Qualifying Exam


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Qualifying Exam

  1. 1. #1032-5061 QUAL – November 2, 2007 1 I. Curriculum – Critique of “No Two Are Quite Alike” Sizer’s article, “No Two Are Quite Alike” focuses on the need for schools to redesign their philosophies and practices in order to meet the needs of the modern student. Specifically, Sizer calls for a personalized educational experience for all students, a need for teachers to begin to engage students on a personal level, and the need for schools to provide alternatives to the factory model of school schedules. In short, Sizer identifies the need for sever and immediate institutional redesign. Sizer notes that 21st century students are in great need of personalized education. For the past one hundred years schools have treated every student as if they were all the same; vessels in which to deposit knowledge, information, and skills. Furthermore, Sizer notes that for over a century schools have also expected – demanded – that each student be able to demonstrate the knowledge, information, and skills that were transferred utilizing the same assessment and measurement; the notion of the child as an individual has been forfeited. However, Sizer does offer educators a radical alternative. Get personal. Sizer, like Noddings, suggests that the current top-down model of curriculum design be replaced by a more personalized learning experience. No longer should administrators from afar have the ability to categorize students and place them in the continuum of linear courses. Instead, teachers and students, together, should be afforded time to build personal relationships; relationships that are based on understanding the thoughts and needs of each student. The fulfillment of this need will enable schools to better
  2. 2. #1032-5061 QUAL – November 2, 2007 2 provide more meaningful, relevant, and appropriate learning experiences for every child. Sizer’s idea is a modern twist on Dewey’s assertion that guidance needs to be provided for each child in order for true learning to be gauged and delivered. Dewey and Sizer agree on the need for “bonds of understanding” (knowing each child as well as possible) to be encouraged and developed. Understanding the whole child will not only likely improve a child’s learning growth, but will also provide students with curricular opportunities that are tailor made – personalized. Sizer (1999) poignantly says that, “Time for “talk about our kids” needs to be part of the [school day] schedule.” Talk time provides teaches an opportunity to get to know their students holistically; understanding and gauging what a student says or does during the course of a day with often multiple faculty members enables teachers to form a better understanding of the needs of each student. And a better understanding of each student can allow teachers to better guide and address the whole child – not just the child in the classroom. Sizer was onto something – a holistic approach to providing efficient and meaningful education. Sizer’s ideal school culture sounds much like Noddings’ ideal; schools need to be redesigned (from philosophy to pedagogy) to empower students and teachers to play a key role in shaping the educational experience for each child. In a Sizer/Noddings school, teachers are be afforded small, intimate classes, time to bond with their students, authority to design and guide each student’s educational experience, and provisions for cross-curricular assessment and
  3. 3. #1032-5061 QUAL – November 2, 2007 3 curriculum design. Nodding’s most recent publications on “educating the whole child” offer fodder for Sizer’s call for institutional reform. Noddings (2005) says that, “…we can and should ask all teachers to stretch their subjects to meet the needs and interests of the whole child.” Sizer would agree; cross-curricular assignments, personalized education and learning plans, and multi-faceted assessments would provide an ideal learning environment for every student. Sizer mentions the need for secondary schools to become less traditional in scheduling and more open to creating flexible option for students. The traditional sequence of science, history, and language arts classes proves inadequate for the modern student. Prensky writes in “Listening To The Natives” (2005) that schools must stop “herding” (a term describing the assigning of students to classes for our own benefit, not theirs) students and begin to integrate the needs of the student when planning the school experience. Prensky offers two alternatives to herding – alternatives that Sizer would welcome. Alternative one is to provide one to one personal instruction; an idea that is widely accepted as impossible given the size and abilities of modern schools. Prensky’s second alternative is to have students self-select their learning partners during group or shared activities – only Prensky would not limit the choice to the classroom, but rather to the world at large. Prensky’s guiding principle is that schools must utilize, to the maximum potential, the technological skills of the modern student and the technology of the modern world if the traditional schoolhouse is to provide a meaningful and relevant education. And
  4. 4. #1032-5061 QUAL – November 2, 2007 4 the opportunities should extend well beyond the four walls of the classroom. Prensky wants schools to open up the traditional six-hour school day, full of classes, testing, activities, and meetings to a flexible, personalized, schedule where students take classes and communicate with fellow students and teachers on their time utilizing blogs, blackboards, podcasts, and wikis. In short, Prensky (2005) notes that if we do not get personal and relevant with our education, “… we will be left in the 21st century with buildings to administer – but with students who are physically or mentally somewhere else.” “No Two Are Quite Alike” raises issues of the need for schools to alter their approach to providing students with an engaging, meaningful, and relevant educational experience. This experience should be centered on the student, not the sequence of classes, neither the needs of the teachers nor the desires of the state and federal mandates. In short, Sizer is calling for a constructivist approach to educating the child. Bruner’s constructivist approach requires that the curriculum of a school be centered on experiential learning, connecting learning to personal experience, facilitating (not controlling) student learning, and focusing on the whole child, rather than the needs and aims of the system. Sizer’s ideas have roots in Dewey’s concept of the focused education and Bruner’s concept of constructivism. Yet these same ideals have grown into Noddings’ call for educating the whole child and Prensky’s desire for us to engage the digital natives.
