Date of Award

7-2003

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Degree Program

Educational Leadership with a Global Perspective

Department

College of Education

First Advisor

Cindy Skaruppa

Second Advisor

Adria Karle

Third Advisor

Leah Kinniburgh

Abstract

Two high-poverty secondary school teachers and administrators in South Florida participated in this research. This dual-case study examined administrators' and teachers' perceptions of the challenges, successes, and school features essential to promote students' academic success in a high-poverty school as they correspond with best practices identified in educational literature. School 1 is a high-poverty school with a Florida school grade of an F. School 2 is a high-poverty school with a Florida school grade of C.

Teachers and administrators filled out a demographic questionnaire describing their educational, professional, and ethnic backgrounds, They responded to a Likert-like scale rating the importance levels of items identified as best practices in the literature in successful programs in high-poverty schools. Additionally, the participants rated the identified essential school features of best practice from successful high poverty schools in terms of how satisfied they were that the feature was successfully in place in their respective schools. The researcher conducted interviews with both the administrators and teachers at School 1 and School 2 to identify the participants' experiences and perceptions of challenges, successes and essential features that promote student academic success, This research clustered the perceptions for reoccurring themes and phrases to analyze information for similarities and differences indicating those features that may be critical for success in high-poverty schools.

Findings indicated that the best practices utilizing inclusive and responsive techniques with students was most prominent on the minds of educators, posing a success, challenge, and critical feature for both schools. Further analysis of survey and interview data revealed that School 1, the F-graded institution, was focused on student-centered techniques while School 2, the C-graded institution was more focused on student-teacher relations and creating a safe and supportive learning environment.

Based on the findings, recommendations for further research include an ethnographic research study to better inform teacher, administrators and counselors how to effectively engage students through explication of their various daily life experiences that affect their learning, and a larger, comparative, mixed-method study with similar questions between similar schools, and unlimited, time money, and resources to provide decision makers with more useful data. Practices that would be useful for practicing educators include cultural immersion activities for teachers in high-poverty areas, such as internships or summer institutes, and increased communication among staff and students.

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