Date of Award

12-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Committee Chair

David Lee

Committee Chair Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Committee Member 2

J.T. Johnson

Committee Member 2 Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Committee Member 3

Leslie Locke

Committee Member 3 Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Committee Member 4

Chuck Benigno

Committee Member 4 Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Abstract

The schools in the United States have implemented measures intended to close the achievement gap for over fifty years (Solomon, 2009). The mandates handed down by the federal government cannot be altered. Therefore, schools are required to determine specific measures that increase student academic success. Prior research has demonstrated that schools can be successful if effective leadership at the district, school, and classroom level was present (Gregory, 2003; Johnson, Livingston, & Schwartz, 2000). At the classroom level, it was the leadership of the individual teacher to determine the creation of innovative techniques aimed at academic success of all students (Farr & Teach for America, 2010).

The purpose of this quantitative study was to determine the effect that specific researched based instructional methods, assessments, and student learning methods had on student academic achievement as measured by school accountability rankings. The study included seven high performing and 15 successful secondary schools in south Mississippi that were located in districts that had a minimum of 70% of its student body that received free or reduced lunch. Data was collected using a purposeful, voluntary survey. Based upon the findings of this study, no significant differences were found in the instructional practices, assessments, or student learning methods utilized by the teachers at high poverty successful schools and high poverty, high performing schools. For this study, findings indicated that the teachers from the identified schools utilized research based instructional strategies such as practice on a specific skill, vocabulary, and checking for understanding. In addition, the findings indicated that the teachers used technology to aid in their instruction. Finally, the teachers noted the positive results in student achievement that resulted from being under the supervision of a visible effective principal. As an effective instructional leader, it is the principal who ultimately determined the culture for the school, and for a school to be successful that culture must be focused on teaching and learning.