  5. 5. #1032-5061 QUAL – November 2, 2007 5 II. Policy A. What is your working definition of policy? Policy is a rule, a regulation, a law, an ordinance, a legal decision, or an administrative decision that affects communities and an individual socially, economically, or politically. B. Educators should have a working knowledge of policy that affects education. School administrators are the implementers of policies. These policies are delivered by the local, state, and federal political systems. Once a policy has been adopted, school administrators are expected to develop a plan and carry it out. To this end, administrators have an obligation to be aware of the major changes occurring in their social and economic environment and must also be aware of the policy adoption process. They must also be aware of the policy making process so as to understand when appropriate advocacy or opposition can be applied. If an administrator does not have knowledge of how the policy process works, they will forever be the agents of implementation, not change. Policy development, analysis, and adoption require key players; those who will shape, craft, and ultimately oversee the proposed policy. For an administrator to ignore or reject his/her role in the policy process is to relegate him or herself to institutional slavery. C. Why do we have policy or need it? The world is comprised of communities. Each of these communities embraces local and universal values. Policy is needed and valued in every
  6. 6. #1032-5061 QUAL – November 2, 2007 6 community for three reasons: 1. Policy creates a sense of community. Public policies provide a sense that no one individual is greater or more deserving than another. The individual gains a greater identity when viewed as a part of a greater community. 2. Policy expresses and promotes principles. Communities are unique in their value systems; what is good policy in tribal communities is often shunned in democratic societies. Without policy, each community would be inept at communicating their core beliefs and shared values. Policy also assists one community in identifying the values of another. 3. Policy provides a sense of stability. Because every community differs in principles and requires the individual to relinquish themselves in one or many ways, the creation of public policy offers the community a sense of that is valued will be protected. Policy lets the community know that the community’s values will be sustained, even when current members of the community are no longer present. D. Roles for actors in the policy drama. Actor Role
  7. 7. #1032-5061 QUAL – November 2, 2007 7 1. Mass Media 1. Publicizing societal problems 2. Interest 2. Expressing demands for Government Action Groups 3. Decide what policy proposals will be addressed by the 3. Politicians Government 4. Courts 4. Enacting policy into law and deciding on the constitutionality of a policy. E. The Federal Legislative Policy Formulation Process Step Importance Policy is This is the proposal stage of any legislative policy. The expressed in proposed policy can come from Interest Groups, individual written language politicians, or the President. The importance lies in the actual wording of a proposed policy and the actors who provide the language that make up the proposed policy. The wording of a policy proposal will determine if the policy is supported or enacted. It is in this step that most Interest Groups have the most influence. Policy funding is Once the drafters have agreed upon the formal language, the decided proposed policy must be funded (or decidedly not funded in some cases). The importance here lies in the decision whether to fund a policy (such as Social Security) or not to fund a policy (e.g. increase automobile gas mileage). Once a decision has been made regarding the funding of a policy, then the process of acquiring funding begins. Policy support is After the policy language has been established and funding garnered has either been procured or denied, a legislator must then garner political support for a policy in order for it to become a bill. Essentially, this is when the importance of sponsorship is recognized. Legislators often partner with one another to gain and establish political support for the policy. In this stage , the importance of dissemination begins; the public is made aware of the proposed policy language, the funding, and the impact of the policy should it be enacted into law. Again, this step allows interest groups and political parties an opportunity to voice their concerns or support for the proposed policy. Anther important aspect of this stage is the public’s ability to now influence their representatives to either support or defeat the proposed policy. Policy is adopted Assuming a policy has been made a bill and has been into law approved through committee, the proposed bill is brought before both bodies of legislature for a vote. If the bill passes in one body of Congress, the other must then approve the bill.
