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Political Risk-Taking: Leading Literacy Education in an Era of High-Stakes Accountability

ePub

ROSE M. YLIMAKI

ABSTRACT: In the current accountability environment, many school districts have mandated test preparation courses, canned programs, and otherwise limited teacher risk-taking in all but very high-performing schools. This article further suggests that extant literature on risk-taking as part of educational change is no longer sufficient for understanding risk-taking in the current political environment. The author uses findings from a multicase study that investigated what happens in school districts that makes educators willing to take risks and resist the pressures of current accountability policies to redefine risk-taking as a political act. Through the use of interview data, field notes, and literature, the study describes four conditions that support political risk-taking in the current accountability context.

If I don't stand up for what we believe about learning and the work teachers have done, then what am I doing in a job called director of curriculum and learning? No, it isn't easy when a government policy states that another view about learning must replace that of the district or when you have schools designated by the state as needing improvement because their special education students scored low on the state tests. But if you have the guts and the supportive relationships to stand up for what we've come to understand from the best literacy research available, you have what you need to take risks and enable risk-taking and creativity in classrooms. (Curriculum director, Spring 2003)

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Effects of Student Achievement on Satisfaction of Newly Appointed Teachers: A Cognitive Dissonance Perspective

ePub

I. PHILLIP YOUNG
F. PAUL CHOUNET
AMY BUSTER
SCOTT SAILOR

ABSTRACT: Research addressing attraction and selection of employees within the public school setting seems to indicate that the higher a school's student achievement the more likely a potential job candidate is to assess a position at that school favorably. However, the validity of this finding has failed to be assessed with “real teachers” accepting actual job offers. To fill this void, we compared the satisfaction with working conditions of newly appointed teachers in high-and low-performing elementary schools at the beginning and end of their work year. We cast these findings on a cognitive dissonance framework and our results are consistent with cognitive dissonance theory. That is, once teacher candidates choose to accept a position in a low-performing school district they experience a higher level of satisfaction with their working conditions than those accepting a new position in a high-performing school district. This initial difference between groups disappeared by the end of the work year.

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Professional Development Coaches: Perceptions of Critical Characteristics

ePub

PEGGY A. ERTMER
JENNIFER RICHARDSON
JEFFRY CRAMER
LAURA HANSON
WENHAO HUANG
YEKYUNG LEE
DEBRA O'CONNOR
JOHN ULMER
EUN JOON UM

ABSTRACT: Current recommendations for achieving high-quality professional development for teachers include the creation of a professional learning community. Key to the success of this approach, however, is the role of the peer mentor or coach. This study examined the experiences and perceptions of 31 professional development coaches in order to highlight the characteristics believed to be essential for success. Results suggest that, while content expertise is perceived to be important, coaches believe that strong interpersonal skills are more critical since, without them, they are unable to use their content knowledge to facilitate changes in teachers' practice. Suggestions for selecting and training peer coaches are included.

Although it is generally agreed that professional development is necessary for today's teachers as they confront the challenges of teaching in a climate of reform, what remains in dispute is the most effective method for achieving this goal (Guskey, 1995; Lee, 2001; National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, 2003). Traditionally, the improvement of teaching practices has been left to individual teachers working in isolation, perhaps coming together for a workshop, seminar, or lecture-based training session, but the outcomes have not been as promising as hoped (Pierce & Hunsaker, 1996). New definitions of professional development, currently advocated by state and national professional organizations (e.g., Arizona Education Association, 2003; National Staff Development Council, 2001), as well as governmental and funding agencies (e.g., U.S. Department of Education, 2000, 2001) characterize professional development as a systemic, intentional process, involving multiple members of the educational community, with a clear focus on improving student learning.

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The Power of Empowerment: Mediating the Relationship Between Teachers' Participation in Decision Making and Their Professional Commitment

ePub

RONIT BOGLER

The Power of Empowerment: Mediating the Relationship Between Teachers' Participation in Decision Making and Their Professional Commitment

ABSTRACT: This study examines the mediating effect of teacher empowerment on the relationship between teachers' participation in decision making and their professional commitment. The data were collected through quantitative questionnaires from a sample of 983 teachers in 25 junior high schools and 27 high schools in Israel. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that teacher empowerment mediated the effect of teachers' participation in decision making (technical domain) on teacher commitment, thus demonstrating the critical role of empowerment in enhancing teacher commitment. The teachers' sense of empowerment is also related to their desire to be leaders. Implications are drawn regarding the important role that principals and other school administrators need to play in enhancing the teachers' sense of empowerment.

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Principal Quality, ISLLC Standards, and Student Achievement: A Virginia Study

ePub

WILLIAM A. OWINGS
LESLIE S. KAPLAN
JOHN NUNNERY

ABSTRACT: A significant relationship exists between principals' quality at certain grade levels and student achievement on the Virginia Standards of Learning tests. A statewide study finds principals rated higher on school leadership as measured by an Interstate School Leadership Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) Standards rubric. These schools have higher student achievement than comparable schools headed by lower rated principals controlling for socioeconomic status. Implications for increasing student achievement, developing and keeping a school achievement culture, and improving principal leadership are discussed.

Never before has America's public education relied more heavily on the nation's nearly 84,000 principals to ensure that every child achieves at high levels and meets tough new state and federal mandates. The literature, however, holds conflicting interpretations of school leadership's effect on student achievement.

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