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.


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.


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.

Vol 9, No 5 (2014): Failure, The Next Generation: Why Rigorous Standards are not Sufficient to Improve Science Learning

Although many states in the United States are adopting policies that require all students to complete college-preparatory science classes to graduate from high school, such policies have not always led to improved student outcomes. There is much speculation about the cause of the dismal results, but there is scant research on the processes by which the policies are being implemented at the school level, especially in schools that enroll large numbers of historically non-college-bound students. To address this gap in the literature, we conducted a four-year ethnographic case study of policy implementation at one racially and socioeconomically diverse high school in Michigan. Guided by the structuration theory of Anthony Giddens (1984), we gathered and analyzed information from interviews with administrators and science teachers, observations of science classes, and relevant curriculum and policy documents. Our findings reveal the processes and rationales by which a state policy mandating three years of college-preparatory science for all students was implemented at the school. Four years after the policy was implemented, there was little improvement in science outcomes. The main reason for this, we found, was the lack of correspondence between the state policy and local policies developed in response to that state policy.

Vol 9, No 4 (2014): A Teacher-Based Checklist for the Assessment of Student Learning and Development

This paper reports on two studies that evaluated the statistical validity of the Classroom Learning and Development Questionnaire as a universal screening and early identification observation instrument within the North American context. The Classroom Learning and De-velopment Questionnaire was first proposed and tested in Hong Kong in the mid-1990s. It has been used as an integral part of the school procedures in the Hong Kong school system since it was first launched and has spawned a number of intervention programs for students within the Hong Kong Educational Authority. The Classroom Learning and Development Questionnaire (CLDQ) has been adapted from the Hong Kong study as a Tier I observation instrument to be used in the North American context. Results of the principal component analysis (PCA) in Study 1 (N = 820) extracted six components, which exhibited adequate to high levels of internal consistency. Results of Study 2 (N = 117) indicated statistically significant and negative relationships between the CLDQ subscales and Teacher Rating Form (TRF) (Achenbach, 1991) variables, demonstrating evidence of convergent validity. Based on the findings of these studies, the authors conclude that the screening protocol does present as a robust instrument capable of supporting screening at a primary prevention level. Based on this study, it is argued that classroom teachers hold a wealth of information concerning each student and that this, when presented in a systematic fashion, leads to greater understanding of individual and group learning needs and may lead to pre-emptive actions which would benefit students’ learning trajectories.

Vol 9, No 3 (2014): The Problem: Low-Achieving Districts and Low-Performing Boards

Effective school districts maintain superintendent and school board collegiality which can foster success and connectedness among members. Delagardelle and Alsbury (2008) found that superintendents and board members are not consistent in their perceptions about the work the board does, and Glass (2007) found that states do not require boards to undergo evaluation for effectiveness. In the current study, 115 board meetings were observed using the School Board Video Project (SBVP) survey, which was created in 2012 by researchers to uncover school board meetings’ effectiveness. MANOVA, Univariate ANOVA, and Pearson Chi-Square test results revealed significant differences between low-, medium-, and high-performing districts’ school board meetings. Evidence indicated that low-performing districts’ board meetings were: less orderly; had less time spent on student achievement; lacked respectful and attentive engagement across speakers; had board meeting members who seemed to advance their own agenda; had less effective working relationships among the governance team; had fewer board members who relied on the superintendent for advice and input; had one member, other than the board president, stand out for taking excessive time during meetings; and did not focus on policy items as much as high- and medium-performing school districts. The research concluded that more school board members from low-performing districts needed training to improve their effectiveness. Furthermore, highly refined and target-enhanced school board training programs might lead to lasting governance success and more effective teaming that could improve district, and ultimately, student achievement.