  8. 8. #1032-5061 QUAL – November 2, 2007 8 If at any time the bill is defeated, or sent back into Committee for evaluation, the policy process begins again (a return to the wording and funding steps)
  9. 9. #1032-5061 QUAL – November 2, 2007 9 III. Organization Since World War II, various theories of leadership have been devised, examined, and researched, thus influencing the concepts of leadership in all organizations. Educational organizations have not been immune to these influences of leadership and organizational theory. In recent years, the push for greater student achievement has resulted in the need to once again examine and employ the theories and research that will greatly affect the instructional process in a school. Two theories of organizational structures and behaviors have greatly influenced educational systems: the Human Resources theory and the Political Frame theory. The foundation of the Human Resources frame was laid by McGregor in the 1950s and is based upon the following premises: • Organizations exist to serve human need rather than the reverse. • People and organizations need each other: • Organizations need ideas, energy and talent. • People need careers, salaries and opportunities. • When the fit between the individual and the system is poor, on or both will suffer. • A good fit benefits both. Knowledge and understanding of McGregor’s theory has served educational leaders well in the last fifty years. Where school leaders may have once saw teachers and students as lazy and unmotivated (McGregor’s Theory X), we now see our faculty and students as people who will be self directed to
  10. 10. #1032-5061 QUAL – November 2, 2007 10 meet their work objectives (if they are committed to them) and as people who will be committed to the objectives if rewards are in place that address higher needs such as self-fulfillment (McGregor’s Theory Y). This application of the Human Resources theory has had a great impact on the instructional process and, subsequently, student achievement. Teaches who see their students as people who are skillful, searching for meaning, and desiring community will inevitably construct a classroom environment that promotes the well being of their students and their interests. As noted by the Human Resources researchers Argyris & Schon, the actions we take to promote productive organizational learning actually inhibit deeper learning. In the last ten years, the idea of providing faculty with professional development opportunities, in-services, and training that have a direct relationship to pedagogy have resulted in teachers becoming more “in- tune” to the needs of their students. As a result, schools that whole-heartedly adopt the Human Resources principles will likely see improved instruction and improved student achievement. Human resource theorists typically advocate openness, listening, coaching, participation, and empowerment. Bolman and Deal (2003) explained that empowerment includes making information available, encouraging autonomy and participation, redesigning work, fostering teams, promoting egalitarianism, and giving work meeting. The modern education leader has also adopted these principles as has the enlightened classroom teacher; cooperative learning models, middle school teaming, project-based learning, and the promotion of
  11. 11. #1032-5061 QUAL – November 2, 2007 11 service organizations in schools are direct results of education’s embracing of the Human Resources theory. In short, successful educational organizations that embrace creative and powerful ways to align individual and organizational needs will subsequently see a positive impact on instruction and student achievement. The Political Frame theory, too, has directly impacted instruction and student achievement in the modern school – and not for the better. Inadequate funding and subversive organizations within the greater organization are hindering the progress of education. The Political Frame focuses on the realistic process of making decisions and allocating resources in the context of scarcity and divergent interests (Bolman and Deal, 2003). To this end, the modern public educational organization is constantly making decisions about the allocation of funds that are derived through the local, state, and federal communities. Since there is no deep well of money available to all education organizations, the competition for procurement of these resources is vital and necessary; the more money you have for your system, the more you can provide for your organization. Subsequently, educational systems are, internally, constantly in a state of competition; not every promising program can be funded, nor is the proper amount of funding available for existing programs. In the end, moneys are not always available for the improvement of instruction, the hiring of quality teachers, or the programming that could foster improved student achievement. The sub units of any educational organization are also hindering the improvement of instruction and student achievement. Teachers unions and
