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SCHOOLS OF EXCELLENCE AND EQUITY: CLOSING ACHIEVEMENT GAPS VIA ACADEMIC OPTIMISM

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Title: SCHOOLS OF EXCELLENCE AND EQUITY: CLOSING ACHIEVEMENT GAPS VIA ACADEMIC OPTIMISM


1
SCHOOLS OF EXCELLENCE AND EQUITY CLOSING
ACHIEVEMENT GAPS VIA ACADEMIC OPTIMISM
  • Jen Benkovitz
  • AJ Muttillo
  • Thad Urban
  • Under the direction of Dr. Kathleen M. Brown
  • MSAN Institute, April 27, 2011

2
Critical Theorist Perspective
  • One reason that the gaps are so persistent,
    pervasive, and significantly disparate is that
    American schools have been pressured to preserve
    the status quo (Oakes, Quartz, Ryan Lipton,
    2000, p.573).

3
Group Approach
  • Schools of Excellence and Equity Closing
    Achievement Gaps Through Academic Optimism (Hoy,
    Tarter, Woolfolk Hoy, 2006)
  • Academic Emphasis (Jen Benkovitz)
  • Collective Efficacy (A.J. Muttillo)
  • Faculty Trust (Thad Urban)

4
Belief GOOD LEADERS"
  • Good leaders committed to excellence AND equity
    find a way for all students to achieve high
    levels of academic success, regardless of any
    students race, ethnicity, culture, neighborhood,
    income of parents, or home language (Scheurich
    Skrla, 2003, p.1)

5
Purpose
  • To explore how K-5 elementary principals of
    state recognized Honor Schools of Excellence
    are (or are not) pursuing, supporting, and
    achieving both academic excellence and systemic
    equity in their schools.

6
Honor Schools of Excellence
  • At least 90 of the students perform at or above
    grade-level (i.e., achieved level 3 or 4 on state
    exams)
  • School meets expected growth as determined by
    states growth formula and
  • School meets federal NCLB requirements for AYP
    (adequate yearly progress).

7
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9
Overarching Question
  • How are principals of K-5 public Honor
    Schools of Excellence pursuing, supporting and
    advancing social justice, excellence, and
    systemic equity in a suburban southeastern
    county?

10
Specific Research Questions
  • What are principals of K-5 Honor Schools of
    Excellence doing to ensure the success of all of
    their students?
  • What were the important first steps these
    principals took as they moved toward high
    achievement for all?
  • What similarities do school leaders, who are
    successful in creating equity and excellence,
    have in common?
  • What findings can connect to and build upon the
    literature related to leadership for social
    justice and systemic equity?
  • What can be learned from Honor Schools of
    Excellence that could benefit other schools with
    similar demographics?

11
Leadership for Excellence and Equity
  • The school principal is the key player in all
    successful school reform efforts (Edmonds, 1979
    Fullan, 2005 Lien et al., 1997 Puma, et al.,
    1997 National Commission on Educational
    Excellence, 1983).

12
Social In-Justice
  • ROOTS
  • Hegemony (norm)
  • Assimilation
  • Brown vs. Board of Education
  • PRESENT ISSUES IN EDUCATION
  • Achievement Gap
  • No Child Left Behind
  • Resegregation of our schools

13
Framework Systemic Equity
  • The transformed ways in which systems and
    individuals habitually operate to ensure that
    every learner has the greatest opportunity to
    learn enhanced by the resources and supports
    necessary to achieve competence, excellence,
    independence, responsibility, and
    self-sufficiency for school and for life (Scott,
    2001, p.6).
  • Achievement Equity
  • Programmatic Equity
  • Teacher Quality Equity

14
Characteristics of Leaders for Social Justice,
Equity, Excellence
  • Challenge the status quo
  • Understand policy (including intended and
    unintended consequences)
  • Resist deficit thinking
  • Provide moral leadership
  • Engage in critical reflection
  • Lead for transformation through community
    building, support and engagement
  • Act as strong instructional leaders

15
Site Selection
  • Purposeful Sampling (24 Elementary Schools)
  • K-5 Honor School of Excellence
  • Regular, Traditional Calendar School
  • Stable Leadership (Principal 3 years)
  • A critical mass of student diversity (18)

16
Data Collection
  • PHASE ONE Equity Audits
  • Minority Achievement
  • 12 LGS 15 to 30 gaps 65 to 78 proficient
  • 12 SGS 8 to 14 gaps 81 to 87 proficient
  • Geographic
  • Demographic
  • Quality of Teachers
  • Quality of Programs/Facilities

17
Equity Audit ConclusionDemographic Data
18
Equity Audit ConclusionTeacher Quality Data
19
Equity Audit ConclusionProgrammatic Data
20
Equity Audit ConclusionWorking Condition Data
21
Equity Audit ConclusionAchievement Data
22
Data Collection
  • PHASE TWO Semi-Structured Interviews at 16 of
    the 24 Schools (80 total interviews)
  • Principal (16)
  • Assistant Principal (16)
  • Experienced Teacher (16)
  • New Teacher (16)
  • Parent Leader (16)

23
Conceptual Framework ofAcademic Optimism
  • Definition
  • A construct developed by Hoy, Tarter, and
    Woolfolk Hoy (2006) to explain student
    achievement while controlling for socioeconomic
    status, previous achievement, and urbanicity.
  • Three Sub-Components
  • Academic Emphasis
  • Collective Efficacy
  • Faculty Trust

24
1. Academic Emphasis
  • Definition
  • The extent to which a school is characterized by
    a press for academic achievement (Hoy, Tarter,
    Woolfolk Hoy, 2006)
  • Teachers set high but achievable goals, they
    believe in the capability of the students to
    achieve, the school environment is orderly and
    serious, and, students, as well as teachers and
    principals, pursue and respect academic success
    (Goddard et al., p. 684).
  • Research supporting Academic Emphasis
  • Positively related to student achievement even
    after controlling for SES (Hoy, Tarter,
    Kottkamp, 1991 Lee Byrk, 1989)
  • Academic emphasis as an educational equalizer
    using human/social capital in more academically
    focused ways (Shouse, 1995).
  • School/Classroom policies, practices and
    behaviors can maximize academic emphasis (Murphy,
    Weil, Hallinger, Mittman, 1982).

