Now Children Learn Better, Thesis Paper Example
Words: 2725Thesis Paper
The question in this category requires students to demonstrate an understanding of and ability to employ research methods utilized within the student’s field. Students are expected to critique research methodologies that are used by scholar-practitioners and compose responses that identify best practices in research in their field of study.
The methodology that will be used in this paper is a mix methods approach in which will look at quantitative and qualitative data provided by the NCLB, as well as the other resources to support the main purpose of the paper, and to answer the research questions etched out in this concept paper. More research needs to be conducted on allowing states to create their own proficiency standards, so that there can be an accurate measurement for progress and achievement with each school in the state. (Chakrabarti, 2014) As well as more flexibility given to incorporate other subgroups that have been left out including, the health and physical education of students, providing standards for public education, and placing more focus on closing the achievement gap. As well as research surrounding teacher’s effectiveness and qualifications on teaching students. Additional focus on research for NCLB falls around helping students navigate away from just attention on tests scores, to providing a well-rounded education for all students.
This dissertation investigated the responses of elementary school principals in the greater Atlanta Metropolitan area and throughout Georgia on the policy demands of the No Child Left Behind Federal Law of 2001 and what they required of principals. The study focused on the perceived effects of NCLB laws on a principal’s leadership role, decision making, and practices as reported by elementary school principals. In addition, a more in-depth study of principals chosen by ethnicity shed light on the cultural influences that principals brought to their position. Of particular interest in the study was its focus on the realities of the principal’s accountability for school improvement.
A design of this study evolved after a long and arduous process, emerging from the research questions and the literature review. The study used quantitative (general survey) and qualitative (open ended interviews) methods with principals of elementary schools throughout Georgia, and with selected principals, particularly in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area.
The design in this study used a mixed methods approach of quantitative and qualitative research, and focused on:
- The development of a generic survey which was e-mailed to over 1,000 elementary school principals in the Commonwealth of Atlanta to ascertain what had been their roles as principals, both before and after the passage of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Federal Law in 2001. Anticipated was a return rate of 70%.
- The use of in-depth interviews with elementary school principals, which included Asian American principals in the Commonwealth of Georgia, and an equal number of Latino, African American, and European white principals in the greater metropolitan area. The total survey had no less than 34 principals to determine the coping strategies, alternatives, or basic ways in which they were meeting, changing, or reframing NCLB in their schools.
A semi-structured general survey asked open ended questions which focused on the demographics of principals who answered the emailed survey as follows:
- Educational background of principals
- Employment experience in current and previous schools
- School demographics
- Principal’s roles and practices
- NCLB responses
A total of 85 questions included 15 multiple choice demographic questions; 60 multiple choice questions on the influence of NCLB on principal’s decision making and practice of leadership; and 10 open ended questions for principals on NCLB.
- Using demographic data on the numbers of principals in elementary grade levels, principals were electronically invited to participate through an email sent individually to approximately 1,000 elementary schools K-8 throughout the Commonwealth of Atlanta. This corresponds to the total number of principals at that grade level at the time of this study. Reminders were sent every week after the initial email and a month later. Expected was at least a return of 350 email surveys.
- Subjects were recruited via email, and the generic survey took approximately 60 minutes to complete. Each survey was coded to assure the anonymity of subjects. However, because of the nature of the study, the ethnic background of each of the principals was known, since this was the significant criterion for analyzing the relationship of ethnicity to the role of principals, and for follow up interviews.
- In March 2015, more than 900 invitations to participate in the General Survey were sent via email to public school principals across the Commonwealth of Atlanta.
The rationale for using in-depth interviews was based on: 1) principals at a micro level of analysis from the greater Atlanta area could be specifically targeted; 2) more specific and pertinent data could be gathered about how they made decisions, carried out instructional and administrative practices, assured accountability, and developed their leadership roles; 3) using a qualitative approach complemented the quantitative approach of the survey; 4) greater access to Asian American principals and other ethnically diverse principals could be obtained to learn how they perceived their changes under NCLB using their own adaptations and cultural strategies.
In-depth interviews with elementary school principals targeted the following:
- Identification of implementation of NCLB in stipulations of what principals understood were their roles and the changes they had undergone.
- Identification and description of practices used in school
- Identification of accountability factors and practices used in schools
- Identification and description of decision making processes used in schools
- Description of leadership roles in their everyday school life and strategies used, including cultural repertoires
- The identification of the advantages and challenges in the implementation of NCLB
- Identification of cultural repertoires and strategies used by Asian American principals compared to other ethnically diverse principals
- Suggestions by principals for NCLB in its future reauthorization
- Implications that emerged from the in-depth interviews for policy and research
When the approximately 1,000 principals of public elementary schools in the Commonwealth of Georgia were invited by email to participate in the general survey, they were informed that they might be selected to participate in an in-depth interview that would help identify and describe the personal and professional changes principals experienced and the interpretation and implementation strategies they undertook as a consequence of the NCLB. Of particular importance were principals who were Asian Americans, among African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and European whites. These principals were selected from the Georgia and the greater Atlanta area in schools with Grades K-8 using purposive sampling.
No less than nine principals per each ethnic group were identified from the previous research, e-mailed a letter and consent form, and then a total of 34 principals were interviewed via telephone. A purposive sample was used based on typicality of school populations to ascertain: the degree of implementation of NCLB being conducted by each; the types of strategies being used for such implementation; the role of ethnicity and cultural background in determining specific decisions and practices; the alternatives they substituted for some of the requirements and demands of NCLB; and the supports they had for implementing NCLB.
From the signed consent forms returned by e-mail, the researcher scheduled a mutually agreeable time for a telephone interview. Upon time of the interview, the participant consented to have the interview audio-taped. Once consent was given, the interview got under way.
