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Special Education Administrators’ Response to the Educational Needs of Foster Care Youth: Collaborative or Disjointed?

ePub

JOHN PALLADINO

JEAN HAAR

ABSTRACT: Although the literature discusses the deleterious educational outcomes that foster care students endure, little attention has focused on school personnel’s responses to the phenomenon. Despite the documented relationship between foster care and special education, a missing contribution is the voice of special education administrators. In turn, the present qualitative study explored six special education administrators’ accounts of their leadership response to foster care situations. The intent was to analyze the extent to which their responses were collaborative with internal and external constituents. The use of Rubin’s (2002) theoretical framework for school-based collaborative leadership framed the analysis and exposed the administrators’ strengths and shortcomings. Their narratives incurred implications for preservice and in-service special education administrators.

The socioemotional well-being of foster care youth requires a multifaceted and interdisciplinary response from all sectors of society. Despite the complexities of the foster care system and the populations it serves, the literature portrays it as a social condition limited to the medical, criminal, and social work professions. The paucity of foster care scholarship that includes school personnel limits full awareness about what should constitute the systemic intervention that child victims of abuse and neglect deserve and often need foster care to ameliorate. The present multiple-case study focused on special education administrators and their untapped voices in the literature and contributed to the unanswered question, how do educational leaders envision and define their role as stakeholders in response to foster care students’ educational well-being, if at all?

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A Systems Approach to Effectiveness in Catholic Elementary Schools: A Replication and Extension

ePub

ROXANNE M. MITCHELL

C. JOHN TARTER

ABSTRACT: This study replicated an earlier study conducted by Tarter and Hoy (2004) in which an open systems model was used to test a series of hypotheses that explained elements of school performance. Four internal system elements (structure, individual, culture, and politics) of the school were used to explain two sets of school outcomes (student achievement and teachers’ assessment of overall school effectiveness) in a sample of 110 Catholic elementary schools in one Northeastern city. Correlational and multiple regression analyses were used to test the relationships. The results of this study further confirmed the usefulness of this model in understanding the factors that contribute to quality in elementary schools.

The current emphasis on school accountability has spawned increased efforts to assess the effectiveness of schools. Fear concerning the inability of the nation’s schools to adequately educate all children has prompted many to seek alternatives, such as private schools, charter schools, vouchers, and homeschooling. In addition, most of the information regarding the condition of American schools has been based on assessments that were exclusively focused on public schools. Bryk, Lee, and Holland (1993) state that many of the reform efforts that have been recommended for public schools were already in existence in Catholic schools, but, unfortunately, those schools were left out of the investigations. The authors argue that reform efforts such as “increasing academic course requirements for graduation, community service programs, and extending more control to individual schools, teachers, principals, and parents” (p. 55) have existed for some time in Catholic schools. Others, such as McEwan (2000), argue that even when comparisons have been made between Catholic schools and public schools, the findings have been inconclusive due to methodological concerns.

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Strategies to Improve Teacher Retention in American Overseas Schools in the Near East South Asia Region: A Qualitative Analysis

ePub

STEVEN V. MANCUSO

LAURA ROBERTS

GEORGE P. WHITE

ROLAND K. YOSHIDA

DAVID WESTON

ABSTRACT: Using a qualitative analysis and drawing from sociological theory, this study examined reasons for teacher turnover and retention from a representative sample of 248 teachers in American overseas schools in the Near East South Asia region. Results suggested that the most important reasons to stay or move pertained to supportive leadership, teaching assignment, salary, benefits, and school’s professional learning culture. Implications for leadership practice and policy development are discussed. Surprisingly, the impact of the worldwide economic recession during 2009, when the data were collected, appears to have had little impact on teachers’ decisions.

According to psychologists and sociologists, greater teacher retention leads to greater student learning (Connors-Krikorian, 2005; Durkheim, 1961; Greenwald, Hedges, & Laine, 1996; Grissmer, Flanagan, Kawata, & Williamson, 2000; Parsons, 1959; Rosenholtz, 1989; Skinner & Belmont, 1993). Thus, school leaders must educate themselves about the factors that have an impact on retention and initiate whatever changes they can to make teachers want to stay at their schools. This article advances an idea put forth by sociologists that effective school leadership is key to creating the kind of culture that makes teachers want to stay.

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Performance-Related Pay: District and Teacher Characteristics

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GUODONG LIANG

MOTOKO AKIBA

ABSTRACT: This study examined the characteristics of performance-related pay (PRP) for teachers in the United States. From 1999 to 2007, the percentage of districts offering PRP and the percentage of teachers receiving PRP increased significantly. Large and ethnically diverse districts in urban areas with less union influence were more likely to offer PRP. Among the PRP recipients, teachers tended to receive more PRP when they had higher degrees and more experience and worked in districts with less union influence and a higher percentage of ethnically diverse students. However, highly qualified teachers in high demand were no more likely to receive a larger amount of PRP.

