Factors Influencing Greatness in Economically-Challenged Minority Schools

Presented to the Whitlowe R. Green College of Education Prairie View A & M University In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy Presented by Margaret Curette Patton Dissertation Committee Douglas S. Hermond, PhD., Chair Camille Gibson, PhD., Member David E. Herrington, PhD., Member William A. Kritsonis, PhD., Member March 2009

Purpose of Study
To explore the universal distinguishing factors that exist among high achieving economically challenged minority (ECM) schools compared to similar acceptable performing schools in the state of Texas.

Problem Statement
The gap between economically-challenged populations of students and their more affluent counterparts continue to exist.
100

Academic scores of minority groups, namely African and Hispanics, continue to fall well below Caucasian students.
100 90

Texas has not been able to eliminate the gaps between minority students and other more affluent sub-groups.

90 80 70 60 50 40

• African

American •Hispanic •White •Econ. Challenged

80 70 60 50 40 30

5th Grade TAKS Scores

11th Grade TAKS Scores

30

20
20

10
10 0

March 2006
M a th 2 0 0 6

March 2007
M a th 2 0 0 7

0

March 2006
M a th 2 0 0 6

March 2007
M a th 2 0 0 7

-Texas Education Agency 2007 State AEIS Report

Significance of the Study
Opportunity for the education system to improve the accessibility and quality of education for its entire people and to enrich their future; Motivation for school leaders to transform acceptable ECM schools into self-sustaining great schools; Avenue for children of all backgrounds to receive a high quality of education.

Research Questions
1. What universal distinguishing characteristics predict that economically-challenged minority (ECM) schools will be recognized or exemplary in the state of Texas? 2. What practices associated with the transition from elementary to middle schools are predictive of student achievement in high performing economically-challenged minority (ECM) feeder groups?

Limitations
• No high schools met the combined criteria for being part of the sample. • The leadership team in the selected schools may have experienced some turnover over the past four years. • Feeder groups are similar but not identical in size and demographics due to the varying populations of the high achieving ECM schools. • A small number of years of data were used for the study (Post-TAKS years).

Limitations

continued

• The sample was selected based on the final accountability rating rather than specific indicators like attendance, drop-out rate, and subgroup test scores. • The final sample of schools was selected from the same educational Region in Texas. • The application of all of the components of the Good to Great corporate model may not be easily and fully replicated in the school system.

Assumptions
• • Some students fall into both the minority and economically challenged groups. Although there are differences between specific minority groups of students, this study will group African American and Hispanic students into one group that will be referred to as a minority group.

Definitions
Comparison schools: Schools that are similar in demographic data: percentage of economically disadvantaged and minority populations; school size; and campus location, but different in academic achievement scores. For example, “matched pairs” was the terminology used in the Arizona Study – schools that are alike in most ways, yet different in the performance measurement that is of interest (Waits, et al., 2006).

Definitions
Economically-challenged student: A student who is eligible for the National School Lunch Program/free/reduced-price school lunch: (a) eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch and Child Nutrition Program; (b) from a family with annual income at or below the federal poverty line (e.g. annual income for a family of three is less than $22,880); (c) eligible for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families or other public assistance; and (d) eligible for benefits under the Food Stamp Act of 1977 (McMillion & Roska, 2007).

Definitions
Economically-challenged Minority School (ECM): a school with at least 50% low income, minority (African American or Hispanic) students (Jerald, 2001).

Definitions
Minority school status: A measure of the level of historically disadvantaged minority student groups being served in a school. Low minority schools have less than 5% disadvantaged minority students. Medium minority schools have 5 to 50% disadvantaged minority students. High minority schools have over 50% disadvantaged minority students (Shettle, et al., 2005).

Conceptual Framework
Good to Great™ – Jim Collins Input Principles
Stage 1: Disciplined People Level 5 Leadership First Who, Then What Stage 2: Disciplined Thought Confront the Brutal Facts The Hedgehog Concept Stage 3: Discipline Action Culture of Discipline Technology Accelerators

Output Results Delivers Superior Performance relative to its mission Makes a Distinctive Impact on the communities it touches Achieves Lasting Endurance beyond any leader, idea or setback

Visit www.jimcollins.com to take the Good to Great™ survey.