25
Academic Emphasis (cont.)
  • Impact
  • enhances learning
  • improves student achievement
  • shapes school norms and behavioral expectations

26
2. Collective Efficacy
  • The judgment of teachers in a school that the
    faculty as a whole can organize and execute the
    courses of action required to have a positive
    effect on students (Goddard, Hoy, Woolfolk Hoy,
    2004).

27
Significance of Collective Efficacy
  • A stronger predictor of academic achievement than
    socioeconomic status
  • With staffs who firmly believe that, by their
    determined efforts, students are motivatable and
    teachable whatever their background, schools
    populated with minority students of low
    socioeconomic status achieve at the highest
    percentile ranks based on national norms of
    language and mathematical competencies (Bandura,
    1993).

28
3. Faculty Trust
  • A willingness to be vulnerable to another party
    based on the confidence that that party is
    benevolent, reliable, competent, honest, and open
    (Hoy, Tarter, Woolfolk Hoy, 2006, p. 429)

29
Faculty Trust (cont.)
  • Allows teachers to insist on higher academic
    standards with the confidence they will not be
    undermined by parents
  • Allows for collaboration and creative solutions
  • Instills a universal belief that all students can
    learn and teachers and parents can make a
    difference

30
Conclusion
  • Conclusion
  • The demographics of the student population
    continues to become more diverse in terms of
    linguistic, ethnic and socioeconomic status.
  • The teaching force remains mostly populated with
    White, middle class, females.
  • Significant gaps in achievement remain between
    White students, students of color, and students
    living in poverty (Kozol, 1991 Jencks
    Phillips, 1998 Williams, 2003).
  • Research reflects an inequality with regard to
    student achievement, program accessibility,
    teacher expectations of students, instructional
    delivery, curriculum implementation, and resource
    allocation (McKenzie Scheurich, 2004).

31
Significance of this study
  • Give leaders data to support the notion that the
    school plays a significant role in the
    achievement of students
  • Offer strategies that will facilitate excellence
    and equity from the principals who lead the most
    equitable schools in this district and
  • Document how schools, and leaders in particular,
    can and are pursuing, supporting, and achieving
    both goals.

32
Academic Emphasis Data Analysis Template
  • -

Academic Emphasis
Policies Principal Sets the Stage
? Student Achievement is a Collective and Collaborative Effort ? Recruit Highly Qualified (HQ) Teachers Who Share Your Vision ? A Safe and Orderly Environment
Practices Close Monitoring of Teaching and Learning
? Recognition, Encouragement Celebration of Academic Achievement ? Data Driven Decision-Making ? Principal Offers Instructional Feedback and Support
Beliefs High Expectations
? Excellence is Expected ? The States Curriculum is Non-Negotiable
33
Student Achievement is a Collective and
Collaborative Effort
  • SIMILARITIES
  • Parents and community members support student
    achievement.
  • The Leadership Team serves as a vehicle for
    decision-making.
  • Implementation of the Professional Learning
    Community model.
  • DIFFERENCES
  • While Parent and Community involvement was
    evident at both small and large gap schools, it
    was much more prevalent in the small gap schools.
  • While Leadership Teams were used for
    decision-making at both small gap and large gap
    schools, the practice was much more prevalent at
    the small gap schools.
  • While the PLC model was implemented at both small
    and large gap schools, it was more prevalent in
    the small gap schools and was also much more
    focused on individual students needs, planning,
    student work, various assessments, and
    instructional methodology/resources.

34
Heres What They Had to Say
  • Small Gap Schools
  • There is a real emphasis on collaboration. Our
    (grade-level) teams plan together at least twice
    a week. And in that planning we recognize that
    every teacher wont be doing the same thing in
    the same way. But theyre talking about
    instruction, theyre talking about lesson plans,
    theyre talking about student achievement, and
    theyre looking for ways to help each other be
    successful, and theyre sharing resources. But
    everybody doesnt have to do the same work alone
    because we share the instructional planning, we
    share looking for resources, and we share looking
    at assessments. Then you can build on everything.
    (SGS1-P)
  • Large Gap Schools
  • We are trying to form more coherent and more
    cohesive professional learning communities so
    that we can examine the data and make sure that
    the curriculum is covered accurately every nine
    weeks so that they dont get to the end of grade
    test in the spring and realize that they still
    have half of the curriculum goals left. (LGS2-P)

35
Recruit Highly Qualified Teachers Who Share Your
Vision
  • SIMILARITIES
  • Principals in both small and large gap schools
    actively sought out candidates who shared their
    vision for teaching and learning.
  • A variety of hiring approaches were employed.
  • DIFFERENCES
  • While the small gap school principals focused
    primarily on instructional competency (skill set,
    best practices, a learner, etc.), data from the
    large gap schools revealed that instruction was
    secondary to personality when it came to teacher
    recruitment.
  • A team hiring approach was much more prevalent in
    the small gap schools.
  • The small gap school principals employed a
    greater variety of approaches and actively
    recruited the best candidates (networking, out
    of state job fairs, etc.).

