Term of Award

Fall 2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Education Administration (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Paul M. Brinson

Committee Member 1

Linda M. Arthur

Committee Member 2

Ralph P. Gornto

Abstract

The pressure to perform well on high stakes testing may have caused many educational leaders to shift their focus away from developing a healthy organization that may enhance and possibly even predict student achievement to simply focusing on test scores. Hoy, Tarter and Hoy (2006) suggested that high levels of Academic OptimismAO (including collective teacher efficacy-CTE, faculty trust in parents and students-FT, and academic emphasis-AE), when controlling for SES, is a strong force in predicting academic achievement. This study attempted to support previous research findings and to provide educational administrators with a framework for improving school organizational health for the purpose of enhancing student achievement.

This study examined the relationships between AO, its sub-constructs, and student achievement in reading and math, when controlling for SES, for four participating middle schools located in two school districts in southeast Georgia. The data was collected from the School Academic Optimism Survey (SAOS) which is designed to measure the overall level of academic optimism within the school and each of the sub-constructs. The SAOS provides 30 Likert-type items with 1-12 measuring CTE, 13-22 measuring FT and 23-30 measuring AE. Overall, the analysis of the relationship of AO of schools and achievement in reading and math, when controlling for SES, is not statistically significant in this study. The variance in reading and math achievement showed 0% change in the relationship when adding AO as a predictor. Although some improvement in relationships, particularly in reading, was noted when adding the predictor variables of CTE, FT, and AE, the results suggested these variables did not predict student achievement over SES.

All schools in this study reported at least average levels of AO, all four schools were achieving in reading above the state percentage, and 3 of the 4 were achieving above the state percentage in math. Additionally, 3 of the 4 schools had populations of economically disadvantaged students above the state average. Although further research with a larger sample size is recommended, this may suggest that schools with low SES students are not necessarily at a disadvantage when variables associated with school organizational health are considered.

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