Conceptual Framework
Good to Great™ – Jim Collins

Disciplined People •Level 5 Leaders are self-effacing, quiet, reserved, and even shy. These leaders are a blend of personal humility and professional will. •The great companies made sure to hire the right people for the right positions (First Who then What) before setting a vision or creating the strategy of how to reach the company’s goal.

Conceptual Framework
Good to Great™ – Jim Collins

Disciplined Thought •Each good to great company maintained unwavering faith that they would prevail in the end, no matter the difficulties, while always confronting the brutal facts of its current reality. •The Hedgehog Concept reflects a deep understanding of those things that individuals are deeply passionate about, what they can be the best in the world at, and what drives their economic engine.

Conceptual Framework
Good to Great™ – Jim Collins

Disciplined Action In the culture of discipline, disciplined people with disciplined thought combined with an ethic of entrepreneurship yields great performance. Technology accelerators were found to have never been a primary role in achieving excellence, but when carefully selected assisted in transforming companies.

Making Literature Connections
What does Good to Great™ have to do with Economically-Challenged Minority Schools?

The literature on high-performing ECM schools reveals…
INPUT FACTORS
Disciplined People Collaborative leadership Purpose-driven Staff Disciplined Thought Address Student Need Clear vision Curriculum Focus Data Driven High Expectations/No Excuses Streamlined Activities Discipline Action Assessment for improvement Distributed Accountability Learning Communities

OUTPUT RESULTS High levels of proficiency among students Continued gains in achievement; Effective and enduring practices and policies are widespread.

Output Results in 2007 Texas Accountability Rating Terminology Recognized Exemplary

TAKS (Met Standard)

Reading/ELA Math Writing Science Social Studies SDAA II All Subjects Completion Rate I

75% 75% 75% 75% 75% 70% 85.0%

90% 90% 90% 90% 90% 90% 95.0%

Annual Dropout Rate

0.7%

0.2%

Research Procedure
Schools selected for the study met the following sampling criteria…
1. Received an Exemplary or Recognized rating for at least two of the four years from 2004-2007. Each middle school had to be associated with an elementary school that received a rating of Recognized or Exemplary within the same years. 2. Consisted of at least a 50% economically disadvantaged population; 3. Consisted of at least a 50% minority (African American and Hispanic) population. 4. Considered a small, medium or large campus; and 5. Located in or near one of the three largest urban areas in Texas – Houston, San Antonio, or Dallas/Fort Worth.

Comparison Schools
The comparison schools…
– Received an Acceptable rating under the accountability rating system for Texas public schools from 2004-2007. – Are associated with an elementary school with an Acceptable rating from 2004-2007. – Met criteria numbers 2-5 on the previous slide.

Why these groups?
2006 Accountability State Summary Report – Texas Education Agency
Not Rated, 8.7% Unacceptable, 3.6% Exemplary, 7.1%

Recognized, 35.5%

Acceptable, 45.1%

Sample
School Total Econ Dis. Min. 2004 2005 2006 2007
High Performing ELEM1 Sixth -1 MID2 MID1 Comparison CELEM1 CMID1/2 653 1112 1299 938 696 1090 81.3 68.9 67.9 68.3 73.7 61.7 96.2 88.5 83.7 93.1 96.5 98.8 E R R R A A E R A A A A E R R R A A E R R A A A

High Performing

ELEM3 Fifth-Sixth3 MID3

891 949 971 799 780 971 613 841 591 878 839 958

88.8 90.8 86.5 92.4 87.3 79.9 83 92.2 90.5 79.2 81.9 71.1

98 95.9 96 98.2 97.6 96.4 88.9 95.1 90.2 85.3 80.7 77.7

E R R A A A R R R R A A

E A R A A A R R A A A A

E A R A A A R R R R A A

E R R A A A E A A R A A

Comparison

CELEM3 Cfifth-Sixth3 CMID3

High Performing

ELEM4 MID4 ELEM5 MID5

Comparison

CELEM4/5 CMID4/5

Participants
Why Houston Area/Region IV? • Over 50% of the schools located in Houston area • High performing elementary school feeding into high performing middle schools Region IV of Texas • 12 Campuses • 3 Districts • 60 Staff – Five participants on each campus include:
• • Administrators Teachers/Department Heads

