Matching Items (13)

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Arizona's mature education market: how school and community stakeholders make meaning of school choice policies

Description

School choice reforms such as charter schools, vouchers, open enrollment, and private and public school tax credit donation programs have expanded throughout the United States over the past twenty years.

School choice reforms such as charter schools, vouchers, open enrollment, and private and public school tax credit donation programs have expanded throughout the United States over the past twenty years. Arizona’s long-standing public school choice system enrolls a higher percentage of public school students in charter schools than any state besides Washington D.C. A growing number of Arizona’s charter schools are managed by for-profit and nonprofit Education Management Organizations (EMOs). Advocates of school choice argue that free-market education approaches will make public schools competitive and nimble as parents’ choices place pressures on schools to improve or close. This, then, improves all schools: public, private, and charter. Critics are concerned that education markets produce segregation along racial and social class lines and inequalities in educational opportunities, because competition favors advantaged parents and children who can access resources. Private and for-profit schools may see it in their interest to exclude students who require more support. School choice programs, then, may further marginalize students who live in poverty, who receive special education services, and English language learners.

We do not fully understand how Arizona’s mature school choice system affects parents and other stakeholders in communities “on the ground.” That is, how are school policies understood and acted out? I used ethnographic methods to document and analyze the social, cultural, and political contexts and perspectives of stakeholders at one district public school and in its surrounding community, including its charter schools. I examined: (a) how stakeholders perceived and engaged with schools; (b) how stakeholders understood school policies, including school choice policies; and (c) what influenced families’ choices.

Findings highlight how most stakeholders supported district public schools. At the same time, some “walked the line” between choices that were good for their individual families and those they believed were good for public schools and society. Stakeholders imagined “community” and “accountability” in a range of ways, and they did not all have equal access to policy knowledge. Pressures related to parental accountability in the education market were apparent as stakeholders struggled to make, and sometimes revisit, their choices, creating a tenuous schooling environment for their families.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2017

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Eliminating Racism in Pinecreek?: Civic Participation in Local Education Policy

Description

The purpose of this study was to understand how community members within a segregated school district approached racial inequities. I conducted a ¬nineteen-month-long ethnography using a critical Participatory Action Research

The purpose of this study was to understand how community members within a segregated school district approached racial inequities. I conducted a ¬nineteen-month-long ethnography using a critical Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach to explore how members in a community activist group called Eliminate Racism interacted and worked with school district officials. My goal was to identify and examine how community members addressed racially inequitable policies and practices in the Midwestern city of Pinecreek (pseudonym) in the context of a school district that had undergone two school desegregation lawsuits. I conducted 32 interviews with 24 individuals, including teachers and school leaders, parents, and community members.

This study answers three research questions: (1) What strategies did the community activist group use to influence local education policy for addressing racism in the schools? (2) How did community participation influence local education policy? (3) What were the motivating factors for individuals’ involvement in issues of local school segregation? To answer these questions, I used concepts from Critical Race Theory and Social Capital Theory. I employ Putnam’s and Putnam and Campbell’s social capital, Warren’s civic participation, Bonilla-Silva’s color-blind racism, Yosso’s community cultural wealth and religio-civics. My analysis shows that the community group used the social capital and community cultural wealth of its members to create partnerships with district officials. Although Eliminate Racism did not meet its goals, it established itself as a legitimate organization within the community, successfully drawing together residents throughout the city to bring attention to racism in the schools.

The study’s results encourage school and district leaders to constantly bring race to the forefront of their decision-making processes and to question how policy implementation affects minoritized students. This research also suggests that strategies from this community group can be adopted or avoided by other antiracist groups undertaking similar work. Finally, it provides an example of how to employ critical PAR methods into ethnography, as it notes the ways that researcher positionality and status can be leveraged by community groups to support the legitimacy of their mission and work.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2020

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Stories of success: first generation Mexican-American college graduates

Description

ABSTRACT With projections indicating that by the year 2025, one of every four K-12 students in the United States will be Latino, addressing the needs of Latino students is an

