male and 4 student respondents in a focus group. The findings indicate that the Center, through its programs, was shaping the lives of the girls as well as empowering them to transform their lives and that of their families and communities. The study also uncovered girls' palpable dreams and aspiration to excel academically and change the perception that girls are only good as homemakers.
While the girls in the Center embodied the challenges the community was experiencing, the study garnered that the Center had started programs meant to sensitize and enlighten the community on issues such as HIV/AIDS prevention and poverty reduction. This study presents an imperative and meaningful literature that is critical to establishing innovative, culturally appropriate and gender‐friendly educational interventions and programs that can benefit girls in rural and marginalized communities. Policymakers, planners and practitioners will find it invaluable in illuminating the challenges and opportunities that can be capitalized on to address issues of gender and education, poverty and cultural practices that hinder the implementation of Universal Primary Education.
URBAN SCHOOL PRINCIPAL LEADERSHIP PREPARATION: PERSPECTIVE OF URBAN SCHOOL PRINCIPALS
James D. Smith (2008)
Advisor: Dr. Christopher Dunbar
The primary objective of this qualitative research study is to understand, What does it mean to be prepared to be an urban school principal with a majority African American student population? Eight research findings emerged from analysis of focus group, interview, and case study data collected from the director of school leadership training and nine African American K‐12 urban school principals‐‐all working in the same urban school district in Michigan. The first research finding provides evidence that between 2006 and 2016 a significant number of highly experienced baby boom generation principals will be leaving the principalship due to retirement, promotion, or career change. The second finding is that leadership training is not a program it is an on‐going process that employs seven genres of training to develop participants skills, knowledge, and capacity for urban school leadership. Third, elementary, middle and high school principals place a different priority on the school leadership issues and challenges they face. Fourth, urban principals must focus on a myriad of diverse "nuts and bolts" issues and challenges affecting their urban school. The fifth finding is that principal preparation for urban school leadership is a continuous process with six distinct preparation activities. Sixth, principals in my participants school district are only measured, evaluated, and receive performance improvement feedback on three out of six critical areas of urban school leadership. And seventh, leadership training and preparation programs offered by school districts, universities, and private sector organizations have significant differences in their leadership training and preparation activities, structure, and outcome objectives. Synthesizing these seven findings provides an answer to my research question. My eighth finding is being prepared to be an urban school principal with a majority African American student population means having the skills, knowledge, opportunity, and resources necessary and sufficient to provide leadership in seven critical areas of urban school leadership: implementing instructional, operational, staff, and student support strategies that help educate urban children; actively participating in preparing aspiring urban school leaders; meeting school stakeholder expectations; minimizing the effects of external forces on students and school staff; addressing multiple needs of urban students; and demonstrating a professional and personal commitment to urban education. Unfortunately, only a scant amount of research literature is focused on preparing principals specifically for urban school leadership. This paucity of research suggests a fallacious operating assumption for school leadership training and preparation that the urban, suburban, or rural setting of the school does not matter‐‐that K‐12 school principals can and should be trained and prepared to address school issues and challenges and provide necessary and sufficient school leadership in any context. Based on the findings that emerged during this research, I offer a three point counter argument that, first, the urban setting and contextual school leadership does indeed matter. Second, training and preparation for urban school principals can and should be theoretically grounded, delivered, and practiced in an urban school setting. And third, based on my assumption that a significant number of baby boom generation urban school principals will be leaving, I believe a significant number of aspiring principals can and should be expeditiously trained and prepared for K‐12 school leadership in an urban setting.
REACTION TO BUDGETARY STRESS IN MICHIGAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
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.
PRIVATIZATION OF SCHOOL SUPPORT SERVICES
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.
CO‐TEACHER LEARNING IN THE CONTEXT OF PROFESSIONAL LEARNING COMMUNITY
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.
WHITE MYOPIA IN EDUCATION: WHITE URBAN TEACHERS UNDERSTANDING THEIR WHITENESS AND ITS IMPACT ON THEIR ROLE AS EDUCATORS
Carol R. Baker (2010)
Advisor: Dr. Christopher Dunbar
The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka initiated educational reform through school racial desegregation. However, current social trends demonstrate that public education has reverted to a resegregated status. Demographic information indicates that urban schools are primarily attended by students of color and that nationally approximately 85% of all elementary and secondary teachers are white. Simultaneously, a racial academic achievement gap, as indicated partially by standardized test scores, reading and math scores, graduation rates and drop‐out rates, has been widely documented. This achievement gap indicates that whites and some Asians are prominent in the higher achievement arenas, whereas Blacks, Hispanics and Native American students are prominent in the lower achievement arenas.