Instrumentation
• Researcher used as “instrument of choice” – (Lincoln & Guba, 1985)
– Interest in processes at ECM schools – Interest in deep understanding

• Objectivity
– Journal (Gibson, 2002) – Monitor effects of interview on researcher

• Transcribe data within two-three hours of interview

Data Collection
Triangulation
• On-line responses to interviews (Survey Monkey) w/follow-up conversations when necessary • Private one-on-one interviews • Review of news clippings, campus publications, and district website

Sample Interview Questions
Research Question 1 2. What do you see as the top five factors that contributed to or caused the upward shift in performance during the years 20042007 (years since TAKS)? Now let’s return to those five factors, and I’d like you to allocate a total of 100 points to those factors, according to their overall importance to school improvement (total across all five factors equals 100 points).

3.

Research Question 2 18. Describe any activities or communications that goes on between your feeder schools that assist students in the school community with academics and/or transitions from one school to another.

Sample Coding System
• • • Coding matrix contained key themes from the Good to Great Model Responses were coded based on categories. Example categories… – Coding Category 1 – Leadership: Who are the leaders? What are the characteristics of the leaders? Is leadership distributed to others? – Coding Category 2 – Recruiting and Retaining Highly Qualified: What are the hiring practices? Is there collaboration before hiring? What types of qualities are looked for in staff? Is there autonomy in hiring?

Data Analysis
APPENDIX E - CODING MATRIX – HIGH-PERFORMING SCHOOLS Freq. Responses
Discipline d People

Significant Quotes

Category 1: Leadership

Disciplined People

Category 2: Recruiting and Retaining Staff

Displaying the Findings - Chart
APPENDIX F – Checklist Matrix: Predictors of Recognized or Exemplary ECM Schools
Category Level 5 Leadership Exemplary/Recognized Campus Acceptable Campus

Disciplined People

First Who Then What

Displaying the Findings - Narrative
Transform the data into consistent and easy to understand chunks which are: •Descriptive •Explanatory •Comparative

Respondents
• 11 of 12 ECM schools participated
– 87% of staff from exemplary/recognized schools – 85% of staff from acceptable schools

• 43 participants
– 26 teacher leaders – 17 campus administrators

• 19 participated in on-line interview only • 13 participated in face-to-face interview only • 11 participated in both online and face-to-face

Performance Factors
Top factors that contribute to school performance between 2004-2007…

Category

Exemplary/Recognized (2400 points)

Acceptable (1900 points) Leadership (16.3%) Teamwork (3.7%) Staff (10.9%) Data Use (2.4%) Curriculum & Instruction (15.8%) Intervention (2.4%)

Disciplined People Leadership (8.1%) Teamwork (11.8%) Staff (11.8%) Disciplined Thought Data Use (5.6%) Curriculum & Instruction (15%)

Disciplined Action Intervention (12.1%)

Distinguishing Factors
Overall Importance (%)
18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0
Leadership Teamwork Data Use Intervention

Recognized/Exemplary

Acceptable

Distinguishing Factors

Leadership
Collins (2001)…
The leadership in the Good to Great companies knew the key to lasting success. “Those who build great companies understand that the ultimate throttle on growth for any great company is not …competition, or products. It is one thing above all others: the ability to get and keep enough of the right people (p. 54).”

Literature Review…
Leadership was a strong indicator of strong performance in high achieving ECM schools (Waits et al., 2006; Williams, 2005; Barr & Parrett, 2007). “The research evidence consistently demonstrates that the quality of leadership determines the motivation of teachers and the quality of teaching in the classroom.” (Harris, et. al., 2006, p. 121)

Leadership Findings
Exemplary/Recognized Schools “Strong leadership was the key that led the way for success. The energy and ‘can do’ attitude filtered down from the top to the teachers and then to the students.” “The principal supported the teachers with what they were doing in the classroom. She counted on the teachers to use their professionalism to do what was needed and didn’t dictate to them how they should teach. The administrators and teachers collectively “paid attention to the real needs of the staff and students. They were aware of the subtle forces that shaped the daily life of our staff.”