ABSTRACT With projections indicating that by the year 2025, one of every four K-12 students in the United States will be Latino, addressing the needs of Latino students is an important question for educators. This study approached this question through an analysis of the educational life histories, stories, of successful first generation Mexican-American college graduates to understand some of the factors which helped them succeed in college. I categorized the stories inductively into three themes: 1) stories of students and school, 2) stories of friends, family, and cultural communities, and 3) stories about race and politics. Participants' intellectual self-concept, both positive and negative, was to a great extent influenced by the messages they received from the educational system. Some of the participants took a traditional path from high school through college, while others took very indirect paths. The support that they received from special programs at the university as well as from their webs of support was crucial in their success. In addition, I found that race mattered when the participants transitioned from their majority Latino high schools to the majority white university as the participants told stories of navigating the cultural and racial dynamics of their status as college students. The participants in my study worked hard to achieve their college degrees. "It's hard" was a phrase often repeated by all participants; hard work was also a cultural value passed on by hard working parents and family members. Stories of luck, both good and bad, factored into their educational life histories. Collaborative programs between secondary school and the university were helpful in creating a transitional bridge for the participants as were culturally-based mentoring programs. The participants benefitted from the culturally-based support they received at the university and the cultural and emotional support of their families. The participants' stories highlight the importance of a race-conscious approach to college going; one which begins with race and builds cross-racial coalitions. This approach would benefit Latino students and, ultimately improve the college going experiences of all students.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2011

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English language learner participation practices: the social purpose of classroom discourse in an Arizona English language development summer program middle school classroom

Description

This thesis study describes English Language Learner (ELL) participation practices in a summer English language development (ELD) middle school classroom in a public school district in Arizona. The purpose of

This thesis study describes English Language Learner (ELL) participation practices in a summer English language development (ELD) middle school classroom in a public school district in Arizona. The purpose of the study was to document Mexican immigrant and Mexican American English learners' language experiences in a prescriptive ELD program in relation to the social, historical and cultural context. The study utilizes a sociocultural framework and critical language awareness concepts as well as qualitative interpretive inquiry to answer the following research questions: What is the nature of ELL participation during language lessons? That is, what are the common participation practices in the classroom? What social or cultural values or norms are evident in the classroom talk during language lessons? That is, in what ways do participants use language for social purposes? And, what is the cultural model of ELD evident in the classroom language practices? Data collection and analyses consisted of close examination of ELL participation within official language lessons as well as the social uses of language in the classroom. Analysis of classroom discourse practices revealed that ELL participation was heavily controlled within the common Initiation-Response-Evaluation pattern and that the students were limited to repetition and recitation responses. Further, analysis of discourse content demonstrated that classroom participants used language for social purposes in the classroom, most often using regulatory, decontextualized and resistance language. The findings revealed a cultural model of constrained ELD language practices that can be considered a pedagogy of subtractive assimilation.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2010

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I have to go on: the effect of a mother's death on her daughter's education

Description

Parents die during the lives of their children. If the child is an adolescent, that death will impact the student's education immediately or in subsequent years. Findings show the death

Parents die during the lives of their children. If the child is an adolescent, that death will impact the student's education immediately or in subsequent years. Findings show the death of a mother does impact the daughter's education. It is imperative educators are willing to work with the student at the time the death occurs as well as in the ensuing months. Seidman's (2006) three-interview format was used as a template for the interviews of 11 women, ranging in age from 19 to 78 and whose mothers died when the women were adolescents. The interviews were primarily conducted in one sitting, transcribed, and then analyzed for common themes that connected to the research on the topic. Those themes include grieving, the role of caring in education, the role of teacher as the second mother, mother-daughter relationships, and the impact of parent death on schooling. These themes from the data cross cut with thematic strands within the study's theoretical framework: the nurturing and empathetic role of the mother, a desire of the daughter not to be different, and the ethics of caring. Findings in this study reveal that the negative impacts of mother loss are felt in diffuse ways, such as a lack of academic or emotional encouragement. Many women discussed the need and availability of support groups including groups at colleges. One practical implication of these findings is schools need to become caring communities in which caring is the norm for all students and teachers, thereby providing all students with needed support in times of crisis. The implications for further research include the impact of the mother death on the education of daughters, how volunteering with an organization related to the cause of the mother's death assists the daughter and types of programs most important to a student's success in post-secondary education. Adolescents are in a time of great change in their lives, and for a daughter, the loss of a mother has an everlasting, life-changing impact.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2011

