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A Dissertation Proposal Defense

Alan Patrick Huff
Submitted to the Graduate School
Prairie View A&M University
In partial fulfillment for the requirements for the degree of
Friday, July 26, 2013
Delco 318 @ 10:00 a.m.
Major Subject: Educational Leadership

Committee Members
 Patricia Hoffman-Miller, Ph.D. - Dissertation Chair
 William A. Kritsonis, Ph.D. – Member
 Teresa A. Hughes, Ph.D. – Member
 G. Soloman Osho, Ph.D. – Member
 Marcia Collins Shelton, Ph.D. - Member

Dissertation Proposal Format

Chapter I:


Chapter II: Review of the Literature

Chapter III: Methodology

Dissertation Title

A Grounded Theory Study into the Domination of Testing
In Public Schools and the Rise of Charter Schools

Chapter I: Introduction
Statement of the Problem
A crisis of failure is currently sweeping the public

schools across the country. Schools are failing - not
because students aren’t learning academics, or
excelling in the arts, music or vocational trades - but
because the schools are not meeting a standard
required of them by the state and federally mandated
accountability standards.
Some schools have reached the maximum number of
years that a school has to solve their testing outcomes
and are now under restructuring measures by the state
education agency.

Background of the Problem
In 2002 the Elementary and Secondary Education

Act was reauthorized and called No Child Left
Behind (NCLB).
With NCLB, schools across the country came under

federal evaluation.
Increasing allocations of school district budgets were

needed to comply with federal standards.

Background of the Problem
A new term was introduced to the public schools.

Adequate Yearly Progress or AYP.
Compliance = Meet Standards.
Non-Compliance = Does Not Meet Standards
As AYP compliance standards elevated each year,

schools became non-compliant in greater numbers.
More schools began to “fail” to meet AYP standards.

Background of the Problem
The AYP Matrix of Accountability:

Percentage of students passing the assessment (whatever the
percentage is for that year).

Must have at least 95 % of students take the test each year.

Must have at least a 90 % attendance rate. (snapshot day)

For high schools, must have 75 % of students graduate.
(U.S. Department of Education)

Background of the Problem
In 2011 AYP percentages required:

80 % Reading/ELA
75 % Math
42 % of Texas school districts failed.

In 2012 AYP percentages required:

87 % Reading/ELA
83 % Math
71 % of Texas school districts failed.
(Texas Education Agency)

Background of the Problem
The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS)

was the 4th evolution of the test in Texas.
In 2012 the latest installment of the test, State of Texas

Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) was field
In 2013 it counts for Accountability. For high school

students, 15 end of course tests must be passed in order
to graduate. (Recently amended to a reduction of 5 end of
course tests.)

Background to the Problem


With a new test, teachers have new training for

teaching the requirements that come with a new test.
Students must learn new methods for answering what

is asked on the test.
The passing percentages for 2013:

93 % in Reading/ELA
92 % in Math

Background to the Problem
It is important to understand the role of subgroups in the State and
Federal accountability systems.
State Accountability:
5 subgroups:
All Students
Economically Disadvantaged
5 Subjects: Reading/ELA, Math, Writing,
Social Studies, Science.
No caps on special education alternative assessments.

Background to the Problem
Federal Accountability (AYP)

7 Subgroups:
The State Five, +
Limited English Proficient
Special Education
Reading/ELA, Math
3% cap on special education alternative assessments.
(Cain, 2011)

Background of the Problem
In 2002 President George W. Bush mandated in

the language of the NCLB bill, that all students will
be proficient on the test by 2014.
All means 100 %.
This is what the term AYP means. It means your

school or district is making “adequate yearly
progress” toward all students being proficient.

Background of the Problem
When a Title I school fails to meet AYP for

the second year in a row in the same
subgroup, it moves into the School
Improvement Program.
On the fifth year of non-compliance the

school district must make plans for
restructuring the school. This is mandated
through NCLB.

Background of the Problem

The options available to the district when the fifth
year is reached are:

Close the school and re-open it as a charter school.