Vol 9, No 2 (2014): Punishment in School: The Role of School Security Measures

Although investigation of school security measures and their relationships to various outcomes including school crime rates (Gottfredson, 2001), perpetuation of social inequality (Ferguson, 2001; Nolan, 2011; Welch & Payne, 2010), and the impact on childhood experiences has seen significant growth within the last 20 years (Newman, 2004; Kupchik, 2010), few studies have sought to explore the impacts of these measures on suspension rates. Using data from the Educational Longitudinal Study (2002), I explore the relationship between security measures and in-school, out-of-school, and overall suspension rates. Results indicate schools with a security officer experience higher rates of in-school suspensions but have no difference in rates of out-of-school or overall suspensions compared to schools without a security officer. No other measure of security was related to higher suspension rates. As prior literature suggests, schools with greater proportions of black students experienced significantly higher rates of all suspension types. Finally, different types of parental involvement correlated with both higher and lower suspension rates.

Vol 9, No 1 (2014): Perspectives about living on the horns of dilemmas...

The major focus of this paper is a gender-based analysis of school superintendent decision-making and problem-solving as well as an investigation of contemporary leadership dilemmas. The findings are based on responses from 258 superintendents of K-12 school districts in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania collected over a period of three years (2009-2011). The researchers also conducted 18 comprehensive qualitative “face-to-face” interviews with self-selected superintendents who responded to the quantitative survey. The intended outcome of this article is for education policy makers, professors, and practitioners to comprehensively examine the extent and degree of various dilemmas confronting the Mid-Atlantic Region school superintendent sample and to evaluate the decision-making and problem-solving approaches used by them. The study results that are presented will serve as valuable references to not only individual superintendents but also to university administrator preparation professors and to state administrator licensure agencies because it is important for all aspiring superintendents to know the various issues associated with education leadership and the personal and professional dilemmas that they need to be prepared to face as they embark on a career to improve schooling in the United States.


Vol 8, No 7 (2013): Research Use by Leaders in Canadian School Districts

This paper, part of a larger study, investigates the ways research is used by leaders in Canadian schools and districts, an area in which there is relatively little empirical evidence. The paper analyzes survey results from 188 education leaders in 11 school districts across Canada about school and district practices related to the use of research. Results indicate a growing awareness in districts of the importance of research use, reported district capacity, and many kinds of support available for research-related activities; however, actual research use remains modest. Districts appear to have relatively weak processes and systems for finding, sharing, and using relevant research.

Vol 8, No 6 (2013): Education for a New Era: Stakeholders’ Perception of Qatari Education Reform

The paper reports the results of a qualitative research study that explores principal, teacher, and parent perceptions with regard to Qatar’s education reform, Education for a New Era (EFNE) launched in 2004. The study focuses on the effects of the reform on each group, their perceived advantages and disadvantages of the reform, and the challenges they face in the implementation of EFNE. Data for this study was collected through an open-ended questionnaire. The results point to the positive effects of EFNE on improving instruction, principals' leadership style, and learner attitude to education. These stakeholders believe that the reform is too ambitious and sometimes unrealistic. The three groups also report challenges that revolve around the amount of extra effort and work it requires from them, the continuous reform changes, and the threats to the local culture and language. Discussion and conclusions are provided regarding EFNE.

Vol 8, No 5 (2013): Management of School Infrastructure in the Context of a No-Fee Schools Policy in Rural South African Schools

This study examines the management of school infrastructure in the context of the “no-fee schools” policy introduced in the South African education delivery system. Focusing on four rural schools, the study applied a qualitative method, which involved observation of infrastructure conditions prevailing at four selected schools and in-depth interviews held with their principals. The study has found that though the no-fee policy has come to relieve poor parents of the burden of paying school fees, it does not help schools in addressing their infrastructural challenges.

Vol 8, No 4 (2013): Collaborative Learning in a Boundary Zone: A Case Study of Innovative Inter-institutional Collaboration in Israel

This qualitative study focused on the collaboration between a school district and a college of education in Israel and aimed to explore how the participants created common understanding in order to promote educational change. The theoretical approach involved analyzing the institutional interconnections based on boundary practices and boundary objects and the ways these interconnections shaped the collaborative learning process, promoted educational change, and fostered educational leadership in the district and in the college. The study observed the formation of a community of practice within the boundary zone, which was developed over a three-year period by a group of 20 superintendents, the district head, and two teacher educators. Beyond concrete outcomes, such as improvement of pupils' scores on the state-mandated achievement tests, the study showed a transformation in the superintendents' perception of their roles and a cultural change in the district.