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A multiplicity of successes: capabilities, refuge, and pathways in contemporary community colleges

Description

Community colleges, like all higher education institutions in the United States, have not been immune to the increased national focus on educational accountability and institutional effectiveness over the past three

Community colleges, like all higher education institutions in the United States, have not been immune to the increased national focus on educational accountability and institutional effectiveness over the past three decades. Federal and non-governmental initiatives aimed at tracking and reporting on institutional outcomes have focused on utilitarian academic and economic measures of student success that homogenize the goals, aspirations, and challenges of the individuals who attend these unique open-access institutions. This dissertation, which is comprised of three submission-ready scholarly peer-reviewed articles, examined community college students’ conceptualizations and valuations of “student success.” The research project was designed as a multiple methods single-site case study, and the data sources consisted of a large-scale student e-survey, follow-up semi-structured interviews with a heterogeneous group of students, semi-structured interviews with faculty and administrators, and a review of institutional documents. The interviews also incorporated two experimental visual elicitation techniques and a participatory ranking exercise. Article One introduces and operationalizes the author’s primary conceptual perspective, the capabilities approach, to develop a more comprehensive framework for understanding and evaluating community college student outcomes. This article documents the methodological process used to generate a theoretical and an empirical list of community college capabilities, which serve as the basis of future capabilities-based research on community college student success. Article Two draws on the student interview and student visual elicitation data to explore the capability category of “refuge” – a new, unexpected, and student-valued purpose of the community college as a safe escape from the complexities and demands of personal, home, and work life. In light of recent efforts to promote more structured and prescriptive college experiences to improve graduation rates, Article Three explores students’ perceptions of their pathways through the community college using the participant-generated and researcher-generated visual elicitation data. Findings indicate that students value the structure and the flexibility community colleges offer, as well as their own ability to be agents and architects of their educational experience. Taken together, these articles suggest that student success is less linear and more rhizomatic in structure than it is currently portrayed in the literature.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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Approach to Teacher Retention in High Needs Schools: Understanding Why Teachers Stay

Description

Each year school districts across the United States are faced with the task of hiring the best teachers they can for the open positions in their schools. In many urban

Each year school districts across the United States are faced with the task of hiring the best teachers they can for the open positions in their schools. In many urban school districts, this task can be particularly daunting. Compared to suburban school districts, urban school districts tend to have higher teacher exit rates, which places additional strain upon the districts’ schools and their resources. Research shows that there are many factors associated with teachers’ decisions to stay at or leave a school. This study aims to determine how the common attrition and retention factors that influence a teacher’s decision to stay or leave by interviewing current and former teachers at a Title I school in an urban setting.

In this study, I interviewed a small, targeted sample of highly valued teachers while I was their school leader. The interview was designed to use questions that elicit teachers’ perspectives about the retention and attrition factors identified in the research in hopes of determining patterns I could use to strategically use to build a teacher retention plan. Analysis of the responses from the interviews included a comparison of composite teacher profiles, each representing a sub-group of teachers with common attributes. This process demonstrated that while factors commonly associated with retention were important, the degree to which specific factors shaped a teacher’s decision to stay or leave is dependent upon their experience and background and where they are in the phases of their careers and life. Additionally, this study identified how school leaders can strategically use a similar interview process to retain key teaching personnel based upon their personal and professional motivations

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2020

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The framing of community in high school guiding statements: a comparative analysis of traditional public schools and charter schools

Description

This study describes how the concept of “community” is framed in traditional public and charter high school guiding statements and interviews with school leaders. Guiding statements from public high