36
Heres What They Had to Say
  • Small Gap Schools
  • The expectations here are very high. Weve got
    eight national board-certified teachers. Many of
    our teacher assistants even have higher education
    degrees. So they are very over qualified, and
    thats the teacher assistants. Then you move up
    from there to the teachers and they are very
    qualified too. (SGS2AP)
  • We interview through teams. The team that has
    the opening is a part of the interview staff, and
    usually when somebody comes in and meets the
    team, the thing that they pick up on is the
    energy of and the ability of the teachers sitting
    in on the interview, and they want to be a part
    of that. (SGS1-P)
  • Large Gap Schools
  • He was very careful about who he picked to place
    strategically on those teams, and those
    personalities we saw. And I could tell that,
    because even sitting in on the interviews, which
    I got to, even though we felt sometimes there
    might have been somebody that was a little
    stronger, we went with the other person because
    of personality and style. (LGS5ET)
  • I dont care if you know any of the answers
    because I can train you. I can send you to
    literacy training, to math training I want to
    know, Are you a positive person? Thats all I
    really care about Or are you a psycho? So that
    to me is the most important thing. (LGS8P)

37
A Safe and Orderly Environment
  • SIMILARITIES
  • Very minimal discipline issues due to clear
    school-wide expectations, parent involvement, a
    team approach, and an emphasis on classroom
    management.
  • DIFFERENCES
  • While the small gap schools involved both parents
    and colleagues to address student behavior, the
    large gap schools only showed evidence of working
    with parents.
  • While the small gap school principals made it
    clear that classroom management was expected and
    monitored, the large gap school principals, with
    exception of one (LGS5), did not state this
    explicitly.

38
Heres What They Had to Say
  • Small Gap Schools
  • We turn that into the office at the beginning of
    each year so they know what is expected of each
    student in each class, and so if we send a child
    up, they know that weve gone through our whole
    list of rules, weve going through our whole list
    of consequences, and were at the end. Theyre
    very supportive about discipline. (SGS3ET)
  • We brought five children in once and spent the
    whole day investigating. The principal brought
    everyone in every parent. This example reveals
    the importance of having the administration model
    the expectation for how discipline should be
    handled and also suggests the importance of
    relationships as well as teamwork. (SGS1-AP)
  • We collaborate with other teachers to address the
    3-5 who struggle behaviorally. (SGS7-NT)
  • Large Gap Schools
  • I currently do not have any discipline issues
    here nothing major like Ive heard about in
    other schools, but we do have the appropriately
    inappropriate. (LGS1NT)
  • We have implemented a school-wide discipline
    system based on Glasers Control Theory. We teach
    the kids starting from when they come here in
    kindergarten. They learn about their basic need,
    and basically, overall, learn that theyre in
    charge of their behavior. That they make choices
    some good and some bad and that there are
    consequences when you dont make good choices
    but part of being here is to learn choices
    (LGS3P)
  • He (principal) is very pro-active in his approach
    to handling student behavior. He constantly
    communicates with families will drive to a
    childs house if necessary. (LGS4PL)

39
Recognition, Encouragement, and Celebration of
Student Achievement
  • DIFFERENCES
  • With regard to this sub-theme, there is a
    significant discrepancy between the small gap
    schools and large gap schools.
  • Principals of the small gap schools employed a
    number of practices quarterly rewards, positive
    reinforcement related to academic achievement,
    academic notes on report cards, phone calls to
    parents, student data notebooks to monitor
    learning, and postcards from the principal to
    highlight academic achievements.
  • Although some practices were in place in the
    large gap schools, they did not seem to be deeply
    embedded in the schools instructional cultures
    and the principals did not seem to have a plan
    for school-wide implementation. The large gap
    principals took a much more passive role in this
    area, while the small gap school principals were
    active and deliberate.

40
Heres What They Had to Say
  • Small Gap Schools
  • The assistant principal and I look at every
    report card in the school we always make
    comments to every student in the school. Love
    the way youre doing. Or Lets get going in
    math. If theres anything I can do, come see me.
    I think that providing that kind of support for a
    kid academically is encouraging. I have these
    Purple Panda Postcards that I send out too. I
    tell the teachers that when someone is doing a
    great job I want them to jot something down and
    well pay for the postage. (SGS2P)
  • Every child has a data notebook. We conduct at
    least one student-led conference per year,
    usually in the spring from kindergarten up
    through fifth grade. Children keep charts and
    graphs on behavior, attendance, reading
    performance and they keep it in this notebook.
    In the spring, the child sits down with the
    parent and the child conducts the conference.
    (SGS8AP)
  • Large Gap Schools
  • I do wish there was more of a recognition of
    academic achievement in some way.
  • (LGS7-PL)
  • We really advertise that if the parents dont
    come then we get a surrogate parent to take over.
    Sometimes thats all you need to say. Parents
    dont want their kids to talk to anyone else
    other than themselves or other family members. So
    that has increased our conference attendance when
    the parents know that someone else is going to
    step in their shoes. (LGS2-P)
  • She (the principal) really liked seeing them
    (student-led conferences), so we had some of the
    kids conference with her But she just respects
    each grade-level and what they want to do. We (a
    teammate and I) tried to get more people to do it
    but they wont let go of that power. (LGS4-ET)

41
Data Driven Decision-Making
  • SIMILARITIES
  • Data was used in small and large gap schools to
    drive decision-making.
  • DIFFERENCES
  • Data was used in the small gap schools to drive
    decision-making about hiring, resource allotment,
    professional development, and teaching practices.
    This practice was actively modeled and supported
    by the small gap school principals, but was much
    less evident in the large gap schools.
  • Motivation behind the data collection in the
    small gap schools was to identify and support
    individual student performance and needs and to
    use this information to modify instruction
    accordingly. Motivation in the large gap schools
    was largely to get teachers talking and
    learning from one another.
  • Data in the large gap schools was often used to
    remediate students in both after-school and
    pull-out programs there was no evidence
    suggesting that the data was used to evaluate
    these programs.