Several areas have been identified that contribute to this racial academic achievement gap, including: low public school financial support in urban areas, low social economic status of students and their families, low parental involvement and lack of pre‐school opportunities. Additionally, racially based dissonance between white teachers and students of color has been cited as a contributing factor in the racial academic achievement gap.
This study looked at the impact of white privilege (whiteness), on white teachers teaching capacity including relationships with students and parents of color, behavior management and classroom practices. The study participants were practicing white teachers in an urban setting. They were simultaneously involved in a broader research initiative looking at aspects of academic achievement of boys of color, and served as presenters and facilitators with colleagues in this capacity.
The five study participants were interviewed individually and in a group setting. A cross case thematic analysis process was utilized to identify common themes highlighting how the white teachers understood their whiteness and its impact on their teaching capacity.
A primary theme that emerged from this data collection and analysis was that the white teachers, although involved in multicultural training for over two years, continued to struggle with identifying themselves as white and maintained a non‐raced self‐perception. When confronted by race, they often felt shocked and defensive. The study participants typically did not see themselves as racially privileged and reflected beliefs in color‐blindness, individualism and meritocracy. They often did not acknowledge societal white privilege or a belief that they had benefited from it. While they maintained an overt antiracist ideology, they often demonstrated racially privileged positioning within areas of their teaching practice.
This study underscores the impact that whiteness has on teaching capacity of white teachers. This study indicates that multicultural training must be extended over time and include a primary focus on whites understanding white societal positioning and acknowledging societal and individual white privilege.
John A. Oliver (2010)
Advisor: Dr. Christopher Dunbar
The primary objective of this qualitative study was to understand and describe the skills and capacities used by the leadership teams of three community‐based organizations (CBO) to develop youth adult partnerships that focused on community change issues. Three (CBO) engaged in youth adult partnerships served as the unit of analysis. The leadership teams of each (CBO) played intricate roles in executing the mission and vision of each organization. Therefore, the leadership teams were also closely linked to the organizations ability to develop the skills and capacities to generate youth adult partnerships for community change. To explicate the relationship between the organization and the leadership team I describe the organizational context, the leadership team context, and the leadership team context within the structure of the organization. I used focus group, one‐on‐one structured interviews, document analysis, and cross case study analysis to understand the research question. The implications of this study are based on five findings that emerged during this research: (a) context and place matter, (b) building mutual trust is paramount, (c) co‐constructing purpose is important to move the work forward, (d) acting and working together move the work forward, and (e) sustainability is linked to making the work a way of life. Although generating youth adult partnerships were often a complex process that was also time consuming, it has specific utility for: (a) educators, (b) educational leadership administrators and faculty, (c) community based organizations, and (d) current and perspective youth development professionals and volunteers.
DESCRIBING AND EXPLAINING THE PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL MORAL CODES CONSIDERED BY ADMINISTRATORS AS THEY MAKE DECISIONS
David E. Phillips (2011)
Advisor: Dr. Phillip Cusick
Every administrative action a principal will take is reduced to a decision. These decisions are made in an arena of overlapping moralities stemming from the organizational morality in concert with his/her personal morality. As Barnard stated, it is impossible to divorce one from the other. The purpose of this study was to attempt to describe and explain the personal and professional moral codes considered by a set of school administrators as they make decisions. This descriptive study examines the contributing experiences of 25 principals' backgrounds influencing the development and establishment of their personal moral code. The study also considers the role professional codes contribute to principal decisions. To establish a theoretical foundation for the project, the study explores the views of Hebert Simon, Immanuel Kant and Henri Bergson. The three views describe morality from differing perspectives: Simon from an organization view, Kant's perspective duty‐based morality, and Bergson's description of Open and Closed morality. Correlations are drawn from scenarios shared by principals as to which theory decisions represented. The majority of the principals in this study came from hard working, modest backgrounds, where upward mobility and a ferocious belief in the power of education are common themes in their upbringing. Principals consider themselves an important piece of the school organization. In reality, they are a good "fit" for leading the institution of schooling. The study concludes that in most circumstances, principals' personal morality and organizational morality mesh to support safety, learning and efficiency in managing schools.