Previous empirical literature has consistently shown that teachers play a critical role in improving student achievement (e.g., Nye, Konstantopoulos, & Hedges, 2004; Rivkin, Hanushek, & Kain, 2005; Rockoff, 2004; Sanders & Horn, 1998). However, district administrators often find it challenging to recruit and retain highly qualified teachers and teachers in the subject areas of shortage (Podgursky, 2009). In addition to the predicted national shortage of qualified teachers (National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, 1997, 2003), academically talented college graduates are less likely to become teachers, and effective teachers are more likely to leave the profession (Bacolod, 2007; Corcoran, 2007; Hoxby & Leigh, 2004; Murnane & Olsen, 1990; Podgursky, Monroe, & Watson, 2004). Furthermore, mathematics, science, and special education teachers are more likely to leave the profession than are teachers of other subject specialties (Henke, Zahn, & Carroll, 2001; Ingersoll, 2001; Kirby, Berends, & Naftel, 1999). Low salaries for teachers, higher earning opportunities outside the profession, and wage compressions from unionization are important factors for the attrition of highly qualified teachers in high demand (Bacolod, 2007; Hoxby & Leigh, 2004; Ingersoll, 2001).

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The School Leader Communication Model: An Emerging Method for Bridging School Leader Preparation and Practice

ePub

BENJAMIN H. DOTGER

ABSTRACT: School leaders make countless decisions but do not receive adequate preparation for communicating their decisions to parents, students, and teachers. Building on the need to prepare school leaders for a variety of complex professional situations, this article introduces the medical education pedagogy of standardized patients to the field of school leader preparation, outlining how simulated interactions serve as a pedagogical bridge between school leader preparation and practice.

School leaders often engage in complex interactions that shape the support of parents, the engagement of students, and the effectiveness of teachers. As school leaders interact with their school communities, they are frequently challenged to make and communicate good decisions. Making thoughtful principled decisions, however, requires a set of skills distinctly different from those required to communicate such decisions.

The purpose of this article is to outline an emerging methodology for helping novice school leaders practice complex interactions with parents, teachers, and students. Drawing from a well-established pedagogy in medical education, I outline how simulated interactions within leadership preparation programs can help novice school leaders prepare for the complex communications they will face as active school leaders. I begin by reviewing the literature on leaders’ communications within schools and how future school leaders are prepared to interact with others. Next, I review the medical education pedagogy of standardized patients, focusing on the recent diffusion of this pedagogy from medicine to teacher education. Then, I highlight the school leader communication model (SLCM), a clinical model designed to enhance the preparation of school leaders. After outlining the theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of the SLCM, I describe in detail its general procedures and considerations for implementation. I close this article by discussing the significance of the SLCM’s simulation methodology, focusing on the value that it adds beyond traditional methods employed within leadership preparation.

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Academic Optimism of High School Teachers: Its Relationship to Organizational Citizenship Behaviors and Student Achievement

ePub

CHARLES A. WAGNER

MICHAEL F. DIPAOLA

ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study is to build on an emergent research base for academic optimism by testing the construct and its relationship to student achievement and organizational citizenship behaviors in schools in a sample of public high schools. All participants in this study were full-time teachers, guidance counselors, and other full-time professional instructional faculty from 36 public high schools in Virginia serving Grades 9–12. Although not random, the sample comprised a demographic and geographic range of Virginia’s 308 high schools featuring Grades 9–12. The data for this study were aggregated at the school level to support the school as the unit of analysis. The three dimensions of academic optimism were shown to correlate significantly with student achievement even when controlling for student family background. The findings in this study also confirm that academic optimism and organizational citizenship behaviors in schools are strongly correlated. Measuring teachers’ beliefs and perceptions about themselves, their colleagues, and their schools can provide important insights into the school’s collective belief about instruction, learning, and student achievement and help principals improve the quality of schools’ learning contexts.

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Principal Preparedness: Superintendent Perceptions of New Principals

ePub

MARTHA CRAY

SPENCER C. WEILER

ABSTRACT: National advocacy groups have undertaken significant efforts to define the performance capacities needed by principals to lead schools in this era of continuous improvement and accountability. There has been little articulation between the core skills essential to new principals and the leadership capacities of experienced peers. This study focused on the needs of new principals as noted by superintendents. This study posed an open-ended question to superintendents asking for a list of challenges observed in newly hired school principals. Superintendents identified three discrete areas of deficit: experience with and understanding of the range of demands faced by principals, understanding differentiated instructional practices and best practices, and functional use of personnel management strategies.

The national concern over the availability of high-quality principals has been framed by a broad spectrum of educational groups and advocates (Browne-Ferrigno & Knoeppel, 2004; English, 2004; Hess & Kelly, 2005; Lasley, 2004). The concerns range from a pattern of a shrinking pool of applicants to expressed concern over the preparedness of newly credentialed administrators to make a successful transition to school principal (Garrison-Wade, Sobel, & Fulmer, 2007; Goldring & Sims, 2005; Hess & Kelly, 2005; Levine, 2005).

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