42
Heres What They Had to Say
  • Small Gap Schools
  • Test Less, Assess More (SGS3-P)
  • We have to have data to back up our decisions to
    prove to her (principal) why it would be better.
    Our grade-level was doing flex-grouping, which is
    basically ability grouping and while for some
    students its probably really good, for others it
    gives a false impression of themselves. We really
    wanted to change but we had to sit down with her
    with our pros and cons. We actually wanted to
    change the practice two years ago but at that
    point the data didnt show and now this year was
    the first time that shes like, Ok, now you have
    enough data. Thats what I mean when I say she
    wants us to follow through not for a week but
    for a year or two! (SGS5ET)
  • We sit down in January and go through all of our
    data. Who do we have thats struggling, who do
    you think is not going to make it, who are we
    really worried about at this point, and what
    resources are they getting. We went to each
    grade-level to determine which 12 or 15 children
    were performing at level 2 and could be bumped up
    to level 3. The principal just dies if she knows
    they dont qualify for Title I support. When we
    have enough money, we hire intervention teachers
    to work with these students. (SGS1AP)
  • Large Gap Schools
  • The whole grade-level wanted to ability group
    last year and I didnt. I just dont feel like
    its beneficial for my kids to not get reading
    and writing and all the other things from me. I
    feel like I need to know what theyre doing. He
    (principal) took my concerns right away He let
    me opt out. My reading scores were really good
    and now were all self-contained they came to me
    to see what I was doing! (LGS5NT)
  • We look at data all the time. We look at who
    does the best job you know who has the highest
    percentage. Eventually they say I need to know
    this because I can improve and I see where Im
    weak let me go down there and work with a
    colleague to see if I can learn some techniques
    or teaching methods that will help my kids be
    more successful. (LGS1P)

43
Principal Offers Instructional Feedback and
Support
  • DIFFERENCES
  • Small gap school principals were directly
    involved in offering the teachers instructional
    feedback and support these principals viewed
    teaching as a continuous learning endeavor and
    modeled this by participating in and/or by
    facilitating professional development
    opportunities on-site via staff meetings. This
    practice was much less prevalent in the large gap
    schools.
  • The small gap school principals used teacher
    evaluations as a tool for offering specific
    written feedback and for offering and/or
    suggesting additional human or material
    resources. The large gap school principals were
    much more laid back in this area and, in some
    cases, delegated the role of instructional
    feedback to an instructional resource teacher.
  • Whereas beginning teacher support was
    conventional in the large gap schools, the
    practices in place in the small gap schools
    extended beyond the county requirement and placed
    a heavy emphasis on instructional support. This
    support was also offered to struggling veterans
    in many of the small gap schools.

44
Heres What They Had to Say
  • Small Gap Schools
  • She (the principal) has taken a very different
    approach to staff meetings than weve had in the
    past. We have staff development as well as just a
    meeting to be told She brings that staff
    development piece right into our staff meetings
    and shes even pulled people from within the
    staff to do the staff development. (SGS4ET)
  • Shes (principal) very into teachers performing
    best practice in the classroom. She looks for
    that when she goes in. Shes not afraid on an
    observation to write down an area of improvement.
    Actually, I dont know anybody who gets an
    observation that doesnt have some area in which
    they dont need to grow. So I think shes really
    good about, you know, diplomatically pointing out
    what area it is that you need improvement in.
    (SGS5ET)
  • Whether shes been teaching five years or two it
    doesnt matter. Weve got some excellent teachers
    here so the one thing I do is find her a mentor.
    I find somebody who is willing to really take
    some time helping this person. The other thing
    that I do is that I try to get her out to see
    what other teachers are doing. The best learning
    experience for teachers is to see how other
    teachers teach. (SGS3P)
  • Large Gap Schools
  • I would say he spends less of his time in the
    classroom than maybe some principals do. He does
    the evaluations as per the county requirement,
    but for teachers who are doing well and we know
    whats going on, he tends to not be in there very
    often. (LGS1AP)
  • This is an area that I have honestly delegated
    more to my Instructional Resource Teacher and my
    Assistant Principal because I dont have a
    background in elementary teaching. I never taught
    in elementary school. All of my experience in
    education was in the secondary level until I
    became an elementary school principal. (LGS4P)
  • Uh, with guided reading Im looking to see if
    theyre giving a guided reading and see if
    theyre with the group. Im looking to make sure
    obviously I dont want to see someone doing
    something thats 7th grade. Im looking obviously
    for that. Were they enjoying the lesson? (LGS6P)

45
Excellence is Expected
  • DIFFERENCES
  • Data from each small gap school revealed a
    general consensus that excellence is
    characterized by having high expectations for all
    students, regardless of background, whereas data
    from the large gap schools sometimes refuted the
    notion that all children will be successful.
  • Excellence in the small gap schools was
    consistently characterized by growth, whereas
    excellence in the large gap schools was mostly
    characterized by grade-level proficiency.
  • Data from the large gap schools revealed a much
    more vague and ambiguous definition of excellence

