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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Jazlin Ebenezer

Abstract

SCHOOL IMPROVEMENTS AND STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT:

TEACHERS' CONCEPTIONS AND PRACTICES IN AN URBAN SCHOOL COMMUNITY

by

JENDAYI JOHARI GARDNER

May 2012

Advisor: Dr. Jazlin Ebenezer

Major: Curriculum & Instruction

Degree: Doctor of Philosophy

This mixed-methods study is represented by three articles that examine student achievement. The articles were developed based on the following purposes: (1) to examine teachers' conceptions about student achievement; (2) to examine teacher practices for school improvement that reflects elements of a reform model; and (3) to examine teachers' conceptions about school improvement challenges. Individual interviews were administered to examine teachers' conceptions about student achievement and school improvement challenges. The conceptions were then converted to excerpts that were grouped into common categories. Common descriptive categories were developed using the methodological framework, phenomenography. To examine teacher practices that reflect elements of a reform model, the researcher used classroom observations. The classroom observations were analyzed using a Classroom Observation Protocol that determined the frequency of teacher practices that reflect elements of the 90/90/90 Model. The study also examined MEAP test scores using the chi-squared goodness-of-fit test to compare the 2009 and 2010 results.

To address the first purpose of the study, three descriptive categories were revealed based on the data. The three categories were: (1) analyzing student achievement data to develop interventions; (2) a model to decrease disruptive behavior; and (3) parent involvement to support children's learning. To address the second purpose of the study, the results revealed that of the five elements, teacher practice displayed three elements: (1) the focus on academic achievement; (2) the choice of curriculum; and (3) the frequent use of multiple assessments. The third purpose of the study was addressed by the emergence of three descriptive categories from the data. The three categories are as follows: (1) student transiency throughout the school year; (2) staff restructure and transfers to different schools; and (3) lack of parent involvement in school and at home. In addition, the results of the chi-squared test revealed a significant difference between the observed (2010) and expected (2009) MEAP Test scores.

The following implications emerged from the results of the study: (1) a practical reform model for school improvement that is anchored in a theory of curriculum can be used as a lens to view student achievement; (2) school districts that incorporate teachers' conceptions about student achievement are able to make effective curriculum-based decisions; (3) school districts that identify the intra-and inter-variations of teacher conceptions enable schools to address challenges with a common mindset; (4) in order for schools to improve student achievement, all five elements of the reform model should be practiced by teachers; and (5) teachers' conceptions of school improvement challenges should be considered by educational leaders during the decision-making process.