Term of Award

Summer 2009

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Brenda Marina

Committee Member 1

Lucinda Chance

Committee Member 2

James Green

Committee Member 3

Georj Lewis

Abstract

Author's abstract: Educators faced with a decline in student achievement and increases in dropout rates are seeking ways to provide the best possible educational environment for students (Oxley, 2005). High school transformation, also known as the small schools movement, is a reform that is gaining currency in the world of education (Meier, 2006). Alien (2001) observed that high school transformation is the process of altering the makeup of a large comprehensive high school, also known as a traditional high school, into small high schools or small learning communities at the same location. The teacher is the most important component of educational reform (Fullan, 1993; Glickman, 1990; Tracey, 1993), yet little research has focused on the experience of educators during the transformation to smaller learning environments. The purpose of this study was to examine the lived experiences of teachers who have completed the transformation process from a large comprehensive high school to a small learning environment. Data were collected through open-ended, phenomenological-oriented interviews with 10 teachers in schools that had been transformed into smaller learning environments within an Atlanta Metro school district. The qualitative data from this study yielded the concepts of employment concerns, district support, teacher involvement in planning, and instructional changes. Ultimately, this study will further discussions regarding all teachers involved in schools during transformation and will serve as a springboard for policy and practice changes leading to a reduction in resistance to change for future reforms and a refined process for high school transformation.

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