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Principals in two high achieving elementary schools in rural New Mexico: a case study

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Much has been written regarding the dire educational state of most schools in rural America. This case study profiles two elementary school principals (preK-6) in rural New Mexico whose schools

Much has been written regarding the dire educational state of most schools in rural America. This case study profiles two elementary school principals (preK-6) in rural New Mexico whose schools achieved adequate yearly progress (AYP) for the 2009-10 school year. The focus of this study centered on specific characteristics of the school cultures addressed by the principals, and instructional best practices routinely incorporated by teachers into the daily curricular program that have produced successful student outcomes and earned each of their schools AYP standing for the 2009-10 academic year. The methodology used to determine research findings was performed in three parts: Principals of AYP rural New Mexico schools were asked to complete an online survey on educational leadership according to the standards and functions of the Interstate School Leadership Licensure Consortium (ISLLC). The respondents chose either Almost always, To a considerable degree, Occasionally, Seldom, or Never according to the degree they deemed the leadership function necessary to the successful operations of their schools. The survey results were arranged into tables preceded with explanations and statistical analysis. Interviews were conducted with the two rural elementary school principals along with selected teachers and parents from each school. The researcher made on-site visitations and kept notes of the observations and interactions with staffs from each school. The main findings of the study arose from the results of the surveys and interviews conducted with individuals from the two focus schools. The researcher arranged data according to the leadership categories that emerged from the interviews. The survey results were divided into two categories: favorable (Almost always and To a considerable degree) and unfavorable (Occasionally, Seldom, and Never categories). The results for each leadership standard and related function were reported in terms of statistical significance according to frequency counts in the two categories. Finally, there is a review of current literature focused on principles of educational leadership and rural education, demographic information about the profiled schools, and conclusions with further recommendations for future studies.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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A case study of two rural secondary schools in New Mexico: perspectives on leadership

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ABSTRACT The present study was designed to examine factors that led to the academic success of two rural secondary schools in New Mexico. The primary focus was on the characteristics

ABSTRACT The present study was designed to examine factors that led to the academic success of two rural secondary schools in New Mexico. The primary focus was on the characteristics and behaviors of leaders in two high-achieving rural schools and how these factors might have contributed to achievement of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in school year 2009-10. The secondary focus of the study concentrated on the characteristics of the rural environment of the schools and what role, if any, school location might have contributed to AYP. Of the approximately 820 public schools in New Mexico, 42 (30%) of secondary schools designated as "rural" achieved AYP in 2009-10. 2 of the 42 secondary schools, were selected for the study. Tara High School and Twelve Oaks Middle School, located in separate New Mexico villages, were identified as achieving the AYP in the 2009-10 school year through demographic and statistical data collected primarily from the New Mexico Public Education Department. The location of the two rural secondary schools along with the willingness of their principals to participate met the research criteria for being a descriptive case study to define any causal relationships between leadership practices and rural settings that resulted in achieving the AYP for student achievement. The researcher conducted interviews regarding leadership with two rural school principals, twelve secondary teachers, and seven parents. There was no direct contact with students in the study. Additionally, the researcher conducted on-site observations of both schools and conducted an on-line leadership survey for principals of the two rural schools and an additional 8 principals for data purposes only. Among the 3 data sets, the researcher found that there was complete unanimity as to the common characteristics of high-achieving schools located in rural communities influencing student achievement: culture, motivation, instructional leadership, empowerment, school leadership, trust, and community involvement. The twelve teachers and seven parents were unanimous that the two principals maintained a positive demeanor, visibly demonstrated care, supported and openly dialogued with the teachers to make their own classroom decisions, maintained an open-door policy, and modeled professional behavior.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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Co-constructing college-going capital in a rural high school English class

Description

Compared to their urban and suburban counterparts, rural students have lower college enrollment rates. Despite many school and community benefits including small class sizes, close student-teacher relationships, and strong

Compared to their urban and suburban counterparts, rural students have lower college enrollment rates. Despite many school and community benefits including small class sizes, close student-teacher relationships, and strong connections among community members, many rural high school students’ post-secondary educational opportunities are constrained by factors such as: fewer college preparatory courses, narrow school curriculums, geographic isolation, high poverty rates, and limited access to college and career counseling. This action research study was conducted to examine how and to what extent underserved rural high school students constructed college-going capital through their participation in an English class designed to supplement their school’s limited college-access services. The study took place over a 19-week semester at Seligman High School, a small rural school comprised of approximately 55 students. To support their construction of college-going capital, students’ junior- and senior-level English class curriculums blended traditional college preparation activities with college-level reading and writing assignments focused on the U.S. educational system and its college-access inequities. The theoretical perspectives that framed this study included: social cognitive career theory, sociocultural theory, and critical literacy. Further, research on perceived post-secondary educational barriers and supports, dialogic discourse, and college access informed the study. By using a concurrent, transformative mixed methods research design, both qualitative and quantitative data were collected simultaneously. Then, while maintaining an advocacy stance, the data were analyzed separately and brought together to determine convergences and divergences. Drawing data from student surveys, student and researcher journal entries, student and college coach interviews, dialogic discussion transcripts, and an image elicitation process, this study showed that, through their participation in an English language arts college-going class, students developed college-going skills, knowledge, self-efficacy, and critical literacy. The study also revealed the following: students acquired varying levels of critical consciousness; students benefited from adult mentors coaching them about college-going; and students did not experience significant changes in their perceptions of barriers to and supports for college-going during their participation in the course.

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Date Created
  • 2015