Perceptions of special educational practices in Malawi: Voices for primary schools and communities
Nancy Lubeski (2011)
Advisor: Dr. Susan Printy
This doctoral research work explores the quality of educational experiences and access to opportunities for girls with disabilities in selected rural primary schools in Malawi. The context for this study lies within four of the six goals contained within the World Declaration on Education for All doctrine, a document which lays out a framework for achieving more equality in education for girls and other disadvantaged children.
This study employs a qualitative approach to investigate the perceptions of teachers, parents and community members from six rural primary schools and their communities. Data was collected at each site through personal interviews, school visitations, observations and other artifacts. Special education teachers from neighboring Malawian primary schools assisted the researcher in collecting and interpreting data at each site. Traditionally marginalized groups, including parents or caregivers and teachers of students with disabilities, are given power and voice.
Narrative inquiry and portraiture were utilized to explore what types of teaching and learning activities girls with disabilities experience when they attend primary schools in Malawi. The analysis provides a snapshot of the conditions that existed for primary school girls with disabilities during the year 2005 in six primary schools, and the communities adjacent to these schools. Issues of gender equity and opportunities to learn were carefully examined.
The concluding chapter discusses emerging issues involving girls with disabilities in school learning communities including expectations, perceptions and gender equality and safety. Varying perspectives on the development of educational systems in Malawi are also shared. Although expectations for the education of girls with disabilities appear to be high, primary schools in Malawi seem to be at the beginning stages of implementing educational policy and practice within classrooms. Developing leadership capacity, social capital and other available resources to better educate all students remains a great challenge.
Examining Fund Balance in Michigan School Districts
Author: Zainin Bidin (2012)
Advisor: David Arsen
This research examines the financial profiles of 550 public school districts in Michigan and highlights the association between school district fund balance and the following eleven indicators: enrollment, percent enrollment change, percent of students receive free and reduced lunch (FRL), percent of special education students, percent of English Language Learners (ELL), per pupil foundation allowance, urban, property taxable value, pupil-teacher ratio, average teacher salary, and business and administrative expenses as a percentage of current operating expenditures from fiscal year 2001 to 2010. School districts financial profiles display a rising number of districts in financial deficit and near deficit, which is defined as fiscal stress in this study. Throughout the years, the mean of the district fund balance has steadily declined, and the movement of school districts in and out of deficit and fiscal stress has been unpredictable. Utilizing pooled regression analysis, an investigation was conducted to reveal the positive and negative associations with the district fund balance.
Four are found to be positively associated, these include: foundation allowance, property taxable value, pupil-teacher ratio, and number of ELL students, which is one of the high-cost student indicators. The remaining six are enrollment, enrollment change, FRL, special education, salary, and business administrative expenditures and has a negative association with the district fund balance. Compared to districts located in rural areas, urban school districts have a lower fund balance, but for both school districts a higher fund balance could be achieved with more funding. On the other hand, giving money to school districts will not increase their fund balances. A plan must be put into place to spend the money effectively, taking into account teacher's salary, class size control, and business administrative expenses. With all of these in mind school district managers will have a greater chance of maintaining their fund balance and fiscal status. Three cross-section regression analyses for fiscal years 2000, 2005, and 2010 with percent enrollment change in one and three years proved to be consistent with the pooled regression analysis. These cross-section analyses are useful in the short-term but will not estimate the fund balance accurately in five or ten years.
A qualitative analysis of parental decision making in regards to home-schooling
Author: Pamela Campbell (2012)
Advisor: Kristy Cooper
Researchers have spent a relatively small amount of time focusing on homeschooling. The few studies which have been completed regarding homeschooling have skirted the question of the decision-making process taken by parents as they choose to begin or discontinue homeschooling. The void in the academic knowledge regarding this growing trend in education has been filled with the data and analysis of this study. By using a qualitative methodology I was not only able to gain insight into the thoughts and experiences of homeschool parents, I was able to hear their passion for their children's education and see their excitement as they described their familiarity with the twists and turns and emotions of the pathway to their final decision.
