Archives

2017

Vol 12, No 4 (2017): Building Productive Relationships: District Leaders’ Advice to Researchers

Expectationsfortheroleofresearchineducationalimprovementarehigh. Meeting these expectations requires productive relationships between researchers and practitioners. Few studies, however, have systematically explored the ways researchers can build stronger, more productive relationships with practitioners. This study seeks to identify such strategies by examining district leaders’ views of how researchers might work with practitioners in more effective, beneficial, and collaborative ways. Through an analysis of 147 interviews with 80 district leaders in three urban school districts in the United States, we identify several key pieces of advice highlighted by district leaders for researchers. For researchers, these findings reveal potential strategies for shaping the design, conduct, and communication of their research in order to ensure its usefulness for practitioners. 

Vol 12, No 3 (2017): School Policy and Transgender Identity Expression: A Study of School Administrators’ Experiences

School administrators are charged with establishing and enforcing school policies that provide safe and equitable learning environments for all students while adhering to state and federal laws as well as adopted school board policies. This qualitative research focuses on school administrators’ experiences with transgender students’ identity expression as it relates to school policies and student body experiences of transgender inclusion. Implications for district and building policy are also discussed. 

Vol 12, No 2 (2017): Principal Leadership and Reading Specialist Role Understanding in the Era of Test-Based Accountability Policies.

This study investigates how the role of the reading specialist (RS) is defined and communicated by principals, and examines to what degree a common understand- ing of this role exists among teachers, building administrators and reading specialists. The principal’s responsibility in defining and communicating role, and the effect these efforts have on job satisfaction and specialists’ perceived effectiveness is also studied. Eight elementary schools in the western part of New York State (USA) are studied. Based on interviews with principals and reading specialists and surveys completed by principals, reading specialists, and teachers, the following themes emerge: a) Principal leadership was essential in defining the RS role; b) A clearly defined RS role was asso- ciated with greater RS satisfaction and perceptions of effectiveness as well as greater teacher compliance; c) Greater teacher compliance with a school’s literacy program did not affect beliefs about the proper role of RSs; d) Lack of a clearly defined role in a school was associated with role conflict and role ambiguity for reading specialists; e) Reading specialists, even without coaching responsibilities, served as a resource to teachers, although no time was allocated in their schedule to do so; f) Reading special- ists faced challenges due to increased accountability and assessment demands affected by policy, demographics, and accountability requirements. It is concluded that princi- pals must assume responsibility for defining and communicating the reading specialist role within their schools to strengthen literacy programming. 

Vol 12, No 1 (2017): Developing Leadership Capacity in Others: An Examination of High School Principals’ Personal Capacities for Fostering Leadership

In this multisite case study, we examine the personal capacities of six high school principals who have developed the leadership capacities of other leaders in their respective schools. Participants were purposefully selected by two teams of researchers in two states of the United States, one on the east coast and one on the west coast, who engaged their professional networks of current and former educational leaders to obtain recommendations of high school principals known for developing the leadership capacities of formal and informal leaders in their schools. The findings indicate that the principals possessed a strong commitment to developing leadership capacity, that they understood leadership development as a process, and that they tolerated risk. This study adds to the rapidly growing corpus of literature focused on distributed leadership; it does so by illustrating the complexities of developing leadership capacity in attempts to increase organizational leadership capacity, and by highlighting the relevant characteristics of principals who have intentionally sought to do so.


2016

Vol 11, No 11 (2016): An Analysis of the 2013 Program Evaluation Proposals for the School Leadership Preparation Program

This article presents a content analysis of the 2013 School Leadership Program (SLP) grants. SLP projects provide a unique opportunity for participants in the field to explore innovative leadership preparation and development and their impact on program participants, schools, school districts, and students. The article begins with an overview of the SLP, the changing field of leadership preparation, and current research in the field. Findings then reveal a range of evaluation tools, methods, and data, the presence of myriad evaluators participating in the projects, and little focus on external dissemination of program evaluation methods beyond the scope of the projects. Suggestions for research to extend the field are provided. 

Vol 11, No 10 (2016): Educational Leadership and Comprehensive Reform for Improving Equity and Access for All

Disparities in college access for underrepresented urban students are one of the most urgent educational problems of America’s education system. In response to growing national concern, this longitudinal study investigated how school leaders worked collaboratively with key stakeholders to implement research-supported student services in order to improve college access for underrepresented urban students. The quantitative investigation showed that when educational leaders and key stakeholders worked collaboratively to deliver comprehensive student services, urban students in a high-poverty school district experienced measurable benefits in terms of their college enrolment. This study may be of particular value to policymakers, school leaders, and educators concerned with the low college access rates of students in urban schools, as well as to those who are seeking to understand what works better to prepare urban students for post-secondary education. 

