Public schools in the United States continue to struggle with the issue of underachievement of the African American learner relative to their White peers (Walker, 2006).
Educators and researchers alike have attempted to implement many solutions to close the achievement gap. Using primarily top-down approaches, solutions have ranged from improving teacher and administrator qualities, to improving the curriculum, to placing more emphasis on student outcome data, to increasing the rigor in core subjects.
Marzano (2003) asserts, “Research in the last 35 years demonstrates that effective schools can have a profound impact on student achievement” (p. 8)
Since the first National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) report card was issued in 1969, African American achievement scores in reading, mathematics, and science among 9, 13, and 17 year olds have averaged some 30 points below their White peers.
Alfred Rovai, Louis Gallien Jr. and Helen Stiff-Williams (2007) present the added complexity in Closing the African American Achievement Gap in Higher Education that closing the achievement gap in elementary and secondary schools has now carried over to higher education.
Gail Thompson (2002) further remarks that because of the increase in pressure on school administrators to meet higher federal and state accountability standards including all of the other responsibilities placed on school administrators, California school leaders are asking, “What can we do to improve the academic performance of African American children” (p. xvii)?
Hans Luyten, Adrie Visscher, and Bob Witziers (2004) have called for studies on the why and how of the school’s perspective in school effectiveness research, and particularly focusing on the classroom and at the campus level. Their research stresses that the ultimate goal of conducting effectiveness research is to identify effective interventions.
Bob Lingard, Jim Ladwig and Allan Luke (as cited in Luyten et al., 2004) point out “the black box of schooling needs to be opened with more in-depth, qualitative analyses of processes that actually occur in schools, which they perceive to have a potential influence on school performance” (pp. 256-257).
In Texas public schools, differences in achievement between African American students and their White peers mirrors the national average. According to the TEA, TAKS (2007) passing rate for African Americans was 55% and their White peers was 82%.
Few studies have allowed African American students at the high school level to articulate their view on the schooling practices that affect their education, and even fewer have allowed African American freshman college students to articulate their perspective on the practices implemented by school leaders that push the student to achieve.
Bush (2002) conducted a study utilizing qualitative methods with African American students in suburban settings to analyze school factors that lead to their success. Student suggestions to school administrators were “a designated person to assist with minority student problems, more interaction with the principal and teachers, and get families more involved with students that are having trouble” (p. 83).
Marzano (2000) states it well when he says “If a school can simply identify those variables on which it is not performing well, it can pinpoint and receive the information it needs to improve student achievement” (p. 87).
Cooper (2000) states “If reform-minded educators are serious about closing the achievement gap before several decades pass in the new millennium, we must continue to identify alterable factors in the schooling process that help to promote academic success among all students and particularly students of color” (p. 620).
While there is an increase in the number of African American students having success on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills and college readiness tests in Texas high schools, the lack of a significant improvement may be due to the degree of effective schools practices implemented by school leaders.
Conceptual Framework ENHANCE STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT ENHANCE EFFECTIVE SCHOOLS PRACTICES SAFE AND ORDERLY ENVIRONMENT CLIMATE OF HIGH EXPECTATION FOR SUCCESS CLEAR AND FOCUSED MISSION POSITIVE HOME/SCHOOL RELATIONS FREQUENT MONITORING OF STUDENT PROGRESS OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN, TIME ON TASK INSTRUCTIONAL LEADERSHIP
How do freshman African American students enrolled in a selected Historically Black College and University (HBCU) rate their former high school campus with regard to each criterion of effective schools identified in the “effective schools” literature?
Is there a relationship between the high school characteristics of effective schools rated by freshman African American students enrolled in a selected Historically Black College and University (HBCU) and their post-secondary achievement during their first semester of college in Developmental Education Mathematics?
H 01 - There is no statistically significant relationship between a selected Historically Black College and University (HBCU) freshman African American student ratings of their former high school’s “effective schools” characteristics, and the student’s first semester of college achievement in a Developmental Education Mathematics course.