Replace all or most of the school staff, including the


Options Continued:


Enter into a contract with an entity, such as a private

management company, with a demonstrated record of
effectiveness to operate the school.
Have the state takeover the school.
Impose another major restructuring of the school’s

governance arrangement.
(Texas Education Agency)

Background of the Problem
Due to the 2014 mandate the likelihood of every

public school across the country failing is very high.
With current NCLB policies, it is just a matter of

time before all schools go into the School
Improvement Program and face restructuring.
When school districts have no options left but to

restructure a failing school, by law they must make
decisions to change school operations.

Background of the Problem
For some school districts, option three has been their

They contract with an entity, either a Charter

Management Organization (CMO) or an Education
Management Organization (EMO).
CMO’s and EMO’s enter into agreement with school

districts to help them with their AYP failing schools.

Background of the Problem
The CMO or EMO is accountable to the corporate

CMO’s and EMO’s do not answer to parents.

In this regard, the concept of the neighborhood school,

with oversight by an elected school board, is lost.
(Whitaker, 2012)

Background of the Problem
In order to avoid this situation

superintendents and commissioners of
education are looking for options to avoid
losing control.
A rescue plan has been provided.

Background of the Problem
The Waiver:

Flexibility Plan

 An

escape plan. Allows states to escape the
2014 mandate of 100% proficiency.

 It

is offered through the U.S. Department
of Education.

Background of the Problem
The Waiver:
States are allowed to develop their own improvement
plans, in exchange for one important guideline.

state’s plan for improvement must adopt a
curriculum that promotes rigorous college and career
ready standards and is approved by the U.S. Department
of Education.
(GASS, 2012)

Background of the Problem
At the present time 39 states have accepted the waiver

option and have their plans approved by the U.S.
Department of Education.
All of the other states have their plans submitted, but

await approval. This includes Texas. The states awaiting
approval will remain outside the waiver until approved.
(U.S. Department of Education)

Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is twofold:
This study seeks to bring awareness and

understanding of the outcomes of NCLB policies as
they affect public school teachers, administrators,
parents and their children.
The study will seek to determine who benefits from

the Federal AYP mandates and the State
Accountability System and who is victimized.

The Importance of the Study:
The Reality of No Child Left Behind
The reality of No Child Left Behind is played out

currently on the east side community in a city in
central Texas.
In this community of diverse populations, three

schools are either presently restructured or in the
process of restructuring.
There are many concerns and questions on the

minds of parents, and the educational professionals.

Research Questions
1. From the evidence presented, have the

NCLB mandates served to propel schools
and school districts toward AYP noncompliance?
2. What are the perceptions of parents

toward the restructuring of their
neighborhood school.

Research Questions
3. What are the perceptions of parents of

children affected through the restructuring
of the neighborhood schools with regards
to their taxes for schools being well
4. What are the perceptions of teachers and

administrators who have been involved
with the restructuring process?

Theoretical Framework
To better understand the grounded theory presented
in this study, a review of the theoretical framework
used as the backdrop in the study is important.
This study is framed using the theoretical framework
of the Hegelian Dialectic. Dialectics is the process of
searching for the truth through opposing or
contradicting paradigms.
(European Graduate School)

Theoretical Framework
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
German philosopher
Best remembered for his Dialectic:
 Thesis
 Antithesis
 Synthesis

Theoretical Framework
Social planners have used Hegel’s Dialectic throughout
history to plan events and control societies.
Other terms used to describe the process:
The key for those using the dialectic to implement
change, is to control each aspect of the Dialectic.
(Raapana and Friedrich, 2005)

My personal assumptions are shaped using
the lens of experience and time.
 34

years in public education
 30 years as a public school administrator


I witnessed the events in education policy that have shaped the
state of education that exists today.

I experienced each phase of the state standardized test
evolution with the exception of STAAR.

As a principal, at both the middle school and high school
levels, I was immersed in the high stakes testing regimen that
grew in intensity with each passing year.

Cognitive Dissonance
I was convinced we were on the right path in education, but I
had conflict with the system used to carry out the process.
I was experiencing cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive Dissonance asserts that we all have fixed belief

systems that when faced with conflict and disharmony or
dissonance, we seek ways to justify the disharmony and regain
balance in our cognitive belief system.
(McLeod, 2008)

Events that led to questioning:
 I retired from the profession in 2007. I had more time to
read, reflect and question.
 We had the 2008 financial crisis.
 We experienced the 2010-2011 cut-backs in education.
 We witnessed financial rescue for banks and large

corporations, but not for education.