This study addresses the questions: "What process do parents go through when making the decision to begin or discontinue homeschooling their children?" And "What circumstances precipitate a parent's decision to move their children to homeschool or to end homeschooling?" Fourteen families were interviewed and data was collected and analyzed to determine the answer using a decision-making model made up of six different processes. Additionally, the precipitating circumstances were collected and categorized into sub-groups to clearly view the outcome of the evaluation of the data.
The results of this study indicate that two decision-making processes, convergence and insightful, dominated the corridor to the final choice of the initial child's educational placement. All of the parents in the study had friends who homeschooled and regardless of their background, were concerned about beginning to homeschool their own children.
The knowledge, practices, and learning of leadership coaches
Author: Nancy Kay Meddaugh (2012)
Advisor: Susan Printy
One widespread solution suggested for improving underperforming schools is to assign leadership coaches to school principals to help principals learn to maximize the strength of the educational staff and lead the improvement of student performance. Yet, there is limited literature on what leadership coaches know and do when attempting to improve underperforming schools. This qualitative study uses coaches' voices to describe what it is like to be a leadership coach in underperforming schools, and describes their experiences when working with adults as learners. The study investigates the knowledge coaches bring to the job, the practices they use to guide adults through transformative learning, and the personal learning coaches experience as they seek to improve their coaching methods through evolving programming for veteran coaches. Three separate articles address components of leadership coaching, and use theory to explain each phenomenon.
Desegregation in a former "whites only" in South Africa
Author: Nomalanga Grootboom (2012)
Advisor: Christopher Dunbar
After decades of racially segregated education under apartheid in South Africa, the process of school desegregation commenced in 1990's with the view equalize education for all, and fostering better relationships and making available equal opportunities for all learners. The process of desegregation not has been without problems as it is apparent with race related incidents of racial conflicts and tension in certain desegregated schools. Despite the intentions of policy makers, educators, parents and the success of desegregated schooling needs to be seen through the experience of learners in such schools.
This study examines cross racial interaction of learners in a formerly "whites only" high school in South Africa and seeks to explore their day to day school life over a period of six months. Data were obtained from several sources including interviews with students, teachers, and administrators, focus group discussions, and observations. Key findings from the study revealed critical factors that impact the educational experiences of learners in this school, and how these can inform the process of educational change, as well as serve as useful indicators for planning and decision making. Lessons learned from this study provide an opportunity for further comparative studies with respect to the diverse aspects of the teaching-learning for diverse and monoculture learner in different settings of the new (post-apartheid) South African school system.
The effects of community factors on school participation in Turkey: A multilevel analysis
Author: Sedat Gumus (2012)
Advisor: Amita Chudgar
By using a recent, large-scale, and nationally representative data set, this study aims to explore the factors associated with school participation at both the primary and secondary levels in Turkey, with specific attention to the community-level factors. The school participation of children at both levels has been a prominent problem in Turkey, similar to many other developing countries. Therefore, numerous studies have been conducted to determine the factors associated with the school participation of boys and girls so far. Existing studies in Turkey, however, have extensively focused on the association between household-level factors and school participation, ignoring the role of the broader environment in which children live. This study, therefore, makes an important contribution to the current school participation literature in Turkey by taking socio-economic context variables into account with the multilevel modeling method. The findings highlight the importance of community/context factors in explaining school participation in Turkey.
The results of the study can help policymakers develop a systematic understanding of the relationship between socio-economic context and school participation, and make more appropriate decisions for improving school participation across the country. With respect to the household level factors, the results are in line with the previous literature on the relationship between household-level factors and the school participation of children in Turkey. I find that the mother's ability to speak Turkish and the household head's education are positively associated with school participation, while being female, being older, mothers' traditional gender role attitudes, household poverty, and residing in a large household are negatively associated with school participation. The results of the multilevel analyses, which are the key contribution of this study, show that the school participation of children in Turkey significantly varies between communities, but only for children aged 14-17. Specific community-level variables such as average adult education and the average gender role attitudes in the community, which I use as a proxy for social context, are found to be significantly associated with school participation, while economic variables, such as community poverty and urbanization, are not significantly associated with school participation. These results also mostly align with the results of existing studies in other developing countries and confirm the importance of social context in which children live for their educational involvement.