Leadership Findings
Acceptable Schools “Our principal worked with department chair people to conduct needs assessments and to analyze data.” “The top leader did not hold teachers accountable and there was too much teacher autonomy.” “Leadership was confusing. There was no articulation of a clear vision or plan of action. Bad decisions were often made.” “There is less administrative involvement in daily campus routines…and don’t have positive contact with teachers and students.”

Teamwork
Collins (2001)… “The good-to-great leaders understood this…,creating a culture wherein people had a tremendous opportunity to be heard and, ultimately, for the truth to be heard (p. 74).” Literature Review… Trimble (2002) found that high performing, high poverty schools have built-in criteria for making decisions. These procedures are crucial when numerous issues attempt to cause distractions that could take the campus off track from their goals.

Teamwork Findings
Exemplary/Recognized Schools “Collaboration is the key to any campus becoming successful. Our teachers have really come together to make our school successful. Relationships and trust are of high importance to our staff. This makes the collaboration process more cohesive.” “The teachers felt that their input was valuable. Teachers felt comfortable sharing ideas, plans, activities, and tests. The environment was a learning one.” “In addition, our principal has scheduled a common planning time for grade level teachers to meet to plan lessons, develop assessments, and talk about student data.”

Teamwork Findings
Acceptable Schools

“There is not enough organized and/or focused teaming and planning time (data driven/strategies). Planning and teaming time is not focused. Teachers do not bring success stories to share , ideas, or concerns, but use time to gripe and/or complain about students, other teachers, parents or administration.” “The school collaborated with its stakeholders prior to making any decision. Several meetings and mock sessions were held on developing goals.”

Data Driven Decisions
Collins (2001)… “When you start with an honest and diligent effort to determine the truth of your situation, the right decisions often become self evident. It is impossible to make good decisions without infusing the entire process with an honest confrontation of the brutal facts (p. 88).” Literature Review… “Focus on the needs of the individual child as they look at achievement per classroom, per teacher, per student. This approach unmasks poor performance and forces everyone at the school to take responsibility for student performance.” (Waits, 2006, p. 6).

Data Driven Decisions Findings
Exemplary/Recognized Schools

“Vertical teams reviewed the AEIS report, INOVA, ADM data, and the Campus Improvement Plan. Professional Learning Communities used assessment data and tracked reading levels of students.” “In 2007, our principal initiated professional learning communities to allow teachers additional time to disaggregate data and make instructional decisions.”

Data Driven Decisions Findings
Exemplary/Recognized Schools

“Looking at data and training teachers to look at data has also been a shift in our thinking and ultimately to our success. Data drives instruction. Our teachers are trained to look at data, and collaborate on the results to decide what the next step is in aligning our curriculum to meet and differentiate for student needs.”

Data Driven Decisions Findings
Acceptable Schools “Our principal worked with department chair people to conduct needs assessments and to analyze data. Bi-monthly meetings are held to monitor progress and to adjust strategies as needed.” “Our campus also lacked a data-driven decision making process. Teachers all gave routine test on Friday, but did not use the data to impact instruction. They never looked back at the results. They just moved on to the next concept. The basic response was ‘my students did not do well’ rather than ‘I didn’t teach that concept well’.”

Student Intervention
Collins (2001)… According to Collins (2001), the more an organization knows what it can excel in; it eliminates those things that are not being productive, and concentrates on those things that provide opportunities for growth. Literature Review… “In the ‘built to suit’ paradigm, high achieving schools went beyond the big picture that standards posed to focusing on the individual performance of each child. In essence, what was present was a vital cycle of instruction, assessment, and intervention.” (Waits, 2006, p. 7)

Student Intervention Findings
Exemplary/Recognized Schools “Struggling students work with instructional specialists in reading and math to receive extra help in a small group setting. Other interventions used are computer assisted instruction, mentoring, and scheduled tutorial or enrichment times, both during the school day and after school.” Another teacher listed several interventions, “Extended day, extended year, pullouts, use of programs within the school day such as PLATO and READ 180, and double blocking classes are used for students who are not being successful in math.”