Vol 8, No 3 (2013): Frequency and Correlates of Campus Crime: Missouri Public Postsecondary Institutions

Data from 34 public postsecondary institutions in Missouri showed liquor- and drug-related offenses and burglary as the most frequent campus crimes. Four-year institutions, institutions with a greater number of students, full-time students, younger students, out-of-state students, and a larger percentage of program completion were positively correlated with campus crime.

Vol 8, No 2 (2013): Stakeholder Perceptions of Barriers and Solutions to Significant Expansion of Postsecondary Enrollment Options...

Post-secondary experiences for students still in high school have been promoted as a means to increase academic rigor and create a better-trained workforce. Yet little is known regarding supports needed to significantly increase such options. This study obtained input from 411 stakeholders in one Midwestern state, including 201 district superintendents, 181 high school principals, and 23 college dual enrollment officers regarding their use of these options, their perceptions of barriers to program expansion, and their ranking of possible solutions to overcome the barriers. Findings demonstrate that all parties find postsecondary options of value, with traditional dual enrollment the most used option. Although all groups identified funding as a primary barrier, other systemic barriers were of great concern. Participants suggest that expansion of Advanced Placement and early and middle college programs, financial assistance for dually enrolled students, and increased program availability for career and technical options would be beneficial.

Vol 8, No 1 (2013): The Negative Effects of Student Mobility: Mobility as a Predictor, Mobility as a Mediator

Policy discussions on how to improve educational outcomes have traditionally focused on schools and teachers. While schools and teachers have measurable effects on educational outcomes, reforms aimed at only improving schools and teachers have failed to eliminate persistent achievement gaps. Thus, some scholars have argued for a broader, bolder approach to education. These scholars have investigated the effect of nonschool factors, such as health and early childhood care, on educational outcomes. The present study is intended to add to this growing body of literature. Two analyses that were conducted to examine the effect of student mobility on achievement are discussed. The first uses a multi-level analysis to investigate the relationship between student mobility and reading achievement of students. The second analysis uses aggregate school-level data to investigate if student mobility mediates the relationship between a school's socioeconomic status and its academic achievement levels. The results suggest that student mobility is indeed a predictor of academic struggles—at the individual student level as well as the school level—and should be included in the increasing number of conversations aimed at changing social policies to improve student outcomes.


Vol 7, No 7 (2012): Factors that promote Progression in Schools Functioning as Professional Learning Community

The purpose of this research is to identify factors that influence the functioning of a school working as a Professional Learning Community (PLC) and to analyze the links between these factors and the school’s progression. This research was developed within the context of an interpretative research paradigm. The primary data collection tool employed is a one-hour semistructured interview with each participant, thus allowing researchers to identify each participating school’s level of development as a PLC and clarify the underlying factors that have a positive effect on this type of functioning. The interview plan, composed of themes relevant to this research project, is structured according to the Seidman model (1998). The schools were classified according to the three stages of development identified in the Professional Learning Communities Observation Grid (PLCOG) from Leclerc, Moreau and Lépine (2009a), namely the initiation, implementation, and integration stages, using the seven indicators found in the professional literature. This study suggests certain dominant factors, particularly for schools in the initiation and integration stages. Recommendations are presented to better assist school administrators in supporting their teaching staff as a PLC.

Vol 7, No 6 (2012): Antecedents of teachers fostering effort within two different management regimes...

This article focuses on the comparison of organizational antecedents of teachers' fostering of students' effort in two quite different accountability regimes: one management regime with an external-accountability system and one with no external accountability devices. The methodology involves cross-sectional surveys from two different management systems: (1) teachers working under assessment-based accountability (N = 236) and (2) folk–high school teachers who work without tests and examinations and, thereby, without external accountability devices (N = 366). The purpose of the study is to estimate the path coefficients in structural equation modeling in the two regimes and compare the significance of relationships between concepts in the structural models. Through this comparison, inferences are drawn suggesting how accountability repercussions and other leadership organizational antecedents may influence teachers' fostering of students' efforts and how qualitative aspects among school professionals may influence the fostering of effort. Implications for practice and directions for future research are discussed.

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