Vol 11, No 9 (2016): Influential Spheres: Examining Actors’ Perceptions of Education Governance

Many layers of education governance press upon U.S. schools, so we separated state actors into those internal to and those external to the system. In the process, we unpacked the traditional state–local dichotomy. Using interview data (n = 45) from six case-study states, we analyzed local leaders’, state-internal actors’, and state-external players’ perceptions of implementation flexibility and hindrances across several policy areas. We observed how interviewees’ spheres of influence linked to which policy areas they viewed as salient or not, and their relative emphases on who and what within state education systems contributed to implementation flexibility and/or hindrances, and how these factors played out. We found important differences by sphere: the local sphere produced the most coherent findings, and state-internal was least coherent. We discuss implications for education governance research, applications for practitioners and policymakers, and a methodological contribution. 

Vol 11, No 8 (2016): The Impacts of Retention, Expenditures, and Class Size on Primary School Completion in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Cross-National Analysis

Education in Sub-Saharan Africa is increasingly viewed as a means of emancipation and a transformative project for social mobility. Developing nations have pursued policies such as universal or free primary education to increase access to education and improve student outcomes. In this study, direct and indirect precursors to primary school completion in Sub-Saharan Africa are analyzed using national cross-sectional data collected by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Results show that imbalanced pupil-teacher ratios and high student retention rates are negatively associated with primary school completion. Additionally, the positive relationship between expenditure increase and completion rates is mediated by a negative contribution to pupil-teacher ratios. Results are compared with existing production function research on educational inputs and student success. 

Vol 11, No 7 (2016): Making Sense, Making Do: Local District Implementation of a New State Induction Policy

Connecticut’s Teacher Education and Mentoring (TEAM) program is in its early stages of implementation. This study examined how local school districts implemented TEAM and identified factors that affected implementation. It was based on interviews with twenty-two participants at the state, district, and local school levels. The intentions of the program designers at the state level were compared to district- and school-level understandings of the program’s intentions and how those understandings influenced implementation. Additionally, factors affecting local understanding and implementation of the new program were described. The findings of this study suggest that there was close alignment of understanding between the state and local implementers on the key provisions of the program related to its role as a professional development tool. The data reveal tacit rather than explicit understanding at the local level of the program’s intention to improve student achievement. Variations in understanding can be attributed to other factors, including contextual, structural, cognitive, and affective elements. 

Vol 11, No 6 (2016): What They Think About How They’re Evaluated: Perspectives of New York State Physical Educators on Teacher Evaluation Policy

While research on high stakes testing continues to expand, little is known about how the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers is affecting physical education (PE). A proportionate, stratified random sample of physical educators in New York State was drawn (n=489) to survey them about their district’s practices and their attitudes about the State’s new teacher evaluation policy. Results indicated that 38 percent of respondents reported their district used students’ written PE test results for teacher evaluation purposes, while 27 percent indicated that their district used student fitness tests for teacher evaluation purposes. Eighteen percent of respondents reported that their district used state-mandated English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics test scores in calculating physical educators’ effectiveness ranks. While few reported using performance-based measures, 94 percent of respondents indicated these as the preferred means of assessment in PE. Eighty-three percent of respondents predicted that the new teacher evaluation system would not improve PE. 

Vol 11, No 5 (2016): Paying for School Choice: Availability Differences among Local Education Markets

In the context of school zone discontinuity based on parents’ educational level, housing price, and household income, empowering parents to choose children’s schools with their own hands has the potential to improve overall access to education by weakening geographical advantages or disadvantages and opening up invisible boundaries between communities. Though recent school choice proposals seem aligned with access to education, little research has paid attention to potential access to and actual utilization of the federal government-initiated choice program in competitive markets. This paper, by representing the geographic distribution of choice availability in a segregated metropolitan area, explores whether or not the markets for the public school choice provision under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 are ready to serve students at chronically underperforming schools. This study finds that the public school choice provision under the NCLB constructs unequal choice settings between school districts. 

Vol 11, No 4 (2016): School Reform: America’s Winchester Mystery House

This quantitative study examines the correlation between international student achievement test outcomes and national competitiveness rankings. Student achievement data are derived from a variation-adjusted, common-scale metric data set for 74 countries that have participated in any of the international mathematics and science achievement tests since 1964. National competitiveness data are taken from the 2014–15 Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) published by the World Economic Forum. A Spearman’s rank-order correlation was run to assess the relationship between student performance on international achievement tests and the competitiveness of nations. For all nations, there was a moderate positive correlation between student performance on international achievement tests and the competitiveness of a nation, rs(98)=0.688, p<0.001. However, this relationship disappeared among the 18 most competitive nations, the cohort to which the United States belongs. The relationship also disappeared among the 18 nations with the highest achievement scores on international tests. Student performance on international assessments appears to have no relationship to the competitiveness of the United States. This study has implications for legislators and public education leaders who want to maximize the return on investments in education. Education dollars and reform initiatives should be diverted toward addressing poverty, funding schools equitably, alleviating social stress and violence, and supporting young families and students of immigrant families.