46
Heres What They Had to Say
  • Small Gap Schools
  • I think high expectations should exist for
    everybody regardless of where you come from. I
    have never seen anybody rise to low expectations.
    If theyre gonna rise, then you have to keep them
    high and have them reach for them but we must be
    supporting them along the way. (SGS8AP)
  • Were looking for each child, regardless of what
    his/her background is, to show growth. We want
    them to meet the benchmarks and the expectations
    regardless of disability, or background or race,
    or whatever it might be. (SGS4ET)
  • Excellence is any time a person can maximize
    their potential. I think one of the most faulty
    problems with No Child Left Behind is that it
    ignores the growth factor. I think that every
    child deserves a years worth of growth in the
    standard course of study - and thats at a
    minimum. So that means that kid that already
    walks in knowing the third grade curriculum when
    their in second grade still deserves to grow.
    (SGS7P)
  • Large Gap Schools
  • The staff and its a beautiful building. The
    staff is really committed to excellence and
    shares ideas. Theyre always looking for ways to
    improve. (LGS3P)
  • Its making sure that everyone is happy If
    people believe were great, were great So a
    school of excellence is about teachers being a
    real collegial team, and theyve got to trust
    each other, and theyve got to be talking nice to
    each other. (LGS8P)
  • I dont think we can guarantee that every child
    is going to be successful. But we need to provide
    them the opportunity to be successful. (LGS4P)
  • And its a goal. I mean its not 100 percent all
    the time with all the kids. Its not even 100
    percent with you know what Im saying. Its not
    even 100 percent with a portion of them all the
    time. Its hit or miss. (LGS8P)

47
The States Curriculum is Non-Negotiable
  • SIMILARITIES
  • The states curriculum was described as
    non-negotiable in each of the 16 schools.
  • The use of curriculum maps and pacing guides was
    referenced in many of the small and large gap
    schools.
  • DIFFERENCES
  • While 6 of the 8 small gap schools revealed
    evidence that supported creativity as well as a
    more holistic approach, only two of the large gap
    schools revealed strong evidence that supported a
    more student-centered methodology.
  • While the small gap schools emphasized depth,
    built upon students strengths, and referenced
    more holistic and responsive approaches, the
    large gap schools remained focused on coverage
    and consistency.

48
Heres What They Had to Say
  • Small Gap Schools
  • We expect the curriculum to be taught. If youre
    going to do well on the End of Grade Test (EOG),
    youve got to teach the North Carolina
    Curriculum. Its as simple as that. There is
    nothing on that test that isnt in the
    curriculum. And when teachers ask me how do I
    prepare my kids for the EOG, I simply say, Teach
    the curriculum. And so were constantly looking
    at it when we go in to do observations Teachers
    know that I look at that and sometimes Ill ask
    them to tell me where their objective is in the
    curriculum. (SGS3P)
  • Im looking to see that children are active, that
    children are engaged, that groups are going on
    that its student centered in that they are
    active learners and as engaged in the process
    thats occurring as the teacher is. (SGS1P)
  • I dont walk in there and say, Everybody needs
    to be on page 93 at 1000 a.m. We all know that
    were at point A and need to get to point B. How
    you get there, you know, I think thats the fun
    thing about teaching. Everyone has their own
    style. (SGS5-P)
  • Large Gap Schools
  • We want to make sure that we are following the
    states curriculum using our countys pacing
    guides. Every year we make sure our grade-levels
    are updated, as well as the specialists so that
    we can tweak it if we need to and continue to
    follow it so that by the end of the year we know
    we have covered it and we are not rushing through
    goals and objectives. (SGS2AP)
  • We are expected to follow the states curriculum
    and make sure that if Im teaching something that
    other kids are being taught the same way in other
    classrooms. (SGS2BT)

49
Academic Emphasis in Small and Large Gap Schools
  • CONCLUSION

50
Small and Large Gap School SimilaritiesAchieving
Excellence
  • Overarching Similarities Across Sub-Themes
  • Principle belief Student achievement is a
    collective effort.
  • Principals expressed strong convictions with
    regard to hiring practices and sought out
    teachers who were aligned with their vision for
    teaching and learning.
  • Small and large gap schools were characterized by
    safe and orderly environments.
  • The principals of both small and large gap
    schools emphasized that the states curriculum
    was non-negotiable.

51
Small and Large Gap School Differences Honoring
Excellence
  • Excellence without equity simply reinforces and
    reproduces the hegemonic practices that plague so
    many schools across our nation. Without
    accounting for equity, excellence is merely a
    title that fulfills a flawed political mandate.
    In a nation that prides itself in Liberty and
    Justice for All and bathes itself in political
    claims to Leave No Child Behind, we have to honor
    excellence by embracing equity. The differences
    noted between the small and large gap schools
    bring to light strategies for how school leaders
    can leverage academic press in pursuit of
    excellence that is inclusive of equity. While
    each of the schools in this study boast the
    title, Honor School of Excellence, only the small
    gap schools have achieved results that are more
    equitable across race and class these schools
    have honored excellence by accounting for every
    child.

52
Lessons Learned from the Small Gap Schools
  • Student achievement can be influenced by
    academic emphasis when the following conditions
    are supported, modeled, and monitored by the
    principal.
  • A Teamwork Approach A combination of staff,
    students, families, and community members work
    together to support student achievement. This
    includes identifying individual students needs,
    seeking out the best candidate for a position,
    and supporting student behavior.
  • A Balanced Approach The principals must walk
    the talk. This balance of espoused and enacted
    values applies to student discipline,
    instructional feedback and support, and data
    driven decision-making.
  • A Strong Sense of Purpose All actions must be
    directly related to student achievement. This
    applies to the recognition and encouragement of
    academic success, to the visibility of the
    principal, and to the use of data driven
    decision-making to influence teaching and
    learning.
  • An Insistent Disposition The principal must
    serve as an advocate for instructional practices
    that are respectful and responsive, regardless of
    expectations or mandates that could otherwise
    serve as barriers to student achievement. This
    applies to hiring only the best candidates, to
    advocating for a student-centered instructional
    practices, and, finally, to insisting upon
    excellence for every child, as measured by growth
    (versus grade-level proficiency).

