• What Educational Initiatives contribute to higher than expected achievement in Student performance for Public Schools in the State of Indiana?

      Keeley, Thomas Allen
      The purpose of this study was to determine whether the areas of teaching methods, teacher-student relationships, school structure, school-community partnerships or school leadership were significantly embedded in practice and acted as a change agent among school systems that achieve higher than expected results on their state standardized testing while controlling for their socio-economic status. Another area of insight gained from the comparison of the specific practices at the building level that were found in high-achieving schools and may not be present in schools identified as low-achieving. Individual characteristics of students impact the learning environment for all children. Educators can make informed decisions by examining what teaching methods, a school‟s structure, teacher-student relationships, school to community partnerships, and what school leadership aspects are common among schools identified as high-achieving. If the identification within these five areas showed a significant relationship for improved student performance for high-achieving schools, the classroom teacher and building administration may use the results as a guide for student improvement. The study used a 50-question survey divided into five constructs. The data showed significant differences in implementation between the high-achieving and low-achieving schools in four of the five constructs. The four constructs that were significantly higher in level of implementation as compared to low-achieving schools were teaching methods, teacher-student relationships, school-community partnerships and school leadership. Of the four constructs showing significance, teacher-student relationships showed the highest amount of variance for high-achieving schools as compared to low-achieving schools. School structure did not show statistically significant differences in variance for high-achieving schools. Interesting findings of differences between high-achieving schools and low-achieving schools were noted in the instructional methods construct for ensuring proficiency in reading and math, frequently assessing reading levels for all students, linking instruction to learning benchmarks, and implementing flexible skill grouping. Differences were also noted for high-achieving schools for facilitating two-way home/school communication, creating partnerships with parents and families and offering career exploration as part of the curriculum.
    • What Effective Principals Do to Improve Instruction and Increase Student Achievement

      Turner, Elizabeth Anne
      The purposes of this mixed method study were to (a) Examine the relationships among principal effectiveness, principal instructional leadership, and student achievement; (b) examine the differences among principal effectiveness, principal instructional leadership and student achievement; and (c) investigate what effective principals do to improve instruction and increase student achievement within their schools. All 585 pre-K through grade 5 elementary public schools in Indiana were included in the original sample. Phase 1 was quantitative using the Principal Instructional Management Rating Scale (PIMRS, Hallinger, 1983) to examine the perceptions of the principal’s instructional leadership, the Principal Leadership Inventory (PLI; Downey, 1999) to measure principal effectiveness, and the Indiana standardized test (ISTEP) to look at student achievement. Statistical analysis of the data for the 232 schools that returned all of the instruments included descriptive statistics regarding the mean, standard deviation, frequency, and standard error. A Pearson product moment correlation, one-way independent measured ANOVA, one-way between subjects ANOVA, and standard multiple regression were used to test the study questions at a .05 level of significance. Findings indicated a teacher’s perception of the principal’s overall leadership ability makes no difference in student achievement data, but the teacher’s perception of the principal’s instructional leadership abilities does positively predict student achievement on standardized mathematics and English/language arts tests. Phase 2 was qualitative, identifying five more effective principals’ schools whose standardized test scores were above predicted and above state average and three less effective principals’ schools whose standardized test scores were below their predicted performance level as well as below the state average for site visits. The quantitative data in this study laid the foundation for the qualitative portion of this study informing the on-site, semi-structured principal interviews and separate teacher focus groups that explored what effective principals do to improve instruction and increase student achievement. Principals and teachers were asked the same open-ended, semi-structured interview questions. Keeping the focus group and interviewing questions in mind, themes for more and less effective principals could be grouped into four categories: (a) principal leadership characteristics, (b) instructional expectations, (c) procedures for change, and (d) measures of student achievement.
    • What Highly Effective Leaders Do During Difficult Times

      Raisor, Michael Louis
      The purpose of this study was to determine what the most highly effective leaders do during difficult times to be successful. The backdrop of the study was the 2009 $300 million cuts to the Indiana K-12 education budget, a uniform crisis that affected all 293 public school districts at the same time. The subjects in this study were those identified as the most highly effective public school superintendents in the state of Indiana. Education authorities across the state were polled and provided recommendations. The results were tabulated and five superintendents distinguished themselves as outliers among their peers. On-site structured interviews were conducted with each of the superintendents. The initial generalized summary findings were then given back to the superintendents for their review and member data checking. The superintendents confirmed the summary findings as accurate representations of their individual philosophy and behaviors. The five outlier superintendents all shared the same basic philosophies and behaviors in relation to leadership during difficult times. The first most telling finding was in regards to crisis leadership. The research found that highly effective leaders do not have a different style of leadership during difficult times. Highly effective leadership behaviors and actions are universal regardless of the circumstance. Highly effective leaders share core philosophies when faced with a difficult time, however once again, these are their philosophies at all times. They believe that within any crisis lies opportunity. They believe that difficult times define leaders and their organization. They believe in finding the best people for the job, communicating their vision, giving autonomy, and then getting out of the way. They believe in the value of networking, collaborating, and the input of their community, including criticism. They believe in leading by example and from the front. They realize that people are looking to them for guidance, leadership, and direction. Highly effective leaders also share universal leadership behaviors. They are constantly planning and preparing for the future. They have a defined process of how they lead and do business and they do not deviate from it. They have a laser-like focus on their organization‟s core business and do not deviate from it. They build trusting relationships with their staff and community. They get out in front of situations by being highly visible and communicating clearly. They are positive and poised. They share accolades and own mistakes. They do not attack problems as a whole, but instead break them down into smaller manageable pieces. They ask a lot of questions and take the time necessary to make a good decision, and then take decisive action.
    • What Indiana School Board Members Look for when Hiring a Superintendent

      Orr, Leonard
      The purpose of this quantitative study was to determine whether there are any differences in what school board members look for in the areas of personal characteristics and professional skills when hiring a superintendent. A sample population of school board members who were serving at a school that had an opening for a superintendent during the 2007–2008 school year was used. A survey with 24 questions was e-mailed to school board members. Results from this group indicated that there were no major differences between large school corporations and small school corporations when it came to personal characteristics and professional skills for a superintendent. Likewise there was no large spread between means among rural school corporations and urban/suburban school board members or between school board members who had served on the board four or less years compared to those who served on the board for 5 to 16 years or over 16 years.The results indicated that the school board members had high expectations in every category they were questioned about. The premise was that superintendents should be generalist rather than specialist and that they should be well versed in all areas of superintendency.
    • You’re Supposed to Care: Faculty Motivations to Incorporate Service Learning into Community College Classrooms

      Katowitz, Carol A.
      The purpose of this study was to investigate the motivations that cause some faculty in community colleges to embrace and actively pursue service learning pedagogy in their classrooms. It also identified the catalysts that move faculty to action in implementing this approach to instruction. The qualitative phenomenological case study approach was used to hear the stories of eight faculty members representing different areas of discipline in eight different campus locations in a Midwestern statewide community college system. Four primary themes and two sub-themes were identified through this study. The primary themes were (a) pedagogical connections to previous school experiences and personal and family values, (b) passion and commitment each faculty member had for this approach to instruction, (c) persistence of the faculty participants to use this approach despite the many barriers they faced, and (d) pleasure these faculty members get from watching their students perform in a service learning setting. The identified sub-themes were (a) bottom-up approach to instruction and (b) ability to take risks with instruction.