Date of Degree

6-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Urban Education

Advisor(s)

Nicholas Michelli

Subject Categories

Education Policy

Keywords

Effective Teaching, High School, Mixed Methods, Participatory ActionResearch, Student perception study

Abstract

There is tremendous pressure at the national, state, and locals level to improve schools and close the achievement gap of education. In an attempt to solve these education questions, policymakers and education administrators are focusing on quality control of what they consider an essential element in education: teachers. Teachers across the nation are put on the defensive as each state tries to somehow measure and assess teacher effectiveness to ensure their schools have teachers that can yield the highest growth among their students.

What has been missing in this inquiry and process, however, are the students' voices. Despite that they are truly the major stakeholders of public education, the students' input and perceptions have not been studied in depth. While some current research includes student surveys, such as studies by the Gates Foundation and the MET (Measurement of Effective Teaching), there is a greater need to focus school and teacher effectiveness studies on student input.

This research sought to conduct an inquiry into students' perceptions of education, schooling, and qualities of effective teachers. We conducted our participatory action study with student researchers at a successful suburban high school. A survey targeting 11th grade class of 306 students was administered (N=249). The survey consisted of a self-identified demographic profile, open- and closed-ended responses. The survey was supplemented with10 personal interviews. The interviews revealed a clear understanding on the part of students between school quality/teacher effectiveness and economic variables.

The students at this site school have a clear understanding that their families reside in this community for the purpose of their children receiving a high quality education. School and education are instrumental to a common goal: getting into the best college possible and gaining economic benefits, such as high status and or high paying jobs. Academic achievement for students at Eastland High School is quantitative. Scores on local, state, and national exams are a clear measure of academic growth and achievements. The relationship the students perceive between the school and themselves is that of a consumer and producer.

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