The influence a distributed leadership process has on high school novice teacher induction experiences
Author: Steven Delp (2012)
Advisor: Susan Printy
As more and more attention is directed towards public schools and the improvement of student academic achievement, one staggering finding keeps resurfacing in educational research: roughly half of all new teachers leave their current position within their first five years of entering the teaching profession. Although it is likely dozens of different professional and personal factors can influence such a choice, the literature suggests that building leadership has the potential to play a significant role in this decision. Thus, a few studies have examined the role principals play in novice teachers' induction experiences, yet such studies have primarily examined the issues at the elementary and middle school levels. Therefore, this study was originally designed to make a contribution to the literature by examining the influence the high school head principal has on novice teacher induction experiences in order to measure if the principal is a factor or not when a novice teacher is deciding whether or not to remain in his or her current teaching position. However, what the study evolved into was not limited to only an investigation of the principal's influence on induction, but rather an examination of the larger influence a distributed leadership process has on high school novice teachers' induction experiences.
In order to examine the influence leadership has on induction, a qualitative case study was designed to explore the beliefs and perceptions principals, assistant principals, department chairs, mentor teachers, and novice teachers had regarding school leadership's influence on the induction process.
Using volunteers who held these positions within two large suburban Michigan high schools, subject data was collected through semi-structured interviews. Interview data was then transcribed and analyzed through Spillane and Diamond's (2007) distributive perspective. What emerged from the data was the idea that a variety of high school building leaders are involved in the induction process. This distribution of leadership ranged from formal leaders such as head principals, assistant principals, and department chairs to informal leaders such as department peers.
The ways leadership is distributed within schools has been written about extensively, and many different models of distributed leadership have been presented in the literature; however, little attention has been paid to the influences a distributed leadership process has on specific leadership tasks. Therefore, this study will begin to fill the gap in the research in two ways: (1) the study will examine the direct and indirect influences distributed leadership has on the specific task of novice teacher induction, and (2) the study will examine this influence at the high school level.
Spending changes and scale economies when school districts consolidate services
Author: Thomas Deluca (2012)
Advisor: David Arsen
Educational policy makers continue to promote non-instructional service consolidation as one method to reduce operating costs through economies of scale . Unfortunately, there is essentially no empirical evidence on the size or source of cost savings associated with such measures. Using panel data from 2004-2010, this mixed methods study measures and finds few spending reductions associated with the consolidation of services from the local district to the Educational Service Agency (ESA). Although this is only one of several service consolidation models, (e.g., local districts sharing services with each other, local districts sharing services with municipalities, privatization of services), this study also finds no support for the prediction that consolidating non-instructional services other than the Business Office significantly increases instructional spending.
Next, I analyzed a case study where local district administrators encountered few employee or community objections to service consolidation, unlike the political ramifications of school district consolidation initiatives. In addition, local district superintendents and ISD administrators described service quality improvements, especially in the areas of accountability, compliance with regulations, and establishing proper accounting procedures.
The origination of Michigan's charter school policy: A historical analysis
Author: James Goenner (2012)
Advisor: Phillip Cusick
In 1993, Michigan Governor John Engler called the bluff of a political rival, which resulted in the nearly overnight elimination of Michigan's school funding system and created an opportunity for him to advance his vision for broader educational reform. This study illustrates how Engler functioned as a public policy entrepreneur to take advantage of this window of opportunity in order to advance his vision for a competitive educational marketplace. The idea of using choice and competition to create an educational marketplace had been commonly associated with attempts to privatize public education through vouchers. This posed a seemingly impossible hurdle for Engler, as Michigan's Constitution has a strict prohibition preventing public funds from being used by non-public schools.
Engler was an avid reader and was always searching for new ideas. So when charter schools began to emerge on the educational landscape as a way to withdraw the exclusive control schools districts held over the provision of public education and establish new public schools that could provide choice and competition to the extant system, Engler was intrigued.