Student Intervention Findings
Acceptable Schools “Students were grouped in below expectation, met expectation, and exceed expectation. These results were used for tutorials.” “An organized intervention plan” was one of the top five factors that contributed to their academic performance.

What sparked a transition?
Exemplary/Recognized Schools

•Changes were sparked by the increased availability of data and the need to focus in certain areas. •These schools cited specific subject areas, grade levels, and student groups in need of attention. •Change was initiated by greater expectations and a demand for collaboration in working as a team accountable for increasing student performance.

What sparked a transition?
Exemplary/Recognized Schools

“Data initiatives were undertaken to improve student performance. Status quo was not accepted. There was a school-wide culture to excel.” “When the science TAKS test first came about, this kept our school from becoming exemplary, so a conscious decision was made to focus on science. Our goal is for all students to pass to the best of their ability.” “We haven’t made a major transition. We just looked closer at what we were already doing, and decided that we needed to work smarter, not harder.”

What sparked a transition?
Acceptable Schools

•Change in leadership and high teacher turnover were the major impetus causing a conscious transition in the operation of the school. •District initiatives and academic concerns were major reasons for beginning a transition.

What sparked a transition?
Acceptable Schools

“Teachers left based on academic problems, discipline problems, principal/teacher relationships, and principal/community relationships.” “In 2005, accountability as well as administrative changes, i.e. new superintendent and new principal” sparked the transition. “The district became increasingly involved in our day to day routine. Tests were provided. In Language Arts, layered lesson plans were introduced.” “When classroom observations showed that teachers were still teaching using TAAS strategies, we began disaggregating data often and used it to begin the critical thinking process.”

How are decisions made?
Exemplary/Recognized Schools

“The school went about making decisions through collaboration. We have a Site Based Management Team that consists of teachers, parents, and administrators, as well as community members. Any major decision is brought before this team to discuss and decide. That information is then brought before the rest of the campus to get feedback.” “Student needs were at the core of all decisions. Grade level teams addressed needs of individual students. School wide initiatives were addressed through grade level, vertical teams and the SBDM (sitebased decision making team).” “Our principal, met with vertical team leaders, specialists, and teacher leaders on the campus to create new strategies. She also studied success stories from other successful campuses.”

How are decisions made?
Acceptable Schools

“The school collaborated with its stakeholders prior to making any decisions. Several meetings and mock sessions were held on developing goals.” “As the principal, I could not do it all on my own. We developed a school-wide decision making process of looking at data. We decided to put the data up-front and let it guide all of our decisions.” “The principal made decisions solely…did not accept recommendations from administrative team. There was no collaboration.” “There was a shell of a Campus Building Leadership Team that held meetings twice a month. Everything looked good on paper. Administrators began doing classroom walk-throughs (CWTs). The data collected from the CWTs showed that we were a “seat work” campus. We collected data, but there was no followup as to what to do next. Decisions were ultimately made by the principal, dean of instruction, and associate principal.”

Confidence Score
Level of confidence in campus decisions

On a scale of 1-10

(10 meant great confidence in good decisions.)

Exemplary/Recognized = 8.82
“10. Decisions were not made arbitrarily. They were based on solid research and student need.” “10. I knew the principal and the teachers on the site based team had the children's best interest in mind.” “10. Leadership”

2 Acceptable Schools = no score 3 Acceptable Schools = 7.85
“8, I think that having the school all on the same page is a good move. I trust our principal and her leadership. I feel like I have a say in what we do.” “8, we were not shooting in the dark. We let the data guide us. We also researched any program or plan we considered implementing.”

Participant Perceptions of Differences in School Groups
Exemplary/Recognized
What are they missing?

Acceptable
What do they have that we don’t?

Strong leadership Data Driven Collaborative environment Student Interventions Self-disciplined teachers High expectations “Whatever it takes” attitude Parent/Community involvement Trusting/Positive climate District support Student needs are priority Caring relationships

Builds leadership capacity Effective use of data Collaboration Student Intervention Committed teachers High expectations “No excuses” attitude Parent involvement Campus culture District support Monitoring Play accountability game Different communities Only a few percentage points

Research Question 2
What practices associated with the transition from elementary to middle schools are predictive of student achievement in high performing economically-challenged minority (ECM) feeder groups?

