Exploring Characteristics of an Effective Elementary School with High-Needs students in a Mid-Sized, Urban School District in Southeast Texas
Fridge, Lesli W. “ Exploring Characteristics of an Effective Elementary School with High-Needs Students in a Mid-Sized, Urban School District in Southeast Texas.” Doctor of Education Thesis, University of Houston, May 2011. The Effective Schools research of the 1970s and early 1980s led to the establishment of the Seven Correlates of Effective Schools. The correlates are based on commonalities found in schools with a majority population of poor and ethnically diverse students, who are successful on standardized assessments. In this study, the researcher’s objectives were to: (1) identify characteristics that contribute to the effectiveness of an elementary school with high-needs students in an urban school district in Southeast Texas; (2) analyze data to determine if the characteristics found correspond to the Seven Correlates of Effective Schools, and (3) discover implications (if any) that the characteristics found may have toward improving the effectiveness of other elementary schools. The researcher conducted an exploratory, qualitative case study of East Elementary School during the 2010-2011 school year. Tools used to gather data for this case study included: open-ended interviews, participant observations, an on-line survey, descriptive statistics, school artifacts and archival records. The most dominant characteristics found at East ES that contribute to its success are the sense of community and high expectations held by all staff. These two characteristics influenced all other characteristics. Strong leadership, a safe and secure environment, time on task and frequent monitoring/feedback were strengths found at East ES. A strong mission statement and parental involvement were not significant characteristics found at East. Implications for practice include changing hiring and retention practices, implementing professional development activities and recommending campus self-reflection activities based on the research findings. Recommendations for further research include investigating the effect of affective attributes and staff stability and experience on student achievement. Research is needed to explore the establishment of common goals and a climate of high expectations. After the implementation of the new state common assessment, the STAAR, a follow-up study at East ES would determine if the characteristics found that aided in their effectiveness on the TAKS assessment transfer to the new state assessment.
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