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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Small school, big gains: A case study of urban high school reform
by Salazar, Alma, Ed.D., California State University, Long Beach, 2012, 160; 3530678
Abstract (Summary)

For the past 2 decades, considerable attention has been paid to urban high school reform. Increasingly, educators, policymakers, community, and civic leaders recognize that high schools in the United States need to be redesigned and reinvented. For more than a decade, small schools have been a growing trend in secondary school reform. Since its inception, the restructuring of large comprehensive high schools to small autonomous schools has shown promise.

The purpose ofthis study was to explore the factors that contributed toward improved student performance outcomes at one urban high school within Los Angeles Unified School District that showed considerable gains in both student engagement and increased student performance due in large part to its conversion to a small school. The study shed light into the faculty's experiences on the attributes, challenges, and pitfalls of implementing meaningful secondary reform.

In examining the experiences of the faculty, the study illuminated several findings. First, the faculty employed many of the practices identified by leading small schools researchers as effective tenets of small school reform. Namely, advisories, school size, and parental involvement, which supported sustained continuous relationships between the faculty, students, and their peers. The faculty's experiences corroborated previous studies where school size, personalization, and continuous relationships were influencing factors in creating a positive school culture that supported student and teacher engagement.

Secondly, the research findings indicate that instructional strategies coupled with structural design elements provided a strong foundation to help student achieve. In this study, the research findings revealed that structure and instruction emerged as contributing factors to improving student performance. While research has demonstrated that structural changes alone do not achieve the desired improvements in academic performance, this case study further reinforced the need to have both conditions present to achieve the desired academic results.

Lastly, the research findings also illuminated a set of intrinsic factors, such as active teacher engagement and a commitment to high standards; that combined with structural and instructional approaches were the driving force behind improved student performance.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Murray, John
School: California State University, Long Beach
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 74/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Secondary education
Keywords: High school reform, Improved student performance, Small schools, Urban education
Publication Number: 3530678
ISBN: 978-1-267-70362-0
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