Vol 11, No 3 (2016): Enabling School Structures, Trust, and Collective Efficacy in Private International Schools

This article explores the role of enabling school structures, collegial trust, and collective efficacy in 15 pre-Kindergarten to 12th grade international, private schools in South and Central America and Mexico. While most of these schools shared an “American” curriculum the local culture and school norms affected the climate of the school and the likelihood of the development of a professional learning community (PLC) in each school and country accordingly. As enabling school structures, trust in the principal, collegial trust, and collective efficacy were more established, the PLC was more likely to be developed based upon teacher perceptions in this quantitative study.

Vol 11, No 2 (2016): Are Leaders Influenced by Advocates in Decisions on Special Education Eligibility?

The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of the opinions of private practitioners and educational advocates on instructional leaders’ decisionmaking processes when making a recommendation for special education eligibility. School-based administrators (n = 56) with varying years of experience as special education administrators participated in this study. Using data from a series of vignettes and from structured interviews, results indicated that private practitioners and educational advocates significantly influence administrators’ recommendations for special education eligibility.

Vol 11, No 1 (2016): An Analysis of U.S. Student Drug and Alcohol Policies through the Lens of a Professional Ethic for School Leadership

This study explored the moral complexity of student drug and alcohol policies that are often disciplinary, punitive, and exclusionary in nature. The Ethic of the Profession and its Model for Students’ Best Interests (Shapiro & Stefkovich, 2016; Stefkovich, 2013), a professional ethical construct for educational leadership and for school workers writ large, was employed as a theoretical framework to evaluate a bounded case of seven school districts’ pupil policies. This research utilized textual analysis of school policies from the school communities represented in the study, in addition to interview data employed in a larger systemic study from which this research is drawn. Findings contribute to a fuller understanding of the valuation process of local administrators when they are drafting policy in relation to an ethic of the profession. Practical implications include the impact of such school policies on the immediate and long-range needs of students deemed as at risk.


2015

Vol 10, No 7 (2015): What Makes Them the Best? An Analysis of the Relationship between State Education Quality and Principal Preparation...

This paper examines the relationship between principals’ training experiences and perceived school quality in seven U.S. states. Current school principals were surveyed regarding their perceptions of the comparative effectiveness of field experiences in the principal preparation program (PPP) each attended. States were selected to represent high, middle, and low scorers in the annual Education Week “Quality Counts” report. Surveys were emailed to school principals in Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, and South Dakota; the response rate was over 17%. Most respondents completed field experiences as part of their PPPs and considered many of those experiences to have been valuable learning tools. Principals from the highest-ranked states identified data-driven analysis as having helped prepare them the most, while principals from two of the three lowest-ranked states mentioned working with curriculum, data analysis, & involvement in teacher observations and/or evaluations as field experiences that helped prepare them the most. This research found strong support for expanding the use of field experiences in principal training, especially as part of a longer PPP period or internship. It also indicates a need for more budget and finance training; teacher observation and evaluation training; curriculum training; and student discipline training.

Vol 10, No 6 (2015): Secondary School Department Chairs Leading Successful Change

A foundational understanding within education leadership literature is that education leaders are expected to guide reform efforts within school. This expectation mirrors organizational development literature that describes leaders as individuals who constructively institute change within their organizations. Although leadership and change are portrayed as codependent, no scholarship has linked change models with leadership theories. This article describes a multiple case study that explored the relationship between leadership behaviors and the change process through secondary school department chair stories of change. From this analysis, a clearer picture emerged that illustrates how leaders with little control over decisions implement change. Findings included distinct connections between CREATER change process stages and the Leadership Grid. Suggestions as to how education leaders should approach change attempts within their schools are discussed.

Vol 10, No 5 (2015): Principals’ Moral Agency and Ethical Decision-Making: Toward a Transformational Ethics

This descriptive study provides a rich portrait of moral agency and ethical decision-making processes among a sample of Canadian school principals. Using an ethical responsibility framework linking moral agency and transformational leadership, the researchers found that 1) modeling moral agency is important for encouraging others to engage their own moral agency in the best interests of all children; 2) despite efforts to engage in collaborative decision-making, principals are often faced with the reality that they are the ones to absorb the cost of decisions; and 3) moral agents need to become wide-awake to the ethical issues and challenges that permeate their day-to-day work lives.