A constant in schooling, school leadership, teaching and learning, and increased success in student achievement is the effectiveness of the school’s program to reach every student at the highest levels.
“ In the 1960s the US led the world in high school qualifications and Korea was 27th. Now Korea leads the world and the US is 13th and falling. As recently as 1995 the US was second in the world on college-level graduation rates; just a decade later it has slipped to 14 th… ” (Barber, 2008).
Given the history of achievement differences between African American students and their White peers, it is central to improve the performance of the education team to achieve greater success in schools.
This study will seek to enhance the effective schools practices of the education team, by providing a stage for African American students to participate and articulate their views on schooling practices that motivate them to achieve.
Collyn Bray Swanson (2004) examined Safe and Orderly Climate in a study to determine if there was a difference in the performance of military dependent African American students attending a public school and military dependent African American students attending a Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) school. Results indicated students in the DoDEA system scored slightly higher on the ACT college entrance exam than did the students in the public education system.
Scheerens and Bosker (1997) identified eight characteristics of successful schools in their work entitled The Foundations of Educational Effectiveness. Monitoring of student progress was determined to be a key component to improving achievement.
Robert Marzano (2003) in What Works in Schools identified five characteristics of highly successful schools, and stresses challenging goals and effective feedback as major components to achieving high expectations .
Bamburg and Andrews (1990) conducted an investigation specifically looking at the relationships of a clear and focused mission and the role of the principal as the campus instructional leader to the academic achievement of students. Results indicated that the school goal “To insure academic excellence” showed a significant difference between high achieving and low achieving schools.
Gentulucci and Muto (2007) conducted a study investigating students’ perceptions of what principals do to influence their academic achievement. Findings indicated principals that visited classrooms and interacted with students were more influential as instructional leaders than those whose visits were few, short, and passive. Students also indicated that principals that walked around the classroom, checked on their work, and provided gentle advice had more powerful influence on their learning than those sitting in the back of the classroom and observing passively .
Boscardin et al. (2005) conducted a study to determine how Opportunity To Learn (OTL) variables impact student outcomes and if the effects were consistent across the subjects of English and algebra assessments. One result of the study was content coverage, which was defined by Boscardin as the amount of time dedicated to key content areas, was found to be consistently associated with student performance.
Zuelke (1982) attempted to customize a model that school districts could use to reallocate human and material resources to enhance reading and mathematics achievement. The study summarized that evidence existed to suggest certain school related variables such as student time-on-task do make a difference in mathematics and reading achievement.
Zavadsky (2006) examined frequent monitoring of school progress in describing five urban school districts that were awarded the Broad Prize for the most improved school districts in the United States. One consistent finding of the Broad Prize finalist’s awards was a commitment to analyze and share data and assessments to help make informed decisions that affect the student, the school, and the district.
Stewart’s (2007) study looked at 546 high schools and included 1,238 African American students. Students were asked on the survey to indicate the degree to which parents engaged in a variety of school activities ranging from parent organization meetings to volunteering. Results revealed the importance of the role of school leaders in improving the relationships between parents and the school to improve achievement of the African American learner.
The researcher will collect quantitative data in two phases: (1)administer a survey to freshman college students enrolled in a Developmental Education Mathematics course; and (2) collect student grades from college instructors assigned to teach the Developmental Education Mathematics course at the end of the Fall Semester 2008.
The researcher will administer the survey at a class time of the instructor’s preference.
In the qualitative phase, the researcher will be the instrument for data collection. Using focus group interviews, the study seeks to develop an in-depth understanding of the research phenomenon associated with implementing the correlates of effective schools at the high school level, and the impact on achievement.
To maintain accuracy of the data the researcher will utilize an audiotape recorder, will write field notes, and the researcher will keep a journal for reflections.
The population sample will comprise first year and first time freshman college students, from a selected Historically Black College and University (HBCU) located in the south west part of the United States.
Sample participants will self-identify themselves on the survey as first year and first time freshman college students, by ethnicity, gender, high school attended, year graduated, course level Math 0100, 0113, 0133, identification number, and by instructor.
