Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name



Educational Leadership and Policy

First Advisor

Michael F. Addonizio


Legislators have implemented an accountability system in an effort to increase school quality for all students. Policymakers assume that rewards and sanctions, based on results from high-stakes testing, can improve student achievement. The accountability system does not consider environmental factors that impact student outcomes. This study examines student, teacher, school and district determinants and their impact on student achievement, school designation, and school ranking. Data was collected from 333 elementary (K-5) schools in 56 public school districts and 18 charter schools in three counties: Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne. Two research questions were developed for this study.The first research question examined which factors predict the percentage of students scoring at proficient or advanced levels on the reading and mathematics MEAP tests. Multiple linear regression analysis was used to model the relationship between the independent variables and the dependent variable, test proficiency. The second research question examined factors that predict whether an elementary school will be classified as a reward, focus, or priority school. Multinomial logistic regression was used to determine which of the independent variables could predict the dependent variable, school classification. In alignment with the research, This study demonstrated that schools with a higher percentage of economically disadvantaged students are less likely to produce students scoring proficient in reading and mathematics, less likely to have a higher school ranking, less likely to be a reward school, and more likely to be a priority school. As confirmed by the research, this study documented that an increase in percentage of special needs students, inexperienced teachers, and pupil-teacher ratio negatively impacted student achievement. Conversely, an increase in instructional expenditures, revenue per pupil, and foundation allowance increased student achievement. Michigan’s school accountability system lacks validity because of the predictability of a school’s academic proficiency, ranking, or designation label. Until policymakers address environmental factors, specifically poverty and lack of adequate resources, students will continue to fail. Socioeconomic status is the most powerful predictor of school outcomes and should be addressed through social policy and education reform. In the absence of such reform, sanctioning and rewarding schools are not effective strategies for improving student achievement.