  12. 12. #1032-5061 QUAL – November 2, 2007 12 some professional educator associations are concerned with the needs of the rank and file membership rather than the greater good of the educational system. Cyert and March point out that the goals of sub units of any organization are not always aligned to the goals of the greater organization. In essence, the teachers’ unions, and other professional associations, do not share the same values as the greater educational system; contracts and working conditions are the primary concerns of the representative agencies, whereas learning, quality teaching, and student achievement are the mission of every educational organization. Some tenured teachers who do not meet the expectations and aims of the leadership are protected through their union, even while their instruction lacks merit or their students show little achievement. Modern school leaders must be able to understand and exploit the strengths of their teachers and staff while at the same time monitoring the political realties of their local and school communities. It is true that employing the principles of the Human Resources theories will improve instruction and student achievement, but the leadership must also be resolute in utilizing facets of the Political Frame theories if they wish to fund and provide quality teachers who can perform well resulting in greater student achievement.
  13. 13. #1032-5061 QUAL – November 2, 2007 13 IV. Research Statement of the Problem Educational Leadership reported in April of 2007 that nearly one-third of all high school students do not graduate from high school (Azzam, 2007). It was documented that for Black and Hispanic students, the failure to complete high school raises to 50%. Many reasons for dropping out were cited. Notably, the lack of interest in school, poor attendance, and poor self and parental discipline rated highest. Azzam goes on to say that, “Close to three-quarters of the [surveyed] students indicated that they started becoming disinterested in high school as early as 9th grade…” (p.91). Why the lack of interest? Some students reported that their schools just didn’t make learning engaging; real world and experiential learning were cited as possible improvements to retain student interest. But a majority of students reported that their school climate was poor; classroom discipline was lacking and student’s supervision was inadequate. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study is to determine the extent to which school leadership contributes to schools’ climate and culture resulting in an increase in 9th grade students dropping out. Given the number of high schools in the United States, a comprehensive qualitative assessment of school leadership policies, practices, and Job Satisfaction will be conducted at each of New Jersey’s high schools that report a high dropout rate. Further, this study will assess 9th grade student attendance rates as measured by state reports. Research Questions
  14. 14. #1032-5061 QUAL – November 2, 2007 14 1. What is the effect of administrative discipline and attendance policies on 9th grade students? 2. What is the effect of student conduct policies on students? 3. To what extent does administrator job satisfaction impact school climate? 4. What is the relationship between 9th grade student engagement, parental involvement and drop out rates? Review of the Research, Theory, and Literature The literature included in this study will review and compare effective and ineffective administrative polices and practices. International and national studies will be included that have looked at the effects of administrative polices and practices in public, independent, and parochial schools. Of particular interest are the effects of discipline and attendance policies, and support programming available for at-risk students. Large-scale studies on secondary school reform initiatives will be reviewed as will attendance data collected by the state report cards for high schools. Of special interest are comparison studies on trends in the effectiveness of hindering administrative discipline polices and support programming for disenfranchised students. National models will be used to compare and contrast the supports available for at-risk students. Design This research will be an evaluation study that will determine the effectiveness of administrative polices and practices as well as administrator job satisfaction in those NJ high schools with high drop out rates. Both quantitative and methods qualitative will be used.