There are a total 806 students in 35 sections of Developmental Education Mathematics courses, and 10 instructors.
Correlates of Effective Schools Survey – taken from Reality Check database of 2000 questions produced by Dr. Lawrence Lezotte. Permission has been granted by Effective Schools Products Ltd. to use the database.
There are seven correlates with three sub-categories and nine questions that combine to describe and operationally define each correlate.
The survey contains 63 question-items with 21 items worded in the negative.
Dr. Teresa Hughes will review the survey for content validity.
The researcher will use a triangulation design to analyze the data from descriptive statistics collected from the survey, notes and audiotape recordings collected from focus group interviews, and student fall semester grades collected from instructors of the Developmental Education Mathematics course.
Analysis of Data (Quantitative) Descriptive statistics measures including central tendencies, frequency distribution, and percentages will be used to summarize the results of the survey. Effective Schools Ltd. will compile the results in a narrative, tabular, and graphical form. How do freshman African American students enrolled in a selected Historically Black College and University (HBCU) rate their former high school campus with regard to each criterion of effective schools identified in the “ effective schools” literature? Statistical Measurement Research Question #1
Analysis of Data (Quantitative) 1. Correlation using Pearson r 2. Multiple Regression Analysis R ² *SPSS 13.0 will be used to run the statistic. Semester Grade in Developmental Education Mathematics Correlates of Effective Schools H01 - There is no statistically significant relationship between a selected Historically Black College and University (HBCU) freshman African American student ratings of their former high school’s “effective schools” characteristics, and the student’s first semester of college achievement in Developmental Education Mathematics. Is there a relationship between the high school characteristics of effective schools rated by freshman African American students enrolled in a selected Historically Black College and University (HBCU) and their post- secondary achievement during their first semester of college in Developmental Education Mathematics ? STATISTICAL TEST DEPENDENT VARIABLE INDEPENDENT VARIABLES HYPOTHESES RESEARCH QUESTION #2
Analysis of Data (Qualitative) Research Questions #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
A code and a table of contents will be assigned to each focus group interview session. Data will be organized by file folder and computer file, whether recorded as written field notes or audiotape recordings.
Audiotape recordings will be transcribed using a projection of one hour of recording time to four hours of transcription. A text document will be used with spacing for questions and notes to be written in margins.
Personal reflections will be noted in the margin of the field notes and in a journal.
Analysis of Data (Qualitative) Research Questions #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Field notes, journal reflections, and audiotape recordings will be sorted and sifted for similar phrases, relationships, themes, and differences.
Patterns, differences, and commonalities will be noted.
Consistencies in interviews will be generalized.
Generalizations will be examined in terms of the body of knowledge surrounding the research problem and questions.
The study will explore the view of the African American student on increasing achievement for future students from similar backgrounds as themselves, by focusing on the schooling practices implemented by school leaders which influence the experiences of the learner.
Bush, R. (2002). Factors contributing to the success of African American students in suburban settings: Students’ perspectives, Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Roosevelt University, Chicago, Illinois.
Barber, Sir M. (2008). Neither rest nor tranquility: Education and the American dream in the 21st century. Aspen Institute, Washington DC: September 15, 2008.
Chubb, J. & Moe, T. (1990). Politics, markets, and America’s schools . Washington, DC: The Brookings Institute.
Lezotte, L. (1997). Learning for all . Okemos, MI: Effective Schools Products, Ltd.
Lingard, B., Ladwig, J., & Luke, A. (1998). School effects in postmodern conditions. In R. Slee & G. Weiner (with S. Tomlinson) (Eds .), School effectiveness for whom? Challenges to the school effectiveness and school improvement movements (84-100). London: Falmer Press.
Luyten, H., Visscher, A., & Witziers, B. (2004). School effectiveness research: From a review of the criticism to recommendations for further development . School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 16 (3), 249-279.
Marzano, R. (2003). What works in schools: Translating research into action. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development Publishers