This study describes how the concept of “community” is framed in traditional public and charter high school guiding statements and interviews with school leaders. Guiding statements from public high schools in Arizona were analyzed and interviews were conducted with principals from traditional public schools and charter school principals. The findings suggested similarities between traditional public high schools and charter high schools in their framing of the concept of community, suggesting that schools are loosely coupled to state and federal education departments in particular, and to varying degrees at the district level: The guiding statements and high school leaders generally distinguished between the “school as community” frame inside the school and the “the local community” frame focused on the community outside of the school. Both traditional public high schools and charter schools emphasized the importance of both frames and their connections with “the local community.” Differences between traditional public schools and charter schools were observed, as schools appeared to attempt to legitimize themselves in different ways to the communities they are located in. Despite open enrollment policies leading to inter-district enrollment, traditional public schools have a mandate to primarily serve students from a specific area and were framed in the guiding statements and by school leaders as being part of and serving a geographically defined community that they have close ties to, the “school as a member of community” frame. Charter schools, on the other hand, focused on creating and serving a specific educational community characterized by shared interests, ideals, and expectations (‘school as community”) and contributing to the community that the school is located in (“school as a contributor to community”).

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2018

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High school principals in the vortex: accountability, autonomy, and social justice

Description

As schools across Arizona worked to meet NCLB's AYP requirement in 2010-2011, they were also labeled and sanctioned by AZ Learns. This phenomenological study focused on six effective high school

As schools across Arizona worked to meet NCLB's AYP requirement in 2010-2011, they were also labeled and sanctioned by AZ Learns. This phenomenological study focused on six effective high school principals in two Arizona school districts to ascertain how accountability policies impacted the principals' job responsibilities, autonomy, and ability to pursue social justice on their campuses. Interviews were conducted in three phases: superintendents, three principals from the superintendents' recommendations of effective school leaders, and three teachers from each school. In addition to analysis of individual principal leadership patterns, comparisons were made across districts, and from school to school within the same district. The goal of the study was to determine if and how principals were able to accomplish their goals for their school. The principals' leadership styles were examined through a Vortex Leadership Framework that posited principals at the center of a vortex of varying leadership roles, interests, and external forces, including accountability, autonomy, and limited resources. Key findings included (a) high school principals' responsibilities now include selling change to their staff, (b) principals' accountability is limited more by district constraints than by state or federal accountability, (c) principals must contend with rigid one-size fits all accountability standards that do not always meet the needs of their students, and (d) principals' autonomy is tied to their resources, including funding for staffing and programs.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2013

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Science education at Riverside Middle School: a case study

Description

ABSTRACT For more than thirty years the gender gap in science and related careers has been a key concern of researchers, teachers, professional organizations, and policy makers. Despite indicators of

ABSTRACT For more than thirty years the gender gap in science and related careers has been a key concern of researchers, teachers, professional organizations, and policy makers. Despite indicators of progress for women and girls on some measures of achievement, course enrollment patterns, and employment, fewer women than men pursue college degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. According to the results of national assessments, the gender gap in science achievement begins to be evident in the middle school years. Gender and school science achievement involve a complex set of factors associated with schools and child/family systems that may include school leadership, institutional practices, curriculum content, teacher training programs, teacher expectations, student interests, parental involvement, and cultural values. This ethnographic case study was designed to explore the context for science education reform and the participation of middle school girls. The study analyzed and compared teaching strategies and female student engagement in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade science classrooms. The setting was a middle school situated in a district that was well-known for its achievement in reading, math, and technology. Findings from the study indicated that while classroom instruction was predominantly organized around traditional school science, the girls were more disciplined and outperformed the boys. The size of the classrooms, time to prepare for hands-on activities, and obtaining resources were identified as barriers to teaching science in ways that aligned with recent national science reform initiatives. Parents who participated in the study were very supportive of their daughters' academic progress and career goals. A few of the parents suggested that the school's science program include more hands-on activities; instruction designed for the advanced learner; and information related to future careers. Overall the teachers and students perceived their science program to be gender fair. Eighth grade participants who had career goals related to science and engineering, indicated that their science instruction did not provide the rigor they needed to improve their critical skills for advanced placement in high school. Recommendations include the need for professional development on inquiry-based science, equitable student achievement, and diverse perspectives in science education.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2011