Feeder Group Behavior
Exemplary/Recognized •Systematic and comprehensive communication •Partner school •Curriculum Focus
–Meetings to share best practices –Subject area networks –Specialist meetings –Principal meetings

Acceptable •Beginning/End of Year transfer of records •Fine Arts communication •International Baccalaureate and AVID meetings •Principal visit elementary school

Stages in School Improvement Process
Stages in School Improvement Process

Group’s needs are known, but effective action not in place. Staff training on best practices.

“Whatever it takes” attitude. Individual student needs addressed immediately.

Transitional

Transforming
School Improvement Stage

Transparent

Transitional Stage
Schools in the transitional stage had: •Constant transition in leadership and teacher turnover that shifted direction of school. •Transitions mandated by the districts to address the need for curriculum alignment and accountability with no training. •Staff members who blame external circumstances for its academic status.

Transitional

Transforming School Improvement Stage

Transparent

Transforming Stage
Schools in the transforming stage had: •A collaborative environment. •Ongoing staff development that addressed the needs of the campus.
Transitional Transforming School Improvement Stage Transparent

•Staff that lacked the full commitment and the complete faith that students could be successful, no matter the circumstances.

Transparent Stage
Schools in the transparent stage had: •Stakeholders who were well-informed of the goals and vision of the school. •Staff and students who worked collaboratively to establish, monitor, and reach goals. •The “no excuses” attitude that permeated the schools, staff, and students.
Transitional Transforming School Improvement Stage Transparent

Leadership
Transitional Stage:
• • • • • • Principal sole leader and decision maker Few expectations shared with staff or students Reviewed data, but little or no monitoring of supposed goals Staff members hesitant about taking on leadership responsibilities ‘Blame the leader’ thinking Leader blamed the poor attitude and knowledge base of staff for academic performance Leaders reacted to change when necessary. Student behavior/discipline focus

Transparent Stage:
• • • • • • • • • Shared leadership Leadership expectations filtered throughout the school Hands-on, action oriented leaders Took action rather that being reactionary Effective school functionality in principal’s absence Two-way trust between leaders and staff Believed student performance resulted from hardworking staff and students Blamed self for certain academic performance delays Supported students and staff.

• •

Leadership
Transitional Stage:
Transparent Stage:

“The leadership focus was not on academic/curriculum …dealing with discipline issues (drugs). Top leader did not hold teachers accountable.”

“We had a principal that wasn’t afraid to try things. She supported her teachers in every way. As long as you did your job, she was your best cheerleader.” “Our leaders are aware of the subtle forces that shaped the daily life of our staff.”

Teamwork
Transitional Stage:
• • • • Constant turnover of staff Limited teacher involvement Mandates distributed at meetings Ineffective campus decision making team

Transparent Stage:
• • • • • • • • Environment of trust Each person’s input valuable All accountable for school’s goals Strategic planning (custodian to principal) Decision-making meeting (all represented) Common planning time for grade level subject area teachers – plan, create assessment, and reflect on data Constant dialogue based on current data Everyone familiar with campus processes and school improvement plan

Teamwork
Transitional Stage: Transparent Stage:

“There was a shell of a Campus Building Leadership Team that held meetings twice a month. Everything looked good on paper.”

“The teachers felt that their input was valuable. Teachers felt comfortable sharing ideas, plans, activities, and tests. The environment was a learning one.”

Data Driven Decisions
Transitional Stage:
• • • • • No ownership of teaching and learning process Created a paper trail to prove mandates were accomplished No modeling or support for instructional mandates Individual lesson planning and assessment No standard process or “check and balance” on curriculum, instruction, and assessment Understood need to gather data; no effective use

Transparent Stage:
• • • • • • • • • • Achievement per child per classroom Teachers plan, assess, and discuss student data Common assessment aligned with curriculum Assessment given often Data drove instruction Administrators monitored instruction Reflective practices used to monitor student and teacher practices Checkpoint meetings to assess school’s goals and vision Academic data plastered all over campus Collaborative effort to ensure student academic performance

Data Driven Decisions
Transitional Stage: Transparent Stage:

“Teachers say, ‘My students didn’t do well rather than I didn’t teach the concept well.’”

