Date of Award

2021

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education

Department

Education

First Advisor

Julie Coiro

Abstract

Under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law of 2001, professional learning activities and curricula, particularly in the area of literacy, were limited by the definition of reading put forth by the 2000 report of the National Reading Panel (see Duke & Carlisle, 2011). When NCLB was reauthorized as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states and districts were allowed more freedom to redefine student achievement and school success, with hopes that a more “holistic approach” would allow for equitable learning opportunities for all children. Yet, today’s school leaders continue to grapple with how to bring research-based practices to life in schools and classrooms. Despite decades of research on effective schools, family demographics are still the most predictive measure of student achievement (Hill, 2017; Reardon, 2011). A great deal of research exists on what works in schools, yet much less is known about how successful schools enact practices that foster student achievement. This multiple case study uses qualitative methods to examine how educators and administrators in four effective Title 1 schools design learning environments that foster student success at the classroom and school level. Within-case and cross-case analytical frameworks aligned with five practices of effective schools based on the research of successful literacy reform (Taylor et al., 2011) and successful school reform (Bryk et al., 2010, Klugman et al., 2015), eight dimensions of school culture (Ritchhart, 2015) and three levels of efficacy (Bandura, 1993) revealed common and successful school-wide practices in all four schools. By using schools, which represent principals and teachers, as well as their interactions with students and families, as the unit of analysis, findings provide a window into the culture of each school to reveal particular indicators of school-wide practices designed to promote student achievement on state reading assessments. Further, this study puts forth a new hypothetical model to capture the complex nature of how self-efficacy can grow among students, teachers, and the collective group in each school community as Title 1 educators make decisions and interact with each other to promote a culture of student success. Implications for practitioners, school leaders, and policymakers are discussed.

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