Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Results for all: Identifying promising leadership practices that school administrators believe impact student performance in Pennsylvania
by Ramirez, Mary I., Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2011, 195; 3492298
Abstract (Summary)

Student achievement is one of the most challenging issues confronting the educational community. Educators explore this theme hands-on throughout their careers, politicians and policymakers invest in initiatives they think will make a difference, and communities often struggle to define themselves through the successes or failures of their schools. Whether it is looking at graduation rates, test scores, report card grades, attendance, safety issues, or behavioral health, student performance is analyzed and discussed from research journals to the media. Presently, with federal and state requirements in place for standards-based systems, there is an intense focus on accountability for high academic achievement for all children. Schools are struggling under tight timelines and limited budgets to assess student needs and implement policy changes that address, in particular, the need to improve outcomes among diverse student groups. The concept of "achievement gaps" has been emphasized as one of the major challenges existing today in PreK-12 education.

This dissertation study investigated the relationship of school leadership and student achievement. Using a mixed-method design, two questions of inquiry were explored: (1) How are schools that demonstrate significant achievement in 8th grade reading with diverse student populations identified? (2) How do school and district leaders believe they influence student performance in these schools? The goal was to identify schools where diverse student populations were making significant progress in reading on eighth grade state assessments, and then learn from the administrators of those schools what leadership practices they believed were most effective.

This research examined the 8th grade reading performance of one state's schools with an emphasis on students who are racially and ethnically diverse, economically disadvantaged, who have disabilities, or who do not speak English as a first language. This study analyzed pre-existing test score data through value-added analysis and data reduction and selection efforts. The semi-structured interviews offered thoughtful perspectives from school leaders who had experienced successful student results. The research literature points out that multiple factors contribute to achievement, and this dissertation study validates that therefore multiple solutions may be required. This study provides promising leadership practices school leaders can use to impact student performance. It is anticipated the findings from this research will provide useful insights into leadership practices and teaching and learning efforts for special populations.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: DeFlaminis, John A.
Commitee:
School: University of Pennsylvania
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 73/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Educational leadership, Middle School education, Multicultural Education
Keywords: Achievement gap, Leadership, Pennsylvania, Promising practices, School administrators, Special populations
Publication Number: 3492298
ISBN: 9781267108562
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