Vol 10, No 4 (2015): Principal Leadership and Its Link to the Development of a School’s Teacher Culture and Teaching Effectiveness

This study aimed 1) to describe a school principal’s leadership and the context of the school’s overall teacher culture that cultivated an award-winning team at an elementary school; 2) to analyze the award-winning team’s learning behaviors, shared goals, values, beliefs, mutual interactions or dialogues, and sharing of experiences; and 3) to unveil the key factors that shape excellent teaching team culture and its functions. Major findings were:
1. The award-winning teacher group at the school was able to facilitate the development of professional co-operation and teaching innovation within the school and to transform the school into a learning community.
2. The campus ethics of affiliation, collegiality, and experience-heritage were cultivated at the award-winning elementary school.
3. The school leaders, especially the principal, had a critical impact on the development of the school’s teacher culture via their determination and encouragement.
4. Both the school principal and the school’s senior teachers played an exemplary and leading role in shaping a high-quality school culture for professional development.

Vol 10, No 3 (2015): Teacher Incentive Pay Programs in the United States: Union Influence and District Characteristics

This study examined the characteristics of teacher incentive pay programs in the United States. Using the 2007–08 SASS data set, it found an inverse relationship between union influence and districts’ incentive pay offerings. Large and ethnically diverse districts in urban areas that did not meet the requirements for Adequate Yearly Progress as defined under the No Child Left Behind Act are more likely to offer a larger number of economic incentives. Although rural districts are likely to reward teachers in hard-to-staff schools, they are not more likely to reward teachers who are certified by the National Board or who teach in the subject areas of shortage, nor are they more likely to offer multiple financial incentives.

Vol 10, No 2 (2015): Educational Contracting and the Translation of Research into Practice: The Case of Data Coach Vendors in Delaware

Accountability puts demands on educational agencies that often exceed their capacity. As a result, a variety of educational organizations are contracted to design and implement policy. Programs and services offered by these contractors are not only instrumental in the process of mediating and implementing policy, but may also be instrumental in translating research into practice. To explore this issue, a case study is conducted using vendor proposals for Delaware’s Data Coach initiative. Data are analyzed through content and citation analyses to examine the degree and nature of research use by educational contractors. This research offers new directions for studies of research use in policy but also lessons for policymakers and practitioners that seek the services of educational contractors.

Vol 10 (2015): IJEPL Editors Recognize 2014 Peer Reviewers

The IJEPL editors would like to thank the students and scholars who engaged in review of articles in 2014. We are launching Volume 10 by recognizing each person who reviewed an article for the journal in 2014.

Vol 10, No 1 (2015): Democratic Dialogue as a Process to Inform Public Policy: Reconceptualizing a Supervisory Officer’s... Program

An exploration of the collaborative reconceptualization of a provincial Supervisory Officer’s Qualification Program (SOQP) through the use of dialogic approaches is the focus of this inquiry. The stories, perspectives, and lived experiences of supervisory officers, principals, teachers, parents, students, and members of the public in Ontario were included as essential voices and information sources within policy development conversations. These narratives of experience revealed the forms of knowledge, skills, dispositions, and ethical commitments necessary for effective supervisory officers today and in the future. They also illustrated the transformative nature of narrative dialogue to enlighten, deepen understanding, and alter perspec- tives. The policy development processes used in this publicly shared educational initiative serve as a model of democratic dialogue. The inclusive and dialogic methods employed to collectively reconceptualize a supervisory officer formation program illustrate an innovative framework for developing policies governing the public good.

2014

Vol 9, No 7 (2014): School Mental Health: The Impact of State and Local Capacity-Building Training

Despite a growing number of collaborative partnerships between schools and community-based organizations to expand school mental health (SMH) service capacity in the United States, there have been relatively few systematic initiatives focused on key strategies for large-scale SMH capacity building with state and local education systems. Based on a framework of ten critical factors for capacity building, as well as existing best practices, two case studies were utilized to develop a replicable capacity-building model to advance interagency SMH development. Seventy education and mental health stakeholders from two selected states participated in baseline assessments of skill com-petency and critical factor implementation followed by two-day trainings (one in each state); 29 (41%) of the participants also completed a six month follow-up assessment. Targeted competencies increased significantly for participants from both states, with large effect sizes (d = 2.05 and 2.56), from pre- to post-training. Participant reports of critical factor implementation increased significantly for one of the two states (t[15] = -6.40, p < .001, d = 1.77). Results inform specific training recommendations for stakeholders and collaborative teams, as well as policy implications to support future development of SMH service capacity.

Vol 9, No 6 (2014): School Mobility and Students’ Academic and Behavioural Outcomes

The study examined estimated effects of school mobility on students’ academic and behaviouiral outcomes. Based on data for 2,560 public schools from the School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS) 2007–2008, the findings indicate that high schools, urban schools, and schools serving a total student population of more than 50 percent minority students tend to have more school mobility than their counterparts. After controlling for safety initiatives, violence, and school background characteristics, school mobility is negatively associated with principals’ perceptions of students’ levels of aspiration and school achievement but positively associated with principals’ perceptions of students’ insubordination. The study offers policy implications for school administrators.

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