Applying Schneider, Teske & Mintrom's (1995) theory of public policy entrepreneurs, the study shows how Engler performed the three essential functions that all entrepreneurs undertake to accomplish their goals in order to originate Michigan's charter school policy. Through elite interviews, the study uses the words of Engler and his allies to examine what they intended to accomplish and how they went about accomplishing their intentions and overcoming obstacles. The study also examines how Engler's actions as a policy entrepreneur relate to more mainstream theories of policy change like incrementalism (Lindblom, 1968), policy streams (Kingdon, 1995), institutionalism (March & Olsen, 1989), punctuated equilibrium (Baumgartner & Jones, 1993), and advocacy coalitions (Sabatier, 1988). The study concludes by asking Engler and his allies to look back and assess if the charter school policy they helped originate over 15 years earlier is accomplishing what they intended and fulfilling their expectations, in light of Cohen (1982) and Elmore's (1980b) notion that political leaders often become frustrated and fail in their attempts to change public education.
A critical analysis of multicultural service learning
Author: Elnora Scott (2012)
Advisor: Christopher Dunbar
Service learning is a widely accepted method for preservice teachers to gain knowledge about the communities they may someday serve. Critical multicultural service learning is commonly used to help preservice teachers explore issues of inequality, power, and manifestations of social reproduction in school systems, and is intended to foster awareness about culture, race, and diversity. Critics of service learning express concerns about the high expectations associated with the practice and argue that service learning may reinforce the attitudes and beliefs it is designed to eliminate. This study was designed to gain a better understanding of what positive or negative factors influenced preservice teachers' multicultural service learning experience, if preservice teachers were able to connect course context to their service learning experience, and what pedagogy had the greatest impact on their ability to make those connections. These dimensions were explored through quantitative analysis using survey data that was completed by 324 students who were enrolled in 18 Teacher Education 250 sections at Michigan State University. The results of this study indicate that preservice teachers benefit directly from their service learning experiences, and that multicultural service learning is a valuable tool for teacher educators. The results from this study can help teacher educators better understand the impact of multicultural service learning on preservice teachers' perception of power, race, injustice, diversity, and a desire or lack of desire to work in under resourced schools. The findings from this study support critical multiculturalism, critical pedagogy, and critical curricula in teacher education programs.
The impact of standards-based mathematics curricula implemented heterogeneously on high school student achievement
Author: Kari Selleck (2012)
Advisor: Susan Printy
This study examined the impact of standards-based mathematics curricula developed by the National Science Foundation, implemented within heterogeneously grouped, de-tracked high school classrooms. Four purposefully selected cohorts of high school students participated over a period of eight years. Outcome measures included two coursework measures (maximum difficulty level of math courses in which students enrolled and total number of math courses enrolled in during high school), and standardized state-level high school test results. Hierarchical regressions conducted on the sample as a whole showed no significant differences among the cohorts for the highest level of math course taken. The trends were that students in Cohort 2 (the first post-reform cohort) took slightly lower-level math courses than students in Cohort 1 (pre-reform), there was then a slight increase in Cohort 3, and finally, students in Cohort 4 took slightly higher-level math courses than students in Cohort 1. Regarding the number of courses taken, students in Cohorts 2 and 3 took fewer math courses than students in Cohort 1, and students in Cohort 4 took approximately the same number of math courses as students in Cohort 1.
The results for Cohorts 2 and 3 were significant. There were negative, significant differences, although slight, for standardized tests. In other words, students post-reform performed slightly but significantly worse on standardized tests than students pre-reform. Further hierarchical regressions on the highest and two lowest-achieving quartiles (based on incoming eighth-grade state test results) showed that students at the highest proficiency level within the three post-reform cohorts fared slightly worse than those in the pre-reform cohort (-1.35, -.84, -.67) for highest level math course with Cohort 2 significant (0.36). Highest achieving students performed worse on standardized tests with Cohort 3 and 4 significant (both at p=.001) Students in the lowest proficiency levels across all post-reform cohorts fared better than the pre-reform cohort in terms of level of math courses. Low-performing students in the fourth cohort (strongest treatment group) took math courses nearly two-thirds (.62) of a difficulty level higher than students in the pre-reform cohort, and this result was significant ( p = .010). New state math course-taking requirements along with changes in content and scale scores of the state assessments during this longitudinal study posed limitations to the study. Implications for national and state mathematics policy included.
Case Studies: African American Homeschoolers: Who are they and why do they opt to home school?