  15. 15. #1032-5061 QUAL – November 2, 2007 15 The administrative policies to be sampled in this study will include those high schools in New Jersey with the highest drop out rates. The administrator sample in this study includes all of the schools’ administrators who voluntarily completed the validated and reliable Teacher Job Satisfaction. The New Jersey State School Report Cards will make retrospective attendance data on 9th grade students available to this researcher. Surveys on Administrator Job Satisfaction will be made available to administrators via an on- line survey database. The surveys will be collected by the on-line provider and provided to this researcher for analysis. Students and administrators will be invited to participate in focus group discussions on the relationship between administrative policies and procedures, student engagement, school sponsored support programs, and the implementation of policy conduct initiatives including attendance, and discipline. Focus group discussions will be facilitated by this researcher and will include ten (15) questions that reflect the above-mentioned issues. Focus groups will be limited to ten (12) participants at each site; two high school administrators, five 9th grade students, and five parents, who will sign-up for these groups in the main office. Focus group sessions will last one hour each.
  16. 16. #1032-5061 QUAL – November 2, 2007 16 V. Statistical Analysis Questions Question #1 Research Problem: PREPMENOW (PMN) claims that there is a high correlation between students’ performance on the SAT and their enrollment in the PMN SAT exam preparation course. To this end, students’ SAT scores and the PMN post- test scores were submitted and a Person Correlation was conducted. Report of the Data: a). The sign of r is =.179, therefore the linear relation is positive. The value of r indicates the strength of the linear relationship. This value indicates that there is little, if any, correlation between the students’ SAT scores and the PMN SAT preparation course. b). If r = .179 the percentage of shared variation between the variables is calculated by squaring r. r2 = (.179)2 = .032. This means that the ability to predict the relationship of students’ SAT scores and taking the PMN preparation course is very low, 3.2% of the time. This leaves 96.8% of the time where it is unpredictable. This information further supports that there is little if any correlation between the students’ SAT scores and the PMN preparation course. c). The reported level of significance is .010. This means that if I were to conduct a similar analysis, 1 out of 100 times the direction of the line would flip-flop. Therefore, this correlation can be confidently applied. Anything greater than .05, then it cannot be confidently applied. Policy, Practice, Research: PREPMENOW claims that there is a high correlation between students’ scores on the SAT who took part in their SAT preparation course. The correlation analysis shows that there is little, if any, correlation between the two. Because PREPMENOW charges a fee for students to take their on-line course, we suggest that further investigation of the PMN course be conducted before offering students a costly program. The district might also consider other SAT preparation programs that are more reliable. Question #2 Statement of the Problem: The purpose of this study is to determine if the mean SAT score between students who participated in the PREPMENOW on- line course differ significantly from the mean SAT score of the students who did not participate in the PREPMENOW on-line course. To this end, an Independent Sample T-Test was conducted. Null Hypothesis: Ho: μ1 - μ2 = 0 There is no difference between two samples’ means
  17. 17. #1032-5061 QUAL – November 2, 2007 17 Alternate Hypothesis: H1 : μ1 - μ2 ≠ 0 There is a difference between the two sample means Decision Rule: I’ll reject H0 if t is equal or more positive than the critical value of t or if t is equal to or more negative than 1.98, given df = 398. I will also reject H0 if the calculated significance (p) of a 2-tailed test is equal or less than .05. Calculations: Degrees of freedom (df) are calculated as the sum of samples minus 2 (df = n1 + n2 – 2). According to the t-table, at .05 level of significance and 398 degrees of freedom, the critical value of t, or tcrit = ±1.98. The t value calculated from the data is -1.634. The p value is .103. This value does fall between my 95% probability or .05 significance level. Decision: There is enough evidence to fail to reject the Null Hypothesis. I fail to reject the Null Hypothesis Ho at .05 level of significance because the calculated t value of -1.634 is more negative or more positive than the t critical value of 1.98. The calculated t value of -1.634 falls in the normal area. Also, I fail to reject Ho at .05 level of significance because the 2-tailed level of significance of .103 is greater than the .05 level of significance, it’s above the threshold .05 that I require as stated in the decision rule. Interpretative Statement: I found evidence to suggest that there is no significant