53
Answering the Research Questions
  • What are the principals of K-5 Honor Schools of
    Excellence doing to ensure the success of their
    students?
  • These principals establish and enforce policies,
    practices, and beliefs that support student
    achievement. This includes structures/systems
    that foster a sense of shared ownership for
    student achievement, the recruitment of teachers
    who share the principals vision, high
    expectations for behavior, and the required use
    of the states curriculum.
  • b) What important first steps did these
    principals take in ensuring a high rate of
    student achievement?
  • The data did not reveal an answer to this
    question.

54
Answering the Research Questions (continued)
  • What similarities do school leaders who are
    successful in creating equity and excellence,
    have in common?
  • Excellence is expected and inspected and applies
    to every student regardless of background
  • Collective ownership for individual students
  • Walk the talk.
  • Curriculum Equal access, depth versus breadth,
    teacher autonomy, a student-centered approach
  • What findings can connect to and build upon the
    literature related to social justice and systemic
    equity?
  • Specific strategies used to achieve excellence
    and equity through academic emphasis
  • Principal as the unit of analysis

55
Answering the Research Questions (continued)
  • e) What can be learned from Honor Schools of
    Excellence that can benefit other schools with
    similar demographics?
  • High expectations are clearly communicated,
    modeled, shared, and scrutinized
  • Parent and community involvement supports student
    achievement
  • Focus on individual students
  • Establish a shared sense of purpose
  • Maintain a safe and orderly environment
  • Provide purposeful instructional feedback and
    support
  • Emphasize the whole child when stating
    expectations for the states curriculum

56
Collective Efficacy
  • The judgment of teachers in a school that the
    faculty as a whole can organize and execute the
    courses of action required to have a positive
    effect on students (Goddard, Hoy, Woolfolk
    Hoy, 2004, p.4)

57
Four Components of Collective Efficacy
  1. Mastery Experience When a person or group
    perceives that a performance has been successful,
    efficacy beliefs tend to increase.
  2. Vicarious Experience When a model with whom the
    observer identifies performs well.

58
Four Components of Collective Efficacy
  • 3) Social Persuasion Collaboration,
    encouragement, specific feedback, or
    conversations among staff and/or community
    members.
  • 4) Affective State Level of excitement or
    anxiety that adds to the organizations sense of
    collective efficacy.

59
7 Similarities in Collective Efficacy
  1. Learning through staff development
  2. Learning through observation
  3. Collaboration through leadership teams
  4. Grade-level collaboration
  5. Interview teams
  6. Support for teachers
  7. Caring about teachers

60
6 Differences in Collective Efficacy
  • A clearer vision of teaching and learning
  • Direct involvement with instruction
  • Individualization for students
  • Feedback on instruction
  • Collective efficacy language
  • Caring about learning

61
D1 A Clearer Vision of Teaching and Learning
  • SGS1-P, Are the children engaged, groups are
    going on, that its not teacher driven from in
    front of the classroom, but that its student
    centered in that they are active learners and as
    engaged in the process thats occurring as the
    teacher is.
  • LGS1-P, For the curriculum, um, I guess what we
    are looking for is those (pause), of course I
    mean when you look at the Standard Course of
    Study the state sets the goals and objectives and
    our job is to provide an instructional program
    that supports those goals.

62
D2 Direct Involvement with Instruction
  • SGS3-P, Our curriculum map gets updated every
    year, and were constantly tweaking it and making
    it better, and changes in the curriculum, all
    those changes are made.
  • LGS6-P, She (the IRT) does wonderful things for
    people like me, because I dont have to be that
    up-to-date (on curriculum).

63
D3 Individualizing for Students
  • SGS7-P, I dont think its right to talk about
    kids in groups because I dont think it matters
    what group youre in if youre not achieving.
    Youre not achieving as an individual.
  • LGS5-AP, in reference to data notebooks,
    student-led conferencing, and communicating with
    students about individual performance, There are
    a couple of classes here, but its not something
    thats particularly widespread.

64
D4 Feedback on Instruction
  • SGS5-ET, Shes very into teachers performing
    best practice in the classroom. She looks for
    that when she goes in. Shes not afraid on an
    observation to write down an area of improvement.
    Actually, I dont know anybody who gets an
    observation that doesnt have some area in which
    they need to grow.
  • LGS3-ET, Im not really sure (how she uses
    teacher evaluations) because mine have always
    been really good. So when I go in there to talk
    with her, we talk about a lot of other things.

65
D5 Collective Efficacy Language
  • SGS6-P, When I came here 9 years ago, the
    composite for the school was 70 something .. And
    I spent about a week here and I said thats not
    reasonable for this school. The children are
    bright. Those parents are talented and willing
    to help, and it was just amazing to me that the
    school was that low. Weve been above the 90
    percentile, while taking on more Free and Reduced
    Lunch kids.
  • LGS7-P, What parent are we going to look at and
    say, we think we can teach every child but yours
    so we have to constantly focus on every child
    we have to have an understanding that there is
    economic diversity, and there is racial
    diversity, and weve got to talk about it in
    order to make sure that all children are
    successful.

66
D6 Caring about Learning
  • SGS4-AP, Often times when you have low morale,
    you also often have low achievement. And when
    you have teachers who dont want to come to
    school, or teachers who are zipping out the back
    door during instructional time, its ultimately
    going to affect the children.
  • LGS2-NT, We are looking for the good in the
    child rather than looking for whats wrong with
    them and it creates an attitude in the children
    that its ok if I screw up because Im still an
    ok kid.