One principal responded that it was her responsibility to “monitor student progress (and)… remove the uncommitted (teachers).”

Student Intervention
Transitional Stage:
• • Interventions were group oriented (one size fits all) Worst teachers in charge

Transparent Stage:
• • • • • • Wide variety of interventions Pinpoint child’s need for intervention Analyze data down to objective level Intervention individualized, flexible, and different from original instruction Team decides on proper intervention “No-excuses” approach to ensure student success

Student Intervention
Transitional Stage:
Transparent Stage:

“The principal put the worst teacher with the students that have the greatest need.”

“A student entered the school from another district with what seemed to be behavior problems. Within the school’s process, the student was evaluated and found to struggle with numeration, subtraction, multiplication, and division skills. An intervention plan that included 20 minutes a day with the math specialist was created to assist with the deficient areas. The student began feeling more successful causing a positive attitude and behavior shift.”

Conclusion
• High performing ECM schools are different from acceptable schools in the following areas:
– – – – – – – Leadership (shared) Teamwork (collaboration) Data driven decisions Immediate and individual student intervention Culture of transparency “No excuses” attitude Focus on needs of each student

Value of Study
The value of this study resides in the hands of educators and policymakers and their willingness to apply the factors revealed to be the most effective and predictive of successful ECM schools.

Things That Principals of High Performing Schools Do Differently 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Define and articulate goals; Make data (multiple sources) driven decisions; Inspire a “whatever it takes” attitude; Focus on students; Assist students in need, immediately; Create a collaborative environment; Supply necessary training for staff; Provide leadership opportunities to staff; Support and value staff; and Demand high expectations from everyone.

Recommendations
Leadership Training

1. Leadership Training
• Redefine leadership • Turnaround strategies • Relationships • Building leadership capacity • Real-environment training

Recommendations
High Quality Educators

2. High Quality Educators
• Hire based on quality and qualifications • Strong collaboration between districts and campuses • Infuse teaching into hiring process • Involve campus educators in hiring process Implement incentives • Higher pay • Leadership opportunities

Recommendations
Deeper Understandings via Data

3. Deeper Understandings via Data
• Integrate methodical, collaborative, and reflective approach to utilizing data
• • • • • Create various forms of data Analyze data to determine student need Utilize data to inform instruction Immediately, determine and provide student intervention based on data Monitor and adjust teaching and learning process Common planning time during the day Monitor and adjust process

Allocate time
• •

Recommendations
Transparent Organizations

4. Transparent Organizations
• Create an accountability culture
• • • • • • “No-excuses” mentality Collaborative decision-making Non-existent walls between people Trust in each other Value differences of opinion No Secrets Staff Development on each portion of the school improvement process Leaders as strong models of transparency

Integrate Training
• •

Suggestions for Future Research
The depth of this study could have been enhanced by adding an observation component. Future researchers could select one high performing school along with a comparison school to conduct observations of instruction, decision making meetings, faculty meetings, and other campus activities. The additional annotations could provide a more thorough understanding of each of the areas reported in the findings. Additionally, gathering data through student interviews could have provided another perspective.

Suggestions for Future Research
• Several participants in the high performing schools mentioned having a “no-excuses” or “whatever it takes” attitude. Future researchers may want to look at how these mentalities are developed in ECM schools.

Suggestions for Future Research
Clearly, staff is crucial to all schools. There has been research on what causes staff retention and turnover at schools (Barr & Parrett, 2007), but there is limited research on the type of training certain teachers and leaders bring to a campus. How much of a principal’s or teacher’s success or lack thereof has to do with preservice training? Researchers may want to examine the type of institutions/organizations that are supplying effective teachers and leaders to ECM schools.

Suggestions for Future Research
• The notion of student interventions surfaced in every high performing ECM school. Educational researchers need to capitalize on this academic trend. What types of interventions are creating academic successes for students in economically challenging environments?

Suggestions for Future Research
• In an age where there are so many mechanisms and technologies that lend themselves well to making classrooms and schools transparent, there are still many issues of inequalities and ineffectiveness. Researchers should take a look at successful schools that are transparent. How does a leader bring everyone to the table? What factors contribute to creating a “culture of transparency”?

References
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