An interesting paradox began to occur:

budgets were cut, and teachers were laid off,
proficiency requirements on the test continued to rise.


compound the problem, tax revenues began to drop
for school districts due to the housing crisis and vast
numbers of foreclosures.


 Plans

for expansion were placed on hold by
districts. Class sizes expanded and morale in the
schools reached an all time low.

 All

of this happening while continued high stakes
testing and punitive sanctions were placed on
schools who were reaching AYP failure.

My admission into the doctoral program at Prairie

View A&M University began my journey to get some
answers to my questions.
My theory began to take shape in earnest when No

Child Left Behind was not eliminated with the
change in administrations from President Bush to
President Obama, despite strong opposition from
both political parties.

Chapter II:
Literature Review
The following topics have been researched for the
Literature Review:
The Specter of AYP
The Issue of Teacher Evaluation
Technology, High Stakes Testing and the Rise of Public

Charter Schools
International Tests
Increased Reliance on the Computer
State Assessments

Literature Review

Proficiency Percentages on the Rise
Linking the Teacher to the Test
Common Core State Standards
The Computer as the Teacher
Outcomes Based Education
Continuity of Agenda

Literature Review

Federal Encroachment
School Closures
Facing Reality
The Hegelian Dialectic Played Out in No Child Left

Escape from Cognitive Dissonance
The Grounded Theory

Literature Review
The Grounded Theory:
With the information researched in the literature,
analysis of NCLB law, and using inductive reasoning
and logic, it is my theory that from its conception in
the minds of its planners, NCLB was and is designed
to drive schools to possible failure or weakened so
that a new system of education is established that
supports an entirely different approach to educating
the youth of our country.

Chapter III:

This is a Qualitative Research Study.
“Qualitative research begins with assumptions, a

worldview, the possible use of a theoretical lens, and
the study of research problems inquiring into the
meaning individuals or groups ascribe to a social or
human problem” (Creswell, 2007).

This is a Grounded Theory qualitative study.
In John Creswell’s book from 2007, Qualitative

Inquiry and Research Design, he quotes Anselm
Strauss and Juliet Corbin in their definition of
Grounded Theory. “The intent of grounded theory
study is to move beyond description and to generate
or discover a theory, an abstract analytical schema of
a process or action or interaction” (Creswell, 2007).

Research Design:
This study will use the more flexible model for
grounded theory proposed by Anselm Strauss.
In this approach the researcher is allowed to use

their experiences, information from the literature,
and a personal worldview to create questions before
the data is collected.

Pilot Study
In order to validate the guiding questions for the study

and review the survey and interview questions, a pilot
study will be administered using expert witnesses from
public education that have been involved in the
restructuring process in their school district.
Expert witnesses are defined as “those people who can

give an expert opinion on the subject being researched.
They are people in the field who know a great deal about
what we are interested in finding out”.
(Frankel and Wallen, 2009)

The Study Sample
The Study Sample:
The study sample will consist of parents, teachers and administrators
who are involved with the restructuring process due to AYP failure.
Anonymity for the professionals involved in the survey’s will be

The survey instrument will be applied to the study sample of parents,

teachers and administrators.
From the surveys a selection of participants will be made for personal


Surveys and Interviews
Surveys and Interviews:

Permission will be obtained from the Prairie View A&M
Internal Review Board before official permission is sought with
the Superintendent of the school district where the three
schools are located.

Once the Superintendent has given permission, principals of
the schools will be contacted to obtain their permission to send
out surveys and permission forms to teachers and

Sampling Procedures:
The sampling will seek to have 20 parents, 20
teachers and at least three administrators for the
Interviews will take the form of a structured and

semi-structured format. The same questions will be
asked of each participant with the flexibility to
expand for additional information.

Summary and Goals of Study
Through the research in my Dissertation:
I will seek to impact the education profession with a

different way of observing the No Child Left Behind
era in public education.
I will seek influence in future education policy.

Summary of the Goals of the Study
I will advocate for the return of sensibility to the

I will work towards returning teachers to the art of

effective academic instruction and once again let
them be the purveyors of knowledge to their

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Thank You