67
Implications for Practice
  • Principals would benefit from
  • socially persuading staff that their actions
    impact student achievement.
  • developing subject-specific collaborative groups
  • analyzing individual student data
  • implementing specific strategies based on the
    student data
  • utilizing hiring teams
  • providing all teachers with specific feedback on
    instruction
  • establish systems to facilitate teachers learning
    from their peers
  • reflecting on their own sense of self-efficacy

68
Analyzing the Data Through the Lens of Faculty
Trust
Component 1 Benevolence Component 2 Reliability Component 3 Competence Component 4 Honesty Component 5 Openness
Sub-Theme 1 Our Babies High Expectations Strong Faculty Hiring Practices Matter Using and Sharing Data Welcoming
Sub-Theme 2 --- Shared Vision Collaboration --- TOO MUCH Parent Involvement
Sub-Theme 3 --- --- --- --- Open and Frequent Communication
Sub-Theme 4 --- --- --- --- Discussion of Race and the Gaps
69
BenevolenceThe confidence that the ones
wellbeing will be protected by the trusted party
  • Our Babies
  • All SGS Schools provided evidence that the
    faculty possesses a strong sense of devotion and
    responsibility to every child.
  • Stronger than the traditional professional-client
    relationship
  • Teaching/Remediation/Communication
  • Planning Activities
  • Response to Crisis
  • The Majority of LGS schools credit a talented
    faculty for their successes and high achievement
    recognition

70
Benevolence Our Babies
  • SGS
  • It doesnt matter where they come from. You can
    pull them up You cant look at your population
    and say theyre never going to get it.
    (SGS1-AP).  
  • Whatever it takes to help the children learn,
    thats what were here to do. (SGS5-NT).
  • LGS
  • I dont think we can guarantee that every child
    is going to be successful. But we need to And
    its a goal. I mean its not 100 percent all the
    time with all the kids. Its not even 100 percent
    with you know what Im saying. Its not even 100
    percent with a portion of them all the time. Its
    hit or miss. (LGS 8 P)
  • We provide them the opportunity to be
    successful. (LGS 4 P)

71
ReliabilityThe extent to which one can count on
another person or group
  • High Expectations
  • Possessing, communicating, and keeping high
    expectations throughout all areas of the learning
    community was found in 100 of the SGS schools
  • All kids perform regardless of their background
    (SGS6-P)
  • High Expectations also exist for teachers and
    parents
  • LGS Schools Expectations are Vague for students
    and teachers
  • Make everyone happy and school fun
  • Principal is nice, she leaves me alone

72
Reliability High Expectations
  • SGS
  • Our expectation is that every child will
    succeed. I think thats a high aspiration, but
    one thats attainable. (SGS 6 P)
  • Shes very into teachers performing best
    practice in the classroom. She looks for that
    when she goes in. Shes not afraid on an
    observation to write down an area of improvement.
    Actually, I dont know anybody who gets an
    observation that doesnt have some area in which
    they need to grow This might be a suggestion of
    how you can improve this. And I appreciate that,
    and I think a lot of teachers do, because they
    can say, Oh, shes not cracking the whip on me.
    (SGS5-ET)
  • LGS
  • Its making sure that everyone is happy If
    people believe were great, were great So a
    school of excellence is about teachers being a
    real collegial team, and theyve got to trust
    each other, and theyve got to be talking nice to
    each other. (LGS 8 P)
  • In my case its been really nice, she leaves me
    alone and lets me do my job. She is not a micro
    manager by any means. In fact, I tell her every
    once in a while you need to get out and into the
    classrooms more than just observing. (LGS2-ET).

73
ReliabilityThe extent to which one can count on
another person or group
  • Shared Vision
  • SGS Schools High expectations were a component
    of the principals shared vision for excellence
  • Simplistic mission statements/visions embodies
    high expectations and the whatever it takes
    ideology among the SGS schools
  • The majority of LGS schools failed to provide
    evidence that there is an institutional goal for
    every child to experience success, nor did they
    define what excellence looks like

74
Reliability Shared Vision
  • SGS
  • Our expectations here are at a minimum to make a
    full years growth no matter where they come in.
    She (principal) and I share a lot of the same
    ideals. We are very much optimistic about all
    kids can learn. (SGS 8 NT)
  • LGS
  • If people believe that were great, then were
    great. And we all of a sudden start attracting
    really great teachers that want to come work
    here, and really great people that . . . you know
    its funny how that happens. I mean its just
    about starting out by saying Dont go out of
    here and say anything negative about this school,
    ever. Ever! . . . School of Excellence really
    is. Its not only about making sure that the
    students are successful, but making sure that the
    culture is good, and the climate is good, and
    sometimes thats about you know, being really
    mean. (LGS8-P)

75
CompetenceThe extent to which the trusted party
has knowledge and skill
  • Strong Faculty Hiring Practices Matter
  • SGS schools have not been impacted by teacher
    shortage
  • She will not just fill the slot (SGS4-PL)
  • Leader of Experts
  • LGS principals also state the importance of
    hiring quality teachers and not to micromanage
  • The LGS schools do share the SGS belief of
    finding the right person, but are vague in
    describing who exactly the right person is at
    times

76
CompetenceThe extent to which the trusted party
has knowledge and skill
  • Collaboration
  • All of the SGS principals share the commitment to
    making teaching a collaborative process
  • All of these schools cited and respected the
    appreciation and support they receive from the
    parents
  • Many of the parents are highly educated and
    value the instructional process
  • SGS teachers are confident to assign homework
    and communicate with parents where certain
    weaknesses are
  • All of these schools utilize the strengths of
    their parents to fill the voids within their
    school and help strengthen their programs
  • This is the only sub-theme in which 100 of all
    schools involved in the study provided strong
    evidence

77
Honesty The character, integrity, and
authenticity of the trusted party
  • Using and Sharing Data
  • All of the SGS schools use data to measure
    student achievement and to illuminate the
    achievement gaps throughout their schools
  • The SGS leaders were aware that these gaps
    existed in their school and they do not hide this
    information
  • They use data and combine it with teacher input
    to select staff development that is tailored to
    address individual needs
  • Provide parents with frequent conferences to
    share data about their individual childs
    progress
  • The majority of the LGS school leaders shared a
    similar sentiment for the importance of using and
    sharing data
  • Many of the principals see sharing data as not
    keeping secrets
  • Honesty is sharing both the bad and the good