The in-depth 60–90 minute interviews were conducted through the month of April 2015. Since the sample of principals could not be representative, recruitment of principals was based on numbers first of Asian principals, followed by similar numbers of European white, African American, and Latino principals for the total of 34 principals.
The responses of the principals were coded from the taped and transcribed interviews. The analysis of each transcript yielded categories which were then coded and their relationships made in order to arrive at emerging themes. These themes are collectively on issues that arose from all the interviews and their commonalities as well as differences were described.
Throughout this study, the stages that this research undertook comprised the following.
- Sending introduction and consent forms to all participating principals via email on survey
- Distribution of general survey through email with directions and timeline for completion, with subsequent reminders to participants within a month’s period
- Compilation of surveys conducted by technical consultant to identify descriptive statistics for analysis by researcher
- Analysis of results from survey and identification of implications for findings
- Analysis of in-depth interview with targeted principals of Asian American, Latino, African American, and European white principals in the greater Atlanta area using a purposive sample
While the research process was primarily controlled by the researcher, additional persons were involved for several purposes. They: 1) transcribed the interviews for analysis, 2) conducted the interviews with some of the principals known by the researcher in order to maintain objective distance from these subjects, and 3) developed the program and processed the items for each of the surveys, and provided technical support. Each person was asked and agreed to maintain confidentiality.
While the study was ambitious, several limitations arose, and the major issue was the return rate on the numbers of principals who responded to the survey. Of the 1,000 principals invited to participate, only 124 principals responded. The researcher, as previously stated, sent out reminders after two weeks and follow up notices at the end of the month. This may have been due to several factors. Curiously, of those who did respond, the majority were European white principals. No doubt the time constraint was a huge factor in the return rates.
In addition, the design of the general survey may have contributed to the low returns. The survey contained 85 questions. Twenty of the 124 principals did not complete the survey, which suggests that the survey itself was quite demanding.
Moreover, although the general survey was piloted, the three volunteer participants may have given the researcher too conservative estimates of the amount of time they needed to complete the survey, and/or they may not have given effective critical feedback on their understanding of the survey questions.
The survey began with demographic questions. The majority of principals, three out of four, or 75%, were female, and 25% were male. More than two thirds of the combined total (134) or 67% were between the ages of 50-69 years of age.
There were 99% who were fluent English speakers, with another 12% who identified themselves as fluent Spanish speakers and 11% as fluent in another language such as Arabic, French, Haitian, Cape Verdean, or Portuguese. Regarding the frequency with which they spoke languages other than English, 73% replied that they did not, while 14% spoke another language less than one fourth of the time; the lowest percentage was for other languages spoken more than one fourth of the time. Regarding the frequency with which the principals spoke languages besides English in their schools, 77% replied that this did not apply to them, 12% that they did so less than one fourth of the time, nine percent between one fourth and one half of the time, two percent at three fourths of the time, and less than one percent spoke another language 100 % of the time.
It should be noted that these findings show that although most participants were English speakers, there were Spanish speakers and other languages represented. But close to three quarters did not use languages other than English, including a strong speaking population of principals who were Latinos.
Three percent of the responding principals held Bachelor’s Degrees, 89% held Master’s Degrees or Certificates of Advanced Studies, and eight percent held Doctoral Degrees, indicating strong academic credentials among participants. The majority of principals were at schools that offered kindergarten to fifth grade. About 32% were from schools Grades 6-8. Close to 50% were from suburban schools, 39% were from urban schools, and 11% were from rural areas. There were 34% who oversaw schools serving more than 500 students, 40% from schools with 300-500 students, 25% from schools with 100-300 students, and 2% from schools with less than 100 students.
These principals administered a range of schools, from suburban in the majority to urban and rural schools in lesser numbers. Also one third were in schools with 500 students, more than one third in schools with 300-500 students, and about only a quarter in schools of median numbers, 100-300 students, and only a few in small schools with less than 100 students. Principals reported having mostly European white students, then African American students, then Asian American students and Latino students.
Close to 33% of the principals were in their schools for 4 to 6 years, 25% for 7 to 10 years, 29% for three or fewer years; meanwhile, 10% were in their schools for 11 to 20 years and 3% in their schools for 20 or more years. Close to 45% of the principals had been principals somewhere else, while 55% of the respondents had been at only one school. The findings indicated that only a few principals in the survey had been at their schools for a long time, 20 years or more, and that close to 58% of the principals had been in their schools for more than 10 years.
When they were asked about their career intentions, more than half or 54% said they would continue as principals in their current school as long as they were able to do so. There were 12% who said they would stay at least for the next three years, 16% who would continue only until a better opportunity came along, 9% who would leave the job of principal for another administrative or teaching position, and 6% who wanted to leave education entirely. Despite the high accountability placed on them, most principals remained very dedicated to their schools.
A summary of the responses of principals regarding the influence of NCLB on practices is shown in Table 5 as follows.
More than three fourths of the principals in the survey stated there was a strong positive influence on their roles from the influence of NCLB. Most strikingly, principals reported that the biggest influence was the practice of receiving individual student reports to determine student needs. The next two factors identified by principals as positive were that principals and schools were being held accountable for student progress and funds were being provided for professional development for integrating technology into the curriculum.
More than one half of the principals surveyed reported being positive about assessing the effects the enactment and implementation of NCLB had on the role of principals and leadership. They also reported being positive on the changes in schools prior to and after the passage of the law. Several or many reported that NCLB defined more of the leadership role the principal had to take in ensuring that a school would be highly performing.
In assessing the enactment and implementation of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, the principals reported the effects the law had on their leadership role and changes in school practices prior to and after the passage of the law as quite positive. In responding to the changes that took place after the implementation of NCLB, several stand out.
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