difference between the mean scores of students in Group 1 and students in Group 2. PPR: Based on the data given and the evidence of lack of statistical significance between the two groups’ mean scores, it is apparent that the students who took part in the PMN on-line course did not show a significant difference in their SAT mean scores to those students’ SAT mean scores who did not participate in the on-line program. I recommend that we exercise caution in promoting a costly SAT preparation program until further studies are completed by PREPMENOW. Question #3 Research Problem: The purpose of this study is to determine how the students’ who participated in the PREPMENOW program mean scores on the SAT compare with the mean scores of all students in the state of New Jersey who took the SAT. To this end, a One-Sample t-test was conducted. Null Hypothesis: Ho: μ = 1005 (The selected students’ mean SAT scores will be equal to the mean SAT scores for the students of New Jersey.) Alternate Hypothesis: H1 : μ ≠ 1005 (The student’s mean SAT scores will not
  18. 18. #1032-5061 QUAL – November 2, 2007 18 equal the mean SAT scores for the students of New Jersey) Decision Rule: To be 95% confident that the change in the one sample mean score didn’t happen by random chance, I’ll reject Ho at .05 level of significance (95% level of confidence) if t equals or is greater than the critical value of t 1.98, given df = n – 1: 208 – 1 = 207. I will also reject Ho if the calculated significance (p) of a 2-tailed test is equal or less than .05. Calculations: The SPSS has provided a t value of -2.85, and a two-tailed level of significance (p) of .776. According to the t-table at .05 level of significance and 207 degrees of freedom, the critical value of t is 1.98 . This value doesn’t fall between my 95% probability. It falls in the critical area. Decision: Based on the data given, I fail to reject the Null Hypothesis at .05 level of significance because the calculated t value is greater than the t critical value. I also fail to reject Ho at .05 level of significance because the 2-tailed level of significance is greater than the .05 level of significance that it’s required as stated in the decision rule. Interpretative Statement: There is evidence to fail to reject the null hypothesis. There is no significant difference between the students’ mean SAT score at this high school with the mean SAT score statewide. The 2-tailed level of significance suggests that a sample mean score of 1005 is likely to occur. The 2- tailed level of significance of .776 is above the threshold .05. The difference between the hypothesized mean of 1005 and the one-sample mean of 1004.47 is not significant. PPR: The data provided is evidence to suggest that the students at this high school are not performing significantly better or worse on the SAT than other students in New Jersey. Therefore the district and school might want to refrain from endorsing the PREPMENOW program. I also suggest that the school continue to monitor students’ SAT mean scores during any proposed reform measure. Question #4 Research Problem: The purpose of this study is to determine if there is significant differences between the students’ mean PREPMENOW pre-test scores and the students’ mean PREPMENOW post-test scores. To this end, a Matched Pair t-test was conducted. State the Null Hypothesis: Ho: μD = 0. The null hypothesis states that the students pre and post test mean scores were not significant different
  19. 19. #1032-5061 QUAL – November 2, 2007 19 State the Alternate Hypothesis: H1: μD ≠ 0. The alternate hypothesis states that the students pre and post test mean scores were not significantly different Decision Rule: I’ll reject Ho at .05 level of significance (95% level of confidence) if t equals or is greater than 1.98, the critical value of t, given df = n – 1 = 208 – 1 = 207. I will also reject Ho if the calculated significance (p) of a 2-tailed test is equal or less than .05. Calculations: The calculated t value provided in the SPSS output is 7.168 and the two-tailed level of significance (p) of .000. This t value 7.168 does fall between 95% probability. It falls within the range of acceptance. Decision: I reject the Null Hypothesis Ho at .05 level of significance because the calculated t value of 7.168 is greater than the t critical value of 1.98. The calculated t value does not fall in the normal distribution area. Also, I fail to reject Ho at .05 level of significance because the 2-tailed level of significance of .000 is below than the .05 level of significance that I require as stated in the decision rule, and commonly accepted as the threshold of significance for social science research. Interpretative Statement: I found evidence that there is a significant difference between the mean scores of students who took the PREPMENOW pre-test and the PREPMENOW post-test. PPR: It appears that the students’ mean scores improve significantly between the PREPMENOW pre and post test. However, more analysis of student data must be conducted before the PREPMENOW program can be seen as a viable intervention to improving students SAT scores.