Author: Sheila Sherman (2012)
Advisor: Christopher Dunbar
Homeschooling is not an aberration but a phenomenon which many scholars believe to be associated with the most idiosyncratic individuals. As unconventional as this educational method may appear, the practice of educating children at home is one alternative to charter, public, private, or parochial school that has increased in its appeal in the African American community. To date, there are no large-scale longitudinal, empirical, or qualitative studies about the thousands of African American homeschoolers. The study by Fields-Smith & Williams (2009), found race, religion and home-school interactions as reasons for electing homeschooling. According to African American parents in this study, race, religion, culture, and teacher's low expectations are the most common reasons for opting to homeschool.
How principals and teachers respond to states' accountability systems
Author: Hyemi Lee (2013)
Advisor: Susan Printy
Since the 1990s, many states have started implementing standards-based reforms and developed their own accountability systems. Each state established academic content and performance standards, implemented test for all the students in grades 3 through 8 annually, and set up annual measurable objectives in reading and mathematics for districts, schools, and designated student subgroups within schools. The combination of states' accountability policies, such as performance standards, high school graduation exit exams, and the difference of between starting points and intermediate goals, may lead to the varying strength of the accountability systems in different states.
Although several studies focused on whether these differences are related to students' achievement and teachers' instruction, little is known about how principals respond to accountability systems, although principals make a big difference in teachers' instruction and students' academic outcomes. Therefore, it may be necessary to find the relationship between the strength of the states' accountability policies and principals' responses and the relationship between the strength of the states' accountability systems and teachers' responses.
The relationship between the strength of accountability systems (the stats' proficiency performance standards, the difference of starting point and intermediate goals (AMO strength) in states, and the high school graduation exit exams) and principals' responses (having influence on instruction and facilitating teachers' learning) were studied using 2-level hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) analysis based on 2007-2008 SASS, and the relationship between the strength of accountability systems and teachers' responses (teacher autonomy and their participation in professional development programs) were examined using 3-level hierarchical linear modeling analysis based on the same data set.
The analysis of two level HLM found the negative effects of states' accountability systems on principals responses. AMO strength was negatively related to principals' influence on instruction, and the high school graduation exit exams negatively affected principals' support of professional days before and during the school year. However, other states' accountability policies, the proficiency performance standards may not have any relationship with principals' influence on instruction and their facilitating teacher learning. Principals' professional development programs and school climate were related to principals' responses to states' accountability systems.
The findings of three level HLM showed that the proficiency performance standards increase teacher curriculum autonomy and their spending time for content professional development programs although AMOs strength and high school graduation school exit exams decreased them. Principals were an essential factor for teacher autonomy and their participation in professional development. School physical features were effective on teacher curriculum autonomy and their content professional development programs, while school climate were critical on teacher instructional autonomy and teachers' spending time in classroom management.
The implications of the 2003 Free Primary Education for girls' educational opportunities in Kenya: A case study of girls attending public schools in Kisii district, Western Kenya
Author: Sheba Onchiri (2013)
Advisor: Christopher Dunbar
Reforms aimed at meeting the Education for All (EFA) global initiative have been implemented in several developing countries in the recent past. One of the goals of this global reform is to increase access to schools for girls and children from low-income families who are considered educationally marginalized due to socio-cultural and poverty related factors. Proponents of EFA initiative emphasize that the education of women and girls in particular is inextricably linked to delayed early marriages, reduction of maternal deaths, and prevention of unsafe sex and its related consequences. It is on the backdrop of such global efforts that Kenya initiated the 2003 Free Primary Education (FPE) policy with the intent to increase access to schools for disadvantaged groups such as girls.
This study sought to explore the implications of the 2003 FPE policy for girls' educational opportunities in Kenya. Using a qualitative case study design, this study explored the schooling experiences of girls in one urban and one rural public primary school in Kisii district, Western Kenya. The study sought to answer the following questions: 1. What have been the schooling experiences of girls since 2003? 2. How has FPE policy influenced girls' participation and achievement in public primary schools? 3. What factors inhibit girls' participation and achievement in schools? 4. What factors enhance girls' participation and achievement in schools?
Data for this study were collected for a period of two months using face-to-face open-ended interviews. The respondents included two school principals (both males), two teachers (both females) and eight female students in two focus groups. Each focus group was composed of four girls. The findings indicate that because of the government removal of tuition fee and the provision of textbooks and writing materials, the 2003 Free Primary Education policy has improved the opportunities of girls' educational participation. However, hurdles such as teenage pregnancies and lack of, or shortage of classrooms, teachers, supplementary textbooks, toilets, and sanitary pads have posed a threat to girls' active participation. External factors such as poverty and negative attitude towards girls' education continue to inhibit girls from active schooling in the wake of the 2003 Free Primary Education policy.