78
Honesty Using and Sharing Data
  • SGS
  • As far as the data, thats me driving the
    school. We look of course at data thats provided
    by the state and the end of grade test scores
    but we also look at on-going data from
    assessments that we give and from performance
    measures that we take throughout the year to
    assess what kind of job were doing and to look
    at how successful the children are being toward
    benchmarks that weve set up for them. It also
    helps us determine how we need to allocate our
    resources human and material we do look at gaps
    but you have to look beyond gaps to the
    individuals You have to look beyond the group to
    see what individuals accomplish. (SGS1P)
  • LGS
  • I would be shocked if you thought I didnt
    (LGS7-P)

79
OpennessThe extent to which there is no
withholding of information from others
  • Welcoming
  • All SGS principals recognized climate as being
    critical to the success of the school
  • Multiple schools stated that this was a conscious
    effort and part of their overarching mission to
    make parents feel welcome in the school
  • If you dont want volunteers then youre hiding
    something
  • The majority of the LGS failed to provide the
    same evidence or speak with the same passion on
    the topic of parent involvement and the need to
    make the school feel welcoming.

80
Openness Welcoming
  • SGS
  • It cant be my school and my way, because its
    our school, our success, our decisions and I
    think its very important to have a family
    atmosphere where everyones welcomed, everyones
    valued where everyone feels important and
    everyone feels a part. (SGS1-P)
  • LGS
  • We dont do birthday parties, we dont do holiday
    celebrationsWe are about learning, these people
    that work here are professionals -- reading,
    writing, math, science Let these professionals
    do what theyre trained to do. (LGS3-P)

81
OpennessThe extent to which there is no
withholding of information from others
  • Too Much Parent Involvement
  • 6 out of the 8 SGS Schools provided evidence that
    the level of parent involvement is at times
    considered too much
  • This strong ,and at times uncomfortable parent
    presence is what fuels excellence and equity
    within many of these schools
  • Checks and balance effect for many teachers and
    keeps them on their toes. (SGS3-AP)
  • Only one LGS school (LGS8) reported too much
    parent involvement
  • Ironically, this principal has sarcastically
    asked vocal and critical parents to send her
    their resumes
  • The majority of the LGS schools either wanted
    more parental involvement or were content with
    the level of support they were receiving

82
OpennessThe extent to which there is no
withholding of information from others
  • Open and Frequent Communication
  • Parent pressure and the general philosophy to
    view the parent as the client, may explain why
    all of the SGS schools frequently and openly
    communicate with parents.
  • 100 of the SGS schools report that there is a
    general expectation to keep parents constantly
    informed Regardless of any language barriers
  • SGS schools do not only partner and communicate
    with parents they also work with churches and
    afterschool programs
  • Many of the LGS schools do openly and frequently
    communicate with parents
  • Fewer incidences of traveling into the childrens
    community or providing transportation to generate
    more parent partnership
  • Provide Surrogate Parents for student led
    conferences

83
OpennessThe extent to which there is no
withholding of information from others
  • Discussion of Race and the Gaps
  • The majority of the SGS schools tailor
    remediation plans and focus professional
    conversations to address the individual childs
    needs
  • Perhaps the SGS schools faculties have evolved
    past this initial stage of understanding
    diversity issues and recognizing the inequities
    that exist in todays schools
  • The majority of LGS schools do frequently discuss
    race and the gaps in achievement

84
Openness Discussion of Race and the Gaps
  • SGS
  • We cant let it be an excuse, we cant let it be
    blame, and it has nothing to do with race or
    anything literally. You can be from any
    nationality or any race and come from an abusive
    familyor from extreme poverty where you are
    fighting day to day just to eat. How can you
    expect a kid wanting to come to school bright
    eyed and chipper wanting to learn, when they have
    seen their mother get beat the night before. So
    we talk about things from a home life
    perspective, but it never goes into race or
    anything like that. (SGS7-P)

85
RQ 1 What are principals of K-5 Honor Schools
of Excellence doing to ensure the success of all
of their students?
  • These principals are not making decisions or
    leading in isolation
  • These principals are utilizing a shared decision
    making approach to leadership and are
    encouraging/supporting strong trusting
    relationships between home and school
  • These principals have successfully created a
    shared vision of excellence throughout all levels
    of the learning community that targets the
    individual child
  • These schools exude collaboration, respect, and
    trust

86
RQ 2 What were the important first steps these
principals took as they moved toward high
achievement for all?
  • The vast majority of these schools have been
    considered high-achieving schools for several
    years
  • Most of the participants did not provide insight
    into this topic

87
RQ 3 What similarities do school leaders, who
are successful in creating equity and excellence,
have in common?
  • Lead and support competent teachers that
    collaborate regularly
  • Tailor reform efforts to meet the needs of the
    individual child
  • Possess high expectations for all students and
    exhibit a selfless and relentless commitment to
    each childs achievement
  • Allow/encourage a high levels of parent
    involvement and pressure

88
RQ 4 What can be learned from Honor Schools of
Excellence that could benefit other schools with
similar demographics?
  • These schools have been provided with evidence
    that reveal large achievement gaps do not have to
    exist in todays schools
  • Often schools look at parents as the problem for
    a childs academic troubles school leaders must
    shift this paradigm and begin seeing parents as
    the solution

89
Implications for Practice
  • No Silver Bullets or Quick Fixes
  • Excellence and its rewards are earned
    collaboratively through relationships built upon
    a strong foundation of trust
  • Schools w
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