This study presents a meaningful text that is vital to designing gender sensitive educational reforms and programs that can benefit girls especially those residing and schooling in rural and marginalized areas. Policymakers and implementers will find this study key in highlighting both the challenges and opportunities that can be exploited to address issues of poverty and socio-cultural practices that continue inhibiting girls from actively participating in education and thus, derailing the realization of Education for All (EFA) initiative and the 2003 FPE policy goals.
Success Stories: Biographical narratives of three women school principals in Kenya
Author: Damaris Moraa Mayienga (2013)
Advisor: Susan Printy
Studies indicate that women are poorly represented in school leadership across the various regions of the world particularly in developing countries. Most studies explain this underrepresentation in terms of external or institutional factors that have impeded women's advancement onto school leadership. Such factors include women's lack of preparation for school leadership, discriminative hiring procedures, hostile work environments, and familial demands on women's time. Studies of this nature tend to shed little light on the personal or internal factors that hinder or enhance women's attainment of school leadership. By internal factors I mean variables such as self-image and attitude towards leadership. My study focuses on the interaction between personal and institutional factors in shaping the experiences of women school leaders in Kenya. Using the biographical approach the study examines the impact of gender socialization (at home, school and in leadership) on the self-image of three successful high school women principals in Kenya and how their self-image contributed to their ascension onto school leadership. Alongside gender socialization and self-image, this study highlights the role of protective family capital that contributed to the women's development of self-discipline; a virtue that enabled them to sail above the constraints of the patriarchal society in which they grew up. Findings from this dissertation will complement studies that explain women underrepresentation in school leadership. Moreover, this study shows how gender relations interact with personal and institutional factors to shape women's experiences in Kenya.
Adult learners in Teacher education: Developing a sense of self as a teacher
Author: Lesa Louch (2013)
Advisor: John Dirkx
The purpose of this research was to gain an understanding of how returning adult learners, who were enrolled in a teacher preparation program within a career college, understood and made sense of their experiences in the program. This qualitative study centered on the experiences and stories of six adult learners who were student teaching while attending a career college.
The developmental nature of teacher identity was a central finding of this research. There were four major themes that highlighted the experiences of these adult learner pre-service teachers, which included: (1) disorienting experiences, (2) the importance of remembered individuals, (3) the influence of cooperating teachers (CTs), and (4) an emerging sense of identity as a teacher.
The findings suggest that adult learners perceived their experiences within the teacher education program as ones in which they developed a preliminary sense of identity as a teacher. The participants' construction and reconstruction of their identities were guided by their conceptualizations of what it meant to be a teacher and what it meant to teach. The findings of this study continue the discussion as to how adult learners make sense of their teacher preparation experiences.
Describing and explaining the personal and professional moral codes considered by administrators as they make decisions
Author:David Phillips (2013)
Advisor: Phillip Cusick
Every administrative action a principal will take is reduced to a decision. These decisions are made in an arena of overlapping moralities stemming from the organizational morality in concert with his/her personal morality. As Barnard stated, it is impossible to divorce one from the other. The purpose of this study was to attempt to describe and explain the personal and professional moral codes considered by a set of school administrators as they make decisions.
This descriptive study examines the contributing experiences of 25 principals' backgrounds influencing the development and establishment of their personal moral code. The study also considers the role professional codes contribute to principal decisions. To establish a theoretical foundation for the project, the study explores the views of Hebert Simon, Immanuel Kant and Henri Bergson. . The three views describe morality from differing perspectives: Simon from an organization view, Kant's perspective duty-based morality, and Bergson's description of Open and Closed morality. Correlations are drawn from scenarios shared by principals as to which theory decisions represented.
The majority of the principals in this study came from hard working, modest backgrounds, where upward mobility and a ferocious belief in the power of education are common themes in their upbringing. Principals consider themselves an important piece of the school organization. In reality, they are a good "fit" for leading the institution of schooling. The study concludes that in most circumstances, principals' personal morality and organizational morality mesh to support safety, learning and efficiency in managing schools.